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Archive for July, 2011

EF/Coin Jar

August 1st, 2011 at 03:50 am

I added $3.40, the change from the $5 I gave the kids to buy corn, to the coin jar. I might actually have enough to make a deposit by week's end after all. My little EF is growing.

I am Bored

August 1st, 2011 at 12:37 am

Normally boredom leads to spending money, but since I can't drive myself anywhere yet, not so much. The kids went out for a walk and I sent them with a $5 bill so they could swing by the grocery store and get some corn on the cob for dinner tonight. I love it when it's in season like right now and relatively inexpensive. Not great, it's still 2/$1, and I know if I could drive out to the country farms I could get it at least 8/$1 or even 10/$1.

This is not strictly a necessary purchase as we do have canned corn in the cupboard, but some days you just want what you want and so you give in to that want. A few bucks for corn is better than giving in to the want for Round Table I had the other day (which I did not do) or the desire to send my mother to hit the McD's drive-thru. And the chickens will eat off the cobs when we are done with them. They love empty cobs, because to them they are not quite as empty as they appear. I'm still way under budget for groceries so I'm not really going to freak out about it.

Two more days until my follow up appointment. It cannot come soon enough.

I have a big roast in the crockpot for dinner. I didn't realize it was as large as it was. 4 pounds. I do have Yankee Noodles planned for leftovers and maybe roast beef hash, but I'm going to need a few other recipes for leftover potroast. Anyone got any ideas besides sandwiches?

Bits and Pieces

July 30th, 2011 at 08:56 pm

Not too much going on in the financial arena today. I sent off the HoA half year dues for the old house, $100. It's due the 31st and I spaced out mailing it yesterday, so it went out in today's mail. I'm not that worried about it. The HoA people only work on Tuesdays and Fridays and it'll be there by Monday. In the past on the occasion that I was actually a day or two late, they never charged me the $5 late fee, because I was one of the people that actually consistently paid the dues year after year without them having to go knocking on my door to collect like they do with so many people.

I went ahead and paid my AMEX bill, $500 as well. It's not due until the third and I was going to just set it to pay that day, but then I was like, what does it matter, I'll just set it to pay today and be done with it and not have to worry about anything until next Friday. The autopays come out the 1st through the 4th and there's plenty of money in the account for that.

We are still working on that leftover ham. If DH had been home it would be long gone by now. The kids had ham and gnochhi soup and I had a warm ham sandwich. I haven't had a warm ham sandwich in a long time, maybe not since I was a kid. All I did was cut a piece of bread in half, butter it, put a nice thick slice of ham and thin slice of Swiss cheese in it and warm it up in the microwave for about 30 seconds. It was delicious. I don't really care for mayo on its own or I might have used that instead of butter. I could have used Dijon mustard, too, but didn't think about it. Besides I used butter as a child so that's what I thought of.

I bet it would taste even better on one of my homemade rolls. Right now we have actual store bought bread (Big Horn Valley) because I am not really doing extra baking yet. I thought about making drop biscuits today because they aren't that much effort, but DD said she wanted to make cookies instead and I wasn't going to argue with that. Maybe I can get her to throw in a pan of cornbread, too.

Dinner tonight is chicken, mostly because if I serve ham one more time this week I might have a revolt on my hands. I think I will do a package of wings and some thighs. We've diced up what is left, about a sandwich baggy full and thrown it in the freezer for a future pizza topping. So tonight is chicken (barbecue sauce on mine), mashed potatoes from scratch because they need using up, and broccoli because it needs using up. Also milk and cookies.

Then Sunday I will make a potroast in the crockpot for dinner. Monday will be Yankee Noodles, a recipe I found on www.livingonadime.com, only instead of using ground beef I will use leftover potroast. I will also use some of the leftover meat in sandwiches for our trip back to Virginia Mason for my follow up appointment. Did I mention I had the day wrong? The appointment is on Tuesday not Monday. I was really frustrated by that because I want to be done with this part of things, but at least it doesn't interfere with my mother's schedule (because she is driving).

Not really much else going on today. The kids picked enough blueberries and blackberries last night for today so we will have the rest of those for dessert tonight. I know I haven't posted my food costs much lately, but I am keeping track of them. On big meat nights I'm averaging around $20 a day, but on leftover meat nights my costs are down around $12 a day. Not too shabby.

It is nice to not be spending money on frivilous things this week. No extras from the grocery store. No wasted gas. No DVD rentals from the cheap box (no excuse for this when I have Netflix). No fast food. No slow food from restaurants either. The kids are pretty happy with the food they've been eating and haven't asked to eat out this week, which is nice.

Dinner Tonight

July 30th, 2011 at 04:08 am

Just thought I'd share a couple photos of my yummy, made from scratch pizza and free dessert from the back yard. Can't beat free in keeping those food costs down.

Before cooking:



After cooking:



Fresh blueberries and blackberries:

Did Have to Shop and Medical Stuff

July 29th, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Part of why I overdid it yesterday was that I did have to go to the store. I needed cloth medical tape and it has to be a specific kind or I will have an allergic reaction (though even this kind itches a little). I thought I was doing okay enough that I could walk all the way to the back of the store as long as I was leaning on a grocery cart. Well, by the time that I did that and got back out to the car (Mom was driving me) I thought I was going to be sick. It passed, but I definitely should have ridden the little scooter around the store.

Anyway, I needed the cloth tape to hold on the gauze for wound care. Still had plenty of guaze, just been going through the tape like crazy, so I did end up with some money for the coin jar after all, $1.22.

I thought my follow up appointment was on Monday, but they just called to confirm and it's on Tuesday. Fortunately that works with my mother's schedule, but it also means I have to wait an extra day longer than I thought to get this drainage tube out and it itches!

I am fighting a very strong craving to order a pizza delivered, but I won't do it. I won't spend the $27.18 for that. Not this week anyway. I am going to go and have my daughter put the dough ingredients in the bread machine right now and we can have homemade pizza with leftover ham, leftover ground beef, onions, tomatoes, two kinds of cheese, and chicken sausage for dinner tonight. Which will taste even better than Round Table. It always does. Oh, and we had the ham and tater tot casserole for lunch instead of dinner. There is some leftover for tomorrow, too.

I got a bill from the place I went to have an EKG before surgery. For some reason they billed it to my old insurance instead of to the insurance card I gave them, so I had to spend a few minutes on the phone today listening to Muzak (really loud Muzak) before I could get that mess straightened out. Fortunately I could give the lady all the information over the phone and didn't have to go down in person to sort it out. She's going to rebill it and hopefully they'll do it right and then I'll only have to pay 10% of $97.60. I am glad that I have been really paying attention to my bills lately. This is the second error I've caught this year.

Meal Costs Have Plummeted This Week

July 29th, 2011 at 07:38 am

Today was a long day and I completely overdid it and was useless from six o'clock on. But in the meanwhile, I did have enough ham broth to make both egg noodles (with ham and peas) and ham and gnocchi soup and the kids were doing cartwheels over the taste, so yay. A few weeks ago one of our stores started carrying inexpensive shelf stable gnocchi in the pasta section, and none of the stabliziers were ones my son is allergic to. I don't score that very often so I bought some. The original plan was to find a copycat recipe of Olive Garden's chicken and gnocchi soup, but this worked out just as well. There's enough soup left over for two more meals. The noodles vanished completely.

And there is still about a pound and a half of ham left. DD is going to make a pound of it into a tater tot casserole for tomorrow's dinner. I've cut up some for putting into eggs and onto pizza and the rest for sandwiches. I am really proud of how much we got out of this ham. When all is said and done it will be at least six family size meals, as well as ingredients in a couple others. Plus I've got a couple of recipes to try next time I make one, which won't be for a while. The next big crockpot meat will be a potroast on Sunday so now I need to come up with ideas for the leftovers besides hash. Meanwhile good old cheap chicken and a homemade pizza will be the order of tomorrow's day.

Stretching a Ham

July 27th, 2011 at 09:48 pm

Back in April, before Easter, there was a massive sale on picnic hams. They were $1.29 a pound and I bought a lot of them, fifteen or twenty, I'm not sure exactly, but anyway, they were really cheap. I currently have one in the crockpot for tonight's dinner. It is just over six pounds.

So tonight we will have ham with potatoes and green beans, then I will pick all the meat off the bones and put the bone back in the crockpot all night with plenty of water to make stock. Tomorrow we will have ham sandwiches (or in my son's case ham rolled up in tortillas) for lunch and then I will dice up the ham that is left.

I will add some diced ham into the eggs (possibly omelets) in the morning for breakfast. I will make egg noodles with the ham broth and we will have ham and noddles for dinner. No one here cares for ham and bean soup so that's not an option. I might make pizza on Friday with diced ham as a topping.

Anyone have any other ways to use up ham? I mean these are probably sufficient for a six pounder, but for future reference? If anyone has a good strata or fritatta recipe, I'll take it. I really want to see how many meals I can get out of an $8 ham.

No Spend Week

July 26th, 2011 at 10:27 pm

Before DH left to fly up to work yesterday he emptied his wallet of all his coins, so I had another $1.55 to add to the coin jar. That will be the last coin jar addition at least until after I go back to Virginia Mason next Monday to have my follow up appointment. We shopped in such a way so that I wouldn't have to buy anything or spend any money between now and then. I'd make it an official no spend challenge week, except for the fact that it's not really a challenge for me. It's just the way it is this week. I can't drive myself anywhere until I have the okay from the doctor and I don't need to pay any bills until next week. No challenge in that at all.

Still, there won't be any fast food or restaurant food picked up at the last minute. There won't be any impulse purchases or decisions to replace worn out flip flops or new goggles for the pool. So that's at least good for the bottom line. No money out means no money into the coin jar though, so I think I will set aside a few dollars for it anyway. I usually scrape together about $15 a week for that, so that would be a nice amount to add to it when I do start driving again.

I transferred the money from ING to pay the AMEX. It won't be here until Thursday and the bill won't be paid until Monday, but I wanted to make sure it was in the account well before the day I made the electronic payment, even if means sacrificing a couple of days worth of interest.

DH and I had a long talk about what to do with the extra money from his raise. One of the things we gave up for the kids when we had to do major belt-tightening was lessons. Tae kwon do and dance. We decided to put our son back into Tae kwon do and our daughter back into dance. She will take two classes in the fall for $105 a month and he will have three lessons a week for $90 a month. Actually DS already started yesterday, but DD won't start until September when school starts.

I particulary wanted DD in something because she does not have PE for her sophomore year and she tends to put on weight if she is not excercising at least every other day. Also her nutritionist for her pre-diabetes counseling recommends she exercise to help keep that in check. She will still have to do something else, like swimming though because she chose classes on Monday and Tuesday and the exercise needs to be more spread out than that.

I don't know when I'll be able to get back into the pool, but it will definitely be by September. I'd say mid August but they close the pool down for two weeks then to drain and clean it. Why in August I will never understand. December makes more sense to me to close a pool down, but the Y and the aquatic center both do it in August as well. Maybe because that is when the lakes are all the warmest.

The other part of the raise will be tacked on to debt repayment or new medical bills, which should start coming in shortly. I wish they'd just send them already. I want to know how much it is going to be so I can plan out the budget for the next several months.

Other tweaks to the budget will be increasing the amount to the Best Buy 18 months same as cash to pay off the laptop. That will go from $125 a month to $200 so it will be paid off by year's end. I know I could take several more months with no interest, but I'd just like to do it and get it over with. Then when it is done I will start contributing that money to a new laptop fund so that next time one breaks irrepairably I can just buy a new one without financing it.

Another tweak is that our homeowner's insurance on the old house will be going up. Right now it is $41 a month. Starting next month it is $41.25. Next year if we still own that house I will try to pay it all in advance.

Oh, I sent the HoA dues off. It was actually only $100, not $102. I had forgotten that I had divided $100 by 6 months and it came out as $16.666666666, so I just put $17 in each month instead so of course it was a little over. That money will stay in the holding tank for the next dues payment at the end of January.

Grocery Shopping and Meal Planning

July 26th, 2011 at 12:58 am

Since we had used up virtually everything in the refrigerator yesterday, leaving us with pretty much just condiments, butter, cheese, carrots, potatoes, and apples and Chris was leaving today to head back to work, I decided to do a last minute shopping expedition and get everything I should need until payday. I wasn't sure how I was going to handle it because I was only 11 days post op yesterday, but I had my handicapped parking pass and the stores have those scooters to ride around on with the baskets on front so I figured I'd be fine.

The first thing I did was sit down with the grocery ads of the four of the five main grocery stores. (Freddy's doesn't come for free, you have to buy a Sunday paper for their ads, so I didn't consider them). I found the store with the top deals and then the store with the second best deals in case the first store was out of what we wanted.

Cost Cutter was having a major produce sale and since my produce bins were virtually empty, I decided to stock up on a variety of shorter-lived and longer-lived produce. We'll eat the shorter-lived stuff this week and the longer-lived stuff next week. They also had chicken legs and chicken thighs on for .98/lb and full chicken wings for .99/lb.

I ended up with 4 white onions (the sale made them cheaper than yellow ones for a change), 4 beefsteak tomatoes, 6 nectarines, 2 lbs of strawberries, 1 head of iceberg lettuce (I know, not the best nutrition in the lettuce bunch but it was .98 instead of $1.79 like the leaf lettuces), 1 head of green cabbage, 2 canteloupes, 1.4 pounds of red grapes, and 2.17 pounds of broccoli. They had some lovely cherries for a very good sale price, but my mother had brought back some bing cherries from a family reunion in Eastern Washington, so free trumps very good price.

I also got a large Alaskan Wild Coho Salmon fillet that was marked down as it needed to be made that day. It was $8.99 for 1.57 pounds, which is unheard of outside of buying an entire fish. I got ten pounds of chicken thighs, ten pounds of chicken legs, and three pounds of chicken wings. Then I bought two bags of organic white cheddar popcorn (one for each week).

I don't get the fancy deals like some folks manage but I did get $41.62 off my order between coupons and sale prices.

After that I felt okay enough to go to a second store so we went to Haggen, because I didn't like any of the beef prices at Cost Cutter, or the cuts on their pot roast. I found a nice big pot roast at Haggen, a lovely chuck and it wasn't in the despised cuts of cross rib or bottom round, neither of which will get tender the way I like them in a crockpot. Suddenly that's about all that the stores are carrying and I just don't like them. I like it when there's enough fat in the cut that they fall apart when you try to lift them out of the crockpot. I shouldn't have to cut them with a knife.

I also got 10 pounds of flour and 8 pounds of sugar, 8 lemons (for making homemade lemonade), 3 gallons of milk, 2 gallons of orange juice, 2 12 packs of Charmin at $6.99 with two $1 off coupons, so $5.99 each) since I knew I'd not be making it to Costco any time soon to buy the huge package. I got two family size cans of both Dinty Moore beef stew and Chef Boyardee mini ravioli (it comes without MSG now and no preservatives!), and four cans of no beans steak house chili from Stagg (not on sale, not even close), a package of hot dog buns (.25), and both a Fine Cooking and a Clean Eating magazine. Between coupons and sale prices I saved $32.45.

I went through both magazines last night. I like both of these magazines because they have well explained recipes and they also teach you cooking techniques (like how to cut up an artichoke for example, which hardly seems worth the effort, frankly). I also like them because they don't use ingredients like "cream of something soup" or empty five cans into the crockpot with your meat. I don't have anything against recipes like that but we can't use them with DS's allergies. And I prefer as close to natural and organic as possible just because I've had so many health problems and need the best nutrition I can give my body. (Not that that stops me from craving a quarter pounder from time to time).

I found ten recipes in one and three in the other. I was happy. I've come to think a magazine is worth it if I just get one great recipe out of it, and I feel like I hit the jackpot with these two, especially Fine Cooking. Then I looked up a recipe online for Chinese beef and broccoli which I hope to have the energy to make later this week. The kids had some at the City Center when they went to the Pacific Science Center Saturday and have wanted it since. The only places around here that make it all use MSG, so I'll have to do it myself. Fortunately the place there made it without any MSG.

I'm pretty excited to be meal planning this week because I have so many fresh ingredients and so many different colors of food, the plates will look great.

Oh, we've also got fresh blackberries and raspberries right now as the canes in the back yard are producing overtime. I can't wait for the blueberries to be ready. The bushes are loaded and blueberries are just so good and so good for you with all their anti-oxidants and stuff. I love the taste of summer!

Using it Up

July 24th, 2011 at 08:09 pm

Today is definitely a use it up sort of day. I'm a firm believer in shampoo is shampoo (except for my shampoo, of course!) and so when I saw several bottles that all had about an inch left in them, I set them up one at a time with a funnel and put them all into one bottle. Presto, a new bottle of shampoo. Now these are all the same type of shampoo, moisturizing, so it's not like we'd have dry hair clashing with oily or color-treated. But we will have purple clashing with green or pink. My daughter and husband don't really care much. I've done it before and only gotten one comment about the multiple layers of different colors. I also got half a bottle of conditioner this way, but it is all white.

I've got a ketchup bottle upside down on the counter draining into another ketchup bottle. Ditto the last of one syrup bottle into another. I shredded up two bread heals and put them into a baggy and froze them for future meatloaf.

There are leftovers in the fridge being eaten up today as well. Leftover spaghetti with leftover sauce. Leftover pancakes. Leftover chili with leftover hamburger combined to make a sort of sloppy joe thing on a leftover bun. DD is going to make milk that has hit its sell by date into pudding and the rest of it into a homemade cream of chicken soup she found which will also use up our leftover chicken.

She wants to make a tatertot casserole recipe this week and needs cream of chicken soup to do it, but with DS's allergies we can't use standard soup. Thankfully TJ's has a clean cream of mushroom soup, because I can't find an easy recipe for that. Hard ones, yes. I found a very simple cream of chicken soup recipe online so if it is good I will let you know as I know a few of you also have to deal with food allergies or like to cook as naturally as possible.

Safety Net and House Past and House Future

July 23rd, 2011 at 09:48 pm

There's never much to do with finances during the two weeks out of six that DH doesn't get a paycheck. It's always the lull before the storm of payments. Or maybe the one after. But he did have another pile of coins that he left on his dresser to add to the coin jar, so $1.55 went in today. I also rolled coins, one roll of quarters, one of dimes, and one of pennies, so that will be ready to deposit to the Emergency Fund (Safety Net portion) whenever I manage to get to that CU.

The safety net is at $307.03. My goal is to slowly get that portion of the EF up to $500 and then eventually $1000, just with coin jar savings. Of course the bulk of the EF is at ING and gets more regular feedings of larger amounts of money, each month. At least $100 and any more I can scrounge up.

When this new round of medical bills comes through and the last credit card is paid off (hopefully within the next six months), I will be happy to jump our EF savings up to $1000 a month until it gets to where it needs to be. I would ultimately like it at one year's worth of income (not expenses, but income). Once the debt of the credit card is gone, one year's income would be enough to live on for 2 years if something were to happen to DH's job. I don't think it will (or if it did, he'd just move companies again like all slope workers eventually do), but I just want to have it. Having several months of uncertainty last year made me feel like this would be the best course.

I think it would take several years to get it to that point, but like I said it is my ultimate goal, not my immediate one. My immediate goal after everything is paid off is to build the EF to $10,000 and start saving for the new house downpayment. We still have to sell the old house, too. And at the rate we are going fixing it up it won't even be on the market until next summer. Not that I am in that much of a rush. Even with what we might get for it, we will still have to save money for about a year to get the downpayment we want to make.

We probably won't get anything near what the bank ($110,000) or the tax assessor ($115,000) says it is worth. But I would honestly be happy getting what we paid for it back in '98, which was $69,500. That would give us enough money to pay the realtor, pay off the mortgage, and have $40,000 to $45,000 for the downpayment. I honestly just want it to be gone. If someone walked up to me today and offered me $50,000 in cash for it as is with no repair demands, I'd probably take it.

Combined with our mortgage, all the bills related to that house roughly come out to $1000 a month that could be used for other things. Storage, water/sewer, power, phone, security system, insurance, HoA dues, time for maintaining the yard...it could all be used for better things. I know technically I would at least have to pay storage anyway until we move, but I still consider it part of the overall expense of not having our stuff in a house.

Sometimes I wish I had a financial fairy godmother who could come down, wave her magic wand, and everything that needed to be done would be done with no effort on my part. But no one ever gave a beggar a free horse ride, so...bit by bit, step by step, pulling up my own bootstraps and getting us where we need to be is my job. And I'll do it. I will get us there. Eventually.

A Little Financial Housekeeping

July 22nd, 2011 at 11:33 pm

I balanced the checkbook. Apparently my brain is working enough to do that. It has about $40 left in it after the check I just wrote clears. I don't need to write any other checks this month, so that is just fine.

The aforementioned check written was to my daughter's pre-diabetes nutrtion counselor for our last visit, $11.57 for our share.

I have $700 in savings for all bills that will arise between 8/1 and 8/4. Our next payday is 8/5. I will likely use less than $100 of that for groceries between now and then, as well. Since I'm not up for any shopping right now, I will mostly try to use stuff from the freezer and pantry between now and then anyway. On Monday, I will need to transfer $500 from ING back into checking that I set aside to pay the AMEX bill. We need to pay the dues to our HoA out at the old house, too. I forget how much it is. I know it works out to saving $17 a month so I just need to add up six months worth and then pull it from the holding tank where I have been saving it. Did the math, it's $102.

I will have to pick up my prescription sleeping pill though. At least to use when DH is home. Apparently if I can't take the painkillers (which I've stopped because of how sick they made me), I don't pass out enough to sleep through his snoring. *sighs* He leaves on Monday though, so I will try to not take them at all while he is gone. Then I can stretch them twice as long.

I emptied DH's wallet of all his coins. There was $4.83. I added it to the coin jar. I know there are enough quarters for a roll and probably enough dimes and pennies, but I will do that tomorrow.

Physically a Few Rough Days

July 21st, 2011 at 09:33 pm

I've been quiet for a few days. Had a little bit of a setback with my recovery from surgery, in that no food was staying down for a few days. Left me drained and weak as a kitten (and definitely unable to formulate real blog posts). I am 27 hours into keeping my food down on a mostly liquid diet (do peas and carrots in soup count as non-liquid when they are tiny?). So mostly soup, a bit of pudding or Jello and water. I am off the narcotics completely, they were making me too ill. I am using ice packs and Ibuprofen for pain. It isn't much, but it's enough for me to get through the day with food digesting so that is what I am doing.

I need to have DH balance the checkbook and see where we are. I probably need to transfer some money out of savings into checking. I know the CU will do it automatically but they charge $1 every time they do it on their own and that's a bad habit to get into. I need to make an ING transfer as well to get the money for the first week of the month bills into the account. I figure two weeks at 1% interest is something, anyway, even if I am transferring stuff around a lot. The budget is basically on autopilot right now, otherwise.

I am tired. I want to sleep all the time, except night time, apparently. Then I'm wide awake staring at the ceiling or the laptop screen. I am forcing myself to stay awake today so that maybe tonight I can sleep. I am off caffeine and off sleeping medicine (both good things if I can stay that way, since they will be less output of money for things I shouldn't really need to buy).

I go back to the doctor on August 2 for a test and follow up and then am supposed to have a check up at 3 weeks as well. But since the two week check up is happening 3 days later than 2 weeks because the doctor isn't working on that Friday, it will probably put the second follow up at 3 and a half weeks to 4 weeks. DH won't be home for either of them so Mom will be driving me down. That should be an experience. At least I shouldn't have to do any over nights in Seattle again so that should keep the expense down.

After that it's just healing until November and then deciding if the second surgery is necessary or not. If so I want to get it done before years end, otherwise we'll have to face the $2500 deductible all over again. UGH.

DH Got a Raise

July 18th, 2011 at 09:14 pm

Back in October when DH was hired at the new company it was mentioned he would likely get a raise in April. April came and went and nothing more was ever said. His paycheck from Friday had that raise on it. It'll be a difference of about $4730 gross a year. That might even be enough to get us back on track after all the new medical spending we'll be doing to get our credit debt paid off by year's end like we originally planned, instead of March or thereabouts. That would be nice.

Access to the Evil Empire

July 17th, 2011 at 11:28 pm

It took upgrading from IE8 to IE9 and reinstalling Java, but I finally got into the Bank of America website and it is finally working like it is supposed to. I hate when places upgrade so I have to upgrade when I don't want to. I dislike IE9 and have been avoiding it since it came out. It is ugly, more squared off. IE8 was more streamlined in appearance, IMO. I'll deal though. At least now I can keep an eye on things as they come through.

I would think that all of our hotels from our vacation would have gone through by now, but half of them are still pending. At least I can see the amounts though, which I couldn't before, so me 1, technology (well, let's face it, 572 or something).

We have a lovely roast cooking in the crockpot for dinner and are definitely back on the no eating out route for the rest of the month. We had some great meals while we were on vacation though. We found a really great diner we ate at for 3 meals, and they cooked their food from scratch. It was great, but I missed homecooking. I can't do any yet, but I did direct DH and DD into making dinner.

Since I'm Up...

July 17th, 2011 at 01:25 pm

...and waiting for the painkillers to kick in, I did a minor bit of money housekeeping. The checkbook is now completely balanced to the penny. It helps to have been away from it for a week and to have had everything clear in that amount of time. It was off by just under $4 and I easily found the mistake this time (not in our favor).

I cleaned out my purse of all change and added $2.91 to the coin jar. I set aside all of our receipts from the trip to go over tomorrow and see how much the final damage is, though I don't think we spent over $1000 all told and most of that was for food and lodging. Only filled the gas tank 3 times and one of those time was considered a regular fill up for the rest of the month so came out of regular gas money, not trip gas money.

I still need to go through DH's wallet and collect his spare change and his loose bills. He took all my loose bills when I went into the hospital and I didn't get them back. I think there is around $20 there which will go into the coin jar.

Friday was payday. It was shorter than usual by about $200. I think they may be reallocating how they take out medical. Chris got his check stub in the mail so he is going to go over it with the other ones for the month and see if he can catch what is going on.

Anyway, I set aside $700 into temporary savings at CU#1, $350.29 of which is to pay for the bills that come due August 1 through 4, our next payday being the 5th. The rest is for medical savings. Then I have $200 for groceries until the 5th and DH is getting his $100 allowance for the next six weeks.

I also set up the August Budget template. I am going to have to split the Amex bill this month and pay $350 when it is due on the 4th (minimum payment is $61) and the rest of it on the 5th as it has a bit of extra vacation spending. The $350 will cover the part that is affected by interest, the rest would be on the next billing cycle anyway so will not have interest charged on it by not paying it before the 5th, but I like to start the month with it totally paid off and so that no interest accrues on that card.

Well, seems like the meds are starting to kick in so I'm off the try to get some more sleep. Hopefully everything all came out coherently. It is sometimes hard to tell when I am this zoned out.

Home from the Hospital

July 17th, 2011 at 03:57 am

My surgery went very well, and was a best case scenario according to the doctor, though I had a rough recovery. I threw up four times despite being on three different anti-emetics and only started keeping my food down about ten p.m. last night. No matter what, the chicken broth and apple juice would not stay down. But the unhealthy bright red food colored Jello did. And the toast and pears this morning and I've been eating fairly normally since. Well, normal if you call four chicken nuggets for lunch and half a can of TJ's chicken noodle soup for dinner normal.

I've been itching like crazy though from a reaction to the anesthesia. Feel like I could shed my skin and be happy about it. I'm in a fair amount of pain, but the medicine is making it tolerable and the ice pack is helping a bit. Hopefully the sleeping pill will just make me pass out tonight. I didn't sleep well last night as I threw up the sleeping pill and they didn't want to give me another one.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who prayed for me. I really appreciate the good thoughts sent my way.

Does anyone know what is going on with the Bank of America website? It's not allowing me into the CC payment page for about 2 weeks now. I know they revamped it, but it was working for a couple of days and now it's not again. Is anyone getting in?

Surgery in the Morning

July 15th, 2011 at 07:26 am

My check in time for my surgery is in less than 8 hours so of course I have insomnia. And I keep thinking about how much this is going to end up costing us. I just hope it works, that everything is successful and that insurance will cover the majority of it.

At least we had a great time this week on our vacation. My kids will have great memories just in case. Oh, my that's maudlin, isn't it? But I always get so nervous beforehand, thinking about all the worst outcomes that so far have never happened.

Prayer would be appreciated from those of you that pray.

Payday and Emergency Fund

July 8th, 2011 at 11:43 pm

I made my coin jar deposit at CU#2 into the safety net portion of the Emergency Fund. The exchange rate was excellent as between my $41 in American and $20 in Canadian, I had a deposit of $60.62. That's almost at par! Anyway that brings the safety net up to $307.03. I also transferred $100 to ING into the Emergency Fund there so my total EF between the two is now $1545.51, so I have hit my goal of $1500 in the EF by the end of August, and a whole month early. My next goal is to hit $2000.

I also paid bills today for the rest of the month. There is nothing else due between now and the 1st.

$__33.08 (4 prescriptions, medical)
$__90.00 (physical therapy, medical)
$___9.38 (walk in clinic, medical)
$_100.00 Cash Out
$__44.89 (phone, old house)
$__37.68 (garbage, new house)
$_125.00 (laptop, 18 months same as cash)
$__65.56 (internet)
$_100.00 Emergency Fund
$1000.00 Holding Tank for Medical
$_757.82 Car payment with an extra $250 to principal)
$_500.00 Holding Tank First week of August bills
------------
$2863.41

The remaining amount of this paycheck will be spent on our road trip for hotels and food and $100 to clothes and toiletries. $1000 of next week's paycheck will be set aside for medical and $200 for groceries.

I'm really starting to feel like we are getting ahead of the game, paying bills early and setting aside money for future expenses. We are still a bit paycheck to paycheck, but I think we're pulling ahead now by a couple of weeks worth of expenses.

Coin Jar Update

July 8th, 2011 at 03:59 am

Tomorrow is payday and I still had $5 left in my wallet so I put it in my coin jar. I never got around to making a deposit this week, things got a little crazy, so my total deposit tomorrow will be $41, plus whatever the exchange rate is on the two Canadian tens, if they will take them. That will put me right around $1400 in the Emergency Fund. I am going to try to eek out another $100 between now and the end of the month to hit my next goal of $1500.

Road Trip Meal Planning

July 7th, 2011 at 08:30 pm

We leave on Sunday for our vacation, a little swing around the Olympic peninsula before we wind up at Virginia Mason the night before my surgery. I have been looking up restaurants and menues along the way so that I could get a handle on what food costs will be. There are also a couple of grocery stores that sell Organic Valley Milk. We will have an ice chest with us for milk, cheese, and fruit. We are also taking along cereal, granola and fruit bars, and some deli meat, bread and peanut butter. Every hotel has a fridge and microwave except the last one which just has a fridge.

I am so glad that so many restaurants have menues with prices available online. Not only to see that even some extravagant places have some lower cost menu items like fish and chips and cheeseburgers, but to see what's actually in the foods. Like if something is prepared with a demi-glace then we know not to order it for my son or mushrooms not to order it for me. It just makes things so much easier to have that information at my fingertips.

There are a lot of Mom and Pop diners along our route and that's really the food we prefer. Most of them don't have a ton of additives if you avoid the soda and desserts. The food is hearty and not as expensive and the servings are such that it is easy to each split a meal with one of the kiddos, maybe ordering an extra side here or there. Then there are some restaurants where we will just order soup and appetizers and still be fed well but for far less money.

I've got my list of questions ready. Not only do we ask about food additives/colorings, and whether grapes or apples are involved in any way, but we ask what is in their eggs. At least one namebrand restaurant we know of puts pancake batter in their omelettes to make them fluffier (but are happy to leave it out if you ask), and some restaurants use liquid egg product which has all kinds of shelf stabilizers in it. So we need to make sure it's made with real eggs and has nothing added other than the fillings if we order omelettes. Most of the time I am very careful with eggs and simply order them poached. DS is allergic to margarine so if a place doesn't use butter or oil in the frying or scrambling process, poached is always safe since it is always cooked in water.

I'm Exhausted

July 7th, 2011 at 06:14 am

I can't remember the last time I was this tired. At least DH is home now so I can sleep in tomorrow morning. I'm afraid I might have the warning signs of a migraine coming on. I hope it is just a simple headache, I only get migraines when I eat something with MSG or other nasties in it and I didn't do that. It has been so long since I've had one (about a year) that I've forgotten what the start of one feels like, but I full well remember what a raging one is like and I don't have the time for it right now.

I added $2.17 to the coin jar today. I bought more milk, since DH won't drink non-fat like the rest of us, he likes 2% and I also got some nectarines that were actually ripe. I can't take my vitamin supplements right now because they are blood thinners, so for two weeks before the surgery I am not supposed to have them. But there is vitamin C in nectarines and they are in season so there you go.

I am trying to get in fifteen minutes of sunshine for vitamin D. Now that summer has finally arrived and is cooperating a little too much (in the 80's) that isn't much of a problem. Not sure what to do about the loss of fish oil and vitamin E, though.

Thinking About Houses

July 6th, 2011 at 03:46 am

For the longest time I have thought that we absolutely need to have a four bedroom house when we buy again. Four beds, two bathrooms, and a well put together kitchen were the priorities on our list. In the back of my mind I've always had it that we would have that spare room in case my mother ever needed to move in with us.

But four bedrooms puts everything into a price range, that while affordable on my husband's income, still isn't necessarily the amount of money I want to be paying. And we don't need four bedrooms. I mean if my mom had to sleep on a pull out couch she'd do it. And after all, my eldest is almost 15. She's not going to be with us forever, though I would like her to stay home during college to save money.

There's also the possibility that my eldest sister woud just move in with my mother again if she gets to the point of needing daily assistance. And my middle sister is down to a seventeen year old and an almost fourteen year old, so she has an extra bedroom as well. Both have made murmurs of takin her if it comes to that. I had always thought it would be left to me. It usually has been when it comes to my parents.

So now I'm thinking 3 bedroom houses would be a better choice. I just need 1.5 baths at the bare minimum, but would prefer 1.75 baths or 2 full baths. These 3 bedroom houses seem to drop the price by around $50,000 to $75,000.

As much as I have always dreamed big, I think I would rather downsize at this point in my life. Give me a single level house with a tiny yard to maintain, my big kitchen and two toilets in the house and I'm happy. I'm happy with 1,500 square feet, but could see myself going down to 1,300 if it had a basement or a shop or a garage for storage. Then I would just need a nest somewhere in the house where I could set up my writing station and be comfortable. If I have one give me it would be a wrap around porch, but that is not an essential. Just a long standing want and can always be built on later.

We have learned in living with my mother that we don't need a lot of stuff. Most of our stuff is in storage waiting to be moved when the day comes. But I'm of the opinion that except for some kitchen gear, keepsakes, photo albums, books, and artwork, there is very little in there that I want to keep. Most of it is kids toys that are far too young for them now, clothing that needs to be donated to charity and so many odds and ends collected over time. We might want to keep the antique sewing machine and table we got from Chris's maternal grandmother because it is beautiful, and the ottoman that goes with our sofa but takes up too much room here. But I can't think of much else that matters enough to me to keep. And neither can DH.

So I think when we start looking we'll start looking with all those things in mind. I do want space for the piano and treadmill (which could go in the garage) and enough room for our sofa set and one recliner so I can keep my knee elevated. Something else that has become important to me is handicapped accessability. Grab rails and such. And if they don't have them are they an easy install.

I'm glad we have over a year and a half to think about these things before. If we had rushed right out trying to buy right away, I think we would have regretted whatever we ended up and we'd still be fighting with credit card debt and I really don't want that.

Money Out--Medical, Gas, and a Bit of Groceries

July 6th, 2011 at 12:47 am

So I didn't make it to CU#2 to make a deposit today. I totally spaced it. I had to have a fasting blood draw today and I had to wait a half an hour after I got there because it was busy. I was starving by the time I got in the back. No up front money there, but insurance never covers 100% of labwork so there will be a bill sent.

Then I went to physical therapy so $90 there. I was able to walk up the entire flight of stairs and back down again with only one foot per step instead of two, which is major as I haven't been able to do both in a long time. Maybe there is hope for this knee yet.

We are going through the homemade lemonade like crazy because it has been so hot, so I bought more lemons and sugar today and ended up with money for the coin jar, $4.18.

I had to get gas today as the little warning light had come on, so I didn't quite make it until DH came home, although I could have. I had more gas than I thought because when I filled the 20.9 gallon tank it only did 16.812 gallons. It was $3.479 a gallon so I paid $58.49 for that. Not bad for 3 weeks (DH filled it up on a Monday so technically 22 days).

I got a bill in the mail today for a medical thing I have already paid. They cashed my check two days before they sent the second bill out. Um...way to be on the ball people, does your accounts receivable not talk to your accounts payable?

I was quite annoyed by this bill because they wrote across it in all capital letters about how it was past due and were all vaguely threatening and used exclamation points. They mailed this bill on the 27th (supposedly) but it didn't even arrive until today and the place is in town, so it's not like it was coming from California or Texas or Virginia or something. Mail turn around is no more than 2 days if it is a local mailing.

I paid that bill two weeks after I recieved it. There is certainly no need for antics like this. If it had been 30 days or something I could see them getting a bit antsy, but it was sent and cashed well before the due date listed (which was actually the 30th so they sent out the past due bill before it was due) so I do not get this. I am going to call them tomorrow and tell them what I think of it, though. I don't appreciate this sort of thing at all.

Coin Jar Update and Canadian Money

July 5th, 2011 at 12:51 am

I added $2.91 to the coin jar after buying a lighter at the store for fireworks. Then I decided to see if I had enough coins to roll anything. I had just enough to do nickels. Tomorrow I will make a deposit of $30 into the safety net portion of the Emergency Fund at CU#2. If I keep going at this rate I am going to have $1500 (my next goal) in the EF by the end of August.

Don't let anyone ever tell you that a few dollars here and a few coins there don't matter. They add up and every little bit truly does help.

I have had two Canadian $10 bills sitting in my coin jar for about 5 years now. At the time the Canadian dollar had practically flat lined so we never bothered to exchange it back after our vacation. We figured that we'd go back to Canada some time soon, as we usually went up once a year, and could just use it then. Well, it's been five years and we haven't gone back. Border crossing strictures changed and because we are now living in a residence that we don't own and have no utilities in our name, we cannot get a special border crossing license or a passport. (If we really wanted to we could put one of Mom's utility bills in our name but it costs money to switch it over and it'd cost to eventually switch it back again and we don't feel like paying the extra).

So we'll just wait to go to Canada again until after we buy our next house and the utilities are in our name again. Meanwhile the Canadian dollar is worth a lot more than it was back then and I'm thinking I might as well exchange it and throw it in the savings account. First I will make sure they take it though before bothering with it. I think there might be some looneys ($1 coin has a loon on it) and tooneys ($2 coin) in there as well. It's not much, but again, every little bit counts.

More Progress Than it Seems

July 4th, 2011 at 08:56 pm

I decided to go back to January and see how much progress has been made with debt repayment, because sometimes it seems like we are only treading water and sometimes it even seems like we are going backwards a little bit. But the numbers tell the real story.

$38,323.87 owed on personal loan in January.
Paid in full.

$29,133.45 credit card debt in January
$19,976.81 credit card debt owed now
--------------
$_9,156.64 debt paid off since January

$22,326.63 mortgage in January
$20,386.38 mortgage now (guess as it hasn't hit yet)
----------------
$_1,940.10 debt paid off since January

$93,000.00 medical debt (no interest loan from Mom)
$89,000.00 medical debt still owed
----------------
$_4,000.00 debt paid off since January

So grand total is $53,334.61 paid off in the last six months. And even if I take the personal loan out of the equation, because paying that off was a one time windfall, we have still paid off $15,010.74 worth of debt this year, $9000 of it on credit cards, while at the same time paying $3000 to new medical debt with more to come. I need to remind myself of this on occasion when I feel burnt out or like it's not worth it. Putting the numbers in front of my face like that makes me actually see that we have made a major leap forward.

Yes, we still have the van loan which I have not included with the rest of the debt. I look at it in a different way than other debt, as an investment against my disabilities, and it will have lots of money thrown at it in the future when our credit card debt is gone, but it's not something I'm concerning myself with at the moment other than to pay the monthly payments. We plan to keep this car until it falls apart and it can be easily adapted if my knee gets to the point where I'll need to use a wheelchair, which I hope never happens. I still hold out hope for rehabilitation.

If I can continue to pay $2500 a month to credit card debt it should be gone by the end of February. But I still have no idea how much my surgery is going to cost me in the end. Right now I'm guesstimating $5000 based on how much my gall bladder surgery and appendectomy cost, each with one overnight stay. They were around $3000 each for my portion and it's been several years ago. I am guesstimating on the high side because it's been several years and it's at a fancy, name brand hospital. Normally I put $4500 to debt repayment each month, about $3000 of it to credit cards. A part of me is still hoping to do it by year's end, but the more practical, sensible part of me says February/March is a more realistic goal.

Another Lazy Day Here

July 3rd, 2011 at 11:25 pm

I added $6.09 to the coin jar. That was the amount leftover from the 20 dollar bill I gave the kids yesterday for dinner on the way back from my sister's house.

I gave the chickens an ear of corn I found in the back of the fridge. It wasn't moldy, you don't want to give chicken's moldy food, but it was less than fresh and had likely all turned to starch. I split it in half so they could each have one to themselves.

The chicks are still on mash, so I only worried about the grown ones. Those two love me because I generally bring them a treat of corn or melon seeds. Cantaloupe is their favorite and they also like the rinds. I love the fact that these two are so friendly now. They used to run away from me all the time like the little ones do. They'll even sit on my lap.

They are back to laying daily. For a while they were only laying every other day. I sure miss the days of a flock of six. Even when the chicks are grown there will only be four altogether, and we aren't entirely sure both of the new ones are female. They haven't grown up enough yet to devolop a rooster's comb. I really hope they are both girls though. Can I say again how much I hate racoons?

I finished reading my book last night, Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. It's like 1984 by George Orwell but for the digital future. And also not boring. It's really very current while maintaining a near future edge. It was definitely a hard book to put down.

Not much going on here. I've spent most of the day doing laundry and writing. I've got a lovely roast in the crockpot for dinner and no desire in the world to eat out. I've got four potatoes that need using up so will fry those up to have with the roast and probably add a can of green beans.

DH comes home on Wednesday. It can't be soon enough.

A Treasured Day to Myself and Homemade BBQ Chicken Wings

July 3rd, 2011 at 01:50 am

Days alone are few and far between when you are a stay at home mother and school is out for the summer, but today I am having one and I am loving every minute of it. My queasy stomach seems to have settled down for the most part and it's a gorgeous, sunny but nicely breezy day.

One of my five nephews turned 17 today and so my mother took my kids down south to see him. His two older brothers are also there (one lives in Arizona, the other has been off with the Job Core), and of course the youngest is there, too, as well as a couple of my brother-in-laws nieces. It is a full house and so I elected to stay home. It's hard for me to travel too much these days, and certainly not in a vehicle as uncomfortable as my mother's car, and when I do, I usually need ice for my leg and to be able to elevate it for a few hours once we reach our destination and that is not really an option at my sister's house.

I have spent most of the day alternating between writing and reading Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (which has been amazing so far). YA fiction is one of my guilty pleasures and this one is a definite winner. I'm going to have my daughter read it when I am done.

I did send along $20 in case they stopped for food along the way. That probably breaks my no eating out challenge, but I don't like my mom spending her own money on the kids when she's on a fixed income. She may do it anyway and I could very well end up with that $20 back.

I bought fireworks today. I went slightly over budget at $104, but got a lot of the buy one get one free types to take advantage. I need to buy a new long lighter as well.

I had a serious craving for barbecued chicken wings and I debated Little Caesar's or Boston's but I really didn't want to go out or spend the money and I had some frozen chicken wings sections in the freezer and a nice sweet barbecue sauce in the fridge. So I thawed out six wing parts while I looked up recipes on line to find out how long to deep fry them for because I didn't want to bake them for an hour.

I made up a coating of cornmeal, sweet Hungarian paprika, sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and oregano and very lightly breaded the wings by shaking them in a Ziploc baggy and then deep fried them 12 minutes, turning every 3 minutes. It was about an inch of canola oil on medium high heat. Then I took them out and coated all but one of them with my barbecue sauce, as I wanted to see how it tasted plain as well (yum).

They tasted very good, but I think I need to knock the cook time down to ten minutes on the flat pieces with two bones. The pieces that look like little chicken legs were fine. I will definitely make these again, especially seeing as it was a ten pound bag of chicken wings. I will try to be more patient and bake them in the oven as it is much healthier.

Payday--Bills Paid (Long)

July 2nd, 2011 at 05:24 am

Well, today was payday and I did some major debt repayment as well as taking care of quite a few of the regular bills. The MC's are all paid off again and the VISA is firmly under $20,000. I feel completely back in control again, both with the credit cards and with the no eating out. Day 4 on that challenge is going well.

I went to the grocery store and picked up a few items. One of them was gnocchi. One of the things my son really misses about going out to eat is going to olive garden and getting chicken and gnocchi soup so I got him a package of gnocchi and a box of organic free range chicken broth. We still have a couple of leftover pieces of chicken so tomorrow I will make him some chicken and gnocchi soup. My chicken soup is almost gone so I don't mind making another soup so soon.

Okay, so bills paid are below:

$1457.40 BoA credit cards
__500.00 Amex
__300.00 Mom's utilities
__100.00 Emergency Fund at ING
___16.70 Electric Bill Old House
___37.61 DH Life Insurance
___32.20 Me Life Insurance
___41.00 Old House Insurance
___83.98 Car Insurance
___39.37 Security System Old House
__155.00 Storage
__375.86 Old House Mortgage
__200.00 Cash
__100.00 groceries
__193.20 Dentist
__106.94 Medical


Car insurance has gone down with the Sienna by $11.63 a month or $69.78 for a six month term.

Of the cash $90 is to pay for physical therapy on Tuesday and $100 is for fireworks. Not sure what that extra $10 is for but it will likely end up in the coin jar. I have $62 left in checking if I need to buy milk or anything else this week, but since I already went grocery shopping I don't think I'll need anything besides milk. Maybe some hot dog buns if we decide to have a cookout on Monday and I am too lazy to bake some myself.

Bills left this month (other than the first new car payment) are pretty minor. There is just phone for the old house, internet, and garbage for the current house. Everything else is paid. That leaves almost $3000. So the majority of the next paycheck and the one after that will go to pay first week of August bills, to savings for upcoming medical, and to pay for our little trip around the Olympic Peninsula before we go to Virginia Mason for my surgery.

I am trying to make the gas left in the Sienna last until Wednesday when DH gets home. I have about 1/8th of a tank, but only have 3 minor driving excursions between now and when DH comes home. I sort of hate pumping gas with a passion. Well, it's more waiting in the long gas lines at Costco, but close enough. There is half a tank in the Crown Victoria so if I need to use that car one day instead I will.



Coin Jar and Emergency Fund Updates

July 2nd, 2011 at 02:32 am

I put 28 cents into the coin jar today. I also added the interest from my ING account to the Emergency Fund, which was $1.02.

$1245.47 Starting EF
+___1.02 Interest added
---------------
$1246.49 New balance

Then I sent $100 to ING for the EF

$1246.49 Starting EF
+_100.00 Amount Added
-----------------
$1346.49 New EF Balance

$1500 (my next goal) here I come.


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