I got my bill recently for the next six months of car insurance. I have been setting aside $100 a month every month in the Car Insurance Fund. The bill is $567.14 if paid in full. I save $67.66 by not paying it month to month, because they charge a convenience fee each month to do it that way.
Now, it still feels like I am paying month to month, because I have a line item on the budget for it each month and it still disappears from my checking account, but I would much rather do it like this and save that extra money. In order to get ahead like this, a couple of years ago we used some money from our tax return to pay the six months in full and then started saving each month after that. I know some budgets are tight so it would be hard to pay each month and save for the fund, but by doing it like this we didn't have to. We were able to immediately start saving into the fund that month.
So not only do I save that $67.66 off my bill, I also end up with a cushion of $32.86 sitting in the fund to start off with since I am slightly oversaving. Of course I don't know what the six months after this will cost, so if it goes up, we have that cushion, plus the next one if necessary to add to our in full payment. A little insurance on our insurance, if you will.
I do the same thing with other funds. Like right now I am saving $100 a month in the Computer Fund. I could get 12 months same as cash or I could save for several months ahead of time and have the money sitting there ready to go when the next computer or camera or phone other electronic device goes belly up. If the money is there, I can still choose to do the same as cash option, knowing I can pay it off at any time, or I can just pay it off.
Some people aren't so good at paying it off in the allotted time, but we have always been. I figure we might need it to jolly our credit report along at some point, since we are using so little credit these days. If we ever finish the debt payoff and save up enough to put a down payment on a house again, we will need a good credit score. So even if we do the deal and pay it off after three months, it activates the credit report. But the point is, I don't want to have to do it that way. I want to use it as a tool, not have it use me.
I think it is good to have sinking funds like this. It keeps you from being walloped by an unexpected, but really what should be expected, expense. We all know our cars will have insurance do every six months, but to many it is just a big surprise every time it happens because they don't budget for it. We all know computers break down, that Christmas comes every year, that the kids will need clothes and shoes. Budgeting as we go, so we don't get smacked with the expense, just makes sense. And it helps prevent using credit cards and getting further into debt, which is the most important thing, at least for us.
I got my bill recently for the next six months of car insurance. I have been setting aside $100 a month every month in the Car Insurance Fund. The bill is $567.14 if paid in full. I save $67.66 by not paying it month to month, because they charge a convenience fee each month to do it that way.
I did not go down to the last dollar this time. I have about $250 left in checking. There may be one more autopay yet to come through and then anything else I am holding on to for upcoming medical bills. DH was wrong about the last paycheck not having overtime on it. It had 10 hours. This one is a true representation of base pay with no OT and all of the various insurances and the 401K being taken out.
_400.00 Grocery Envelope
_400.00 Medical Fund
_100.00 Household Envelope
__56.83 Life Insurance DH
__45.30 Life Insurance Me
_100.00 Adults Blow Money
_120.00 Kid's Allowances
_100.00 Clothing Envelope
_100.00 Holiday Envelope
_100.00 Laptop Fund
2232.31 Total Money Out
Mom's surgery went well, though she is in quite a bit of pain. I saw her yesterday afterwards, but she called and told me not to come today. I had not planned to go until after dinner, and by then she was just too tired and hurting and wanted to just sleep. So I will go up and see her tomorrow unless she it too tired and sore again. She's supposed to come home on Friday, so hopefully the pain will be manageable by then. She doesn't want to take Oxycodone because of hallucinations or Hydrocodone because it makes her feel unclear in the head. We'll see what she ends up actually coming home with.
The grocery ads came in the mail today so I started a preliminary grocery list. It is not a good sales week except for meat. They have whole chickens on for $1.49/lb, top round roast for $2.99/lb, wild cod for $6.49/lb and sirloin steaks for $5/lb. So that means I will likely go to Costco and TJ's for veggies.
I usually throw a whole chicken in the Instant Pot twice a week to make broth and then my daughter eats the meat as chicken is about all she can stomach. I use some of it, but mostly she is living on that chicken plus white rice and broth all week. It's bland enough for her to keep it down. I make the rice with some of the broth, too, so it has some flavor.
I hope to find a flank steak on mark down as I'd like to teach my son how to make beef teriyaki this coming week. Failing that, Costco should have one decently priced.
DS and I are doing Home Economics. Part of that is he is reading the Dave Ramsey books, but another part is cooking. The first Unit in my cooking course (designed by me) is Wok This Way and is teaching him to make all the different stir-fries. So far he has learned Black Pepper Chicken, Chicken and Broccoli, Chinese Pepper Steak, and Garlic Chicken and Green Beans. On the agenda is the Beef Teriyaki, but I'd also like to do Mandarin Chicken and Mongolian Beef and what is basically Almond Fried Chicken without the almonds. We don't like almonds, but we like the crispy chicken and the Chinese brown gravy. We sprinkle sesame seeds on top instead.
We will also do a baking unit (doughnuts, bread, rolls, pie, cinnamon rolls, English muffins, lemon poppy seed muffins, cornbread, brownies, cake, cookies, croissants, biscuits), a pressure cooking unit (mostly Instant Pot), a casserole unit, a meat and potatoes style unit, a Mexican unit, and an Italian unit (pizza, penne, spaghetti, ravioli, tortellini). Some things will overlap, like Enchilada casserole or baked penne casserole which each could be classified in two groups.
We do about two lessons a week right now and I build it into the meal plan. It feels good to know he will know his way around the kitchen and we are really enjoying the time together and I appreciate having the help in cutting up the foods and cleaning up. I also like knowing he will know how to make better than restaurant quality food for much less money than restaurant prices. Having a second major cook in the house will be great, too, on the days when I don't feel like cooking or my hands hurt too much. DH can make a few things, but his repertoire is limited. DS is going to be able to rule the kitchen when I am done with him!
Well, I made it through two of Monkey Mama's long posts without being logged out, so I am going to attempt to actually post an entry today. There hasn't been too much going on financially, but that's because we haven't been billed yet. Once things run through the insurance and we get billed, I expect we are going to take a big hit in the next couple of weeks. But our out of pocket max on the new insurance is $2400 per family, so it'll be capped at that.
So last week on Monday DD had an appointment at the gastroenterologist and she decided that DD needed to have a gastric emptying test, which is a very long test in a freezing cold room with a gamma camera. That may take DD's deductible and out of pocket max right there. For those who have no clue what this test entails, they feed you radioactive egg whites, 2 pieces of white bread and jam. Then they put you in one of those doughnut-shaped machines, but it is not a CT scanner.
They take a picture of your stomach to start for a minute, then later they do it for 30 minutes, then wait an hour, do it again for a few minutes and repeat like that until 4 and 1/2 hours are up. All the little specks of food glow on the camera and the computer counts how many there are at each interval. The room is kept cold to keep the camera cool. I really could have used a blanket. And the waiting chair was atrocious. It took me until today to have my back, hips, and tailbone feel normal again and the test was on Thursday.
On Tuesday last DD and I both had dental appointments while DH had one on Monday with the new dentist, which we didn't actually have to pay anything on because we have dental insurance now. DH had a $50 co-pay, but that is it for the year on co-pays for normal services. He's going to have to have a crown though, and that will cost us $670 out of pocket, but at least they cover half. He will need some cavities filled at some point as well.
I do like the new dentist and the new receptionist, but I am very grateful that my hygienist is the same person. I get anxious at the dentist and I don't like change. But I really like the new dentist a lot. He reminds me of Dr. Sweets on Bones, but without the curls, even though he is of East Indian descent. Facial structure, nose, and eye shape are almost identical. He's a very nice man, too. And I got a clean bill of health on my teeth. The only part of me that isn't falling apart, I guess.
On Friday I took DS to the eye doctor. We have vision insurance now, but we still had to pay $179 out of pocket between the exam and the glasses. That's okay, though, it is still way cheaper than $480 and I knew it would cost something. It'll be a couple of weeks before his glasses come, though.
My rheumatologist cancelled my appointment and couldn't rebook until November. I mean, seriously? She had another family emergency. She has A LOT of those. This is the fourth appointment in a year and a half that has been cancelled due to that. She's younger than I by about 15 years, so I doubt it is aging parents, but you never know.
Tomorrow is Mom's surgery, but she is driving herself there. We will pick up the Jimmy when we take her walker up later when she is out of surgery and in a room. They don't want the patients bringing their stuff up when they go in because they say they don't have any place to store the stuff. I find that less than believable considering I've seen some of the storage areas, but whatever. That's what they do. Mom should be in the hospital until Friday.
On Wednesday, DS goes to the dentist and then on Thursday I have to take DD in for labs. Next week starts 3 days a week of taking Mom to PT and DD has appointments that week for the endocrine doctor and the gynecologist. Endocrine doctor thinks DD has PCOS, so we will bring that up with gyno. Maybe we can actually get something done about it, but doubtful.
So yeah, it's been a big couple of weeks for medical stuff and I don't know what most of it will cost, but at least there is a cap. October brings DD's endoscopy and colonoscopy and DS's consult with a sleep doctor and possible scheduling of a sleep study. Plus lots of shuttling Mom to PT. Prayers that I don't go insane taking care of everyone but myself would be lovely!
I am looking forward to payday on Friday. I don't like only getting paid every two weeks. I know I will eventually get used to it, but I still don't like it. Even though everything is going fine with the budget and running smoothly. It is just weird and I hate change with a passion, as you all know.
I made up some TV dinners tonight. I made turkey meat in the Instant Pot and a combo of sweet potatoes, carrots, red potatoes, onions and green beans in the Power Cooker XL and a thin gravy in a skillet and then mixed it all together in some of those Glad plastic containers. I came very close to it tasting like the Stouffer's Fit Kitchen turkey dinner. We had some for dinner tonight and then I froze 3 dinners and put one in the fridge for lunch tomorrow.
My nutrition has been slipping lately or I've often gone to eating just once a day because of the stress. I have a couple of days with Mom gone where I can do some big batch cooking and get some stir-fry TV dinners in the freezer as well. Then when I am taking care of her and don't have much time to take care of me, I can just heat these up and eat them without worrying about it being garbage food. These will give me some lunches, at least. I do well on two meals a day, but really not on one and snacking on junk food.
Mom has also bought TV dinners this time. She refused to get them last time because she thought I could just cook her dinner every night from scratch after cooking for my family every night. IF she would eat what I made for my family, no big deal, but she's picky about what she eats, so she wanted me to cook our meal and then a whole other meal for her. After also cooking her breakfast and lunch. I don't have the energy for that. She also likes things that take a long time to prepare and a lot of baby-sitting the stove. I hate that type of cooking.
So at least she is eating the TV dinners, and I only have to make her breakfast and lunch and then dinner is easy. She also bought waffles, so I should only have to toast them and make a couple of fried eggs for her breakfast, which is easy. Lunch will probably be some kind of grilled or hot sandwich and soup, which is also easy. I'm just glad she finally realized just how hard it is on me, physically, to take care of her. Not to mention mentally, though she will never get that.
Okay, that turned into quite a rant, but sometimes you just need to vent.
I made up another two week meal plan to go with my two week shopping plan. I also made my plan based on what I have on hand and what is available in the garden right now. There is a good chicken sale this week so we will be having a lot of chicken stir-fries. There is also shrimp and cod on sale and pot roasts. I will buy two extra for later in the month as I can't beat $3.99/lb on those.
Beef Pot Roast
Fresh Plums (from the garden)
5 Spice Chicken Stir-fry with Vegetables
Chinese Pepper Steak
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Jamaican Stir-fried Cabbage
Garlic Chicken and Green Beans Stir-fry
Spaghetti with Meatballs
Penne Pasta with Sausage, Zucchini, and Tomatoes
Fish and Chips
Roasted Root Vegetables
This paycheck had the real numbers on it of what the base pay will be. No overtime. So after I get the next one I will know for sure how much income there is in a month. I am hoping they are splitting the insurances 50/50 and not taking it all out of one paycheck. If so, then we'll be bringing home more than I thought, but it still won't compare to all that overtime. Hopefully in October there will be OT again.
_400.00 Grocery Envelope
_400.00 Medical Fund
_100.00 Household Envelope
_100.00 Car Insurance Fund
__50.00 Car Maintenance Envelope
_100.00 Gas Money Envelope
_325.89 Credit Card
_500.00 Monster Mom Loan
3318.73 Total Money Out
$27,500.00 Beginning Balance
-__,500.00 Payment Made
$27,000.00 New Balance
We won't make as much progress this month due to the lack of overtime, but I am hoping to squeak out another $500 in two weeks time.
I have never had an insurance company so slow to send out cards before. Every other insurance we've ever had the cards have come the week before they were to become active. DH was able to print out something that would do for the short term from the website and then he reordered cards in case they got lost in the mail.
We've had two doctor's appointments so far this week. DD had her six month check up with the opthamologist to check her eye pressure and make sure there was no sign of the eyeritis. He also slipped an eye exam into the mix. She needs new glasses badly. Her one eye has slipped from -175 to -350. So we are waiting for the insurance card for vision benefits so we can get the glasses made.
DH has a dental appointment tomorrow and has printed that info out as well, and he is going to have the receptionist put it in for all of us, since DD and I both have cleanings next week and DS has one the following week. That way I won't have to deal with it. He's also taking care of the pharmacy when he picks up my prescription tomorrow.
It's a little frustrating, but we are managing to get our ducks in a row despite somewhat poor management on the parts of the three different insurance companies.
I made tomato soup from scratch for the first time today. I had a big glut of tomatoes from the garden and what was left over from what Mom brought home from eastern Washington. I made it in the 8 quart Instant Pot and it was really good. I don't even like tomato soup and I liked this soup. I thought I'd pass along what I did.
1 small yellow onion, diced small
2 stalks of celery, diced small
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced small
2 heaping tbsp minced garlic
Tomatoes cut into wedges
2 cups broth
I started by putting the pot onto saute mode and sauteed the onions, celery, carrots, and bell peppers for 3 minutes, added a few shakes of salt, a few shakes of pepper, and 8 shakes of Italian seasoning and stirred. Then I sauteed for 3 more minutes and added the garlic, sauteeing for 30 seconds more.
Turn off the saute feature and add enough tomatoes to go up to the fill line. This was probably about 10 pounds of tomatoes. Add two cups of broth. I used chicken broth. Add one tbsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper.
Put on the lid and set it to sealing. Select the stew button (meat/stew on some models) and bring the timer to 50 minutes. Cook. When the time is up do a quick release of the pressure. Remove the lid with the steam going away from you.
Use an immersion blender to blend the tomatoes up. Taste and adjust seasoning. I we ended up adding two more tsp of salt and 1/2 a tsp of pepper, and 1 more tbsp of Italian seasoning.
Ladle into pint jars and pressure can for 20 minutes. This makes 8 pints. Or you can can half, like I did and to the remaining soup add 1/2 cup of milk and 2 cups of fresh basil, blending again until smooth.
Both versions tasted really good to me and the kids and DH all loved it. I am happy, because now I can can up more soup when I get enough tomatoes. As they get ripe in the garden, I can core them and cut them up and then throw them in the freezer until I get enough. That way, I don't have to leave them setting out for the fruit flies to hatch out on. I have already canned all the diced tomatoes and wedges that I am going to this summer, so this will use up the rest of what I produce really easily.
As a side note, I canned the soup in the 8 quart Power Cooker XL electric pressure cooker. It has a canning feature. I have been very happy with it. I have only used it to can broth before, but it has always worked great. I like not having to baby-sit the process and it works well for small batches like this, where I won't have to drag out the big canner.
It is nice to have 2 electric pressure cookers, too. While I prefer the Instant Pot, it does not have the canning feature. Once I get a new inner pot for the XL, I will be much happier. The IP's stainless steel inner pot fits in the XL, so I will order one of those. The non-stick coating that came on the XL scratched off withing the first 2 months, so I only use pot-in-pot cooking or the canning feature on that one. With the other kind of inner pot, I will be able to fully use it again.
Well, we've made it through the glut of August birthdays and now I don't have to worry about any until mine in February. Now the money that will be funneled into the Holidays/Birthdays Envelope will go towards Christmas, at least through to December. Right now it has $100 in it. My budget for Christmas is $500, so I just need to save $100 a month to meet that.
I don't think we are going to go to the ranch for our turkey this year. I think I am going to go to the young man we buy our chickens from instead. We seldom go to the ranch anymore as the gas is a little too expensive. If I have a rabbit to sell we will go, but that is it lately. We just really need to stick to our budget and that includes gas money, so going to someone in our own county instead of the next one over saves us a half a tank of gas. Our gas budget is $100 a month and I don't really want to go over that.
It's official that there will be no more overtime on this particular project, so I don't know if we will be able to make progress on the debt payoff in September.
I mean we'll be able to do the $500, but I don't think anything beyond that. This project is wrapping up, though, and then there will be the next one which might have some OT.
This next paycheck will be the first one with everything being taken out of it, but without any OT on it, so I will be able to see what the real base paycheck looks like. I have numbers pretty close to it, but I'd like to have the exact ones. It's the accounting nerd in me.
DH and I have to go through and allocate our 401K money to one of the plans, so that is on the agenda for tomorrow. I hope there is one without bonds in it, because I don't feel like bonds are worth it at this stage of the game. If not something like only 10% in bonds would be good. I wish there were more options, like with the IRA, where we could pick each mutual fund that we want, but there should be something decent in their choices. Most plans have at least one option that is for good growth.
We also need to finish going through our IRA. We only have 2 of the four funds picked out that we want, so it is sitting in those for now. It just takes time to research the funds and we haven't had much of a chance to sit down and look while he has been working all of that OT.
Our new insurance cards have not arrived yet. I hope they do soon as DD has an appointment with the opthamologist on the 4th, DS has a physical on the 6th, and I have a dentist appointment on the 11th. I have never had an insurance card not be here the week before the insurance kicks in so I am starting to get nervous it won't be here before we need to use it.
In fact, I can guarantee it won't be here in time for the 4th since there won't be any mail on Monday. Here appointment is at 3:30, so there is a chance the mail will come before that, but it doesn't always. It depends on if it is our regular carrier or a sub. DH will have to email the details so I can at least give the doctor's office the info that will be on the cards.
September and October are going to be full of appointments. Not just for my immediate family, but my mother has her surgery on the 19th and then the following week starts PT three times a week for two weeks and then twice a week for several weeks after that and I have to drive her, at least for six weeks. She is having her other knee done. This is her left knee so she will be able to drive sooner, supposedly.
I am still annoyed with her for refusing to go to a nursing home to recover for two weeks. She knows how difficult it is on me to take care of her and my daughter is in no shape to help. My husband is taking off the second half of the day the Friday she comes home so he'll be around for the first few days when she's at her worst, but after that I'm on my own. I barely make it through the day taking care of myself and my disabled daughter, but she doesn't care how much of a load it adds and it frustrates me.
This is her third surgery in a year's time and I wouldn't be surprised if she doesn't try to slip the other shoulder in before the year is up and her doctor retires. I swear I will have a nervous breakdown if she does. If one of my sisters would help it would be manageable, but nope. It would interfere with their lives too much. Even the one who actually lives here in town. I just really wish she would have had them all done at once and gone to nursing home to get better. It would have been a lot less stressful.
At least this time I will have my diet in order. I just hope taking care of her doesn't make me stress eat. But right now I am firmly in control and I am determined to stay that way. I have lost 15 pounds and she is not blowing this for me. I won't let myself get derailed again no matter how crazy she makes me.
I did my big shop on Friday and Saturday. Usually I do it all in one day, but my mother's car is in the shop and I had to ferry her around on Friday and I am not going to grocery shop at the same time as her because it drives me crazy. It is also a nice time for my son and I to have alone together. My mother has a way of aggravating my son (she baits him) and also of making every conversation about politics even though I have a no discussing politics rule. I'm just sick of it.
Plus she has to comment on everything I put in my cart. She eats a very bland diet so there is a lot of "I could never eat that," and "How can you eat that stuff?" Sorry, Mom, we can't all live on a diet of processed sweet carbs and cube steak. Some of us need fruits, veggies, and meat that requires actual chewing. So basically I drove her around and waited in the parking lot. Then I went back with my son on Friday and did two stores and on Saturday I did one store with my husband.
This is our second two week shop and it went well and I came away with $31 left in the grocery envelope, which is $14 from this time and $17 from last pay period.
Our first stop was at Safeway where I bought mostly loss leaders and pantry stock-up because there were some good condiment sales. Everything I bought was on sale. I spent $124.74 and I saved $88.23 off the total.
4 BBQ sauce
2 Miracle Whip
2 bags potato chips
4 jars picante sauce
6 bottles of ketchup
4 jars spaghetti sauce
2 loaves wheat bread
2 packages of 4 sirloin steaks
1 package with 2 London broil roasts
4 lbs of black forest ham (on sale for $5/lb)
Next I went to Trader Joe's and spent $130.54. I bought:
4 bags of chicken fried rice
4 bags of roasted potatoes with pepeprs
4 bags of fettucine alfredo
4 bags of chicken fettucine alfredo
2 bags of potstickers
2 bags of gold potatoes
2 boxes of fish nuggets
2 Strawberry bars
2 mac and cheese
1 peanut butter granola bars
2 iceberg lettuces
1 box hashbrowns
4 packs of hot dogs
2 spray olive oil
Next was Costco where I spent $127.48.
2 bags of steamer broccoli
1 jumbo package of tortillas
1 bag beef mandu
4 boxes of Kerrygold butter
1 container cashews
1 container parmesan cheese
1 box fruit snacks
There was one more thing on there but it isn't listed in a way that identifies the item and I can't remember what it was.
Anyway, I think this two week shopping thing is going to go fairly well for me. I feel like we are getting everything we need and stocking up on staples without too much trouble at all. And I get to stay out of the stores because more trips always equals more money spent.
This is the second two week paycheck. DH got 20 hours of overtime this pay period. This is the first week that money was taken out for the 401K. We are having 5% (because that is the match) taken out. It will go up when we have finished paying off the Mom Loan. The next paycheck on the 7th will be when the insurances start being taken out. We will have medical, dental, and vision (all separate), plus some additional life insurance on DH. This will bring up the amount of life insurance coverage on DH to $400,000. I want to get more on DH (it should be 10 times your income), but it may be a while before we can.
$1000.00 Monster Mom Loan
__400.00 Grocery Envelope
__400.00 Medical Fund
__100.00 Household Envelope
__100.00 Car Insurance Fund
___56.83 Life Insurance DH
___45.30 Life Insurance Me
___50.00 Allowance DH
___50.00 Allowance Me
___90.00 Allowance DS
___30.00 Allowance DD
__100.00 Clothing Envelope
__100.00 Christmas Envelope
__100.00 Laptop Fund
$3482.94 Total Money Out
We were able to throw another $1000 at the Mom Loan this payday.
$28,500.00 Starting Amount
-_1,000.00 Payment Made
$27,500.00 Total Remaining
I did go out today and pick up ice, watermelon, and a fan. I went with a cowboy style bandanna on and no one really gave me any weird looks. More "I wish I had thought of that" looks, than anything else. I ordered some masks with filters off of Amazon and paid for the fast shipping and they should be here on Thursday. Hopefully earlier in the day than later. As long as they are here before the big grocery shop on Friday, though.
We made it pretty well through the two week grocery shop and I'm going to try it again on Friday. There are some good beef and fish sales this week and chicken is always cheap at Winco. We did run out of some things, so I will adjust my shopping list accordingly, but it was nice not to feel like I was constantly running to the grocery store.
I need to figure out my new two week meal plan based off the ads and what we have on hand. That worked out pretty well for us. I will have to go to Costco this week as we are down to just one pound of butter, so I will probably get broccoli florets and possibly cauliflower florets while there. I hate cutting them up and the stuff they do there is cheaper than getting full crowns elsewhere. I also need to get some Ziploc bags out of the household budget. Not much else, though.
Well, maybe a new printer, but that comes out of the Laptop Fund, and only if they have an HP. The Canons keep breaking after only a year. They never used to be like this, but the last three have been, so I'm done with brand loyalty. My laptop is an HP anyway. I'm getting tired of not being able to scan or print anything, especially recipes.
We did do a couple meals of takeaway this week. It was on canning days and I was wiped. We got Pizza Hut one night and McDonalds another. I will try to not do that this week, though. I don't want to fall back into old habits.
I am 12 days into my diet and have lost 9 pounds. I hope it sticks this time. I am so tired of being overweight and I know it doesn't help with my immune system issues. I can't really exercise. It is too hot inside and outside is still having ashfall. I might go to the mall and walk if I get some time. I still have pears to can. Applesauce was today. And I want to get some green beans and gold potatoes for canning as well.
Rain is still in the forecast, but instead of just being Saturday and Sunday it is now saying Friday, too. I hope so. We need it so badly.
The ashfall is getting pretty awful here. I feel like we are living near an active volcano or something. I had to go out to the garden today and wash off all the plants so they didn't starve. They were coated in grey brown ash. I wore a bandanna over my mouth and nose. I have given up on the green beans because I can't stay outside long enough to pick them. I will keep up with the tomatoes, zucchini, and peppers while I can. They are quick picks and I can get them and get back inside within 5 minutes.
It is still so hot here and it is awful because we can't open the windows. My asthma has really kicked up and I have to use my inhaler about every 4 hours or so. I've got a persistent cough, scratchy throat, and feel like my bronchials are affected. I have to use eye drops frequently, and nasal spray because my nose keeps blocking up. I thought last year was bad, but this doesn't compare. I am going to call the doctor tomorrow and ask for something stronger as an inhaler.
We have rain in the forecast for Sunday and Monday and I just hope it doesn't change. We need to be drenched to wash this garbage out of the air and maybe have a shot at putting out the fires. And someone in B.C. needs to get on the ball and start figuring out how to manage their forests properly. If they would slash and burn during the rainy season this would not be happening now, but the environmentalists had to push past the point of logic and now they don't do it right. I think people who have no clue about timber country should not be allowed to push their policies on the rest of the PNW.
I have been trying to keep the car sprayed off each day, but it just accumulates more. I don't want it to damage the paint, but I'm about to give up at this point.
It is all just so very frustrating. I want to be able to breathe and to go spend time outside without it hurting. I am going stir-crazy. Having the blogs down for 3 days did not help.
It was really nice not to have to plan a grocery trip for today. I wasn't sure I was going to like only shopping once every two weeks, but I definitely think I am. I did glance at the ads this week just in case there was something good, but it was all processed foods or real foods that were pretending they were on sale, but really weren't. You know, the buy one get one free where the one you buy has been jacked up to cover the cost of the "free" one sort of thing.
We still have plenty of milk and plenty of bread, so I don't even foresee a quick run at this point. I did such careful planning on last week's shop that we might not even need to go to the store right away a week from now. But we'll see.
My mother went to visit her sister and brought a ton of produce home from eastern Washington. So this week we are canning tomatoes, peaches, nectarines, applesauce, pears, and I am chopping and freezing candy sweet onions (they keep a long time and are better tasting than Walla Wallas, which rot fast) and bell peppers. The peaches and apples are hers and half the nectarines, but everything else is for me. I will pay her back for my portion out of the next grocery budget. It is less than $100.
I canned the first batch of tomatoes yesterday and got seven quarts. Today I am working on some of the bell peppers and onions. I am going to do some strips, some chunks, and some dices. I will be doing a lot of freezer bags that are half onion and half bell peppers, so they will be ready to grab and dump into the Instant Pot or crockpot when I want to make fajitas or sausage stew. I also need to work my way through more of my zucchini. I put nine bags of shredded in the freezer the other day, but I have just about that again I need to prepare, and there is more to be picked out in the garden.
It will be a very busy week for me, but it will be good to meet a lot of our winter food needs.
I figured it out earlier this week and it has been 8 years since we have taken a vacation. The last few years would have been impossible with debt and the farm animals, but now all we have are the rabbits, so the possibility exists that DH and I could sneak away for a few days at some point while DS takes care of the rabbits. I just want to go check into some air-conditioned hotel with an indoor swimming pool and get out of the heat and the horrific air quality from all the fires.
But I really can't justify it at the moment, because of debt. I am really hoping this will be paid off by next summer and then maybe we can go. Also, with DD's health still being so poor, I'd be afraid to leave her. It's just been so exhausting dealing with it and never getting the chance to recharge.
I don't know, maybe DH and I can just do a day trip with a picnic lunch. We could drive up to Birch Bay and go swimming. I just want one day with no responsibilities and no kids. But with the air being so bad, spending a day outside probably isn't the best option anyway. My asthma is already being aggravated.
How do you refresh and relax when you can't get away? I can't really afford a massage or a day spa or anything like that right now. Maybe a movie, but there's nothing worth paying that kind of money for right now. *sighs*
Well, back to canning. I'm doing my first tomatoes today. No vacations for me.
I think I am really going to like this two week meal planning/shopping business. I just have to plan really well, but if we can stay out of the grocery store I can definitely see the savings adding up. I think next time I will do an even better job, but I am just happy I came under budget and will still be able to have some pretty delicious, varied, spectacular meals.
Teriyaki/BBQ chicken wings (Instant Pot)
Green beans (garden)
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Shrimp Scampi (Instant Pot)
Green Beans (garden)
Chicken Fettucine Alfredo (Instant Pot)
Bell Peppers and Onions
All cooked together in the Instant Pot
Beef Cross Rib Roast
Green Beans (garden)
Penne Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes, and Zucchini
All cooked together in the Instant Pot
Fried Potatoes and Peppers
So I did my two week shop on Saturday and while I did forget a couple of items like string cheese and butter, I am going to try to make do. I do have cheddar stick cheese, which I don't like as much as mozzarella string cheese, but I still like it so I'll cope. We have 1.5 lbs of Kerrygold butter in the fridge for 10 days. I usually go through 1 lb of butter in a week, so it'll cut close, but I think I can make it. If worst comes to worst I can break out the unsalted butter for baking or open a jar of ghee.
I have enough milk to get through the period. The sell by date was out 6 weeks, so I just went ahead and got what I thought I'd use instead of waiting a week to buy more. I also bought extra bread and put it in the fridge. If I don't have to go to the store at all until the next payday on the 24th, I will be quite pleased.
I use a calculator as I shop, so I know exactly how much I will be spending. When you are using cash envelopes and trying to stick to a budget you don't want to end up over your amount because you have no clue how much the stuff you are putting in your cart costs.
Here is what I got at Winco:
2 bags of crispy chicken strips
2 bags of French fries
1 large plain yogurt
1 bag of shredded mozzarella cheese
2 packs of bacon
4 ears of corn
1 3 lb bag of yellow onions
2 packs of granola bars
1 pack of hamburger buns
2 packs of hot dog buns
3 value packs of chicken thighs
3 value packs of chicken wings
4 bags of original goldfish crackers
2 20 count bags of hamburger patties
I spent $189.74 there. Then we went to Trader Joe's and got:
2 bags of roasted potatoes
2 boxes of fish nuggets
1 iceberg lettuce
4 packages hot dogs
2 bags of pita bread
2 red onions
1 bag of shredded cabbage
2 mac and cheese frozen dinners
3 bags fettucine alfredo
3 bags chicken fettucine alfredo
I spent $89.08 there. Next was Safeway where I bought:
4 boxes of organic spaghetti
2 boxes of organic penne pasta
1 18 count of organic eggs
1 turkey chub
1 package of sirloin steaks
I spent $40.01 there. The last stop was at Haggen who did not have any of the London Broil that was on special available. We picked up:
2.5 lbs of deluxe deli ham
2 large strawberry yogurts (Winco was out)
4 bags of ice
1 birthday cake
4 half gallons Milk
I can't find the receipt for that one, but I have $21.17 left out of the $400 budget for the 2 week shop. So if I really have to I can go buy butter, but I am going to try to wait it out. We may have to pick up Gatorade at some point, also.
I did do up a two week meal plan and we are sticking to it. I should probably post that separately.
I cancelled my subscription to the eye supplement I have been taking since the retinal tear. It was for floaters and it did seem to work for the first few months, but after my other eye developed a boat load of floaters last month, I have concluded that it no longer has any value.
Instead I am trying a vitamin regimen of selenium, lutein, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, and gingko biloba. I've been doing that for a week and the floaters seem lighter. I have also started doing some eye circulation exercises that are supposed to help with eye tiredness. I am also trying to eat more foods with beta carotene.
So that means I will try to focus a little more on orange sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach and other dark leafies, butternut squash and other orange-fleshed squashes, cantaloupe, lettuce, red and orange bell peppers, apricots, peaches, nectarines, broccoli, and pea pods. I will be canning a case of nectarines this year and I already have a lot of apricot preserves.
Hopefully I will see some improvement. Squash is cheap and I like it and sweet potatoes are cheap here, too, even the organic ones, and of course, so are carrots, so I will likely lean towards them the most. It will add some nice variety to the diet as well. I tend to lean too heavily on regular potatoes, pasta, and rice for the carbs in our diet. These will be better for us. I think my goal will be too have something orange on my plate at least once a day.
_275.00 Monthly Chiropractic Family Plan
__50.00 Car Maintenance Fund
_100.00 Gas Money
_743.12 Credit Card
1000.00 Monster Mom Loan
$4172.48 Total Money Out
I was able to throw $1000 at the loan this pay period.
$29,500.00 Starting Balance
-_1,000.00 Payment Amount
$28,500.00 New Total
The grocery ads came in the mail today and they were pretty bad again. Mostly processed foods. Though the one store has sirloin steaks for $4.99/lb and the other has London broil for $3.99/lb. I guess that means I will be buying the bulk of my groceries at Winco this Friday, but I will get some of the beef. I will shop at Winco first in case their regular prices on those two meats are better.
I think I am going to make a two week meal plan this week. Since I am getting out $400 for the next two weeks, I want to see if I can just do the shopping for two weeks, leaving a little for bread, milk, spinach, and lettuce for the second week. If it doesn't work out than the next payday I will get out $400, but set aside $200 for the second week. But I think I can do it if I plan carefully and maybe even have some money leftover. It would be great if I could get the budget down to $175 a week or $350 bi-weekly.
I am planning 3 pasta meals based off what I already have on hand, spaghetti, chicken alfredo, and gigli (cone-shaped pasta with a ruffled edge). We also do fried chicken twice, based on what I have on hand. And I am thinking of cutting up the roast I have and doing kabobs with it. There is also an eye of round in the freezer I could make into something. I'd like to make chicken shawarma at least once, if not twice, it is so easy in the Instant Pot. I also have a bag of frozen shrimp that I can get two meals out of, maybe shrimp scampi or shrimp kabobs. I might make zucchini lasagna as well, since I have a lot of zucchini from the garden right now. Maybe a chicken and green-bean stir-fry as well, since I also have green beans from the garden.
I have been buying staple buckets from Thrive Life each month. This month was a 5 gallon bucket of cane sugar. Last month was whole wheat flour, the month before white flour, and the month before oatmeal. Next month is rice. They come with gamma lids so seal well. I'd like to stock up on a couple more buckets of white flour and 1 more of sugar after that.
I don't know if anyone has been noticing here, but on other groups I am on, the supply of flour, sugar, and even rice in the grocery stores has been dropping drastically. I don't want to have to worry about running out. I've gone sometimes and the whole flour section (except the specialty flours) is wiped out or there is only one 10 pound bag of sugar and all the 5 pound bags are gone and there are only 1 pound bags of boxes. I don't like what that implies. It isn't just one store, either. And it is the big chains as well as the little guy. I've noticed it at Safeway, Haggen, Fred Meyer, Costco, and Wal-Mart. The only place that seems to have a more steady supply is Winco and even they don't have as much as it seems they should.
I guess if you don't cook a lot from scratch you don't notice these things. But as I tend to bake a lot it is really obvious to me when the staples are so low. Having some back up buckets on hand makes me feel more secure in my food storage and pantry. I may worry about it more than in the past because of that 10 month block of unemployment. Our pantry and food storage got us through that time period very well. I think I will always be worried now if our supplies run low, so I'm trying to not let that happen.
I didn't mention it before, as it has been a crazy week, but we rehomed our little flock of ducks. I had been thinking about it for a while and with all that has been going on, it has been hard to maintain the farm. It is quiet without them. I miss hearing their little noises and the occasional loud quack. So now there are no more birds on the farm. We are down to just rabbits and the garden.
I have quite a few ripening tomatoes I need to look at and I have got to pick green beans and check for zucchini and cucumbers. I have only gotten one cucumber so far, but I haven't checked for zucchini in a few days, so there are probably a dozen out there, hopefully not too large. I already have one that is larger than my forearm to deal with. I also need to water tonight.
I think there will be enough green beans that I can can them tomorrow. I will try to get it done early in the morning before it gets too hot.
I am thinking about buying a flatbread maker. It's a device that you put the dough on, close it and it flattens it, and then it cooks it. You have to turn it over partway through. But you can make all the flat breads on it and it sets it at the correct temperature, taking the guess work out of it. I can make pita bread on it, but also tortillas, chappati, and roti. It would make it a lot easier since I wouldn't have to roll out the dough.
So many of the flat breads contain soybean oil. I can find tortillas without it, but it is harder on the other flat breads, especially pita. They run the gamut from $32 to $99. Right now I am reading reviews.
I would probably only use it to make tortillas for fajitas and carnitas. I think I'd still buy the large packages for making my huge run of breakfast burritos. It's one thing to make 8 for dinner and another to make 48 in a row for burritos. But I would definitely make pita bread at least once a week. Does anyone have a flat bread maker? I'd be interested in your thoughts.
As per usual, I have come down with something a few days after our visit to the ER, a nasty stomach bug. I am on the way back up, though, so fortunately it isn't going to be some long, drawn out thing. My food is staying down today and my head feels better, and I finally woke up feeling well-rested. My tummy is still a little tender, but I think by tomorrow I will be okay. I am supposed to be beta testing a finance thing for someone, but haven't been quite up to it yet. Maybe tomorrow.
We have five days to go until payday. This will be DH's first paycheck as a permanent employee and will have two weeks on it. I have set up my budget for August with two bi-weekly pay periods instead of weekly pay periods. The first week will have 15 hours of OT on it and the second week will have 6. DH was so tired after spending Thursday night in the ER with DD, so I told him if he was too tired to stick it out, not to. OT is nice, but not at the expense of his health.
From now on he is only authorized to get 10 hours of OT a week. He won't be able to set up the 401K until after he gets his first automatic deposit, so the paycheck on the 24th will start the 401K contributions. We have decided to start them even though we haven't paid off the debt yet. We both feel like we are already too far behind on retirement to wait, even though Dave Ramsey says to wait until the debt is gone. It is messing too much with my security issues not to start it up and DH also wants to do it.
I am having DH run the numbers for me on how much to contribute. We are debating 5% and 7%. 5% is how much the company matches. 7% is the break even point on taxes. I just need to see what the end numbers will be. Then we can make a decision and I can do the final tweaks to the budget. The August budget is going to be weird and not be able to follow the budget template, but from September on it'll be set for the rest of the year.
DH will be getting what amounts to a 12% raise, but it is because our insurance premiums will be so much lower in September. He is not getting an actual raise, although his boss did try and says he will try again in 6 months. It will feel like a raise. Also in 18 months another guy is going to retire and his boss says he wants DH to take over his position which would be a promotion and likely a raise with the increased responsibility.
We will not increase our level of spending, though. All extra money will be put in the 401K and to pay off this last debt. Once the debt is gone, then the debt money will go to an EF of 3 months of expenses. Once we hit 3 months expenses, we will split that portion in half. One half will continue to build the EF until we hit six months of expenses. The other half will go towards a down payment fund for a house.
Once the EF hits six months of expenses, we will adjust our retirement savings to 10% and the remainder will go into the down payment fund. We may be saving for some time as I don't want to have a mortgage of more than $200,000.00. I really would prefer $100,000.00 mortgage, but that is not practical where we live.
If MIL gives us the $13K a year, we will fund a spousal Roth IRA with some of it and the rest will go into either the EF if we are still building it and then the house down payment fund.
I probably should start a sinking fund for a vehicle replacement. Right now our vehicles are in excellent condition. The 2011 Sienna has only just hit 40,000 miles. The 2007 Tacoma has a lot more miles, but is in great repair, so I think we have many years to go. But when something does go, we will want to get something nice, a used car in the $20,000 range or less. I reckon the Sienna will last another 15 years, but the truck might not. With Toyotas, though, as long as you keep them up, they last a very, very long time. Both will need new paint jobs, the truck first, and then eventually the van.
I'd like to take a vacation at some point, too. We haven't been on one in several years. So that should likely be one of our sinking funds as well. Hopefully, we will be able to achieve all of these goals in the next six years or so. I would like to get out of here sooner, but I just don't think that is to be.
So on Wednesday DD went to see the doctor and he told us to take her to the ER, that she needed a couple of bags of IV fluid. Meanwhile he started a referral to a gastroenterologist. So I spent 7 hours in the ER with her on Thursday, but they would only give her one bag of IV fluids and they gave her an anti-nausea drug that wasn't working and hadn't been working for the last couple weeks. They also sent a referral to the gastroenterologist, figuring two was better than one, and sometimes they go faster from the hospital.
I told them that the doctor had said she needed two bags of fluid, but after one she looked better so they sent her home and told her to drink Gatorade. She's been throwing up everything, including water, for two weeks. What made them think the Gatorade would stay down? It didn't. But they didn't want to give her a second bag of fluids, they wanted the bed and it was very clear they wanted the bed, they were talking about needing to clear beds, so they sent her home.
So after another 24 hours of vomiting, and her urine turning brown and being almost non-existent, she was thoroughly dehydrated again, so DH took her back. This time they gave her two bags of fluid and Reglan, a different more powerful anti-nausea drug. This one works.
The night time staff seems much better than the day time staff at the ER. I've felt that every time we've gone there. The night time staff always seems to be able to find her veins while the day time staff seems to make a game out of how many holes they can put in her without finding one. Okay, that's probably not fair, but seriously, if drawing blood is part of your job, you should learn how to do it well, not just stick someone and then poke around hoping you can slide into the vein from the side. Or miss it altogether and still start pumping the IV fluid in under the skin. That was a fun one a few weeks ago, but that was pre-surgery, not the ER. Same hospital, though.
They sent her home with a prescription for Reglan, too. She was able to eat at 4 a.m. and so far everything has stayed down. She has slept for most of the day and has been able to walk around without her cane, though she is still hugging the walls.
I am hoping this new drug will settle her stomach long enough for us to get in to see a gastroenterologist. But we still haven't heard from one and probably won't until some time mid-week next week. I wish they would be faster in getting back to us, but referrals seem to always be incredibly slow. And then it generally still takes weeks to see anyone once you can get an appointment.
I just hope we don't have to go back to the ER in the meanwhile. I know they can only do so much. It's just that when they don't do what they can do, that I get horribly frustrated. Most of the nurses have been really good, other than not being able to find veins. The doctors have been more of a crap shoot, but she got a good one last night. Not so much on Wednesday.
And at least this time when she used the restroom before leaving she didn't see a nurse come out of a stall, fluff her hair, and then leave without washing her hands. I mean, gross. Who would touch their hair without washing after using the toilet, for one thing? And for two, medical profession, wash your freaking hands after using the toilet. Ick. And for three, to do that in front of a witness? Not sure what she was thinking. When they send the survey that they always send after an ER visit, we are going to mention that incident, because seriously, ew.
I think I picked up something in the ER waiting room on Wednesday, too. I am running a fever and feeling mildly nauseated and exhausted and sleeping a ton. No other symptoms yet. I was fine before that. Hopefully it will pass quickly. I always get sick after spending time in the ER and their were people puking, so yay.
Thanks for all the prayers, people. They are appreciated.
I spent 7 hours at the ER with my daughter yesterday. DH has taken her back tonight. Over two weeks without being able to hold down her food. This is her third visit in less than 2 weeks. I don't understand their inability to make this stop. It's like they don't even want to try to get to the bottom of it. She says she feels like her body is shutting down and dying. It shouldn't be this hard.
Yesterday was a nice day. We went to a crab boil at DH's boss's house. DH went out on the boat with them in the morning to help catch crab. They had two boats out with 5 people per boat so they were able to catch 50 crab. The shellfish and seaweed harvesting license was $27 and it paid for itself, since all four of us went to the party. Plus, DH will likely go out again with either his boss or his cousin's husband. If he gets invited to go regular fishing again he'll get the salt water fishing license for that, too. His boss had invited him for Friday evening, but he didn't want to give up his overtime, so only did the crabbing on Saturday morning.
Now that overtime will be dropping from 15 hours a week to 10, he can work in such a way that his Fridays will end earlier and he can go fishing. His boss caught a really big King salmon. One King salmon would pay for the fishing license. Those puppies are big. It would be great to put some salmon in the freezer and to can some more.
We had a great time at the crab boil. All four of us went. There was crab, spot prawns, corn on the cob, baby potatoes, and sausage. Everyone brought deserts and there were a lot of them, but I didn't have any. I filled up on real food and the corn was as sweet as any dessert could have been. I don't like to eat desserts where I don't know what the ingredients are, because if it has something in it I am allergic to I will spend the whole party feeling sick. I took Benadryl preemptively in case something in the seasoning affected me, but nothing seemed to.
I was a little nervous at first, but I zeroed in on a lady who was looking kind of abandoned and started talking to her and it turns out we went to the same high school two years apart and were both in choir. Then we started talking about Disneyland and a few other things and spent like an hour chatting. Turns out she is the wife of DH's boss's boss. Apparently, I shmoozed the right person, although that was not my intention. I really liked her, she was nice.
Usually I am much more anxious around people I don't know, but yesterday was a good day for this introvert. Plus, all the free food makes me happy. And now I won't be so nervous when the full company picnic (this was just DH's department) happens in 2 weeks. We went home with a bag full of crab and prawns, too, so that will be for dinner tonight. I don't have to cook on a day that is rapidly approaching 90 degrees.
So DH's company is self-insured. I hope we don't bankrupt them. Anyway, here are the numbers.
Deductible is $1000 per person and $2000 per family. Co-pays do not count towards the deductible. $500 of well care is covered before meeting the deductible (like physicals). The out of pocket max is $2000 per individual and $2400 per family. If we go outside of network the deductible is $4000 per person and $4800 per family. Prescription co-payments are not included in the out of pocket max, unfortunately.
Our co-pay is 20% whether it be for a regular doctor or a specialist if the provider is in network. It is 40% if out of network. I have no idea yet about my doctors, but 40% is still less than a $55 co-pay for a specialist. I think. Diagnostic testing is 20% co-pay.
The prescriptions are high, though. $30 for generics and for brand name without a generic equivalent, and $50 for a brand name that does have a generic equivalent. So with me having 8 prescriptions and my daughter having 9 (currently, this may go up), and my husband having 1, all generics, that will come to $540 a month in prescription costs. Ouch. I wish it went towards the out of pocket max and you can see why.
I am used to prescriptions being $10/$20/$50, and some of them have been free, so this will be quite a jump. Still not anywhere near having to pay full price, though. I think we can get some of them for the monthly price if we get a 3 month supply through their mail order company, though. DH mentioned it, but I haven't seen any paperwork on it. A couple of our drugs won't qualify for that because the insurance and the government don't allow you to have more than a 30 day supply. For me that is only one drug, it might be two for DD.
The do have an FSA so I may do that with $540 a month going into that because we know for sure we will use that much, and it is pretax dollars. That is always better than post tax dollars. We'll have to see how much of a rigamarole it is to get reimbursed. If it is one of those nice ones that allow you to use an FSA debit card from the money you put into the account I will be very happy.
We will be coming out very far ahead, though, because the premiums are so much lower, so despite the high prescription costs, I have very little to complain about here. So long as I don't have to change all of my doctors, but I'm pretty sure that the primary care and the rheumatologist are in network as they have been for every one of the various insurances we have had for the last several years. It is probably my sleep doctor they will have issues with if they have issues with anyone. For some reason a couple of the insurances don't want to go with them. I only see him once a year now, though so it shouldn't be that big a deal if I have to have a 40% co-pay for an out of network doctor.
As soon as we get the paperwork in September about the mail order prescription company I will have to go and get written 90 day prescriptions from 3 different doctors, which will be a bit of a hassle, but I can call ahead and have them notify me when they are ready. None of my doctors are anywhere near my other doctors so I'll be running all over town, but so be it. I'll do it to save the money.
So the paycheck this week was only $666.11. Yeah, that's always a lovely number to see. The reason for this is that his former employer said he could just take the insurance for August out of his last paycheck for July so no one has to deal with COBRA paperwork, so that is what we chose to do. The new insurance starts on September 1st. It seemed the easiest of all options.
I also got my Thrive Life paycheck and my youtube/google paycheck, which are small, but that number is reflected in the tithe. I transferred $1500 out of savings, $500 of which I am saving for next week, to make up the difference. That $500 will be for groceries, medical, and household for that one week and then we'll get the two week paycheck and be on a bi-weekly budget.
$800.00 Monster Mom Loan
__56.83 DH Life Insurance
__45.30 My Life Insurance
_200.00 Grocery Envelope
_200.00 Medical Fund
__50.00 Household Envelope
_100.00 DH and My Monthly Blow Money
_100.00 DD's Birthday
1679.45 Total Money Out
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