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Archive for April, 2023

It's My Blogoversary! 4/9/2023

April 10th, 2023 at 06:29 am

17 years ago today, on April 9, 2006, I started this blog.  I'm sure the time stamps will say it is April 10th since they still haven't got those sorted after several years, but it is indeed April 9, 2023.  Very few of you have been around that long or close to that long.  Fewer than that, still post consistently.  But once in a while a familiar old name will pop up.  And there have been so many new people along the way.  I miss the busy days.

I never thought when I started this blog I'd be where I am today.  Out of debt and with a positive net worth.  I thought this post was going to be longer, more involved, but I haven't really had time today to think it out.  

I just know that I have hit some major milestones in the last few weeks with both net worth and retirement.   Net worth has gone over $200K and retirement that does not include company stock has gone over $100K.  Those are also numbers I never thought I would see, especially with how awful much of 2021 and all of 2022 was.  But we are seeing them.  I hope we will make those losses up.  It's going to take a lot, but we were buying the whole time, and that's what does it after all.  Buy at the lows and you will earn at the highs.

I've learned more than I ever thought I could when I first joined the blogs here.  I just wanted to find a way to keep my head above water and get out of debt.  Now I have a positive net worth.  I didn't even know those existed for people like me.  But they do.  I hope that maybe my struggles to get here have helped some people along the way.  I know that yours have helpled me.

Blessings, my SA family.  We are small, but we are mighty, and I couldn't have done it without all of you.

Just a Quick Post 4/8/2023

April 9th, 2023 at 01:25 am

I've got a longer post planned for tomorrow, since that is a major milestone for me financially, but this morning I hit a personal milestone that I just wanted to share outside my family.  Today I hit a weight I have not seen since 2021 around this time.  In a lot of ways it reminds me of building my first emergency fund of $1000.  And then to have to spend it on an emergency and then to have to build it all over again.

To be honest, I wasn't sure I was ever going to see this weight again just like I wasn't ever sure I could ever build that fund back.  I mean, in the course of things, it's 23 pounds lost since the beginning of the year, but it is a barrier that has been crossed.  Instead of the middle number on the scale being above a 5 it is now a 4 and that is a major psychological boost going forward.  And I did get that fund rebuilt, faster than I had expected, because this time I had a bigger reason.  The numbers hadn't lied to me in either case and I had numbers I was striving for.  Seeing them was fantastic.

It is a boost I've needed.  Honestly, the days creep along and you feel you are going nowhere, but I have been.  It's been 14 weeks and I've lost 23 pounds.  That's an average of 1.6428 pounds a week, which is well under what it is safe for me to lose, according to my doctor.  I want to lose 2 pounds a week.  Dropping it to 45g of carbs, I lost 3 pounds this week.  I might have to alternate days at 60 with days at 45, because I don't want to go so fast my skin isn't absorbed by my body.  Last week I was too lazy to make veggies and my weight didn't really move much.  It's a tight rope walking act and I have to not only walk on the rope, I also have to carry the balance bar.

Just like with finances.  You have to have the budget, but then you have to follow through on it with it on paying your bills, keeping your emergency fund intact, and following your spending and saving plans.  I don't know when I will ever get my Emergency Fund back up above $20K.  I know that the bathroom rebuild will have to come first, though.  We won't hit financial ruin or anything, we'll pause if we need to.  I won't drop it below one month's income for anything.

As for the rest, I have put my body and my diet and my blood sugar firmly on the front burner, because leaving it on the back burner for everyone else come first as long as I did, nearly sent me down the path to death.  I have to be selfish enough to take care of myself well, so that I can be here to help other people learn to take care of themselves to the best of their abilities.

Grocery Spending Tracker

April 3rd, 2023 at 04:16 am

We did two grocery shops in the last 3 days.  One was on Friday, which was payday and one was a smaller one today.  Both had items I needed to stock up on.  The items at Fred Meyer had some sales that if you bought five you could get them at a discount, so some of the quantities will seem high.  The large amount of avocado oil from Costco is so we can replace the oil in our fryer and also we are low on the bottle we use for cooking.  The fryer takes 2 1/2 bottles of oil.  We do run our oil through a filter to make it last longer and we top it off as well with the other 1/2 bottle of oil.  We never cook raw foods in it, either.

We have been using canola, which I hate to use, because they didn't have avocado in stock for a long time, at least not in the big bottles that didn't cost as much as the little glass bottles.  I couldn't find sunflower oil, either, though I prefer not to use oil at all.  Mom doesn't like it when I use lard, even though the stuff we have has no smell.  My daughter is allergic to coconut products, and we don't like the way the oil makes the food taste, either, even the super refined stuff.  Anyway, here is what I purchased at each store.

Large pack of organic blackberries at $5.99

3 4-packs of organic broccoli steamer bags @ $9.39 each

1 mega pack of 10" flour tortillas @ $7.39

4 bottles of avocado oil @ $19.99 each

1 jug of pure organic maple syrup @ $11.99

1 large pack of organic red grapes @ $7.99

1 large organic ceaser salad kit @ $8.99

1 bag of mixed color bell peppers (6) @ $9.39

Total money spent from Grocery Envelope: $159.74

My son wants to eat a lot more broccoli for his meal prepping, so that's why all the broccoli.  And I've been eating a lot more salad and so has DS and DH, so the giant salad kit is more appropriate.  We can go through one of the smaller bags from the grocery store in one meal, so at least this one will last a few days.  And the dressing only has 1g of carbs per serving in it.  DH leaves me the dressing and he has 1000 Island dressing that we buy, which is still pretty low in carbs, but is like 4g per serving.  DS using green goddess that we buy from the store as well.  Peppers go on the salad or in the stir fries.  The blackberries are for me, as they are a good fruit for diabetes, even though I am only borderline, I have to watch it with what I choose and berries are one of the best choices.  The syrup is for DS's protein pancakes and DH's toaster waffles, and the grapes are for my daughter.

Now on to the larger shop at Freddy's.  This included some non grocery items, which are grouped together at the top.

5 6-packs of Puffs tissues with lotion @ $8.99 a pack, minus $2.00 off per pack

6 3-packs of Rubbermaid Takealong containers for meal prepping @ $4.99 each

5 bottles of Palmolive Free and Clear dishwashing liquid @ $2.99 a bottle minus 50¢ per bottle

1 double size bottle of Dawn dishwashing liquid for Mom @ $6.49

4 t-bone steaks value pack for $23.58, marked down from $30.16

4 t-bone steaks value pack for $25.87, marked down from $33.64

3 pounds Kroger ground turkey @ $10.99

1 Cook's ham @ .99/lb for $5.83

1 Cook's ham @ .99/lb for $6.02

2 Hass avocados @ $1.98

2 Franz Extra Crispy English Muffins 2/$5

1 6 pack organic microwave popcorn $4.49

1 jar McClure's garlic dill pickles $11.99 (Very clean, no food dyes)

6 zucchini $5.20

2 cucumbers $1.58

Fresh green beans $1.81

1 8 oz can Herdez spicy red salsa $1 It was $10 for $10, but I've never tried the hot before.  The medium is good, but a little mild so I was thinking about mixing a large bottle with a small can to get it somewhere in the middle and see if I like that more or if I like the hot just as hot.

5 large bottles of Herdez medium red salsa $2.19.  I'm saving something, but the  receipt is weird there.  It says I'm saving $1.30, but then it says I'm also saving a $1 by doing the $5 for $5 event.  So maybe it was already on sale, and then there was an additional sale.  Anyway the total per jar is $2.19.

2 5 lb bags of organic mandarins @ $6.99 each saving $1 per bag

1 bunch bananas

Around1 pound organic uncured Canadian bacon from the deli @ $12.83

Around 1 pound organic pepperoni @ $13.51

1 loaf McKenzie Farms Buttermilk Bread @ $5.99

Total Money Out: $258.00

I chose the round up the change for the food bank option, which was only 15¢ this time, so other was the toal would have been $257.11

Total Money Saved: $82.11

Amount from Grocery Envelope at Fred Meyer: $165.68 (not taxed)

Amount from Household Envelope sepent at Fred Meyer: $91.43 (includes tax)

Total grocery money spent so far this pay cycle:  $325.42

That leaves me with $154.98 until May 12th, but they've been deposting the paycheck early lately.  Instead of the 31st, we got it on the 29th.  The time before that, we got it on the 16th instead of the 17, the time before that the 1st instead of the 3rd and it's been weird like that since before Thanksgiving.  The official payday has not changed, but the deposit has been in our account early almost every time.  I think there has only been once it was actually deposited on the day.  I didn't shop until Friday.  I am trying to keep it Friday to Friday, just in case they suddenly go back to Fridays.

I am waiting for the hot sheet to come out tomorrow at the restaurnant supply store.  Most of the time there is very little change in a two week period, but there can be one or two items that are new and I am hoping for either potatoes or carrots, so I can can them.  But tomatoes will do.  They go on very good sales there, so I can buy them and still have some money left to buy things like salad kits and fresh fruit.

Anyway, that's my tracker for now.  Hope it is helpful to someone to see what the prices are in a high cost of living area.



April was Never so Welcome

April 2nd, 2023 at 12:57 pm

I am going into April with a positive mindset, because nothing can be as annoying as March was.  Everything broke in March except me.  The microwave quit working.  2 of the jars of potatoes I canned after I came out of my episode detailed below had the bottoms fall off and make a mess all over both canners.  They were 1976 jars so were old, but they've held up for a long time.  I think I will have to buy new jars this year.  My daughter fractured a bone in her foot, sprained both ankles, and hurt her knee and her hip in a fall when she lost her balance trying to kill a spider.

My son had a depressive spiral because the Adderall shortage means he goes 4 or 5 days every month without his medication, so withdrawal.  You can only renew those meds 2 days before they run out because they are a controlled substance, but it takes a week to fill orders because the pharmacy can only get one shipment a week and it goes to whoever has it backordered first.  It is screwing with a lot of people who have ADHD.  So that triggered his BP disease and he went down dark for a couple weeks.   And the government isn't allowing more of the medication to be made right now, because they suck and want to interfere with everything all the time.

Back to things that are broken.   One of the electrical outlets quit working.  And a giant tree branch from the neighbor's cedar tree broke off and fell on our swinging bench and broke the back of it.  It was old and I was thinking about getting a new one or replacing the slats on the old one with something stronger, although the bathroom rebuild derailed that for this year, but still.  Oh, and the plastic over the bathroom ceiling filled up with water and had a dead mouse in it, so we had to have someone come set poison out in the rafters because none of us can do it.

And we called the roofer to check for a leak and there was a loose shingle near a vent pipe, so he fixed it and put some sealing stuff around the pipe.  20 year warranties are so worth it.  So just one thing after another.  Hopefully the stuff put up there to keep mold from forming again works, because I hate to think the work that was done was undone by this stupid leak. 

I had my first full blown manic episode in years.  It lasted 3 weeks.  I've had a day or two of mania here and there, but not the full on psychosis with hallucinations and delusions.  I've never had it like that.  I mean I've hallucinated with migraines, but that was only visual and it was just colors and auras.  I've never heard voices or seen scary things.  Usually I just have a ton of energy and creativity.  The doctor upped my med by 100mg and I am fine now.  My husband had a field day dealing with two BP people at opposite ends of the disease at the same time, poor guy.

There is one positive from March in that I hit the losing 20 pounds mark.  No, actually there is two.  My last glucose blood test was 100.  99 is normal, so just one point away.  My doctor is really pleased with me, since I started at 139 and it has gone down so much with this diet.  That really helps me say I am just going to will positivity into April.

DH and I spent a lot of time yesterday planning out the fencing for Garden 2 along with where the gate placement will go.  It will have two gates, one on either side of the house.  That will be the first priority, because it will have the foods most likely to be eaten by dear.  The second priority will be fencing half of Garden 1 and putting in two gates there.  While I would like to fence all of Garden 1, that will be a longer term project and we have cages that go over the beds there.

So we will have a big expense with buying the 2 x 4's and 4x4's needed for the fencing and a big roll of chicken wire (150 feet), which is cheaper than fencing wire.  Wood prices have come down, but not as much as I would like, especially for treated lumber.  Then we will need 2 gate framing kits and the 2x2's for the gate, plus wood for the frame, plus a cattle panel to cut in half to make archway's to put the frames and gate in.  Plus I will need 8 more cattle panels so we can have a total of three rows of arched treillises.  We have 4 already.

I've been saving a lot of money for the garden projects.  I have $875 saved and once I go to Costco to get my rewards from my Costco Citi credit card, I will have an additional $898.  The 34¢ will just go in the coin jar.  So a total of $1773.  My MIL has a check for me for $30, not sure why, but she is giving us all $30 checks, and of course every payday I add my spending money of $50 to the garden fund so it grows.  I don't spend my spending money on anything.  The garden is where I get most of my enjoyment in life.  It's my hobby during spring, summer, and fall, so it is where my personal money goes.

If we need to we will spend the tax refund money on it, too.  DH still hasn't done our taxes so I am not sure what our refund will be, just that we are getting one.  We won't be able to deduct medical for 2022 as we didn't exceed the percentage needed to do so.  We probably will for 2023, though.  We did tithe 10% and contribute 15% to retirement, which helped lower our taxes quite a bit.  This year we are doing 16% and once we are dong saving up for the bathroom repair, I'd like to up it a little more.  Eventually, I want to get it to the point where we are maxing out the 401K and then using any extra money to put into Roth IRA's.

Or at least buy some solid dividend stocks.  I'd like to buy more Louisiana Pacific, because the quarterly dividend has gone up consistenly in the last 2 years despite the stock market being erratic and before that it was nice and level at least.  I'd like to get some other reliable dividend stocks like Coca Cola and other blue chips.  I also wouldn't mind saving up a year's income in the Emergency Fund and for a vacation to Hawaii.

Of course I'm already saving up for a vacation to Hawaii.  That envelope has a whopping $35 in it.  My electric vehicle fund also has $35 in it.  I know those are far future goals, but I am trying to put small amounts in there.  When they get a big enough amount of money in them I will create sub accounts at the bank and transfer them in.  I don't like keeping a lot of money in the house, except some emergency money in the ammunition safe I inherited from my dad, which has enough room for my budget binders, too, so none of my envelopes sit out. 

We are going to have to buy or make a lot of tomato cages, though, since I plan on planting 30 tomato plants this year.  Maybe more if I have the space.  I need to can a lot of tomato sauce and I'd rather grow than buy tomatoes for it, since organic tomatoes are expensive.  Since they are a dirty dozen food, I'd really rather have organic.

I have 4 aluminum raised bed kits that will be shipping mid-April.  So far the shipping labels have been printed for 3 of them.  I really hope they aren't waiting on the fourth one befor they ship.  I really wanted to get another 2, but I am not sure I will have the money for it this year with all the fencing needed.  It may have to wait a year.

The deer have been a real problem already.  I had two really big, pregnant does standing in one of my raised beds a couple days ago.  My raised beds are two feet tall.  I don't know what the heck they thought they were doing.  These are probably the same ones who were bedding down in my onions last year.  It was the same bed.  And they are leaving scat all over the back yard.  I've almost stepped in it about 5 times.

I need to put the cages back on the beds, but the stakes that held them in place have wandered off so I need to find them.  I'm sure DH took them for some other project and forgot to put them back.  He is really bad at putting things back where he found them or where they belong.  Tape measures are his biggest issue.  We have 5 tape measures and they each have a designated spot.  2 in the house and 3 in the garage.  Are they ever in their spots?  Nope.  I had to buy my own screwdriver set and keep it in my room, because he lost most of the house set.  I don't let him borrow it.

I hope to get the fencing up before the deer decide to have their babies in my yard.  I don't want to freak out mother or scare them away from their fawns.  It's not overgrown back there this year, though, so it is far less likely.  No places to hide.  And we will be taking down the apple tree, so there will be no late fall source of food, either, to attract them back.  Without anything to eat, hopefully they will find another yard to bother.

We will work on more fencing throughout the summer and fall and try to get the entire area that is currently in gardens and the area that will be turning into gardens in the next year or two completely fenced off.  I don't think I will be able to contribute too much more money to the project this year.  I am saving up for the steer still.  I have $1470 and I want to have $2500 just to be on the safe side.  It will probably be closer to $2200.  I need it by July.  Whatever I don't need will be rolled over into the bathroom rebuild fund, which currently has $450.

I may borrow from the Emergency Fund just so we can get the walls and ceiling put up, painted, the lighting and electric turned on, the ceiling fixture picked out, the flooring put in, and the sink cabinet and sink and toilet put in.  And a new door, but that can probably wait a while.  We double checked with the mold guy and he said he didn't detect any mold on the door.  But it is very warped so eventually it will get changed.

Doing the shower can definitely wait.  I'll buy all the tile at once, though, so that if they discontinue it, I'll still have it for the shower.  We changed our minds on the tile design we want, though.  We found something we liked better and it was cheaper, too.  I am still looking to see if I find anything I like better, since we sitll have time.  DH is building the sink cabinet and we want a new sink, not to put the ugly old one that my mother picked out back on.  But that is not too expensive, I've priced the one I want.  I'm still trying to find a faucet that I like, though.  I might just go with a kitchen faucet instead of a bathroom one, because they have a nicer selection and it will be taller for a basin sink.

Well, that about wraps it up.  After not posting for a month, I wrote a book.