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Archive for January, 2011

A Little Interest and House Stuff

January 31st, 2011 at 11:45 pm

I checked my savings account at ING today. I made a whopping $0.93 in interest this month. I only transferred most of the EF there ten days ago, and it's only counted as being in the account for 7 so I imagine next month it'll be over triple that. I keep $2000 of the EF in an easily accessible account at a local branch, but not the one I normally use on a day to day basis. If a true emergency hit and I didn't have access to anything for three days that would be kind of a mess.

I also found a penny in the parking lot of the chiropractor. It went in the coin jar towards the new laptop fund.

Spent $100 on dues today for our old homeowner's association and while my husband was out there paying it, our old neighbor asked him what he was planning to do with the house. His nephew was with him and is looking to buy and is handy and we wouldn't even need to fix it up, just sell it as is. DH gave them a tour and he really liked it. Which would be really, really nice, but...he wants us to carry the contract and I don't want to do that. I want the house completely gone and out of our name.

I told DH to find out why he wants to carry a contract, if it's a question of downpayment, we'll be selling the house for less than it's worth and it should easily qualify for a mortgage with the extra value. Other people are looking to rent it but I don't want the hassle involved with being a landlord. And I'm not sure what the legalities are involved in something like that.

Spendy Day but Planned for It

January 31st, 2011 at 07:52 am

Today was definitely a spendy day. We spent $40 for the Harry Potter exhibit at the science center. We spent $90 at Red Lobster, but will each get a second meal out of it and this was only one out of two meals out for the six week pay cycle. And my daughter got two pairs of jeans and a really nice set of boots. I hadn't planned on the boots but they were on sale marked down to $19.96 from $49.50 and since she has no dress shoes and they were in her size, 13W, it felt like a really good choice to make. She needed new jeans in a smaller size because she's lost some weight and her old ones were literally falling down. In total we spent $81 on her clothes.

Also a tank of gas to drive to Seattle and back so that was $28.09. Will have to fill it up again tomorrow.

For the new pay cycle my goal is to eat out only twice during the six weeks, but have the amount spent be $60 which will be half of this pay cycle's amount.

Weekend $ and Meal Planning

January 28th, 2011 at 10:52 pm

I still feel pretty awful today. I don't think this cold is going anywhere fast and that's annoying because we are going to Seattle on Sunday to the Pacific Science Center to see the Harry Potter exhibit. It leaves on the 31st (I think) and we had to reserve a time and everything, plus pay $10 per person ($40) total. It would be more if we weren't members.

I don't really care all that much for HP. I mean, I liked the books and everything and the movies are okay considering how much they leave out, I guess, but I'm one of these people that read each book once, watched eash movie once, at least up through five, and then let it go.

My family on the other hand is obsessed. So mostly I'm just going for them. I'm much more interested in the upcoming King Tut exhibit. I saw that as a child on a field trip and it made such an impression on me that I want my kids to see it, too. That'll be around sometime in the spring. We are eating breakfast at home, packing a lunch for the road, and having our one fancy meal out this pay cycle (six weeks) at Red Lobster.

I did yield to temptation yesterday and order a pizza but I had DH go pick it up instead of having it delivered, so $27.11, no delivery surcharge, no tip. We made it 17 days without eating out, which is pretty darn good for us. We ate the leftovers for lunch today, including sending cold pizza in lunchboxes to school. Both kids had yogurts ($2).

DH made French toast with real maple syrup and milk for breakfast so that was $4.50.

Dinner tonight is leftover homemade chicken noodle soup which I already put the cost in for the day I made it so basically free this time around. DH is making a two pound meatloaf ($6) and we will have a can of pineapple for fruit ($1) and milk ($2), so $8 for dinner.

We found a couple boxes of toaster waffles when we did our inventory earlier this week so that will be for tomorrow's breakfast. We get a gluten free one from TJ's (not because we have gluten allergies, just because it's the one type that doesn't have other ingredients in it that my son is allergic, too). We'll eat a whole box of eight so that will be $4. We'll have it with apricot jelly (free from my aunt) and powdered sugar (I dunno, 10 cents worth, maybe), and milk ($2). I also have some sausage patties that need using up. ($1). Total $7.50.

Lunch will be homemade cheeseburgers because we have four buns that need using up.
Homemade buns (.50)
1 pound organic hamburger (2.49)
4 slices Tillamook cheddar (.50)
Chopped onion (.05)
Condiments (.25)
Baked french fries ($2)
Pickles ($1)
Water
Total: $5.79

Dinner will be leftover meatloaf (free)
Potatoes($1)
Carrots ($1)
Broccoli (1.69)
Milk ($2)
Oranges ($2)
Total: $7.69

DD was talking about making a batch of homemade brownies which generally costs about 75 cents if she makes it with cocoa or $1.50 if she makes it with Baker's chocolate. We don't tend to eat sweets more than once a week (unless we're sick and needing ice cream). We also don't tend to snack much. If we do it's on things like air-popped popcorn sprinkled with organic cheese powder, and comes in at around 50 cents.

I signed back up with Global Test Market. When I was doing them before I was making about $50 every six weeks. I don't know how well I'm going to do now that I'm 40, though. I seemed to screen out of everything, when before when I was 37 and 38, I did almost everyone. Guess I'm not in the market they want anymore. Oh, well. I'm going to look into that watching videos for money thing Laura was talking about the other day. I'd like to add to my new laptop fund a little faster.

I am Mrs. Crankypants Today

January 27th, 2011 at 11:49 pm

I am Mrs. Crankypants today because I am still horribly sick with this cold and I had to go and be a GOOD MOM because my youngest had a large speaking role in the assembly at his school. Do not even ask me why they are celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day now instead of two weeks ago. I do not know. And since I missed the Veteran's Day assembly because I couldn't walk at the time, I really didn't feel like I could miss this one, too, (even though all he did in that one was sing and his dad and grandma both went). All I wanted to do was stay curled up in bed with a bowl of ice cream and a nice cuddly blanket, but I've been able to do so little with my kids lately I wanted to do this for him, despite feeling so awful. And he was so happy his dad and I both made it.

Why is it that there is always one person who thinks they need to douse themselves in an entire bottle of perfume before going to a public event? Or smoke an entire pack of cigarettes? Do they not realize how much they stink, how bad it is for the people around them to have to breathe that in, especially if they have allergies? There are at least 30 kids at my son's school who have asthma. And if you can't make it through a 45 minute children's assembly without taking a smoke break, there is seriously something wrong with you beyond addiction. End rant.

Someone tell me why it is not a good idea for me to order a pizza delivered? My willpower is very low and I am more than tempted to pay the $27 for a Montague's All Meat Marvel from RT, plus tip. Normally that is enough of a reason not to do it, but it would just make everything so much easier.

So far the only money spent today was on a nasal syringe. $6.29.



The Evil Empire is Still Evil

January 27th, 2011 at 01:58 am

I am terribly annoyed with The Evil Empire (BoA) today. On Jan 21st I made an online electronic payment to them to pay off the last of the loan interest that came in after I had "supposedly" paid off the entirety of the loan with their "payoff amount." It was supposed to be credited that day, but it never posted and it showed no record of payment pending. Then after that I couldn't even get into the account again for the next couple of days. It kept taking me to the VISA instead.

Finally I was able to get in there and it still showed us as owing that $218.18, so I sent DH to the bank with a paper check to pay it off. He asked them to look it up there and make sure there was no electronic payment pending first, so that we didn't end up with a double payment. There wasn't so he went ahead and paid it. Guess what just showed up today? The electronic payment that should have been credited on the 21st like the website claimed it would be! So now I'm down an extra $218.18 in the checking account. And who knows how long it'll take them to send the refund check. I am beyond irritated.

It's not like I need that extra money at the moment, I've got plenty of cushion in the account, but it's the principle of the thing. Can't these people just do their jobs right in the first place and keep a functional website and have their tellers know what they are doing?

So I still feel like death warmed over so meals for today looked like this:

Breakfast:
Joe's O's cereal for 4 ($2)
Boiled Eggs (free, from chickens)
Milk($2)
Total: $4

Lunch:
2 Kids--
PB&J sandwiches ($1)
Apple (.50)
Orange (.50)
Pretzels (homemade) (.25)
water

DH--
1 can of chili ($1.29)
2 biscuits (.30)
Leftover homemade chicken nuggets (amount taken out earlier in the week)
water

Me--
1 bowl of ice cream ($1)
1 glass pineapple juice ($.50)

Total: $5.34

Dinner:
Homemade chicken noodle soup
--onion (.75)
--2 carrots (.50)
--2 celery stalks (.50)
--parsley (free from plant in yard)
--salt and pepper (.02)
--garlic (.25)
--chicken broth ($1.25)
--half package egg noodles (.50)
Milk ($2)
Leftover chicken (amount taken out previously)
Total: $5.77

Hopefully tomorrow I will feel better and make better food for the family. DH cut up everything for me for the soup and followed my directions for putting it all in the crockpot and it turned out great. We only ate half of it despite everyone having two bowls but me so plenty leftover. Still, it was a pretty cheap food day all in all.

I am tentatiely planning better food for tomorrow but I think I'll wait until then and see how I feel and then post it for the day. I've got two written out, one for if I feel better and one for if I don't.

DH spent $5 on a box of Campfire Girl Mints. I told him they have to last for two weeks at that price. I also bought several vitamin supplements today for my immune system and because of muscle cramps in my calves. Magnesium, potassium, golden seal, echinacea, vitamin C, and fish oil. Spent around $75. I'm rounding because I don't feel like getting up and checking the receipt.

Sick with the Yuck and Snakes...No, Not that Kind

January 26th, 2011 at 09:01 am

I've managed to catch a cold on top of my kidney infection. It's that awful sort of full head, dripping nose, sore throat, don't want to do anything productive cold. So my meal planning kind of went out the window. We did not get takeaway though, no matter how sorely I was tempted. This makes...16 days I think with no eating out.

Instead I opened the cupboard doors and pulled out chili for the boys and beef stew for the girls. I don't like to do that sort of thing often. I'm not a big fan of processed foods but the chili was from Trader Joe's and the stew doesn't have additives or preservatives so in a pinch it'll do. That was about $7. I also ate ice cream twice today. Not something I normally do, but my throat hurt so much I just didn't care. It's $4 a quart and I ate half of it. Yikes. Oh, well. I hope I feel better tomorrow.

DH spent $25 on a plumber's snake today and used it to clean out the dryer hose. The dryer hasn't been drying properly in ages and after going through three cycles on high heat with one load he figured out it was jammed up. It's twenty feet from the dryer to the outside vent so he bought a 25 foot snake. He got out enough lint to make a cat with. Now it's drying nicely. One thing to look for when we buy a new house is a dryer connection on the outside wall of the house. It was so easy at our old house, you just reached in from the outside and pulled out anything that was there. This house was badly designed when it comes to accessing things.

The final interest payment on the loan posted today so it is officially paid off, unless they pull something like interest on the interest. Darn evil empire(BoA).

My meal plan for Wednesday is basically Joe's O's (like Cheerios, but organic and from TJ's) cereal for breakfast and whatever DH packs the kids for lunch and chicken noodle soup for dinner. I've got onions, carrots, celery, parsley, chicken broth, some leftover chicken, and noodles and they can just go in the crockpot and simmer away for four hours.

Laptop Fund, Loan Interest, and New Clothes

January 25th, 2011 at 03:27 am

I rolled up the rest of the coins in my coin jar, at least until I ran out of penny wrappers. I think there are at least 200 pennies left to do. DH went ahead and took the rolled coin to the CU. It was the wrong CU, but oh, well, I'll get it back tomorrow in dollars and take it over to the right CU, along with the $45 I've squirreled away for my new laptop fund. Come to think of it, there is money in the checking account over there, too. I think I'll add that to my fund as well.

$42.47 opening balance
$63.00 rolled coin
$45.00 squirreled money
$63.47 checking money
-------
$218.94 total laptop fund

I'm about 1/4 of the way there. Yay!

The payment I made online last week for the interest that came through after we paid off the big loan didn't go through and now it's not letting me access it. Every time I click on the link it takes me to our VISA instead. Fortunately the statement came in the mail today so I just wrote out the check and DH took it down to the bank when he picked up DD from high school, so that is taken care of. That was $218.18. So that should see the last of the loan. If they try to slap us with anymore interest charges I will be annoyed. The previous amount was supposed to be the payoff amount so that this wouldn't happen in the first place.

Other than that we spent no money today, although we did spend $133 last night on new clothes for the kids. My son has grown two inches since school started and my daughter has lost enough weight that all of her clothes are super baggy on her and she was constantly hiking her jeans back up. Not too bad for ten articles of clothing.

Meal planning for tomorrow:

Oatmeal ($1)
Eggs (free, chickens)
Milk ($2)
Canned peaches ($1)
Total: $4

Lunch:
2 Kids--school
PB&J sandwiches (homemade bread, homemade jelly) ($1)
Carrots (.50)
Baggy potato chips (.50)
Baggy Natural Cheetos (.50)
Yogurt ($2)
Water

2 Adults--home
1/2 a leftover cheeseburger (free)
2 leftover chicken legs (free)
oranges ($1)
leftover potatoes (free)
Yogurt ($2)
Water

Total: $7.50

Dinner:
Spaghetti ($1)
Homemade sauce consisting of one onion (.75), 2 cans tomato sauce ($1.50), 1 6 oz can tomato paste (.50), 1 can diced tomatoes ($1), garlic (.25), and herbs (.50)
Homemade Texas Toast ($1)
Milk ($2)
Dinner: $7.50

$19 for the tomorrow's food, not bad. Probably the best since I started keeping track.



Freezer Inventory

January 24th, 2011 at 07:01 am

Oh, my gosh, going through the freezers was a pain in the neck (and back), but it's done. I am wincing at how much we had to throw away due to freezer burn. Some of those items from the bottom of the freezer were from before we moved here in January of 2010. Yes, a year old! Ugh. I estimate we threw out $200 worth of food. And an additional amount of frozen garden produce that if purchased probably would be about $50. We will have to pay for an extra garbage can pick up because of it. *sighs*

We took an inventory of what was left and I made a spreadsheet of it. Remember my estimate of being able to go three weeks without buying any new meat? Way off. I think we will definitely be able to go three months without buying any new meat. Maybe even four. It's almost ridiculous. We live near a grocery store now. We don't need this kind of a stockpile. Even for serious carnivores like us.

I am going to have to come up with some new ways of cooking boneless skinless chicken thighs (25 pounds!) other than grilled on the George or made into homemade nuggets or we will all go crazy. I am currently watching a cooking show called Chinese Cooking Made Easy put out by BBC2. I'm hoping she'll do something with chicken soon so that I'll have something new and interesting to cook. Most of what she's made so far I'd have to buy ingredients for, although I did have some langastino in the freezer and she made that.

I plan to go through the cupboards this week as well and sort out what we've got in the way of canned and boxed goods and make another spreadsheet for that. That will help immensely with the meal planning. In the meanwhile, my plan for tomorrow:

Breakfast:
Waffles with homemade blueberry jam ($1)
Eggs (free, chickens)
Bacon ($2)
Milk ($2)
Total: $5

Lunch:
2 Kids--
Nitrate free Deli Meat and cheese sandwiches ($2)
Apple and an orange ($2)
Baggy Natural Cheetos (.50)
Baggy plain potato chips (.50)
Water (free)

2 Adults--
Tacos ($3)
Can of Pineapple ($1)
Water

Total: $9

Dinner:
Egg fried veggie rice ($1)
Homemade chicken nuggets ($3)
Milk ($2)
Broccoli ($2)
Ketchup (.50)

Total: $7.50

Coin Jar and Sunday Meal Planning

January 23rd, 2011 at 11:03 am

I rolled up the coins in my coin jar and ended up with $53.50. And then my son asked, "What about the other coin jar?" and pointed to one on a different shelf. It was a mayo jar and it was half full. I wasn't about to count up any more coins at that point though, so hopefully I'll get to later tomorrow (well, technically today). That all goes to the laptop fund.

Made it through another day of no eating out. Meal planning is really working for us. So Sunday's meal plan for the four of us will be:

Breakfast:
Chicken sausages with sundried tomatoes and provolone ($4) and homemade biscuits (.50), sausage gravy (.25) and milk ($2), so $6.75 total

Lunch:
Club sandwiches (homemade whole wheat bread (.25), tomato (.90), lettuce (.30), bacon ($2), roast beef ($2), ham ($2), turkey ($2), condiments (.25)
Cucumbers ($2)
Oranges ($2)
$13.70 total

Dinner:
Pork Chops ($4)
Potatoes ($1)
Green beans ($1)
Carrots ($1)
Milk ($2)
$9.00 total

Lunch is a little pricier than normal since the meat is all nitrate free, but it's also something we can make easily with a toaster and microwave. On Sundays we can't use the stove to cook at lunchtime because Mom has a Bible study meeting in the kitchen during that time (started when she couldn't get out to go to church due to her fall and she just continued it afterwards because it was easier) and our wing of the house doesn't have a stove. Usually I put something in my crockpot and make instant potatoes and veg in the micro, but we are out of pot roasts and picnic hams. Still, it's far cheaper than the old option which was grabbing meals at McD's ($25 for four of us) or Olive Garden ($75).

I have enough lunch meat to make it through the next three weeks of school sandwiches in the freezer, so my goal for the next 3 weeks is to not buy any new meat. We have all kinds of chicken, hamburger, beef stew meat, steaks, lamb, and a turkey in the freezers so we are going to work on getting that down. For all I know there are some pot roasts buried in the bottom of the chest freezer. I even have three bags of shredded turkey leftover from Thanksgiving that could go in enchiladas. Maybe DH and I should make an inventory of what we have in the freezers. Maybe in the cupboards, too. I'm forever buying stuff and coming home to put it away only to realize I already had some.

If all I have to buy in the next few weeks is milk and fruit and veg, it should give me substantial grocery savings to bank. Quite frankly, we could probably go six weeks without buying any meat, but I like having a bit shorter goals than that. I can always add on to the end of it.

Homemade Hamburger Buns

January 23rd, 2011 at 04:06 am

Miz Pat wanted to know how I make homemade hamburger buns so I'm posting the recipe. It costs about 50 cents for me to make these and the cheapest I can find them during the winter is $1.29 for eight, and that's not the additive free kind my son needs for his diet which is around $2.49 for eight. Recipe makes twelve. I make the dough in the bread machine, but you could use a stand mixer with a dough hook, or I suppose mix it by hand, but that's a lot of work.

2 1/4 tsp yeast (1 pkg)
1 1/4 cup warm water
3/8 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg, well beaten
4 1/4 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoon salt

Put in wet ingredients first, then yeast, then sugar, then flour. Mix in bread machine. Let rise one hour (or covered overnight in the fridge, will keep for four days). Pinch off into balls, place on cookie sheet, and flatten a bit with your hand so they are the shape of hamburger buns. I usually do twelve. You can make them oblong if you want hot dog buns, or you can make three smaller balls per each and put them into a muffin tin cup and make cloverleaf rolls. But I generally just make them round in the shape of hamburger buns. Let rise in a warm place at least one hour, two if you want bigger buns. Bake at 375 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes. Optional: Brush tops with melted butter.





Money in and Meal Planning

January 22nd, 2011 at 11:49 pm

Last night DH found a Verizon rebate card that we'd misplaced several months ago and it's valid until 8/11. It is for $50 and we can go online and have it direct deposited to our account, so that is going into my new laptop fund. I also emptied my purse on Friday before going to the CU to get this week's money out. I have a new rule that anything less than a $20 goes into the laptop fund. I had $13 and some change. I also pilfer ones through out the week. Monday I will go and make a deposit. Right now I am just stuffing the money in an envelope and the coin jar. I've got quite a lot of change I need to put through the CU's change counter.

DH opened his mail finally and found that his new work had sent him a $40 gift card for Christmas. The only place it is good for around here is Safeway, which is a 30 minute drive away, but none of the other stores even exist in this part of the state. So we'll swing out to Lynden the next time we visit his parents. Even if they don't have anything we want (son's diet makes it difficult to shop without reading every label in the store), we can at least buy fruit, veg, flour, sugar, yeast, honey, molasses, and other baking supplies. I normally buy the 25 pound bag of flour from Costco as it's cheapest, but I could get two ten pound bags this time instead. I don't think I'd buy meat there as I'm not sure about their policy on antibiotics and growth hormones and injecting meat with flavor enhancers or BPA packaging and I don't want to take the time to find out.

DH also has a $75 gift card from his previous employer that he needs to use, but it's on him how he spends it. I told him if the places it is good for don't have anything he wants we can always give him $75 cash and I'll use the gift card at one of the stores to buy clothes for the kids. The one thing he wants is $35, so the extra may just end up in his savings fund. He wants an electronic book reader of some sort.

Last night I made pizza for dinner. It was so good. The crust was perfection. It cost about $8 for all the ingredients and we topped it with cheese, Canadian bacon, pepperoni and leftover hamburger from spaghetti night. A pizza that size with that many toppings would cost $25 at our favorite pizza place. There was enough left over for lunch today.

Tonight's dinner is cheeseburgers with homemade buns and baked french fries. We will open a can of pineapple for fruit and have cucumbers for veg. With milk and condiments that'll come to $7.50. We've almost made it through two weeks without eating out. What a difference that makes to the food budget.

It Feels Like I Made Lots of Progress Today

January 21st, 2011 at 10:29 pm

I paid Mom $1000 on the medical loan I took from her today. I paid off the AMEX today ($1000 out of the paycheck and $500 out of the EF, leaving EF at $7,600) and the last bit of interest on the loan I paid off earlier this month hit our account so that was $218.18, which I also went ahead and paid so we should now be able to close that account down and have it marked as closed and current on our credit report. Yay.

That leaves us with $21,021.22 on the VISA and $4540.42 on the MC and that's it for our unsecured interesting bearing debt. That's a total of $25,561.64 left to pay. If we can manage $2500 a month in payments (which should be no problem) we can have it paid off by the end of the year. I think the MC will be paid off by the end of April. Wow, that light at the end of the tunnel just keeps getting brighter and brighter.

So this leaves us at:

$92,000.00 (no interest loan to Mom)
$25,561.64 (VISA 11.4% and MC 12%)
$22,053.10 (Mortgage 5.5%)
-----------
$139,614.74 Total

I looked up how much was left on the car after Wednesday's payment went through and it is $16,640.84. At the current rate of payments it'll be paid off 7/21/14, but once we get the credit cards paid off we will be doubling the car payments so I'm thinking more towards the end of 2012, probably.

I didn't make it to the pharmacy before it closed yesterday, so went today and paid $19.59 for 2 RX and then we went to WalMart to get non-prescription meds at $56.68. 4 boxes of nasal spray, 2 big bottles of antacids, and 2 mega packs of Dayquil/Nyquil gelcaps. Hopefully that will get us through the rest of the winter. I'll have to pick up more Sudafed at some point, but that can't be bought in bulk without a doctor's note so that comes a bit at a time.

More Medical Spending and No Eating Out

January 20th, 2011 at 11:41 pm

DD is home from school and the first thing out of her mouth was, "Can we go out to eat?" *sighs* I told her no and she was all, "But we always go out to eat when Dad comes home." My response was not anymore. I think I'll have to sit down with her and talk about it and explain why. That we are pushing hard to get out of debt and then to save up a downpayment for a new house to add to whatever we get for the old house. And that the sooner we get the money saved the sooner we'll be out of here. She really doesn't like living here very much and now that Mom needs minimal attention on a daily basis we don't technically need to still be living in the same house with her, so the sooner we are in a position to really save, the better. She loves her grandma, but they are too alike to get along very well and really, a house nearby is much better than sharing living quarters, even in a house this large. Buying a new house before the old one sells just isn't an option, though.

We are going to go down to the Science Center some time in the next three weeks (we are members), so we will pack a lunch and snacks, but we will have one planned dinner out and it will be our only fancy restaurant meal this pay cycle. Well, I say fancy. I mean Red Lobster. *laughs* We'll stick with our water only drinking rule and no desserts. And since we will have the cooler with us it will be easy to take all the leftovers home for additional meals. We can usually get 3 meals each out of one of their feast type meals. Well, DH gets two, but the rest of us can get three.

I went to the doctor today and am still infected, so $20 copay, 2 new prescriptions, and a referral to a specialist, oh, joy. I've an appointment with the specialist on 2/15, soonest I can get in. Bummer. I hope this doesn't mean yet another surgery. I am sick to death of being cut open, thank you very much. Plus it'll be another $2000 or so out of pocket and put debt repayment back a couple of months. Still I can't go on like this. I have jury duty in April so I would have to plan around that or at least defer it. I've already deferred it once when recovering from knee surgery/issues so I don't know how cooperative they will be at the court house if I try to do it again.

I haven't gone to pick up the medications yet, so will probably just come back and edit this post later with those expenses. They are both generics, so it shouldn't be too bad. While I was at the doctor DH went around the corner to make a payment at the dentist office. $182.60. Ouch. Our medical may be good, but our dental sucks.

AMEX Decision and Meal Planning

January 20th, 2011 at 04:52 am

Well, DH and I talked it over and we decided to go ahead and pay off the AMEX card on Friday. I'm still getting the hang of the new budget and the higher income, but it looks like I'll be able to come up with $1000 of the payment just out of the paycheck and only have to dip into the emergency fund for the just under $500 of the remainder. I feel a lot better about that. I really didn't want to take the whole amount out of the EF. It'll be a little tight doing it this way, but I'm used to living on tight. And anyway, it'll make things less tight from the end of February onward.

The car payment came out of checking today so that was $490.70 for that and then I bought some groceries today at $37.47. We also filled up the gas tank for $37.09. There was no other spending today.

We are on day ten of no eating out. Today was the first day that the kids really fussed at me about it. Their dad came home today and in the past we have usually gone out on that day. Instead we made spaghetti and hamburger for dinner. We had a little leftover hamburger from last night and then did up another pound. Between the milk, spaghetti noodles, the tomato sauce, the herbs, and the hamburger it cost about $8 to feed the four of us. Going out to Olive Garden like the kids wanted, even with drinking only water and having no dessert, would have cost us between $65 and $100 with the tip. Pretty darn good savings, methinks.

I made homemade blueberry jelly with my mother yesterday. We took frozen berries from the freezer. The berries were free since they came off her bushes this summer. So just a bit of money for the sugar.

Planning for tomorrow, breakfast will be eggs, milk, toast with jelly, and bacon. Eggs are free-ish from the chickens and toast is pennies because I made the bread myself. Bacon is $3.99 a pound for the nitrate free kind and we will go through half a package. So breakfast will be about $4 with the cost of the milk. Not bad. We're really starting to get the cost of breakfast down.

Lunch will be club sandwiches all around to use up the rest of the bacon and the nitrate free lunch meat that has one day left on it. Plus we've got 3/4 of a tomato that needs using up and a bit of lettuce. The kids don't mind eating them cold in their lunches, but DH's and mine will be delightfully warm. I use Dijon mustard on mine instead of mayo for a bit of a kick. We've got some carrots that need using up so will add that and some bananas that have just ripened for fruit. We drink water at lunch. Not quite sure on the price range for that, I haven't sat down and done the calculations yet.

Dinner will be baked chicken ($4.29), green beans ($1.50), potatoes and gravy ($1.00), corn bread (.79 Jiffy mix) and oranges ($2.00) and milk ($2.00). Mom will be eating with us so that will feed five and we should have two pieces of chicken and some potatoes and gravy leftover for later meals. Possibly some cornbread but probably not. So $11.58 plus leftovers, not too bad.

Tomorrow is my second baking day of the week so I will make buns, biscuits, cornbread and possibly pumpkin bread if I still have the ingredients and the time (I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow so may not have as much time as usual). I think I saw a can of pumpkin kicking around last time I went through the cupboards. I think I'll try to talk DD into making sugar cookies tomorrow after school if she doesn't have too much homework. She's got it down pat and they are so good.

Back and Forth

January 18th, 2011 at 03:47 am

I keep going back and forth on whether or not I should take some money out of the EF and pay off the AMEX card or not. It's currently got a balance on it of $1,475.68 and the EF is at $8,100, so if I did, that would drop the EF to $6624.32. The EF is only earning 1.1% or whatever ING is at the moment and the credit card is at 15.24%.

In the past the interest rate never mattered because I never had a balance on it. We only used it for gas at Costco and paid it in full each month. When DH got laid off and then hired by another company, we had to go several weeks without a paycheck (even though we knew one was coming and we'd be okay in the long run) so we put about $2000 worth of expenses on it. We've been carrying a balance on it since November and it's been driving me crazy.

I think the problem with taking money out of the EF for me is that it finally has one month's income in it. I don't ever think I've had it at one month's income before. (This is not, by the way, the same as one month's expenses). That was something I tried so hard for in the past, but something always came up. And logically, I know we'll have the AMEX paid off by the end of March without dipping into the EF, but my brain keeps going pay it off, pay it off, pay it off NOW.

Conversely, I know that if I do pay off the AMEX now, we can get the EF back up to $8,100 by the end of March and save ourselves two month's worth of interest payments. This really should be a no brainer. If I do it, we'd be down to only having two credit cards left to pay off and it would make payments and budgeting a lot easier come next month. It would leave us with one card to aggressively pay down and one card that was slowly going down until the other was paid off.

I feel like I'm on a merry-go-round.

Bills paid today:

Water bill (4 months)--$302
Physical Therapy--Medical--$90

Was very tempted to pick up a double cheeseburger after PT today. I did not, though it was touch and go there for a bit. It helps that they've changed the road there so you can't easily get to the McD's without making a huge, inconvenient loop several blocks out of your way. We ate up all our leftovers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner today, as planned. I need to sit down and figure out what dinner is going to be tomorrow. Maybe chicken.

Meal Planning Pays

January 17th, 2011 at 05:11 am

My goal for the week was to make it through without any meals out, via planning my meals well, and we did it. I'm rather proud of myself considering eating out is generally caused by personal laziness on my part and not a planned thing. I want to make it through this week, too, without eating out, but it will be harder because DH comes home on Wednesday and it is always harder when he is home because he loves eating out. Still, the kids and I are getting into a routine now and the great thing about DH is that even if he wants to go out, he won't grump about it in front of the kids. He'll grump about it privately to me, but he won't make it so that the kids start whining about it, too.

We've had some talks this month about our goals and he really wants to get the credit card debt gone by the end of the year so he has agreed "in theory" to eat out far less. Maybe one nice meal out a month and possibly go get a bag of the cheapy double cheeseburgers and freeze them for "emergency" purposes. I am hoping to eliminate it altogether, but realize that is probably highly unlikely. And what he agrees to abide by when he is 3000 miles away and having all his meals provided for him by work and what he agrees to abide by when he is at home and might have to cook for himself may not be entirely the same thing.

I used the last of the frozen beef pot roasts I got on sale a couple months ago for $1.99 a pound today. I'll have to be on the lookout for another good sale. Threw it in the crockpot and it got nice and tender. We had that with leftover potatoes and gravy from yesterday which we used up but for a little gravy, green beans (will have what's left tomorrow), some leftover biscuits from earlier in the week, and my little splurge of fresh dark red cherries for desert. We each got twelve. So delicious. Mom ate with us tonight.

There was enough pot roast left for another meal, but my kids don't like warmed up pot roast and neither do I unless I can make some sort of hash from it, so I put it into a baggy and froze it for when DH comes home. He loves making sandwiches with leftover potroast.

Tomorrow is going to be an odds and ends day for lunch and dinner since it is a school holiday. I actually got the kids to agree to it. We'll use up the green beans and the leftover broccoli and corn from earlier in the week. There are 3 pieces of chicken left, 2 biscuits, 3/4 cup of gravy, 1 pancake, 1 cut up orange, half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, half a can of chili, 1 slice of frozen pizza, salad fixings, and a cup of macaroni and tomato sauce. This will actually be the first time in ages we won't have thrown out any food in a week. Let's hear it for leftover management.

I added $20 to my new laptop fund to reward myself for not eating out all week. That's about a third of what we would have spent if we'd gone out this week as much as had become normal. The rest went to the grocery budget and whatever is left at the end of the paycycle will be saved.

More on Yesterday

January 16th, 2011 at 12:07 am

I just signed in, spent almost half an hour composing a long and detailed blog entry, went to post it and got a notice saying I am already signed in as me. Yeah, duh, I know, what's your point? Give me back my entry. Of course it's gone into the ether. Between that and having to sign in every single time I come here this week instead of it saving it like it's supposed to when you hit remember me, it's getting really frustrating. I don't even have the energy now to recompose the whole thing. Too bad, for it was light and witty and would have changed your world. *snerks*

So the basics for yesterday:

Medical--$20 co-pay doctor visit
Medical--$11.81 prescription for kidney infection
Allowance (six weeks) kid #1--$60 @ $10 per week
Allowance (six weeks) kid #2--$30 @ $5 per week
Utilities for my mother--$300
EF deposit--$100, bringing total to $8,100.00
Parking meter at library--$0.25

Added all the ones in my purse to the coin jar for the computer fund and dumped out all my change save a quarter for the meter.

Got another hold from the library yesterday. This one is significantly more useful. It's called $3 Meals by Ellen Brown. A more appropriate title would be $3 per serving Meals, but otherwise I'm quite happy with it. I think I might be able to cut out about $50 a month from my grocery budget using her strategies. It was published 2009, too, so it's not terribly outmoded when it comes to how much stuff actually costs. I just wish it didn't rely so much on some of the things we're allergic to here like vinegar (allergic to grapes and apples so wine and cider based vinegars are out) and mushrooms. Still it's not all beans, rice and lentils. It actually has meat, poultry, and fish, so yay. We'll see how it goes.

I have more bills to pay out of this paycheck but will do that tomorrow or Monday.

Paid Off a Credit Card

January 14th, 2011 at 05:46 pm

So I sent off $1,438.00 electronically to pay off Master Card #1 in full. I also paid $300 on Master Card #2. I set it up last night so that it would come out today and I'm glad I did now since the BoA website seems to be down but good. It's payday so I will be paying some other bills today, but that will be later after I go to the doctor ($20 co-pay). For now I'm just excited to have a card paid off.

$144,460.08 Debt
-001,438.00 MC#1 payoff
-----------
$143,022.08 Debt Left

I won't adjust for the other credit card or the mortgage I paid a couple days ago until new totals have been posted to those accounts.

Today's Accountability

January 14th, 2011 at 02:36 am

I went to the grocery store today and spent $36.50. They had prepared chicken on sale, ten pieces for $4.99, less than the cost of a raw whole chicken by a dollar. I don't usually buy their prepared chicken but it seemed silly to buy the raw one when I really didn't feel like cooking at all as I'm coming down with something and the cooked one was so much cheaper. We had leftover potatoes and gravy in the fridge from earlier in the week and we opened the ever faithful can of green beans. All in all a pretty frugal meal, and there are still five pieces of chicken left so we will get another dinner, plus a lunch for somebody out of it.

I gave my mother the white meat since she likes it and we don't. I also bought one of their prepared 1.5 pound meatloaves for $5. Hamburger here is $2.50 a pound and if you add in the cost of the ingredients, it is pretty close to breaking even. Maybe 50 cents cheaper to make it myself, but again I really feel yucky. I just got the kids well, so I don't need to infect them with whatever I'm getting.

I went and looked up the amount still owed on the car finally. It's about $3000 less than I thought at $17,022. That was a nice surprise. I really should keep better track of these things.

Tomorrow is payday and I'm looking forward to paying off MC #1. This month has been really exciting so far as paying things off go. I like making progress. It makes me giddy.

It's a Definite Want

January 13th, 2011 at 06:36 am

I want a new laptop computer. I sort of think I need a new computer, but the truth is really that I want one. And I know it. The one I am using is still perfectly serviceable...for a while. Yes, I've worn all the lettering off most of the keys, but I've got the keyboard memorized. It's not like I need them.

Yes, the screen does have some colored, verticle lines running down it, but it usually doesn't interfere with anything I'm doing. It's on the side of the screen where all the ads usually go on websties so it doesn't really interfere with my reading blogs or articles or whatever I'm doing. It doesn't even really affect my word processing (which I do a lot of) because the closest line to the document is right at the right hand margin. I've been putting up with that for almost a year, but they are gradually creeping further to the left. It's annoying, mostly when I watch DVD's on it.

And yes, I had to superglue parts of it together when it was only six months old, because the frame was falling apart on me. It's actually held up really well since I did that. And yes, I've had to replace the power cord twice, but the battery still holds almost a full charge (which lasts 3.5 hours on powersaving mode).

It's also very heavy. Which is hard on my hands when I carry it anywhere with me. I really want a lightweight one. Something I can easily transport when DH isn't around to be my beast of burden. The one I want is about two to three pounds. It feels like a feather in comparison. And it comes in hot pink, purple, green and red. *sighs*

It'll be two years old in February and really...I just don't need a new one. Not yet. However, I think I am going to start putting money aside for one, because obviously this one is falling apart and there is going to come a time when it moves firmly into the need (as much as a computer can be a need) column.

I've got this little savings account that I call my WANTS account. It's got a grand total of $47.37 in it at the moment. So I think I'm going to find ways to add to that. I think that since I am regularly contributing to the EF with regular deposits, I am going to take any found money, all of my coin jar savings, and any little thing I do to save myself money that I normally would have spent it on, into that account. So today I cut my bangs myself. Even at the cheapest place in town that would cost me $7. So I will $7 to my WANTS account for that.

It rained really hard this afternoon and all of the snow melted. It's 47 degrees at current. Hard to believe it was a snow day! We ended up going to the library because some of our requests came in. I spent a quarter today for the parking meter. The stupid, newfangled metering system no longer has fifteen free minutes on it. It no longer has the option of using a nickle or a dime, either, and the quarter only buys you 20 minutes. And the five minute drop off slots were all full. I miss having a library with free parking. We only needed five minutes tops to pick up our holds. Holds are self serve and so is checkout. It takes hardly any time at all.

Anyway one of the cookbooks I put on hold last night was in. It's called The Healthy Family by Sandi Richard and has a lot of easy to prepare, quick to make recipes in it. It was rec'ced over at Get Rich Slowly so I thought I'd check it out. The kids were reading it over my shoulder and it looks like they will actually like at least half the recipes. That's a first. Mostly they looked pretty good to me.

I was a little disappointed in some of the recipes ingredients though because they called for things like "cream of" soups. I've never found a healthy "cream of" soup. They are all loaded with sodium, MSG, and other chemicals that I don't really think should be anywhere near a "healthy" cookbook. Those tended to be the ones the kids turned their noses up at though.

And there was almost an abuse of white rice. I mean, I know if you are going for time saving then brown rice isn't your first option, but white rice probably shouldn't be either if you're going for healthy. And with brown rice you could do up a big batch on the weekend for use throughout the week and still save time. But lot of the other recipes seem okay. Especially the Asian style ones. We'll see how they taste and I'll try to follow up if I remember. They do call for a lot of sauces and again that generally means a lot of sodium.

Another Snow Day Here

January 12th, 2011 at 03:28 pm

Well, there's no school today as we got a bunch more snow dumped on us. It's not anything like in other parts of the country, I think there's only about eight inches total, but there's a lot of black ice under it and the plows are having a hard time. Plus it's very cold and they are using a little common sense this time about closing schools that the majority of kids in the district walk up to a mile to get to. I am glad I bought milk last night.

I think I will bake today. I usually bake on Thursdays but with the kids home it will give them something to do. I've got the ingredients for pumpkin bread and can have my daughter make cookies since the stock in the freezer is almost gone. Then of course the dinner rolls and buns. I won't need to make any more bisquits as I did that on Sunday and there are enough for the week.

Today will be an enforced no spend day, though I had no plans to spend any money anyway. There's plenty of time for pancakes and eggs and fruit for breakfast and the kids have been bugging me about fast food type food so I'll probably make cheeseburgers with fresh buns and fries for lunch. I got a great deal on ten pounds of frozen organic french fries a while back and we are slowly working our way through them.

Dinner will be leftovers as we have two pieces of chicken, a couple of salmon patties, and two servings of pot roast left still to eat. I just need to add veg and starch. I'm watching letovers very closely this week to prevent food waste. We have a tendency to throw out so much food because it gets shoved to the back of the fridge and forgotten about. In an effort to cut back on the grocery budget, we will do best at managing waste first so we don't have to go buy more of something right away.

I spent a lot of time yesterday reading on ways to save money on food. Most of it was the same old/same old but I found some interesting articles that were actually helpful. I was at Kitchen Parade and found this series of articles: http://www.kitchenparade.com/2008/07/how-to-save-money-on-gr... It's a five part series, but only the first three have been written so far. Still well worth reading though in my opinion.

I also spent some time at Get Rich Slowly which did have some nice tips, though a lot of them were things I had heard before. I did come away with some new information though, so it was worth the read.

My food budget is the easiest to cut as it has the most fat in it. I just really have to be on the ball about it and not be lazy. Laziness is the number one killer of the food budget in this house. If we are not lazy this month, I think I can squeeze out $200 for savings or extra debt payoff.

I put some books on hold at the library. Mostly cookbooks on healthy eating or making restaurant style (Chinese, Japanese, Mexican) food at home from scratch. Hopefully they won't take too long, though one of them had 2 requests before mine, the rest I was the first requester for.

Not Much to Report...

January 12th, 2011 at 04:47 am

...but since I'm trying to make daily blogging a habit again, here I am.

I paid out $46.27 for perscriptions today. Two generics and one pricey brand name that is unfortunately the only med that works for me. At least the insurance with DH's new job is good. The pricey one is $40. The other two were cheaper than our insurance so bought those outright.

I also paid $5.99 for milk while I was there because we are supposed to get socked with a snowstorm overnight and if we do I didn't want to run out of the one thing I can't make from scratch in a pinch. (No, I won't drink dried milk, I've tried it every way they've suggested to make it taste better, but just ew). Part of me hopes it snows so bad the schools shut down. The other part of me doesn't want to be stuck in the house with the kids all day and really wants what is currently on the ground to melt instead and for winter to be a distant memory.

It's Done

January 10th, 2011 at 10:25 pm

Well, I did it. I went down and paid off the Gold Star loan in full at Bank of America. They were kind of impressed. The teller was like, "Wish I could do that," grumble, grumble, sigh. I messed up my numbers the other day and had to go back and correct them.

$182,783.95 total starting debt (minus car)
- 38,323.87 payoff amount
-----------
$144,460.08 total ending debt (minus car)

Take that Evil Empire of Creditors! It feels marvelous to see such a huge drop like that!
That leaves just $29,133.45 of interest bearing unsecured debt left and I really do think we can pay that off this year if we are careful with the budget. 18 months tops if we leave a little more wiggle room. On Friday I get to pay off Master Card #1 in full. Yay! Then the money that has been going to pay that will go to the next credit card we will pay off.

On my quest to not eat out I had leftover potroast/sweet potato hash in a tortilla and for dinner tonight I am making salmon patties from canned salmon in the pantry (just egg, green onions, garlic, salmon and a bit of salt and pepper). Easy peasy. I'll probably open a can of green beans and a can of corn as well.

I found 2 more pennies in the snow in the parking lot at the physical therapist's office. That makes $5.05 this month.

Wrote a check to the physical therapist for $90 as well. That is the only money I will spend today.

Edited to add: I forgot about the fact that I paid the mortgage today as well, so $375.86 was also spent for that.

Paying off the Loan Today

January 10th, 2011 at 06:14 pm

Ugh...snow. You know I really don't get why today had to be a late start day for the school district. It's 32 degrees outside and the roads are completely clear. In November when it was 17 degrees outside and had a windchill factor well below zero, and 8 inches of snow instead of the current two and the roads were lousy, they did not cancel school or have late starts even though they should have.

My son doesn't go in until eleven so it's pretty much blown my whole morning. Although he did fold a load of towels without being asked. He's starting to pay some attention now to what needs to be done around the house. Now if my older daughter would do the same thing...

So today after I go to the physical therapist for my knee I will go to the bank and make a mortgage payment and then go to the other bank and pay off our personal loan in full. Yeah, that is going to feel pretty good. Like a giant weight being lifted off our shoulders. I can't wait to do it and see our debt total drop so substantially.

Found 3 pennies in the school parking lot. That is $5.03 so far this month. I threw them in the coin jar when I got home.

A Cooking Day

January 10th, 2011 at 12:32 am

I am very glad I went grocery shopping yesterday as we woke up to snow this morning. Hard to believe there is so much of the white stuff still out there when the sun is shining so brilliantly, not to mention blindingly. I'll have to go out and clean off the car before the sun goes down so that I don't have to do it in the morning when I drive the kids to school.

I found $5 in a wad of ones in the middle of the Trader Joe's parking lot yesterday. There was no one else around who could have dropped it so I took it and put it in the coin jar when I got home. I don't understand people who don't put bills in their wallets. It is so easy for money to fall out of your pockets, especially when it is so cold that you have your hands in them a lot.

Today has been the kind of day where I am very glad I put a pot roast in the crock pot this morning and pizza dough ingredients in the bread machine this afternoon, because otherwise I would have been extremely tempted to order a pizza delivered. A $27 x-large all meat pizza, plus tip. I really do not need to do that when I have all the makings for a great pizza (ham, bacon, ground beef, homemade sausage, salami, pepperoni, proscuitto, onions, peppers, tomatoes, sauce, herbs and cheese) in the freezer, fridge or pantry. I won't use all those toppings on one pizza, I just have the choice to do so. Well, two pizzas as the crust recipe makes two large (or three smaller) crusts, but I usually just freeze the second one for later.

The pot roast had enough meat for two meals and I made microwaved sweet potatoes and a can of green beans to go with it. I think I will make a sort of beef and sweet potato hash with the leftovers. I like to do that and eat it in whole wheat tortillas with a salad added for a later meal. It is surprisingly good and I never would have thought of it except my ten-year-old has been going through a phase of wanting to eat everything in tortillas this year. There will be plenty of leftover pizza for the kids to take in their lunches for school. I am so glad they will eat cold pizza. They didn't use to eat any leftovers cold, so they have come a long way.

The ducks are mad because their little pond froze over and have no trouble expressing their displeasure with the situation. We had to put some hay down for the chickens. They are so funny to watch walking through the snow, but they really do need a hay path to have a break. They need to eat more feed in this weather to produce well. Most days this winter have been around 40 degrees, which is still warm enough for them to forage for most of their food, but during these cold snaps they need grain. We are getting seven eggs a day which is still more than we can use, especially with DH in Alaska. I should probably make up some meatloaves for the freezer to use up some of the excess.

I should probably go ahead and make buns and biscuits for the week, too. I've gotten lazy about making bread and just tend to make rolls and buns instead. Well, it is part laziness and part making the right portion sizes so someone doesn't hack off a huge chunk of bread to eat and suddenly it is all gone. The kids don't care what their sandwiches come on so long as it's homemade (or tortillas). They really don't like store bought bread of any kind anymore. I usually do that on Mondays and Thursdays, but I have an appointment tomorrow with the physical therapist and may be too exhausted afterwards.

My goal for the week to save money is to not grab anythng out to eat. No drive-thru meals and definitely no sit down restaurant meals. Our biggest wasted spenditures are from eating out too much. So today is day one of that.

Massive Updatiness

January 9th, 2011 at 12:33 pm

We have set a goal to have all of our unsecured interest bearing debt paid off by the end of the year. As such, I am determined to start blogging again for real to help us in accomplishing this. The last year has been really unfocused and I need to find that focus again. I know we can do it, but it's going to take dedication and the determination not to be lazy about things.

So where we stand at the moment as far as total debt is concerned (minus the car):

$ 93,000.00 medical debt
22,326.63 mortgage
38,323.87 personal loan
+ 29,133.45 credit card debt
-----------
$182,783.95 total

So we have paid off quite a bit this year. And considering when I started this blog we owed around $250,000 I think we are doing pretty well.

The credit card debt is spread over 4 cards. We will be paying one of them off this month and we will also be paying off the entirety of the personal loan this month, which will bring that debt total down to around $123,000. We should be able to pay off a second card by the end of March.

The $93,000 is a non-interest bearing loan from my mother. We are paying her back at a rate of $1000 a month. At that rate it will be 7 years and 9 months to be paid off. She doesn't want us paying it back any faster than that, because she wants a steady influx of cash to live on each month. I'd prefer to add more to it, but I suppose once all other debt is paid I can always just put any extra in a savings account dedicated to paying her back.

My husband is working for a new company and it came with a substantial raise in income of about $2000 more net each month. He started there in November. He's guaranteed work (on contract) for the next three years so we are going to make hay while the sun shines.

We need to finish fixing up the house by mid-Spring so we can put it on the market. At this point I don't care if we get the true value of it, I just want to be rid of it. I'm tired of maintaining two households. As long as it pays off the mortgage and gives us $50,000 in the bank towards our next downpayment on a house, I will be happy. I think if we price it right and as a fixer upper we could probably unload it faster than the other people selling houses in our area. They have so overpriced their houses for the location and the depression.

We've got somewhere around $20,000 left to pay on the car. It's about three and a half years left. I'm not sure of the exact amount because it is on autopay and so I kind of don't pay attention to it or count it in the overall total. I should, but I don't. I know we are three months ahead on it, though. It will be the next focus after the unsecured debt is paid off. I think we can finish paying it off by the end of 2012.

I'm not sure when we'll start looking for a new house but it's not going to be this year. It's not something I'm prepared to even try to do until the unsecured debt is gone.

We've got $8000 in the emergency fund and I will add to it a little bit at a time, but not aggressively, this year. Just mostly saving change, throwing in whatever I cut from the grocery budget, and adding $100 or so a month consistently. Eventually I'd like to have $50,000 in there as a long term goal.

Okay, I think that about sums up where everything stands. Now if I can get myself back into the habit of doing this again on a regular basis I'll be a happy camper.