I really don't like it when companies do stupid things, especially ones that normally have a good reputation of producing quality products. I don't like spending my money only to get a nasty surprise.
Campbell's has ruined its Chicken and Stars soup. Gone are the little pasta stars that go down without chewing, perfect for the sore throats it has soothed for generations. In their place are those loathsome large pastas like they have in their cartoon character soups. Like the Spaghettio pastas. The ones my kids wouldn't touch when they were little despite the fact they were shaped like Dora and I choked down so they wouldn't go to waste.
The are very chewy, don't go down easy with a sore throat at all, in fact they hurt, and they don't taste good. Not only do they not taste good, they have changed the broth, too. Instead of being golden, it is orange.
Now I understand that they took out a bunch of the chemicals they used to have in their soup to make it better for us, but the soup never had food coloring in it to make it yellow. So removing the nasties from it should not have turned chicken soup orange or even have changed the flavor as much as it has. There are also globs of a darker orange consistency on top, though they did stir in once cooked.
Now the reason they have given for the change of the pasta is that there were complaints of the stars clumping, a non-problem if I ever heard one. I have been eating this soup since I was two and preparing it myself since I was nine. In all of those years, not once was there an issue of the stars clumping. And you know what stops pasta from clumping? Stirring. It's not rocket science.
Campbell's claims this is the reason though. I think not. I am sure there are more complaints about the change, and will be even more as more people realize what happened the next time they get sick and reach for the old favorite and get something gross, than there ever were for clumping pasta.
I think Campbell's has pulled a New Coke and hopefully it will go the way of the New Coke debacle if enough consumers protest. Oh, and here's the kicker. The normal stars are still available in their soup on the go with no plans to change it. Gee, don't those stars clump, too?
Soup on the Go is $2.79 a container. Because it is not condensed it works out to half the amount you would have with a condensed soup. The condensed Chicken and Stars soup runs at $1.79 a can, which is outrageous enough for 10.5 ounces of soup (product shrinkage again, too), considering most of their other soups are $1.29 a can. I'm not going to pay a whole dollar more for half the amount of soup. Until they change back, they have lost me as a customer. If they don't change back, then I'm done. 43 years of being a loyal customer means nothing to them, so no more of my hard earned dollars are going their way.
Viewing the 'Off on a Tangent' Category
I really don't like it when companies do stupid things, especially ones that normally have a good reputation of producing quality products. I don't like spending my money only to get a nasty surprise.
1. My husband and I have been married for 21 years, but have been together (next week) for 26 years. We should have met long before we did. We were often in the same places at the same time (same berry field working as youngsters, junior achievement one door down from each other, Sunday School (big group of teens in a huge church that met altogether and was then separated by class and we were one grade apart), numerous things like that. We kept being put in each others' paths, but did not meet until we both worked at the same restaurant chain and he transferred to my store.
2. I never discuss politics, religion, or major issues on my Facebook page because people are crazy with their opinions and I'd like to keep my friends and family. Except for prayer requests when stuff gets really bad. Only exception.
3. I have 2 children, a girl and a boy, but we originally planned to have 4. Life didn't work out that way and by the time my youngest was 3, it was definitely for the best.
4. We started raising our own fruit, vegetables, and meat animals due to my son's massive allergies to food additives, preservatives, colorings, and artificial sweeteners. It changed our lives.
5. We are a one car (van) family and that van is paid for.
6. I am a massive Doctor Who Fan. To the point where I wrote fanfiction for several years. I am also a huge Labyrinth fan even 30 years later, but I did not get involved in the fandom, other than the time suck that is watching fanvids on youtube.
7. I love to read, but for many years I barely did. This year I have really gotten back into it again. I have probably read more in the last 6 months than I did in the last 6 years. My favorite things to read are epic military fiction with a strong female captain (think Kylara Vatta or Heris Serrano or Esmay Suiza) or flat out romance novels.
8. I dislike historical dramas on TV, but love historical fiction. I don't get it either.
9. On rare occasions I have had violently accurate intuition. For example the time I'd been driving behind a hay truck on the freeway and felt a sudden need to get out of the lane. I moved over and one of the cords securing the load snapped and hay bales fell off the truck into the space I would have been in. Or the time when DH and I were dating and were (ahem) parked and I was overwhelmed by the irrational urge to leave right then and DH listened to me and we got out of there. I found out the next morning that someone was murdered 10 minutes later who had been walking to her car parked in the same area. Within a few feet of where we'd been parked. Or a time when I chose to take a different route than my usual one because I got a weird feeling of dread as I approached one intersection and would have been involved in a multi-car pile-up where several people were badly hurt and 2 people died if I'd gone the usual way. I'd say about once every 5 or 6 years something like this happens. It scares the crap out of me every time. But I always listen to that feeling.
10. I love to cook, but I hate to clean up the kitchen. I have created dozens of my own recipes in the last 25 years.
11. I hate it when people say "It's only" in reference to money. It's only 3 cents or it's only a dollar or it's only 5 bucks. And then complain how they have no money and they can't save anything. It's just as important to mind the pennies as it is to mind the $100's.
12. I love bubblegum pop music. I love almost all forms of music, but bubblegum pop is always fun and floaty and puts me in a good mood.
13. Instruments I have learned to play over the years with various degrees of success: violin, viola, mandolin, piano, organ, flute, harpsichord, and a few chords on the guitar (my hands are small, so guitar is hard for me). I want to learn the banjo. A lot.
14. I wrote my first novel in the 3rd grade. I love writing. Even more than reading. I am always working on something.
15. I desperately want to be good at drawing. I am mediocre. I can paint, though, in both acrylics and watercolors.
16. I have taught myself to loom knit, but not to needle knit. I want to learn both it and crocheting, but my brain and my hands don't want to communicate properly when it comes down to it. I have the dexterity due to playing instruments, but there is a serious disconnect when I try to knit on needles. Crocheting is not any better. I also want to learn to machine sew more than hems.
17. I love farming. I didn't think I would take to it anywhere as much as I did. Both the animals and the extensive gardening have added so much to my life.
18. My mother drives me crazy, but she is the best person I know. Aside from my husband, she is my best friend. She is the person who taught me to always keep going no matter what life throws at you.
19. My short-term memory has not recovered fully since my concussion when I broke my nose last year. I have to leave post it notes everywhere so I don't forget things I should remember. It is getting better, but it still is disconcerting, considering once upon a time I had an eidetic memory. I've had 3 concussions in my life. This one has been the hardest to bounce back from.
20. People always think I am a much more serious person than I actually am. My humor tends to be dry and sarcastic or punny and fast wit, but I don't generally let it out until I know people pretty well. Until then I am pretty reserved and quiet. Once I am comfortable, though, it all comes out.
So it's been a while since I updated how much money is owed on the 0% interest loan from my mother, what I call our medical mortgage since it originally involved her putting a mortgage on her house so we could pay the medical bills from my 6 surgeries in 5 years way back when. (She paid that off long ago when she had money and before the rest of her money got eaten up with Dad's care before he died, though, so there is no mortgage on the house). I still call it that though.
After the payment on Friday the total is down to $35,000 owed. We have paid down $85,000 and we offered to pay it all off when we sold our house, but she didn't want that, she wanted the monthly income, and she wanted us to save for our down payment, so that's what we are doing. So we now have 2 years and 11 months to go at our current rate of repayment. If all goes well, April 2019 will be the final payment. This is our very last debt owed. We've been out of consumer debt for over a year now, but I still want to get this one done as I hate owing it.
Our goal is to continue to make our $1000 a month payments to her even if DH doesn't get a job right away. With $63,000 some odd dollars in savings between the Emergency Fund and the Farm Down Payment Fund (and I will add to it as long as we can), we feel like we can do this at least for a while.
If he doesn't get a job within four months of his final day, whenever that will be (could be July, could be the end of September, who knows? They certainly don't.), then we will obviously have to revisit that. I would like to continue to try to pay her at least $500 a month for a while after that. I don't know how long we will have to stretch out our savings for, though, if we have to live on it. I think we could go a year to two years, possibly.
I think my mother has become dependent on that money and it does worry me a little. I think she has always thought she would die before it was paid back. Well, she's coming up on 77 and still going strong so I don't think she will. She doesn't have savings, IRAs, or a 401K anymore (that went to Dad's care); she just has social security. That will be her only source of income after the loan is paid off.
Her expenses are low, but as soon as we move she will have to go back to paying the electric, water/sewer, gas, and garbage bills, all things we have assumed paying while living here. The only household bills she's been paying out of her own funds since we moved here have been the landline (which we don't use), her satellite TV (which we don't use), and her internet (we have our own with a different company that is not slow, hers is bundled with her phone and TV service).
I think she thinks everything will miraculously drop down to 1/5 the amount it has been once we move. I think it will go down some, but not as much as she is thinking it will. Water/sewer is a flat rate, so that won't change. She might need to put out only one garbage can a month instead of two, so that could drop, but she might put out 2 anyway because the smell build up might be too bad if she doesn't.
She will still be heating a big old seven bedroom/4 bathroom/3 living room/1.5 kitchen house, whether we are here or not, though without our two freezers (one big, one small) and two fridges, it will drop. She might close off rooms to heat less, but she doesn't seem inclined in that direction. She will still have to pay the same amount in property tax, car insurance (she has two vehicles), home owner's insurance, etc.
If she continues wasteful habits like leaving both of her TVs on all the time whether she is home or not (and they are the type that burn a lot of electricity), still using mostly incandescent light bulbs, washing dishes when the dishwasher is only half full, leaving the stove fan on long after the oven is off, etc., I don't think it is going to be quite as dramatic as she thinks. It certainly won't halve, let alone drop by 4/5ths.
Gas will go down as it will be one person doing laundry and not five and it is a gas dryer and gas hot water tank for our end of the house. Showers will be less, but we take a lot of them at the gym. I wash in cold water except underwear and bedding, she washes all in hot. So yes, it will go down, but not as much as she thinks. Dishwasher use will go down.
Of course she owns the house in full so that is worth probably $400,000 based on comparable neighborhood sales. Maybe $350,000 because of basement flooding issues if she has to sell as is. So if she sells and gets a much smaller place then she would have plenty to live on. But it she doesn't, things will be pretty tight. She doesn't seem to ever want to sell.
I'm not really sure how she'll get by once the loan is paid. I mean, we'll make sure she does one way or another if she tells us, but she is so stubborn she might not tell us. I doubt Social Butterfly will help at all. Former Ice Queen (I need to come up with a new nickname for that sister) would probably help with anything she can that isn't financial, but she doesn't make a lot and has already said she's not moving in with Mom if it comes to that.
If DH's job situation shakes out right, if we can buy a place with enough acreage, if we can convince Mom to sell and move and set up a little new manufactured home (new ones are super nice these days and very energy efficient) or a little stick-built cottage on our land, that would be the best option. I don't want to live in a house with her again, because she is so critical and just...THERE all the time. Having her close but with her own home would be the ideal way of dealing with things.
I guess it is easier to worry about things like that than worry about whether or not DH is going to be able to find a new job before the old one runs out. Not that it will stop me from worrying about that, either.
I've plotted out the money for the rest of this month and it does look like I will be able to put $1500 into the EF from the overtime work, assuming nothing changes. That won't be tomorrow's payday, but the next. A large chunk of tomorrow's payday will go towards paying the credit card. I had to put an unexpected doctor's bill on there so it is higher than usual. A portion of next week's pay will finish paying it off for the month.
I got a second unexpected doctor's bill for my toe surgery. I know the deductible was met, so I'm not sure why it was so high. I mean, it wasn't more complicated than getting a cavity filled. I was out of there within the hour. But my portion is still $355? Maybe the insurance denied part of it or something. I'll investigate a little further. They are supposed to pay 90% after the deductible has been met. I don't think the overall total was anywhere near $3500. He's supposed to be in network. I don't know.
I am tired of medical bills. I've shelled out $2000 just this month and that is without any physical therapy, since my PT has influenza and I have not seen her this month at all. It should get better from here, though, since nothing else big should be coming in for a while. DD did see the doctor at the start of the month, but just for a regular visit so our portion should be quite low.
Although DS is getting a cavity filled next week that won't be charged until some time in May.
I don't know how people with low incomes and high deductibles do it. We struggle to get the medical bills paid and we have a good income. Without the overtime work, though, we'd be having a tough time this month. Without the OT we'd be saving nothing and might even have had to make a choice to dip into the Emergency Fund or carry a balance this month on the credit card. How are people who have no EF and no room on their credit card going to make it in the same circumstance. Oh, wait, I know this one. Not go to the doctor at all.
$41,000.00 Starting Balance
+__,500.00 Deposit Added
$41,500.00 New Balance
It was a little discouraging to only put $500 into savings this month for the down payment. We've been putting away $1500 most months this year, but we had a lot of medical bills with DS's surgery come through and all the medical stuff with DD. At least we have met the deductible now, so that'll ease up. Unfortunately there was a lot of stuff that was being processed all at once so some of it we got billed for anyway because it was all "in process." So we will get checks back from the doctors who end up getting paid by us and by the insurance.
Also, we won't be able to save $1500 each month going forward, either, because of the pay cut DH was forced to take. I really don't like the way the new budget looks. We will have to be very strict if we want to save $1000 per month. I am going to try to cook more from the pantry and freezers. We will have greens soon in the garden so that will help.
I think we are going to be stuck here through 2017 now. We just won't be able to save enough by the end of this year like I'd planned on before the pay cut. I know this is a lot of whining, I am just feeling frustrated and anxious. We still don't know if the company got the new contract, which means individual contracts are still up in the air. We should know soon, but even if they do get it, it does not mean the employees will get their old wages back.
Some days I really think about just moving to rural Idaho or Montana where the cost of living is so much cheaper. But I love where we live and I don't know if I would love Idaho or Montana the same way. They are both beautiful states, but they aren't home and that is a hard thing sometimes to get over.
I think I will settle down some after the contract news. Well, if it's good. If it's bad I'll freak out for a while. I hate uncertainty. It is the worst thing for me.
$16,322.85 Starting Balance
+__,221.67 Deposit Added
$16,544.52 New Balance
I have passed the half-way point on my second mini-goal of 2016, which is to get the EF from $16K to $17K. $455.48 to go. I was hoping to have met that by the end of April, but with DH's paycut going into effect at the end of the month, I'm not sure I will. It might be the end of May.
One of the things I am debating is whether or not I should keep saving for the down payment or if I should just start shoveling everything into the Emergency Fund and if the contract is won at the end of June, then just transferring the money to the Down Payment Fund then.
It all goes into the same bank account. I know it is just a question of where to put it on the spread sheet, but I have told myself I will not touch the money in the DPF until we are ready to buy a house, unless it comes down to needing it to live on. I guess it is a mental thing.
Well, and then there is the mental thing of only touching the EF if there is an Emergency and not really even wanting to do it then. So if all goes well I still may have a psychological problem transferring the money to the DPF from the EF. I don't even know what that is. Maybe a little of my OCD coming through?
Maybe I need to set up a short term holding tank, from which I can easily move stuff later. I shouldn't have to play these kinds of mind games with myself to funnel money to the proper location. Anyone else go through these things or am I just sort of on my own there? I know it is rooted in the financial insecurity we had in the past, but I really thought I would have gotten over it by now having been out of consumer debt for almost a year.
I am really, really unimpressed with the new Dr. Scholl's socks that I bought. I bought two 3-packs at $14 each and each pair I have worn has been down my heel and halfway down my foot in the amount of time it takes to walk from the house to the car. They simply will not stay up.
It ticks me off. I expected the Dr. Scholl's name to live up to its reputation. After all, they make excellent shoes and inserts. But apparently they haven't a clue how to make good socks. Unfortunately you can't tell until you actually wear them. There doesn't seem to be enough elastic in the cuff.
It isn't just them either. The last set I got from Reebok and the last sets I got from Hanes and Fruit of the Loom like to slip down, too. I never used to have this problem. Are they just making crappy socks these days no matter the brand name?
I really don't like throwing money away like that. The only socks I haven't had major problems with this year or last are the big fuzzy slipper socks from Costco, but they are hard to get into a shoe. This is why I'm trying to learn to knit socks properly.
Anyone know if Kmart's Joe Boxer brand of socks stays up where it belongs? Or of any decent brand that does? I don't mind paying a little more if they actually work. They just can't be wool as I'm allergic.
It is a weird feeling to have paid almost all of the bills for the month of August out of the July 31st paycheck. I only have 2 payments left to make, one mid-month that is reoccurring and then the monthly payoff of DH's travel credit card towards the end of the month. I will also be putting an additional $225 in the JMF, but that's not a bill, that's savings.
I seem not to blog too much when things are going smoothly and this is the sort of thing that feels very smooth indeed. Saving up for things does not seem to have the same urgency that paying stuff off has. We are not striving to pay off a mortgage anymore. We are not striving to pay off huge amounts of credit card or medical debt. We are not striving to pay off a car loan. It's almost a bit of a let down feeling.
Maybe it is because we spent so much of the last 15 years paying down debt. Maybe it is feeling like there is a lack of focus since the consumer debt is gone. I mean, I don't want it back, at all. But it was almost like there was always an over-riding uber purpose to our financial life. This is totally a first world problem, I know.
I know that when I don't blog, there is much more of a tendency to fritter money away. I'm not sure quite where that balance is yet. I wish I could get more excited about savings. It just seems like it is going to take a long time to get where we are going and most of what we save is now so automatic. I pay savings like I pay any other bill.
Maybe it is because there are no big ups and downs anymore. I mean, I do stress when unexpected stuff comes up, but we are able to handle it now, and without touching the Emergency Fund.
Am I even making sense? Has anyone else gone through this sort of loose ends thing after they've paid off their consumer debt? Maybe it is just me. Maybe I am so wired now to pay off debt, I really just don't know what to do now. On paper I feel like we are doing all the right things, but in my head, it still feels like we should be working against something massive, something with urgency. I have to wonder if I will ever get used to not having that anymore.
I should just count my blessings. The last two weeks have shown me that life can change at the drop of a hat and at least we don't have out of state hospital costs and funeral costs to be paying.
We will be having some medical expenses coming up, though, that I will have to work through, 2 more pairs of glasses, in-grown toenail surgery, some dental work, all for the kids. All of that will probably be about $1000 out of pocket. We've maxed our HSA for the year already. But we won't have spent enough to do more than take the standard deduction. Honestly, I think we ought to be able to deduct as much medical as we pay out, but I very much doubt that will ever happen. Oh, well. At least at this point in time, we can afford it.
I tried to use my checking account to pay for an order on Amazon because I didn't want to use a credit card. I've done this before with no problems and there is plenty of money in the account. But they won't accept it. I wonder if it is some kind of fraud protection since it is Christmas time? I don't know, because there was no information as to why.
So I ended up using the card and will just send that amount to AMEX, but I don't like having to take that extra step, when I should have been done with it in one step. I am starting to think that these companies are going to force us to use credit cards no matter what.
Has anyone else noticed that the majority of the articles being posted on the home page are not about finances at all anymore? And that a huge majority of them are just downright...vapid? There used to be some really good articles, stuff that you could actually learn from about saving money or investing or using what you have, etc. I mean, one of the articles is about how sexist the new Barbie book is. Yes, it is, and that's important, but what does it have to do with personal finance?
Or the article about the new word of the year added to the Oxford Dictionary. I don't know. What is being put up is getting ridiculous. Content for content's sake is...well, almost as bad as rolling ads that chase you around the page. I expect better.
Well, I know for sure that I am going to be able to squeeze $500 out of this coming Friday's paycheck to go towards the five weeks when DH won't be working. I might be able to squeeze as much as $750 out, but I'm not sure. Prescriptions are due to be renewed Friday, and I don't remember how much that is going to be now that DD is on the new meds.
We are still waiting to hear if he got the okay to work a few extra days before the shut down. They were supposed to tell him within 2 days of his getting home and he still hasn't heard anything. This employer is so unorganized. He's calling them today to see what is going on.
So far they have not sent out the grocery store gift card that they usually send out before Thanksgiving. On a normal year it would be here by now, but since this is not a normal year, it wouldn't surprise me if they don't send them out at all. I am not counting on it coming. In fact, it would shock me if they send them out with the way they've been behaving towards their employees this year.
I am very glad we have our turkeys taken care of for Thanksgiving and Christmas. And that we have lots of food in the freezer and on the shelves. We will get through this. It'll be hard, and we may have to touch the Emergency Fund, but we will manage. I just wish we didn't have to.
I won't have to contribute to the Property Tax Fund during the month of December since I already put an extra payment in in October for December. Same with the Dues Fund. I have $500 in the Propane Fund plus a $50 credit with the company so I won't have to put $100 into the dues fund next time. We just turned the propane on this week at the old house and it has a full tank. We won't be driving much for half of December as there is no school so gas costs will be lower.
Next year I will try to plan a little better. We've just never had this many weeks to cover before. But I will start saving $200 a month towards next year's shut down in January and put aside one of the two extra paychecks DH gets during the year that doesn't go towards the regular budget. It'll be tight, especially if medical goes up AGAIN and I see no reason it won't, but we'll deal. We have to. It's not like there are a lot of other choices right now.
I think I am finally starting to come out of the flu. I have not been this tired in a long, long time. Now the kids are down with it and both stayed home from school today. Fortunately all they want to do is sleep, so I can still rest.
Last night DH went back to Alaska, so I don't have him to fall back on. And of course last night was a major wind storm that managed to rip one panel of roofing off the turkey coop and leave one panel dangling down the front of it. The piece of roofing that he jury rigged to keep the rain from going in the duck coop window was also ripped off.
I can fix the duck coop, but I don't know what I am going to do about the turkey coop as that requires going up on a ladder and I can't climb ladders with my knee. Maybe I can throw a tarp over that half of it. The turkeys will just have to stay on one side of the coop, I guess.
DH wanted to loan his sister money and I had to say no, because we don't have it. I mean, we physically have it, but it has to pay for all the expenses of December when he is off work for 5 weeks with no pay. And if we loan money to her, we won't be able to meet our own expenses. December is only a month away and there is no way she'd be paying us back on time.
I feel bad for SIL. She was in a car accident that was not her fault and has been off work for a month. She will eventually get a settlement, but it certainly won't be in time to pay us back for December bills. We have helped her where we could, but we just can't do it this time. I can't put my own family and finances in jeopardy for her.
I don't think DH gets how tight things are. I think he thinks that things are as good as they were 4 years ago. But he's bringing home $1000 less each month than he was even two years ago due to higher taxes and bigger medical deductions. I have told him and told him, but it doesn't seem to sink in. The fact that he even asked me shows that. And I end up feeling like the bad guy in this.
But I know if it comes down to it, SIL and niece can move in with MIL and FIL. Or she can get money from her boyfriend. Or from her rich uncle. She's been holding onto a house she can't afford since her divorce several years ago.
I'm very frustrated. I don't like being made to feel guilty. It makes me resentful. Her situation is not my fault. I plan hard to take care of emergencies and times of no income and she doesn't and never has. And I feel like I'm being penalized for it, just because I said no. But I have every right to say no. I know DH doesn't mean to make me feel this way, but that doesn't stop me from feeling it. He just wants to help his sister. I do, too, but not at the expense of our own family. /rant
I found out last night that instead of having to take 4 weeks of unpaid time off in December, DH is going to have to take 5 weeks of unpaid time off going into the new year. I'm pretty sure we won't be able to handle this without dipping into the Emergency Fund.
DH is going to try to get a little overtime, but they have not really been forthcoming with it this year, so we certainly can't rely on that.
We have plenty of vegetables and fruits canned and meat frozen, so we could get by without having to buy too much in the way of groceries in December. Mostly just things like milk and lettuce and oranges. Between our five laying ducks and our four laying hens we have plenty of eggs.
I am a little concerned about Christmas, though. We don't buy for many people anymore, but I still need to come up with about $500 for it.
I hate not being prepared for things, but when they jacked up the portion of medical insurance we have to pay this year the paychecks really took a hit. It wouldn't have been so bad with a lower deductible, but $5000 out of pocket is a lot on top of that. We've got 3 people on medications that are quite expensive so we'll be slapped with that again when January hits, since the don't cover prescriptions until the deductible is hit.
With the end of those tax breaks a couple years back, DH is effectively bringing home about $1200 less every month than he was when he first started working for this company. And they decided they wouldn't be giving raises out this year after all. It frustrates me. Especially since we can't rely on the Christmas bonus to make up the shortfall of no pay for five weeks. We used to be able to save for this, but this year has just been one thing after another.
We have decided to start DH on his bachelors degree. Since there isn't really any place he can go right now to get a higher income, this is the most sensible move. We'll have to pay $100 to have his transcripts reviewed from his A.S. in Electrical Engineering, and then the first class he will take will cost $800. We may dip into the Emergency Fund for that, too. I know it's not a true emergency, but it'll get us to the tax refund time and then we can pay for the schooling out of that and some how or another start setting some money aside as well. How? I don't know yet. It's something we will have to figure out.
I've been able to get out and do some serious work in the gardens this week. I've got a lot of food coming in, though never in the huge quantities I had expected for some of it.
The hay bale garden has been far more successful than the straw bale garden. It has had far less weeds and the growth has been phenomenal in comparison. So next year I think I will skip planting in straw bales at all and just go with the hay bales, if I do this again.
So far I've yielded $357.25 of organic produce over the price of my start up costs for the gardens. Next year if I start things from seeds instead of buying organic transplants, start up costs will be lower. Since I got started late though, I did the transplants to catch up some time.
If all goes well with the house sale and if we find a small farm and if we can actually buy it before next spring, I will be building raised beds out of rabbit bedding and rabbit manure, which can be used right away, and setting up compost piles for the bird waste and bedding, since it needs to compost for at least six months before using. We will use wire and t-posts instead of wood to keep things loosely in place and will build it up at least 3 feet tall. With the amount of bedding we could compost in place that will be by far a better method. Then we will have deep mulch as it breaks down to between 1/2 and 1/3 of its original size. It'll still be a foot off the ground so I can pull up a chair to do my gardening.
I'm not going to rush buying a farm, though. We may need longer than that even if the house sale does go through. I want to make sure I find the right place and that we have a big enough down payment that we are not struggling at all with making a mortgage payment again.
I am picky about what I want. It has to have a well for water. It needs to have either a creek or a pond on the property, but not too close to the house in case of flooding. It needs to have either a good barn or several outbuildings, preferably one with power and water, but at the very least power. It needs a house that is one level only, preferably with handicapped accessibility, and at least 1600 square feet with a minimum of 3 bedrooms, though I'd prefer 4, and 2 bathrooms.
The kitchen needs to be of a decent size for canning and processing meat. It needs adequate pantry storage. It needs a garage and no basement as most basements around here have flooding issues. It needs a wood stove and a propane or gas stove. It needs garden space, fruit trees and nut trees, and at least 2 acres of pasture and 2 acres of wooded land. Fencing around the pastures is a must. It needs a good site for a green house for aquaponics and growing dwarf citrus trees, and a good site for solar panels and possibly a wind turbine. Wants, but not must haves are a willow tree and a flowering cherry tree or two.
We will probably buy 5 acres, though if we can save up enough, I'd prefer 10. We don't ever intend to move again after buying our farm so I want it to be right or at least easily able to be made right, like planting my own fruit trees and nut trees, willow tree, and flowering cherry trees.
I am trying to keep a positive attitude right now, but I do feel like I am being overwhelmed somewhat. With them taking so much more out of DH's paycheck for medical now, I kind of feel like we are back to living paycheck to paycheck. I know we aren't really, but the only things I feel like I am able to plan ahead for anymore are property taxes, upcoming propane costs, and dues. Besides those and the EF, I haven't been able to fund any of my funds.
I like having an Appliance Fund, a Christmas Fund, a Computer Fund, and such that I send money to each month. Now I can't do that. And I can't do a college fund, either. My daughter has decided she is going to work for 2 years after high school and save everything for college. At this point, we can't contribute. I'm not even sure college is right for her anyway. She's not really cut out for it.
Every year for the past 3, things seem to have gotten tighter and tighter, despite paying more and more things off. Taxes went up and took $500 of take home pay away from us, just as we paid off the credit cards. When we paid off the mortgage this year, it finally felt like we were going to have breathing room, but we don't. The increased medical, the increased plane fare, and the increased storage fees basically replaced the mortgage.
I know this won't last forever. We have less than 3 years left on the van loan. It's gotten down enough that we are only paying about $70 in interest each month and the majority of the payment is going to principal. I love our van and I still think it was a good decision to buy it, but I don't think we will ever buy a new vehicle again. And we'll not finance one again, either.
We have 4 years and 9 months left on what we owe to Mom. That's the big thing. If we didn't have to pay that $1000 each month things would not be tight. Or they'd be tight by choice because we'd be saving part of it and funneling the rest to retirement.
If our house sells it will make some differences. We won't have to be paying electricity, phone, water/sewer, security, HoA dues, property tax, and house insurance. We can save that money until we are ready to buy a house. Which at this rate won't be until we pay off the van.
DH hasn't gotten a raise in over 3 years. Which, no one has, but this year is a new contract and they are supposed to be doing raises. The new contract was signed a while back. The new medical is being deducted, but so far no one has received raises and it has been months. I am starting to think the company is going back on its word. Each year, with more money being taken out or going to taxes or going to increased plane fare, it is like taking a pay cut.
I know we have enough. DH's income is excellent. We are in a lot better shape than so many people. But I want to get ahead, not just tread water. It feels like we sacrifice and sacrifice to pay off all this stupid medical debt and our house and still have nothing to show for it. Which is stupid, because we do. We've taken trips and we've got decent things. We have a paid for home. But it still doesn't feel like it. I just want to be free of it all. Free of all debt. Every single scrap of it. And with enough money in the bank that I don't ever have to worry about it again. I don't know. Maybe that's a fantasy. But it's how I feel.
Well, thanks for listening now. I feel better getting it all out and I think I can stop feeling sorry for myself for a while now.
...was all the fees. With one kid starting as a freshman and one kid going back to complete her senior year I get to pay twice the fees. So far it is going to cost $80 for two ASB cards and $100 for two year books. If we wait until second semester to buy the year books it will be $130.
But starting off with $180 before even buying school supplies and clothes annoys me greatly. Maybe I will just do the ASB cards to start and see if I can postpone the yearbooks until next month.
I won't be doing school photos. Too expensive, no choices, and if they turn out bad there's no recourse unless the kid had his eyes shut. I'd rather take them to the mall were you get several choices to choose from if I want photos like that.
Not looking forward to packing sandwiches again or having to pay for deli meat. Still, in my physical condition, I just cannot homeschool this year, so it is what it is. /vent
So I purchased something that came to $20.07. I handed the cashier $21. Her cash register computer was going slow and not giving her the change total to give me back. She stood there and stared at the machine for 75 seconds (I timed it once I realized what was going on) waiting for it to tell her what the change was supposed to be.
The whole time I was biting my tongue, because I knew what my change would be the moment she gave me the amount, thinking how hard is it to calculate that $1 minus 7 cents is 93 cents? It is basic. You can do it on your fingers even, counting backwards from 100. She didn't even try. I know I could have spoken up with the amount, but I seriously wanted to see how long it was going to take before she even tried or the total came up. And she might have insisted that she had to wait for the computer anyway to be sure.
She was at least 16 years old and spent the entire time apologizing for the slow computer. This stuff is covered in 2nd grade math. I think they would have had to close the store if their computers went down. I guess they don't make people take math tests to be cashiers anymore.
I think people are so used to customers handing over plastic, they don't even know what to do anymore with paper. And they are getting so dependent on machines to do their thinking for them, they are not sure what to do when the machine conks out. I found the whole thing amusing, and a little sad, but probably because I wasn't in a hurry to get out of there.
We went to the dreaded Wal-Mart yesterday to find a shockingly empty parking lot (only half full) and a badly understaffed and understocked store. There were no greeters and no shopping carts inside the store. I haven't been in there for over a year. I'd never seen it like that. We went to try to find some sweat pants for the kids. Of course all they had was swim suits, shorts, and tank tops. Wal-Mart used to carry sweats year round.
I did pick up some cheap plastic pots so I can repot my spider plant, poinsettia, lemon thyme and rosemary. I also got some glass plates to put under each pot to catch drips and dirt. I couldn't get potting soil though as the garden center was closed and locked. They didn't have anyone to staff it.
I bought some black towels for the rabbitry, new underwear, a Ball canning book, a new set of canning stuff (tongs, funnel, magnet, bubbler) and some totes for storage.
I'm afraid I snapped at a girl scout on the way out who had asked me on the way in to buy cookies, but I swear they are like little raptors pushing cookies in your face. I hate girl scout cookie season. Most of them are aggressive and rude. I was very tempted to tell her if she could pronounce all the ingredients on the box I might make a donation, but I sure as heck would not buy the box of poison she was peddling. I held my tongue and just gave a very sharp no after my earlier polite one.
I hate that they are allowed to camp out at store entrances. Drives me crazy. It's going to be like that all month everywhere I go. Even if you don't make eye-contact or are clearly making as wide a loop around them as possible and still get in the door, they come after you and get in your way. The adult supervising them just lets them do whatever they want. No manners are taught at all when it comes to selling. It's just all about pushing the sale and being in your face.
We never would have been allowed to behave like that when I was a girl scout.
$1000.00 to Mom
__144.00 Water/sewer Old House (2 months)
__600.00 Mortgage Old House
__100.00 Property Tax Fund
__100.00 Emergency Fund
___19.00 Dues Fund (HoA Old House)
___90.00 Physical Therapy
+_100.00 Cash for Week
$2153.00 Total Money Out
I've also got to pay the kids' allowances for the last two weeks and buy groceries. I don't need to get that much. Milk, potatoes, lettuce, kale, chard, parsley, salmon, cod or snapper depending on what is in, deli meat, turnips, maybe a winter squash, and cabbage. I think I want some pears, too, but it will depend on how they look. I still have some apples and oranges, a couple of bananas, and a very unusual for me out of season imported watermelon, so not doing bad on the fruit front.
I need to pick up some black oil sunflower seeds for sprouting with the barley fodder, for the rabbits and some new chew blocks to hang from their chew toys. I am glad they are refillable. I also need to pick up some locking hardware for the 2 outdoor rabbit hutches that never had it put on and two feed cups. I have plenty of extra water bottles. We will be using the outdoor hutches when we bring the new rabbits home. They will be in quarantine for 4 weeks before I put them in with the other rabbits to make sure they have no illnesses.
I am going to risk breeding Piper with the red buck after he settles in simply because I don't want to wait a month. I want our first batch of spring bunnies by the end of March/beginning of April. I will breed them outside in one of the rabbit tractors (movable pens) to minimize exposure.
Piper is our best doe so she'll be the odd one out. The others I will pair up so I am having two does having litters at the same time. When Kalia is old enough to breed she will be paired with Piper. Then when the two red doe kits grow up I will pair one with Piper and one with Kalia, because end game is to have two unrelated litters growing out at the same time so if someone wants breeding stock that is not related I will always have that option for selling.
Okay, that kind of went off on a tangent.
So I've got an appointment set up for Wednesday with the principal, guidance counselor, and the horrible teacher. That woman is a piece of work, I tell you. She knew she was supposed to have the work for DD to get today. My daughter waited before school until one minute before the bell rang and the teacher was not in her classroom. She had to run to not be late to her first class.
Then after school, no sign of the teacher. She waited 15 minutes. The classroom was open and the lights on, just no teacher. I think she did it on purpose. And I think she'll try to play it like DD didn't show up for it. I am beyond livid. B***h is going down. Sorry for the language, I seldom get worked up enough to think it, let alone sort of type it out.
Oh, well, nothing to be done now. I have a weekend that does not need to be taken up with anger and resentment.
I got 10 quarts of rabbit meat canned today and plan to make soup and soup stock for canning tomorrow with all the ribcage pieces. Hoping to get at least 10 quarts of that canned as well. I also want to do 25 pounds of organic potatoes and the store has wild caught fresh Keta salmon on sale for $2.49 a pound so want to get about 3 of those to can. I also want to do a batch of pickles.
I picked up some pears at $1 a pound. I am not probably going to can pears this year, but I did want to enjoy them while they are in season and less expensive. Maybe after I get everything done this weekend I will have a different opinion on canning some. We'll see. I am definitely planting pear trees when we move. Then we can at least be assured of good organic pears eventually.
I've gotten my files from the big box store. Now I just need to update them and I can do a payday report for last week. I'm behind, but nothing is urgent at the moment. If the computer was going to go belly up, now was a good time of the pay cycle to do it.
...should never be allowed anywhere near children.
What do you do about a teacher that refuses to give your kid the work they missed while they were absent with a legitimate and excused illness?
First day my daughter was back at school after missing a week and she asked for the assignments the teacher's response was, "I don't have them."
The second day she was back she asked for the assignments the teacher said, "Get the from someone else," even though they had all been turned in so there was no one else to get them from.
The third day she was back she asked again for the assignment packet that according to the teacher's own syllabus says she will provide. Again the teacher would not provide the assignment packet, saying get it tomorrow. She did not have it the next day, either.
DD let it go a week as she was tired of dealing with it. Well, now the teacher has handed back the packets so the class can do additional work off the packet and she still won't give one to my daughter, even though she gave them to a couple of other kids who were also out with this bug.
She is also saying in class that anxiety orders do not exist and they are just an excuse for kids to get out of work they don't want to do, like standing in front of the class and giving a presentation. My daughter's doctor has diagnosed her with social anxiety that often will induce asthma. Daughter had to leave the class for an attack and the teacher talked about her behind her back while she was out according to the other students. Daughter still does her oral presentations and does not try to get out of them.
Another student overheard this teacher gossiping about my daughter with another teacher and it got back to my daughter.
I really don't want to get into another stink with the school district after all we went through with the middle school principal and my son, but this woman is unresponsive and not doing her job. She resents the fact that my daughter has been absent so much, even though the absences have all be excused.
If she is unresponsive to my messages again I guess I have to take the next step and contact the principal. I know this is a different principal, but my experience with the other donkey has colored all of my thoughts when it comes to administration.
My daughter has never complained about a teacher at her high school before, ever, except to say one couldn't control the class. She has nothing but negative words about this woman. She's had her for other classes over the years and says she is just getting progressively worse. I've heard my daughter's friends talking about her as well, saying that she doesn't listen and punishes kids passively aggressively for being absent when they get back and ridicules them in class when they are gone and to other teachers.
I am very frustrated. I don't understand how someone who behaves like that is allowed to keep her job. I know she's been reported by other students and parents on numerous occasions. My niece, who is a substitute teacher, says she hears complaints about this woman every time she teaches at my daughter's school. I wish they would kick out bad teachers. They just shouldn't be allowed near kids.
I am getting very frustrated with my body right now. This virus just won't go away. It's not full force anymore, it is better, but I'd like to breathe through my nose without having to blow it ten times first. *sighs*
My laptop stopped working again. The exact same problem that they supposedly fixed the last time. It turns on, but does nothing. And it won't work plugged into a monitor. So seems to me that the part they "replaced" they either didn't replace or didn't replace it correctly. Plus the fan isn't working.
So I'm using the back up laptop, which I hate because it is Windows 8 and has a touch screen, and a mouse that likes to randomly do whatever the heck it wants just to screw with you. Even if you turn off all that stuff. And of course I haven't saved anything to a flash drive in the past two days so my November budget and my rabbit kit weight tracking spreadsheet and my EF and HT spreadsheets were all updated yesterday, but I am sick and not thinking clearly and did not back them up.
DH is going to try a few things and then if he can't get it working temporarily enough to grab those things I need off the desktop, we'll have to pay for it to be recovered. But not repaired because it is still under the service contract. I just want them to really fix it this time. And I hope they don't try to give me a new laptop instead. I want my Win7 and my comfortable keyboard that can keep up with my typing speed. I don't want a new Win8 stupidhead touchscreen that will have a nervous breakdown in 5 minutes from the time you turn it on replacement.
Sorry to be such a whiner today.
I have had some expenses and need to do a payday report, but of course that will have to wait until I can access those things again.
No, not dollars. I wish! No, but this blog has now had 2,000,000 visits. Thanks to everyone who has been reading these past seven years!
Oh, and I added $5.43 to the coin jar last night.
Sometimes I worry that I will be at loose ends once the credit card debt is gone. I mean we've been in it for almost ten years. And I've been working hard to get out of it since I started blogging in April of 2006. There were ups and downs along the way as we added to and subtracted from the debt, but more or less it's gone steadily down.
And in a few days it will be gone. It's just been such a big part of my life for so long. I've had this goal, this huge, challenging goal that frankly, at times, I thought I was never going to meet. But now I am about to. And it's leaving me with an unsettled feeling, like maybe I won't be firmly focused and driven anymore.
I've got other goals, of course I do. There's college and there's the Emergency Fund and there's the van loan and the mortgage. But somehow I just don't feel as pumped about those things. Take the van loan for example. It's a lot and it's got a pretty low interest rate, but it feels "okay" because when I look out the window it's sitting there. It's tangible. And it doesn't bother me in the same way credit card debt does.
Maybe that's because credit card debt is so intangible. You are paying for the past, sometimes for stuff you don't even remember you charged. Okay, and I have scars on my body that remind of each and every medical procedure I went through, but that's it. The meals out, and hotel fees, and all the things we did to help the family get by while I was recovering, I can't see those as tangible. So I hated having it, this debt that seemed like it gave us no value after the original purchase. The van does give us value still and will for many, many years to come.
Maybe I just need to adjust my focus and make that seem as big a deal as the credit cards did? It's hard though. I mean how do you change that if it's ingrained like this? And with the mortgage, well, I dislike it, and it's so close to being paid off, but when the house sells it will be paid off and then we'll start all over again with a new house and a new mortgage, so how hard, really should I try to work on it.
College is a bit easier. DD is a junior and we need to save $7000 for her first year and $7000 for her second year at the local community college. I can see that as a tangible goal now. And if she follows the plan and joins the peace corp after the first two years before coming back to finish at the local university with a $7000 scholarship, we'll have plenty of time to save up for her third and fourth years and DS's first year at CC.
Investing in their educations seems both tangible and intangible at the same time. I don't want them saddled with debt, but at the same time part of me is wishing college weren't so darn expensive. Part of me is not wanting to decide between funding retirement and starting the kids off on the best financial footing we can. I just hope jobs are more available then, because right now I don't know if they'll even be able to work to help pay for school.
The Emergency Fund is what I really need to worry about the most though. I want it at $18,000 by the time we hit 2015. I want it double that by 2017. And sooner or later, we really need to start putting money into the 401K. DH's work doesn't match at all so part of me has wondered if it is even worth it. I suppose for the pre-tax dollars, but maybe it would be better to just save on our own. I worry about the stock market crashing again just as we get back into it.
The economy worries me. They fiddle with numbers so much to try to say things are better than they are, they print money that isn't backed by anything, and they say it's getting better out there, but all I'm seeing is people that have run out of their unemployment so they are no longer counted as jobless, but they still are. The lines at the food bank stretch longer and longer every week (it's near my daughter's school so I drive by it frequently). Food prices are higher, gas prices are higher, interest rates drop lower and lower on savings. Maybe I just think too darn much.
Maybe in another week I can refocus myself, figure out which things are really the most important. All I know for sure is that I don't want to start frittering our money away.
I have been wondering about maybe paying off the Sienna when we sell the house. Right now we have close to $800 a month going to it (we're paying more than the actual monthly payment). The van will be 2 years old on June 6th, so we have a while yet to go to own it free and clear. We've knocked off about 4 months worth of payments by paying extra.
This is only if we get anywhere near our asking price and can still bank a good amount for a new downpayment. With the car paid off it frees up $800 a month to go towards college or the EF or the downpayment. But I don't know. A bigger down payment means a smaller mortgage. Guess I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.
I did talk to DD about the fact that if she went to the local community college for two years and then transferred to the local university (they partner so credits from BCC are transferrable to WWU), it would save us about $15,000. She seems amenable to that and it would give us more time to save the money for WWU.
I figure we can save about $12,000 a year for college each year once the credit cards are paid off. The $10,000 that we will save by her going to the community college the first two years can be saved for WWU and should be enough to cover the shortage for years 3 and 4. Assuming that tuition doesn't go up too much, of course. There will also be tax returns and hopefully yearly bonuses that could be saved for college if necessary.
How did college get so expensive? When I went it was about $100 a credit up to 15 credits and then anything between 15 and 18 credits was free and if you took more than 18 credits (not recommended) it cost money again. Mom paid for half, I paid for half.
It helped that I had a scholarship from work that was enough to at least pay for my books. It also helped that taking classes in the summer session was cheaper. But it's been 22 years and tuition has just gotten ridiculous, even with the local discount. We are definitely going to feel it, but we should still be able to manage without loans. I guess I've gotten good at managing these last almost 18 years since I've been married.
If my daughter can manage to find a job, I'll expect her to contribute. Same for my son when he gets there. But that's a big if in today's economy and I don't see that getting any better. This depression is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. I am just hoping we won't see an all out collapse of the American dollar, but the rate at which the government is spending I'm not holding my breath.
They just make me so mad. I mean, the aid to help Sandy victims has been tacked on with so much crap with each elected official getting a little something something for his own state. That sort of thing is business as usual for our elected, but it needs to stop. It should be about helping out the victims, not seeing what you can get for you and yours before you'll okay help.
I wish we could add an ammendment to the Constitution saying that bills had to be specifically for that one thing only and not to help pig farmers in Arkansas or corn growers in Nebraska (just randomly picking here) when it's supposed to go to rebuilding stuff in New York. That's half if not more of the problem with our debt. So much greed. That's the kind of entitlements that need to stop, the ones the officials get away with.
I wish we could make all elected officials live on a wage that was just high enough they couldn't get food stamps and make them have to pay for their own medical insurance and lose their vacation days until they've balanced the budget or at least cut all of the fat our of it. I bet it would happen pretty darn fast if they had to actually feel it.
Sorry, this turned into a bit of a rant. Don't know where it even came from.
Tomorrow is payday and I'll get to see what the higher taxes does to the paycheck. Ah, well, maybe that's where that rant came from. The waiting.
I found this to be a fairly thought-provoking article:
It sounds like the American public just might be starting to wake up a little and notice what our elected (both sides) are doing and how it's going to end up hurting all of us. One can only hope.
Also read an interesting article about the hopelessly unemployed, those who have been unemployed for four or five years and have ceased looking for work for at least a year. Or the kids who have been trying since high school to find a job, still couldn't get one in college, and upon graduating and a year of job-seeking end up going back to school hoping it will come out better on the other side of their student loans. Or the women who took 20 years off to raise their kids and are now trying to get back into the workforce. Or the 55 year olds who were laid off and now won't be hired because they're the wrong age. These ones of course do not make it into the unemployment statistics. I managed to lose that article or I'd pass it along as well.
I do worry for my daughter. She's going to start volunteering in the spring to at least have that as job experience. I was doing farm work at 4 every summer, though not seriously until age 8. We could always find summer employment. I remember walking into a restaurant once and asking for an application and the manager coming over and interviewing me on the spot and asking if I could come in for orientation that night. The work was always there. Now sixteen year olds can't even get a job flipping burgers.
How does she help work her way through college if there is no work?
I'm going to put on my serious hat and talk about an advertisement that I watched today that made me feel like something is really wrong with our priorities today in this country. Now I don't watch a lot of television programming because I don't have cable service by choice, but I do pick up a couple of shows on the internet and of course those do have commercials, usually the same ones repeated ad nauseum. (Ha, that's a pun!)
The one I saw today I only needed to see one time for it to make a distinct impression on me, one that I think will probably stay with me for the rest of my life. Of course, that's exactly what the goal of commercials are, to stay with you, to make you want to buy things. But in this case that impression was extremely negative. I mean, negative on a level that was almost visceral.
The commercial was for the Dodge Big Finish Event. The words that made me go from general eye-rolling at buying a car for Christmas being over the top in the first place, to complete disdain were: "Let's see the neighbors compete with that."
I repeat: "Let's see the neighbors compete with that."
We are in the worst, yet still unacknowledged, depression this country has seen in my generation's lifetime. People are worried about having enough money to put food on the table and scraping together what they can to buy meager Christmas presents. People are worried about keeping their jobs. People are worried about what to do now that their homes have been destroyed in a storm so violent some people are still without power because the infrastructure was completely destroyed.
And Dodge has the audacity to want people to buy a new car for Christmas. Not, perhaps, because you need one. Not because your current one was flooded out and you need to replace it. But because if you buy one of their cars, you'll somehow be better than your neighbors. You'll keep ahead of the Joneses. Maybe someone forgot to send Dodge the memo that the Jonses are on unemployment and so are the Smiths.
Christmas is about the Christ child being born into humble circumstances. It is, even for non-believers, a time of generating peace on Earth and good will towards your neighbors. It's about giving a hand to those in need. It is for showing brotherly love not unbrotherly hubris. It is not about one-upmanship. It is not about trying to make yourself better than others because of your purchases. It is not about worshipping at the altar of rampant consumerism. At least it shouldn't be.
I'm sorry, Dodge, but not only did you miss the boat on this one, you're not even in the right ocean.
I haven't posted in a couple of days. We cancelled Thanksgiving. When 3 out of 5 people can't keep their food down there isn't much point. We are going to have it on Sunday, though. We are all much better today so another night of rest under out belts and we should feel up to a food centric holiday.
I think I am going to have to stop shopping at the Haggen closest to us. I went to pick up something from the deli (I know I said I wasn't going to grocery shop except for milk, but best laid plans and all that) and they had no hot food available. It was 5:30 on a Friday. They should have had the case full of rotisserie chicken, roasted chicken, and fried chicken and jojos and corn dogs, etc. Also there was nothing in the salad bar or the hot soup area.
When I asked about it they said they had been throwing out a lot of food lately so from now on when it runs out it runs out and they won't be making more. Really? Not to have hot food for the dinner rush is just ridiculous. I mean, I don't get it much but I wanted a darn rotisserie chicken.
Combine that with all the other changes they've made this year and I'm just not very happy with them. They did a completely unnecessary remodel and then jacked up all the prices to pay for it. (I know food prices have gone up across the board but TJ's and the Co-op did not go anywhere near this high). They keep moving the food around (you are not Costco, knock it off) so it is hard to find and you have to walk up and down all the aisles. The aisles are mislabelled or not labelled well.
They separate things that should be together, like flour and sugar. Last night you could smell the fish counter from several feet away. But the kicker lately is the ice cream. Now there are only two brands of ice cream we can buy due to allergies: Hagan Das and Bryers. But we can only specifically buy the regular vanilla. Bryer's had 5 times of vanilla (lactose free, carb smart, splenda, low-fat, and French vanilla) but none of them the plain and Hagan Das had no vanilla whatsoever. The only vanilla I could find in any other brand had corn syrup, or HFCS, guar gum and artifical vanilla flavoring.
They have taken to carrying about 20 brands of ice cream, many of them touted to be organic and healthy, but none of them with pure ingredients. They are also carrying a ton of things that seem to be tailored to a different shopping base than this store has had for the last 38 years. Like a hoity toity shopping base in what was for many years the area where the mill workers lived.
There are 3 other Haggen stores in the county and I think I will check out the two other ones in this city, but if I see the same sorts of changes than I am done. I may have been shopping there since I was four, but if you mess with my buying habits (and my ice cream), I'm moving on. Probably just as well to do my shopping at the Food Co-op, TJ's and the farm.
DH has been bugging me about what I want for Christmas. I'm thinking the hard ice cream maker machine. Then I know my ingredients will be pure and when I run out I can just make another batch. It's a bit pricier than our Christmas budget, but my birthday is in February so I can make it a combined present. Just like so many other things, I'll just have to learn to make it myself.
I read a lot of frugality and debt-reducing blogs and message boards and one thing that comes up time and time again is the argument over cable TV. This is not pointed at anyone here. I read blogs in lots of places. These are just my general observations. Anyway, it tends to go something like this:
Person 1: I am desperate to make ends meet. I can barely meet my minimums. I'm thinking about bankruptcy because I don't possibly have any place in my budget that I can cut. Help me!
Person 2: Oh, look, there in your budget, $180 for cable and internet. That's a good place to cut.
Person 1: But I have to have internet. I need it for work. I need it to pay my bills. I need it to do my banking.
Person 2: Okay, but you can get high-speed internet access for $70 a month. Keep the internet, but ditch your cable and you will still be saving $100 a month.
Person 1: Ditch my cable? Are you crazy? I cannot survive without my cable, my precious. I have to have my cable. I NEEEEEEEED it.
Person 2: No you don't. You need food and shelter and clothes and to pay your debts. You don't need cable. I should know. I haven't had cable in 5 years.
Person 1: Well, I have to have it. It's my only source of entertainment.
Person 2: Really? Your only source of entertainment? So you can't read a book or borrow a free movie or a book on CD from the library? You can't watch programs for free on youtube? You can't surf the internet. You can't teach yourself to do something productive, like knit, while you are listening to the free radio?
Person 1: No, no, I must have cable. I must have my shows.
Person 2: So you can't watch them on the internet on the networks' websites?
Person 1: But they don't air on the same day as they do on TV. I would have to wait a whole 24 hours, or in some cases 8 days. I can't be that far behind on my shows! Everyone else is watching them as they air!
Person 2: So it's not really for entertainment then. Because if it were for entertainment, it wouldn't matter what day you watched it on as long as you had something to watch that day. Is it to keep up with everyone else? Like...the Joneses?
Person 1: Huh?
Person 2: If everyone jumped off a bridge would you?
Person 1: I would if it were on cable TV! And besides, I don't like watching my TV on an itty bitty TV screen. I like watching it on my 60 inch flat screen that I am still paying off.
Person 2: Because you couldn't get a cable to plug your laptop into your TV so you could watch the internet shows on the bigger screen?
Person 1: Why get a cable, when I can just keep cable?
Person 2: Because you can't afford it.
Person 1: But I NEEEEEEED it. You don't understand my situation. I can't give this up, find something else in my budget to help me cut.
Person 2: Fine, what about your grocery budget? $800 a month for one person, that seems like an awful lot, doesn't it?
Person 1: Well, yes, but I have to eat out. I don't know how to cook and anyway fast food is cheaper.
Person 2: No, not really. If you can read a cookbook, you can learn to cook. Or make a sandwich.
Person 1: But it takes so much time! I am too busy. I can't cook. I have 4 programs to watch tonight and I might miss one if I am cooking.
Person 2: Then you are seriously watching too much TV.
Person 1: But it's my only source of entertainment!
Person 2: Well, there is your cell phone bill...
Person 1: No, I just got locked into a two year contract. It was the only way I could get the super fancy phone.
Person 2: I give up.
Person 1: Why won't anyone help meeeeeee? I need to find some place to cut...
And so it goes, on and on. I guess I just don't get it. Is it like an addiction, the TV watching? Is it like giving up alcohol or cigarettes? Or is it like giving up the pretext that you are still part of the middle class you grew up in? Does giving up cable mean you have to face the truth of your situation?
I think maybe cable TV is the last bastion of entitlement. I think people feel like maybe they are still keeping up if they can keep their cable or their meals out. But if the cable goes then they have to face the fact that things are really serious and they can't always have what they want. They can't continue to hide their heads in the sand (of network TV).
The thing is, there is no easy rescue. Even bankruptcy is difficult to get these days and it doesn't always erase all of your debt anymore. When your debts are crushing you, there is only one thing you can do to climb out of the pit. You have to cut down to the bare essentials. You have to give up things you don't want to give up. You have to put your head down and plow through it. You can't have the kind of pride that gets in the way of your ultimate goal of getting out of debt. You have to work your tail off to keep your head above water.
So many people seem unwilling to do these things. It is the rare and much admired person that cuts everything to the bone and pieces together an income that allows her or him to survive and thrive despite enormous obstacles, and to do it with a positive attitude. Too many people say, "I could never do that," when what they really mean is, "I don't want to do that." And that's what makes the difference.
You can say you want to be out of debt all you want, but if what you really want is to keep your life the way it is without making any changes, then you really don't want to be out of debt. You just want the problem to go away. And problems ignored don't just go away. They tend to get bigger. And Bigger. And BIGGER. And then it's not going to be a choice of you cutting your cable so you have money to pay your debts, it's going to be the cable company's decision to cut you off. And the power company's. And the water/sewer. And the garbage collection. And it won't matter then how badly you need to watch your shows or heat your house, or get rid of your waste. It won't be an option.
Isn't it better to decide now, today, to do what you can to get into a situation where that will never happen? Isn't it worth giving up a few luxuries so that maybe one day you won't have to? I think so. I really do. The question is, do you?
I think someone looked down on me and said, "Well, she's done with those hurdles, let's throw some even bigger ones at her and see how she does."
So FIL may also have something wrong with his kidney. At least something showed up on his MRI. We knew this could happen, they told him so after his last surgery, but all seemed to be going well. So on top of more heart surgery, he may end up losing a kidney. So he's going to the doctor again for his heart tomorrow and a different doctor on Monday for his kidney.
If that weren't enough, my mother got back her MRI results as she's been having severe headaches. (Is there anyone not getting an MRI lately? It seems the thing to do.) She has had two mini-strokes since the last MRI six months ago. And she doesn't tell me this. I was teasing her about forgetting to put soap in the dishwasher (she teases me for similar things) and she says, "Well, maybe it's because I had two mini-strokes." I mean, come on, that is not the way you tell someone you've had a stroke, mini or not.
They were relatively minor, but I had noticed one side of her face was a little slacker than the other, but she still had control of it. And I have noticed her being slower on the uptake. I suppose I watch for these things because her mother had Alzheimers and my father did, so I've seen it up close and personal. It didn't seem like Alzheimers in her, just...something not quite right.
So I don't really know what that means for her health. She doesn't seem worried about it. She's 73, but I always figured she'd outlive me out of sheer stubborness. Now maybe it's going to happen sooner than I thought. At least I have her living will, her regular will, her pre-paid funeral stuff, and medical power of attorney.
We are prepared (well, maybe not mentally) and have been for a couple of years, but I still don't want to even think about it. In a couple of days I'm going to sit down with her and go through everything again. We haven't looked at it together since Dad died and she made a couple changes to reflect that.
At least WA state law does not require filial support to pay for long term care. 29 states legally can make you pay for your parents' care (though many don't enforce these laws). I can't even fathom what that would do to DH and I if we had to pay for long-term nursing home care for either of his parents or my mother. We've spent so much time paying off our own catastrophic medical debt. To have to start all over again would be so destructive to our lives.
I don't even know what any of this means to our future plans. We've been talking about buying a smaller house, but now I'm wondering about whether or not we will have to take in MIL or my mother at some point and if we did that, we'd need the space. I know from us living with my mother that lots of space is a very good thing. I am pretty sure either way it would fall on us. DH's sister couldn't afford it and I don't think my middle sister would allow the world to stop revolving around her long enough to take care of someone else. My eldest sister, much less the ice queen since she became a grandmother, might move in with my mom so long as Mom was still able, but I don't think she'd care for her if her mind started to go.
Can I be an ostrich just for a day or two? Because I'd really like to stick my head in the sand now.
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