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Archive for June, 2018

Finally, A Lead

June 20th, 2018 at 11:35 pm

Well, we finally have a lead on what is causing so many problems with DD. Her cortisol levels are extremely low. We've got an ACTH Stim test scheduled for the 29th and tomorrow we get her fitted for Holter Monitor which she will have to wear for 24 hours to check for heartbeat irregularities. She also, for the first time, finally came up as having something wrong with her thyroid, hypothyroidism. It's never tested high or low before, not even on the more specialized tests. The doctor could never believe she didn't have something wrong with it, though, based on all her symptoms. But now at least it registers and eventually she can be treated for it.

She can't start on thyroid medicine yet, though. Not until the results from the ACTH Stim test come back. The doctor did consult with an endocrinologist and he's put her on a medicine that will help with the cortisol levels without messing up the results of the Stim test.

Both tests will be on the current insurance where she has hit her out of pocket max. DH's job recruiting company will honor any deductible that has been met with the new insurance. That is just DD's, but that is where the primary expenses are. My stuff has not been processed through yet so I haven't officially met my deductible. Of course DH and DS have not, either. DS has had one prescription this year and nothing else through the insurance since the wisdom teeth removal was not covered. DH just has his one monthly prescription.

It looks like our costs will be pretty low for DD's surgery. Or rather MIL's costs, since she is paying DD's medical bills.

So we think DD has Addison's disease, but we have to wait on all the test results. This is just based on our research, not the doctor's, but we set him on this path. And it's possible she has Hoshimoto's as well. She does have an undiagnosed auto-immune disease. We've known that for a while based on blood work. She also has granuloma anularae, which is a different autoimmune disease.

It is taking such a long time for them to figure things out, but at least now I feel hopeful they are finally narrowing down what is wrong with her. We've felt for years like no one was taking this seriously. I only hope we have found our answers and if we haven't, that they won't brush it away again.

Decided

June 20th, 2018 at 12:06 pm

Well, we've decided to go ahead and put the $5000 into the Emergency Fund until we know what is going to happen with DH's job.

$4117.15 Starting Balance
+5000.00 Amount Added
---------
$9117.15 New Balance

I am hoping to get this to $10,000 by the end of the year.

Windfall

June 18th, 2018 at 02:11 pm

MIL gave us $5000 yesterday. I have a lot of mixed feelings about what to do with this money. The strongest emotion says to stick this right into the Emergency Fund. That would bring it to nearly two months of expenses. It has been very hard having it down so low. And we still don't know what the future holds job wise. His job with this company keeps getting extensions, but we are living 3 months at a time, it seems.

Another part of me feels like we should throw it at debt, we are supposed to be throwing everything there, but DH and I both feel weird about taking money from his mother to throw at the loan to my mother. Yet at the same time, we both want that debt gone. It has been hanging over us too long and prevents us from saving for our future. I also don't know how my mother would feel about taking that money if she found out where it came from, which I have no intention of telling her, but she's nosy and has a way of finding stuff out. We are not telling the kids about this money. So if we do decide to pay it to her we might stretch it out over a few months so it doesn't come in a big lump.

Another thing we could do is open a Roth IRA. Probably a spousal IRA since I have nothing saved for retirement at all and I'd feel better if some was in my name, too. If we were out of debt, that is likely what we would do with the majority of the money she is giving us, open a Roth for both of us. But we aren't. I know once we are out of debt we can really contribute, so it comes back to that. It always comes back to paying off the loan.

There are a few things we could really use the money for, like I need new glasses, and we need new rabbit cages, and DH would like a new laptop or at least to have the money available to get one when his laptop gives up the ghost, which it has been threatening to do for the last year or so. It would also be nice to get DS into a driver's class so he can actually learn how to drive. DH hasn't had the time to teach him and my brain hasn't been in the right place to do it, either.

But I know we can get by with the old cages and that we have started a fund for the laptop. We need to find the time to teach DS to drive even if DH has to do it on the weekends. The glasses I can probably afford to buy outright in another month out of our medical fund, but my eyes are really, really bugging me and my prescription has changed a lot so the temptation there is strong.

So maybe we put $4000 into the EF and I get my glasses, and the rest of that $1000 we put into the laptop fund. Then when we know for sure what the situation is long term with DH's job, maybe we can take the remainder to throw at debt.

I do know that MIL plans to give us another $7000 this year. She's given us $6000 so far. I am not sure when that will happen, though. At that point we will have to figure out what to do with that money all over again.

Maybe with the momentum we make on debt in these next several weeks with all the overtime, it'll hyper focus us on getting the loan gone, or maybe it'll make it easier to keep it in the Emergency Fund.

I really don't know how people manage to stay gazelle intense on debt payoff if they are worried about future employment. We've got to figure it out though, if we ever want to be done with this and save up for a house and contribute to retirement. Right now buying a house again seems so far out of reach.

I'm not sure what we are going to do. I think for now just let it sit in savings until we are more sure of what we should do and have had a chance to discuss it more.

What would you do, not knowing if you had a job past the end of August, but things seemed somewhat promising? Wait until September? That probably makes the most sense.

Amazon Issues and Question

June 17th, 2018 at 03:54 pm

Well, Amazon may have the option of paying directly out of your checking account in theory, but in practice not so much. I ended up having to use the credit card after all. I will pay it off the minute the charge hits the account.

This irritates me immensely. I am going to go in on Monday and ask for a debit card for that checking account. I should be able to use that for any future Amazon purchases and it ought to work like a credit card. At least I hope it will. Has anyone been able to use their debit card on Amazon?

Meal Planning for the Week

June 15th, 2018 at 09:49 pm

We have a variety of fruit right now, strawberries, cherries, oranges, apples, and bananas, so I'm not assigning fruits to any one night. Everyone will take a serving of fruit of their choice with each dinner. The Chicken Alfredo was a new recipe and made in the Instant Pot. We actually had that for dinner tonight, since today is day one. It was a hit. I'm glad because it was super simple.

Day One:
Chicken Fettucine Alfredo

Day Two:
Homemade Pizza with pepperoni, ham, sausage, sweet yellow onions, and bell peppers
Cole slaw

Day Three:
Beef Stew with potatoes, carrots, and celery
Cole slaw

Day Four:
Pork steaks
Fried Potatoes
Roasted Zucchini and Summer Squash

Day Five:
Meatloaf
Potatoes and gravy
Broccoli/Caulifower

Day Six:
Shrimp Kabobs
Onion and Bell Pepper Kabobs

Day Seven:
Tacos

Grocery Spending Tracking

June 15th, 2018 at 09:42 pm

I made it to Trader Joe's and to Winco today. I still need to go to Costco tomorrow, but what I need to get there is minimal: toilet paper, butter, eggs, fettucine noodles, and chicken sliders. I still have $91 left in my grocery envelope, some of which is left from last week, and there is $69 in my household envelope. I do need to get one bag of duck feed tomorrow and then next Friday I need to purchase two more.

I spent $71.21 at Trader Joe's and this is what I bought:

2 bottle olive oil spray
3 jars Alfredo pasta sauce
4 cans tuna fish
2 boxes fish nuggets
2 Strawberry Walks into a Bar bars
4 packs uncured beef hot dogs
3 sweet yellow onions
2 bags shredded cabbage
4 bell peppers (1 red, 1 yellow, 1 orange, 1 green)
1 box peanut butter granola bars
1 lb yellow summer squash
1 container of garlic powder

Hot dog prices were up 60 cents a pack.

At Winco I spent $65.15 and I bought:

8 small Zoi greek yogurts
1 bag shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 bag shredded medium cheddar cheese
7 Beef Nongshim noodles
6 Chicken Nongshim noodles
1 container shredded Parmesan cheese
1 package hamburger buns
1 container garlic salt
2 cucumbers
1 extra large bag of French fries
1 20 count pack of 1/4 pound hamburger patties
1 box of Zingers

Lots of cheese, but Winco has it $1.01 cheaper than anywhere else and I was low on those ones. We use a lot of cheese here.

Payday Report for 6/15/18

June 15th, 2018 at 01:15 pm

Household is low because I ended up having to order some stuff online on a credit card so used the Citi card for that. I took the amount I ordered out of the household budget because it was for a new dishwasher silverware rack (the old one has holes and things are falling through it) and a pair of XXL large cleaning cloves for DS, whose hands can't fit in any of the offerings available locally.

Then after I did that I went and looked and you can actually pay directly out of your checking account with Amazon. So I entered my information on that. I've disabled one-click check out as well, so that I always have to check to make sure which method of payment is coming up instead of blithely clicking.

I was able to make a small payment on the Monster Mom Loan and I started the Laptop Fund. It feels good to be making some sort of forward progress again instead of just holding on.

$181.48 Tithe
_441.41 Autopays
_200.00 Grocery Envelope
__19.00 Household
__37.00 Allowances
_200.00 Medical Fund
_150.00 Gas Money Envelope
__81.32 Car Insurance
_100.00 Laptop Fund
_250.00 Monster Mom Loan
_145.95 Citi (Should be done now, might have something else show up)
------------
1806.16 Total Money Out



Monster Mom Loan

June 15th, 2018 at 12:58 pm

$33,750.00 Starting Balance
-__,250.00 Payment Made
------------
$33,500.00 New Balance

This week was a small payment, but DH will have 15 hours of overtime on next week's paycheck so we will be able to make a $1000 payment and will start seeing some serious progress as the OT continues the next couple of months. After that I think we will be able to manage $750 a week, plus the budgeted $500 each month. I am looking forward to getting the Monster Mom Loan under $30,000.

Fraudulent Charges and Credit Freezing Question

June 13th, 2018 at 01:45 pm

I think we are starting to see the first bit of fall out from the Equifax breach. Today someone tried to use our Master Card. This was always a card we rarely used, but we have not used in 2 months for sure. And it was for some service called NEVERBOUNCE, that cleans up email list servers or something like that. Not something we would ever sign up for. They tried to charge it three times.

Fortunately BOA was on the ball and temporarily froze the account. I had to fill out the fraud form, which is really easy online. Then they will likely be calling DH to confirm what I did online.

Tonight we are going to cancel the Master Card. Since we will be eliminating all but one card until I can figure out how to do everything through debit cards, auto bank deductions, and paypal, we might as well get started with this one. No more dragging our heels.

I know a couple of you have been through some identity theft issues before. If I freeze my credit through the three reporting agencies will that prevent me from using my card at all, or just prevent anyone from opening up a new credit card account or loan?

We won't be taking out new cards or any kind of loan until we are ready to buy a house again and need a mortgage. That is a few years down the road, so freezing our reports won't affect anything in that regard. Then when we are ready to apply for a mortgage we will unfreeze them.

Follow Up + Store + OT + New Sinking Funds

June 11th, 2018 at 02:55 pm

DD had her follow up this morning with the surgeon. I thought I was going to have to pay a $55 co-pay, but it was actually considered part of the cost of the surgery, so I didn't. Everything is healing well and DD is on track. He thinks the reason her body sent her to the ER the last time was that she was trying to do too much too soon.

I agree. I've made her stay in bed or in her computer chair for the most part in the last week and she hasn't had a return of those symptoms. If she wants to get up to talk to someone elsewhere then she has to sit down while talking and not just stand there. After another week has passed then she can start doing a little more. She's a bad rester, so I am having to be pretty strict about it.

She does get to walk the length of the house a couple of times a day for circulation, though. She's bored so I gave her my TBBT dvd's to watch. If she makes her way through the 10 seasons I have then I'll start her on Buffy, Angel, Charmed, Roswell, Lost, Farscape, or Fringe.

I did go to the store and pick up the oranges I forgot to buy on Friday and also some cherries that I impulse bought, but they were gorgeous. I bought less oranges so I could have the cherries, too. I still have enough money left to buy some Kerrygold butter, which DH will have to pick up on his way home from work since he goes right by Costco.

I had DH run the numbers for me and with the amount of overtime he worked last week, this week's paycheck will have an additional $590.83 give or take a penny. Most of that will go to the Monster Mom Loan, but I am going to put $100 of it aside to start funding a laptop fund. DH's laptop is giving him trouble and I'd like to have the money in place to replace it before it gives up the ghost. While we can do 18 months same as cash, that is still a debt and we don't want to do it that way anymore.

I'd also like to start funding a clothing envelope. DH needs new socks pretty soon. DS will need sweat pants in the fall and he still needs one more pair of regular pants then as well, since he only has 2 pairs of pants now and 1 pair of jeans that he doesn't like to wear. He's never been a jeans kid. So I will try to fund that up to $300 while DH has overtime available. I think I'll do $50 a week for that until it is funded, then switch to $50 a month.

I am considering whether or not I should try to start a Christmas Fund or not. While we have been paying back debt, Christmas has always been pretty limited, but I'm not sure I want to try to cash flow it at Christmas time or not. Maybe when I get the clothing fund funded I can switch to Christmas. I just really want to throw the majority of this at debt and get the Monster Mom Loan paid down as far as we can.

If DH gets 10 hours of OT a week through August we should be able to pay back $7000. If he gets the max, 15 hours a week, it'll be quite a bit more. I don't know if overtime will be available after that or not, but I certainly hope so. For example, if he has it through December we could pay off an additional $10,000, which would make our progress astronomical, cutting the debt almost in half. But there are no guarantees that it will last past August.

It really depends on which projects he ends up working on. Some have OT built into their budgets and others do not. Holiday weeks can throw things off as well. He will have enough paid time off to take off Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's, but how that would affect overtime I'm not sure. He will likely just work on the 4th and Labor Day, though. We never do anything on those days, and the only thing we do at night on the 4th is take our chairs to the end of the driveway at 10:30 and watch the Blast Over the Bay fireworks show. We're still in bed by midnight.

So I guess I have two plans in place, one with OT and one without OT. And we'll just have to see how it all goes.

Changing Insurances...Again

June 10th, 2018 at 04:00 pm

So the job recruiting agency that DH is employed through is changing their medical plan from Aetna to Regence in July. This just got dropped on us on Friday. I've had a chance to go through it and they don't have a silver plan. They have two bronze plans, one gold plan, and one platinum plan. Can I just say the platinum plan is off the charts crazy with its premium of almost $2000 a month.

The gold plan is basically what we have now, but is $85.40 less in premiums a month. The co-pay for doctors is $5 less at $30 and the co-pay for specialists is $5 less at $50. Prescription costs are $6 less at $4 for generics. Since we have 12 prescriptions a month for the family, that will drop our costs there from $120 to $72, a savings of $48 a month.

The only downside is that the deductible we just met will start over again, and then again in 6 months. The deductible is $4000 per family. Not enough for an HSA. If MIL wasn't paying for DD's recent medical bills that would be very hard to absorb, but with it, we can manage to pay the deductible on our own. And having an additional $133.40 in the budget (minus whatever they take out for taxes on that) will be nice. The out of pocket cap is higher at $7500, though. Still, it's a prety good plan over all.

We can't even look at the bronze plans. They have $10,000 deductibles and pay for nothing until you hit that and have a $14,000 out of pocket cap. They don't have co-pays until you hit that deductible either and then it is 50% of the visit cost. That is basically not having insurance at all unless you have a major catastrophe. No good for us. No insurance would be cheaper if we are paying out of pocket for everything, but we don't dare go that route again after what happened last time.

Of course if DH does get hired on direct, and there is no sign of that yet, it would mean switching insurance yet again with another, albeit much lower, deductible.

Medical costs have skyrocketed in the last 9 years. I am not sure I will ever stop resenting the men and women that caused this or the Unaffordable Care Act they rode in on that drove insurance costs sky high for the majority of the country and drove many families to not quite poverty, but with an income just high enough to not qualify for subsidies and no way to get back ahead, because 1/3 to 1/2 of their income now goes to pay for insurance premiums and high deductibles. Medical should not cost as much as a house payment. /rant

Payday Report for 6/8/18

June 9th, 2018 at 03:25 pm

After paying all of the bills and funds allotted to this week we have $60 left in checking. DH has finally got a working debit card, so now the medical checking account is working as intended. I am funding it to the tune of $200 a week and then any excess in that fund each month will be saved towards future big medical expenses.

The only thing not funded out of that is the chiropractor which has its own line on the budget. If DH does get hired on direct at some point, we'll be stuck paying COBRA for a while and have a new deductible, so I want a huge medical cushion. Plus, we need money in there for future surgeries we know are coming.

$122.47 Tithe
_200.00 Grocery Envelope
__50.00 Household Envelope
_275.00 Chiropractor Monthly Family Plan
_200.00 Medical Fund
__90.91 Internet
_100.00 Car Insurance Fund
__36.00 Allowances
__50.00 Car Maintenance Envelope
__36.00 Garbage Fund (paid every two months)
__25.00 DS's Driver's Permit Renewal
-------------
1186.38 Total Money Out

Relief

June 7th, 2018 at 02:13 pm

My mother-in-law says she is going to pay my daughter's medical bills. I burst into tears on hearing that. I was so worried about this and that it would have completely wiped us out financially. I am so grateful that FIL left her so well provided for. With the value of the house she's just barely a millionaire. Without it, she's a 3/4 millionaire. So she can definitely help her kids and grandkids. And she has FIL's pension for life, plus social security, which covers all of her monthly bills and leaves her with about $900 a month leftover, so helping us won't put her in a bad way at all. They are making her take a distribution of $16K from the 401K, so she has the money available to do this without even breaking a sweat.

Our out of pocket costs are capped at $4500, which is more than we currently have in savings. It isn't so much that I would feel awful about her paying this. I don't feel bad about her paying as this is a gift she wants to give her granddaughter, but if it were $10K to $20K, I'd really hesitate. I am pretty sure she will be helping my pregnant niece with her medical bills as well and my other niece with living costs as her baby's father is out of the picture due to addiction issues.

I am just so grateful she has the resources and the heart to do this for us. I have always thought that I lucked out with my parents-in-law. We were always happy to help them with whatever we could, driving them to appointments after FIL couldn't drive anymore, taking MIL to do all the legal stuff after FIL died, doing yard work, helping with Christmas lights, taking her shopping, etc. Now MIL is able to help us back and wants to.

I really thought this was going to bury us. It is just such a relief to know that it is not.

Check Up

June 6th, 2018 at 02:04 pm

I had my six month check up yesterday for blood pressure and cholesterol. Things are still under control with the medication and I've lost 5 pounds since my last doctor's visit about 3 weeks ago for the infection. He'd like to see my HDL a little higher and my triglycerides a little lower. He wants them down about 6 points.

I also got a pneumonia shot. I am having a little bit of a reaction to it on my arm. It doesn't hurt though. The nurse said it might over the next two days. I used to get pneumonia every year and haven't gotten it more than once in the fifteen years since I started getting the pneumonia shot when needed. Unlike the flu shot, it actually works for me.

The co-pay for the visit was $35. I wrote a check out of the medical checking account for that. I am really liking having that, but I have to remember to grab that checkbook before I leave. I forgot the first time and had to go back for it. Fortunately I had lots of time before my appointment as I tend to get there early and I remembered before I got off my block.

We still haven't been able to get DH's debit card for that account working. They did a hard activation on Friday, but it still won't let him choose a pin. We double checked to make sure it wasn't thinking we only needed one pin between us and it wasn't. They don't have a way to resolve it over the phone. They just keep saying see your financial institution even though we already have. DH is going to pop in again today to see if they can give him a pin there instead. I miss the old days when they would send you a pin in the mail. I know it is safer for security to do it this way, but it has to actually work to work.

Meal Planning for the Week

June 2nd, 2018 at 07:01 pm

Here are my menus for dinner starting tonight. I don't necessarily make these in the order I've listed. While I like having a plan in place for the week because it allows me to stick to the grocery budget, I don't particularly like being tied down every single night of the week, so I just check off whichever meal I make and then the next day choose from the list. Sometimes I go in order and sometimes I don't.

It gives me a little more freedom if I don't feel like making something more intensive that night and want to make an easier one off the list, without completely flying by the seat of my pants. I also have a couple of back up meals I can always rotate in if I don't feel good for ease of making by someone else. One is pancakes and ham and the other is tacos, though tacos are super easy even when I don't feel well if I make them in the electric pressure cooker. No baby-sitting after the initial browning stage.

Day One:
Homemade chili using all freeze dried foods (has veggies in it, shredded cheese on top)
Baked Potatoes

Day Two:
Brined apricot rabbit legs
Fried potatoes
Green beans

Day Three:
Fried chicken
Mashed potatoes and gravy
Broccoli/Cauliflower

Day Four:
Chicken Stir-fry (lots of veggies)
Rice

Day Five:
Homemade pizza with turkey ham, pepperoni, sausage, bell peppers, and onions
Salad (from the garden)

Day Six:
Beef stew (potatoes, carrots, celery, onions)
Salad (from the garden)

Day Seven:
Spaghetti with Meatballs
Garlic Bread
Salad

Payday Report for 6/1/18

June 1st, 2018 at 05:56 pm

$122.47 Tithe
_200.00 Groceries
_200.00 Medical
__50.00 Household
__35.00 DS's Allowance
_500.00 Utilities to Mom
__56.83 Life Insurance DH
__45.30 Life Insurance Me
-------------
$1209.60 Total Money Out

I have $34.04 left in checking. Some of that is carry over from last week.

Grocery Spending Tracking

June 1st, 2018 at 05:49 pm

DS and I did the banking this morning and I funded my envelopes. I put $200 in the Grocery envelope and $50 in the Household envelope. I put $200 into the Medical checking account and took out $35 for DS's allowance. DD is not getting one as she is doing no chores while recovering from surgery.

After that DS and I went shopping. In the Household category I spent $19.54 on dishwasher soap. It was a very good sale. In the Grocery category I spent $159.66. I still need to buy tissues and body wash from the Household and yogurt and soup from the Grocery categories. I may get some butter, too, yet, but that depends on how fast we go through what we have. I am hoping to push the butter off another week.

Groceries I bought at Safeway:

4 Miracle Whip
2 lbs organic tomatoes
4 boxes organic spaghetti
2 boxes organic penne pasta
12 Chef Boyardee Mini-Ravioli
6 organic Nectarines
1 cantaloupe
2 Jif naturals creamy peanut butter
1 Justin's honey peanut butter (for DS)
4 organic ketchup
1 2 lb bag Mexi-Blend shredded cheese
2 potato bread
2 dynamite bread
1 Thousand Island dressing
4 jars Prego pasta sauce
3 1/2 gallons of milk

I spent $117.61 there. Almost everything I bought there was on sale. Only the milk, bread, and Jif peanut butter was full price.

What I bought at Haggen:

3 lbs organic grapes
1 organic cauliflower
5 lbs organic broccoli
1 bunch cilantro
1 yellow summer squash
1 container shredded Parmesan cheese

I spent $42.05 there. The only thing on sale was the grapes. The other items were cheaper at Haggen then at Safeway, though. Now I need to sit down and make up my meal plan.