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Still Frustrated

November 8th, 2013 at 11:27 pm

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.

Some Teachers...

November 6th, 2013 at 05:42 pm

...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 Can't Seem to Kick this Virus

November 4th, 2013 at 06:55 pm

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.


I Hit 2 Million!

May 10th, 2013 at 11:16 am

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.

Maybe It's Silly, But...

February 10th, 2013 at 05:57 pm

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.


January 10th, 2013 at 04:58 pm

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.


January 7th, 2013 at 10:33 pm

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?

New Day, Different Rant

November 28th, 2012 at 06:56 pm

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.

Don't Mess with my Ice Cream

November 24th, 2012 at 05:56 pm

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.

No, Not the Cable! Anything but the Cable!

November 20th, 2012 at 05:43 pm

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?

The More They Stay the Same

November 15th, 2012 at 04:52 pm

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.

I've Been Thinking About Survival

November 1st, 2012 at 12:52 pm

I've been reading a survival blog for about a week or so. It's by one of those people who are preparing for the end of the world as we know it. It's been interesting reading, especially in light of what has happened on the East Coast this week. I imagine in some places it really has become the end of their individual worlds, especially for those who were not prepared for the wrath of Sandy.

It's definitely made me think about how prepared I would be to handle a similar emergency. Although we don't get hurricanes here, there is always the chance of one of the volcanos blowing again. Depending on the wind, we could get hit by ash from Mt. Saint Helens. Mt. Baker is a constant steamer, if it ever woke up we could get hit by more than ash. And of course there are always earthquakes living here in the ring of fire. Though we are most likely to be stuck at home due to a Nor'easter blizzard than anything else.

I think the longest I've ever gone without power was five days. But we had the wood stove and we had water and ice and a good store of canned goods. We had kerosene lamps and candles and I could charge my laptop off the car battery.

I decided to inventory what we do have if the power fails. We have enough canned goods to get through about a week. More if you count all the jam and tomatoes, but I'm talking more canned meats and vegetables. I think that is something I should probably rectify. I have plenty of food in the freezer but that does not help me much if the power fails.

I also need to set in a store of water. I mean we have the rain barrels, three of them, but any water from them would have to be boiled, so I think I should get in several gallons of drinking water. I also need to work on canned meat and canned fruit and a bit more canned veg. Pineapple is my number one priority for fruit as it would hold off things like scurvy or vitamin C deficiency. But we should have more green beans on hand. I'd like to keep a fairly balanced diet and that would help.

I have been watching videos on how to can your own beef, chicken, or venison, so as I get a surplus going I may do that. I'd rather know where my meat is coming from and can it myself, but meanwhile I have 12 cans of beef, 2 cans of chicken, and four cans of tuna.

I'd really prefer to be able to survive more than a week without a grocery store. In the case of a disaster it could be several weeks before we got our infrastructure back.

How about you guys? How long could you survive without power?

Chickens Don't Care if You Get the Flu...

October 8th, 2012 at 08:23 pm

...or five prescriptions later... Well, okay probably not the actual flu, just Super Bad Sinues: The Sequel. And one of the meds is for sleep, because with the super cough (codeine cough syrup, I love you) I haven't been doing much of that. At least everything was generic and I only shelled out $17.81 for all five. Nice.

As for the chickens, well, we have had several escape artists as of late. They are determined to be free range all of the time, and not just part-time. But holes have now been patched in the fence, the gate has been fixed, and wire has been placed higher. Only two of them, Curious and Georgie, got out today. They are the lightest, smallest birds. They fly the easiest and the furthest and we will likely never be able to keep them in. Despite Georgie getting her tail feathers clipped by the neighbor's dog not too long ago, she is still determined to range, though she is sticking to the yard.

I suppose I won't complain too much about Curious and Georgie, since they are the two best egg layers in the bunch. Still, it's not like they have a small enclosure. I have seen yards that are not as big as their huge pen. But the grass is always greener and the bugs are always bigger and the slugs are always...sluggier on the other side of the fence. Well, thank goodness for patient neighbors who are charmed by them and like the free eggs they get slipped now and then.

We have been letting the ducks out a little bit to free range during the day when doing garden work, but they don't really seem to like being out. They like the fenced area and they like their miniature pond and they absolutely do not like the neighbor's dogs. They are too fat to fly and never try to escape, although Lady Henry Inigo Montoya does go off away from the other three quite a bit. She has very little tolerance for Patches and his romantic overtures.

Egg production is starting to slow down as the days get shorter. Well, the 3 female ducks are still laying pretty consistently, but we are only getting about five chicken eggs a day from twelve hens. We are thinking about putting in a light, but 8 eggs a day is fine for our needs and we will probably only do so if it slacks off to a lot less than that.

The garden is still plugging along, but the days are getting cooler. The forecast is looking in the lower 60's for the rest of the week, with rain on Friday. I can't remember the last time it really rained, June maybe, and we are in for a stormy weekend. The nights are still staying above 50 so the tomatoes are still going. Not sure how much longer I can expect that. There are tons of green ones just starting to turn color. I guess if I need to I can pick them and wrap them in newspaper and let them ripen inside. Not a big fan of green tomatoes or I'd just dehydrate them.

I have five ripe tomatoes sitting on my table that I need to figure out something to do with. Maybe I'll make chili this week. In the crockpot so I don't have to put out any effort. Or I suppose I could can a single pint. Just in a smaller pan, not my full-size canner.

I did up what I think is the last of the prunes and they are on a tray in the freezer. There might be a few more, but I'll need DH at the top of a ladder to tell me if there are anymore on the tree and he won't be home until Wednesday. I am too short to reach, but I think I still see a few up there. I was right and ended up with about 8 quart bags full (or will do when the rest of these get packed into the last bag).

I'm still getting a couple handfuls of green beans every three days or so. There are a couple of yellow zucchini struggling along and I may get two more cucumbers before the weather turns. I should be able to harvest another broccoli by week's end.

I really need to do up a meal plan for the week. I am kind of doing the whatever is easiest route right now, but that way leads to overspending. Dinner tonight was scrambled egg sandwiches and stir-fried green beans. Simple, easy, not too much effort.

DD is going to try to go to school tomorrow after being out sick for a while. Ugh. 7 a.m. Even the chickens don't get up that early right now. DS felt good enough to do all of his lessons today, though he is still feeling yucky. The nice thing about homeschooling is he is able to sleep in when he doesn't feel well and it's okay if we don't finish lessons until 7 p.m. I am not, nor ever will be a fan of Algebra, but it's really not fun when your brain feels like it is full of snot. Still, we beat it (the algebra, not the snot).

Still Dragging

September 6th, 2012 at 07:53 pm

I am still really wiped out today. I am not sure why as I feel like I got enough sleep, but I just feel like a zombie.

My nephews are driving me crazy. Well, the younger one is the worst. He's being extremely disrespectful to my daughter. He also brought some video games with him that are rated M and are basically those games where you just murder people, including hookers and drug dealers. I told my son he couldn't be up there with them while they were playing those games. I am shocked that my sister is letting her kids even play those games considering how conservative she is about things.

My nephews also decided it would be fun to go lay down in the middle of the street after dark last night. It was still early, just dark. My son's no longer allowed to go outside with them unless my daughter or an adult is there. My son was pretty much freaking out when they did this last night, but he didn't tell me last night. He told me today. I kind of thought my twelve-year-old would be safe with them since they are 15 and 18, but clearly he is not.

I knew that my mother was going to invite them down and then basically ignore what they were doing and all this was going to fall on me to take care of them and my kids to entertain them. It's what she always does. I really did not want them here during the first week of school as it would make things really hard on us. I told her she should have invited them in the summer and when DH was home to help, but of course that would have inconvenienced my sister (who is supposed to be homeschooling the youngest right now). And heaven forbid we ever inconvenience my sister.

Well, I'm not taking up the slack this time. I am too tired and sick to deal with them so basically my kids and I are staying in our wing of the house and leaving them to their own devices. When they came down here whining about being hungry I told them to go tell their grandmother as she's in charge of them, not me. Or to *gasp* make their own food. They're certainly old enough. And Mom bought them enough junk food to feed an army, including a bunch of stuff that my son likes but is allergic to.

I will be so glad when they go home. It's times like this that I hate living here. Most of the time I'm okay with it, but right now it's all just making me so irritable. I am so glad that our house will be done in about two more weekends and then we can put the thing on the market and hopefully it will sell and we can buy a new house and get the heck out of here.

Plastic Bag Ban--Inconvenience Means Buying Less Stuff

August 29th, 2012 at 06:15 pm

Bit of a rant, sorry. On August 1st my city enacted a plastic bag ban, where you either need to bring your own bags to the stores or pay 5 cents for a paper bag. At first I thought it was just for the grocery stores. This pretty much did not concern me as I have been using reusable canvas or burlap bags for some time.

I also use reusable produce bags when I remember to grab them.

The stores still have plastic bags for produce, meat products, bulk bin items, and bakery or deli items, and they sell things like garbage bags and ziptop bags, so it's not a full on ban.

The thing that I did not realize at first was that it was for all stores in the city, including department and clothing stores. Now this I did find to be inconvenient when we were shopping for back to school clothes and school supplies. Most department stores have rules about bringing bags in. So do most mall stores. They are so worried about shop lifting they don't like you to bring any bags in. So if you have a cart that's not bad, but if you're hitting up a bunch of the regular stores and buying any amount of small things it starts to get difficult. And I don't like going back to my car after every purchase.

I do not like being forced into buying a bag, even if it's "only" 5 cents. You know my thoughts on "it's only" thinking. I don't like being nickled and dimed. It's the principle of the thing. I have a lot of mixed feelings here, because even though I don't much like plastic bags and will use totes when I can, I was always careful to reuse plastic bags when I got them. The big ones (which I rarely ever had, mostly at Christmas time) went in place of my kitchen trash bags and the small ones went as liners for garbage in the bathrooms or bedrooms. Now I have to buy them for the small cans and I'm frugal enough to resent buying new plastic as opposed to reusing plastic. At least this is making my actually recyle my toilet paper tubes and put the hair from the hairbrush in the compost bin. I am making every inch of my plastic bags count now.

It is a major hassle to come out of a store with a big pile of clothes and no bags. It is a major hassle to come out of a store with three pairs of shoes and no bag. It is a really, really major hassle to come out of a store with a year's supply of school supplies and no bags. I did put them in my reusable totes once I got them to the car, but I was frustrated with it. I mean, what happens when it is pouring down rain in another month and I need to make some purchases of things I don't want getting wet?

I think that I will end up buying less things in my city because of this. I am not an impulse shopper anyway, but I will rethink every purchase because of the inconvenience factor. This is a good thing as it will cut down on spending. I will likely do future larger shopping trips in the next county when we are down there for other reasons, which will mean thinking things through a bit more because I won't want to waste trips.

If this bag ban is making me buy more outside of my county, I wonder what it is doing to other shoppers. My county is highly retail oriented since shooting itself in the tax base and driving out the living wage industrial jobs about a decade back. It is a border county so it relies a lot on Canadians coming across and shopping here. But if I were doing that, I'd take the extra 30 minutes to go to the next county which also has a lot of retail. I think we're going to see a drop in the county's sales because of this. Even though intuitively it makes more sense to pay for the paper bags (at the stores that even have them, many do not) then to pay for the gas, the inconvenience factor and the "must pay for it" factor on the bags will cause a stubborn resistance.

I am trying to get over this stubborness, because I do know it is better for the environment. I just really don't like being told what to do. I came to my use of reusable totes at the grocery store on my own. I'd like the choice to do that otherwise. Or else the big stores need to get over their fears of shop lifting and let me bring my totes in. I guess my feelings on this are a...mixed bag. *snorts*

On Kids' Allowances

August 24th, 2012 at 01:18 pm

Ceejay74 posted a link to an article on kids' allowances today found here: http://shine.yahoo.com/work-money/survey-kids-65-month-allow... and after reading it, I have to say, it annoyed me that it drew some of the conclusions it did. It was assuming that children get their allowances on top of their parents buying everything else for them as well. Umm...in what universe? "Some experts say." What experts? They don't even say who says it. Hand-wavy journalism, I see you.

In the real world, the one I live in, parents don't buy their children everything else they want because parents live on a budget. In fact most parents won't even let children by everything they want with their own money. As in my family, children are expected to save up their money to get what they want and what they want still must be on the parental approval list.

They are assuming children do chores for about one hour a week to earn their allowances, though "some" parents require up to six.

I laughed at this. One hour of chores for $15 a week? No, I don't think so. Now, my daughter does earn $15 a week in allowance, a recent raise from $12, but she is 16. My son, who is 12, earns $10 a week. For their money they:

Take out the garbage (including to and from the curb on garbage day) (DD)
Take out the compost (DS)
Take out the recycling (including to and from the curb on recycling days)
Set the table (Both)
Clear the table (and wash it) (Both)
Load and unload the dishwasher (Both)
Scrub pots and pans (DD)
Clean off the surface of the stove when it gets messy (DD)
Clean out the refrigerator and scrub it or at least help (DD)
Clean the tub and shower stall (DS)
Clean the toilet (DS)
Clean the sink (DD)
Water the garden (DS)
Help with weeding (Both)
Sweep and vacuum floors (DD)
Keep rooms neat (Both)
Fold towels (DD)
Help with washing and drying clothes (Both)
Help harvest food from the garden (Both)
Help with canning (both)
Cooking meals at least once a week (DD)
Helping with meals a few times a week (Both)
Help with making bread or rolls (DS)
Makes all cakes, cookies, or other goodies (DD)
Cleans out the inside of the van (Both, their portions)
Helps with washing the van (Both)

In addition they both do chores for their grandmother (DS does yard work, mostly mowing and DD does housework) for an additional $5 a week. And DS collects aluminum cans from neighbors and in the park to earn additional money.

I seldom buy my children things other than nice clothing and a book or two. We do buy them events or experiences, like a trip to the zoo or the King Tut exhibit. On vacation they get a souvenir or two, but it's usually a t-shirt or sweatshirt or something practical like a book mark or necklace.

But for stuff? They've saved up for almost every big purchase they've wanted. If it's near their birthdays or Christmas I might go in halfsies with them as long as it doesn't go over their allotted amount.

I don't give my children music CD's or let them download whatever they want on my dime. They can pay for those themsevles and I have approval of artist. I might download a book if the whole family will read it. I don't pay for them to go to the movies unless it is a family thing. We go to the movies maybe once a year. We went to The Hunger Games together. It was a family outing. They don't go to see movies with their friends, but that has to do with approving content. If I approved content and they wanted to go then they'd certainly use their own allowances to pay for it.

Is it really that common for parents to buy them all this stuff above and beyond allowances? It wasn't when I was growing up and we were firmly in the working middle class. And I don't know any parents that do it now. Most of the parents I know can't even afford to give their kids allowances at all despite being firmly in the working middle class. They must not be getting their info from the middle or lower classes.

I don't think I'd have a different opinion if we weren't working so hard to get out of medical debt and had a ton of disposable income. I just don't see the point in giving children everything they want. I don't get everything I want even when we do have the money for it. I do see the point in having them earn it and save up for it. Maybe this is because I worked all through my childhood, every summer picking berries, and then when I was old enough, baby-sitting, and then regular jobs.

I do agree with the article that parents should talk to their kids about saving and about money. Do people really not do this in this day and age? I mean, I hear my kids' friends saying things like, we'll have to go to the park because we can't afford bowling or the movies. Or things like "My mom is broke this week because we bought school clothes, let's just go up to the lake." So it's clear they understand there is no money at the moment. And I hear them talking about saving up for stuff, too. I don't know.

Sometimes I think it's me with the disconnect, but most of the time I think it is the writer's of these articles using outdated information from when the economy was booming. But even then, I still didn't give my kids what they wanted. In fact back then they didn't even get allowances at all.

DEC and Remodel Whining

April 8th, 2012 at 08:00 pm

Yesterday's expenses:

$49.06 @ Costco

Today's Expenses:

$10 for DD to turn in for art supplies at school tomorrow for art class.

Really got irritated at the workmen today. They left their equipment in the house, blocking the hallway and access to the kids' bedrooms when they left. Including a power saw that was plugged in. Dangerous and careless. And Mom didn't understand why I was upset by that. It's not like her life is being disrupted by the remodel at all, other than she has to park her car in a different spot in the driveway. She's in a different wing of the house. But this was dangerous and she shouldn't have acted like it was harmless. I will be so glad when they are done. I will be even more glad when we can get out of here.

Mom had one of her nasty moments today where she was blaming us for the mold in the bathroom again, even though the workmen said it was caused by the leak in the roof which had nothing to do with us. This went into a woe is me fit which she does about every six months. She refuses to go out and do activities where she can meet people and then complains about how she has no friends because Dad never wanted to socialize. I keep encouraging her to do so now, but then she snaps at me about it saying I just want her out of the house (which isn't true, I want me out of the house). I hope I'm not seeing the early onset of anything. But she's always kind of been like this, it just wasn't as extreme when Dad was alive and still had his mind.

I just do not have the energy or the stamina for this when I am running a 101 degree fever and trying to cough my lungs out through my windpipe. I didn't snap at her, but it was close. I just keep telling myself she is my mother and I love her even when she goes a little nuts.

Near Miss...

December 3rd, 2011 at 04:54 pm

...or near hit if you want to be technically accurate, since it nearly hit our wallet, or actually missed it, not nearly missed it, but if you go by how people actually use the phrase... It's a lot like thaw and dethaw. People mean thaw, but when they say dethaw it would actually mean to freeze. But I digress.

We rented a movie from one of those boxes at the store for $1 and DH couldn't find it today. Turns out he left it in the shopping cart last night and the employees set it aside so when he called it was there. Yay. That could have been a $25 mistake, which is the replacement value of the DVD. Or what they charge anyway. In reality it'd cost more like $15, but whatever. Point is we didn't have to pay it and if it isn't too long a movie we might even get it watched before 7. Still if we have to pay $2, it isn't $25.

Sometimes Funerals are Extra Complicated

July 1st, 2011 at 06:30 pm

This week has just really seemed to drag on for me. I miss school. It really makes the days go faster. I've had some kind of stomach thing going on for two days running and I wish it would go away. I made a big pot of chicken soup because at least it's as easy coming back up as it is going down and it's a cheap thing to not feel too bad about losing.

This morning we went to the kids' great grandmother's funeral (DH's paternal grandmother). She died last Friday, so it was a closed casket thing. It wasn't too long, though it felt like it. I don't know, I always get squirmy at funerals, especially when the person wasn't particularly nice and everyone is saying all these sweet things about them.

This woman never accepted a single person who married into the family as no one was good enough (though this did not apply to the children born because they had her blood). I hated the way she treated my mother-in-law. She wasn't nice to me or my SIL's husband (now ex) either, and forget her accepting her granddaughter's wife.

She also took her daughter's side when her daughter's husband physically abused my son at a family picnic when he was little and got really mad at me (who wasn't even there) because my husband filed a police report. I'm sorry, but when you choke a four year old child around the neck and have to be peeled off it is not "playing" and he did so "mean it."

But I didn't particularly care what her opinion was about me and after her husband died (who was a wonderful man), I stopped visiting them and just sent DH and the kids). She treated my kids all right and that was enough for me.

Anyway, I only went to support my FIL and because the kids wanted to go. If DH had been home, it would have been for him, too. He loved his grandmother even if he hated her behavior, but quite frankly I think he was glad not to have to go. If he'd come home we would have lost $4000 between lost wages and a last minute airline ticket. We can't afford that with a surgery coming up and FIL was fine with him not going. We'll visit the gravesite when DH gets home.

We didn't go to the family thing afterwards, one because of my stomach, and two because without DH there it is too hard to be constantly vigilant that DH's nasty uncle doesn't get anywhere near my kids.

I guess funerals bring up a lot of emotions in me, too. Hopefully there won't be anymore for a long time.

Is That a Troll Under that Bridge?

June 12th, 2011 at 12:22 pm

I really dislike trolls in the forums. It's worse than spam in the blogs, I think. Especially when they go on and on defending their position which is clearly not one that belongs in a money saving forum. And then degenerate into namecalling when no one else supports their statements. Misspelled namecalling and very bad grammer.

Access Isn't Always as Good as it Should Be

June 2nd, 2011 at 02:52 pm

We went to the courthouse today to get tabs for the older car (which we are in the process of getting going again). I'm not particularly fond of the way the courthouse is set up. The handicapped access is on the far end from where the most commonly done things are, licensing and tax assessor offices, as well as where you need to go through the metal dectector to get to the second floor for jury duty. So if you don't want to deal with their stairs or if you don't have a wheelchair that can attach to the chair lift, you have to walk the entire length of the courthouse and back from the handicapped parking.

I got my permit right before we went to Virginia Mason, but the more I've used it, the more I've noticed just how inconvenient it can be for people who have difficulty walking but aren't in wheel chairs. Like at rest areas. I've always had a pet peeve with rest areas anyway, because for some unknown reason the women's bathroom is always on the side where the truckers park (who are typically made up of 90% men) and the men's bathroom is on the side where the cars park. Cars that generally have women and children who go into the bathrooms with women.

I do not get the sense of this. Never have. Well, the handicapped parking spots are even further from the women's restroom than parking in a regular spot. So while you can get in and out of your car easily and up the ramp to the sidewalk, it is an even longer walk to the bathroom than it should be. And if you don't want to walk through the cloud of smokers you have to go even further out of your way.

Oh, well. End rant.

Anyway the tabs cost us $43.75. When DH gets back from picking DD up at school we are going to put the older car on the battery charger and get it charged up, then take it to the car wash if there is still time. So that will be around $13.

Little Bit of a Personal Responsibility Rant

April 19th, 2011 at 05:40 pm

I don't know. Sometimes I have a hard time dealing with people who aren't willing to take responsibiliy for their own actions. As someone who accrued a lot of debt (most of it for medical, but some of it not), I know and my husband knows, that we are responsible for paying off that debt because we incurred it. Yes, I may hate the evil credit card companies, but I don't blame them for the fact that we chose to use them. I don't blame them for the fact that we are in debt. I don't blame them for our decisions. We made them. We live with them. It is not their fault we are in the debt we are in. It is clearly ours.

I guess what is getting to me is that there was a post in the forums today. Someone wrote in about how they had been late paying their credit card a few times and eventually their credit card got closed by their credit union. Because of this their credit union "messed up" their credit. This really irked me. Umm...no, their failure to pay their credit card on time more than once messed up their credit. It doesn't matter if they were never more than 30 days late on a payment (justification), late is late is late. Why is any of this the credit union's fault? It's not. They did it all on their own. Take some responsibility. Own your choices. Don't blame your situation on others.

End Rant.

Lenscrafters Tried to Pull a Fast One

April 11th, 2011 at 09:30 pm

I forgot to put this in my other post, but less than a month ago we bought glasses for my son at Lenscrafters. Today at school the lenses popped out. We took them in to have them fixed and the girl there tried saying they couldn't fix them. She said that wherever we had got them at they hadn't done something right and there was no way to fix them.

When I told her we had gotten them there less than a month ago and that we had bought the antibreakage package as well, she suddenly changed her tune and could fix them. Needless to say I wasn't very happy with her original lie.

We'll see if the repair holds. If not I am not above throwing a fit. Those glasses and frames cost $200. I don't care if insurance covered most of it. Glasses that expensive should not fall apart that quickly and if they did something wrong then someone in their glasses making department needs lessons on how to do it right. And their front counter people need lessons on telling the truth.

Bad Customer Service

March 31st, 2011 at 04:01 pm

Just had a really bad encounter with a cashier at Kmart. She was a real snot and refused to take my $3 off catalina coupon. Her computer wouldn't take it and I know there is a way to override it but she wouldn't do it. It hadn't expired, I had qualifying purchases, and it came from that very Kmart. She was acting like I was the one with the problem because it was "only" $3.

She didn't get her supervisor for me because customer service was backed up. It took me 25 minutes to get through her line with only one person in front of me. I had too many people in line behind me to get out and switch lanes, was sort of trapped there because of how their aisles are. In the amount of time she served one person the only other line that they had just opened up served seven people. She was super slow and just didn't seem to care how long it took her to do stuff. It took us less time to shop than to check out and that was with my daughter trying on 3 different bathing suits.

I just filled out the survey at www.kmartfeedback.com and left contact info so maybe I'll hear something from them, but I won't hold my breath. Oh, and she was really super snotty when 2 more catalina coupons printed out and she handed them to me. And I'm thinking, "Great, two more coupons I won't be able to use." I am thinking about calling the store manager as well and complaining or maybe writing a letter. I just don't like being treated like this.

Oh, and this woman was older than me, I reckon around 45 to 50, so she certainly should have known better than to be so rude. I've actually never had a young person treat me badly at Kmart. They all seem to care about their jobs. It felt like this woman felt she was too good for her job, like she was just putting in her time. That should never be so obvious to a customer.

End rant.

Comcast is on My List Again

February 24th, 2011 at 07:10 pm

Comcast needs to get it's act together. I paid for both the phone for the old house and the internet for where we are living now on the 17th. The checks have still not been cashed. Seriously, Comcast, it takes you more than a week to cash a check now? As greedy and as grasping of an entity as you are and you haven't deposited the money yet?

It's annoying. I want my checkbook to be up to date and these two checks are the only things I am waiting on. They better cash them before the end of the month. I hate carrying stuff over from month to month (and generally avoid writing checks the last week of the month so I don't have to and everything will have cleared). I took them there in person so they couldn't have gotten lost in the mail. I should dig up my statements and at least make sure they were credited to my accounts. If they try to pull late fee garbage over this I am going to go down there and make a scene.

In other news, I spent $35.92 for $11.022 gallons of gas. It's at $3.25 a gallon at the cheapest place. It's better than in some states, but it still is a ridiculous amount to be paying.

I also spent $5 on soup for my poor sick kiddo (because I'm too sick to make another batch myself). They were on sale and of course I grabbed the cans right over the sign that said Chicken and Stars. And then of course I get home and see that they are Chicken with Rice, which nobody likes. Why can't they put the sale sign with the proper item? Most of the time I check, but I wasn't feeling good and from a distance it looked like the right kind. They were on sale, too, so I should just be able to exchange them. I'll do it tomorrow. Kiddo will just have to deal.

Sometimes I Really Hate Comcast

February 15th, 2011 at 02:52 pm

Comcast has a monopoly on phone service in the part of the county my old house is located in. Because we have an alarm system on the house (which has protected us three times from break-ins in the past six months), we have to have a phone hookup, because the alarm system has to be able to dial out to the monitoring company if someone trips it. That is the only thing we have a phone line there for. No one ever calls it, no one ever calls out from it. We don't even have a physical phone hooked up in the house, just the alarm system hooked into the phone line.

Well, it was bad enough when it cost $45 just for that most basic service, but the bill I just got today raised it to $51.91. $7 more! And it doesn't even say why. Are you kidding me? I am going to go over there Friday and complain yet again about the fact that it costs so much for basically no real service at all. I have to pay the same amount as people with caller ID, call waiting, and long distance. They keep telling me they don't have anything cheaper, but I just have such a hard time believing them when other companies can offer it for so much less in other parts of the county.

The phone service my mother has here in town costs less than $30 a month. It's a different company because there's actually competition in town. This company just drives me crazy when it comes to phone service. I like their internet, more or less, though it gets boggy from time to time, but when we buy our new house in town, we will definitely not be going with them for phone service (and we don't have cable television (an arm and a leg!) and won't get it or any other kind of television then, either).

Luxury or Money Saver?

February 12th, 2011 at 08:14 pm

I am seriously debating spending $63 on a gallon of shampoo. Shipping would be free. I have seriously oily hair. Seriously. It only turned that way about a year ago. It used to be frizzy and dry. Hormones are weird. Anyway, I finally found this incredibly awesome stuff, that is pretty expensive in the small bottle form, $13.99 plus tax for 10.14 fluid ounces. This is $63 for 128 fluid ounces.

This is such good shampoo that I use about 1/4 of an ounce per shampoo even though my hair is well past my shoulders, and I only need to shampoo once. It lathers like crazy, you just have to work it a little longer than normal to get it to that point. Anyway, my usage works out to about 12 cents per use if I get the gallon. The smaller bottle works out to about .75 an ounce, or 18 cents a use.

It's only a savings of 6 cents a use, but I'd not have to buy it for a long, long, long time. I've never seen a coupon for this brand so I doubt I could lower the cost that way. The only place that sells it is a twenty minute drive away, so I'd use at least a gallon of gas round trip, and it is not a store I frequent at all. In fact I've gone there once (just a couple weeks ago) in the five years it has been open in our area and that was because I had a free $40 gift card. It is an overpriced store so I was really not liking the idea of having to make a special trip there just for the shampoo, even if I think the shampoo is worth it. If I had known it would be so good I'd have bought several bottles at the time.

I think I'm just balking at the idea of paying $63 for shampoo, even though it works out to over a year's supply. I'm the sort of person who gets professional haircuts twice a year and cuts my own bangs the rest of the time. I got by for years on shampoo that was usually 99 cents a bottle after coupons or on sale. It really works. It is the only stuff that does now. It shouldn't be this hard to part with my money!

Another Year Older but Far Less in Debt

February 12th, 2011 at 05:22 pm

Well, turning 41 doesn't really feel all that different from turning 40. But then I guess most birthdays for the last decade or so have really just been marking off another year more than anything else. Another year with less debt under our belts, so it's all good. I keep having that old, old song Sixteen Tons going through my head. The one that goes, "You load sixteen tons, and what do you get? Another year older and deeper in debt. St. Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go, I owe my soul to the company store." Only we have less debt after another year, but I still sometimes feel like I owe my soul to the company store (i.e. credit card companies). Just less of it now, you know? And less every month.

DD made me brownies because I didn't want birthday cake. A small batch of brownies doesn't linger in the house for a week tempting me to eat it. The kids made me a joint card, let me sleep in late, and cleaned up the house, and there has been no squabbling. That's the perfect present for me, really. Later we are going to play scrabble.

DH called and we got to talk for fifteen minutes. It's rare for him to be able to call during the work day so it was nice. He told me that he might have to temporarily start working 3 and 2's instead of 3 and 3's, so less time home and an extra $3500 or so net per pay cycle, and it would then be a five week pay cycle instead of a six week one. That would mean only one week with no pay check out of five weeks instead of two weeks with no paycheck out of six weeks. Part of me is not thrilled that he'd be home less, but the other part is going "WooHoo," because we'd be able to pay our debt down that much faster. But it's still up in the air right now. They are just swamped with work.

There is also a possibility of his day rate going up in April. That's the six month mark in this new job. I think I'd find it rather astounding if it did. Not because he doesn't deserve it, because he does, but he's already making money hand over fist. If we weren't in so much debt from all the medical spending over the last eight years, if we were completely out of debt, we'd be able to live on 25% of his current income and save the rest. At least right now 50% is finally going to debt repayment and the other 25% is going to maintain our old house and to savings. Once we are out of debt I am going to feel rich! Even though technically we will qualify as being middle class. To me, middle class without debt and living below your means is rich. Especially if you have the savings to back it up.

I am going to save as much as possible then. I never want to live in fear of what happens if layoffs loom on the horizon again. I want enough money to live on for a couple of years if it takes that long. I also want to have plenty set aside for college. Our local state university is running about $7500 a year with books if you live at home and don't live on campus. I never want my kids to have student loan debt. It'll probably go up before my fourteen year old and ten year old are ready to go, but I want to be as prepared for it as I can be. Fortunately I shouldn't have two kids in college at the same time. Because of how their birthdays fall, my son will start college the fall after my daughter graduates.

Bit of a Rant at the Commercialism of Valentine's Day

February 4th, 2011 at 04:15 pm

So I just read another blog urging me not to forget to buy stuff for Valentine's Day for my sweetie and my first thought was, "Umm...no." In my mind, this holiday is just a major waste of money, not just that of the lovebirds but of all the companies who are advertising. It goes into high gear right now. And I don't say this as someone who is down on love, but as someone who has been firmly in a committed relationship for twenty years.

I don't feel like I have to prove my love by buying overpriced waxy chocolates, overpriced out of season roses, eight dollar fancy singing cards encrusted with enough glitter to keep a classroom of six year olds supplied for a year, or expensive gadgets, nor do I expect $1000 jewel encrusted bracelets or necklaces and cutesy stuffed animals in return.

DH will get a free e-card. I will get one from him. We will try to out cute each other and be the sappiest. Since he will be away that day we will talk on the phone. If he were home we'd probably shunt the kids off somewhere and have a cozy dinner at home that we prepare together, followed by a snuggle in front of a romantic DVD.

The best way I've ever found of telling someone you love them isn't buying them something, it's saying the words, "I love you," and showing it in your daily behavior. What more do you really need?

Passive Savings

March 12th, 2010 at 01:57 am

Today I was trying to think about all the things that I do to save money that require little to no effort on my part. Of course the things I do to actively save all quickly spring to mind, but what about the little things? What about the things that have become so automatic in me that I do them most of the time without thinking at all.

Well, since I was in the shower at the time, I started there. With hair as long and as thick as mine I can't exactly skimp on the shampoo or conditioner, but I know how much I need and I am very careful to not let it come pouring out at a fast rate of speed. Accidentally ending up with a huge handful of shampoo doesn't do my hair or my budget any good.

All of my bottles are kept upside down. Shampoo. Conditioner. Shower gel. Gravity is always right there, helping me get as much as possible out of the bottles. And when gravity is done doing it's part, of course I fill the bottles a quarter of the way full with water, swish them around, and use them once or twice more if the stuff clings to get out the final drops.

I go further with the shower gel, starting from the beginning of the bottle. For the price of a 50 cent shower pouf, I can make a dime size drop of gel lather into enough for a full body wash. Try doing that while putting the soap directly into your hand. Doesn't work, does it? A 16 ounce bottle of gel that could easily be gone through in a few weeks in a nondiscriminate manner, lasts me and my family of four (we all have our own poufs) a couple of months.

Gravity again does it's job in the kitchen. At any one time you can open up the fridge and find upside down bottles of mustard, ketchup, barbecue sauce, and chocolate sauce. Things that can't be put upside down without getting stuck in the lid get the spatula treatment. This generally falls into the category of round bottled condiments like mayo, salad dressings, jelly and peanut butter. The spatula also works well on scraping out the last bits of tomato sauce or paste, chili, stew, anything that sticks to the side of a tin can.

Probably the only thing that a spatula doesn't work well on is that poorly shaped mega bottle of Kraft Miracle Whip my husband insists on eating. Square containers with indentations? Really, Kraft? Who ever thought that was a good idea? I prefer to buy the larger product because at cost value it is cheaper, but at actual value when so much of it stuck in those stupid indentations? I'm not so sure. Really, Kraft, go back to the cylindrical containers. Your customers will appreciate it in this economy. (End mini-rant).

I'll let the last drops of olive oil in the bottle drip out onto a salad for ten minutes. I've contrived a contraption for holding the bottles up out of one of those aluminum can crushers mounted sideways. Just tie the thing shut and the bottle stays in place. Then you don't have to hold it, but you can be sure of getting it all out.

My thoughts moved on to wash cloths. I haven't bought wash cloths in years. We use towels to the point of making threadbare spots, so when the time comes that a good 1/4 of it is no longer effective, I simply cut them up, hem them quickly, and I've got a new supply ready to replace the ones that I've worn down.

I had to think about whether or not I consider composting to be a passive activity. On the one hand it involves the effort of taking the fruit and veggie scraps and egg shells out to the compost pile, but on the other hand my other two choices would be running the water and the electric to put them in a disposal or taking them out to the trash. And since I don't bother to turn my compost pile and just let time and the worms do all the work and maybe once a year fork off the top layer to start a new pile and get to the good stuff, I think I can pretty much consider the making of compost passive savings, especially when it is passed along to the garden later in the year.

I keep things unplugged that do not get active use, and if it's easy to get to the outlet, things that do get heavy use, like the toaster and the microwave. Most of our clocks are small battery operated wall clocks. The digital electric alarm clock only gets plugged in and set on the nights we have to wake up at a certain time the next morning. Computers, monitors, printers, and laptops are kept off when not in use and their power strips are turned off. Same with the TV. Since we no longer have a VCR we don't have to worry about resetting it every time it gets turned off.

I'm sure there are more things that I do passively that save me money but for the moment that's all I can think of. So I'm curious. What does everyone else do automatically and with minimal effort to save on the little things?

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