Home > Archive: January, 2023
Archive for January, 2023
January 20th, 2023 at 07:38 am
I'm and doing okay on the eat from the pantry challenge. In 19 days we have only spent $27.32 on fresh produce and a half gallon of milk, which are within the parameters of my challenge. Also within the parameters of my challenge are that if I find a really good sale on something, I can buy it, but I can't use it during the challenge. That's okay, because I don't want to. Most of it is for canning, the rest to be eaten during the next 3 months or so.
Some really good sales have come up. One involes 25 pounds of carrots that works out to .67/lb and the other is 20 lbs of tomatoes that works out to .88/lb. I still need to can carrots and I'd like to make some more tomato sauce to can. Now that I am feeling better I want to get on with it. I may go back a couple of times if I feel like I can get through it. The sale ends on Sunday and then a new one will go up on Monday. This is at the restaurant supply store. It is cash only.
Plus there is a really good sale on chicken thighs and I want to stock up. Chicken is the major thing I am lacking in my freezer and so far it isn't being rationed. I am down to 3 packages of bone in skin on, and one package of boneless skinless. We like to eat chicken twice a week. I want to stock up while it is on sale and before they start putting rations on it, too.
They've already put rations on eggs, milk, distilled water when they even have it, certain cuts of beef, some fresh fruit, like last week they had bags of oranges, but you could only get one and they didn't have any loose oranges, and some of the, canned goods most notably corn, peas, mixed corn and peas, beans, and several types of chili. Dry beans was one but they had 2 pound bags instead of 1. Rice was not rationed. Some things they don't have at all. Others they only have frozen. Makes me glad we are expanding the garden this spring.
Friday is payday and I think I will go in on Friday and get 8 packages and then send DH in on Saturday to get 8 packages and we'll break them down into vacuum sealed bags of 8 pieces and see how much room we have left. 8 packages is how much I can take before I start getting side-eyed and commented on, even though there is usually a ton of chicken left with these sales. Since the store is close, it's not a big deal to go there a few times.
Honestly, I want to go back until there isn't room in the upright freezer, but I want to make sure there is plenty for other people, too. I want to do a third run, but I don't know. If I decide to, I should take a bag of spot prawns out to thaw. We have two big plastic bags full of ziploc bags of spot prawns taking up a lot of space. That should give us a lot of room for chicken. I don't want to start filling up the chest freezer, because we need to be making space there for when we get our next steer. Maybe I'll pop in on Tuesday, the last day of the sale and get some. Then others will have had the whole week to get chicken and I won't feel like a hog. Still, I have to shop economically to feed my family with food prices going up so high. There is nice and then there is foolish.
I mentioned above that distilled water was one of things being rationed here, assuming you could even find it. We are lucky to have a few gallons of it at the moment and we are keeping an eye out for more. We use it for our c-pap humidifiers and I use it for nasal rinses, so it is kind of a necessity for us. So I am going to work into the budget for late February or early March, a distilling machine so we can make our own distilled water. It takes about 4 hours to do a gallon of water. So we can easily refill our gallon jugs and not have to worry about these shortages. It'll cost around $150, so it'll take 150 uses to pay for itself, and we go through a jug every week if I have a cold, otherwise it'll last 2 weeks. So it could take a while to pay for itself, but we will never have to worry about it for the life of the machine.
I have decided to just get a cheap frying pan for now and save up for a more expensive set later on. At least the one I am getting is supposed to be rated to 500 degrees and our induction burner doesn't go any higher than that, so hopefully DH can't kill it. He usually cooks stuff at 375 or 400, but the pans he ruined were only rated for 350. I am getting the Blue Diamond one, which is under $30.
In other news, I have now lost 15 pounds. I haven't exactly been on my diet, either. I don't eat as much since having Covid, though. I think my stomach shrank during that time. I think just eating food at home for 19 days, eating from scratch mostly, trying to cut way back on my sugar and wheat, eating more vegetables and protein, and always taking a lactase enzyme when I eat dairy, even butter, has made a difference. The enzyme is new in the last three weeks and has made a big difference in how I feel. I no longer wake up nauseous in the morning if I had cheese at night trying to calm down an acid stomach because it always has, but I didn't know it would make my stomach hurt the next day, too. I haven't had an acid stomach in weeks, though.
I haven't had much dairy, in a long time anyway. I don't drink milk, I've been using gluten free flour and chicken broth instead of milk to make gravy for a long while, and I've had very little cheese, just a sprinkle on salads once a week, but I used to snack on it like crazy. I will have cheese if I make pizza, but that's maybe once a month and mozzarella isn't so bad as others, the process takes out most of the lactose. So most of the time butter is the only dairy I eat these days and I feel a lot better for it. Or I eat goat or sheep's cheese because they don't have lactose. Goat butter is good, but too expensive to be a real option. I may try ghee since it takes out the milk solids. They sell that by the tub at Costco.
I am still eating fruit, but I have really cut back on how much, just one serving a day and not even every day, because I know that fructose can be just as bad as sugar to someone who is borderline diabetic. I am trying to stick to things with a lot of fiber though, like apples, oranges, and berries. The first two are at least seasonal. Blueberries are on sale a lot right now. I know they are coming from Chile, but they are one of the better choices. The apples are coming from cold storage in my state and the oranges are from California.
I am meeting with my doctor on the 26th to talk about the diabetes stuff some more and have a weight check. I am just glad that my scale at home and the scale there are in sync with each other, so there will be no surprises if I weigh myself at home in the same clothes I will wear to the doctor's office. We will also talk about a couple of my meds while I am there and maybe going on metformin as well. I hate to add another medication as I am on so many already, but if it will help it may be inevitable. What I don't want is to have to start checking my blood sugar. I need to call about whether I need to get a new glucose test before my visit. If I do, I really hope it has improved with all the changes.
My back has started feeling better with all the changes, which is really nice because I haven't been to the chiropractor in several weeks, not since my chiropractor had to have a triple bypass. It'll probably be sometime in March before he can come back to work and it'll probably be just one day a week to start. He's doing well, though. We worry about him. I've known him for 32 years, my husband for 35, and my kids their whole lives. They call him Uncle Dr. ______. He lives so healthy, but it is the family history. He had problems about ten years ago, too. Scared us to death back then, too. At least they caught it in time, though. His wife takes good care of him. She's five years younger and in very good health. She looks 15 years younger than she is.
I took DD to the gastro doctor today. It was time for her yearly check. They are going to send her for an ultrasound because she is having pain in the same place where they removed the tumor. I'm not sure why they are doing an ultrasound instead of an MRI like they were doing before, but whatever. The fear is the tumor has grown back on her liver and is bleeding. The tumor isn't supposed to hurt unless it starts bleeding. She hasn't had an MRI since her surgery and I always thought it was the plan to do one a year after her surgery, but that didn't happen because of the issues back with Covid and hospitals, and she wasn't in pain so they pushed it. Then she kept getting sick. After that, I guess it got forgotten in the shuffle and the order expired and then they wanted to see her again before they did anything and now they just want to do an ultrasound, so I don't know. It was an exhausting appointment. It lasted over an hour.
But their new building is very pretty. Their handicapped parking leaves a lot to be desired. I don't think it should be compact parking slots when most handicapped people using van accessible slots have, you know, vans, which are not compact. So the person using a walker or wheelchair on the passenger side can get out, but the driver can't, or vice versa if you have to park the other way because that's the only slot there is, unless you park halfway into the hatched lines, which if you do that, you may be preventing the person on the other side from getting into their vehicle if they have a walker or a wheelchair. Not thought through well.
Also the handicapped push button for the doors in and out of the building is quite a ways away from the door opening, which if you are hobbling on a cane or walker is not the wisest thing. Fortunately the doors stay open for a good 30 seconds, but making people walk those extra steps when they may not be able to, is not the best set up. There were closer places they could have been placed. But no one ever asks handicapped people about the designs of these things. That was not an issue today, though, as both of us were walking pretty well. When most of your clientele is elderly, though, you'd think you would think about that a little more. Oh, well. The world is made for the able bodied. We are used to being an afterthought.
Well, this rambled off being about financial topics a while ago. Let's bring it back. I got my cash back for my Costco Executive membership. It doesn't pay us back for the whole membership fee, we just don't shop there enough for that, but it is still worth getting to go in there an hour before other shoppers. The store is pretty empty and checking out is faster. It was $59.03, so we'll use that on our next Costco purchase. We won't get our cash back on the credit card until March, when our membership renews, since that is tied together. You'd think it would be tied to when I first got the credit card, but no.
Payday is tomorrow. The budget is done, I just need to figure out how much I need to withdraw from the credit union tomorrow and then go to sleep. I will try to get up a payday report tomorrow but last time it took me a few days, so no promises.
Real time: 11:19 p.m. Real Date: 1/19/2023
January 16th, 2023 at 02:09 am
My husband has well and truly destroyed my 12 inch skillet. For the third time he has left it on the burner without turning it off after taking the food out and the surface is now completely destroyed. It won't clean and it is completely roughed up. I don't feel safe cooking on it as it feels and looks like it has ruptured the non-stick ceramic coating. It was such a good pan before this, too.
The 12 inch skillet is my most used pan, because I can cook enough in it for the four of us as either a meat dish or a side dish, so I went on Amazon to see what pans I liked and what was not made in China. I settled on one made in Italy and the USA. It has really good reviews as far as Amazon goes. I am just going to replace the one skillet for now and if I like it I will save up for the set of 3 sizes. We use the 12 inch a lot and there have been plenty of times I have wished to have two of that size going side by side, like when I am cooking pork chops and I'd like to be frying potatoes next to them.
The problem arises in that I have budgeted everything out for the foreseable future and obviously I'd have to make a change. So I took a look at the upcoming budget for Friday and while there were some things I could push off, if I could get it to three weeks and make do with my ten inch skillets for the next month, because Amazon Prime is no longer Prime and it takes a week to deliver not one to two days, that would be okay, but the 3rd of February was a no go as far as changing the budget. That one was set. If I didn't change the 20th of January, I would have to wait until the February 17th budget to order a new 12 inch skillet and wouldn't get it until the 24th of February, putting it at almost 6 weeks from now.
So I came back to the 1/20/23 Budget and decided there are a lot of things that I am just setting the money aside early for next payday, like license plate tab renewals for both vehicles for May, fishing licenses, and property taxes (for March).
Plus I am putting $200 in the Gift Fund, but that was because it is my Birthday next month, followed by DS's birthday in early March and MIL's birthday in late March. DS always wants his money early so he can order what he wants to arrive by his birthday, so having it ready early is helpful, because he often orders stuff from either England or Japan. So I could have postponed myself, but I already did that at Christmas and I don't feel like doing that again. After March there are no birthdays until August, when there are two, well, three, but mom never wants anything so I just give her a small potted mum that she plants in the yard. I only have to worry about $310 for that and then the rest of the gift fund goes for Christmas.
After I went over everything, I decided to push off the fishing licenses until the 2/17/23 Budget since the season won't open until spring anyway, and I will buy the skillet with that. I budgeted for two licenses at $128.20 and the frying pan is $109.00. It's more than enough to cover the sales tax and at least with prime I still get free shipping even though it still takes a week to get here. So yes, I can do it. I am glad I could wiggle this into the budget, because I really did not want to wait. I would have, but it would have been irritating.
In the past year I just would have bought it and figured out how to pay it when the Citi bill came in, but this year I am trying to make a more conscious effort to not do that. Can't guarantee that my husband won't, but I did talk to him about it and he's going to try. We'll see how long it lasts, and if he can stop destroying my kitchen things.
Speaking of kitchen things, we used our Burger Master 8 in 1 Burger Press for making 1/4 pound hamburger patties yesterday. We ordered it a while ago and it only recently came. We still have so much ground beef left from our steer and figure this will be a great way to use it up, because not only can we use it for making burgers, but also for hamburger steaks with onion gravy. I did fill it a bit too full, but it still worked. It just took a little more force to break the burgers apart from each other. They do lose the hexagonal shape when cooking to become more round. We did weigh them once they were frozen and they were 4.3 to 4.6 ounces, so definitely overfilled them, because they looked too small to be quarter pound burgers, but that is because they are taller and not as pushed down as store bought patties or McDonald's patties.
Anyway, I am really going to like having this. Our Costco hasn't been carrying the sleeves of grass fed hamburger patties and neither have our grocery stores been carrying the smaller sleeves of it. We can make the patties in advance and I can divide them up into baggies of six patties, which is what we eat, 2 each for the guys, and 1 each for the girls. Then 2 go into a seperate baggy each time we make them until there is enough for six. I am going to work on going through a bunch of the packages of meat, but not all of it, just to get these so we can eat them more quickly. I plan on buying a new steer this summer.
We also have had the 10 in 1 for making sliders for a while, because it wasn't on back order. It is the perfect size for making sausage patties. Since Costo hasn't had the precooked sausage patties for 3 months now, I've decided to make my own, since we have all that sausage from our hog. I am going to add in some paprika to kick it up a notch and maybe some sage and ground fennel seeds. It is pretty bland for breakfast sausage. Since I will be the only one eating the sausage this way, I can do what I want to it. Right now, it is about the same level of heat as mild Italian sausage, if that tells you anything.
It is much easier for me to cook ground meat patties from frozen. I never know when to turn thawed patties over, I always do it too soon, and the meat falls apart. At least with frozen, I know that if I flip it too soon, it won't fall apart. Once I have them nice and browned and cooked through, I can freeze them again and just warm them up in the microwave as needed. It makes my mornings so much simpler. So those were very good purchases I made last year, that I didn't, but should have budgeted for.
January 15th, 2023 at 01:49 am
I don't usually do a retirement update a few days after doing a retirement update, but I was checking the 401K to see if they had finally put in the contribution from the 1-6-23 paycheck. They used to be so good about it, it would be in that Friday or no later than the following Monday tops. If there was a Friday holiday or a Thursday holiday things would be delayed, but that was understandable. But things were back to normal. There's no excuse for a week long delay unless someone is on vacation, but DH said no one in payroll was. Oh, well, nothing I can do about it.
However, it had been deposited, but the balance was quite a bit more than would account for just DH's contribution and work's contribution, which is at the higher percentage now, so that's pretty awesome. Their contribution was $288.12, when it was something like $116 or $118 something before. Now the 18% on our part doesn't start until next Friday, so our contribution last week was still the same, $921.98, for a total contribution of $1210.10. It had risen an additional $821.29, so that account is up a total of $2031.39 in a couple of days. So the 401K is now at $80,612.97.
So I decided to check my IRA and that also went up substantially compared to how little it is in there. It is back above $12K at $12,013.39. I know it is not by much, but it has been a long time since I have seen it out of the 11's. When all this free fall started, it was just about to touch $14K so it has a long way to go to hit where it was and I'm not sure what is going on right now. Maybe it is the new Congress, maybe not. Things always seem to rise on new hope, at least for a while.
$80,612.97 401K Balance
+12,013.39 IRA Balance
$92,626.36 New Retirement Total
I am well pleased. The rate of return for both accounts YTD is approaching 5%. I hope that train keeps chugging up the hill and then hits flat land at 15 to 16%. I was getting that in 2016 to 2019 and in 2020 got 12% and even still got 10% in 2021. It was 2022 that just killed us. I know it is early yet, too early to be hopeful or excited, but if we can turn this disaster train that has wrecked the economy around, if there is even a little sparkle of hope, I'd like to grab onto it, even if it gets dashed out later.
January 13th, 2023 at 03:49 am
Since I was barely on my feet January 1st, I had not gathered the data in for our retirement accounts' standings. To begin with, we started out 2022 in pretty good shape. There had been some ups and downs in 2021, but for the whole year over all, we'd done well. So we started out 2022 with $57,978.02 in the 401K and $13,925.02 in the IRA. So between the two our retirement was at $71,903.04.
We do not contribute to the IRA so the losses are much more obvious there. We ended the year with $11,437.47 or a -14.05% loss for the year with it. We did contribute to the 401K, 16% of his salary, actually, with a contribution from his employer. I don't remember how much and it changed mid-year and is changing again this year, going back up to 5% where it was pre-Covid, which will be great.
As for the 401K, it ended the year at $75,752.20, which at first glance might seem great. It's a lot more than $57,978.02, right? That's $17,777.18 more than we started the year with, right? Nope, because what came out of DH's paycheck, which was $23,000 and what came out of work's contributions, which 6270.23, we didn't come close to breaking even. In fact, it flat our ate $11,493.25 of our contributions. Or that's what it feels like. I know we bought stock and all that, blah, blah, blah. It's still what it feels like. And we had no gains, we had losses, and our losses were worse than the IRA percentagewise at -14.59%.
All in all, retirement ended the year at $87,189.67 or $15,286.60 higher than I started, about 55% of what was contributed.
It's not all bad news, though. Since I was checking all of that today, I did notice that both the IRA and the 401K are up for the year so far. The 401K is up 3.81% and now sits at $78,627.86 a rise of $2875.66 in just 12 days, and they have not yet added the contribution from the January 6th's paycheck, so that's all just interest. I can't help but be a little excited since I haven't seen something like this in a year. The IRA was 4.43% so it has risen by $529.64.
Together that is $3405.30, which brings the retirement total up to $90,594.97! We cracked the $90K mark. If this year can just give us a positive rate of return, we will hit $100K in retirement. They say when you hit that number things really start to change for you with your retirement adding up. Of course, "they" weren't living in a recession, almost depression.
I still have some calculations to do to figure out current net worth, but will update that when I have it.
Oh, and we have bumped our retirement contributions up to 18% from 16%. That will have us contritubing $27,000 this year. Well, just under since it won't start until the paycheck on the 20th. That catch up contribution amount is $30,000 if you are 50 or older, so we could go up to 20% of our pretax income to get that, but I'm not sure we are ready for that. I know we can do 18%, because we were doing it. 2% of DH's income was going to the FSA card before and since it isn't doing that this year, we decided the best place for it to go is to retirement. We'll still get the tax savings through the year, just in a different way.
One of the reasons I decided to do that was because it was $115 that was taken out every two weeks pretax for the FSA card, but without it, we were only getting $28 a paycheck extra. The rest was going to taxes. Well, screw that, government. That money is going to work for us for the rest of our lives, not go to you and your irresponsible spending habits. We didn't need an extra $28 before and we don't need it now, but $115 each paycheck will go far for retirement.
So that's that, 18% for the next year, unless for some unfathomable reason they give him a raise this year. I can't imagine him getting another one so soon, the one he got last year was so big. I wouldn't expect another one before the summer 2024 and even then, not like this last one. Even if it is a small one, if we raise the retirement percentage by whatever it is and continue to live on what we lived on before until we max out and put anything that is left in an IRA, that would be good, too.
January 10th, 2023 at 08:46 am
My computer keyboard is being wonky as...well, I don't swear, but if I did, you can fill in the blank with the word of your choosing but mine has an f in it, because I am that annoyed at it. I need to get a can of spray air and give it a good whooshing. So I will try to get this posted again without erasing it. My analysis will be at the end.
_400.00 Homeowner's Insurance
__75.00 Household Expenses Envelope
__50.00 DH Spending Money
__50.00 My Spending Money
__30.00 DD Spending Money
__75.00 DS Spending Money
_100.00 Computer Fund
_123.70 Emergency Fund
_100.00 Car Maintenance Envelope
3612.33 Total Money Out
For the groceries category, I still funded it even though we are doing the eat from the pantry challenge this month. We are still allowed to buy things like fresh produce, milk, and a couple of other items. Obviously not $400.00 worth of items, but whatever is left of that money will go into the Meat Fund, as we have started saving up for a steer for the freezer. It currently has $120.00 in its envelope.
Homeowner's insurance isn't due for a couple of months, but I wanted to get it saved and in the bank right away. I don't want to have to deal with it popping up suddenly, so I planned for it right off the bat. I'll do the same with property taxes next payday. I pay half for this stuff and Mom pays the other half. Whenever she is ready to pay it, then I can transfer it out of savings and writer he a check.
You will note that I made a deposit to the emergency fund this payday. The plan is to do $500 every 4 weeks. The majority will come out of the second paycheck of the month, but I still made a deposit. It is nice to start moving forward again. I'd really like to get back to 3 months of income again.
I feel a bit better now that I have a balance of $200 in the car maintenance envelope. We really wiped it out with getting all that maintenance work done two months ago. I feel like we can handle anything small right now, but I'll feel a lot better when this gets back up to $500 and then $1000. So much could go wrong with older vehicles, even though we keep them in tip top shape.
We did too much spending on the Citi card in the month of December. With Covid we ordered too much take out in weeks 3, 4, and 5. We could order and pay online and my mother would go pick it up and leave it at the top of the stairs for us and then call us that it was there. It was pretty easy when no one had the stamina to cook. Next payday will be about the same payment as this one. This month I am determined to not do that, hence the pantry challenge. And then I hope to stay in this habit, because we really do feel a lot better eating homemade meals. And it'll save us the $100 or so it costs to get takeout for four adults these days.
I did buy a budget binder in December and it came a few days ago. I transferred a lot of the money from my Dave Ramsey wallet, leaving only grocery and household money in there. I was carrying too much money around in the envelopes and if something happened and I lost my purse, I did not want to lose all that money. So I have nice pvc envelopes now for my different categories and most of them have stickers on them to show what they are. I have a whole bunch from my scrapbooking days, so I didn't have to spend on those. It's cute and fun and more importantly, safe.
So that's about it, really. Thus endeth my payday report.
January 6th, 2023 at 07:57 am
I've already had to adjust my budgets for the year a little bit. Number one, I forgot that my driver's license was due this year, so I need to get that renewed by February 12th. It's $72 for a freaking driver's license now. I feel sorry or poor people. That's a lot of money to have to come up with just to be able to drive.
It will be inconvenient and quite possibly painful, but I feel I need to actually go in in person because my photo is 9 years old and I really don't look like that anymore. I renewed it online once already, when we went from a four year license to a five year license and now they are going for an 8 year license, which is why it is so expensive.
By the time I get to the end of year 8 that photo will be 17 years old. Also, a new photo will give me a chance to hide the dark patches under my eyes when they unexpectedly made me take my glasses off for the first time and I was unprepared for it because they never had before. Seems silly to do facial recognition on a face that will always be wearing glasses and will thus mess up any software being used to try to find someone.
And the other reason I have to adjust the budget is that the deadline for signing up for the FSA debit card was during the two weeks my husband was flatened by Covid and he didn't realize until today, so we don't get that benefit this year, where they take the money out of his paycheck pretax all year, but we get to use the $3000 up front that they put on the card at the beginning of the year. It also means we lose what was left on the card from last year, which was $20.14, so not world ending money, but we did pay it in. That's a real bummer.
But DH's mother did give us a check the last week of December for $5000 and we put it all in the medical fund, so we will be able to pay for DS's surgery in full. I also put $500 in it last payday for things like prescriptions and any doctor's visits we have before then, which we have had. But the deductible for the surgery will be $2000 for DS, plus $1000 out of pocket max, I think, so $3000. And then between the other 3 of us we have to hit an additional $1000 for the deductible and $1000 or maybe $2000 out of pocket max.
So, what that boils down to is I will be contributing $500 a month to the medical fund for a little while, until I'm sure we are over the hump for the year, and then probably $250 a month to build it up for next year. We can't guarantee that MIL will give us money every year. We didn't figure she would this year, because of how bad the stock market did, but she still has to withdraw $15,000 no matter how bad it did. I just wish, as I do every year, that the majority of the money didn't go for medical. Or in this case all of it. We would be so much further ahead if it didn't.
Well, DH's paycheck will be slightly larger, but not by too much. They were taking out $115.38 a paycheck for the FSA card, but now that they are not, and the government gets their cut in taxes, it is only $28 and some change more per payday. Shocking how much the government steals from us, isn't it? Well, maybe we'll get some back for all the medical expenses this year. We can't claim anything from pretax dollars. In reality, 10% of that boost in pay goes towards the tithe, too, so I'm really only working with $25 and some change there. So that adjusts the budget a little bit there, as well.
Tomorrow is a doctor's appointment for my daughter and then I have to do the banking, or the credit unioning, I guess, but that just sounds really wrong. I've set up the final budget for the month with the changes and bumped Feburary's around a bit, too.
We are doing really well on the January pantry challenge. No eating out and no buying groceries. I've lost two pounds, probably from the decreased sodium intake, plus I'm just not as hungry since I'm not eating much sugar and far less wheat and slowly lowering my carb intake on most days. That puts me at 13 pounds lost since changing my eating habits when my glucose hit 139. Or maybe it was 129. I don't remember. Anyway, it was scary high.
I'll check in tomorrow, it's still Thursday here, 1-5-23, don't know what the time and date stamp will say, with my payday report.