I figured it out earlier this week and it has been 8 years since we have taken a vacation. The last few years would have been impossible with debt and the farm animals, but now all we have are the rabbits, so the possibility exists that DH and I could sneak away for a few days at some point while DS takes care of the rabbits. I just want to go check into some air-conditioned hotel with an indoor swimming pool and get out of the heat and the horrific air quality from all the fires.
But I really can't justify it at the moment, because of debt. I am really hoping this will be paid off by next summer and then maybe we can go. Also, with DD's health still being so poor, I'd be afraid to leave her. It's just been so exhausting dealing with it and never getting the chance to recharge.
I don't know, maybe DH and I can just do a day trip with a picnic lunch. We could drive up to Birch Bay and go swimming. I just want one day with no responsibilities and no kids. But with the air being so bad, spending a day outside probably isn't the best option anyway. My asthma is already being aggravated.
How do you refresh and relax when you can't get away? I can't really afford a massage or a day spa or anything like that right now. Maybe a movie, but there's nothing worth paying that kind of money for right now. *sighs*
Well, back to canning. I'm doing my first tomatoes today. No vacations for me.
Viewing the 'Vacation Planning' Category
I figured it out earlier this week and it has been 8 years since we have taken a vacation. The last few years would have been impossible with debt and the farm animals, but now all we have are the rabbits, so the possibility exists that DH and I could sneak away for a few days at some point while DS takes care of the rabbits. I just want to go check into some air-conditioned hotel with an indoor swimming pool and get out of the heat and the horrific air quality from all the fires.
$500.00 Property Tax Fund
__38.00 HoA Dues Fund
_300.00 Vacation Fund
_300.00 Appliance Fund (New Fund, not counting freezer)
2267.00 January 2015 Money Fund
1130.00 College Fund
_300.00 Aquaponics Fund
__72.00 Water/Sewer Holding Fund
_100.00 Laptop Holding Fund
_300.00 Christmas Fund
4007.00 Total in Temporary Funds
_100.00 Emergency Fund
__19.00 HoA Dues Fund
__72.00 Water/Sewer Holding Tank
_225.00 Monthly Chiropractic Plan
_100.00 Property Tax Fund
_113.22 Propane Fund
_100.00 Laptop Holding Tank
_100.00 College Fund
_100.00 Vacation Fund
_100.00 Christmas Fund
_100.00 Appliance Fund
_100.00 Moving Fund
_100.00 Aquaponics Fund
_100.00 January Money Fund
__45.30 Life Insurance DH
__41.88 Life Insurance Me
__69.89 Car Insurance
__47.17 House Insurance
__41.16 Security System (Old House)
$2356.89 Total Money Out
I will be having a car payment coming out of this paycheck, but it isn't due until the 19th so the money is being set aside. I will list it when I pay it.
$1030.00 College Fund
___19.00 Dues Fund
__300.00 Propane Fund
__200.00 Vacation Fund
__200.00 Appliance Fund
__167.00 January 2015 Money Fund
__600.00 Moving Fund
__200.00 Aquaponics Fund
+_200.00 Christmas Fund
$3316.00 Total Funds Money
So DH and I drove down to the Willamette Valley on Friday as part of an early anniversary getaway and to pick up our new purebred pedigreed breeding stock of New Zealand Red rabbits. We drove back on Saturday. It was nice to get away, the weather was beautiful on Friday, but we hit a snowstorm on the last leg of the trek home on Saturday. We had a great time, though, and even though he won't be home for our actual anniversary (our 19th) on the 18th, we still feel like we got to celebrate. We had a nice steak dinner out.
Meet our new buck Wildfire:
And our new does Sienna and Cinnabun:
They are very sweet, gentle-tempered rabbits. No biters or scratchers in this lot.
Costs for the trip (I'm rounding):
$90.00 for the rabbits
$80.00 for the hotel fee
$82.00 for 2 tanks of gas
150.00 for six meals out
402.00 total spent this weekend
DH and I made an agreement when we did this last big Disney trip and paid for his sister and nieces to go, that we wouldn't take another big vacation until 2018 when both kids will have graduated from high school and we are free to go, just the two of us. The plan for 2018 is to go to Hawaii. Meanwhile, we work on all of our other goals.
Well, DH has a friend from work who lives in Hawaii who has invited us to come in May. He has a house on the beach and says all we'd need to bring was about $1000 for incidentals and he would take care of everything else. Wow, nice friend. And we'd be able to fly there free with DH's miles.
But I still can't see doing it right now. We'd have to leave the kids with my mother, who isn't in the best of health right now and we've got all the rabbits and chickens to take care of. Not to mention that May is the time here to start gardening in earnest. Plus DS is being homeschooled.
Yes, it is a tremendous opportunity, but it doesn't fit into any of our plans. DH kind of figured as much, but he still couldn't resist telling me about it. It was nice to dream of getting away for a minute or two, but I've got bigger dreams right now and that is what I want to be focused on, with no more distractions.
Hawaii can wait. It isn't going anywhere. And maybe his friend will still be there then.
I am putting a copy of my Funds totals here in case something goes wrong transferring stuff between laptops. This is the first time in my life I've ever had so much money saved up. Almost $14K and it will be over that by month's end.
After our next mortgage payment on Friday we will have more money in the Emergency Fund than we owe on the mortgage. That feels incredible.
$2024.84 January Money Fund
$7687.86 Emergency Fund
___76.00 Dues Fund
__100.00 Property Tax Fund
__100.00 Propane Fund
__300.00 Vacation Fund (Hawaii 2018)
__600.00 Appliance Fund
__300.00 Moving Fund
__900.00 College Fund
_1200.00 Laptop Fund (using to pay off same as cash)
__700.00 Christmas Fund
13988.70 Total in Savings
I've been paying things in dribs and drabs this week, but thought I should do a full accounting.
__90.00 Physical Therapy
_100.00 Emergency Fund
_100.00 Moving Fund
_100.00 Laptop Fund
_100.00 Christmas Fund
_144.00 Water/sewer Old House
_200.00 Cash (groceries, OTC meds)
2680.52 Total Out
I added $100 to the Emergency Fund so it is now at $6044.92, so I have met my goal of $6000 in the EF by the end of August.
New Fund Totals:
$565.61 January Money Fund
$505.21 Appliance Fund
1800.00 Laptop Fund
$600.00 College Fund
$500.00 Hawaii 2018 Fund
$400.00 Property Tax Fund
$500.00 Christmas Fund
$100.00 Moving Fund
$000.00 Propane Fund
I had the money set aside for half the water/sewer bill and the propane bill, but I paid them directly out of this paycheck. Then I transferred what I had set aside to the January Money Fund. That was $121.91.
And I think that covers it.
Assuming our house does not sell, if I continue to make payments of $700 a month, our mortgage will be under $8000 by the December 1st payment. And it will be completely paid off by the November 1st payment of 2014. Of course I am really hoping it sells when we put it on the market, but it is nice to know just exactly how close it is to being paid off.
If I could somehow figure out how to squeeze out $300 more to make a $1000 payment each month it would be at $6500 by the December 1st payment and paid off in full by the July 1st payment of 2014.
Our required payment is only $384.76 so I have always tried to pay extra on it, even if it was only to round the payment up to $400 when we were dirt poor and up to our eyeballs in medical debt. It has only been in the last year that I have been trying to pay $700 a month. I did have a couple of years at $500 a month.
I talked to Mom earlier this week about her travel club. She had wanted to sell it to us at half price, which would be $10,000. DH and I decided we just don't want to take that on, so told her she should try to sell it to someone else. There won't be much more travelling with all four of us, since DD will be in college in another year, which opens up our options a lot more.
When you have a boy and a girl they get to a certain age where they can't share a bed anymore, which makes standard hotel stays pretty bad, especially when there isn't enough room to fit in a roll away bed. And pull out couches are very uncomfortable. We would often have to rent two hotel rooms. So we would make use of Mom's travel club (paying the dues for her on years we used it) so that we could get a condo with two bedrooms, the second of which had twin beds. But you had to book a year in advance practically for anything big and at least six months for anything with beach access. It was useless for quick getaways.
But soon it will be just the 3 of us and two beds in a standard hotel will work fine. Plus there are options we didn't have before, like Airbnb, where you can rent out a home or a small apartment without it being ridiculously expensive. Dues for the travel club were $672 a year. I'd rather save that money on our own and not saddle ourselves with a commitment.
Funding Update on the Funds
$127.00 Dues Fund
$300.00 Property Tax Fund
$200.00 Propane Fund
$400.00 Hawaii 2018 Fund
$405.21 Appliance Fund
$400.00 College Fund
$400.00 DH's Laptop Fund
1000.00 Daughter's Laptop Fund
$300.00 Christmas Fund (Plus $155 Amazon GC's)
Friday was payday and here is an accounting of the bills that went out and the funds that got funded. Oh, but first, we splurged and got burgers, milkshakes, fries, (the kids and DH) and fish and chips (me) from Boomers, an old-fashioned drive-up restaurant with carhops and everything. We won't be eating out again this week, though. it cost $40.98. They have really good fish and chips. Well, the cod is really good. The halibut is only good. Best burgers though, anywhere, ever.
Okay, so the money out:
$1700.00 BoA VISA (mostly work travel expenses)
___36.26 Electric Old House
___44.87 Phone Old House
___19.00 Garbage (Holding Tank)
___19.00 HoA Dues (Holding Tank)
___72.00 Water/sewer Old House (Holding Tank)
__757.82 Van Loan (plus extra)
__100.00 Property Tax (Holding Tank)
__100.00 Hawaii 2018
__100.00 Propane Old House
__100.00 College Fund
__100.00 Christmas Fund
__100.00 Laptop Fund
___40.00 Allowances (plus bonuses)
__100.00 Cash for week
$3459.51 Total Money Out
With the final numbers in, we spent $7,521.76 on our vacation to Disneyland, about $2000 more than I had bargained for. This trip was for seven people (we paid the way for my SIL and 2 nieces). It was a once in a lifetime trip, one they would never have taken on their own due to divorce and the subsequent poverty it brought into their lives, and I think it was well worth the expense to give them this opportunity.
That being said, we may end up carrying a small balance into May. I will be trying my best to pay it off before the due date on April 21st, though. I have paid $5030 of it so far. DH is going to use his miles to get a few free tickets for work, and he has one free hotel stay for frequent visits, so the money that would go toward that will be used to pay off the vacation balance.
I may dip into the EF to pay it off sooner, though. I am used to living with a $1000 EF, so if I use $2000 of it to pay on this, it'll bring it to $1000 again, then I can start rebuilding it. We won't be doing a big vacation again until 2018 or 2019, so and I will be saving up for it starting in June.
DH's DVD player in his laptop went out so he will now be using the old portable DVD player up at work. I have to start saving up for a new laptop for him. His has other problems as well and it has really been limping along.
My own laptop will have to be taken in as soon as spring break hits. The built in mouse has quit working and I have to use a plug-in mouse with it. My laptop is still under contract so that won't cost anything, but I can't afford to be without it during regular school hours since I use it in homeschooling my son.
If I take it in the Friday before spring break, I should have it back by the Monday after spring break. It usually takes 10 days to fix something since they send it to Seattle. I just hope they can fix it. I know they will replace it if they can't, but it is such a major hassle to transfer everything off one computer and on to the next one. And this one isn't even a year old so I really hate the idea of them not being able to fix it for such a small thing.
I have been thinking that if we get enough money when we sell the house we will pay off the van. I send in close to $800 a month on van payments (extra to principal), and it would be really nice to knock that payment off. That would mean no debt (besides what I still owe Mom, but that's not on a credit report) going into buying a new house and getting a mortgage. It would also give us more wiggle room to save money and pay for college.
Mom has said we can stay here as long as we like, so we may take an extra year to add money to the downpayment so we won't owe so much when we buy a new house.
My camera quit working sometime between when I packed it for Disneyland and we arrived in California. I'm not sure how it got damaged since it was in my carry-on. MIL gave each of us $100 before we went on vacation and I didn't spend mine, so I may go to a couple of the pawn shops and see about buying a good camera for very little money.
I use my camera almost daily and I don't like not having one. I don't have to have a top of the line one, but I'd like something more than my cruddy dumb phone camera, and I'm not about to upgrade to a smart phone just for the camera. I've owned my digital camera for ten years or so, and I really hate that it broke. It is possible they could fix it, but I doubt they could do it for less than what getting a new one costs. That is something that really bothers me about technology these days. Oh, well. What can you do?
I can't tell you how glad I am to have saved up as much money for this vacation as I did. Disneyland is great, but it is even more expensive here than I remembered. I have used up all of the money we set aside for it and close to all of the money that was left of the tax refund. I have not had to dip into any other money so far, but we have 2 more days at the park and then one day of air travel to get through.
If I have to dip into the EF a bit, I will, but I'm hoping that won't be necessary. Disneyland is not an emergency, but carrying a balance on a card again is also not something I want to do. So we'll see. It'll be a few years before we go on vacation again, but I am already planning to set aside so much money a month for it. I think it pays off to do so, just wish I'd started a bit sooner, is all.
We are safe in California and tomorrow:
I'm a trifle irritated with BoA at the moment. They put a fraud alert on our main VISA card. Disney accidentally processed our ticket purchase twice so we called BoA because it was showing up as pending twice. And with something that costs $2030 we wanted to make sure that the extra charge got off, so DH called them. So on the Disney end it was cleared up within 12 hours, but BoA decided it was going to lock us out of viewing our account online.
Even after I answered every single security question (and there were a lot of them) they still won't let us access that account online. We can, at least, still use the card, but I want to be able to get to it online, because I want to double check it got taken off. Then on Tuesday when the money arrives from ING to my regular CU account I wanted to pay off the tickets. *grumble growls*
They won't talk to me over the phone even though I am a joint account holder, not just an authorized user, because DH is the one that talked to them originally. It is stupid. Oh, I'm sure it is all for our "benefit" but it annoys me nonetheless. We did not ask them for a fraud alert and to lock us out of our internet access, we asked them to clear up a simple problem and instead they made it ten times more complicated.
I'm not sure why I expected them to be able to do it right though. It is the Evil Empire, after all. I swear if Alaska Airlines partnered with any other bank I would drop them in a heartbeat.
And tonight is setting out to be an insomniac night. Anyway, I had my sleep study done, and it was a doozy of a night. They might call it a sleep study, but it was more a study on how many wires they could hook you up to and then put you in the most uncomfortable, unsupportive bed on the planet, make you sleep on your back and then wake you up every so many hours. It was exhausting.
I do have problems with breathing though. I don't know exactly what but I had 30 incidents during the first two hour test, so then they tested me on the CPAP machine. I did okay until about 5 a.m. when I got stuffed up. Then I used some nasal spray and was fine to put it back on.
Anyway, I go in on the 13th to meet with the doctor about the results and get a mask fitting done. Then on Thursday the 14th, I will get my permanent crown since they screwed this one up and it was an ugly yellow color instead of tooth color. So they will redo it, which means I get to have it 2 days before we go to Disneyland. Ugh. I did have my cleaning done today though. I get them every four months because of some serious troubles I had with my teeth. We are looking at about one more year of that before the healing has been enough for me to go back to the twice a year the insurance actually pays for.
I made a payment on the crown anyway today of $336. I will pay the final payment of $328.57 the first week of April. I may very well be spending my Emegency Fund back down to pay for all of this and all of the sleep stuff if I don't want to carry a balance on the credit card. *sighs*
And our insurance rates just went up. Our portion is now $753.95. It has gone up $107.29, but since it is pretax, it will only affect the take home pay by $65 a month. Only, I say. Since it's now a change of $665 a month between this and taxes, it's getting tighter. Same ridiculous $2500 dedictible per family, $1250 per individual. I will be meeting mine pretty darn soon, I imagine.
I will remind myself in the future that if we go to Disneyland again, we need to get it away from the first of the year when medical is so high because of the deductible. It would be much better to go in September or October. But at this rate we won't be going on vacation again for a good five years or so, so this one better stay in our memories for a long while. Not unless DH gets offered a way better job with better pay and better benefits somewhere else on the slope. *sighs* Not likely right now.
After this trip the belts get tighter and we will push out some of the meager luxury items once again. We barely had them, so we shouldn't miss them too much. And once we get our rabbits going, and our chicken fryers, our food costs should go way down in the protein department. And our massive garden this year should bring down produce costs as well as providing plenty for canning. One way or another we'll find ways to save money and not go back into debt.
I went in to the dentist today to have my second crown started. This was on the other side of my mouth, but also the six year old molar. This tooth had a gigantic silver amalgam filling in it which is now gone. I am glad. I never liked having metal in my mouth and this was an old, old filling from before they talked about getting mercury poisoning from them. It feels like he gave me enough anesthetic to put down a small horse, but he still had to stop in the middle and give me another one. It is supposed to wear off somewhere around 7 or 8 p.m.
Anyway, the temporary crown is on now and I go back for the permanent one on March 7nth. Hopefully I am making sense here, as I am on a pretty powerful pain med, so if this rambles more than usual, that is why.
While I was there I finished paying off the first crown, $233.90 and I have the paper with what will likely be our portion for this one, $665.35. Not as much as the first one as we had less dental benefits left for 2012 as I had a porcelain filling to replace a cracked silver one and a sealent earlier that year. This probably uses all my dental benefits for the year (except for cleanings), but the dentist says everything is in great shape now and I shouldn't need anymore work done.
I talked to them about maybe getting the gap between my front teeth fixed. I never used to have one, but over the past five years it has gradually gotten bigger. They may be able to just fix it cosmetically with veneers or I may have to go to an orthodontist and get an appliance or something like Invisalign. I don't want to do actual metal braces. I know how much they hurt my daughter. I have a low pain threshhold in my mouth even though I have a very high one everywhere else. But the gap does bug me. I had perfectly straight teeth up until it started moving.
I'll need to have DH check and see if our insurance covers orthodontia. Otherwise I will have to save up for it. I know veneers can cost about $900 per tooth if we go that route.
I cashed out at Swagbucks again yesterday for a $5 Amazon gift card.
I added the AMEX cash back and my coin jar savings and the weekly $10 autotransfer I've had set up for years to the Emergency Fund, a total of $136, making the total in it now $2981.35. That leaves me with $18.65 to come up with to meet my February goal of $3000 in the EF. Next Thursday will be another $10 autotransfer, so that will leave me with $8.65 to scrounge up. I am so close.
DH and I are still working on our meal plan for Disneyland. I think we are going to pack along a cheap crockpot. That way we can put a roast or a chicken in when we leave in the morning and have it ready for us when we come back at dinner time. Despite the condos having full kitchens they don't have crockpots, which I really think they should. It makes a lot of sense to have one in a place that caters to Disneyland goers. I will also pick up some of those crockpot bags to make it easy to clean. Usually I consider those a waste of money, but in this situation I'll splurge for them.
Today we did some major shopping. Mostly it was too replace things that are past re-mending (i.e. things that have already been mended once, often more than once).
We ended up spending $325.05 and supposedly saved $63.55 due to clearance and sale prices. DH got 3 pairs of jeans. He told quite a hilarious story of ripping out his jeans right before getting to the airport and having to mend them with duct tape because there were no sewing kits available. At least you can pass through airport x-ray machines with a duct-taped crotch. Good to know.
DS got a pair of Wellies, 2 sizes up, yikes, a pair of flip flops for vacation and summer and a new pair of tennis shoes. He also got several pairs of underwear. He's growing like a weed. He'll probably be as tall as me by the end of this year.
I got three shirts, slightly nicer than t-shirts, but not super dressy. I was happy to find one in kelly green. It is a hard color to find so when I saw it I jumped on it. There is a rather violent perdominance of neon colors in the stores right now. Painfully neon bright.
DD got a pair of flip flops, 2 pairs of sweats and a t-shirt.
Then for the household I got 6 new washcloths. I used to have 20 white ones, but my mother keeps stealing them. Just because she got the twenty pack of white ones from Wal-Mart once upon a time, she thinks all of the white ones are hers. Well, 4 turquiose, one hot pink and one bright yellow, should stop confusing her on that score.
I also bought a new sheet set for the king bed. The turquoise sheet finally gave up the ghost after a couple of sewing repairs. I plan to make linen napkins out of the side that isn't all ripped up. The replacements are a sort of bluish green sea foam color. Sheets are expensive. I got the moderately priced ones, but I still thought they were expensive for not all that much fabric.
The kids got headphones and batteries and DH got some body wash. We should not need to make any such purchases again for quite some time.
I added $3 to the coin jar today and sent $854 to the Vacation Fund. The puts it at $1119.65.
I spent a couple of hours yesterday going over the budget and assigning items to the next three paydays. It is nice seeing a surplus after all bills are paid. It is nice knowing all bills will be easily met. It is nice knowing the money for vacation is right there.
I do not think I will buy parkhopper tickets until March. I am keeping an eye on ticket prices. Right now they have a sale on tickets from now until March 11, but they have to be used during that time period. I am hoping when March hits they will have another sale. The difference in price is about $200. We can buy them as close to the 15th of March as we want and just pick them up at the ticket booth when we get there. If not, oh, well. I figure we're still off season on March 16, but maybe not. All I can do is wait and keep checking. They didn't even have this special the last time I checked.
DH told me that Big Thunder Mountain will be closed while we are there for a major overhaul. I am bummed because it is one of my favorite rides. And the River Boat won't be running either. That's pretty much all of Frontier Land down. The pirate ship should be going though and the pirate island (used to be Tom Sawyer's Island) should be open.
The new Matterhorn cars look like they are better padded than the old ones. I hope they smoothed out the track so it's not so jerky. I will give it one try, but I will be very careful to protect my knee on it. That's the ride I bonked my knee on so badly the last time we went there and eventually it resulted in surgery. So the bobsleds get exactly one chance to prove they are worth it.
I ate something with BHT in it last night. I committed the ultimate crime for someone with allergies and did not read the label, because the last time I ate this item it did not have BHT in it. Well, six months can make a difference and I have spent the majority of today with my insides trying to become my outsides. Not fun. I hate puking. I also got hives. Benadryl would help if I could keep it down. I suppose this is what I get for giving in to a major salt craving.
I finally finished the book I was reading. It was good. It was called Last of the Breed and it's by Louis L'amour. I never, ever thought I would be reading a Louis L'amour novel because cowboy is not a genre I have much interest in. But this book was reviewed on a survival website I like to read for fun and for research for the novel I'm writing.
It was about an American pilot (with a Native American and Scotch bloodline) getting shot down over Soviet Russia and how he survived a year in Siberia. It was fascinating reading. I mean, I won't be purposely seeking out any more of his books, because again, I don't care much for the cowboy genre, but I can see why he sells so many books.
It was certainly a far cry from the two previous books I read, Changelings by Anne McCaffrey (1st of the second trilogy of the Petaybee series) and Catch Me by Lisa Gardner. Anne's books are always good. Petaybee is an arctic planet, so it has a lot of survival elements in it, too.
As for Catch Me, it was a fast read and a real page turner. I liked it, even if I found it predictable at times. Although the switching back and forth between first person and third person about drove me crazy. The premise was about a young woman who had two best friends. The first was killed on a certain date, and then one year later the second was killed in the same way on that same date, so the last woman spends the year learning how to defend herself and a couple weeks before the anniversary date of the deaths asks a cop to investigate her murder after she dies because she is sure she is next on the list.
It would make a great movie. There is some swearing in it, a light smattering of the F word, but nowhere near the distracting level of say a Tess Gerritsen novel.
I've been doing some thinking about the next couple of months. In February we will buy our Disneyland Parkhopper tickets, which will set us back $2030 for 7 tickets (unless they go on sale), but we should be able to buy them outright in February. I will charge them for the benefits of charging, but then I will pay it off as soon as it posts to the account.
We already have enough saved up to cover prepaying the limo rental both ways, so that will get taken care of in the next few days. We chose to do a limo because it was actually cheaper for 7 people and all their stuff than two taxis or vanpools.
And then in March I will take $2500 for the trip itself. I think that should easily cover groceries, a few meals out and souvenirs. It's probably more than we need, but I'd rather have too much than too little and come home with money. SIL is paying for her own food for her and the girls. We are picking up everything else, but flights and the condo are long since taken care of.
Also in March we should have our taxes back. The Chase card will be at $4900 by then and our taxes will more than pay for that. (We will get a lot back because we fully used the HSA again this year and will get all of that back). We will also be getting DD's MacBook. If there is any money left it will go to the EF. Last year (and circumstances haven't changed) we got around $8750 back. $6150 is from the HSA alone. That should put the EF around $4000 to $5000.
After that I need to decide what I'm going to do. Our only two debts will be the mortgage and the van payment. The mortgage has a higher percentage rate than the van, but the house will be up for sale by then. I'm not sure if there is any point in paying down the mortgage, yet if it doesn't sell right away then there is.
I figured that we could have the mortgage paid off by September/October if we start paying $2500 a month in April. I keep going back and forth on this. Part of me says forget prepaying it, put that money in the EF and college fund instead. Or put it toward the van. It's like being on a merry-go-round. I just keep going around in circles trying to figure out the smartest thing to do.
My mother keeps butting into the house stuff. She's trying to be the one who will set the price. She's acting like she's the one who gets to okay any offers and it is driving me right up the wall. I want her out of it, but she has a way of squirming into our business and getting people to talk to her who legally should not be talking to her about any of it.
I don't particularly want her knowing A. What the amount of the mortgage is left on the house, and B. What the price is that we actually get for it. It's none of her business. She does like sticking her nose in. She wants to set the price far higher than what I think anyone will pay for it. I've seen how long houses sit on the market in that area if they are over-priced.
I love my mother very much, she has a lot of great qualities and I never have doubted that she loves me, but she is a difficult personality. She is very pushy and stubborn and manipulative when she chooses to be. I just can't figure out what she thinks she'll get out of any of this.
I will be glad when we are not living under the same roof again, even though I know I will worry about her. I am ready to worry about her from a slightly more removed area. Even if I know she will likely end up moving in with us several years in the future, it will be different. It will be her living in our home and not vice versa.
Right now she is very weird about money. She's been like this the last year. We pay for the gas, the electric, the water/sewer, the internet, and the garbage for the entire household, yet she worries about how high the utilities are. She often eats with us and spends very little on groceries herself, but worries constantly about the cost of food. She barely ever drives anywhere, but worries constantly about the cost of gasoline.
She gets $1000 from us every month as we pay back our loan, and $757 from social security. Her house is paid for, her SUV and pickup are paid for. She pays for some chicken feed, satellite TV, $100 in groceries each month, car and house insurance, and property taxes ($2500 a year) and that's about it. Her income is more than enough to cover it. She's always been a champion budgeter. Even after we move out and she takes back over the utilities (they'll drop), she'll still have more than enough to meet her needs.
I don't know why she's being so weird about money. I've even told her we will take care of her after our loan to her is paid off. She will not be on the street, she will always have enough to eat. I do have to wonder if maybe I'm seeing the beginning stages of dementia or if the two mini-strokes did more damage to her brain than they thought. It's something I'll have to keep an eye on.
In relation to talking about how hard it is for people to find a job in a previous post...my husband's work is hiring. They had hired a guy for this one position and he was to start working on Friday. He never showed up. He never even called to say what happened. DH found out through the grapevine that he'd accepted another job with another company.
I find it totally unacceptable that a person would accept a job and then not call to say they were taking another job instead. It is highly unprofessional and this industry remembers things, so he could easily have shot himself in the foot. Also, it's like a slap in the face to all of the people who are out there desperately looking for work to be so arrogant as to not even bother to call. On the bright side, financially anyway, it looks like DH may get more extra weeks if they don't find someone.
Disneyland parkhopper tickets went up by a huge amount. It was $235 per person for a five day parkhopper and now it is $290. That's a difference of about $400 for the 7 of us. I'll be watching in case there are sales. They do sometimes have them. We won't be buying until the end of February.
With that jump in prices we will definitely be eating most of our meals in the condo. I figure we can get by with about $300 in groceries for 8 days for the four of us. I have no idea what organics and all natural foods will cost in Anaheim so I'm budgeting high. I am not risking DS's allergies by buying chemically laden foods.
DH and I are working on meal plans. I will be having some kind of meat (sausage, bacon, ham) and vegetables (probably cukes or cabbage) for breakfast and everyone else will do pancakes and eggs or french toast and bacon, ham, or sausage. We'll have sandwich and salad fixings for lunches. I'm thinking a beef roast and either chicken or turkey for meats unless they have actual deli meats without additives and corn syrup solids.
We get one free breakfast at the park for our magic morning. We want to eat BBQ one day at the ranch if it is open, we want to get Monte Cristo sandwiches once (possibly twice), and there's a great Italian place at CA that serves wonderful lasagna. I want skewers from the Bengal Barbecue, DH and I are thinking about just doing Blue Bayou for the two of us on our anniversary because of the expense. And we are thinking maybe either Mickey Mouse waffles or pancakes one day. We have requests for getting ice cream at the Carnation Cafe at least once, churros at least once, and one of the big turkey legs (split amongst two) and corn on the cob. I haven't set a budget yet for that, but I will be looking up prices at mouseplanet to see what I'm looking at.
We did find out we could reserve seating for the Colors show with the $15.99 dinner instead of with the $45 dinner and DH is supposed to find out about reserve seating for Fantasmic and the fireworks show as I am well past my days of sitting on the concrete for 2 hours to get a good seat. Plus with my knee I'd never get up again.
Boy, big vacations are expensive. But it is worth it to give this experience to our kids, our nieces and DH's sister.
For Thanksgiving DH's work gave us a $40 gift card and for Christmas they gave us another $40 gift card to Safeway. Safeway is quite a ways away from us and requires an hour round trip and 3 gallons of gas. Well, I pulled one out today and gave it a good look.
It's also good for Von's. We don't have one of those at all near us, but there is one near the condo in Anaheim. In fact that is the very store we planned on going grocery shopping at. So we for sure have $80 on gift cards we can use and possibly $9 left from one we didn't use up last year, assuming it didn't expire or something. Cutting our grocery expense by almost $100 for something that was going to be a hassle just to use is great.
We got an offer from Disney Visa today, too. If we open their credit card and spend $500 in the first 3 months we get a $200 Disney gift card to use. So I am thinking about doing that and using it to pay for our Parkhopper tickets, easily hitting the $500 three times over. And if we use it at the park a lot of stuff will be 10% off. Then we can just pay it off when the bill comes. Having an extra $200 to spend at Disneyland would be nice.
If they'd accept the gift card in the restaurants that would be great. We want to do Ariel's Grotto because you can reserve for the time they are doing the Colors show and it's supposed to be great seats. But Ariel's Grotto is like $45 per person, which multiplied by 7 people is going to be expensive. It could bring the price down from $315 to $115.
We have decided to skip Blue Bayou altogether this year. It is too pricey now and since we can get the Monte Cristo sandwich at Cafe Orleans for $7 less and no split plate fees (because half of one of those is enough for one person) we'll do it. You can see the restaurant from the Pirates ride anyway. The only way we might do Blue Bayou is if we just went for dessert, which is still $8 per item. But I think we can give SIL and her daughters the idea of it just from the ride and we'd rather spend for Ariel's Grotto, which will also have princesses roaming about, then just a nice riverside dinner.
We have actually managed pretty well with the portable heaters. I mean it wasn't comfortably warm or anything, but it wasn't freezing either. Just more sort of adequate. Fortunately the new control board for the furnace came in a lot earlier than they claimed it could get here and the guy came out and installed it around 2. It is nice to actually be warm again. I think that's something we can really take for granted sometimes until it's no longer there.
Some expenses that have gone out this week:
$50.47 for 3 prescriptions
$90.00 for physical therapy
Also $76.95 to AMEX which had a couple of autopays go through before I could cancel one and switch the other to the BoA card. The holidays made me absent-minded. Or maybe I'm just naturally absent-minded. It has a zero balance again and I don't plan to use it for gas until the BoA is paid off.
And $30 to DD for last week's and this week's allowance. Also 4 cents to DS who has finally paid off his advance and will resume getting his full allowance next week. As of next week the kids have to start banking half of their allowances for Disneyland.
Finally got through the preface of the book I got for Christmas. The review at Amazon said it was written from a Christian perspective, but I think it's coming off more like he's a religious whackadoodle. If it doesn't tone it down some I may not make it through the rest of the book. So far the writer does not come off as the sort of Christian that I strive to be, certainly. More the type that I tend to look at and think please get out of my religion, the type that makes that verse about not judging others very difficult to apply. At this point I am glad I did not purchase it myself. I hope it gets better. I hate to think it was a total waste of my SIL's money.
I do plan to get back to the food stamp challenge menus soon, but I totally torqued my knee on Christmas day and so it's making it hard for me to concentrate for the amount of time it takes to devote to one of those. It is getting better but is still swollen and sore. Hopefully it will continue to improve.
DH and I have been planning out more of our Disneyland trip. We have a hotel narrowed down for our overnight in Seattle. It has a hot breakfast included (not continental). That was the last thing that needed to be booked.
The chickens are doing really well. Finally put a light in a week or two ago. Today we got 10 eggs out of 12 chickens. Not bad. I miss Lady, though. She is doing well at the new farm, but I still miss her. She was my favorite duck and such a sweetheart.
I've run the numbers to see exactly how I will pay off the BoA VISA in the month of January. I will be using the money in the freezer fund to help with this, so:
$2000 on January 4th--$1000, from the freezer fund and $1000 from the extra money set aside for January that I don't need now that the AMEX has been paid off.
$2000 out of the January 11th paycheck.
$2000 out of the January 18th paycheck.
$2000 out of the January 25th paycheck.
That will pay it off even with DH charging a new plane ticket, travel food, and motel cost for his overnight stay in Anchorage.
In February I will need to take $1252 along with the money I have saved in the vacation fund, $400, to buy 7 parkhopper tickets for Disneyland/California Adventure for our planned March trip. So while there will be some debt repayment to the last card, the Chase card, it will be closer to $500 for this month, I think.
When we get our taxes back, it should be close to what we got back last year, which was $8,425. Most of this was caused by deducting the entire HSA amount since we spent so much on medical. The same will be true this year. DH's income should be about the same, maybe off by a few hundred dollars.
About $3000 of that money will go towards Disneyland. The condo is free, the airfare was mostly free, and what wasn't was taken care of a few months ago. That probably seems like a lot of money, but I am overbudgeting to be on the safe side. We will be renting a limo to get us to and from the airport. It actually turns out to be cheaper to do that than to divide seven people and their luggage between two cars.
The only cheaper option is to take one of those buses that stops at every single hotel near Disneyland (and yours is always the last one), but those are always so full you never get to sit with your family and with four children, two of which have anxiety issues, that is not an option. The nine passenger van doesn't have enough room for us and our luggage.
Once we have settled into the condo DH and I will leave SIL with the kids and take a taxi to the nearby Von's to do some grocery shopping. We plan on eating breakfast at the condo and most of our dinners, then purchasing lunch in the park. It will cut food costs substantially.
DH and I have determined to buy everyone one sweatshirt, one t-shirt, a Splash Mountain or Grizzly River Run beach towel and one set of mouse ears as souvenirs. Also autograph books and pens for the kids.
We will need to rent two motel rooms for the night in Seattle before we fly and we will also need to pay for airport parking of two cars when we get back. Also one meal at the airport at least.
Plans for what is left of our tax return after Disney money is taken out is to put $1500 in the Emergency Fund and $3500 towards Chase. I will have an additional $500 from March's pay cycle to pay off Chase completely.
And at that point we will start saving and building the EF and paying down the mortgage which will be under $14K at that point. Currently $1000 is going towards principal every 2 months, so I'd like to make that $1000 towards principal every month until it is either paid off or the house sells. I will also be trying to save $1000 each month for college and will ear mark the tax refund after this one to college savings as well.
3 months and the future begins, unfettered by the credit card debt of years. At least as long as Murphy keeps to himself and all goes well.
I was reconciling my savings accounts spreadsheet with the bank statements I received in the mail today and I realized that there was $252.01 that was not allocated to any category at ING. Not sure what I did there. I might have paid something out of the holding tank without actually taking it out and just using checking, but I took it off the spreadsheet. That's happened a couple of times. Regardless, I added it to the emergency fund category, so the EF now sits at $1457.42. Almost to the $1500 mark. I think I can get it there by the end of the year.
I received the propane bill for the old house today. The thermostat is set on 60 so that the pipes do not freeze. It is $159.65. That is quite a lot less than I was anticipating. I have $400 allocated for propane in the holding tank right now. So I will pay that and then leave the rest of the money ($240.35) in there and just not transfer any more money to the holding tank for propane until after the next quarterly bill comes. I can use that $100 a month elsewhere during that time.
Tomorrow is payday. I still have $297.82 in checking and $25 in cash. I added $6.48 to the coin jar. I really like this new habit of getting to the next payday with more than $5 left.
I've been saving my allowance since I started drawing one again. I have $154. I haven't decided what to do with it. Maybe I'll save it for Disneyland. I like to buy a sweatshirt or light jacket, a couple of t-shirts, and one of the Splash Mountain towels when I go and they are a bit expensive, so having the extra saved for that would be a good idea. They are so well made that they last for years. In fact I can still wear the Disneyland sweatshirt I bought in 1995 on my honeymoon and it looks great. None of the stitching has come out or anything. So I feel like they are a good investment.
DS's Christmas presents arrived today so he is all taken care of. I need to get on the ball and order DD's presents now that I have her list. I procrastinated last year and a couple of her presents didn't show up until a week after Christmas. 5 more days until DH comes home. It's been a long hitch and I will be glad to have him home.
I sat down with my December and January spreadsheets tonight. The majority of my bills for this month have been paid except for the car loan, the BoA VISA, internet, the old house phone bill, allowances, weekly physical therapy and the monthly chiropractic family plan. Water/sewer is due at month's end, but that money is already set aside in the holding tank.
With DH's extra week of work the next three paydays should net around $8600. $3000 of that will be set aside for the first two weeks in January. We will be going from December 21st to January 11th without a paycheck. I figured out what needs to be paid during that time and came up with $1963.91. Then I added $1000 for groceries and a nice cushion.
That leaves me with $5100 to pay the rest of December's bills. $1579 is for everything but the credit card. I'll need $1000 for allowances, groceries, and a nice cushion. That leaves me with $2521 to put on debt. $2000 of which has been allocated for the credit card. Depending on how things work out with the bonus, that extra $521 will go for the credit card or to the vacation fund.
Any of those nice cushion dollars that are left on January 11th will be distributed similarly, depending on the bonus.
I am feeling so much hope right now. When that credit card debt is gone, it is going to be such smooth sailing. We will really be able to start saving for our future. DH makes such a good income these last few years, but so much of it has always gone to this massive medical debt it was like living on a third of it. I'm not going to go wild or crazy, but it will be nice to loosen up a little bit and also to be contributing to the 401K again. It's like coming out of dark clouds and into the sun, like winter's chill giving way to spring.
Today is payday and for once I got to sit down early and do everything. As of today the only bill that hasn't been paid for the month is the internet bill. I don't think it has come yet. That means the vast majority of next week's paycheck can be split between credit card debt and Christmas. It feels nice going into the holidays without having to scramble this year.
DH's boss called him yesterday to let him know that he will be working an extra week on his next hitch. They still don't know about January. They'll have a better idea of that after he works the extra week. But one guaranteed extra paycheck is great. Especially if he has the three weeks off. I can just save it for that time period and if there is anything leftover put it toward debt.
I hadn't paid the car payment yet, so I'm including it here, but the money for that was from last week's payday. Here's what went out today:
$1700.00 to BoA credit card
_757.82 to car loan
_300.00 for glasses (3 months same as cash, paid in full now)
1000.00 to Mom
_100.00 to Vacation Fund
__72.00 to holding tank for water/sewer
__44.87 Phone at old house
__23.00 for kid's allowance (DS owes me $2, so that's lower than usual)
_300.00 for beef money
_100.00 cash for miscellaneous stuff
DH is going to be buying a new pair of workboots, too. They will be around $200. They are steel-toed, steel-shanked, electricity proof, water proof, and Arctic safe. The last pair lasted him about 5 years so that works out to about $40 a year. Not bad for safety gear.
The actual day of our zoo trip was a balmy 92 degrees F. We slathered on enough sunscreen to keep Banana Boat in business. DD is one of those porcelain complected, hazel-eyed blondes who would not look at all out of place in Iceland and I have enough redhead in me that I will burn pretty easily without the stuff.
Our first stop was the polar bears. I was feeling pretty sorry for them, considering this sort of heat is not in their native habitat, but then again, they did have a nice, cold pond to swim in.
They have three males at the Point Definace Zoo and no females. They seem to get along pretty well, but they did keep to different areas of the enclosure. The biggest one was 9 feet tall when it reared up. You don't really realize the size of these animals when they are just laying on a rock.
Or how big they are until they lick the window in front of you because that's where the meat they were being fed bounced off!
The muskox was hanging out in the shade trying to get away from the heat. With that fur coat, I think she had the right idea.
I was definitely jealous of the seals and their cool waters.
And the penguins! Heavily shaded and they had plenty of water to swim in.
The elephant was giving herself a bath in lots of nice, cold water.
The anoa decided that being inside was the best way to escape from the heat.
As did these two:
The leopard seemed quite happy though to bask in the sunshine.
And the budgies also seemed to love the heat. The kids got seed sticks to feed them for $1 each. The birds land right on the stick or on you and eat the seeds.
The landscaping was also lovely. I'd love to have this flower in my garden.
And I actually do have these ones, just not blooming right now.
I haven't uploaded the aquarium photos yet, but here's my son being eaten by a shark that also, apparently swallowed a hardwood wall.
It was a great zoo all in all, though I think the Greater Vancouver Zoo in B.C., Canada remains my favorite.
We are back from our short vacation to Tacoma. It was incredibly hot while we were there, in the low 90's each day. It was close to that here at home, but we really took a doozy of a time to go.
Still it was very nice to get away from home for a bit and to relax in a pool each night. The zoo was very nice, much better than Woodland Park Zoo. I have some lovely pictures some of which I will post when I am not so exhausted, but here is one.
I didn't actually ride one of the camels as my knee was acting up fiercely by the time we got to the camels (about 2 hours in)and I didn't think I could climb up the stairs to get on, but the kids and DH both did.
We stayed on budget for vacation which was something I was a little worried about. I took an extra $100 just in case, but I came back home with it.
There was a really great diner across from our hotel. We have lucked out quite a bit in finding excellent diners when we've been on vacation. We tend to shy away from the big chain restaurants most of the time if we can help it. This place, Elmer's, reminded me of the place in Port Angeles called Joshua's that we ate at several times on our summer trip last year. Elmer's is a very small chain, local to the PNW, but feels very homey and the food was incredibly good and locally sourced.
The kids got their school wardrobes (well, I guess for DS it was just getting clothes because he's outgrown everything since he's homeschooling this year) taken care of as well. Although DD still needs a pair of gym shoes for PE and a pair of everyday tennis shoes. And both kids need socks. DS's jeans will need to be altered as they are far too long, but we found ones that fit him well otherwise, which we couldn't even come close to doing last year. He's grown a lot in the last year.
I really hate the years between boyhood and teenage boyhood for finding clothes. If you are not a super skinny tall beanpole there is nothing for you in trousers between the XL 20 boys and the size 32 mens waist with a 29 inch inseam. That's 5 missing sizes. DS lived in sweat pants last year, but he hated it. There are tons of tween clothes for girls and you can at least make do with skirts for a few years if you have to. The choices for boys are extremely limited. A business taking advantage of that clothing gap would clean up. I am not the only mother of a boy I've heard complaining of this.
Still, with homeschooling he can get through the fall, winter, and spring on two good pairs of jeans and the hated sweat pants. He wears shorts in the house all the time anyway.
Out of yesterday's payday and about $300 from short term bill savings, I paid the following bills:
_400.00 Mortgage for the old house
_301.30 to Chase (no interest for 18 months)
_300.00 To Mom for her utilities
_757.82 Car payment (plus extra to principal)
_685.86 to BoA credit card (will pay more next week)
_176.09 Paid off computer (18 months same as cash)
__44.87 Phone for old house (for security system)
_144.00 Water/sewer for old house
__49.91 yearly propane tank rental
_125.00 Cash for groceries
__25.00 Kid's allowances
I just raised the kids' allowances from $7 and $12 respectively to $10 and $15 per week. They have really stepped up and started doing a lot more of the daily chores and helping with the gardening. I've told them that if they slack off though it's going back down.
I have $42 left of my grocery money for the week. Aside from milk I should not need to buy anything else this coming week. I thought I needed to buy chicken legs or thighs, but I did some digging around in the freezer and found 3 pounds which I cooked up for the next few days lunches. There may be more in the freezer. I do have two whole chickens and some boneless, skinless thighs.
It will be a short grocery week as we are going down to Tacoma on Wednesday, spending the night, going to the Point Defiance Zoo on Thursday, spending that night, and then coming home on Friday after morning rush hour. That wipes out our vacation savings, but we have nothing else planned for the summer.
Our hotel room has a microwave and a fridge and there is a Top Foods (like Haggen) nearby. We will bring a cooler with some food from home and our little egg cooker (which does boiled eggs or poached and our microwave bacon cooker, so we can have bacon and eggs for breakfast that we bring. I am going to roast a chicken on Tuesday and pick all the meat off the bones and we will bring that in the cooler. I will also bring along coleslaw and salad and a bottle of dressing and maybe a couple cans of green beans. And peanut butter, jelly, butter, and bread. We will probably eat out two meals (one at the zoo), but that is in the vacation budget.
We went to the Pacific Science Center to see the King Tut exhibit yesterday. It was fantastic and we had a great time...until we tried to leave. Seattle traffic was nasty on the way out. I was not pleased that Obama was in Bellevue. It screwed up being able to get back out of the city. I have never seen Seattle traffic this snarled before. It took 25 minutes to go .4 of a mile! And then another 15 minutes to go 3 blocks. And with all the one way streets, you can't get there from here, even with GPS.
I thought we'd never get out. Since we had bought our tickets well in advance of Obama scheduling his trip here, all it did was make me cranky. And I would have been just as cranky if it had been Romney screwing with traffic. I am an equal opportunity grump.
Also what is up with all those dedicated bus lanes? Can't they be dedicated bus lanes and carpool lanes? We had 5 people in the car. That's practically a bus! LOL No, I know, public transportation is big in Seattle and the buses need to stay as on time as possible. But...it's not like half the city stays out of them, anyway. They would go in them illegally and then try to shove into the lane that it was legal for cars to be in. Made me even more grumpy, because we were driving properly and they were cheating and people were letting them in anyway. When it takes six light changes to get across an intersection because only one car at a time can make it because of all the irresponsible scofflaws, it irritates me. DH even honked his horn once. DH never honks his horn.
And don't get me started on the crazy, jay-walking pedestrians who were trying to commit suicide by car. Or the motorcyclists who think they belong in the bicycle lanes. I may never complain about the crazy drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, and bikers in my city again. I think next time we may just take the train. Save ourselves a lot of annoyance and not have to deal with the crazy people.
We ended up spending $200 of our vacation money, well within the allotted amount for the day. I even came home with some money. It goes back in the vacation fund so we will have it for our trip to the Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma next month. Hopefully there will be no political visitors at that time! Because if there is one thing that gets to me more than Seattle traffic, it is Tacoma traffic!
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