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Stuff and Other Stuff

July 23rd, 2018 at 09:02 pm

I managed to pick green beans on Saturday night and then took a hot bath and then iced my back after that and used some Valerian root as a muscle relaxant. That really helped. I had to pick them again today and will again in a couple more days. The combo of a hot soak followed by ice seems to be keeping things at bay. I got a belt that I can wrap around my body that holds two ice packs so I can get them in the correct place and not just have to lay on them so that is very helpful. I've also gotten decent sleep the last couple of days so I am feeling more positive.

Tomorrow is DD's appointment with the endocrinologist. I am really hoping we come out of this with some proper treatment so she can get her life back. I tend to be quite hesitant with trusting doctors because so many of them have been so lackadaisical about trying to get a proper diagnosis. Not just for her, but I've gone through it for decades myself, first with the endometriosis, then with the tumors, then with the gall bladder dying, then with the RA. It has been very frustrating to watch my daughter go through many of the same issues.

I will try not to bring an attitude of skepticism or despair in with me, because based on what little interaction we've had, this doctor appears to think there is something wrong and based on her test results we know that there is. Still, it is hard to be hopeful when meeting any new doctor and it is hard to take at face value that they actually want to help when we've both been jerked around for so many years.

Once things get settled (if they do), I want to have my own cortisol levels tested. I have some of the same symptoms as my daughter, though not to the degree. Enough, though, that I want mine checked.

I finally made it to the grocery store today, but I am too tired to do a grocery tracking post. I went to Trader Joe's and I did buy some convenience items because I am just too strung out. I think I may have a sinus infection and it is draining me, but I can't even think about going to the doctor until I get through this week's current appointments.

After DD's appointment tomorrow I need to can the green beans. Fortunately green beans have a fairly short processing time and it won't take all day to do them. I hope to get some more planted this week for a second crop as well. I did finally get the cilantro out of the pots and into the garden. I hope it makes it. That leaves the celery and the onions to transplant. It is probably too late for them to do well, but I ought to get a little something.

Rough Week Physically

July 21st, 2018 at 03:27 pm

My rheumatoid arthritis started flaring up on Tuesday and steadily got worse through the week. On Wednesday I started fighting off a migraine, successfully with medication, and on Thursday I strained some muscles in my low back because I had to pick the green beans and apparently I stayed in one position too long. I also started seeing floaters in my good eye. Yippee. Who needs to be able to read clearly? *sighs*

I need to pick green beans again and I am just really not wanting to. DH worked on my back for a couple of hours last night so I am doing better, but I'm afraid if I pick them it will go back into spasms.

Just to add to the fun, DD started throwing up blood, so Wednesday night was an ER visit, and it seems like on top of all her other issues, she has an ulcer. We will follow up on that after she sees the endocrine doctor and I see the surgeon for a follow up on my toe next week. At least is wasn't a bowel obstruction. They took x-rays.

At least things are going well for DH at work and things are running smoothly on the financial front. Since going full force onto Dave Ramsey's plan, I can really see the difference in the budgeting and accountability, as well as the intensity to get this last debt paid off. I try to watch at least 3 of his live streams each week and I have read three of his books now and one of his daughter's books.

I am currently reading Zero Debt by someone else. It is large print so that helps with the eye issues. I am also working my way through The Tightwad Gazette. I had to turn it back in once because someone had put it on hold, but I got it back again a couple of days ago.

I have been reading a fiction book, too, but I'm about to give up on it, even though I am halfway through. I don't really like the main character that much. She's hard to empathize with. I may just stubbornly forge on as I hate not finishing a book. I don't usually read mystery novels, but when I do, I expect to be more interested in the outcome than I am here. I've been trying to read this book for 9 weeks. The only reason I checked it out was because the title was a funny pun. I should probably stick to sci-fi and romance novels in the future.

I wish I could read more, but my eyes can only handle it for so long with these stupid floaters swimming around while I try to focus. I am feeling a little negative because of the amount of pain I am in and the amount of swelling that is going on in my body right now. I would appreciate prayers for healing and for a more positive attitude.

Payday Report for 7/20/18

July 20th, 2018 at 06:39 pm

$201.95 Tithe
_200.00 Medical Fund
_200.00 Grocery Envelope
__50.00 Household Envelope
__45.00 Allowances
_441.41 Auto Payments
_100.00 Laptop Fund
__50.00 Car Maintenance Envelope
_600.00 Monster Mom Loan
------------
$1888.36 Total Money Out

I did not budget all of the money out this time as there are a couple of things we need to purchase off of Amazon. I'll be using the debit card there for the first time. I'm not quite sure yet how much we will be spending, so I left plenty of room. After we buy our things, I will allocate what is left to another category.

The Medical Fund is currently sitting at almost $600. I want to get it to $2000 and then I will stop contributing $200 weekly deposits, though when it drops down below $2000 I will start them up again. I have a ways to go before I get there and of course I'm taking out any medical expenses as we go. $2000 is the amount the new deductible will be on the insurance that starts in September, so I'd like it available to us so we don't have to scramble when we start on deductible number three for the year.

Monster Mom Loan Progress

July 20th, 2018 at 06:21 pm

$30,900.00 Starting Balance
-__,600.00 Amount Paid
--------------
30,300.00 New Balance

Benefits Continued--Vacation, Holiday, Sick Leave, Insurances

July 15th, 2018 at 10:39 pm

So the additional information on benefits I have follows.

Vacation Pay:
During the first five years vacation accrues at the amount of 80 hours a year. Each year after that 8 hours a year is added up to a max of 160 hours (or 4 weeks) of paid time off. You can also convert some of your salary to extra vacation time as well (like if you were working overtime, instead of getting paid the overtime, get the pay saved towards extra vacation time).

Paid Holidays:
7 a year with New Year's, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and one floating holiday.

Washington state requires 1 hour of sick leave to accrue for every 40 hours worked, so it'll have to be that amount.

Health Insurance is free for the employee, $167 a month for the spouse, and $83 a month for children. So $250 a month. A far cry from the $1500 a month we are paying now. The deductible is $2000 a year. Free preventative well care visits, up to $500 per person, are allowed per year without a co-pay. I will get a further breakdown on benefits later on, probably the day he actually starts as a direct employee.

They also offer two dental plans. One is $167 a month and one is $255.09. The high one is worth it if you are going to get crowns, implants, dentures, and other high cost items done. The lower one covers 2 visits a year per person and x-rays with a $50 deductible. I did the math against private paying with the 10% cash discount and that one would be a wash, but since it would be pre-tax dollars instead of after tax dollars it is still worth doing. If someone gets a cavity and fills it, that will make it even more worth while.

The vision plan will cost $14.87 a month. We'll have to see what kind of restrictions it has. I won't get my glasses at a cut throat vision place again. And I won't get my eye exam there, either. They screwed up my prescription and my glasses. So it needs to at least allow us to go to whatever doctor we want. It works out to $178.44 a year and one eye exam is $90. Multiply that by 4 people and it is $360. So even if we have to pay to get our glasses made elsewhere, the cost savings on the eye exams would still make this worth it.

They provide a company paid $50,000 life insurance policy, which is doubled if there is an accidental death. If we want to take out more we can take out more at a discount through them, up to $250,000 without a health exam. We are probably going to do this. DH only has $250,000 of term insurance currently and we really would like to have $500,000 on him, but because of his weight he can't get more on our current insurance without an exam, which would shoot our premiums up way higher.

They also provide company paid short-term and long-term disability coverage.

Hopefully, I will get the nitty gritty details on everything soon. I like knowing exactly how much co-pays will be and how much prescriptions are covered and what the out of pocket max is. I also want to know which companies are providing the insurances. Especially the health insurance, vision, and dental. And then if the health insurance will play nice with my sleep doctor. Aetna doesn't. They won't cover anything from them. Everyone else does. So I am hoping that whatever it is, it isn't Aetna.

The benefits are fantastic. These are on par with old time (not modern day) union benefits, only no union. Like the benefits my dad had when he was a mill worker. Only no pension, but I'd rather have a 401K I can control any day of the week.

Benefit Info Trickling in--Retirement

July 15th, 2018 at 10:11 pm

So information about the new job is slowly trickling in. I'll start with the retirement information. They have two choices: a traditional 401K and a Roth 401K. I have only recently even learned of the existence of a Roth 401K. With the traditional 401K they will match 100% up to 5% of your income and of course it is pre-tax dollars. With the Roth 401K you put in after tax dollars, and they will again match 100% of what you put in up to 5% of your income. Their portion will be taxed upon withdrawal, but what you put in won't be since you have used after tax dollars.

My gut says the 401K Roth is probably a better choice, but I have done some reading and some have said that it might be better to use pre-tax dollars now when we are earning more to lower our effective tax rate, because when we retire we won't be pulling out as much as DH is currently earning per year, so our tax rate then will be lower than what it is now. Could some of our accountant/tax people weigh in on this issue?

They also may contribute an additional sum to the 401K called a performance contribution, which is divided among employees in proportion to their wages and based on how well the company does each year. Basically an end of year bonus, but to the 401K. It varies from year to year.

They have an ESOP or Employee Stock Ownership Plan. The company contributes stock to employees at the end of the year based on wages and a pro rata basis. They will start doing this once you have worked 1000 hours. It is fully vested after six years, vesting 1/6 per year. DH said currently one share of company stock is worth $16,000. Stock must be sold back to the company on retirement or quitting.

I am debating whether or not we should start whichever 401K we choose immediately (match is immediate) or wait until the debt is paid off. If we do it immediately it works out to $90 a week. That is $360 a month that should be going to debt payoff and we are hoping the debt is gone in the early part of next year, but that depends on overtime. I hate giving up the free $360 a month, but I know it would be for a short time. It bothers me that our retirement is so low, but the whole point of the Dave Ramsey plan is you cannot split your focus.

As soon as the debt is paid off, we plan to get the EF to three months of expenses and then hit retirement at 10% while getting the EF up to six months of expenses. Then once the EF is at six months, start saving for a large house down payment. I don't know that we can do the recommended 15% to retirement and still save for a house, though once DH starts getting raises we might.

We figure anything MIL gives us will go towards either the EF build or the down payment. In later years, we could put any gift money towards Roth IRA's or towards paying off the house early once we buy one. I guess in those years we would hit 15% of retirement if MIL gives like she has said she plans to. We can't count on that money, though.

We will have to use some of the money MIL gave us already to get through the job transition period. DH officially starts working for the company direct on the 21st. His last paycheck from the contracting company is on June 27th. Then he won't get paid again until the 10th and we will move on to a 2 week paycheck. So we need to get through the time when we would have had a check on the 3rd, but now won't.

Also, his old company has said that we can pay the August insurance payment out of that paycheck on the 27th, which means that paycheck will be quite short, even with OT on it. So some of the money will also have to go to cover what is taken out for the insurance. But starting on the 10th we will switch to biweekly budgeting instead of weekly budgeting and everything will be fine. The new insurance starts on September 1st. That will make life easy and we won't have to worry about dealing with COBRA at all. So, yay! I am just very grateful it is all playing out like this and that we have the money in savings to smooth out the bumps.

Grocery Spending Tracking

July 13th, 2018 at 09:21 pm

I started off at Winco today. I am pretty much starting off at Winco every grocery shopping day now because the prices are so much cheaper. I spent $136.54 cents there. I made sure the hamburger patties were 100% beef this time. The cheaper ones I bought last time tasted awful and had soy added to them. The consistency was nasty. I didn't realize it has smoke flavoring in it, either. DD and I are allergic to soy so I have to remember not to be lazy about label reading, but the thing said beef patties on it, not soy and beef patties. Fortunately DD and DS had the last ones from the previous batch. It was only DH and me who had the bad ones. I paid the price, too. Here is what I bought at Winco:

2 bags of crispy chicken strips
1 20 count bag of hamburger patties
2 bags of shredded medium cheddar
1 bag of shredded Mexi-blend cheese
2 bags of pepperoni
1 package of uncured bacon
1 big strawberry yougurt
2 containers parmesan/romano blend
1 bag of Winco BBQ potato chips
2 bags of Winco tortilla chips
2 boxes of granola bars
2 potato bread
1 big box cheddar goldfish crackers
1 bottle Winco grape juice
1 bottle Winco apple juice
1 six pack Hansen's root beer
8 jars of Prego spaghetti sauce
2 large pineapples ($2.48 each!)
8 Walla Walla sweet onions (.68/lb!)
3 lbs of organic broccoli
8 ears of sweet corn
1 watermelon

I may or may not go to Safeway this weekend as well, but I'm going to see if I can make it through the week without.

Payday Report for 7/13/18

July 13th, 2018 at 02:21 pm

My daughter and I are sorely in need of hair cuts, so I funded an envelope with that and it is sharing space with a new take out category. I took out $150 for both. I'm not sure how much the hair cuts are anymore, but we do go to a salon. We both have difficult hair and the cheap places just don't do it right. We compromise by going longer between cuts to account for the higher expense.

Whatever is left in there after the hair cuts will be what is available for take out. Everyone has been Jonesing for Polynesian food and I am too tired to make four different dishes. It won't become a habit as eating out all the time is what caused our budget to get all catywampus in the first place.

$201.95 Tithe
_200.00 Grocery Envelope
_200.00 Medical Fund
__50.00 Household Envelope
__91.91 Internet
_100.00 Gas Money
_100.00 Car Insurance Fund
__45.60 Garbage
__50.00 Allowances
_244.97 Citi
___5.75 BoA Visa
_500.00 Monster Mom Loan
_150.00 Haircuts and Take Out
------------
1940.18 Total Money Out

Monster Mom Loan Pay Down

July 13th, 2018 at 02:02 pm

$31,400.00 Starting Balance
-__,500.00 Payment Amount
-----------
$30,900.00 New Balance

Next week we should be able to pay $1000 so the first digit will change to a 2. I am so looking forward to that!

DH GOT THE JOB!!!!!!!! WOO HOO!!!!!!!

July 12th, 2018 at 05:44 pm

DH has signed the paperwork today and has been officially hired on as a permanent employee. Details to come on benefits and whatnot, but I just had to share now! It's been in the works for a couple of weeks, but I wasn't allowed to talk about it yet for contract reasons. DH just gave me the go-ahead. It's been driving me crazy! I am so happy. Things are looking bright for the future! God has truly blessed us and I am so very grateful to have a return to security in our lives.

Toe Surgery

July 12th, 2018 at 02:54 pm

I had my toe surgery yesterday. It went well. I had a $50 co-pay, and then I will likely get billed for the rest since my deductible started over on the first with the new insurance. There is enough money already in the Medical Fund to pay for it.

It seems to have thrown me for a loop, though. I think it is my body trying to rid itself of the anesthesia, which takes longer when you have an auto-immune disease. I ended up getting in bed last night around six because it was the easiest way to keep my foot elevated and have an ice pack on it. Also, I was just drained. I snuggled up with season 10 of The Big Bang Theory, which I will finish watching today.

Today I still feel pretty out of it. I got out of bed to let the animals out and then went back to it and just listened to Ben Shapiro and Dave Ramsey and Hellfreezer (he tells scary stories) until about 1 p.m. when I decided I should feed myself. I hope this wears off. I have stuff to do, but probably won't get anything done until tomorrow.

I can walk okay on the toe, I'm not sure I want to do much, though. Tomorrow is payday so I will need to go grocery shopping, unless I decide to put it off until Saturday. DS goes with me, though, so maybe I can get a ride on cart to use.

Mattress Shopping and Medical Things

July 10th, 2018 at 05:45 pm

DD and I went mattress shopping today. We found a mattress and originally it was going to cost us $763, but we ended up getting it for $740, because the guy did not have any cash in the store. I had 10 $100 bills to pay for it and he asked if I had any other money. He asked if I had any twenties. Well, I had a twenty in my allowance envelope and I twenty in my household envelope so I told him I had two 20's. He didn't ask if I had any other money, which I did, but I wasn't going to volunteer it to see what he would do. So he ended up giving it to us for $740. Salesmen know that if you walk out of the store without buying they may not get you back in the door again.

He said usually he has cash in the store, but everyone who bought mattresses today paid in cash. He's so used to everyone paying by credit card or financing, that the small amount of cash he keeps on hand was wiped out. He even checked his wallet! It's his store so he can do that.

I wonder what he would have done if I hadn't had it. Maybe he would have knocked it down to $700. Maybe I should have hemmed and hawed, but I felt like $23 off was a nice discount already and I did have lower bills, even if I did have to rob another envelope. Now I will have to straighten that out, but I will have to break one of the $100's before I do.

We used some of the $5000 MIL gave us to make this purchase. DD has been having major back issues on the garbage bed she's been using. Hopefully the new bed will improve things. I know it did for me and for my son when we got new mattresses in the last couple of years.

We got a call from the endocrinologists office and they are getting DD in on the 24th of July. It was their first available emergency appointment and she's on a wait list for if someone cancels. Usually it takes 3 to 4 months to get into this guy, but after he looked at her test results he wanted to get her in quickly, hence the "emergency" appointment.

So even though no one has actually explained the test results to us yet, they are clearly significant. From what we were able to decipher online from our copy of the report, there is stuff wrong with her pituitary, her adrenals, and then of course the hypothyroidism. So two weeks and maybe she can start getting proper treatment for everything and maybe she can start functioning as a human being again.

Two weeks feels like a long time right now, but in medical time it is very fast. If I had gotten the message a little sooner we would have been able to get her in tomorrow, but between the time the front desk guy called and she called back it had been filled. Oh, well.

I have surgery on my toe tomorrow anyway. I am having the toenail root killed on the inside of my big toe because of all the reoccurring ingrown toenails I get. I've had one of the smaller ones done, and it destroys a small sliver of the nail bed so that the toenail just doesn't grow back along that part. It has worked wonders for the other toe. So I will likely be out of commission around here for a day or so and then be limping along for a few days before it is fine again. They do cut out the portion of the nail that has already grown, so that is why it'll mess me up for a bit.

Maybe tomorrow I'll give in and do take out. We have enough money right now to do so, I've just been holding on to it. If it is intentional spending I feel okay about it. It's the "I'm too tired or too lazy to cook," that is the problem. Not a planned for take out meal. We'll see how I feel once the lidocaine wears off.

Meal Planning for the Week

July 9th, 2018 at 04:22 pm

I'm starting to get a nice supply of vegetables from the garden and should have enough to do the veggies from five dinners from it this week. We may get sick of zucchini, but that usually doesn't happen until the end of the summer. Besides one day it will be in sauce, one day it will be baked, and one day it will be fried, so that should be good variation. I am just happy the broccoli survived the aphids.

Day One:
Pork Chops with Onions and Bell Peppers
Corn on the Cob
Broccoli (from the garden!)

Day Two:
Baked Chicken
Fried Potatoes
Baked Zucchini

Day Three:
Spaghetti (w/Zucchini in the Sauce)
Meatballs
Cole Slaw

Day Four:
Chicken Shawarma (so loving this!)
Pita Bread
Tzatziki Sauce
Fried Zucchini (from the garden!)

Day Five:
Tacos (lettuce from the garden!)

Day Six:
Chili over Baked Potatoes

Day Seven:
Ham
Baked Potato Soup
Green Beans

FPU and ACTH Results

July 8th, 2018 at 03:47 pm

DH and I found a church website that has put up the Financial Peace University lessons and we have been watching those. We watched the first two on Friday night and the second two on Saturday night. We might get another one or two watched tonight. I wish we had money in the budget to purchase it, but we don't and we don't have time to go to a class together anyway with DH working so much overtime.

DH had to work a few hours yesterday and he's at work right now as well, just for 2 or 3 hours. They are finishing up a package that was wanted for Monday, but the stuff needed for it didn't get to him and the other guy until Friday at the end of the day. He will adjust his schedule this week accordingly, since they are only allowed 15 hours total of OT per week. The work week there ends on Friday so any work this weekend counts on this coming week. That seems weird to me since every where else he's ever worked or I ever worked started their payroll week on a Monday and went through the weekend.

This last paycheck had a few more dollars on it than the one before due to the change in insurance. It was a difference of $14 and some change. So that'll be $56 a month difference from the old insurance to the new one.

DD had a couple of prescriptions filled this week and they were $0. So I guess the company did carry over the fact that she'd hit her deductible and her out of pocket max like they said they would. That's good, because we still don't know what is coming up with medical expenses in her future.

She got her ACTH stim test results in her patient portal on Friday, but we never heard from the doctor. I am assuming he hasn't had time to look at it yet or wanted to consult with the endocrinologist first. From what we can interpret from the test, there is something wrong with both her adrenals and her pituitary.

I'm trying to get her to not jump to conclusions and to wait until we've spoken to the doctor and to not try and diagnose herself. Personally, I think she has Addison's disease and possibly Hashimoto's. Both are auto-immune diseases. We know she has an undiagnosed auto-immune disease due to blood work in the past.

I just hope we get actual answers this time. We have been chasing this thing for years now. I have wondered if the brain damage that happened when she cracked her skull and had the stage 3 concussion 8 years ago damaged the pituitary in some way. That is when all of these symptoms started and they have just become more aggressive as the years have gone by.

Hopefully we will hear from the doctor on Monday. If not, I will give them a call on Tuesday.

I did spend the rest of the grocery budget. I made a quick run to Trader Joe's and spent $52 there and then to Safeway and spent $17 in groceries there and an additional $4 plus tax out of the household envelope for a box of 100 count multi-sized bandages. I can't find where I put my receipts so I can't do a break down. Oh, well. The point is I got everything I needed this week and the budget envelopes are working as intended.

Grocery Spending Tracking

July 6th, 2018 at 11:09 pm

I went to Winco today and spent $129.32. I think I made it really well in the meat department. I am really just shocked at how much cheaper Winco is than anywhere else in town. I wish I'd started shopping there sooner. As Haggen has continued to get more and more expensive I've pretty much cut down to only buying one or two items there. And Safeway is consistently loss leaders and milk, but only because I buy organic milk and Winco doesn't carry that.

Anyway, here's what I bought today:

Hot dog buns
Hamburger buns
Strawberry waffles
2 bags crispy chicken strips
1 box Winco French fries
1 box granola bars
2 bags Winco tortilla chips
1 Winco whipped cream
1 chuck roast
2 lbs chicken sausage (1 lb chubs)
2 value packs bone in skin on chicken thighs
2 value packs chuck steak
1 box of 20 hamburger patties
2 bags Funyuns
1 seasoned salt
2 cucumbers
1 watermelon
1 case beef Nongshim noodles

We had some of the fries at dinner tonight and they are just as good as Ore Ida fries. Sometimes with store brands they really aren't, but I wouldn't be surprised if these weren't the same fries in a different package. The difference for a five pound bag is 94 cents, so quite a substantial savings for the store brand. So many times these days store brands are almost as expensive, if not as expensive, as the brand names. Not at Winco. By the way the whipped cream is fantastic. Can't tell the difference between it and the fancy kind at all.

I am going to take the chicken I bought and debone and skin it. I do it all the time when I get chicken breast on mark down, so the thighs should be dead easy. Then I will cut it up for use in fajitas and shawarma. It is so much cheaper than buying boneless skinless chicken thighs.

I am cutting the larger chuck steaks down into smaller steaks as well. They are so big I can easily cut them all in thirds to get appropriate portion sizes. That will turn 4 steaks into 12, which is 3 meals for our family of 4.

I still need to buy bread and milk and hot dogs, but I have $70 left in the grocery envelope to do that with.

Payday Report for 7/6/18

July 6th, 2018 at 10:47 pm

$201.95 Tithe
_500.00 Utilities
_275.00 Chiropractor Monthly Family Plan
_200.00 Grocery Envelope
_200.00 Medical Fund
__50.00 Household Envelope
_500.00 Monster Mom Loan
__45.00 Allowances
------------
$1971.95 Total Money Out

Monster Mom Loan Payment

July 6th, 2018 at 06:29 pm

$31,900.00 Starting Balance
-__,500.00 Payment Made
-----------
$31,400.00 New Balance

Moving Further Away from Credit Card Usage

July 5th, 2018 at 05:19 pm

DH finally made it over to the credit union to order his debit card. Since we had never done one on that account we had to go in in person to get one. I sent for mine last Friday, but DH kept forgetting to go over and do it.

I finally managed to track it down and Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Ting all accept VISA debit cards as long as they are not one time use cards. So once my debit card arrives I will switch those accounts over to debit. I need to look on my credit card statement for due dates for each service. Well, I know when Netflix is due, but the others. We do have some other things that come out periodically, like Sirius, which runs our up to the minute GPS traffic warnings in the car as well as satellite radio, and Shockwave, and my son's Proactiv which comes every 3 months.

We have so much Proactiv I will probably cancel that, they send far more than you need. If we don't get to those before we cancel the credit card, it'll kick it back to us in an email and we can fix it then. I know Sirius will bill and you can send a check so I don't imagine debit will be impossible.

I also have my monthly eye supplement, which can use a debit card as well, but I might cancel it. I seem to be getting as much benefit from taking double doses of vitamins E and A. I'm going to try going without the supplement this week and if it makes no difference, I will drop it. I started using it before the vitamin regimen and it helped, but I'm not sure if it still is. Now that I have the new glasses, it is a good time to test it.

You know, in the beginning I was very overwhelmed with the idea of stopping all credit card use. I wasn't sure if it was something I wanted to do, let alone something I could even pull off. I really wanted to hold on to my Costco Citi card, because of the cash back. But when I really think about it, we aren't using the card like we were. Our Costco trips are now under a strict budget, so $400 to $500 monthly visits no longer happen. We don't use the gas station anymore because they don't take cash and I don't want to use a debit card where it is very likely there might be a skimmer. I'm not sure we'll earn enough cash back to pay for the membership anymore.

So that makes it all easier to give this card up once everything is switched. And the Master Card will go. The last one to part with is the Alasaka Airlines Visa. DH is having a hard time with that one. He does have a point that having one for travel, where they put holds on a chunk of credit at hotels and car rental places, will be easier with a credit card. But just because we hold with the credit card, doesn't mean we need to pay with the credit card. Though I do think we'd have to make one or two minor charges a year just to keep the card from being cancelled.

I don't know. One step at a time. AMEX is gone. Citi is next. Then we will kill the MC. We were keeping that one, so DD would have something for emergencies, and then I remembered that we can put some money on a pre-paid debate card that she could keep on hand for an emergency at such time as she might need to use it. With her current health issues, she doesn't go anywhere without us, so it's not as big a deal as it once was.

Then we'll see about the air miles card. Having one card we use periodically until we qualify for a mortgage may just be the road we take. It is our oldest card, so carries a lot of our debt history with it. There are some practical reasons for keeping it and we are completely responsible with credit cards, so I don't really think it will be an issue to keep it. But...I don't know. Is there such a thing as too much Dave Ramsey ideology? Why is it so hard to just let go?

Nice Fourth

July 4th, 2018 at 11:16 pm

We did our annual trek to the end of the driveway to watch the fireworks over the bay. Best seats in the house, no parking issues, great view and no crowds. Better yet, absolutely free. It was a pleasant, if humid, night, very peaceful.

I did deviate from the meal plan and made sirloin steaks and baked potatoes for dinner tonight. The store had a one day sale on the steaks and I had money left in the grocery envelope, so I went for it. We made them in the NuWave oven, perfectly cooked (to rare) after 20 minutes at 350. I love making baked potatoes in the pressure cooker. It is so fast and easy and I think they taste even better than in the oven. Both methods of cooking are pretty hands off, although I did have to flip the steaks halfway through cooking. But otherwise, no baby-sitting the food which is my favorite way to cook!

Looks like DH might end up getting more than 15 hours a week of OT coming up. There is a lot to get done and they keep losing drafters, one quit, one to a new job. He's getting tired, though, so I don't know if more than 15 is a good idea. But maybe, if he gets enough sleep he can. I told him if he works more, we need to make sure he is getting enough protein in him during the day. With more OT, we can add a little more to the grocery envelope if we need to so he can keep going as needed.

New Glasses Came

July 3rd, 2018 at 04:52 pm

I got a call last night that my new glasses arrived and so went in and picked them up today. I am already seeing so much better. I can read the tiny print on my nasal spray bottle. It is amazing. I might have to go back in and get the tightened up a bit more. They keep falling down my nose a little. And they came with magnetic snap on sunglasses which work really well.

I love the glasses. They are a sort of tortoise shell pattern with green, blue, yellow, brown and reddish brown. A little more fun and funky than my normal style, but I love them. They don't have nose pads, which is fine with me, because I don't like them. They always turn green inside and are hard to clean. I think I will be happy with these ones for a long time. I just need to not fall asleep in them like I kept doing with the old ones.

I also stopped in at the grocery store to use the restroom and they had marshmallows for sale on an end cap, 4 bags for $5. It was a great price and sure beat the more expensive brand that was 2 bags for $5, which was more prominently displayed. I think this gives us enough marshmallows for the rest of the summer.

More Identity Theft and Cancelling Credit Cards

July 2nd, 2018 at 11:33 pm

DH got a letter from the IRS today saying that someone had used his social security number to gain employment. They don't give out any specific information because apparently their system doesn't keep track of who used it, just that it was used somewhere that didn't jibe with their information on him, i.e. someone from a different state while he's earning in this one. They really ought to track that better.

This is not the first time this has happened. It happened back before we were married in the early 90's. When DH lost his job due to injury and had to file unemployment it was something that popped up on his list of jobs. It got taken off at that time. It was someone working a job in surprise, surprise, California who was an illegal immigrant. It's probably the same situation this time. Irritating.

So I've taken care of my side of things, setting a fraud alert on my accounts and pulling all three of my credit reports and going over them, since all my stuff is linked to his. My stuff is all correct. I don't think this is related to the fraudulent credit card use last month, but we just don't know. DH still has a fraud alert from then, but he needs to check his SSA account and pull his credit reports as well. All of it can be done easily online, thank goodness.

I cancelled our AMEX cards today. I had been planning on it anyway, but this letter spurred me on to get it done. They did not want to let me leave, but were very polite. I just kept saying no that I wanted to cancel and that I didn't want any other perks or cards. Honestly, after the supreme court ruling on what they can do with their business practices, I don't think I could ever use them again anyway.

I know we still have to cancel the Master Card. Baby steps. It is hard letting go of our credit. I know that it is the direction we really want to go in, but I didn't think it would be this hard to give up the ones we don't even use. It is psychological. It did feel good cutting up the AMEX cards, though. DH is the primary card holder on the MC so he will have to take care of that one himself.

Then the question will be do we want to do the Costco Citi card or the Alaskan Air Visa. Since we are only spending cash at stores now, we don't really need the Costco card. But I do want to get my cash rewards from it. And it doesn't look like DH will be going back to work in Alaska again (things look promising at work), so keeping the BoA is probably not necessary, except it is our oldest card and we will be wanting some credit history at least until we buy a new house and something for the auto pays to be on at places that don't accept debit or electronic checking. Plus for hotels and car rentals on future vacations. I know what Dave Ramsey says, but I'm not sure I want to make my life that difficult. They would be rare exceptions for credit card use and actual payment would be with the debit card, just using the credit card to hold things.

I am looking into Identity Theft insurance. We can get the whole family insured for $145 a year. This problem can get much worse and they will deal with it if it does. I know my daughter's info was breached because her high school sold all the information from the kids without permission to a company and then that company was breached, so it would be good to do all of us. I wish we didn't live in a world where this stuff happens, but we do.

Planning the July and August Budgets with Projected Payoff Amounts

July 1st, 2018 at 08:05 pm

So I've been playing with my July and August budget spreadsheets and I think we will be able to pay off $2500 in July if the 15 hours of OT a week continues, which DH's work says it will. Then projecting ahead to August, if he gets the full month at 15 hours of OT a week, we should be able to pay off an additional $3500. It is more than July because there are five paydays in August.

It'd be about $600 more, but I am setting $300 a month aside for buying beef and I will also need to put a deposit down on two pasture raised turkeys around late September. I want to buy a half a steer in about 4 months' time. I don't think I will buy a hog this year. I think I will just buy what I need monthly from the ranch this year for pork, which is 8 packages of bacon, 4 packages of pork chops (they contain 2 chops each), a pork roast and 2 packages of ground pork.

I should get a paycheck from Youtube/Google this month. It won't be all that much, but it goes into savings. I am going to invest in a larger tripod for making vids. Right now I only have one that goes three feet and some of the stuff I do for my channel would benefit from one that is at least five feet tall. I'm also thinking about getting a table top tripod for my phone since I do use it sometimes when I am making cooking videos. I should still have a small profit be year's end after expenses. If I ever earn enough, I'd like to get better photo editing software as well.

I can go two more years claiming that as hobby income, but after that I will have to start pre-paying taxes on it as I understand it. Right now we claim it as hobby income and they just take whatever taxes it may have out of our refund. After 3 years they consider it a viable business, even though it still is really just a hobby.

I will be doing more cooking videos though which should increase channel traffic and thus income. Some are Instant Pot and some are regular. If you'd like to see my recent ones:

Homemade Tzatziki Sauce: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyvHtZtzuNg

Homemade pita bread: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izcJlgkofPI

Instant Pot Chicken Shwarama: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCR5LeRu4pY

All three recipes were used together by spreading the Tzatziki on the pita bread and piling on the chicken shawarma. It turned out really well.

Meal Planning for the Week

July 1st, 2018 at 07:16 pm

I do find life and sticking to a budget, especially the grocery budget, goes so much better with a meal plan in place. I may or may not make these in order. I don't always stick to my days, but I do tend to stick to what's on my list, although sometimes I will swap the sides around. If I get lazy one day or my RA flares up and I am exhausted, my possible sub out meal will be Belgian waffles and ham and cucumber slices. It's an easy one that DS or DD can make if I can't.

Monday:
Fried Chicken
Corn on the cob
Broccoli
Cherries

Tuesday:
Beef rump roast
Baked sweet potatoes
Green beans
Cherries

Wednesday:
Enchiladas
Spanish Rice
Cole Slaw
Canned pineapple

Thursday:
Chicken Shawarma
Homemade pita bread
Homemade Tzatziki sauce
Cole Slaw
Canned pears

Friday:
Pork steaks
Fried potatoes
Green beans
Watermelon

Saturday:
Homemade pizza with sweet yellow onions, bell peppers, fresh basil, pepperoni, sausage, and ham
Cole slaw
Watermelon

Sunday:
Picnic Ham
Mashed potatoes and ham gravy
Green beans
Watermelon

Grocery Shopping Tracking

June 30th, 2018 at 08:02 pm

I did my weekly grocery shopping yesterday. The ads were not very good for most things, but Safeway had a great price on bone in, skin on chicken thighs so I stocked up on that, ending up with enough for four meals for four people. I also got a decent deal on round steak. I usually don't buy steak from the store, but we are out of steaks from our beef purchase except for beef heart steaks and I'm working up my courage to cook those. I've never made them before. There's not much left of our half a beef, mostly soup bones, a couple roasts, and some hamburger. I will likely order another half at the end of the summer.

A lot of my shopping was just stocking up. We started off at Costco where I got:

1 case of organic tomato sauce
1 case of organic diced tomatoes
3.15 pounds of carne asada
3 3pks of Kerrygold grassfed butter
1 package of Yangtze pork

I spent $77.01 there. Our next stop was a brief one, at Haggen where I spent $23.36. For that I got:

9 round steaks
1.29 pounds of Ranier cherries (@3.99/lb)

Then we went to Safeway where I spent $43.37 and got:

3 value packs of chicken thighs (a total of 30 thighs)
2 1/2 gallons of organic milk
1 Woman's World Magazine
2.2 pounds of red cherries (@ 1.88/lb)
1 bottle 1000 Island dressing

Altogether I spent $143.74 out of my $200 weekly budget. I might have to buy more milk before Friday, or some bread, and my daughter wants me to pick up some coffee creamer. But I should still have quite a bit left after that. I am debating going back and getting more chicken before the sale is up. I could spend $30 on it and still have money left for bread, milk, and creamer.

I did find a recipe for making bread in the Nuwave oven that I am going to try this week. If it turns out, then maybe I'll stop buying bread again and just go back to making it. My mother's oven is not reliable enough for making bread in the larger oven, and the smaller one is not big enough for the bread to have room to rise, but it still works fine for rolls and pizza.

Payday Report for 6/29/18

June 29th, 2018 at 06:55 pm

It is nice not to have to worry about money quite so hard with all the overtime. I am still being careful to assign every dollar a name, though. Even if that name is just cushion, as I am keeping one in the checking account. If the cushion gets too high, I will throw it at the Monster Mom Loan.

DH and I decided we could do $50 a month on allowances for our own blow money while he is earning so much OT. Starting next month that will be in one lump instead of separated, on the last payday of the month. I also upped the Household envelope to $50 a week instead of $25. I want to replace the bathroom faucet and get a different water filter for the kitchen. I hate our current water filter, it makes the kitchen faucet lower and I can't get some of my taller pots under it now. It'll have to wait until we go through all the cartridges, though.

I do want to get the bathroom faucet replaced ASAP. It is constantly putting out this black crud no matter how much we clean it and it also recently started growing something green under the central cap. Yuck. I've never had a bathroom faucet do this in my life. I was living with the black crud, but the green stuff is freaking me out. My mother picked the cheapest faucet for this bathroom. I'm going to spring for one that is a little more costly and made of chrome. Also it will be the American Standard brand, which I've never had these issues with. We might need to be replacing the showerhead in a couple of months as well.

$200.45 Tithe
_200.00 Grocery Envelope
_200.00 Medical Fund
__50.00 Kids' Allowances
__50.00 DH and My Allowances
__56.83 DH Life Insurance
__45.30 My Life Insurance
_100.00 Laptop Fund
__50.00 Household Envelope
1000.00 Monster Mom Loan
------------
1952.58 Total Money Out

Monster Mom Loan Payoff

June 29th, 2018 at 06:34 pm

I was able to lob $1000 at the Monster Mom Loan this week. DH is working so much overtime that it is really helping us make progress. Not every week will be this much. This just happened to be the week of the normal $500 monthly payment, plus $500 of OT.

$32,900.00 Starting Balance
-_1,000.00 Amount Paid
-----------
$31,900.00 New Balance

Payday Report for 6/22/18

June 22nd, 2018 at 04:11 pm

We still haven't managed to get 100% away from the credit card, so there was a small payment today to bring the balance back to zero. We are getting better at it though. I meant to go into the credit union today to order debit cards for our checking account, but the parking lot was packed and I ended up just going through drive thru, which only had one car in the lane I chose.

I still have trouble standing for long periods of time. Walking is okay, but standing and waiting is very hard on my left knee and hip and my right ankle, so waiting in a long line inside is not appealing. Monday shouldn't be bad since it is not a payday for most of the town like today.

After I did the banking, I went and bought new glasses. I had put $500 into the medical fund and the glasses came to $460.80. I also paid the radiologist from DD's first ER visit. I know MIL said she would pay the medical bills for DD, but I think we can handle this one. That was out of the Medical Fund, not today's paycheck, though. There is now $203.66 left in the Medical Fund.

$200.50 Tithe
_600.00 Monster Mom Loan
_200.00 Grocery Envelope
_500.00 Medical Fund
__50.00 Household Envelope
__25.00 My Allowance
__25.00 DH's Allowance
__50.00 Animal Feed Envelope
__35.00 DS's Allowance
___5.00 DD's Allowance
_217.38 Citi
_141.37 Radiologist
-------------
1857.88

Monster Mom Loan--Watch it Fall

June 22nd, 2018 at 03:50 pm

$33,500.00 Starting Balance
-__,600.00 Amount Paid
------------
$32,900.00 New Balance

I'm Going to Get Glasses and Tzatziki

June 21st, 2018 at 06:46 pm

The weather broke today and I am very happy. It was a cool 66 degrees F, which is so much better than 88 and 90. It was lightly overcast as well, so I didn't have to wear sunglasses while driving. I really don't like to because I have to wear the kind that go over my glasses, but there are certain times when I absolutely must. I've tried having prescription sunglasses in the past, but it doesn't block the peripheral vision from strong sun and I need that since the retinal tear as I am much more sensitive to sunlight now.

Speaking of glasses I have decided to take some of the overtime money and get new ones. These ones are just giving me such bad headaches. My eye doctor thinks they last people screwed up the prescription. He says there is too much difference between the one previous to it and the new one in the opposite direction it is in now, for the last one to have been done properly. He thinks they must have wrote it down incorrectly.

We had to use that place the last time because it was the only one the insurance we had at the time would pay for. I should have just gone where I wanted and just had the glasses made there. Although I won't have them made there again. Since we don't have vision insurance currently, I will just go where I want to, which is a local shop that is not part of a chain and isn't in a mall or strip mall.

I am figuring that it will cost close to $500 for my prescription, which means about half the amount I had earmarked for debt this week, but hopefully I'll find a more inexpensive set of frames I like and I can come in closer to $400. I thought I'd saved the frames from the previous pair that I really liked, but I can't find them and think they may have accidentally gotten recycled when we did a bunch of old glasses. I did find the pair before that, but those ones are way too small to support my current prescription.

My mother has offered to teach DS to drive. She has the time and doesn't want us to have to pay for a class. So that will work out nicely. At least it will if she doesn't freak him out too much. She was a good teacher back when she taught me, but these days she isn't as fast with the reflexes. Still, if they go out when it isn't a busy time of day it should be fine.

There isn't much going on around here. I made tzatziki today because tomorrow I am going to be trying an Instant Pot recipe for Chicken Shawarma. I will also be making my own pita bread tomorrow. It looks fairly straightforward. I figure if I can master English muffins, hot dog buns, and French bread, pita bread should be a snap.

If you want to see how I made it, it is on my youtube channel here: https://youtu.be/XyvHtZtzuNg

Finally, A Lead

June 20th, 2018 at 11:35 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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


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