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Grocery Spending Tracking

August 14th, 2018 at 02:19 pm

So I did my two week shop on Saturday and while I did forget a couple of items like string cheese and butter, I am going to try to make do. I do have cheddar stick cheese, which I don't like as much as mozzarella string cheese, but I still like it so I'll cope. We have 1.5 lbs of Kerrygold butter in the fridge for 10 days. I usually go through 1 lb of butter in a week, so it'll cut close, but I think I can make it. If worst comes to worst I can break out the unsalted butter for baking or open a jar of ghee.

I have enough milk to get through the period. The sell by date was out 6 weeks, so I just went ahead and got what I thought I'd use instead of waiting a week to buy more. I also bought extra bread and put it in the fridge. If I don't have to go to the store at all until the next payday on the 24th, I will be quite pleased.

I use a calculator as I shop, so I know exactly how much I will be spending. When you are using cash envelopes and trying to stick to a budget you don't want to end up over your amount because you have no clue how much the stuff you are putting in your cart costs.

Here is what I got at Winco:

2 bags of crispy chicken strips
2 bags of French fries
1 large plain yogurt
1 bag of shredded mozzarella cheese
2 packs of bacon
4 ears of corn
1 3 lb bag of yellow onions
4 nectarines
2 packs of granola bars
1 pack of hamburger buns
2 packs of hot dog buns
3 value packs of chicken thighs
3 value packs of chicken wings
Dill
4 bags of original goldfish crackers
Spinach
2 20 count bags of hamburger patties

I spent $189.74 there. Then we went to Trader Joe's and got:

Bell peppers
2 bags of roasted potatoes
2 boxes of fish nuggets
1 iceberg lettuce
4 packages hot dogs
2 bags of pita bread
2 red onions
1 bag of shredded cabbage
2 mac and cheese frozen dinners
3 bags fettucine alfredo
3 bags chicken fettucine alfredo

I spent $89.08 there. Next was Safeway where I bought:

4 boxes of organic spaghetti
2 boxes of organic penne pasta
1 18 count of organic eggs
1 turkey chub
1 package of sirloin steaks
Cherries

I spent $40.01 there. The last stop was at Haggen who did not have any of the London Broil that was on special available. We picked up:

2.5 lbs of deluxe deli ham
2 large strawberry yogurts (Winco was out)
4 bags of ice
1 birthday cake
4 half gallons Milk

I can't find the receipt for that one, but I have $21.17 left out of the $400 budget for the 2 week shop. So if I really have to I can go buy butter, but I am going to try to wait it out. We may have to pick up Gatorade at some point, also.

I did do up a two week meal plan and we are sticking to it. I should probably post that separately.

Eye Health--Vitamins and Diet

August 12th, 2018 at 05:12 pm

I cancelled my subscription to the eye supplement I have been taking since the retinal tear. It was for floaters and it did seem to work for the first few months, but after my other eye developed a boat load of floaters last month, I have concluded that it no longer has any value.

Instead I am trying a vitamin regimen of selenium, lutein, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, and gingko biloba. I've been doing that for a week and the floaters seem lighter. I have also started doing some eye circulation exercises that are supposed to help with eye tiredness. I am also trying to eat more foods with beta carotene.

So that means I will try to focus a little more on orange sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach and other dark leafies, butternut squash and other orange-fleshed squashes, cantaloupe, lettuce, red and orange bell peppers, apricots, peaches, nectarines, broccoli, and pea pods. I will be canning a case of nectarines this year and I already have a lot of apricot preserves.

Hopefully I will see some improvement. Squash is cheap and I like it and sweet potatoes are cheap here, too, even the organic ones, and of course, so are carrots, so I will likely lean towards them the most. It will add some nice variety to the diet as well. I tend to lean too heavily on regular potatoes, pasta, and rice for the carbs in our diet. These will be better for us. I think my goal will be too have something orange on my plate at least once a day.

Payday Report for 8/10/18 -- First 2 Week Paycheck

August 10th, 2018 at 03:33 pm

$407.46 Tithe
_500.00 Utilities
_400.00 Groceries
_400.00 Medical
__75.00 Household
_275.00 Monthly Chiropractic Family Plan
__91.91 Internet
__50.00 Car Maintenance Fund
_100.00 Gas Money
_110.00 Allowances
_743.12 Credit Card
1000.00 Monster Mom Loan
-------------
$4172.48 Total Money Out

Monster Mom Loan Payment

August 10th, 2018 at 03:26 pm

I was able to throw $1000 at the loan this pay period.

$29,500.00 Starting Balance
-_1,000.00 Payment Amount
-------------
$28,500.00 New Total

Bad Ads and Shortages

August 8th, 2018 at 06:18 pm

The grocery ads came in the mail today and they were pretty bad again. Mostly processed foods. Though the one store has sirloin steaks for $4.99/lb and the other has London broil for $3.99/lb. I guess that means I will be buying the bulk of my groceries at Winco this Friday, but I will get some of the beef. I will shop at Winco first in case their regular prices on those two meats are better.

I think I am going to make a two week meal plan this week. Since I am getting out $400 for the next two weeks, I want to see if I can just do the shopping for two weeks, leaving a little for bread, milk, spinach, and lettuce for the second week. If it doesn't work out than the next payday I will get out $400, but set aside $200 for the second week. But I think I can do it if I plan carefully and maybe even have some money leftover. It would be great if I could get the budget down to $175 a week or $350 bi-weekly.

I am planning 3 pasta meals based off what I already have on hand, spaghetti, chicken alfredo, and gigli (cone-shaped pasta with a ruffled edge). We also do fried chicken twice, based on what I have on hand. And I am thinking of cutting up the roast I have and doing kabobs with it. There is also an eye of round in the freezer I could make into something. I'd like to make chicken shawarma at least once, if not twice, it is so easy in the Instant Pot. I also have a bag of frozen shrimp that I can get two meals out of, maybe shrimp scampi or shrimp kabobs. I might make zucchini lasagna as well, since I have a lot of zucchini from the garden right now. Maybe a chicken and green-bean stir-fry as well, since I also have green beans from the garden.

I have been buying staple buckets from Thrive Life each month. This month was a 5 gallon bucket of cane sugar. Last month was whole wheat flour, the month before white flour, and the month before oatmeal. Next month is rice. They come with gamma lids so seal well. I'd like to stock up on a couple more buckets of white flour and 1 more of sugar after that.

I don't know if anyone has been noticing here, but on other groups I am on, the supply of flour, sugar, and even rice in the grocery stores has been dropping drastically. I don't want to have to worry about running out. I've gone sometimes and the whole flour section (except the specialty flours) is wiped out or there is only one 10 pound bag of sugar and all the 5 pound bags are gone and there are only 1 pound bags of boxes. I don't like what that implies. It isn't just one store, either. And it is the big chains as well as the little guy. I've noticed it at Safeway, Haggen, Fred Meyer, Costco, and Wal-Mart. The only place that seems to have a more steady supply is Winco and even they don't have as much as it seems they should.

I guess if you don't cook a lot from scratch you don't notice these things. But as I tend to bake a lot it is really obvious to me when the staples are so low. Having some back up buckets on hand makes me feel more secure in my food storage and pantry. I may worry about it more than in the past because of that 10 month block of unemployment. Our pantry and food storage got us through that time period very well. I think I will always be worried now if our supplies run low, so I'm trying to not let that happen.

Quiet on the Home Front

August 6th, 2018 at 05:39 pm

I didn't mention it before, as it has been a crazy week, but we rehomed our little flock of ducks. I had been thinking about it for a while and with all that has been going on, it has been hard to maintain the farm. It is quiet without them. I miss hearing their little noises and the occasional loud quack. So now there are no more birds on the farm. We are down to just rabbits and the garden.

I have quite a few ripening tomatoes I need to look at and I have got to pick green beans and check for zucchini and cucumbers. I have only gotten one cucumber so far, but I haven't checked for zucchini in a few days, so there are probably a dozen out there, hopefully not too large. I already have one that is larger than my forearm to deal with. I also need to water tonight.

I think there will be enough green beans that I can can them tomorrow. I will try to get it done early in the morning before it gets too hot.

I am thinking about buying a flatbread maker. It's a device that you put the dough on, close it and it flattens it, and then it cooks it. You have to turn it over partway through. But you can make all the flat breads on it and it sets it at the correct temperature, taking the guess work out of it. I can make pita bread on it, but also tortillas, chappati, and roti. It would make it a lot easier since I wouldn't have to roll out the dough.

So many of the flat breads contain soybean oil. I can find tortillas without it, but it is harder on the other flat breads, especially pita. They run the gamut from $32 to $99. Right now I am reading reviews.

I would probably only use it to make tortillas for fajitas and carnitas. I think I'd still buy the large packages for making my huge run of breakfast burritos. It's one thing to make 8 for dinner and another to make 48 in a row for burritos. But I would definitely make pita bread at least once a week. Does anyone have a flat bread maker? I'd be interested in your thoughts.

Planning for the New Paycheck and Future Goals

August 5th, 2018 at 07:10 pm

As per usual, I have come down with something a few days after our visit to the ER, a nasty stomach bug. I am on the way back up, though, so fortunately it isn't going to be some long, drawn out thing. My food is staying down today and my head feels better, and I finally woke up feeling well-rested. My tummy is still a little tender, but I think by tomorrow I will be okay. I am supposed to be beta testing a finance thing for someone, but haven't been quite up to it yet. Maybe tomorrow.

We have five days to go until payday. This will be DH's first paycheck as a permanent employee and will have two weeks on it. I have set up my budget for August with two bi-weekly pay periods instead of weekly pay periods. The first week will have 15 hours of OT on it and the second week will have 6. DH was so tired after spending Thursday night in the ER with DD, so I told him if he was too tired to stick it out, not to. OT is nice, but not at the expense of his health.

From now on he is only authorized to get 10 hours of OT a week. He won't be able to set up the 401K until after he gets his first automatic deposit, so the paycheck on the 24th will start the 401K contributions. We have decided to start them even though we haven't paid off the debt yet. We both feel like we are already too far behind on retirement to wait, even though Dave Ramsey says to wait until the debt is gone. It is messing too much with my security issues not to start it up and DH also wants to do it.

I am having DH run the numbers for me on how much to contribute. We are debating 5% and 7%. 5% is how much the company matches. 7% is the break even point on taxes. I just need to see what the end numbers will be. Then we can make a decision and I can do the final tweaks to the budget. The August budget is going to be weird and not be able to follow the budget template, but from September on it'll be set for the rest of the year.

DH will be getting what amounts to a 12% raise, but it is because our insurance premiums will be so much lower in September. He is not getting an actual raise, although his boss did try and says he will try again in 6 months. It will feel like a raise. Also in 18 months another guy is going to retire and his boss says he wants DH to take over his position which would be a promotion and likely a raise with the increased responsibility.

We will not increase our level of spending, though. All extra money will be put in the 401K and to pay off this last debt. Once the debt is gone, then the debt money will go to an EF of 3 months of expenses. Once we hit 3 months expenses, we will split that portion in half. One half will continue to build the EF until we hit six months of expenses. The other half will go towards a down payment fund for a house.

Once the EF hits six months of expenses, we will adjust our retirement savings to 10% and the remainder will go into the down payment fund. We may be saving for some time as I don't want to have a mortgage of more than $200,000.00. I really would prefer $100,000.00 mortgage, but that is not practical where we live.

If MIL gives us the $13K a year, we will fund a spousal Roth IRA with some of it and the rest will go into either the EF if we are still building it and then the house down payment fund.

I probably should start a sinking fund for a vehicle replacement. Right now our vehicles are in excellent condition. The 2011 Sienna has only just hit 40,000 miles. The 2007 Tacoma has a lot more miles, but is in great repair, so I think we have many years to go. But when something does go, we will want to get something nice, a used car in the $20,000 range or less. I reckon the Sienna will last another 15 years, but the truck might not. With Toyotas, though, as long as you keep them up, they last a very, very long time. Both will need new paint jobs, the truck first, and then eventually the van.

I'd like to take a vacation at some point, too. We haven't been on one in several years. So that should likely be one of our sinking funds as well. Hopefully, we will be able to achieve all of these goals in the next six years or so. I would like to get out of here sooner, but I just don't think that is to be.

ER Update

August 3rd, 2018 at 06:47 pm

So on Wednesday DD went to see the doctor and he told us to take her to the ER, that she needed a couple of bags of IV fluid. Meanwhile he started a referral to a gastroenterologist. So I spent 7 hours in the ER with her on Thursday, but they would only give her one bag of IV fluids and they gave her an anti-nausea drug that wasn't working and hadn't been working for the last couple weeks. They also sent a referral to the gastroenterologist, figuring two was better than one, and sometimes they go faster from the hospital.

I told them that the doctor had said she needed two bags of fluid, but after one she looked better so they sent her home and told her to drink Gatorade. She's been throwing up everything, including water, for two weeks. What made them think the Gatorade would stay down? It didn't. But they didn't want to give her a second bag of fluids, they wanted the bed and it was very clear they wanted the bed, they were talking about needing to clear beds, so they sent her home.

So after another 24 hours of vomiting, and her urine turning brown and being almost non-existent, she was thoroughly dehydrated again, so DH took her back. This time they gave her two bags of fluid and Reglan, a different more powerful anti-nausea drug. This one works.

The night time staff seems much better than the day time staff at the ER. I've felt that every time we've gone there. The night time staff always seems to be able to find her veins while the day time staff seems to make a game out of how many holes they can put in her without finding one. Okay, that's probably not fair, but seriously, if drawing blood is part of your job, you should learn how to do it well, not just stick someone and then poke around hoping you can slide into the vein from the side. Or miss it altogether and still start pumping the IV fluid in under the skin. That was a fun one a few weeks ago, but that was pre-surgery, not the ER. Same hospital, though.

They sent her home with a prescription for Reglan, too. She was able to eat at 4 a.m. and so far everything has stayed down. She has slept for most of the day and has been able to walk around without her cane, though she is still hugging the walls.

I am hoping this new drug will settle her stomach long enough for us to get in to see a gastroenterologist. But we still haven't heard from one and probably won't until some time mid-week next week. I wish they would be faster in getting back to us, but referrals seem to always be incredibly slow. And then it generally still takes weeks to see anyone once you can get an appointment.

I just hope we don't have to go back to the ER in the meanwhile. I know they can only do so much. It's just that when they don't do what they can do, that I get horribly frustrated. Most of the nurses have been really good, other than not being able to find veins. The doctors have been more of a crap shoot, but she got a good one last night. Not so much on Wednesday.

And at least this time when she used the restroom before leaving she didn't see a nurse come out of a stall, fluff her hair, and then leave without washing her hands. I mean, gross. Who would touch their hair without washing after using the toilet, for one thing? And for two, medical profession, wash your freaking hands after using the toilet. Ick. And for three, to do that in front of a witness? Not sure what she was thinking. When they send the survey that they always send after an ER visit, we are going to mention that incident, because seriously, ew.

I think I picked up something in the ER waiting room on Wednesday, too. I am running a fever and feeling mildly nauseated and exhausted and sleeping a ton. No other symptoms yet. I was fine before that. Hopefully it will pass quickly. I always get sick after spending time in the ER and their were people puking, so yay.

Thanks for all the prayers, people. They are appreciated.

We Live at the ER Now

August 2nd, 2018 at 11:06 pm

I spent 7 hours at the ER with my daughter yesterday. DH has taken her back tonight. Over two weeks without being able to hold down her food. This is her third visit in less than 2 weeks. I don't understand their inability to make this stop. It's like they don't even want to try to get to the bottom of it. She says she feels like her body is shutting down and dying. It shouldn't be this hard.

Crab Boil--Work Event

July 29th, 2018 at 12:42 pm

Yesterday was a nice day. We went to a crab boil at DH's boss's house. DH went out on the boat with them in the morning to help catch crab. They had two boats out with 5 people per boat so they were able to catch 50 crab. The shellfish and seaweed harvesting license was $27 and it paid for itself, since all four of us went to the party. Plus, DH will likely go out again with either his boss or his cousin's husband. If he gets invited to go regular fishing again he'll get the salt water fishing license for that, too. His boss had invited him for Friday evening, but he didn't want to give up his overtime, so only did the crabbing on Saturday morning.

Now that overtime will be dropping from 15 hours a week to 10, he can work in such a way that his Fridays will end earlier and he can go fishing. His boss caught a really big King salmon. One King salmon would pay for the fishing license. Those puppies are big. It would be great to put some salmon in the freezer and to can some more.

We had a great time at the crab boil. All four of us went. There was crab, spot prawns, corn on the cob, baby potatoes, and sausage. Everyone brought deserts and there were a lot of them, but I didn't have any. I filled up on real food and the corn was as sweet as any dessert could have been. I don't like to eat desserts where I don't know what the ingredients are, because if it has something in it I am allergic to I will spend the whole party feeling sick. I took Benadryl preemptively in case something in the seasoning affected me, but nothing seemed to.

I was a little nervous at first, but I zeroed in on a lady who was looking kind of abandoned and started talking to her and it turns out we went to the same high school two years apart and were both in choir. Then we started talking about Disneyland and a few other things and spent like an hour chatting. Turns out she is the wife of DH's boss's boss. Apparently, I shmoozed the right person, although that was not my intention. I really liked her, she was nice.

Usually I am much more anxious around people I don't know, but yesterday was a good day for this introvert. Plus, all the free food makes me happy. And now I won't be so nervous when the full company picnic (this was just DH's department) happens in 2 weeks. We went home with a bag full of crab and prawns, too, so that will be for dinner tonight. I don't have to cook on a day that is rapidly approaching 90 degrees.

New Health Insurance Information

July 27th, 2018 at 02:41 pm

So DH's company is self-insured. I hope we don't bankrupt them. Anyway, here are the numbers.

Deductible is $1000 per person and $2000 per family. Co-pays do not count towards the deductible. $500 of well care is covered before meeting the deductible (like physicals). The out of pocket max is $2000 per individual and $2400 per family. If we go outside of network the deductible is $4000 per person and $4800 per family. Prescription co-payments are not included in the out of pocket max, unfortunately.

Our co-pay is 20% whether it be for a regular doctor or a specialist if the provider is in network. It is 40% if out of network. I have no idea yet about my doctors, but 40% is still less than a $55 co-pay for a specialist. I think. Diagnostic testing is 20% co-pay.

The prescriptions are high, though. $30 for generics and for brand name without a generic equivalent, and $50 for a brand name that does have a generic equivalent. So with me having 8 prescriptions and my daughter having 9 (currently, this may go up), and my husband having 1, all generics, that will come to $540 a month in prescription costs. Ouch. I wish it went towards the out of pocket max and you can see why.

I am used to prescriptions being $10/$20/$50, and some of them have been free, so this will be quite a jump. Still not anywhere near having to pay full price, though. I think we can get some of them for the monthly price if we get a 3 month supply through their mail order company, though. DH mentioned it, but I haven't seen any paperwork on it. A couple of our drugs won't qualify for that because the insurance and the government don't allow you to have more than a 30 day supply. For me that is only one drug, it might be two for DD.

The do have an FSA so I may do that with $540 a month going into that because we know for sure we will use that much, and it is pretax dollars. That is always better than post tax dollars. We'll have to see how much of a rigamarole it is to get reimbursed. If it is one of those nice ones that allow you to use an FSA debit card from the money you put into the account I will be very happy.

We will be coming out very far ahead, though, because the premiums are so much lower, so despite the high prescription costs, I have very little to complain about here. So long as I don't have to change all of my doctors, but I'm pretty sure that the primary care and the rheumatologist are in network as they have been for every one of the various insurances we have had for the last several years. It is probably my sleep doctor they will have issues with if they have issues with anyone. For some reason a couple of the insurances don't want to go with them. I only see him once a year now, though so it shouldn't be that big a deal if I have to have a 40% co-pay for an out of network doctor.

As soon as we get the paperwork in September about the mail order prescription company I will have to go and get written 90 day prescriptions from 3 different doctors, which will be a bit of a hassle, but I can call ahead and have them notify me when they are ready. None of my doctors are anywhere near my other doctors so I'll be running all over town, but so be it. I'll do it to save the money.

Payday Report for 7/27/18

July 27th, 2018 at 02:11 pm

So the paycheck this week was only $666.11. Yeah, that's always a lovely number to see. The reason for this is that his former employer said he could just take the insurance for August out of his last paycheck for July so no one has to deal with COBRA paperwork, so that is what we chose to do. The new insurance starts on September 1st. It seemed the easiest of all options.

I also got my Thrive Life paycheck and my youtube/google paycheck, which are small, but that number is reflected in the tithe. I transferred $1500 out of savings, $500 of which I am saving for next week, to make up the difference. That $500 will be for groceries, medical, and household for that one week and then we'll get the two week paycheck and be on a bi-weekly budget.

$800.00 Monster Mom Loan
__82.32 Tithe
__56.83 DH Life Insurance
__45.30 My Life Insurance
_200.00 Grocery Envelope
_200.00 Medical Fund
__50.00 Household Envelope
__45.00 Allowances
_100.00 DH and My Monthly Blow Money
_100.00 DD's Birthday
-------------
1679.45 Total Money Out

Monster Mom Loan Payment

July 27th, 2018 at 01:59 pm

I like to imagine taking a flaming sword and hacking away at this evil Monster loan. Today I took out an $800 slice. And that first digit has dropped at last from a 3 to a 2! That makes me very happy. We were able to pay off $2400 this month. Normal budget would allow for $500 payments, so the 60 hours of OT allowed us an additional $1900.

$30,300.00 Starting Balance
-__,800.00 Payment Made
------------
$29,500.00 New Balance

Grocery Ad Lull, Endocrinologist, and Wal*Mart Trip

July 24th, 2018 at 06:40 pm

Well, this is the second week in a row where I have gone through the grocery ads in preparation for my Friday shopping and only found one thing that was worth buying. Last week was a milk sale and this week is a beef roast sale. Since I am not sure when we will get down to the farm to buy more beef, I will probably stop into Safeway for the meat deal and for the organic milk, lettuce (mine has bolted), and radishes, but the rest of my shopping will be at Winco. The other stores are just so high priced when there is not a good sale going on.

Things went well at the endocrine doctor. He has ordered more specific blood tests, checking individual hormone levels. The took 5 of the large vials of blood. DD was a little woozy afterwards, as she hadn't eaten in case they needed fasting bloodwork, so I got her some onion rings from the last of my blow money. I get more on Friday, though, so that is okay.

We stopped at Wal*Mart as well and I got two packages of white wash cloths. They had product shrinkage though. Used to be those were 12 packs. Now they are 9 packs. It has gotten so hot here that we all need to wipe down during the day at least twice. It's too expensive to keep hopping in the shower every couple of hours! So having a big stack of wash cloths will be very helpful for quick, icy cold sweat relief. I had 12 white ones that were just for me, but I use those on my face morning and evening and the others kept stealing them even though they have their own color codes ones. Now maybe I can keep up.

I also bought a couple of cheap notebooks for budgeting and meal planning since the back to school sales have started. I'll probably get a few more in the coming weeks, but two was sufficient for now. It took me forever to find college ruled, but I did. I also got an accordian file for my daughter to keep her medical records in and a dry eraser for the white board. I also got DD some gum. I spent $20.83 out of the household envelope.

I really should have picked up tissues while we were there, but I totally forgot we needed them by the time we got there. So they will be on Friday's shopping list. I'll probably just stop into Kmart, though, because it is closer. Wal*Mart is a ways out, but it is near the endocrine doctor. I don't like making special trips just to go there.

I don't want to make dinner. It is so hot. But I really don't want sandwiches two nights in a row, either. Maybe I will make fajitas in the Instant Pot. Then at least I won't be heating up the house further. Man, I wish we had A/C.

I had to go change the ducks' water around four today as it had gotten so hot they couldn't drink it. I moved it further into the shade and they were so happy to get cold water. They all splashed around in it and then I filled them again and they drank it. Then they all waddled off in their little line to hide out under the raspberries where it is cooler.

I feel bad for the rabbits with their fur coats, but they all have an individual fan attached to the front of their cages and they are hanging out directly in front of them and seem to be doing fine. I'll have to watch them closely if we crack the next temperature decade. Or whatever you call groupings of ten when it is temperature.

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


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