Home > Archive: February, 2012

Archive for February, 2012

Odds and Ends

February 29th, 2012 at 04:47 pm

I added $6.29 to the coin jar.

Mom wants us to skip paying her this month so that we can pay off the rest of the physical therapy bill without having to dip into our savings. Apparently she is better off than she has led us to believe right now. Now that she is getting Dad's social security benefits (which had been going to the nursing home) since he died instead of her own, she's got more money coming in than before.

She also wants us to skip paying her next month and hire a cleaning service to clean the old house once we get the last few boxes out of there. I really don't like doing that because it feels like we'll owe her forever this way, but it does take a burden off of us if we can use that extra $1000 each month for needed things. And it would be nice to have someone come in and deep clean the place. Like one of those services apartment complexes use when someone moves out.

Taking DS for a doctor's visit today. We've hit the deductible now so it should all be covered but 90%.

Bit of a Rant

February 29th, 2012 at 06:30 am

I'm getting irritated at the IRS. Yeah, who isn't? But seriously, it's only supposed to take 3 days from the time they process your electronic tax return for them to say when to expect it to arrive in your bank account and it has been exactly one week since they said it was processed, and yet the website keeps saying that information is not available. Really bugging the heck out of me.

It's the planner in me. I don't like not being able to plan when I can send that money in to pay down debt. I know any date they give me probably isn't guaranteed, but I'd sure like to know when to start looking. The whole purpose of e-filing is it is supposed to be faster and more reliable than the mail, yadda, yadda, yadda. But it still feels like it's moving at a snail's pace. I already resent the fact that we had to pay for it since it wasn't a 1040EZ, they could be a little quicker on their feet.

It shouldn't be hard for them to process it. We didn't itemize. We only did the standard deductions so it shouldn't flag it for any reason. Just get it in there or fix the website or whatever, because you are really doing nothing to encourage faith in the government, here.

DH Got a Job Offer

February 29th, 2012 at 03:00 am

Not one he applied for, just one that was offered to him. And it's not what I would consider all that great, just good. Where he's at he has work for 2 to 5 years at a high rate of pay. He's finally on a 2 on 2 off schedule. The medical benefits aren't great but they are decent. The 401K has no match at all, but it exists. The yearly bonus is 5% of gross pay for the year.

The other job would be a pay cut. It would be a step backwards in the work he does as well. There'd be no guarantee what type of schedule he would work but it would likely be back to 3 on 3 off or 4 on 2 off. No idea about bonuses. The benefits are excellent, top notch for the industry. And the 401K is really, really good. Plus it is an almost unheard of type of job security in his industry. Basically he'd be set for the rest of his life in this company and barring something really stupid, never have to worry about his job again. And he could move up to what he's doing now if an opening came up.

The thing is, if we were out of debt I would seriously consider it. So would he. Just for the security. We already live on less than half his income, the rest goes to debt repayment. We had a good talk and we are even more determined to finish paying off our credit card debt this year and get the house fixed up enough to sell it. We sell the house and we dump the money into paying off the car and whatever is left we start saving for the downpayment and college. Then we are debt free completely and cashflowing college.

My mother has been intimating that we should just stay here at least until my sophomore graduates from high school. Mom may drive me crazy sometimes, but I worry about her being on her own, and not sure she could afford to heat this house without us paying the gas and electric, plus we pay the garbage and internet. If we move out I'd want my eldest sister to move in again. Mom's not ready for assisted living, but she does tend to forget to drink water and gets herself dehydrated, especially in the summer, and she does fall a lot even if she's never seriously hurt by it (strong bones).

We are also talking about getting a smaller house possibly when we do buy so we can have a smaller mortgage. Just a three bedroom instead of a four. After all DD will be going to college and she may need a place to crash during summers, but after graduation she plans to go teach in Korea, so she won't need a permanent bed to come back to. The other thing I have considered is that setting her up in a small one bedroom somewhere for the summer, or having her stay at with my mother, might be cheaper than taking out a bigger mortgage for a bigger house. I just don't know, but it is something to consider.

Plus, DS will start college the year after she finishes so is there really any point in having a large house at this stage in our lives? I mean, all a large house really does is encourage adult children to move back in. (Yes, we are a case in point, I realize that, but our reasons were medical and medical debt, not just because it's easier). I suppose that is enough musing for one night.

Pantry Quest Day 5, Chickens, and Garden Planning

February 29th, 2012 at 02:06 am

I had the leftover crockpot soup for lunch today while my daughter had her standard take to school lunch (whatever leftovers look good to her plus a wrap) and my son had hot lunch. He has it three to four times a month on nuggets, green beans, and mashed potatoes day, so every six or so weeks we deposit $15 into his account. I don't consider this outside the pantry challenge as the money was already in his account. Oh, and pancakes and eggs were for breakfast.

Today I made a simple pot of cappellini pasta for dinner. I almost opened a new package, but my sharp-eyed daughter noticed we had an open package with half a pound left. We used two cans of tomato sauce from the pantry and a pound of hamburger from the freezer. Not very fancy, but the kids like it more plain. We have leftovers and the kids eat pasta leftovers more readily than any other kind. I also made my simple cole slaw and opened a can of pineapple. At one point I must have bought two cases of pineapple from Costco so we have quite a bit to get through.

Tomorrow I really do need to remember to go to the store and get brown sugar and peanut butter. I will remember to get the milk, but I am sure I will forget the brown sugar and peanut butter, two things we actually need pretty desperately.

Tomorrow's breakfast is going to likely be cold cereal. I have three boxes of Joe's O's, but really only the space to keep two, so one of them needs to get eaten up. We'll have eggs with it.

I am really proud of the chickens. They are still laying well despite the cold and dark weather. Mom is talking about getting some new chicks soon and buying a brooder. She would keep that in the garage until they were big enough and the weather was warm enough to introduce them to the rest of the flock. It would be nice to extra eggs again. When DH is away, we do okay on eggs but when he is home we tend to run out and have to actually buy them sometimes.

The kids are trying to convince her to get ducks again, but they are really such a big pain and they don't behave as well as chickens. I think she should get a turkey. There are a couple of people in town who have small turkeys and they do really well in a chicken flock apparently. I want her to get more bantams, since of the four types we have the bantam's eggs are the tastiest, but she wants to get some chickens that are different colors than the ones she has. She wants a pretty flock. Oh, well, they are hers, so I guess she gets to decide, but I would go for the yummier eggs, if it were my choice.

She gave me the seed catalogue today and wants to know what I want out of it. It's Johnny's and boy do they have such a huge selection it's going to be tough. I know I want lettuces, radish, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, basil, oregano, majoram, thyme, rosemary, parsley, green onions, green beans, summer squash, zucchini, cucumbers, snow peas, mini-cabbages, corn, carrots, potatoes, and tomatoes, but really, the specific types may be harder to narrow down. Faster growers, certainly, but other than that, I don't know. I should see if there is a variety of sweet potato that will grow here. It probably doesn't get warm enough for long enough, but it's possible.

Overnight Cooking--Pantry Quest Day 4

February 27th, 2012 at 06:16 pm

So last night I threw all the ingredients in to make the soup Frugal Foodie posted last night, only I used quinoa instead of barley, and instead of two cans of diced tomoatoes with garlic, I used one can without garlic, 2 cloves of minced garlic, and a small jar of salsa, because that is what I had. I also used multi-colored baby bell peppers instead of one green bell pepper because I had a bag of them, so about a cup and a half of that diced.

I had about a pound of leftover pot roast so I didn't add any stew meat to start with and I threw the cut up pot roast leftovers in during the last hour of cooking. I also added a tbsp of dried basil and oregano each,1/2 tbsp of dried marjoram, and 1 tsp of fresh ground black pepper to adjust it to my tastes. It leaned more heavily towards Italian flavors after that. It was salty enough from the broth, tomato sauce and tomatoes to not need to add more.

It turned out really well. I put it in containers to cool for an hour and then put it in the fridge. I will freeze half of it, and the other half put back in the crockpot to warm up right before I pick up the younger one from school and run a couple of errands and it should be heated through by dinner time. I'll start a batch of bread going in the bread machine later and have its baking finish up about a half hour before dinner time so we can have fresh bread with the soup. If the kids decided they don't like it they can always have canned soup and I'll just freeze the excess for me.

I am really enjoying the challenge of eating as much as possible from what is already on hand in the house. I think it will make not only a difference in the pocketbook, but in the waistline. We've been eating out a bit lately and it's starting to show.

Pantry Quest Days 2 and 3

February 26th, 2012 at 11:27 pm

So my bid to eat mostly from the pantry or freezer, supplementing with fresh greens/veg and fruit for the next month or so is going well so far.

Yesterday I used one of my Rustic Crusts to make a pizza. Not quite as good as a homemade crust, but about ten times better than anything else out there and certainly better than that other really well known pre-made crust in a plastic wrapper. It was a parmesan herb crust which I like even better than the plain one.

I made my own sauce by adding basil, oregano, thyme, and marjoram to a cup of tomato sauce. I have plenty of cheese on hand so used 2 cups of shredded mozzarella and a sprinkling of extra sharp cheeddar. We had some Canadian Bacon in the freezer so I thawed that out the night before. I ate the leftover slice for lunch today and the kids ate leftover baked potato soup.

For dinner tonight I thawed out a pot roast and threw it in the crockpot. It'll be done at 6:00. When it is around 4:30 I will throw a couple of potatos and a sweet potato into the oven to bake. Then about ten minutes before the roast is done I will make the broccoli. I'll slice up a couple of oranges for the table and that should round it out nicely. There will be leftover potroast for lunch tomorrow.

I am hoping to only have to use half of my grocery budget this month by relying mostly on what's on hand. If I didn't want fresh veg and fruit and milk I could do better than that. We just really don't care much for frozen veg (other than frozen corn on the cob or frozen potatos) and the only canned veg we like is green beans. I do have some canned pineapple and pears that will get used up during this month, though.

I do need to go buy some brown sugar and peanut butter though. I forgot to get them both and they are pretty necessary to our monthly cooking/eating habits. I will buy some tomorrow when I pick up milk for the week and hopefully I will be able to keep it to that until next week.

I am just glad we don't have to buy eggs. The chickens keep us well supplied and homemade pancakes and eggs or toast and eggs or muffins and eggs never seems to get boring. I do need to sit down and figure out meals for the rest of the week. DH comes home on Wednesday so amounts will have to go up. I'll probably do one spaghetti with my special homemade sauce and my special meatballs and then I can do meatball sandwiches on the next day with the leftovers. I'll have to make homemade buns, though.

I'm going to make blueberry cornbread muffins this afternoon. The house will smell so wonderful and make staying in on this cold, snowy day so much nicer.

Another One Bites the Dust

February 24th, 2012 at 06:20 pm

Why is it just when you finally get one kid well enough to be back in school for a day or two, the next kid in line thinks it's time for them to be sick, too? All I really want is one day to myself right now. One day. Really. Is that so much to ask. One day where maybe I can sleep and get well and not be running around with a low grade case of the yucks? Or even, you know, one night of uninterupted sleep?

I am very glad payday is here. Not for any specific reason other than that it means another step forward on my march towards financial freedom. I have the propane bill to pay, but most of the money for that has been set aside already. The water bill for the old house is due I wish they would switch to metered already, they said they would five years ago when they installed the fancy new meters we had to pay extra for and we are still on a straight rate out there. Since no one is out there more than once a month or so the water almost never gets used. I'll turn it off as soon as we're done cleaning out there.

All of the autopays will come out the first few days of the month, the insurances, storage, and security system. I'll pay the AMEX and the mortgage. And I'll see what I can squeeze out for medical.

I need to do a minor grocery run for things like milk, brown sugar, yeast, potatoes and some fruit (still have most of a case of oranges from the last trip to Costco). Also a quick run to Trader Joe's for dried mango slices, additive free bacon, and additive free all beef hot dogs. I am well stocked on fresh veggies (red and green cabbage, lettuce, cucumbers, radishes, peppers, broccoli, onions, scallions, celery). My freezer is doing great on protein. I am well stocked on chicken. I am well stocked on hamburger. I have one beef pot roast and some stew meat (for either stir-fries or chili). I have a couple of game hens.

I would like to get some codfish since they are having a major seafood sale for whatever that thing is that the Catholics do right now where they give stuff up (a lot of times beef, apparently) for a month. I was hoping for a good beef sale, but that's not in the cards right now. Maybe there will be a marked down for quick sale steak or two, but otherwise my grocery dollars are going to be as stingy as I can make them the next four weeks.

I think I will make baked potato soup today. I have all the ingredients and it is such a feel good food for such a nasty, rainy day with under the weather children. Either that or my all meat chili. Another feel good food for a day like today. If I make the potato soup today I will at least char the peppers as well for the chili.

I started my quest to eat mostly from the freezer/pantry right now last night. I made two Cornish game hens. We cut them in half and everyone ate half of one. We also had canned corn and canned green beans to round it out and an orange.

Ran the Numbers

February 23rd, 2012 at 04:37 pm

And so far this year I've got $2434.68 that has been processed that applies to the deductible and $65.32 to go to finish it off. I have to renew my blood pressure medicine on Friday so that should take it past the $2500 cap unless they process one of the remaining PT appointments first, and then they'll start paying the majority of my prescriptions again and my doctor visits, thank goodness! It's hard to believe we have spent so much on medical already this year and this doesn't count the chiropractor or our portion of the glasses we have to pay for (though those do count toward the HSA).

Physical Therapy Bill Finally Came

February 23rd, 2012 at 02:42 am

I finally got billed for physical therapy from 1/1 to 2/16. It's a whopping $1689.32. I think I have 2 more sessions that have not been billed. I at least have today's which was my last one. The aquatherapy was a lot more expensive than the regular kind. I only did five of those this year. The ones I did last year were covered 100% since I'd hit my out of pocket cap for the year. Still, they cost $200 more per session than one on land. I really don't see why as you are using less equipment and not using the expensive machines.

Oh, well. All of it has done so much for me. I still have pain issues with standing for more than a few minutes at a time, but not with walking. And the standing will come in time if I continue to strengthen my back.

I have $1000 saved in my medical fund so I just need to come up with the $689.32. I will see what kind of payment plan the hospital offers. In the past for bills up to $1000 they have offered 90 days at low interest (3% or something) and then a higher interest rate (18%) after that. We can pay off the $689.32 in 3 months time. If not, I guess I'll take it out of the emergency fund. I don't want to, but if I do, it'll be my priority to replace it. I'd rather do that than take it out of the tax return or put it on a credit card (obviously).

The nice thing about having an emergency fund is having choices. With this bill I'm getting pretty close to the $2500 deductible. Things will get easier after that and I will also be able to start saving up for next year's deductible. I budget $500 a month for medical. Not all of it is processed through insurance (like the chiropractor, which we can claim on the HSA, but not on the insurance because we go with a family chiropractic plan that allows us weekly visits for each of us and not the one visit per month the insurance allows for). Once we are through with the deductible we'll be able to save $100 to $200 of that $500. The rest pretty much gets spent monthly.

Hmm. I did go to Costco and get the cash back for my Costco AMEX this morning. I was just going to put all of that in my emergency fund, but if I take that $177 then I will only need to come up with $512.22. That I can do in 2 months. Maybe I won't need to dip into the EF at all, just stop contributing the $100 each month I normally put in for 2 months. That leaves $312.22 and I can scrape that up. Just cut out our rare few meals out and cook more out of the freezer and pantry and less from the grocery budget for a couple of months. I think I can do it.

One of the great things about blogging is that sometimes I will see something like this bill that at first seems really hard and maybe a bit insurmountable, but if I reason myself through it, I realize it's doable after all.

DH Finished the Taxes

February 22nd, 2012 at 06:57 am

We will be getting back $8,425. $8000 goes straight the BoA and the $425 is going to pay for DD's driver's ed class. He says they will be processed on 2/23. He didn't get a when to expect it date, though. How long does it usually take when you e-file?

Odds and Ends

February 22nd, 2012 at 03:26 am

I added $3.33 to the coin jar.

I paid $700 to the credit card debt.

I still haven't made it to Costco to cash my cash back check from the Costco AMEX card. Seriously inconvenient that you cannot cash it at a bank. I think they want you to spend the cash there, but I'm not going to.

I've done some more research and I think we'll aim for the summer of 2013 for sending DD to the total immersion Korean lan