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Archive for May, 2018

ER Visit and Surgery Date Set

May 23rd, 2018 at 01:36 pm

I spent all day Monday, from a little before 1 p.m. until midnight at the ER with my daughter. At midnight DH tagged me out and I went home to sleep because I had an early appointment on Tuesday morning, but they were home an hour later. They sent DD home with percocet and we were able to get a relatively quick surgery date of the 29th, so she has a week to wait. The meds should last that long. I will be so glad to see the backside of her gall bladder.

I don't know how much everything is going to cost and I don't know how we will pay for it if it costs more than $6000, but we will figure it out. DH says he will probably start getting overtime in June again, which will be a great help. The current project he is on, the one with no allowance for OT, wraps up at the end of the month.

They have him lined up for several more projects. His boss has said he contractually can't talk about bringing him on as a direct employee until June 4th. I don't know if that means anything or not, though, like is he going to talk to him on June 4th and bring him on, or just a statement of fact.

I do hope they bring him on as permanent because the benefits are outrageously good. Better insurance than we have now (which is really good, but expensive) for $250 a month for the whole family. Plus vision is $14 a month and dental is $100. So $364 total. Which is a far cry from the $1500 we are paying now. A share of company stock, which is worth $16K. 6% matching in the 401K. Paid vacation and sick days. Paid jury duty days off. I believe he also said good deals on disability and life insurance as well. I really hope this happens.

We'd have to pay COBRA for a couple of months, though, I'm sure. And that'll be $1500 a month. Worth it in the long run, though.

So I had to pay $413 today to the surgeon for the upcoming surgery. I don't know how much I will have to pay the hospital yet as a down payment. I am guessing around $1250. At least they can't turn her down for this surgery based on her BMI. Of course that is why it will be in the hospital and not the surgical suite at the doctor's office. I think DD has met her deductible now.

I have a killer head cold. I woke up with it Monday morning and so yeah, I had it the whole time we were in the ER. It was worse on Tuesday. Today I think it is at its height so hopefully tomorrow I will feel a lot better. Unless I caught something in the ER to add on top of it, because you know how my immune system likes to do things like that.

I got an email today saying that an old virus software on a computer we no longer have had been renewed automatically and charged to a credit card number we no longer have. I think it is the same card, just with a different number. I hope that means it didn't go through anywhere.

I am keeping an eye on the card that it used to be the number of just in case and then will dispute it. They worded it like they had already done it, but it hasn't shown up. I thought I had stopped any auto renewals, so maybe they are just trying to pull a fast one. Trying to figure out how to contact them through the info on the email is nearly impossible. We no longer do auto renewals on things so if they are trying this again we have to nip it in the bud, pronto.

Grocery Shopping And Sticking to the Budget

May 18th, 2018 at 07:29 pm

So I stuck successfully to my grocery list, with 2 exceptions. I bought a case of Nongshim noodles and 3 ears of corn. Everything else was on the list and I came in under budget. I spent $155.73, so I still have $19.27 left in my grocery envelope. I may buy 2 packages of the hot dogs DH likes still and even then I'd have enough left over if we run out of milk.

I bought mostly to fill in around the gaps of my meal plan and I think I will have some overrun into the next week with onions and potatoes, but I am not sure yet. We eat a lot of potatoes, but I usually only get two bags or six pounds a week. This week I got 15 pounds.

Here's what I got at Haggen:

1 pot with 2 cucumber plants in it (yes, this counts as food or at least future food)
Baby spinach
4 red onions
15 pounds of potatoes (red, gold, and russet)
2 yellow bell peppers
Radishes
2 1 lb chubs of breakfast sausage
3 pounds ground chicken
2 pounds ground turkey
2 1 lb jars Jif Natural peanut butter
1 1 lb jar Jason honey peanut butter
1 bag of ice

And what I got at Safeway:

2 1/2 gallons of milk
1 2 lb bag of sharp cheddar cheese (same price as a brick)
2 bottles of ketchup
2 potato breads
1 dynamite bread
1 Thousand Island dressing

And what I got at Winco:

1 case of Nongshim beef noodle soup
1 bottle of Mirin (rice wine for recipes)
1 quart strawberry Zoi yogurt
2 red bell peppers
2 orange bell peppers
2 green bell peppers
3 ears of corn
2 cucumbers

I feel really good about this. I didn't get much in the way of convenience items. The noodles are (but they are the only version I've found outside of Trader Joe's that don't have MSG in them). The shredded cheese is, but it was the same price as the brick. So I definitely have to cook, but I've been doing a lot better lately so that hasn't been a problem. And we haven't even been tempted to eat out, but then I haven't had an RA flare for a few weeks, either. Everyone prefers my cooking anyway, even the Chinese dishes, which I am getting better and better at every time I make them.

I am already planning my next shopping trip for next Friday. I will have to get a couple items from Costco, some seasonings, eggs, cheese, ground turkey, sausage patties, and possibly butter. I will very strictly stick to that list, because I will still have to get regular groceries that week. Costco can be a money suck if you aren't very, very careful. If I stay on top of this, I really think I can do it. It just requires planning, and if there is one thing that I am good at, it is planning.

Payday Report and DS's Plan for his Future Job

May 18th, 2018 at 12:52 pm

$1400.00 Citi Card
__82.13 Amex
_125.17
-----------
$1607.30

The paycheck plus what was left of the $1000 went towards finishing off the credit cards. AMEX is done and all auto pays have been transferred off it, so as soon as it clears I will be cutting up that card.

I will finish off the Citi card on next Friday and then it will only be used for the auto pays. We will take the credit cards out of our wallets. They can't be an option. Also next Friday I have car tabs due and a medical bill. There won't be a lot left over, enough to fund the grocery envelope and the household envelope. But then starting on the June 1st payday and continuing forward, we should be able to fund everything else with cash throughout the month.

Yesterday we opened a checking account for my son and then he set up his paypal account to hook into it, so he can now make online purchases directly out of his bank account and no one has to use a credit card. He needed a checking account anyway as he is going to get a job this summer and will need it for direct deposit. He's had a savings account since the year he was born.

He wants to read The Total Money Makeover after my husband is finished with it. He is very determined not to carry debt in his life except for possibly a mortgage. We've already talked about 10% of his income going into retirement from the start. He may not qualify for a 401K immediately, but he can do a Roth IRA until he does. He will also be saving 40% for college and 10% will go to tithing. Then he will need to put 20% into savings for a car and insurance and the remaining 20% will be what he can spend.

He wants to make a budget as soon as he gets his first paycheck, but before anything else he is going to save up $1000 for an emergency fund so he has it in place when he is able to afford a car. I guess we are rubbing off on him. Not so sure about our daughter. With her medical issues I despair of her ever being able to hold down a job.

Taking Steps to Move Back to the Envelope System

May 17th, 2018 at 04:41 pm

I went to the credit union today and took out $475 in cash to fund 3 of my envelopes. I put $175 into the groceries envelope, $50 into the household envelope, and $250 into the medical envelope. For medical I am going to start using an old checking account at a different credit union. I took the $250 there this afternoon, deposited it, ordered a box of checks, and ordered debit cards. They even had some pretty checks that were the same cost as plain ones. I chose an American flag with the bald eagle soaring in front of it. I didn't think my husband would fancy the butterflies. Big Grin So that took $16 out of the medical account right there, leaving a balance of $234.

I tend to write checks for medical except prescriptions. We have been using the credit card for that because we usually go through the drive-thru and it is easier than trying to write out a check on the steering wheel. So we will use the debit card for prescriptions once it arrives. That way DH can have a card, he usually picks up the medicine, and I will have the checkbook. That debit card will be used only for medical. It just makes it a little easier than playing with cash and not having a paper trail. I need a paper trail for medical if we need to deduct again.

I will be funding the medical account with $800 every month, with $200 coming out of each paycheck starting on June 1st. That should cover co-pays, prescriptions, and allow us to save for DD's surgeries. This does not include the amount for the chiropractor which is a monthly set amount for the entire family and I will just pay that out of regular checking. It has it's own budget category.

When the medical account reaches $1000 I will send any additional to the online bank and earmark it for medical on the spreadsheet. I'm not sure when they will let DD have her surgeries, not until her BMI is 40% however long that takes, so the extra will go to save up for that. But whenever the account drops below $1000 I will start adding money back into it. I am not sure how much we really need to set aside for medical. It varies so much in a month. This month alone has 6 co-pays, not to mention the numerous prescriptions.

Because we are switching over to mostly using cash and checks, I am not sure we will be able to make a payment on the loan to Mom until June 8th. I figure if I make the $500 payment towards the beginning of the month, then I will have to stick to the budget the rest of the month. If there is any extra at the end of the month of June I will tack it on to the July payment. If I treat it like a bill due the 2nd payday of the month, that should keep me on track.

I think I'm going to like this Gazelle intensity thing. Even if I can't do it 100% like Dave Ramsey, because we have to keep the EF at $6000 instead of $1000 for upcoming medical reasons, I am trying to focus in like we are. And really, we are. The EF is $1000, the medical fund is the rest of it. Once the surgeries are over than we can be fully doing it, but I don't know when that will be. I guess until then it will just have to be baby steps. Yeah, I saw it. Did it anyway.

Meal Planning for the Week with a Budget

May 16th, 2018 at 11:16 pm

If SavingAdvice logs me out one more time I am going to scream. It shouldn't do it every five minutes. I wish they would fix the blogs, already. So many things are broken here.

I built my meal plan mostly around things we have on hand this week and then made my grocery list based on what I need to fill into the meal plan, what I need to add for lunches, and then a few staples I need. The grocery budget will be set at $175 a week for now and the household budget, which includes things like toilet paper, personal care items, Ziplocs, and detergent, will be set at $50 a week. Once I go shopping I will list what I got and how much I actually spent.

Day One:
Tacos (everything on hand for this)
Canned Pineapples (on hand)

Day Two:
Chicken Wings (on hand)
Fried Potatoes with bell peppers and onions
Cole slaw (all ingredients on hand)
Canned Pears (on hand)

Day Three:
Lamb Kabobs (lamb roast in the freezer)
Veggie Kabobs of purple onions and bell peppers

Day Four:
Turkey Legs (in the freezer)
Mashed Potatoes and Homemade Gravy
Canned Green Beans (on hand)
Sugared Strawberries (in the freezer)

Day Five:
BBQ Pork Steaks (in the freezer) smothered in onions
Baked Potaoes
Cole slaw (ingredients on hand)
Sugared Strawberries (in the freezer)

Day Six:
Spaghetti with one jar of Vodka sauce and one jar of marinara sauce (all in the cupboard)
Chicken Meatballs
Salad (lettuce from the garden)

Day Seven:
Shrimp Kabobs (big bag of shrimp in the freezer)
Veggie Kabobs of purple onions and bell pepeprs


I Finally Opened the Door and In He Walks

May 15th, 2018 at 11:20 am

I don't usually buy books, but I made a book purchase on Saturday. Yes, my library does have this book, but I was 13th on the waiting list. High demand books mean that people can only keep them out 2 weeks instead of 3, but that was still looking at a possibility of 26 weeks before I could read it, assuming people turned it in on time. Most people don't.

So I handed over my cash, $27.51, to the young man at B&N, who tried to sell me a membership card, but no. I don't buy books often enough to earn back and then benefit from the savings. What book did I buy, you may be asking by now? Well, I finally gave in and decided to read Dave Ramsey. I bought The Total Money Makeover.

I have been avoiding Dave Ramsey for the last 12 years, to be honest. Yes, I did do a debt snowball, but I didn't know about it from reading him. I just figured doing it like that would make me feel like I was making progress faster. Yes, I did build and keep a $1000 emergency fund before doing it, but that was on advice from people here, not based on his method. Although it probably was, since a lot of you have read him. But I wasn't going to.

It wasn't that I thought he was bad or anything. I just didn't want to give up my paid off credit cards. Well, I did give up some of them, but we still have 5. We pay them off in full each month. But...oh, and here's the big but, I've been feeling for a while that we weren't using them responsibly enough, because they are just too easy to use.

But my chiropractor's office plays Dave Ramsey and I kept hearing him on my visits. And then he came up in my suggested videos on youtube. God has been putting things in my path right now that I have been struggling to deal with. Dave is just the last in a line.

First I was struggling with tithing while still in debt to my mother and my internet preacher answered a question on tithing. Then I was concerned that I lacked motivation, but in getting the spending back under control and in doing my five times a week Bible study. Then I was struggling with forgiveness for DH's sister and nieces over the stuff they pulled at Thanksgiving.

Forgiveness was in the next lesson and in such a way that it heals the person who forgives, not the one who holds on to the anger. Doesn't mean I'm willing to have holidays with them, but I might be able to at least see them now. So I asked for help about the budget and in walks Dave Ramsey, so to speak.

So I just finished reading the book last night. It took me 3 days. And I figured out how come I felt that way about credit cards. It's because we just buy what we need with no thought to it. And because I know we will pay it off each month in full, I haven't really been sticking to a budget when it comes to groceries and household expenses or clothing or eating out.

And with these bad habits getting out of hand, things felt tight every month and I didn't feel like I could possibly make payments on the loan to Mom, the only debt we have left. So I sat down and made up a better budget and if we actually stick to it, then yes, I can start paying Mom at least $500 a month.

DH's mother just gave us $1000. We had thought to put it in the Emergency Fund, but I think instead, we will use it to get current. The next two paydays will pay off what we have left on the credit cards before they are due and then we will go down to simply charging the auto pays, which total $407.50. It might be a little lower, but I am allowing $50 for Ting. We don't always go that high, some months we are lower, but we have never been above it, so that is what I put in the budget. But we won't use the credit card for anything else. Nothing but the auto pays. And we will use paypal from our bank account for online purchases, but not until we've had a moratorium on online purchases for six months or so.

I have also budgeted $1000 for groceries/household. I do think I can keep it lower than that, but I haven't been. Since I track my spending, more or less, I know I haven't. We are switching to cash for that. I will start with putting $250 in the groceries envelope. I figure $200 for groceries and $50 for household. Maybe I should break it down into two envelopes, except I usually buy household stuff when I go grocery shopping. We'll see. I know I need to get toilet paper, deodorant, and quart size Ziplocs, which will take up a good share of that $50.

I have transferred all the auto pays to one card, and as soon as the last little bit on the AMEX is paid off, I am going to cut it up and cancel it. I was just using it for Netflix and Hulu. I am also going to cancel my Best Buy card and no longer do any 18 or 12 month same as cash deals. I paid off the last one with part of our tax return. Instead I will be saving up money in a computer fund, though that won't start for a while.

I am not sure I am ready to cut the cord completely with credit cards, but I can't see having more than 3. One is the miles card, which DH will need if he starts working in Alaska again and has to fly all the time. He usually got 2 free flights a year, sometimes 3, so it definitely was worth it. Then there is the one my daughter is a signer on. Then there is the Costco Citi card, but I am not sure if that is going to be worth keeping yet. Without charging all of our groceries and gas, the amount of cash back will dramatically drop, and that was the only reason I got it in the first place.

My head knows that the best thing for us to do is to get rid of all but one card, but I am scared to do it. Mostly because the EF is not where I want it to be. I know you aren't supposed to use credit cards as a back up EF, but you know what 2016 and 2017 were like for us. If we had run out of money at least we would have had those cards to fall back on, which of course, is exactly that attitude I'm not supposed to have.

I knew Dave would let me have it over these ideas and I wasn't wrong. It sure has shown me what I need to work on and try to not rely so much on my security gland ruling what I do.

So next, I go back to an envelope, pay with cash system, except for those auto pays. I am looking into whether or not there are ways to pay them without paying by card. I think you can pay both Netflix and Hulu through paypal, but I'm not 100% sure. I think we can put storage on direct withdrawal, but I don't know about Ting. I haven't been able to find anything about Ting. But one of the reasons I really like doing auto pays on the credit card is so that I only have one due date to worry about, not an additional five. Right now I only have two to worry about and they come out on the same day.

So I will fund this coming payday's grocery/household envelope with $250.00 from the gift money, so all the money in the paycheck can go for the tithe and the Citi card.

I have already handed DH an envelope marked vending for the vending machines at work with $7 in ones that I had in my purse. He is to get $25 a month to use in the vending machines at work (he's been charging them). This gives him a little over $1 a day and the charge is 85 cents, so anything left at the end he can spend or set aside and save it for something he wants. Or he can save it all and quit using the vending machine altogether.

I will also have my own $25 envelope for something I want to do. I have no idea what I want to do with it, but sometimes just saving makes me happy.

I really would like to be able to squeeze out more than $500 a month to pay Mom. It might be $100, it might be $25, who knows? But whatever I can throw at it. She won't like getting weird amounts, but I don't care. It is not up to her how much I pay back at a time. It is up to DH and me.

As soon as we know what is going on in June with the job, I can decide what to do with the Emergency Fund. If I want to bump it down to $1000 and pay Mom with the rest or if we need to keep it there in case of possible job loss. It is scary to keep it at just $1000, but Dave says it keeps you more driven to pay off the debt so you can build the EF up to 3 to 6 months of expenses.

I get it. I get everything Dave says. I think I'm in the stage where I am not yet drinking the Kool-Aid, but I have read the ingredients and directions on the package and started preparing the beverage. He has his baby steps and I have mine. I do want to get there. And I want to get there fast, so time to put our heads down and start pushing that stone uphill.

Payday Report

May 11th, 2018 at 08:44 pm

$100.00 Cash
$122.47 Tithe
$124.85 Master Card
+900.00 Citi Visa
---------
1247.32 Total Money Out

I have $36 left in checking. So far we are on track to have quite a bit of the 5/25 paycheck available to go to savings and a loan payment to Mom, barring any unforeseen circumstances. It really makes a difference cutting out eating out/take out.

Emergency Fund Update

May 11th, 2018 at 08:37 pm

Today I cashed in the coin jar. There were a lot of ones in there, too.

$6036.61 Beginning Balance
+__52.50 Deposit Added
----------
$6089.11 New Balance

$910.89 to go to hit my next goal of $7000.

Bits and Pieces

May 7th, 2018 at 04:07 pm

I got down to the doctor's office today only for them to tell me I'm a week off. Oh, my gosh, I thought it was the fourteenth. I know this year is going by fast, but how'd I jump forward a week? Total glitch in the matrix moment. So, since I didn't have to save the money in checking for the appointment after all, I went ahead and paid the AMEX card off. That was $155.95. Then since the garbage bill arrived and I still had enough left in checking to pay it, I did. That was $70.69. I have $56.75 left in checking.

That leaves me 3 more paychecks this month out of which will come three tithe checks, a $108 or so MC bill, one co-pay, and one full pay at the doctors, and then the Citi which is what we charge gas and groceries and storage on. If we are really careful, I may have some extra money to put into the EF this month. DH isn't getting any overtime at all right now, so it is much harder, but I just have to stick to my guns and not get take out or eat out this month.

I did have to make some clothing purchases. I bought a new skillet, two pairs of shorts, two tank tops, a six-pack of socks, and then a nice blouse and pair of linen slacks for my nephew's upcoming wedding. All of my dressy clothes are warm and this is an outdoor June wedding.

I also bought a dress for my daughter for the same wedding. She also needs shoes. And I'll need new insoles for my dress shoes or I'll be in horrible pain all day. DS and DH will each need a short-sleeved dress shirt, plus DH needs a few more for work. All of his long-sleeved dress shirts are getting too hot to wear now. I've got money in the clothing budget and will add some, so we should be able to do that between now and June.

I stopped in at Good Will and found a nice casserole dish without the lid, but I have a lid to the same shaped casserole dish that I broke a long time ago, some garden twine, some garden clips for attaching plants to stakes, and some planting bags. I'm going to put my peppers in the planting bags. I am going to be growing zucchini and cucumbers vertically so the twine and clips were a great find. I spent a little over $200 at both stores.

I met my goal of writing 10,000 words last week and have set the same goal for this week. That's four chapters. I am so happy with how this is going. I'm really enjoying my characters, although I have one twelve-year-old little brother who likes to make his role in the book bigger than it probably should be. But what are you going to do? When you get a character that writes itself, I've found its best to just follow where they lead.

I've also set a goal of blogging at least three times a week. This will be my fourth this month, so I think I am on track for that. I'd like to make it daily again, but who knows? There is a lot to do in the garden. Speaking of which, the sun is behind the big tree now, so this is the perfect time to work in the garden, in the shade, so I'm off to do that. I've got a lot of seeds to get in the ground today.

Fund Updates and Musings on Goals

May 5th, 2018 at 05:06 pm

Emergency Fund:
$5936.61 Starting Balance
+_100.00 Amount Added
-----------
$6036.61 New Balance

Insurance Sinking Fund:
$200.00 Starting Balance
+100.00 Amount Added
-----------
$300.00 New Balance

College Fund:
$100.00 Current Balance

My goal for the EF is to try to get it built to $7000 by the end of the year. If I contribute $100 a month, then that will cover $800 of that and then I'll just need to come up with $163.39. Since I bank all my youtube income and my Thrive Life income except the $10 a month it takes to run my website, that should be doable.

For the insurance sinking fund I'd like to contribute $100 a month. I am not sure how much it is going to cost to insure two vehicles. I think it will be more than $100 a month, but the truck will only carry liability and uninsured motorists and we will get a multiple vehicle discount.

We just paid the policy for the van in March, so I'm not sure how much additional we'll need. Once I see what the new policy will be, I can adjust the sinking fund accordingly. We like to save up and pay six months at a time, not pay monthly. Up to now I have been saving $80 a month, but I did fund this account some with some of the tax refund.

I don't know if I will be able to contribute to the college fund by any significant amount. DS knows he is going to have to work a few years to pay for college, but if I can save enough to help at all, I'd like to. I hate the fact that we can't pay for college. Several years ago we could have cash flowed it, but all those years of high taxes and a sucking economy hit us hard. Follow that with the 10 months of unemployment in 2016/2017 and we don't stand a chance with our current income. If DH can pick up a higher wage job than his current one, we still have to spend years rebuilding what we lost.

I won't feel comfortable until we have a $30,000 Emergency Fund and a $80,000 saved for a down payment.

On the writing goal I am at 6160 words so far this week. I have two more days to hit 10,000 words. I'll get that easily the way things are going.

I have met my step goals every day this week. The diet is back under control again.

Payday Report for 5/4/18 + Truck + MIL Finances

May 5th, 2018 at 02:51 pm

I am finding a need to more closely track our spending again. We overspent in April by a huge margin, mostly due to me feeling really cruddy for most of the month and not wanting to cook. We had a take out bill to end all take out bills, so now I am determined that 1.) we are going to cook all our meals this month, and 2.) I am not going to let money fritter away and slip through our fingers like that again.

$500.00 for Mom's Utilities
__56.83 DH Life Insurance
__46.30 Me Life Insurance
_122.47 Tithe
__90.82 Internet
_100.00 Emergency Fund
_100.00 Insurance Sinking Fund
-------------
$1016.42

I have two doctor's appointments next week, one with the rheumatologist and one with the eye doctor to check to see whether or not the hydroxychloroquine is turning my retinas yellow or not. I sincerely hope not as it is the one medicine I've been able to use without side effects. It improves my symptoms by about 50%. So I left some money in checking to pay the co-pays.

I am happy to finally be able to put something into the emergency fund again, even if it is only $100. It is necessary for us to rebuild this fund and if I don't waste money on takeaways, than it is available for savings.

I have increased the amount I send to the sinking fund for insurance. We will be taking over insurance on the truck soon. It has been paid off, so we are just waiting for MIL to get the title mailed to her and then we can transfer ownership to our name. I hope we won't be charged taxes so we didn't buy it but inherited it. We will have the death certificate and the will with us for proof we didn't pay, but you know the government, always having to have their hand in your pocket taking money out. But MIL might pay it if there is. I hope so, because we can't afford to. Well, we could, but it will make things super tight in whatever month we have to do it. Things are already tight, though apparently not so tight we didn't waste a bunch of money last month. I will be kicking myself for that for a while.

MIL is really sitting pretty. She got the insurance money and has paid off every credit card bill, the vehicles, and the mortgage. She gets $3000 a month in pension payments, plus her social security. She inherited the 401K and has enough in there to last 25 years at $16,000 withdrawn per year. She's not going to be in any kind of trouble. I am glad, because we all thought it was going to bad for her, but it turns out she's doing better than anyone else. She's set, barring a medical emergency. That can eat up money fast, but aside from her obesity, she's in very good health.

This and That

May 2nd, 2018 at 02:47 pm

I haven't posted since the 22nd. A lot has been going on. My son had his wisdom teeth out and it really knocked him for a loop. Everyone had to pick up the slack and it was a lot of slack as that kid does a ton around the place. It cost $1250.20. They gave us a 12% discount since we had no dental insurance.

We finished transferring soil into the garden beds that need it. About 2/3 of the bee balm we transplanted made it. I've got my tomatoes planted now. I've finished my garden plan and have decided I am going to plant bush beans this year instead of pole beans. I've been having trouble with my shoulders, so picking above my head will hurt. By putting them in 2 foot tall raised beds, I can just pull up a chair to pick them instead of kneeling on the ground.

Normally I prefer pole beans because they go a lot longer, but if I plant now, I can get two crops of bush beans in this summer. I went with Provider green beans. They are a high yield bean and they had organic seeds available locally. If I had to order it would have been a toss up between Providers and Contenders, since they have the highest yields. With pole beans I usually do Blue Lake or Kentucky Wonder. Or blue coco for fun. It is a purple string bean that turns green when you cook it. I'm mostly going for yield this year, though, because I need to can a lot.

I am going to grow my zucchini and cucumbers vertically on stakes instead of letting them sprawl all over the place. There is a place in the front yard that gets good sun on the edge of the deck. I just have to keep tying them up as they grow. This gets the plant off the ground, making it less susceptible to powdery mildew. It also allows for something that usually takes up a huge amount of space to be grown in a more compact area.

I'm not sure I'll be able to grow any potatoes this year. The ground is just not prepared for it and it is more work than I can do on my own. Maybe if I grew them in barrels or grow bags. We'll see. We have 3 old water barrels that could be cut in half. But I can buy potatoes fairly cheaply from the no spray garden when it is time to can them, so if I can't plant any, that'll do.

My big goals for the garden are to can enough green beans and tomatoes for the year. Maybe even enough tomatoes for two years, which I've done before. I picked good, local producers this year, so as long as we don't have a cruddy growing season this year (last year's was awful), I should make it just fine with what I planted.

I've been writing. I've written 5000 words in the last two nights, so I think the writer's block is over. It would be nice to get this novel finished. I have a much better idea of where it is going now. It's like a veil has been lifted. I haven't finished a novel in four years, so I am very happy with myself that it seems to suddenly be going so well again.

I know I haven't done any payday updates in a while. I'll start again on Friday. I just don't have the energy to go back and write everything up. No big deal. It's just for my benefit anyway. I doubt anyone is really just itching to see the state of my budget every week! Smile Today is the first no spend day in ages.

Well, I've got a free hour before I need to get back in the garden again, so I am going to work some more on my novel. My goal is to write 10,000 words this week and 45,000 by the end of the month. If I keep up the rate I'm going at that should be easily doable.