<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Layout:
Home > Category: Work
 

Viewing the 'Work' Category

Novel Update and College Talk

October 15th, 2018 at 02:04 pm

Tomorrow is DD's procedure and I am so glad the day is nearly here. It has been such a long wait. I hope the results are a definitive diagnosis. I just want them to find something that is going to be solvable, that can finally give us a cure for her suffering.

I spent a lot of time writing this weekend and finished chapters seven and eight and part of chapter nine on book one. I also wrote a page and a half of back story for one character and then a long scene from book 3. So that all is proceeding nicely.

I'm thinking about participating in NaNoWriMo next month. I've always had things interfering in November before or been completely uninspired at that time of year. Lack of inspiration does not seem to be an issue anymore, and it will give me an extra incentive to keep writing. Not that I really need one right now. I'm being driven pretty hard by the story in my own brain.

I've got two beta readers at the moment who check for grammar errors and continuity and possible inconsistencies, then generally just cheerlead, so that is helpful, too. It's a lot different from when I was writing fanfiction several years ago, because there isn't that immediate feedback when you are posting chapters, so having cheerleaders is important to the process. It's also important that I am treating this like a job and carving out a few hours a day to work on it.

Once I finish the first book, I plan on getting it professionally edited, which is about $700 for a 400 page novel if I use the one editor I'm looking at. I don't know if I can find someone who would do it for less. At that price they do two passes through the novel. It's a lot of money to spend up front, but I've seen self-published books on Amazon that have not been edited and they are a nightmare to read. I'm adding a line item to the budget to start saving for it.

My hope is eventually to make enough with this to help pay for my son's college and pay off the Monster Mom Loan. DS is finally figuring out what he wants to do and it will be some form of engineering. He has taken one tour at the technical college for control systems and technology and he'll be taking another one next week for mechanical engineering. Right now he is leaning towards the first one.

The placement rate at the technical college for control systems is 100% at the moment, and their before graduation job placement is 61% with 39% being placed at or just after graduation. The placement rate for mechanical is 97%. If he takes the course for the former, there is a good chance he can get a job at DH's work.

So now we just have to figure out how to pay for this. It is going to be around $15,000 for a 7 quarter course, including books and supplies. If he takes mechanical it is a little less because it is a 6 quarter course. He would graduate with an AS, with transferability to Western if he wants to pursue a BA one day.

I really, really don't want him to have to take out loans and I won't take them out, so we've got to get this sorted. He doesn't have the math yet, so his goal for the next year and a half is to get his math where it needs to be. He's basically completed everything else he needs for me to graduate him except 1/2 a quarter of American History and 1/2 a quarter of English. But he's been lagging on the math. Now that he knows what direction he wants to go in, it seems to finally be starting a fire under him.

I am planning to save our tax return, but I'm not sure how much that will cover. We won't be getting any credit for having children, since he's eighteen now. We haven't contributed enough to the 401K this year for that to lower our taxes and I'm not sure our medical expenses will be deductible this year, since we are not paying for our own insurance out of pocket with post tax dollars this year. I haven't done the math yet on the expenses we have paid, but I don't think we're going to hit the percentages required despite feeling like we are constantly paying medical bills. We'll be able to deduct our tithing, but that may not be enough on its own for us to itemize.

Still, it ought to be enough to pay for at least one quarter, maybe two. I can nickel and dime a lot, but the big issue is that we still have to make a loan payment to my mother each month. If MIL gives us any more money this year we can save some of it for college costs, too.

I'm hoping DS will be able to get a job soon. It's hard when no one is even responding to his applications. That is what I really hate about online applying. When you could go in and hand the application to a manager in person, they had to deal with you a little bit. This faceless, easy to ignore way of dealing with things the fast food places do these days is irritating. But they won't even accept applications in person. It makes me mad when they continue to post help wanted signs and yet never respond to the applications in any way. He has completely open availability, too. So frustrating.

Well, anyway, that's what is going on in the Robin's Nest right now. I best get back to my chapter now.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Follow Up + Store + OT + New Sinking Funds

June 11th, 2018 at 02:55 pm

DD had her follow up this morning with the surgeon. I thought I was going to have to pay a $55 co-pay, but it was actually considered part of the cost of the surgery, so I didn't. Everything is healing well and DD is on track. He thinks the reason her body sent her to the ER the last time was that she was trying to do too much too soon.

I agree. I've made her stay in bed or in her computer chair for the most part in the last week and she hasn't had a return of those symptoms. If she wants to get up to talk to someone elsewhere then she has to sit down while talking and not just stand there. After another week has passed then she can start doing a little more. She's a bad rester, so I am having to be pretty strict about it.

She does get to walk the length of the house a couple of times a day for circulation, though. She's bored so I gave her my TBBT dvd's to watch. If she makes her way through the 10 seasons I have then I'll start her on Buffy, Angel, Charmed, Roswell, Lost, Farscape, or Fringe.

I did go to the store and pick up the oranges I forgot to buy on Friday and also some cherries that I impulse bought, but they were gorgeous. I bought less oranges so I could have the cherries, too. I still have enough money left to buy some Kerrygold butter, which DH will have to pick up on his way home from work since he goes right by Costco.

I had DH run the numbers for me and with the amount of overtime he worked last week, this week's paycheck will have an additional $590.83 give or take a penny. Most of that will go to the Monster Mom Loan, but I am going to put $100 of it aside to start funding a laptop fund. DH's laptop is giving him trouble and I'd like to have the money in place to replace it before it gives up the ghost. While we can do 18 months same as cash, that is still a debt and we don't want to do it that way anymore.

I'd also like to start funding a clothing envelope. DH needs new socks pretty soon. DS will need sweat pants in the fall and he still needs one more pair of regular pants then as well, since he only has 2 pairs of pants now and 1 pair of jeans that he doesn't like to wear. He's never been a jeans kid. So I will try to fund that up to $300 while DH has overtime available. I think I'll do $50 a week for that until it is funded, then switch to $50 a month.

I am considering whether or not I should try to start a Christmas Fund or not. While we have been paying back debt, Christmas has always been pretty limited, but I'm not sure I want to try to cash flow it at Christmas time or not. Maybe when I get the clothing fund funded I can switch to Christmas. I just really want to throw the majority of this at debt and get the Monster Mom Loan paid down as far as we can.

If DH gets 10 hours of OT a week through August we should be able to pay back $7000. If he gets the max, 15 hours a week, it'll be quite a bit more. I don't know if overtime will be available after that or not, but I certainly hope so. For example, if he has it through December we could pay off an additional $10,000, which would make our progress astronomical, cutting the debt almost in half. But there are no guarantees that it will last past August.

It really depends on which projects he ends up working on. Some have OT built into their budgets and others do not. Holiday weeks can throw things off as well. He will have enough paid time off to take off Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's, but how that would affect overtime I'm not sure. He will likely just work on the 4th and Labor Day, though. We never do anything on those days, and the only thing we do at night on the 4th is take our chairs to the end of the driveway at 10:30 and watch the Blast Over the Bay fireworks show. We're still in bed by midnight.

So I guess I have two plans in place, one with OT and one without OT. And we'll just have to see how it all goes.

Good News!

May 31st, 2018 at 06:21 pm

I know I already posted today, but I just had to share. DH just texted me to tell me that starting next week he will be getting overtime again. He will be able to get 10 to 15 hours of OT a week, which if I did the math right and I just do it at a base of 10 hours OT, will be an additional $1200 a month after taxes. Well, every four weeks. If he gets 15 hours a week it will be an additional $1800 a month after taxes. That would start with the June 15th paycheck.

They told him he would get it through August, which also means DH has a job through August. Now if they will hire him on directly after the waiting period is up on June 4th, I will really feel like things are on the right track again for our future. If he does get hired on direct I will have to get used to getting paid every 2 weeks instead of every week, but that's not hard to budget for. It beats budgeting the weird, irregular pay he got when working 3 weeks on/3 weeks off.

I don't know how much OT will go towards medical bills and how much we can throw at the Monster Mom Loan. I wish I knew how much the operation out of pocket was going to come to. I want to plan for it and then see how much beyond that I will have to throw at the loan. We haven't had insurance this good since the first six months of our marriage.

I know DD has hit her deductible. I just don't know how much else we have to cover. Actually, I think her out of pocket might be $3000. I'll have to have DH check on that. If it is I can start planning. I just hope no one turns out to have been out of network. It's an in-network doctor and an in-network hospital, but you never know with the anesthesiologists. That's what could get us. We did pay $413 to the doctor before surgery, but that was to hit the deductible.

There is also a possibility she could get something like Bridge as she is unemployed and an adult who has been disabled with this. I think we probably make too much if they consider DH's income, but if it is just based on her, maybe. I'm not counting on it, but they did bring up something about it, so we'll see.

I just want to know what the future brings so I can be prepared for it. But then, don't we all?

ER Visit and Surgery Date Set

May 23rd, 2018 at 01:36 pm

I spent all day Monday, from a little before 1 p.m. until midnight at the ER with my daughter. At midnight DH tagged me out and I went home to sleep because I had an early appointment on Tuesday morning, but they were home an hour later. They sent DD home with percocet and we were able to get a relatively quick surgery date of the 29th, so she has a week to wait. The meds should last that long. I will be so glad to see the backside of her gall bladder.

I don't know how much everything is going to cost and I don't know how we will pay for it if it costs more than $6000, but we will figure it out. DH says he will probably start getting overtime in June again, which will be a great help. The current project he is on, the one with no allowance for OT, wraps up at the end of the month.

They have him lined up for several more projects. His boss has said he contractually can't talk about bringing him on as a direct employee until June 4th. I don't know if that means anything or not, though, like is he going to talk to him on June 4th and bring him on, or just a statement of fact.

I do hope they bring him on as permanent because the benefits are outrageously good. Better insurance than we have now (which is really good, but expensive) for $250 a month for the whole family. Plus vision is $14 a month and dental is $100. So $364 total. Which is a far cry from the $1500 we are paying now. A share of company stock, which is worth $16K. 6% matching in the 401K. Paid vacation and sick days. Paid jury duty days off. I believe he also said good deals on disability and life insurance as well. I really hope this happens.

We'd have to pay COBRA for a couple of months, though, I'm sure. And that'll be $1500 a month. Worth it in the long run, though.

So I had to pay $413 today to the surgeon for the upcoming surgery. I don't know how much I will have to pay the hospital yet as a down payment. I am guessing around $1250. At least they can't turn her down for this surgery based on her BMI. Of course that is why it will be in the hospital and not the surgical suite at the doctor's office. I think DD has met her deductible now.

I have a killer head cold. I woke up with it Monday morning and so yeah, I had it the whole time we were in the ER. It was worse on Tuesday. Today I think it is at its height so hopefully tomorrow I will feel a lot better. Unless I caught something in the ER to add on top of it, because you know how my immune system likes to do things like that.

I got an email today saying that an old virus software on a computer we no longer have had been renewed automatically and charged to a credit card number we no longer have. I think it is the same card, just with a different number. I hope that means it didn't go through anywhere.

I am keeping an eye on the card that it used to be the number of just in case and then will dispute it. They worded it like they had already done it, but it hasn't shown up. I thought I had stopped any auto renewals, so maybe they are just trying to pull a fast one. Trying to figure out how to contact them through the info on the email is nearly impossible. We no longer do auto renewals on things so if they are trying this again we have to nip it in the bud, pronto.

Jury Duty Update and Taxes Update

March 30th, 2018 at 02:21 pm

DH's boss told him that if he gets called in during his week of jury duty he can work on the weekend and come in after jury duty if he wants to to get as many hours as he can. If he worked for them directly, instead of through the job recruiter, they actually still pay you for the week.

I told him to call the job recruiter and see if they offer something similar, because that would make things easier. But even if they don't, he can still get some work in, so it won't be a no pay week. We think he should be able to manage 30 hours. 30 hours of pay I can work with. Even 20. Just losing that full check would have been too much.

It's also possible they won't call him in for some of the days. They have you call in each morning to see if you are needed that day. If he only gets called in for 3 days, then he can get a full five days of work in. Best case scenario. Well, best case would actually be if they don't need him at all, but I don't know how likely that is.

DD has a cold. I hope she is better by her surgery on the 9th or we will have to postpone it. She has a pre-op appointment on Tuesday so I guess we will see if she needs to go on antibiotics then. It's not like we can wait until she's well. She's never well.

If it does get postponed that'll put us closer to when we get our tax refund. DH did finish the taxes the other night. I just hope it doesn't get audited or something. We claimed $21,000 in medical expenses and that might be a red flag. I do have all the receipts. We might have even spent more, but that was all I had the receipts for. We also never got the HSA people to issue a corrected form, so I'm just kind of hoping we slide under the radar with that. We should be getting $8000 something back.

Once we get the $8K back, I feel like we'll have some breathing room. DH has been given a new project, so he's still employed for a couple more months. Hopefully by the time June 6th arrives, they will offer him a direct job. They do like him and like his work. There are people that are going to be retiring within the next year or two, but I don't know how soon.

If not, then slope work is picking up again. If he goes back up there it is a lot more money and we could sure use it to get back to a place where I feel financially secure again and I can finish paying Mom back. I think as it is, I am going to give her $1000 out of the tax refund. Unless the surgery costs are just too high. We'll see.

For CreditCardFree on Thrive Life

March 26th, 2018 at 03:55 pm

CreditCardFree asked me to talk about Thrive Life freeze-dried foods, what I like, what I don't, what I use, and whether or not it really saves money.

I think it would be easier for me to say what products I don't like than what I do like, since I have liked almost everything I have tried. I dislike their instant potatoes. I find the texture to be a little rubbery and unless you season the heck out of them they have no flavor. I don't like the asparagus, it reconstitutes to be very mushy. I don't like the Passionfruit yogurt bites. I don't care for the larger chicken slices and the larger beef slices, as I think it takes far too long for them to reconstitute, longer than claimed.

The small beef and small chicken I like a lot, as well as the ground beef crumbles and the sausage crumbles. I have not tried any of the vegetarian meat products.

What I use most are the onions, the bell peppers, the chili peppers, the potato dices, the celery, the carrots, the green onions and the sweet corn. The sweet corn tastes like candy and we often eat it right from the can like popcorn.

I use the sour cream powder a lot. I have wasted so much sour cream over the years, so to be able to make out the exact amount per recipe with none leftover to mold in the fridge has saved us quite a bit. I also like their instant milk, for those days when we run out and I need a cup for making potatoes or something. I love the butter powder, too, because we have also run out of butter on occasion. I can just make up as much as we need or put some in a recipe.

I also use their seasoning blends, sauce mixes, bouillons, and tomato powder (which is in place of using tomato paste). They have no MSG or other suspect ingredients in these, which is amazing for bouillon. Less occasionally I use the kale and spinach in soups. We love the yogurt bites in vanilla, cherry, strawberry, pomegranate, and blueberry. That's one of my favorite things, actually, as I hate the texture of regular yogurt and I can just eat these straight without adding water and the texture issue isn't there.

I do use the freeze-dried fruit, but I haven't quit buying regular fruit. My kids like the fruit a lot and eat it as is. I think it is great for putting into cereal or muffins, but I don't care to just snack on it.

Most of the veggies are good. I like the broccoli, green beans (though I prefer my home canned), zucchini, and cauliflower. My husband likes the mushrooms (I can't eat mushrooms). The sweet potatoes and butternut squash are pretty good. Nothing is going to be crisp with freeze-dried and dehydrated foods, so I usually use fresh veggies for stir-fries, and these go into casseroles and egg bakes. My MIL likes eating the cauliflower straight out of the can.

Their instant brown rice and instant white rice we use on occasion. They are good, but I'm not sure they are any better than minute rice. I do like the fact that they have some instant beans. My son raves about the multi-grain pancake mix.

I do see some money saving. Because I am not having to peel anything, I am not paying for the weight of the part of the food that gets peeled off and thrown away. It is already cut up into the right size, so I am not having to spend time cutting up onions or other veggies, which saves my hands. With the RA, my hands often hurt too much to peel and chop, so that is a meal saver on those days. It doesn't have the chance to rot in the fridge before I can use it, so I'm not then having to pay to throw it away.

I tend to buy the products that are more pricey when they go on sale. They have different products on sale each month and then they do two semi-annual sales a year that have almost everything discounted. They have one day flash sales once in a while as well. The meat and the yogurt are most expensive so I only buy those when they are on sale and the same with the more expensive fruits (raspberries, grapes, cherries, pears). The rest is pretty well-priced and if you buy more than $100 on the monthly delivery program the shipping is free.

I don't buy the Simple Plates, which are the pre-made meal kits. I think they are expensive for what they are. They are meant to compete with things like Blue Apron and Freshly. While I got several when I got my consultant starter kit, most of them have mushrooms mixed in with the rest of the veggies, so I can't eat them. The family has liked what they have tried, but I wouldn't purchase them myself.

They do have some starter packs called Chef Kits that come in a set for $105 and come with recipes and you can make several recipes from each kit. They have a Southwest Chicken Kit, a Ground Beef Kit, and a Pulled Pork Kit. A lot of people like to start off with those so they can make a few meals and see if they like them. Or they have variety packs of vegetables, fruits, yogurts, and cheese which brings the price down a bit.

I seldom buy their cheese, but when their Parmesan or Monteray Jack goes on sale I will get some if I am out. Those we use so little of that it is not worth buying from the store because it'll go bad before we can use it all. But cheddar and mozzarella I still buy fresh as it is cheaper.

What it is great for is the shelf-life. Most products are one year after being opened, with three exceptions, the ham, the turkey, and the pulled pork. The ham is awful anyway. I forgot to say that I didn't like the ham. It didn't taste like ham to me, just pork and not well flavored. Unopened products have a shelf-life of 25 years, so there is that.

So like all things, you have to comparison shop and get some items on sale. But it has been worth it for me to save my hands a lot of work.

For everything you buy, you get points and after you get enough points you can cash them in for free product. As a consultant I also get a commission off of anyone's purchase from my website: https://www.thrivelife.com/luckyrobinshomestead. If anyone signs up for the monthly delivery (which requires a $25 purchase each month) I get a larger percentage commission and if people sign up to be consultants under me I get a percentage of their sales. It only goes four levels so it is not an unending pyramid. As a consultant I am required to spend $50 a month, which I more than spend anyway. I also have the expense of the website which is $10 a month. But I so far have been making about $60 each month. I don't really work the business, though. I have a couple people that purchase each month. I get a little business from my youtube channel, but I don't do parties or anything. If I did, I could make a lot more, but this is more passive for me.

Anyway, I hope that answered all of your questions and if not, let me know and I will try to answer any more you have.

Rambling Update

March 3rd, 2018 at 09:07 am

I know I am not posting a ton right now, but the push to get the last town storage unit cleared out had been ongoing. We had until February 28th to be out and it went down to the wire due to snow.

One of the only fun things about it has been finding all the loose coins. I've found another $3.24 in American money bringing that balance to $5.92 and another Canadian dollar, bringing that to $2.60 Canadian.

We will still have a lot to go through in our out of city units, but at least we will only be paying $225 going forward and not almost double that each month. With the amount of boxes in the out of city units to go through, I believe we will be able to eventually downsize to the one larger unit, which will be $125.

We will be able to wait for nice days now that the last city unit is done. Having to work in the snow or below freezing temps has not been fun. DH did finally find our wedding album and it is fine. I never meant for that album to end up in storage to begin with so it is nice to have it home again.

DH is getting overtime again. He got 10 hours for the week ending last Friday and he has worked both Saturday and Sunday as well, but those will be on the following paycheck. He may get 70 hours this week. All of the money will be helpful as the washing machine is not working right and we will have to get it repaired.

We have been jollying it along, using a hose to fill it, since it was agitating before the water would go in. Originally, it was only doing this at the start, but now it is doing it on the rinse cycle, which means stopping the machine and filling it again for the rinse cycle. Filling it once is bad enough, but having to fill it twice is beyond annoying and means you can't leave the house while using the machine and it wastes a lot of time in the day.

Hopefully there will be a little money left afterwards to go back into rebuilding the emergency fund. DH did get asked to do some safety training for unnamed oil company so he can be the project lead on a project for them. So that one starts after his current project ends and will mean an additional 2 months of work. Which should get him to the end of the six months contract through the job recruiter so that he can be hired on directly with this company or find another job without having to buy out the remainder of the contract.

I am glad he has more work coming, but living in a constant state of not knowing when he will have a secure job is taking its toll on my stress levels. Security has always been my number one issue in life and I really want it back. I don't want to have to worry from month to month if DH will still have a job. I know that a lot of people deal with this situation or worse because they have no emergency fund, but up until a couple of years ago we never had.

It has been tough to go from a life that was always secure to one that is not. It was awful to lose all of the money from our house down payment fund and most of our emergency fund and to be sitting here on the brink of not having an emergency fund at all. It has sucked to have medical emergency after medical emergency with limited or no insurance. I hate having to live like this. It screws with my head.

And just when it feels like we will have a little extra money again, the washing machine breaks and the sun roof on the mini-van starts leaking again. Once we get the money together, I am having the sun roof sealed, since they obviously can't fix it so it actually stays fixed. It will lower resale value, but by the time we sell this thing, it will be 20 years old, so I doubt it will have much resale value anyway. And the second sun roof will still work, anyway.

I won't buy a car with a sun roof again. We seldom used it when it worked because half the time the angle of the sun coming in would shine in the rear view mirror and blind the driver. And with working AC there was no real need for it. Even sitting in the car waiting for someone on a hot day, with the sun roof open, the sun just beat down on us. It just isn't worth it.

If it wasn't leaking into the seat belt holder it wouldn't be so bad, but every time I pull the seat belt out to use it when it has been raining it is soaked. It would have to be on the driver's side. Speaking of the seat belt holder, the other day when I took my seat belt off, it took my hair with it into the seat belt holder. Fortunately the kids were in the car and could pull it back out, because I couldn't move to do it.

So, it is time for a hair cut, I guess. Or I need to keep my hair in a braid when I'm driving. It's down to the bottom of my shoulder blades and it is starting to get caught under my arms when I put my arms down after having them raised. I am rolling over when I am sleeping to sometimes pull it as well if I don't sleep in a braid. I like having long hair, but geesh, it can be a pain sometimes.

I hate wearing a braid outside in the winter, though. It exposes my ears and the back of my neck and I chill so easily. It is long enough to donate if I decide to cut it to my shoulders, which will still keep my ears and the back of my neck warm, at least.

I have been considering getting it layered so it will work with my natural curl. It frizzes a lot when it is all one length and the weight pulls out a lot of the curl, but when it is layered it curls like crazy. It would also cut down on the heaviness since it is so thick. I probably should just bite the bullet and do it. I am getting too old for long hair, I think.

The last time my hair was this long I dithered for months and then got it cut so short I hated it. It wasn't an easy to care for cut, either, which is the main reason why I hated it. Plus it worked against my curls. I know if I layer it, I'd have to use product, which I don't care for much, but it would be nice to have a change. You can see why it takes me forever to decide, hmm? Seriously, does anyone else have this problem? I've been like this my whole life. Always wanting short hair when it was long and long hair when it was short.

Once I do get it cut, I'll make a decision on coloring then. I think most of what I will be left with will have heavy grey streaking. A lot of what is still auburn will be cut off, leaving mostly grey streaked auburn. They grey washes it out, though and makes it look duller. I am not one of those folks who can go blonde because it washes me out and the grey is doing the same. But I hate spending the time coloring my hair, even when it is my daughter applying it instead of me.

Well, enough time spent wasting my morning. I'm off to organize, toss, and donate. It will end some day.

Picking a Health Plan, Running the Numbers, and a Farm Update

January 18th, 2018 at 09:09 pm

Last night DH and I sat down and took another look at the health plan offered by the job recruiter company. They offer 4 different plans.

The gold plan has a $500 per person and a $1000 per family deductible. Prescriptions are $10 for generic and $50 for brand names. Co-pay is $35 whether it is a regular doctor or a specialist. Out of pocket max per person is $4500 and per family is $9000.

The silver plan has a $2000 per person and $4000 per family deductible. Prescriptions are $20 for generic and $80 for brand names. Co-pay is $45. Out of pocket max per person is $6850 and family is $13,700. It has an out of pocket max of $10,000 after the deductible has been met.

It offered 2 bronze plans. Plan 1 has a $5250 per person and a $10,500 family deductible. Prescriptions are $20/$80 and then they have a third tier and a fourth tier of 30% and 50% respectively for the really high priced drugs. Co-pay is $50. Out of pocket max is $7150 per person and $14,300 per family.

The second bronze plan is an HSA plan. It has a $7150 deductible per person and $14,300 per family. Prescriptions are $35/$100 with the other tiers again being 30% and 50%. Co-pay is $50. The out of pocket max is $6550 per person and $13,100 per family.

Based on our prescription costs and the fact that my daughter is going to need 2 surgeries in the next couple of months, we knew both bronze plans were out, so it really came down to which would save us more money this year, the gold or the silver.

DH ran the numbers and on the gold plan weekly take home pay will be approximately $1177. On the silver plan it will be $1232. This is without any overtime, his guaranteed 40 hours a week. If he gets ten hours of overtime a week the amounts would be $1523 and $1577.

They are currently on an overtime moratorium for this week and the next two weeks, though DH has been getting 50 hours up until now. But they put the freeze on because they have pushed the end date of the job out to mid-April instead of mid-March, so the rush to get the work done on time has slowed. It means DH will be employed for another month at least, though.

So not feeling we could count on the overtime at all, my numbers to budget with had to be $1177 and $1232. I sat down and figured out the budget with the lower amount to see if we could swing it and still be able to start the 401K contributions in March when he qualifies.

We can swing the more expensive plan and we are going to because in the long run it will be cheaper. I have 7 prescriptions, my daughter has 6, and my husband has 2. I know we might only be on this medical plan a few months and if DH gets hired on through the actual company it will be all different medical than this and a different 401K plan, too, but since I know what is coming up and how much we would be spending, the gold plan will be cheaper, especially since more of it will be in pretax dollars, which will also lower our taxable income.

I have determined we can at least contribute 2% of his income to a 401K which is $36 a week. If after the first month of that he is still working there we will try to bump it up to 4% or $78 a week and see if we can handle that. We will proceed forward with 1% bumps until we get to 6% to get all the matching funds.

I can make some cuts in the grocery budget and we can cut out eating out again. Not that we eat out much, but we do. I think the amount I have allotted for medical expenses will drop, too. I am not sure we will be able to contribute to the Emergency Fund or pay back my mother anything, though. I will try for at least $100 a month into the EF, though.

Our insurance will go up once the will finishes up whatever it is doing and the title of the truck gets transferred into our names and MIL is no longer paying the insurance on it. I reckon it will double, but it might not, since we ought to get a multiple vehicle discount. I am considering at that time dropping everything but what we need for if we are at fault since we will have two vehicles. When you only have one vehicle that is a chancier prospect. We'll see. DS is about to start learning to drive, which doesn't change anything yet, but will once he gets a license.

I hate the idea of having such a cramped budget, but we've lived on less before and I know we can do this with enough self-discipline. Once I can start growing food again that will help, too. The fruit and veggie portion of the food budget from May through October really goes way down.

At least with the turkeys and chickens gone I don't have any animals that are hemorrhaging money. The rabbits pay for their own feed as well as the ducks' feed. We don't get enough eggs for the ducks to be self-sufficient, but the rabbits make up for it. We are down to just 4 ducks and 1 drake now and they forage a lot. They also eat a lot of garden produce in the spring, summer, and fall.

This month has been a rough one with the animals. We lost Annabeth the duck shortly after the new year started and last night Luna Blue died. Luna Blue was the rabbit I had to feed with a dropper full of raw goat milk because her mother died when she was 3 weeks old. Only 3 out of 7 of that litter survived without their mother. But she was the runt and she needed the most help. I adored that rabbit. She was the sweetest thing.

We had a vicious wind storm yesterday and all I can think is that the loud noises scared her and she flipped and broke her back. We've had that happen before with really loud noises and her back was definitely broken. I've lost rabbits when the Med-Evac helicopter has flown illegally low over our house on the way to the hospital on three occasions and twice now to wind storms. It is frustrating. We have more wind on the horizon as well and I hope I don't lose anyone else. I'm not particularly attached to the others like I was to Luna, but I do love them and it is always hard to lose animals.

Week 1 2018 Payday Report and Work Related Musings

January 5th, 2018 at 05:20 pm

The outgo was slightly higher than the intake this week, but I had money left from last week in anticipation of that. I also have some money left to pay the surgeon consult on Monday and get the cash discount.

DH didn't get any overtime last week because of the holiday. He at least got his 40 hours in, though, by working 4 ten hour days. That $300 of overtime pay sure makes a difference.

I am not sure if we will be able to put anything in the Emergency Fund this month. Or at least not the full $500 I budgeted. And nothing to the College Fund, either. Maybe not even a loan payment to Mom. I was not expecting an ER visit and surgeon consult. If I can manage to not take any money out of the EF, I'll be happy, but we'll have to wait and see. I am hoping the hospital does not bill us until the end of the month.

I am really dreading when they start taking medical out. We are going for the plan with the lowest deductible and most coverage due to the anticipated surgery after running the numbers, but that will mean a normal paycheck is a little over $1000 a week, and overtime might be $300. They may take out less in taxes, though with the tax cut, but I don't know when that goes into effect so I am not counting on it.

I really wish he had been hired on direct with the company and not through a recruiting service. They are talking about keeping him on after this job is up and I hope that pans out. The job he was hired for only goes mid-March. If he gets asked to stay, he will have to work through the recruiting service through May, though, unless they buy out the contract, which the recruiting company may go for after they see the medical bills we're going to generate. The actual company has much better benefits and medical shouldn't be anywhere near what it is through the recruiter company.

Here are the bills I paid today:

$275.00 Chiropractor
_500.00 To Mom for Utilities
_149.12 Tithe
_315.21 AMEX
_158.01 BoA MC
_108.30 Comcast
__42.96 Garbage
----------------
$1548.60 Total Money Out

Payday Report and Bonus

December 22nd, 2017 at 08:45 pm

Today was payday and included in the envelope with the paycheck stub, which they mail out, was a $100 Master Card for Christmas. I wasn't expecting any such thing as DH has only been working there for 3 months. It was a pleasant surprise. We will be using it to pay for gas, since we are changing storage facilities and will be spending the next two days getting as much moved as possible. The storage unit is still leaking even after they supposedly fixed the roof.

We are getting an 18 x 10 and a 10 x 10 at the new facility. Total monthly cost will be $250 as opposed to the current cost which is $484, a savings of $234 a month. I wanted a 12 x 30, but they didn't have any available. I am going to see if they will let us skip the insurance. With the stuff with the current insurance, I am not sure we will ever see a payout and quite frankly it will probably be easier just to eat the loss, considering there is a $200 deductible and they are just difficult to deal with. Calculatedly so, I presume.

Anyway, the payday report is pretty small. I just paid 2 things.

$1400.00 to Citi Visa (paid in full each month)
+_549.19 Medical Bill
------------
$1949.19 Total out

Some of this was money I already had in the checking account. With overtime DH's check was $1739.90. I currently have $94.07 left in checking. Citi is higher because we put a large dental bill on it, so I will have to make a payment on it next week as well to get it paid in full before the 1/3/08 due date.

I realized that I wrote out the check to the chiropractor last week, but I forgot they were going on vacation and would not be back until the 8th, so our next month's family plan is not actually due until then. I will void that check and dump it back into the checking account. I will pay the tithe out of that and the rest can just sit there. I will pay that bill out of 1/5/18 paycheck. So that tithe will be $173.99.

Next week will be a large payment to Citi again, the life insurances, and tithe. I will need to scrape up some money for the oral surgeon in January so my daughter can get her implant. I don't know how much that will cost, but I imagine somewhere between $1000 and $2000. Hopefully closer to $1000. Even if we had insurance it wouldn't cover that. It may have to come right back out of the Emergency Fund.

I got my payment from youtube today, so that was nice. I'll dump it into savings with the rest of my earnings. They are earmarked to go into an IRA.

Did Some Looking

December 3rd, 2017 at 04:17 am

I did some looking and if we go with a facility that is about 15 minutes away, we can get a storage unit that is 12 x 30 for $200. At least if it is available. That means that we could drop to one unit. Right now we are paying $252 for the large unit that is 10 x 25 and $130 for the small unit which is 8 x 10, so a total of $382 a month. That would be a savings of $182 a month. Wow, I really wish I had got on the ball sooner.

Then we could work on winnowing down what we have and hopefully eventually get a 10 x 20 for $170 instead.

We might get a discount on the first month as well. I know that most storage units seem to have a move in special where you get one month free if you sign a six month lease. I still need to do a bit more looking, though. There might be something else that has better prices.

Our one year of special internet pricing expired. No more $71.82. They bumped it up to $120, but DH went in and talked to someone and got it down to $90. I am not pleased, but it is better than $120. I hate living in a town where there is only one company for fast internet. The others are slow and cause constant buffering.

I have still been quite happy with Ting. We have had a very reasonable bill each month since switching. I am so glad we took the plunge.

I earned a $53 commission for November from Thrive Life. That is quite a step up from the $13 commission from October. I am not sure when that will be deposited in my account, though. I didn't realize until last week that they did not have my direct deposit information. So hopefully that will show up soon. It will go into savings with the rest of my earnings for this year. I want to open an IRA with what I earned this year and put in every cent. It is not much, but I think I will end up with around $500 between them and my youtube channel.

I am really so glad that I got involved with Thrive Life. It has made my life so much easier to not have to peel and chop things every day for dinner. I know freeze dried foods are not for everyone, but I have been so pleased with the quality of the products. And if I only ever could buy one thing from them and nothing else, it would be the diced onions. No more crying when I cut onions, no more dealing with onions that go bad or sprout before I can use them, no more pain in my hands all night after cutting up several cups worth of onions. So worth it.

Goodish News and Thanksgiving Plans

November 21st, 2017 at 11:10 pm

DH got the job he interviewed for. It is only a three month job, though, hence the goodish but not full-on good part. He will start in two weeks. I figure if it gets us through February, then we'll have our tax return to live on for a while. There is a possibility they would keep him on for other jobs after that. Someone had told him before he left the slope that there would probably be a job for him in April. Probably and possibly are not something I hang my hat on, though.

He will make enough for us to do pretty well for 3 months, and I will bank as much as I can. We'll still be living with austerity measures, though I will start paying the kids an allowance again once we get a paycheck and we will have a small Christmas after all. He hasn't run the numbers yet, he's waiting on one piece of info about medical deductions so he can give me pretty precise data. Then I can make up a preliminary budget and know more firmly where we stand.

We should get his first unemployment check tomorrow and there will be at least one more. We are putting that money in the bank. If we have to, we will use it for COBRA. If not, we will use it for living expenses.

I still don't feel very secure about the future, but at least I have something of a plan for the next several months. Prayers for something longer term and more secure would still be appreciated, though. I am so glad we don't owe anything to any creditors. I can't even imagine the state I would be in if we did. Well, absolute panic, probably.

I got my first commission check from Thrive Life. Well, I haven't actually gotten it yet, but it is there once I send for it. It's $13. Not much yet. I make about 2.5 times that with youtube each month. But I won't turn it away. Right now they are having their Black Friday sale through the 27th, so a lot of stuff is marked down. I wasn't going to order much, but now that there is an income that will be coming in, I will make one big order and then drop down to $50 a month minimum for consultants, which we easily use. I just want to take advantage of their sale prices for meat now.

I have some interest from some cousins and other family members, so we'll see if that amounts to anything. We are going out to my MIL's house tomorrow for a Thanksgiving meal that I won't be cooking. My niece, who works for a catering company and is going to school to become a home economics teacher, will be making everything but the turkey. MIL knows how to do a turkey, but DH is going out to help her around noon to get it in since she can't lift it and then coming back home.

We will all go out after we put the ducks away for the night, which is at sundown. It works out nicely because SIL (I don't know if her boyfriend is coming or not) and other niece's fiance don't get off work until 5:00 and sundown is 4:30, so the kids will have a chance to get washed up and changed and we will probably still get there before anyone else besides niece and MIL. Assuming I feel good enough. I am on the upswing, but I am still weak and exhausted.

Then we will be making our own Thanksgiving dinner my way on Thursday with an organic free range turkey, organic mashed potatoes and gravy, and my homemade stuffing, plus my home canned green beans and corn. I think I will skip the pumpkin cheesecake this year and do a chocolate cream pie the easy way, graham cracker crust, chocolate pudding, and whipped cream, but only if I feel ambitious. Which I don't, at the moment, so maybe no desert at all. We'll see.

Draining Week

November 18th, 2017 at 11:43 pm

The funeral on Wednesday was beautiful. I was able to speak, which was a good thing, because neither DH nor SIL could manage, though MIL did. I got a lot of compliments on what I said, which was nice, because I did not go in with a prepared speech. I don't like speaking in public, but I didn't feel it could go by without one of us saying something.

My favorite of DH's cousins did not attend. Her grandson, who is only 5, has a brain tumor. They biopsied on Tuesday and found out it is a very aggressive cancer and the tumor was the size of a tennis ball. Wednesday he had the surgery to remove it and they were able to get it all, but they still had to see if it had spread to the bloodstream. I am at such a loss. I am so tired of cancer hitting my family. This year has been a horror.

I am still pretty sick, but Thursday was my worst day. I think I have turned the corner with this cold, but I've been wrong before and gone on a second downswing. Hopefully not this time, though. Unfortunately, both kids are down with it, and DH started sneezing like crazy today. He's dosing on vitamin C. I hope he can keep going, because I am not at the stage where I can do any of the household or farm chores. Well, I did manage to fold one load of towels and one of clothes and then had to rest before I could put them away.

DH's interview was on Friday. He was supposed to be interviewed by two people, but the second one had a death in the family and couldn't be there. So the first guy said he needed to talk to the second guy when he gets back and see if he felt he needed to interview DH, too, or just go based on the first guy's opinion. He wanted to know if DH could start immediately, so I guess that is promising, but I'm not getting my hopes up yet.

DH and I went down to pick up our turkey today. We asked for one in the 13 to 16 pound range when we ordered a few months ago, and it is 15.07 pounds. I also picked up some sausage since we didn't get any with our pork. They had chorizo, which I was excited about, because I've never been able to find a chorizo without some bad additives in it. So one day next week I will make chorizo con huevoes with rice for dinner. Or possibly for breakfast with cauliflower rice.

I also picked up some roasts for canning. The roasts from our beef all have bones in them and I like them for pot roast dinners, anyway. But I want to can some meat for stews and chuck roasts available at the farm have no bones so are easier to cut up. In the winter I like to have stew once a week and we've been out of canned beef for a couple of months now.

We're also going to juice up a bunch of the apples we got when we went to the orchard a while back. I clearly got too many. If I juice it, I can can it and it will be shelf stable. That is a relatively easy task, but it will still have to wait until I feel decent enough to do it.

I was really hoping to do a better job at blogging with daily blogs this month, but I just haven't had the energy, so catch up posts a couple times a week are just going to have to do it for now.







Bits and Pieces

November 14th, 2017 at 10:30 am

DH has a job interview Friday morning. It is for a local company, as in our city, so the commute would be short. He'd even be able to take the bus if he wanted to as it is on the bus route. Another company an hour away has expressed some interest as well, but aren't interviewing for another couple weeks. That company tends to be slow to move. Anyway, prayers that the interview goes well and DH is offered the job would be appreciated. I just hope it isn't one of those things where they have to interview so many people, but they have planned to hire in-house from the start. Those are so frustrating.

I am sick. First I had a horrible stomach bug that lasted about 10 days and now I have a sore throat, am completely stuffed up, and am running a fever. The lethargy is pretty bad. I can't seem to sleep well, so it is taking forever to get better. It may be a sinus infection. I hate to go to the doctor right now, though. The COBRA paperwork finally arrived, but who knows how long it will take for them to actually process it. So currently we have to pay out of pocket. COBRA is retroactive, so we'll be able to submit anything paid out of pocket eventually.

If DH is hired and the insurance starts after one month we may not do COBRA at all. We have 60 days to start it and we can do it on day 60, so even if something major happens along the way they will have to pay it. COBRA will be $1500 or thereabouts a month and that is with dropping vision and dental.

I really hope he is hired. Our remaining savings will not last long and we are still recovering from the last bout of unemployment and paying for our medical insurance for 9 months.

The funeral is on Wednesday. There will be a viewing followed by a short graveside service. I am afraid I am going to get even sicker standing outside in the cold, wind, and rain. After the graveside service, there will be an indoor memorial. Then after that a catered family get together. DH and I are taking separate vehicles. That way DD and I can come home when we need to since we are both so sick and DH can be there for MIL longer with DS, unless DS wants to come home, too. He is starting to get the cold.

I would love to visit with the extended family, but I am afraid I would get everyone really sick. As it is, I will barely be functional enough to attend the funeral. My head is so full of snot and it is hard to focus.

Earlier in the week when I was feeling somewhat better, I made some freezer meals. Instead of making one casserole for dinner, I made a triple batch and froze the extra two. So I now have two pans of enchiladas, two pans of baked ziti, and two pans of chicken and broccoli/cauliflower casserole in the freezer. I don't have the stamina or energy to do full on once a month freezer cooking, but it is close to the same amount of work to do 3 at a time than it is to do one.

I'm going to do some taco rice bakes, some lasagnas, some hamburger casseroles, some carnitas, and some pork fried rice when I feel a little better. Ideally, I'd like to have 15 days of frozen casseroles ready to go. I'll do some individual turkey dinners as well after Thanksgiving, but those never last long.

I have some days where cooking is just not an option, either due to rheumatoid arthritis or just being sick or just being exhausted, so being able to go to the freezer and pop something in the oven is wonderful. I get the aluminum pans at The Dollar Tree unless they go on sale elsewhere. I don't have enough casserole dishes to tie them up in the freezer for long amounts of time. It is an expense, but it beats the expense of take out easily.

If anyone has some casserole recipes that don't contain mushrooms or cream of mushroom soup and freeze well, I'd love for you to pass them on to me.

Keeping Things Tight

November 3rd, 2017 at 06:29 am

DH has been laid off for two weeks now and so far we are keeping the budget tight. No more allowances for the kids, no eating out, no frivolous spending. And there have been a couple of nights where grabbing burgers would have made life so much easier. But we are resisting.

DH is having to do a lot of running for his parents and of course is spending as much time as he can with his dad. They are going to try to get him into hospice today. He has a hard time staying awake because of the high dose of painkillers and his words are sometimes coming out the opposite of what he means, like saying up for down.

It started snowing last night. We haven't even had a frost up to this point and it was only supposed to get down to 35 degrees and be raining. So we got out the heater for the rabbit shed so their waters don't freeze and the heat lamp and heated water fount for the duck coop. Then we went into the garden and harvested the celery, the remaining tomatoes, and the acorn squash.

Today or tomorrow I will go gather the rose hips, since they taste sweeter after the first frost, which this qualifies as. I will be making rose hip syrup or jelly, I haven't decided yet. Rose hip syrup was made extensively through the U.K. during WWII. Because of rationing and the inability to import citrus, and because rose hips were free and could be gathered from the side of the roads, syrup was made so that they would have a source of vitamin C, especially for the children. It is higher in vitamin C than anything else.

In fact some areas paid people to go out and pick the rose hips, I think it was around a pence for a pound. It was a way to earn extra money during war time. Also some people made and sold the syrup as a way of earning money. The extra money was often used to buy rationed food items on the black market.

I have only dried the hips for tea before. This will be my first year making jelly or syrup.

Well, That's That

October 27th, 2017 at 11:42 am

DH was laid off on the 20th and returned home on the 21st. Today is the last paycheck. Time to put our heads down and hope and pray that the $25K in savings will be enough to get us through until he finds another job. I really wish they had kept him on until the 28th like they'd first said. With cutting the time, it meant there was nothing extra to put into savings after all, and we will have to draw for December expenses in late November.

This is going to be a rough road to go down again. This is one of the worst times of the year to be trying to find work in his industry.

I won't bring in much with Thrive Life, but I'll get something. I bring in a little with the youtube channel. But it is so little as to make no difference. I wish I wasn't disabled. I'd go work at McDonald's if I could stand that long.

Planning for November and December

October 6th, 2017 at 12:58 pm

I did the math and I think I've got a fairly good grasp on where things are right now. If DH works through the 20th, which is what they are thinking right now we will come out of things with about $7000 once all bills are met for October. If he goes through the original end date of the 26th it'll be around $10,000. If it goes longer, and with DH's experience with these things winding down, it often goes a lot longer than the PIC's think it will with all the last minute stuff that has to be done, then we will have more. Who knows?

Right now, though, I can guarantee $7000 for November and December. One silver lining is that they are paying his return home ticket, because they really aren't firm on his last day and there is no way he can buy a ticket without a firm date. So they will buy him his last minute final ticket.

That $7000 should cover all of November's expenses, plus some of December's. We do have to pay for my daughter's tooth implant, which will be $650 and my son has to get wisdom teeth x-rays to see if they need to be removed or not. If they do, that'll probably be $1000. It was $800 when my daughter had hers out 5 or 6 years ago, so I am assuming inflation.

So I'm not sure how far into December that $7000 will go, due to those upcoming expenses, but at least a little ways, before we will have to touch the Emergency Fund. If he can work until the 26th I think we can do 2 full months without having to touch savings.

We are going on lock down for expenses after October. No eating out, no computer games or downloadable music or all the things DH and the kids like to nickel and dime. No allowances for the kids. Just basic expenses and a jacket for my husband. The kids and I all have coats now and good shoes. No snow boots, but my work boots are insulated and we usually only have snow for a few weeks.

DD and I got our coats through a coupon that if you spend $100, you get $50 off. Our two coats together came to $137 so we got the $50 off, bringing the cost to $87 or $43.50 each. Both jackets are waterproof and warm and we got them big enough that we can wear sweaters underneath if they need to be warmer. They cost a little more since they are both plus size and waterproof.

DS got his on a clearance sale from JC Penney. Original cost was $120, but it was on a 50% off sale, which brought the price down to $60, but I had a gift card I'd earned from something a while back, so that was $20 off, and then when they rang it up after that it came out as just under $30 not $40, so I think there was an additional discount somewhere or else they made a mistake. Or it is possible they were doing the no sales tax weekend.

DH will probably have to order his from a magazine unless Freddy's has his size. He has a hard time finding coats that fit as he has a very long back and broad shoulders and needs a plus size as well. So probably the big and tall magazine.

I am determined that we all focus on weight loss during this job loss. I think that we all ate our emotions during the last one. Well, my son isn't in the same shape as the rest of us and he's already been working on losing weight and building muscle so I think he will just be happy to have the rest of us along. I have been trying, but it is just so much easier for me to have the whole family on board.

DH and I have been talking about school. If he doesn't find another job soon, we may just have to suck it up, take out loans and have him get his BA in electrical engineering. I hate the idea of student loans with a passion. We didn't use them the first time around and I hate to use them now, but his 20 years of experience and an AS and several glowing letters of recommendation seem to hold no weight to hiring people who think the expensive piece of paper that says BS on it is the end all and be all of life.

I don't know, we'll figure it out.

A Few Extra Weeks

September 14th, 2017 at 12:12 am

They've asked DH to stay until Monday. He was going to come home on Friday, but now he will come home on Tuesday. He will only be at home for a week. In that time he has a dentist appointment on the 19th to get the permanent crown put on, he will be taking his dad down to the cancer center in Seattle on the 20th, doing a butcher session for the animals that have hit weight on Thursday or Friday, going over his parents' wills and living wills, and hopefully getting a day of rest in before hopping back on a plane and going up to work 5 weeks straight.

It might end up being a little longer. If we can get even one day into November that will cover another month of insurance. Which would be really helpful to the budget, but not as helpful as three extra weeks of work will be.

Someone got offered a new job, but had to start right away, so he quit and they are needing to cover that position. There is someone who can do it, but that leaves her position unoccupied during that time, so DH will be covering that one, which is stuff he does anyway.

It will be hard not having him home for very long, and I won't even get to see him on the one day at all, but we have gone through longer separations than this before and can do so again.

I will sock away as much money as I possibly can from the extra work. I certainly wasn't expecting this, but I am so glad it is happening. I think I will be able to stretch it into two months expenses, which means we can go further without an income if we have to, but hopefully it won't take him as long to find a new job this time.

An Update of Sorts

September 3rd, 2017 at 07:45 pm

Well, DH has work through October. There for a while we weren't even sure he'd go back after this hitch ends or not. His last day should be the 26th. I wish he could extend it a week. All we'd need was one day worked in November and his job would pay for November insurance. But he texted me this morning, so one more month to pay off some of these surprise medical expenses like a new C-pap machine, and the dental work that needs to get done.

I'm not sure what will happen then, other than DH will be looking for work. He may have made enough since May to qualify him again for unemployment, but that's not much. We have $22,784.87 left in the Emergency Fund. Which will get us to March or April if DH doesn't find a job again. We'll get our tax refund as soon as possible and with the medical we've paid out this year that could be enough for an additional 2 months of living expenses.

If there is any money left over after paying all of our bills the next two months than I will save it, too. I'm pretty sure there will be nothing of September's pay, but barring any other medical emergency we should be able to put aside some of October's pay.

I hope he can find something reliable soon. We are as prepared as we can be, but this will be the last time we can go through this without having some serious time to rebuild our savings again. We won't be able to survive it a third time if we wipe out all of our savings.

Payday Reports for 7/21 and 7/28

July 28th, 2017 at 11:27 pm

$2500.00 Citi (7/21)
__250.00 BCC
_3200.00 Citi (7/28)
__102.13 Life Insurance (DH and Me)
__801.46 Various Medical Bills
___90.00 Next Tuesday's Physical Therapy
--------------
$6943.13

So of the $5700 that went to Citi, $5000 of that was medical bills that I kicked down the road from my daughter's ER visit and my ER visit for the torn retina and the accompanying emergency laser eye surgery. I still have about $1200 to pay on Citi before the due date on the 3rd so that will come out of the EF and I'll pay it on the 1st when the money arrives in my account.

The rest of the Citi charges were groceries for the month. I still have an additional $3500 of medical bills that I put on the AMEX card that is due on the 14th, so I'll pay that off with the paycheck on the 4th. There will be just enough in the half paycheck on the 11th to pay for DH's travel expenses and the remainder of the August bills and then he won't get paid again until the next paycheck which won't be until September 1st.

Barring any more medical bills, and I honestly can't do that when things are still trickling in, we should be able to start paying back the EF. Not that that will last long if DH gets laid off again in October. His boss's boss is trying to find a place for him elsewhere in the company because they don't want to lose him now that he's worked for them. Wish they'd had that attitude last August, instead of putting us through 9 months of destroying every financial hope and dream we ever had of staying ahead, in loving partnership with the (Un)Affordable Care Act, of course. But whatever. I'm not bitter, she lied.

I Swear I am the World's Biggest Klutz

July 16th, 2017 at 10:09 pm

I managed to bang my head really hard yesterday, by dropping the shampoo in the shower, picking it up, and hitting the top of my head against the shelf the shampoo sits on. It's not a very big shelf, even. My daughter says I have a quail egg, not a goose egg. My head doesn't even hurt, but my neck and shoulders do from being compressed real hard when I banged my head. I have no concussion symptoms, either, thank goodness. Hopefully the chiropractor can fix my neck tomorrow.

Then just for funsies I got a massive charley horse in my calf this morning as I was doing my wake up stretch. One of those ones that is so bad it makes you cry and then feels like a massive bruise for the rest of the day. I'm like, what the heck, body? It lasted about 10 minutes, but felt like a lifetime. I take potassium and magnesium supplements so I don't get them, but every once in a while I get a zinger. I may have to add some calcium supplementation in, too.

I did work in the garden a lot yesterday and then in the rabbit shed today. I will be glad when the day comes that we can replace some of the cages, because it is really hard to get some of the dropping trays out of the older style cage. I just don't know when that is going to be, or if it is.

DH's work uncertainty is still uncertain. They are back to talking about only having work until October, not December after all. But they are trying to get something okay'd, which would be to keep on a skeleton crew and for DH to move up a level. There would be no raise with the promotion if it were to happen. Which honestly doesn't really concern me, because he'd be getting a year of experience in that position which would make it easier for him to get a different job later.

And yeah, while a raise would be great, really great actually, the income he gets now is sufficient to pay everything and put some money aside, at least once the medical bills from the previous insurance's deductible are fully paid off. And the great insurance through the end of 2018 is worth it, too.

So, yeah, the uncertainty is either a job ending or a promotion. I know which one I am hoping for. Prayers again would be helpful.

I've managed to go an entire week without getting take out. I haven't really stuck to my meal plan at all, though. Just winging it most of the week. And wanting to get take out. It's not like it is even that good. I just have been so tired, but I've made simpler things than I'd planned to compensate. Or making things in simpler ways, like making carnitas in the crock pot so I don't have to babysit them.

I'm going to make a big batch of Mexican rice in the rice cooker tomorrow. I'm on a Mexican food kick right now and am planning on fajitas and enchiladas and possibly tacos later this week. I'll be using some of the freeze-dried foods in preparing them as I won't have to chop anything that way. It makes it go so much faster.

Well, I guess I've rambled enough for one night.

Odds and Ends

June 6th, 2017 at 11:37 pm

Mom's shoulder surgery went well. They kept pushing it back so I didn't hear anything until 4:30, but the doctor said it went beautifully. I was able to pop up and see her at 8:30. We didn't get to visit much since the nurse was in there with her until 8:50 and then visiting hours ended at 9. She said I didn't need to come today, but she seemed glad to see me.

Her doctor asked if she is being forgetful lately, because he was worried about it being a side-effect of the surgery or the pain medicine, but I told him she is getting forgetful about some things. It's not bad yet, just kind of irritating, but not so much that she needs help for it. Just aging. Though I do keep a watch on her about it.

I told the nurse I thought she should stay in the hospital for another day based on how she was last time. Medicaid and Bridge will pay for it so she might as well stay another day with people who can care for her full time, unlike me, who has a full day tomorrow. I based my schedule on what I was told, which was 2 days. And since I'm the only one who will be caring for her, since my siblings don't do that sort of thing, I'd like them to stick to the original plan.

DS is applying for his first job tomorrow. He got the application today and took the food handler's permit test and got that. It is a weird feeling. I really didn't want him to work this summer as he still has school work to catch up on, but he has promised he will continue with it through the summer and if he doesn't I'll make him quit.

He's applying at McDonalds. They are hiring and they've got the college tuition help so he could build that up if he works there. It was something I found so helpful when I was working there and going to college. It wasn't a ton, but it paid for my books. I hope he doesn't have any trouble getting hired there. He's never had a job before outside the farm. He can ride his bike or walk there (35 minute walk, 10 minute bike ride) unless it is raining, then I'd take him.

He wants to buy an iPhone, which I said okay on, but after he has the money for that, he has to put half of every paycheck into savings for college and open an IRA and put in $50 a week and contribute at least $10 a month to charity, either the local mission or the teenage runaway mission Covenant House.

If he does okay with his school work during the summer, than I may let him work part time during the school year. I just can't let his studies suffer. He's already 1/2 a year behind due to all the stuff leading up to and recovering from his sinus surgery. I want to keep him on track. His grades are good, he's just missed time.

So many things are changing right now and it is hard for me to deal with it all. I don't like change. I like steady, dependable, reliable routine. But I know he has to grow up, so I try not to be too crazy about it.

I am still worried about the job situation, but what else is new? Either it works out or it doesn't. Hopefully it does. Oh, and they ended up deciding to let him stay through Thursday of the third week since it was a screw up on their part. His boss will be retiring soon, too, so that should be helpful. It would still be nice, though, if he could get that other job.

The rabbit kits are growing up so well. The one eight week old broken red is a female. I was hoping for a male, but I'm keeping her. She has perfect markings and coloration. I do need a boy, though. There are two broken reds in Ella's 3.5 week old litter. One has good coloration, the other has good markings. I just don't know though. I'll need to wait and see how their coloring changes as they get bigger. If it isn't right, we can try again.

There is a gorgeous solid black 3.5 week old as well, that looks like he will stay that color. He is even darker than Ella. If he is a boy, I would be very tempted to keep him, but we really don't have the room right now.

The garden is doing really well. I have more lettuce than I know what to do with, but other things are coming along. I got my first kohlrabi and there are teeny tiny peas on the snow pea plants. Maybe in a week they will be ready. I saw some color on one of the strawberries yesterday so hopefully they will all be ripening up soon. If I can keep the squirrels off them we will have a bumper crop.


Made it to the Pool and Started a New Dietbet

May 29th, 2017 at 08:14 pm

In an effort to start exercising again, we made it to the pool today. It was during open swim and while there was a free lap lane, I didn't swim laps. What I did was grab a pool noodle, stick it under my arms, and then do the bicycling legs while floating thing for 20 minutes. Then I pretty much just floated for a while. Gravity is not my friend right now, so anything that helps me defy it is wonderful.

I figured I should take it easy in the beginning as I don't want to hurt myself when I am just getting started. I have no stamina right now. A lot of times working in the garden I end up huffing and puffing. I am just so out of shape. It's a good thing I took it easy, too, because my legs felt like jelly when I got out.

I sat in the hot tub for about 15 minutes and then took a nice long shower, since no one else was in the locker room. I am almost out of my swim shampoo and conditioner. It takes the chlorine out of my hair so I will need to buy some more soon if I keep this up.

I picked up the new pool schedule for the summer and there is only one water Zumba class a week. I am not ready to go to that or water aerobics, though. Not until my feet and ankles are doing better. Hopefully I'll get some kind of medication from the rheumatologist and it will help with all the swelling and tightness that reoccurs.

I also signed up for two dietbets, one a six month transformer and one a month long kickstarter. I finally feel motivated enough to get this weight loss thing moving again. I didn't have to put any money out since I still have a bunch in my account. The kickstarter starts on June 1st and the transformer starts tomorrow.

My son is wanting to eat more healthy and so we will be supporting each other. I am probably going to make my daughter get on the band wagon as well. I hope DH does, too. He's gained back a lot of weight and it is messing with his back. I'm going to stop buying the junk food for the most part. If it isn't in the house no one can eat it in front of me and tempt me.

I'm sure my weight is contributing to my ankle pain and that it isn't all arthritis. It's just so bad and I can't do this to myself anymore. So for now I am motivated and hopefully I can stay motivated.

I am getting my positive attitude back. I think my brain is either adjusting to the spot in my vision or the Occu Power is actually helping to diminish it. Either way it is less irritating than it was even a couple days ago.

I am trying to keep that attitude going, but DH's work is really testing my frustration levels. They waited until the last minute to decide whether he was going to be coming up on Mondays or Thursdays, and finally told him the day he left as he was heading out to catch a plane that it was Thursdays.

Today he gets a call from his boss's boss wondering where he is, because his boss, who said he would take care of putting all the paperwork together, didn't. His boss is the same guy who months ago, conveniently "lost" all three copies of the resume DH gave him and claimed he never received one from him even though DH personally handed him copies of it twice. It feels an awful lot like sabotage part 2.

So while it is now all worked out and in the future he will be starting on Mondays, he has lost 3 days of work out of this coming hitch. That is a big chunk of money that we were depending on.

I won't be able to put anything in the EF and I'm not sure where else I will be able to make cuts. I may actually have to pull from the EF to cover this. I was hoping to buy some new rabbit cages and replace my daughter's bed and put some money aside in case I have to pay for the full amount of the laser eye surgery. Maybe I can get by with buying almost no food in the next six weeks. It'll mean eating a lot of greens from the garden, which we have, and eating from our freezer and canning pantry. Maybe I'll do a challenge.

DH has not heard from the other company who said they'd let him know by the 14th. He will follow up with them tomorrow. I told him he needs to continue job hunting. I just don't trust these guys and all their last minute stuff. The fact that quite a few of them seem to have permanent cases of cranial rectal inversion doesn't help either.

But think positive. I can do that. I need to do that.

Things Just Got Interesting

May 2nd, 2017 at 06:59 pm

DH interviewed for a different job this week with what I will call company C. It would be switching back to his old company where he worked for almost 15 years. It would also be switching parent companies to what I will call parent company B. It would be in maintaining existing infrastructure and not dependent on creating new infrastructure, so it would be remarkably more stable. And it would be a 5 plus 2 plus 2 contract which is basically a nine year contract for company C with parent company B.

The guy was very positive with him, telling him how highly recommended he was by a lot of people. They have to hold the interview process open for a couple weeks, so he won't know anything for a while yet. I would certainly feel more secure if he went to work for them. DH did not apply for this job. They called him out of the blue.

With things being less stable between company B and parent company A then DH was led to believe, I would feel a lot better if he got this other job, even if the current one likely has better benefits. I'll take job security over slightly better benefits any day. Plus, company B told him to go for it if offered, because they are not sure if they are going to get their problems straightened out enough for parent company A to give them the work they could have with the contract, but aren't getting because of the screw-ups.

So hopefully DH will get this other job. I'm going to be praying pretty hard about it.

Managing

April 21st, 2017 at 09:48 pm

I was able to get myself down to the feed mill and back, but I can tell you that I was really glad that I wasn't doing it a couple days ago when this cold first hit. I had a bit more energy today, but still have had to take really long rest breaks.

I started making dinner at two. It was a stir-fry and I knew in order to get everything prepped I'd have to take it in stages with breaks in between. It wasn't too bad doing it like that and by the time 5:30 rolled around I had rested enough to do the actual cooking. It was good to have a whole meal that was healthy tonight instead of adding a salad to pizza or pasta.

DH figured out how to deposit his first paycheck over the internet. Since we don't have smartphones we've never been able to do the take a photo to deposit a check thing, but now our credit union has an app that allows a tablet to use it so he was able to deposit it that way. It won't show up until Tuesday, but that is better than waiting for it to show up in the mail.

His per diem will be on it as well as his training pay, but not his airfare reimbursement, so we will still have some money coming for that. It will be so nice not to have money being lost from savings anymore. These first couple months will still be tight because of medical, but once the new insurance kicks in July 1, I feel like we will be on the home stretch. I am not sure if we will be able to save any money until then, but at least we shouldn't have to take any more out.

DH seems to be enjoying his new job and liking the people he is working with, though there is a lot to straighten out to get things running smoothly. People seem to be real happy to have him there, which is always a good thing.


<< Newer EntriesOlder Entries >>