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Archive for December, 2013

Thinking About What I Want to Get Accomplished in 2014

December 27th, 2013 at 03:39 am

There are a lot of things I would like to accomplish in the coming year. Some are more important financially than others. The three most important are:

1. Finish saving up the first year of tuition for my daughter by August. That means I need to find $5000 to save between now and then. I am pretty sure we can do this. Most of it will come from our tax refund, which will be large due to reimbursing us for our HSA spending. We will be claiming the full deduction for that again this year.

2. Pay off the mortgage. If the house does not sell this year, I have determined that if I pay $700 for the next 12 months it will be paid off by next December.

3. Get our Emergency Fund to $10,000. If we save $167 a month we can do this. I already put in $140 a month as a matter of course, so finding an extra $27 or so should not be too difficult.

Less important, but still important goals:

4. Begin saving for our daughter's second year of college.

5. Start putting something into the husband's 401K. We took a couple years off to get our credit card debt gone, so now is the time to start contributing again. We will start with 1%, which doesn't seem like a lot, but I want to see what the impact of it will be and also whether or not our insurance rates are going to go up before I increase the 1%.

7. Save money for the HSA.

8. Save money for next Christmas so we can have another Christmas paid for with cash.

9. Finish saving up for moving.

10. Save for 2015's unpaid January time off. I should be saving $333 a month for that, but we won't have it from our monthly budget. I figure we'll save $100 a month for $1200 and then save when we get the extra paychecks during the year.

11. Lose the 50 pounds I gained back.

12. Get enough sleep and try to stay healthy.

Random Things

December 26th, 2013 at 08:53 pm

I added $8.12 to the coin jar today.

I haven't done Swagbucks in a week. My SB toolbar disappeared from my IE and I've tried redownloading it and nothing. The computer seems to think it is there, though it is not showing up in the list of programs when you look to install/uninstall something.

It's still on my chrome, but I find it is easier to use SB in IE than in chrome. Especially to have the SBTV running in the side.

Aside from that I've been too busy to put the effort into doing it right now. I know I'll get back to it in January. I have enough SB right now to cash out for a $30 GC, though I'll probably wait and get the 5 $5 at the start of Jan.

For the last 2 years we gave SIL a $200 gift card to Target. SIL lives at the poverty level despite working two jobs. This year we couldn't afford to be so spendy since DH's bonus was not as high as expected. I feel bad about it, because we like being able to help her out, but we have done a lot for her this year.

We even kept our own Christmas pretty simple. So this year she is only getting a $40 gift card. I am debating about giving her the 2 $50 Safeway gift cards we got from DH's work, since she lives near one and the closest one to us is 30 miles away, but then I think we will be going 4 weeks without a paycheck and that $100 might be something we could use for that time period.

With taking her and her daughters to Disneyland this year, I think we have spent more than enough money on them. I just hope she wasn't counting on the bigger gift card.

Hit My Goal--Over $8K

December 26th, 2013 at 07:47 am

Today is the auto transfer of $10 to savings. I added that to the EF and it is now officially over $8000.

$7994.74 Beginning EF Balance
+__10.00 Amount Added
-----------
$8004.74 Ending EF Balance

My next big goal is $10K.

My goal for January is to save $150. January is virtually a no paycheck month, so that is basically my monthly deposit of $100 and since there are five Thursdays in January, an additional $50. Maybe I'll be able to save more, but I can't be sure of that. I will try to make it up in later months.

Haven't Been Around Much--Bought a New Fridge

December 22nd, 2013 at 06:46 pm

I really haven't been around much on the blogs this week. It's been a little crazy around here. We bought our new fridge and it is wonderful. I had to get a different type than we had before. While they still make the ones with the regular fridge on top and the freezer on bottom, they no longer make them as wide or as tall or as deep. So I couldn't just get an almost identical replacement, which was what I wanted.

We ended up getting one with a freezer on the bottom and a fridge with French doors on top.



The freezer is really nice. When you pull open the door the bottom bin comes out and the top bin stays in the freezer. If you want the top bin then you pull it out over the bottom bin. I will keep things like ice cream in the top bin so that if I am looking around in the bottom bin for a bit, everything in the top bin will stay cold. I have the top bin pulled out partially for the photo.



The top has three individually temperature controlled drawers. The bottom one stretches the whole width of the fridge and is shallow and it is for things like deli meat and cheeses. And then the other two drawers are for fruits and veggies. I love that I can set the veggie drawer to a higher humidity than the fruit drawer. It also has a shelf that lifts and stacks on itself so you can put a taller item in (the blue pitcher in this case) without having to move or take out a shelf to accommodate it.



It is a deeper fridge than the one we had before. It has 26 cubic feet of space. It uses LED lighting and when you open the French doors (or at least when I do) I feel like the angels are singing Hallelujah! It does light up like the heavenly host, LOL.

It has an ice maker and an interior place for filtered water. None of that is hooked up. We won't hook it up while we are living here, but will when we move to our farm. I really, really love this fridge.

It was a bit more than I wanted to pay, but the low end models just were not big enough. We need something that can hold a lot of produce when we are processing during the garden months and during canning season.

It has a digital read out of the temps in both the fridge and freezer so I don't have to guess or try to find a thermometer to put in there if I suspect something is going wrong like we did with the last fridge. That is a very nice feature to have.

We ended up getting one that cost $1595. I had been aiming for $1200. We got the $149 five year service agreement. That covers as many calls as we might need and if we never use it will be credited back to us for a future purchase at that store if we spend over $799. Since we have bought things over that price range 3 times now from this store in the last 15 years, I figure it will be used one way or the other. We also paid for delivery and to have the old fridge hauled away and recycled.

With tax it all came to close to $2000. I used $700 from the Appliance Fund, $400 from the Vacation Fund, and the rest came from the Christmas Bonus. It was nice to be able to pay for it with cash (which did get us a small discount).

And we bought from a local business instead of a box store, so I feel good about that. We bought it Friday and they delivered it on Saturday. Excellent customer service. One of the guys who delivered it was one of the guys who delivered our bed a couple years ago. I love small businesses with low turnover.

After using this fridge for a day, I love it just as much as I thought I would. It was a good purchase that I don't feel bad about at all. I would have felt bad settling for a fridge that had less than what I wanted. I also would have felt bad if we'd gone for one of the $2500 or $3000 fridges. But this one was just right.

EF Update

December 22nd, 2013 at 11:53 am

Forgot to put the entry on Thursday, updating the Emergency Fund.

$7983.74 Beginning EF Balance
+__10.00 Weekly Thursday Deposit
-----------
$7994.74 Ending EF Balance

$5.26 to go to meet my monthly and yearly goal of $8000.

The Fridge is Dead

December 20th, 2013 at 02:18 am

The fridge is now registering at 60 degrees F. This is so frustrating. I just did not want to spend my Appliance Fund money for a fridge. I wanted to use it to buy a chest freezer. Now it looks like we have no choice. I just wish we hadn't spent the money on new gaskets now.

We saw a fridge that I liked and was more or less in our price range at Best Buy. But we are going to look at a locally owned appliance store, too, because I prefer to frequent local over box store when we can and if price is not too prohibitive.

I probably lost about $120 worth of food. We kept any condiment that had vinegar in it, like ketchup, pickles, steak sauce and mustard, and threw out salad dressings, mayonnaise, and picante sauce. We threw out all our pizza topping meats (prosciutto, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, salami) which I had just stocked up on. I had to throw out a pound of organic sausage and a package of bacon from the ranch. I also had an $20 ham that was going to be going into the crockpot, some leftover turkey necks from a big batch I did earlier in the week. We had to throw out a quart of goat milk, a bottle of lactaid milk, and a 1/2 gallon of milk from the local dairy that bottles in actual bottles.

Plus there was two cups of beef left of my home canned beef, 2 cups of leftover spaghetti, leftover meatballs, a package of uncured all natural beef hotdogs, a package of organic gelatin cups, 2 cups of natural peanut butter, my yeast, a bunch of green onions, 3 partially used 1/2 pints of applesauce, a bunch of kale, and a head of cauliflower.

What I was able to save were 2 leeks, a bag of carrots, 3 heads of broccoli, a purple cabbage, a jalapeno, a bunch of cilantro, a lime, a dozen oranges, and 2 apples. Also 2 bags of mozzarella cheese, 1 bag of cheddar cheese, 1 2 pound block of cheddar cheese, 1 8 oz block of extra sharp cheddar cheese, string cheese, gouda, parmesan and romano. I was also able to save all of my jams and jellies, but two that had been opened.

So everything we had left is crowded in the spare fridge that my mom and I both use. I am just really grateful the freezer is still working and that I have so much canned meat. Who knows when I'll get my freezer now. Maybe when we get our tax refund I can take some of that money and do it.

I'll have to find freezer space for what is in the fridge freezer at the worst possible time as we have to slaughter 13 rabbits in the next week and I hadn't been planning on canning it all. In fact I'd wanted to freeze at least half and then grind another quarter of the meat up for burger. Maybe if I pull out all the roasts and can them...I guess we'll see. But with 62 rabbits now in residence the one thing I can't do is put off slaughtering any longer.

It Has Been a Week

December 19th, 2013 at 08:12 am

Some good, some bad, some just surviving. We had two does kindle over the weekend. Phoebe had 9 kits and Andromeda had 4. We decided to foster 2 of Phoebe's kits to Andromeda, the two smallest ones, so that it would be easier on Phoebe. A rabbit can only feed 8 kits at a time so often one can easily miss out on a meal. I was really unsure about whether the runt would survive and it did not, sadly. But the other kit we fostered is now as fat and sassy as Andromeda's biological kits and I don't think she ever noticed there were more kits than she had.

I'll have to make some decisions about Starbuck come spring. I'm not breeding again until late February when the whether warms up. So far he has fathered 3 litters. The first one was a set of seven where one died and one was very undersized and we had to force nurse it for 10 days to get it to the age where it was old enough to eat pellets and thrive on its own. Then this last litter. The second litter he fathered was one of 9 kits, but 2 died. And this last litter he fathered only produced four. So his results are inconsistent and there might be something genetic going on.

But Andromeda was a first time mother and she wasn't exactly receptive during the first half of breeding so the litter size may be related to that as well. We will be keeping one of his bucks, because he is a friendly and amazing buck with really great fur and body type. Those traits I'd like to keep from him.

I think the fridge is dying. We replaced the freezer gasket and it improved for a while, and we will replace the fridge gasket as soon as DH gets home, but I think something might be wrong with the fridge fan, too. We were hoping to avoid a service call, but now we may not. I've had what feels like food poisoning and my suspicions lay on the fridge not keeping things cold enough. We may have to buy a new fridge. I have $700 in the Appliance Fund and I can wipe out the Vacation Fund to make up the rest if I need to. I am just hoping it is fixable.

Meal Planning

December 17th, 2013 at 04:24 pm

So it's time to get back to meal planning again. I have been sick and lazy about cooking and relying on some convenience foods. During the holidays this year I need to make up some homemade convenience foods. I'd like to have pre-made enchiladas, lasagna, turkey TV dinners with stuffing and mashed potatoes and gravy where I only need to open a can of green beans or add a salad to make it complete. I want some pre-made meatloaves and meatballs. I want to make up a bunch of Korean mandoo dumplings and some homemade French fries for the freezer.

I'd like to have some pre-made freezer kits for making quick stir-fries and for dumping into the crockpot. I need to get some potatoes canned. I need to make more meal plans that follow on from each other, like baked potatoes one night and baked potato soup the next, or spaghetti and meatballs one night and meatball sandwiches the next. I need to be thinking about double and triple batch cooking where I make one for now and one or two for the future.

I just need to make it easier to cook at home than to go get take out food. We are wasting too much money on take out. Anyway, I've made up a plan for the rest of the week, and I will start working on a plan for next week.

Tonight (Tuesday):

Homemade pizza with pepperoni, ham, onions, bell pepper strips.
Salad

Wednesday:
Spaghetti
Meatballs (made with pork and hamburger, garlic, and various cheeses I have on hand) (triple batch, 1 for the night, 1 for the next day, and one for the freezer)
Cole slaw

Thursday:
Meatball sandwiches made on homemade garlic bread
Green beans
Oranges

Friday:
Fried Rabbit
Baked potatoes (triple batch)
Broccoli/cauliflower
Canned peaches

Saturday:
Baked potato soup
Leftover broccoli/cauliflower
Leftover rabbit meat
Fresh baked bread
Canned pears

Sunday:
Chile Verde (double batch, one for freezer)
Fried potatoes made with leftover baked
Fresh baked bread
Canned pineapple

Next week is still a bit up in the air. I'm not sure yet what day we are celebrating with the in-laws. It was supposed to be the 21st, but someone's work interfered so now we are waiting to find out about the 27th or the 28th to see if my SIL can get her daughters on those nights. They are supposed to be with ex-BIL those days and he may not want to give up his time.

I will likely make a couple of lasagnas, one for whatever day we celebrate on. I do have another week's menu plan made up that I can slot into place once I know what is going on.

Disappointed

December 17th, 2013 at 03:51 pm

I know a bonus is just that, a bonus, but I'm pretty disappointed in DH's company this year. They had a really good year, the best year since he has worked there, but it seems like every year the benefits become less and less. Less medical, less dental, less vision. No vacation or sick leave time. And the bonus was a lot less than in any previous year. If this keeps up they won't even have them next year.

Well, all of my plans are for naught. DH will buy his new laptop. I'll save $1000 for getting through January on limited pay and the meager rest will go into the College Fund.

Funds Update

December 16th, 2013 at 03:06 am

$200.00 Property Tax Fund
$200.00 Propane Fund
$400.00 Vacation Fund
$700.00 Appliance Fund
$400.00 Moving Fund
1000.00 College Fund
__72.00 Water/Sewer Fund
+_95.00 Dues Fund
1000.00 Laptop Fund
-----------
$4067.00 Total Funds Money

Payday Report

December 16th, 2013 at 03:06 am

$1400.00 BoA VISA
__100.00 Emergency Fund
___19.00 Dues Fund
___72.56 Internet
___72.00 Water/Sewer Holding Tank
__757.82 Van Loan (plus extra to principal)
__100.00 Property Tax Fund
__100.00 Propane Holding Tank
___40.00 Allowances
__200.00 Laptop Fund
__100.00 College Fund
__100.00 Vacation Fund
__109.00 January Money Fund
__100.00 Moving Fund
__100.00 Appliance Fund
--------------
$3370.38

$700 of the payment to BoA VISA was the $700 I had set aside for Christmas presents. Since they were bought with the VISA I used that money to make the payment. I will make another payment next week to cover the other half of the travel expenses for DH.

Also had 3 Medical Bills:

$90.00 Physical Therapy
$10.62 Doctor
$13.70 Sleep Doctor
----------
$114.32


Emergency Fund Update

December 16th, 2013 at 02:57 am

Oooh, almost there.

$7883.74 Beginning Balance
+_100.00 Monthly Deposit to EF
-----------
$7983.74 Ending Balance

$16.26 to go to meet my end of month and end of year goal of $8000 in the Emergency Fund.

Random Thoughts on the House

December 15th, 2013 at 05:50 pm

I keep thinking about paying off the mortgage. We are so close now at under $8K and I really think it would be a good thing to do, just to have it done with. It would mean one more thing to cross off our list. It would be one less payment we'd be making every month. It would mean between $400 and $1000 (which is where my payments generally are, depending on the month) that could go elsewhere.

I am also thinking about having the water turned off at the house. Because there is no need for it now that it is winter and nothing will need watering out there until summer. We have so many rains in the spring that it isn't necessary. It is $72 a month to keep the water turned on. While the workmen were there it was necessary, but now it isn't. Also, with the water turned off we won't risk the pipes freezing or anything like that.

Another thing I will have DH do the next time we go out there is to turn off the hot water heater. The electric isn't that high out there, but we could cut the bill from $30ish to $15ish by turning off the hot water heater. Between the two things that could give us $87 a month to throw into our down payment fund.

The house has been shown a half dozen times and while it has been in the running for at least two people, it has not been the house picked. I think it is probably priced too high, but I hate to lower the price before it has been on the market for 3 months. When I see houses reduce the price too quickly after coming on the market it always looks like desperation to me.

Our realtors are supposed to be finding out from the ones who showed it what the deal is. If the people looking are finding it too expensive or just don't like the area or don't like the school district. There is nothing we can do about the last two, but we can drop the price if that is the sticking point. I just don't want to have to drop it too much if that isn't even the issue. It could just be as simple as they found something they liked better or that had more land.

I just don't want to end up as one of those people who has the house sit on the market for years. But considering we bought it for $65,000, I don't want to see it drop anywhere close to that, either. We've done too many improvements to the lot and the house that to not get at least $100K for it would feel pretty lousy.

It's set at $129K for now, but I'm not sure that was ever a realistic number. I just thought people would haggle if they didn't like the number. I mean that is what we did when we bought it, we went back and forth several times until we settled on a number between what they wanted and our original offer. Sometimes I think people just don't want to be bothered with bargaining.

EF Update #2 for Today

December 13th, 2013 at 06:23 pm

So made it to the CU to deposit $49 in coin jar money.

$7834.74 Beginning EF
+__49.00 Deposit Added
-----------
$7883.74 New EF Balance

I may or may not be depositing the monthly $100 to C1-360 today. We will see once I've done all the bills. My $8000 goal for the end of the year is getting close. It is exciting to see it so near.

Emergency Fund Update

December 13th, 2013 at 07:20 am

Wow, I went down hard with this last illness. Lots of sleeping has helped some. Still have a raging fever and still am exhausted but those seem to be the worst of the symptoms at this point.

I've gotten way behind on keeping my financial stuff up to date on here, though. I've had 2 Thursday deposits made, the $10 autopays, so need to update my EF for that.

$7814.74 Beginning Balance
___10.00 12/5 Deposit
+__10.00 12/12 Deposit
-------------
$7834.74 New Balance

I've got quite a lot of coin jar money to deposit today, too, so we will be back with an update there later. And it's payday so hopefully will do an update on that point as well.

Venting Over Wasted Money

December 10th, 2013 at 01:31 am

Some things really test my willingness to be charitable. I don't mean charitable in the sense of giving money, although I do in a way, but I mean more along the lines of having (or not having) kind thoughts towards people.

I have a friend-ish person, and I know I've mentioned the situation on here at least once, who was in very dire straits not too long ago. I mean, down to the last half cup of rice, power was turned off, propane tank was empty, was selling everything she could possibly sell just to afford her medications for chronic illnesses that she and her husband both have and was outright asking for money from people.

I put a lot of effort into trying to find help for her because I couldn't afford to donate any money at the time. And then eventually, a month later I could. She begged pretty incessantly for money from everyone in a certain circle. I scraped up $100 to help her and I do mean scraped. I mean, food, electric, heat, medicine...pretty dire.

And then she spent $1000 of the money that folks had donated to her to take her pet to the vet and have a surgery done. Which I am sorry, but if you are begging people for money for food and other essentials, you do not then take a sixteen-year-old deaf/blind/arthritic cat to the vet for $1000 knee surgery. I mean, I get that you love your pet, but at that point, quality of life for the pet is gone, surgery or none. You are not doing this for the cat, you are doing this for selfish reasons. And you have no bloody food to eat. Spare the amount for euthanasia and grieve, but don't waste what people worked hard to give you.

Well, it's been almost a year since it all began and now she is going around begging for money again, this time for a start up business that is going to save them once and for all. And it actually might. I mean there is a chance. It looks good on paper, she's got the experience, etc. But I feel like I got burned the last time I tried to help her. And I don't want to help her, because I don't trust she would use the money for what she claims she will use it for after wasting it last time. I will not give her more money, but I just...am having a very hard time keeping my mouth shut and my heart from being cynical when she puts out these pleas for help.

I know if I open my mouth the words that come out will not be ones I will be proud of. I have no idea what to even say. I know what I want to say, but I also know that that's not what I really want to say. I know the last money I gave her was a gift. I had no expectations for it other than that she spend it on what she said she needed it for.

I thought I had let this go. I really had. But all this renewed begging...well, I could have put that $100 to much better use at the time. And I do resent being lied to. I don't know what to do. There are reasons I don't want to burn this bridge. Very selfish reasons on my end. So I know I need to let this go, because once I gave her the money it was no longer my money. I know that in my head. But I still feel betrayed in my heart.

How do I let this go?

It's Easy to Save Money...

December 5th, 2013 at 02:56 pm

...when you are too sick to go anywhere. Oh, man, has this been a bad fall for me. I don't think I've been well for more than a week at a time. This is just me whining so feel free to ignore. Right now I'm about ready to claw out my throat. I have been drinking a lot of orange pekoe Ceylon tea with raw honey and also something called Throat Coat by Traditional Medicinals, but they only help temporarily. I've even stooped as low as taking Fisherman's Friend, which tastes foul, but helps some.

I am also sick to death of soup, but don't have much choice between my throat and my stomach. When what goes down must come back up again, soup is the easiest road to follow. Ugh. I just want to be well. It would help if I could stay warm. You'd think with such a high fever that wouldn't be a problem, but we are going through a major cold spell. And I have to be out in it twice a day to care for the animals.

At least I have my canned food. It makes it easy to put food on the table for the kids. Last night I made tacos with some of my canned hamburger. I added a half cup of my taco seasoning to a pint of hamburger, added a bit of water and nuked it for 3 minutes. No fuss, very little mess, and everyone was happy.

Tonight is canned salmon and canned green beans with microwave baked potatoes. It doesn't get much easier than that. I might even be able to manage some of the salmon as it is soft. Not too much though. It's too expensive a fish to waste on my stomach right now. I will probably mostly just eat my home canned broth. That seems to stay down. It's when I add noodles and veg that I run into problems.

DH left for Alaska Tuesday night so I can't even have him take over rabbit duty.

Oh, well, at least, like I said, I'm not spending any money.

Mortgage Now Under $8000

December 1st, 2013 at 01:24 pm

Whoops!I forgot to add this to the payday report, but I also made the mortgage payment and that officially puts us under $8K owed on the house.

I didn't make a very big payment this time, just $400, which is $24 and some change above the actual payment. Just with Christmas coming up and 4 weeks of no pay following the last payday on the 27th of December, I am saving as much as I can. I will make up for it when I know where things stand for sure.

DH said that he might have the option to go back to work early. If he does that would be great. Even though we prepare for this unpaid time off every year, it still is quite a stretch of our dollars.

19 days and counting until the yearly bonuses are sent out. They usually arrive pretty quickly after they are mailed out. I am crossing my fingers for 10%, but expecting 5% or less.

My SIL has some friends interested in buying some rabbit meat from us. DH and I have set the price at $25 a rabbit. It costs $18 to raise one up to slaughtering age with feed costs (no GMO, no soy, no corn feed), hay, and organic produce during the fall and winter. And we want to see some profit for our time and effort. I see chickens go for $30 with that sort of feeding so hopefully she won't balk at that.

Coin Jar Update

December 1st, 2013 at 01:06 pm

I emptied DH's wallet of ones and coins and added $25.39 to the coin jar. It was quite a nice little boost. I also found 35 cents on my night stand and added it. Moving right along on the EF goal.

Payday Report

December 1st, 2013 at 01:03 pm

$380.01 AMEX
$100.00 Emergency Fund
__45.30 Life Insurance DH
__41.88 Life Insurance Me
__69.89 Car Insurance
__47.17 House Insurance
__41.16 Security System Monitoring
_168.00 Storage
-----------
$893.38 Total Money Out

I also have a haircut for DD coming out today and I need to by flannel sheets for both kids.

Other than that I have $600 for groceries and gas and one physical therapy appointment between now and when DH gets paid again on the 13th. There are no bills due between then and now and all I should have to buy at the store is 3 kinds of milk due to allergies (goat's milk, lactaid free, and normal organic), produce, some lunch meat for DD's school lunches. I have enough bread to get through at least a week and I really want to get back to making it again myself anyway. I made mustard last night so I'm even good on condiments, though I do want to pick up more mustard powder as I only had enough to make 1/4 of a pint.

So we should be good there. I'm even hoping there might be a bit extra left over at the end, but not counting on it.

Emergency Fund Update

December 1st, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Yesterday I sent $100 to C1-360, my main EF account and today the interest of $6.54 hit.

$7708.20 Beginning EF Amount
__100.00 Deposit Added
+___6.54 Interest Added
-------------
$7814.74 New EF Amount

I hit my goal of $7720 for the month of November and am well on my way towards my goal of $8000 by the end of the year. Just $185.26 to go and $140 of that is taken care of by Thursday deposits and the monthly deposit, so I really just need to scrape together $45.26 this month. I can do that.