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Archive for February, 2015

And Now the EF is over $14K!!

February 27th, 2015 at 09:03 am

Our income tax refund came. It actually came on the 25th, but since I have never had a refund come on any day but a Friday before, I didn't bother checking for it until today. So here is the new Emergency Fund Balance.

$12,075.00 Beginning EF Balance
+_2,000.00 From Income Tax Refund
---------------------
$14,075.00 New EF Balance

My goal for the year is to get the EF to $15,000. So now just $925 to go. $15K is both my main goal and my next mini-goal. $15K is the most minimal of expenses to survive for 3 months with no pay. It's not a comfortable 3 months, but between that and unemployment we could survive on it.

The goal after hitting $15K will be $21,000, which would be 3 months of very comfortable living or 4 months of tight living. But I imagine that will take another year and a half to two years of savings to get to. It'd be faster, but we have some college to cash flow.

Farm Changes

February 26th, 2015 at 06:58 pm

I am pretty excited about some of the upcoming things on the farm. I sent a check off today for $330 to a local sustainable farmer who raises rabbits as well. He's going to be importing organic rabbit pellets from Modesto Mills in California and has offered to let anyone in the county get in on his order, no shipping fees. Since he wasn't sure how often at first he'd be ordering, I got a 2 month supply, or 600 pounds. Well, technically, this is more than a 2 month supply at the moment, because we have no kits and are just feeding the 13 adults and 1 junior who will be an adult in another month.

But we have kits due on Saturday/Sunday, so in about 4 weeks that consumption will go up to 300 pounds a month. This does a little more than double our rabbit feed costs, but with the new small animal slaughter house starting to butcher rabbits this spring, I will be able to sell WSDA approved meat if I use them. Rabbit meat from rabbits fed organically gets upwards of $15 a pound. So selling one rabbit would cover the cost of 2 bags of feed. I have interest from people who I have not sold to yet, because of not having the WSDA approval.

I do not mind raising the feed costs, since our old feed that used to be GMO free no longer is with the heavy introduction of GMO alfalfa into the rabbit feed supply a year or so ago. Which, by the way, has coincided with increased kit mortality in many rabbitries across the states. It may not show up in humans this quickly, but with something like the rabbit population where generations are born in a very short time span, it can very quickly be seen. Not proven, but the anecdotal evidence amongst breeders is pretty high. Just another reason to thank Monsanto for their constant interference in nature and scientifically proven (by non-M researchers) lower yields (despite advertising higher ones).

We don't buy alfalfa hay anymore as there is just no real way to track that unless we buy farm direct, which we may do this summer (and eventually will grow ourselves when we buy our 5 acre farm).

So anyway, I am happy to find organic non-GMO feed again for my rabbits. We will do a slow switchover, as a rapid feed change can kill the bunnies. But we have 200 pounds of the old feed left, so we should be good with a gradual switch over. Might have to buy an additional 100 pounds, but we will play that by ear.

Here is a short rabbit video I made yesterday. It shows the different nesting styles of my three rabbits who are currently pregnant.

http://youtu.be/nNU4PmlaP1Y

Emergency Fund Update--Over $12,000

February 26th, 2015 at 04:45 pm

$11,903.00 Beginning EF Balance
+__,162.00 Coin Jar, B'day Money, and AMEX Rewards
+__,_10.00 Weekly Deposit
------------------------------
$12,075.00 New EF Balance

And things are still on track for the new closing date of March 6th.

House Update

February 20th, 2015 at 11:13 pm

So yesterday we went in to Chicago Title and signed the closing papers on the house. We did it early since DH will be in Alaska on the closing date. It feels one step closer, but who knows? I don't think I'll believe it until the money is in my bank account.

The buyers requested to push the closing date back to March 6th. They have a very good reason and I can't fault it. The wife was due to have her baby in a couple of weeks and she'd been having trouble with preterm labor and they found out something was wrong with it, and then the baby died. So, yeah. They need a little time. They still want the house, it's nothing like they want to back out. They just want some time to grieve, arrange a funeral, and get their heads together.

The realtor says they still might sign before that, it just depends on how things go with stuff. I feel so bad for them and I feel they should take the time they need (as long as they don't try to extend it again). And I feel bad that even knowing this, I'm still impatient. Not that I would ever show it, or anything. It's just been such a long process. I mean, not this part, but the whole fixing it up and putting it on the market and having the first buyers fall through and then finally getting another offer. From offer to now, really hasn't been too bad. Just a couple months.

I can't help it, though. We should have closed in 6 days and now it is 14 days. I just want to close this chapter of our lives and start the next one. I want it done so I don't have to worry about it anymore.

Emergency Fund Update

February 19th, 2015 at 11:45 pm

$11,893.00 Beginning EF Balance
+__,_10.00 Weekly Deposit
-----------------
$11,903.00 New EF Balance

$97 to go to hit my mini-goal of $12K.

Meal Planning for the Week

February 15th, 2015 at 08:38 pm

Monday:
Rabbit Stew
Green Beans
Strawberries

Tuesday:
Homemade Pizza (pepperoni, mozzarella, onions, bell peppers)
Cole slaw

Wednesday:
Sloppy Hoppies
Cole slaw

Thursday:
Chicken stir-fry (broccoli, carrots, onions, celery)
Homemade bread

Friday:
Braided Chili Loaf
Green Beans
Strawberries

Saturday:
Fried Chicken
Fried Potatoes
Green Beans
Oranges

Sunday:
Beef Hanging Tender
Mashed potatoes and gravy
Broccoli
Pineapple

Taxes are Done

February 15th, 2015 at 12:16 am

DH finished and sent off our taxes tonight. We will be getting back $7133. And before anyone goes saying that that is too high and we shouldn't withhold so much money so we can have more money during the year, there is nothing we can do about this. The majority of it is from our medical being reimbursed and most of the rest is from the ridiculous amount of money that was taken out of DH's bonus.

Some of this money is earmarked for college (both DH's and DD's), but I will take and throw $1000 in the Emergency Fund when we get it back. And I would like to be able to pay for my daughter to take driver's training. I also believe there is a program now where a fifteen-year-old can get his permit before 15 1/2 with taking driver's training. DS will be 15 next month. So if we could take them to the same driving school and they could take it together that would be really good. I'd also like to get glasses and eye exams for everyone. But otherwise, yeah, most of it is for college.

DD has decided she wants to go to the technical college. She wants to learn how to do medical billing and coding and maybe some other administration things. Considering that more and more people are going to the doctor because of having forced insurance, it'll be a field with good growth and more importantly it will be a field where she can earn enough money to support herself on. It's also one that doesn't involve many other people and is often work from home even. With her extreme anxiety that would be very good for her.

She may still just take a year off and work before going to college. I am just glad we have a plan now.

It looks like we will get the refund in three to four weeks.


Farm Income and Other Stuff

February 14th, 2015 at 06:09 pm

I made $80 in rabbit meat sales today. That brings the total sales for the month to $95 and $122.50 for 2015. That more than covers a month of feed for all of the animals, especially since we don't have any babies right now, but since I have a large amount of feed bought in previous months, I don't need to use it for that and it will go to the EF on Tuesday.

This week I also received my AMEX reward that is attached to my Costco card. It is $58.82. I have to go to Costco to cash it. I wish they would just let you cash it at a bank, but they won't. We will go there sometime soon, maybe Tuesday so we can avoid the holiday weekend shoppers. I don't really need much from Costco, maybe Ziplocs, but nothing else, so I hate to go all the way over there just for that, but oh, well. That money will end up in the EF as well.

We went to the farm today and got several pounds of pastured organic meat. For $280 I got 32.3 pounds of meat divided thusly:

8 2.5 pound pot roasts (20 lb)
4 pork chops (2.30 lb)
5 packages of bacon (5 lb)
1 rack of lamb (3 lb)
1 beef hanging tender (will have to look up how to cook this)(2 lb)

We will can the pot roasts later this week after they have thawed out.

Since we were down that way DH and I went out to an early dinner at Outback for a combination of Valentine's Day and my birthday. It was nice to have a nice dinner out without the kids. We rarely do. We brought home wings and bread for the kids and they also stole our leftovers. I didn't end up getting steaks after all on my actual birthday so I don't feel guilty at all about going out, especially since I set aside the money I would have used to buy steaks.

Spring is in the Air

February 12th, 2015 at 11:12 am

I have two glorious signs of spring today. This is one of the flowering cherry trees blooming in the high school parking lot:



and this is in my gutter garden with garlic coming up:



Today is my 45th birthday. It is also the birthday of Abraham Lincoln. I have always loved that I share a birthday with one of the greatest presidents this country has ever had.

It will be a low key day here. I haven't even decided if I am going to make a cake or not. I am doing so well on my diet I am concerned what suddenly adding sweets back in might do to it. I like having lost those 15 pounds.

I think I will go and pick up some steaks at Trader Joe's, though, instead of sticking to the meal plan. I wasn't thinking about my birthday when I made it out. I think a nice rare ribeye would more than make up for no cake.

EF Update

February 12th, 2015 at 10:52 am

$11,883.00 Beginning EF Total
+__,_10.00 Weekly Deposit
--------------------
$11,893.00 Ending EF Total

$107 to go to hit my mini-goal of $12K! It's getting so close.

Emergency Fund Update

February 10th, 2015 at 03:24 pm

$11,852.00 Beginning EF Total
+__,_15.00 Pinecone Check
+__,__5.00 Pinceone Check
+__,__1.00 Coin Jar Money
+__,_10.00 Duck Egg Sales Money
-----------------------
$11,883.00 New EF Total

I have $117 to go to hit my mini-goal of $12K and $3,117 to go to hit my main goal of $15K for the year.

Farm Sales and Other Income/Gift Cards

February 9th, 2015 at 07:17 pm

I sold 2 dozen duck eggs today for $10, bringing my egg sales for the month to $15. I received my two Pinecone checks in the mail today, for a total of $20. I have received all five of my $5 Amazon gift cards from Swagbucks and have cashed out for a $25 gift card. I think I'll be able to get another one before the month is up if I keep qualifying for surveys.

This Saturday we'll be going down to the farm store to buy beef for canning and we will be selling the lady who runs the counter some of our rabbit meat. She pays $15 a pound. I'm not sure how much the package weighs. We use their scale when we get there. But the last sale was $67.50 for 4.5 pounds, so should be around that much.

I need to order some more rabbit cages. I want to stop using the 24 x 24 inch cages and just use the 36 x 36 inch cages. The smaller ones are standard for bucks of this size, but when I moved the two bucks that were in them to the larger cages a couple weeks ago, they acted like they were in heaven. I'd rather they have a bit more space if it means that much to them. I like to keep them all happy.

Menu Planning for the Week

February 8th, 2015 at 10:30 pm

Monday:
Meatball Sandwiches (on homemade bread, using leftover homemade spaghetti sauce)
Cole slaw
Strawberries (from my freezer stash)

Tuesday:
Chicken stir-fry (carrots, onions, broccoli, cauliflower)
Oranges
Home canned corn

Wednesday:
Fried Rabbit
Fried Potatoes
Home canned green beans
Strawberries

Thursday:
Cheeseburgers
Sweet potato and regular potato fries
Cole slaw
Frozen Italian plums (from our tree)

Friday:
Meatloaf made ground beef and ground rabbit, minced garlic, diced onions and peppers, shredded carrots
Mashed potatoes and gravy
Home canned green beans
Canned pineapple

Saturday:
Homemade pizza with leftover homemade spaghetti sauce, mozzarella, homemade rabbit sausage, pepperoni, onions, and bell peppers
Cole slaw
Oranges

Sunday:
Barbecue Chicken Legs
Home canned corn
Drop biscuits with choice of jam
Broccoli



Monthly Deposit to Emergency Fund

February 6th, 2015 at 11:32 am

$11,738.26 Beginning EF Balance
+__,100.00 Monthly Deposit
+__,_21.02 Remainder of Propane Fund
+__,__2.72 Remainder in checking from last payday
----------------
$11,852.00 New EF Balance

$148 to go to hit my mini-goal of $12K. $3,148 to go to his my big goal for the year of $15K.

I got what will be our final bill for the propane tank and there was still plenty of propane in there so nothing was charged. We still have a $49.50 credit that we will end up getting back. So I disbursed the propane fund, putting $300 into the College Fund and $21.02 into the EF. I had $2.72 left in checking from last payday, so I transferred that along with the regular monthly deposit of $2.72.

Even if stuff with the house falls through, I will be able to hit $12K by early in March, between the $10 weekly deposits and next month's monthly deposit. I am feeling pretty good about that.

Weekly Deposit to EF

February 5th, 2015 at 11:57 am

$11,728.26 Beginning EF
+__,_10.00 Weekly Deposit
---------------
$11,738.26 New EF Total

Emergency Fund Update

February 4th, 2015 at 05:18 pm

$11,586.76 Beginning EF Balance
+__,141.50 Deposit
---------------
$11,728.26 New EF Balance

$271.74 to go to hit my first mini-goal of the year of $12K. $3,271.74 to go to hit my main goal of $15K for the year.

This is money from my Costco refund of $47.26, a $50 check from my in-laws because they didn't spend as much on me at Christmas as everybody else so were trying to even it out, and the rest was from the coin jar. I couldn't really think of anything I wanted other than to get the EF to $12K so I put it in there.

Stuff and Things and House

February 4th, 2015 at 10:27 am

So yesterday I sent for 2 more $5 Amazon gift card from Swagbucks. I can order the last $5 one today. Then in a few days I should have enough to get a $25 gift card. So that will give me $50 total at Amazon. I am going to use it to buy a case of the olive oil based Miracle Whip that has no high fructose corn syrup in it. All of the stores around here quit carrying it and I won't go back to regular.

A case of 12 is $95 on Amazon, with no shipping fees. That works out to almost $8 a jar. So with $50 in Amazon gift cards I can get it for $45, which works out to a more reasonable $4 per jar. 12 jars should last me 2 to 3 years. I only eat it with tuna fish, which I don't eat terribly frequently.

Pinecone sent a letter that isn't even accurate to how much money you can cash out at now. They were all, you can just cash out with the $3 option and then add the quantity multiple times so we only have to send one check. But there is no $3 option anymore. I had sent for a $15 check and a $5 check. Now I know that means that I could have cashed out the $5 choice 4 times, but I wasn't even thinking about that at the time.

But considering how I feel about the changes, I probably would have cashed out $5 four different times a few days apart. So they got off lucky with me cashing out for 2 checks instead of 4. They will probably just send the $15 and $5 cash outs in one check. The letter didn't say that, but I'm assuming. It won't matter in the future. I will cash out every time I have at least $5 in the account from now on.

We've completed all the extra stuff on the house to bring it up to code. The wood stove fix was $567. The hot water tank replacement and install was $800. The cost to bring the outlet valve up to code and install earthquake/tornado belts on the hot water tank, also to bring it up to code, was an additional $326. He worked on it for 6 hours. His company is one of the very few who will install hot water heaters into this type of home. And the cost to take off the front porch, pour a concrete pad underneath it, and put the porch back on was $400. $1000 of that will be refunded to us by the buyers on closing.

L&I has signed off on what it needed to sign off on. So their bank will come out sometime in the next two weeks and if they find all to be well and find it appraises properly, then we are good to go for signing. We are hoping to sign by the 24th, though the official closing date is on or before the 26th. DH will only be home from the 12th to the 24th. It would be easier to do it in person than for him to have to find a notary up there at work. Though they did say he might be able to sign in advance.

Then we have to deal with the fact that the female half of the couple is pregnant and due in six weeks, but has already had to go to the hospital once to have early labor stopped. So that may upset the apple cart as well. It does make them more apt to want to sign early if possible, though. They really would like to be settled before the baby comes.

Anyway, I am counting down the next 3.5 weeks. I am finally starting to believe this is really going to happen. And getting a little excited about it, but not too much because the bank could still decide the house isn't worth that much, though it appraises $17K above what they are paying.

I want that check in my hot little hands so badly. I want to pay off the remodeler and the van, bring my EF to $15K and then dump the rest into savings for a down payment. I just want to be there with no more consumer debt hanging over us.

I have a doctor's appointment today. My cholesterol numbers were so good at my blood test that I am going to ask him about either stopping the medication or reducing it. I'd like to get off it. I want to see if I can try going without it for a month and then have another blood test to see if the levels are doing okay. Crestor is expensive and I've changed my eating habits enough now that I may no longer have issues with it. Or to get a cheaper medication. Another option would be to get the 40mg pill and cut it in half. It would be cheaper in the long run.

My insurance has decided it is going to cover my blood pressure medicine 100%. I was in shock the other day when I picked it up. Last year it was $40. That is so helpful to the budget. That is $480 a year I can put towards the farm down payment savings.

My ultimate goal is to get off the BP meds, too. But I think it will take me at least a year of weight loss to be at that point. And weight loss may not be enough. High BP runs in my family. We tried reducing them once from 40mg to 20mg and I felt awful, so definitely need to lose the weight before trying that again.

And if I lose enough weight, I can have a new sleep study done and I might no longer need the sleep apnea machine. I don't have too many breathing incidents, so this might really be achievable. Then I wouldn't have to buy filters, hoses, masks, etc., as they wear out.

Speaking of weight loss I am now 14 pounds down. I think finding dietbet was the best thing that ever happened to me.



Swagbucks and Pinecone

February 2nd, 2015 at 09:18 pm

I cashed out 2 $5 gift cards for Amazon at Swagbucks today. I also sent for a $20 check from Pinecone, though if it were on the old system it would have been $21. My reaction to Pinecone switching from being able to cash out in increments of $3 to now having to wait until $5, when each survey only pays $3, is to have them send me a paper check every time I hit $5. So if they thought it would help them save on paperwork and maybe postage, they thought wrong. Before I'd wait until I had a higher balance. Now it'll be every time I can. Slightly vindictive, but the surveys have gotten more and more tedious and less and less frequent, so it balances out in my opinion.

Transformer

February 2nd, 2015 at 08:32 am

I went ahead and joined a new dietbet, the six month one I was talking about. I did get the $30 back from my first game, but all but 2 of the people in that bet hit goal, so no extra back. This one has way more players, so if I hit goals I actually have a chance to win something besides my money back. I paid all six months up front. They do have a month to month option, but if you pay up front, you only have to pay for five months total. And since it was a $150 total bet and I had my $30 on account, with the discount, that brought me down to $95. Pretty reasonable for six months of online diet support.

I know others are considering doing another dietbet or starting one, so if anyone else is thinking of doing a longer dietbet this seems like a good one to join. It starts in a couple of days. Here is my invite link if you want to join: http://diet.bt/xz91fE I think it would be fun to be in the same game as other SA'ers.

Menu Planning for the Week

February 2nd, 2015 at 08:24 am

Monday:
Garlic Butter Chicken
Broccoli
Biscuits with choice of homemade jam
Oranges

Tuesday:
Beef stir-fry with broccoli, cauliflower, onions, carrots, peppers
Apples

Wednesday:
Pork chops
Fried potatoes
Applesauce
Green beans

Thursday:
Braided chili loaf
Corn
Green beans
Strawberries (from our freezer stash)

Friday:
Rabbit stew
Coleslaw
Oranges

Saturday:
Duck burgers
Fried potatoes
Coleslaw
Pineapple (canned)

Sunday:
Southern fried rabbit
Baked potatoes
Green Beans (home canned)
Nectarines (home canned)



Not A Payday Report

February 1st, 2015 at 09:46 pm

This last Friday is not a payday, but of course I always save money over from previous paydays for the one Friday that has no paycheck each month. So these are the bills that went out today.

$250.00 AMEX
_186.00 Storage
__44.66 Life Insurance (Me)
__45.30 Life Insurance (DH)
__74.41 Car Insurance
__48.75 House Insurance
_120.00 Physical Therapy
-------------------
$769.12 Total Money Out

I need to sign up for a new bank savings account tomorrow, the one Julie posted about today. It will be with a bank that has 1.05% interest. That is .30% higher than what I am getting now. I could be earning $11.50 on my EF each month instead of $7.21. It doesn't seem like much but over a year that is $138 or $86.52, a difference of $51.48. And of course it'll be far more than that once the house sells and there is more money in the bank.

I think I'll probably end up completely closing out the Capitol One 360 account. I've been holding on to it due to old ING loyalty, which is silly because they aren't ING and they have never been as good as ING was. They've had plenty of time to match the other couple of online banks that are giving higher interest rates and they haven't done it, so it is time to say good-bye to them. But I will keep it open until we are done with taxes, probably just with $5 in it.

Some Days Everything Goes as Planned

February 1st, 2015 at 08:05 pm

And some days you are just lucky to get dinner on the table. Despite having a meal plan, despite being well prepared, some days just throw you for a loop. My mother decided to tie up the entire oven for hours, so there was no way to cook anything I had planned. Of course, she did not tell me she was doing this. I didn't expect her to cook as she has been mooching off of us for the past five days straight and I'd assumed she would again today since she liked what I was making, so it didn't even occur to me that she would cook.

She knew what I was going to make tonight, too, and when. But tying both ovens and the entire stove top up between 3 and 8 when she knows I have kids to feed, and that there are blood sugar issues, irritates me. I just don't even... I will be glad when we can move out. I am so tired of sharing a kitchen.

I was tempted to eat out, but I figured I could scrounge up something, and I did. I ended up making toasted waffles (from the last batch cooking session I did), microwaved ham, strawberries, and coleslaw. Yeah, it was a weird dinner, but it was good and it hit fruit, veg, starch, and protein.

I am too frustrated to make up a menu for the week tonight. I'll do it tomorrow or it'll end up being chocolate everything.

Emergency Fund Update

February 1st, 2015 at 01:06 pm

$11,569.55 Beginning EF Total
___,_10.00 Weekly Deposit
+__,__7.21 C1-360 Interest
-------------------
$11,586.76 New EF Total

413.24 to go to hit my mini-goal of $12K and $3,412,24 to go to hit my next big goal of $15K.