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Potato Harvest, Garden Talk, Aerogarden, Computers, Canning--Long Post

October 14th, 2022 at 01:30 am

We've got the potatos all dug up.  We did it over two weekends.  I haven't weighed them yet, but visually it looks like we got more than last year.  We are letting them sit for two weeks for the skins to harden before we start weighing them by variety.  I can tell at a glance that the red La Soda did very well this year, both the seed potatoes that we bought and the ones that we saved our own seed from.  So did the Canela Russets, which are a variety of Russets that have a much lighter skin than most Russets, but taste just like Russets, only they were a lot smaller than they should have been, but they really made a lot.  They should have been 4 or 5 inches long, but we got them about 3 inches long.  We also got a lot of Kennebecs from our seed potatoes and a ton of our own Gold Rush potatos.

By and large the seed potatoes we saved did better than then one we bought from the nursery, except the red La Soda.  The ones we planted from the nursery were bigger than ours to begin with, though.  We saved smaller ones, so even chitted, the ones from the nursery were bigger pieces than the small whole ones we planted.  That makes a difference.  But ours still did well, a lot better than last year.

Anyway, the grocery store potatos that we planted that sprouted on us, also did very well, which I find very interesting, because the Russets weren't even organic, so had probably been sprayed with sprout inhibitor, but they sure had sprouted a lot when Mom gave me the half bag to throw away and DH and I decided to make another row and plant them.  We also did 3 rows of organic yellow potatoes that we had let sprout to plant as well, because shipping the potatoes was so expensive and most yellow potatoes cost more than any other kind from the nurseries.

I'll have to note it all down in my garden notebook and compare it all to last year when I have the final numbers, but with a cursory glance that seems to be how it has come out.  We had good luck last year with the grocery store potatoes, too, whether organic or not, and planted a lot more of those than nursery seed potatoes.

I will again save out seed potatoes, but will only purchase two varieties this year instead of 5 or 6.  I want to get more of the Magic Molly French Fingerlings and the German Butterballs.  I was successful enough with the other varieties to save some of those out, but only enough of the Butterballs to have 4 or 5 meals with them.  I only got 3 pounds of them to plant last year to try, so next year I'd like to get 25 pounds of them.  The Magic Mollys we could have about 10 meals from or have one meal from and save the rest to plant, but I would really rather eat them and get 25 pounds of them to plant.  I only got 5 pounds of those and so got more of them and they were bigger than the Butterballs because we didn't dig them early like you can.

If I can find both of them in 25 pound increments and not just 50.  I really have to watch for when they become available to order.  Last year I didn't start checking until January and a lot of the 25 pound selections had already sold out.  They don't ship them until planting time, but people were ordering really early so I am starting now to check weekly.  I don't need 50 pounds of each.  The shipping on that is way too much.  We will only eat one meal of each to make sure we like those varieties and I will hold back on making more until we know about whether we can order more in case we do have to save all of those for seed potatoes.

The rest of the yellow potatos I planted were the Gold Rush seed potatoes I saved from last year.  Those did pretty well, too.  There was a lot of production for the amount I planted, which was not as much as I wanted to, but still another row than last year.  I'll double what I save out for next year.  Eventually I will have enough of each variety I want to plant to never have to buy seed potatoes at all from the nursery.

All that's left to do there is to put down lime and rototill it into the soil.  I'm thinking about putting down some peat and rototilling that in as well.  There is still a lot of clay in the soil despite how much we have amended it back there.  I'm not even sure we'd use a whole bag this year, maybe half and see how that goes. We'd also rototill that in and some more compost.  Then we'll go out to the bay and harvest enough seaweed to put down on top of it and cover it with black plastic and the seaweed will compost down over the rest of the fall, all winter, and into the early spring and feed the soil.

When you can't buy manure anymore and still want to keep your garden organic, you go with what you have, and seaweed is a great fertilizer.  Just make sure you have a license for gathering sea plants.  It's usually the same one as for gathering shell fish and generally is separate and less expensive than a full on fishing license.

My tomatoes are still going so I am letting them.  I am going to thin out the vines, though, and trim off any flowers left.  The nights are still 48 to 50 and the leaves have not died at all and the days are in the mid to low 70's, so no reason to pull them out.  I do want to plant garlic where the tomatoes and peppers are, but I generally wait until the first nice day after the first frost to plant them.

In a typical year the first frost is Halloween, but it's not feeling like a typical year.  It's feeling like an Indian summer year, which we get about once every 5 years or so.  Then the first frost goes into mid to late November.  It's been as late as December 2nd before on a year that had no snow and barely even froze.  I plant in November anyway when that happens.  The garlic still grows fine.

I do need to get my sage and thyme out of the containers they are in and into one of the garden beds.  They have both burst their plastic containers because they are so big.  I didn't have room for them in the beds this year, but now I will get them in place so I do.

I still have one very determined cucumber plant alive, but if it gets much colder at night it's going to die.  It's got a few small plants on it.  I am thinking of tenting its trellis in some clear plastic, at least until they get big enough to eat.

The zucchini plants have some small zucchini on them, but again, I am not sure if they will get big enough to eat.  Maybe I will tent their hoops, too.  I need to harvest the peppers, too.  Only the cayenne has peppers left.  I am thinking about bringing the jalapeño plant inside for the winter and leaving it under a grow light.  It did not have ideal conditions this year and got overshadowed by it's neighbor plants.  I like doing pico de gallo year round, but the jalapeños in winter are always so dinky.  I know japapños are still a cheap pepper, but I like them big.  I want to do one last harvest of basil before pulling the plants.  They will die the minute it hits 45 at night.  We have maybe another week before that happens.

I'm going to grow some cilantro (for the pico), parsley and basil in my Aerogarden this fall and through the winter.  Then I don't have to buy bunches, I can just snip what I need, and if it grows too big I can dehydrate the rest.  I always feel like I am wasting some with the bunches, because they go from fresh to suddenly slimy when I go to use up.

I am thinking of getting the biggest Aerogarden, so I can grow some cherry tomatoes and some lettuce, too.  I have enough room.  Or if I get the biggest one, I can grow a jalapeño plant, a cherry tomato plant, and bell pepper plant in that, too, along with some lettuces in the front.  That would be nice, because it has the built in lights on a timer, so I only have to put in the water and the fertilizer when it tells me too.  And they have a big reservoir outside the Aerogarden itself that you can buy and hook into it , so you don't have to fill the smaller one in the machine itself, so you aren't watering as often if you want to buy that.

I haven't spent my allowance in a long time, so right now I have $500 in the envelop, and it will be $550 with tomorrow's payday.  The one I want, along with the grow pods I want, plus tax, will cost $869.01.  There's no shipping over $500.  If I want to get the extra reservoir, it would cost an additional $38.84, so a grand total of $907.85.  Which means I need to come up with $357.85 to buy it.  That means if I save my next 5 allowances I'll have $250, which brings it to 107.85, so I can use part of my Christmas money from DH of $200.

We usually order our Christmas presents in November, though, so technically I wouldn't have to use any of December's allowances at all, doing that.  I could just use the Christmas money as usual and add it to the allowance I would have saved by November 25th, which is when I'd be able to order.  I have $10.53 left in the gardening envelope, so that will make up the shortfall of $7.85, so that will work out.  If MIL gives us our Christmas money early so we can order stuff so it will be here by Christmas, I could use that as well.

That's usually somewhere around $200 each for me and DH and $100 or $150 for the kids.  Not sure about this year, though.  Her stocks probably got hit as hard as ours were, but she still has to take out $15,000 a year and she doesn't need that to live on between social security (she was able to claim FIL's) and she got FIL's pension since he was still employed when he died.  That's a little over $3000 a month and she has no debt.  She doesn't even spend all of that.

Or I could just use the money in the beef envelope for next year's steer and buy it now.  That's $407 and I wouldn't need all of it.  Then I can start saving for it again.  We still have several months before we are ready to get a beef.  I'm planning for late July or August, so I have enough time to replace the money.  Or I could just replace the beef money with my Christmas money and still count the new Aerogarden as my Christmas present from DH and MIL.  Maybe that would be the better choice.  Then I could order now and I'd get it going much sooner.

I had been saving up my allowance for a new computer.  Not that there is anything wrong with this computer, but I just feel like there should be a replacement fund for when it goes belly up.  I'd like a nicer one than I could afford last time.  I am used to nicer ones.  But I can start saving up for that again.  I'd rather be able to grow some vegetables and herbs indoors and not have to go to the store just for greens or the fresh herbs I use the most or pay for bell peppers, which are ridiculous these days, especially in winter.

DD needs a new computer soon.  Hers is ancient.  I'm really surprised it is still going.  It's a desktop and it is about ten years old and she's so close to maxing out the memory, despite doing all the things to compress and get rid of unneeded junk files.  I've got money for that set aside and we are waiting for the Black Friday sales online or Cyber Monday or whatever.

She just wants a new desktop and she knows which one she wants.  And we will take the hard drive out of the old one and put it into the new one so she doesn't have to transfer everything the hard way after running all the utility fixits in case that helps.  I'm giving in and trying that.  It has a free 60 day trial as part of my family Norton licenses and will work across all of our computers.  If we like it, we'll probably keep it.  I want to see if it makes any difference first.  60 days is a good trial period.

Tomorrow is payday.  I am going to try to get back in the habit of posting my payday reports for accountability.  I haven't wanted to and I still don't want to.  They won't be pretty for a while with so much going to the credit card, but we'll get there, one payday at a time.

I have a beautiful pot roast in Instant Pot 1 and am about to put Yellow potatoes in Instant Pot 2.  Not mine, these are still from the store, since ours have to have the skin harden for two weeks for proper long-term storage.  They will also be easier to peel.  But what I am making are new potatoes from this season and not the old ones from the potato sheds that were grown last year.  So they taste great.  When I get through what I have left, ours will be ready.

Well, I'm off to peruse the grocery ads.  Hopefully there will be some good sales.  I'd love some boneless skinless chicken or some pot roast so I can can some up.  I am out of canned chicken and I don't have enough beef to make me happy.  I'd also like to can some carrots.  There are not enough on my shelves to get through until next year's harvest.  I saw they were putting out ten pound bags of organic ones when I shopped two weeks ago, but I was running out of grocery money and wanted to have enough if I needed it for the second week.

They also had 25 bags of regular juicing carrots, but it is hard for me to can 25 pounds of carrots in one go and I prefer organic since carrots pull up everything that is in the soil.  Farmers plant carrots to clear contaminants from the soil.  They don't sell those ones, but even the ones planted regular can still pull up stuff they don't know is in the fields.  Parsnips are good at that, too.

We will can about half of the potatoes we harvested, except the reds and store russets.  They don't can as well.  Yellows can the best.  I will try canning a batch of the canela russets and see.  Our green bean harvest wasn't great this year because we planted so late.  I do have a full shelf, but I wanted two.  So I will probably stock up on canned ones for the store so I can have a full shelve of those.  I have about 24 cans of those and it fills 1/4 of the shelf, so I'd need 72.  If I buy two cases every time I visit Winco, that should do it.  We didn't plant corn this year, but we don't eat as much of that.  We have 12 cans of that and I think another 12 cans would be sufficient for a years supply for us.

Okay, now I'm really off.

I Forgot This Was a Three Paycheck Month

September 16th, 2022 at 10:05 pm

Anyone else having issues with the post tags and avatars not loading and captchas not working? I'd figure it was just the blogs being buggy as usual, but I had issues on my banking website today and youtube last night, all after the Windows update, so it is entirely possible it is just me.

After my little freak out earlier in the week, I realized it was a 3 paycheck month for us and that I am only $32.88 short to pay off our last credit card statement balance based on a typical paycheck. But when we get a month with a third paycheck, that month does not have medical taken out of it, it doesn't have life insurance or long term care insurance taken out of it, it doesn't have dental or vision insurance taken out of it, it only has 401K and the company's version of a debit card with $3K you get for medical expenses pretax at the beginning of the year and then they deduct the amount from your paycheck all year, but you can use it at anytime for any medical expense, including devices like canes, walkers, and nebulizers.

Anyway, that means this paycheck will be larger than normal. I don't know by how much. The last one was usually by $300, but I don't know what it will be with the new raise amount. However much it is, it will cover the shortfall so we won't pay interest. There will still be $812.92 charged onto the next billing cycle, but we can absorb that next month.

Usually we would have paid that off, too, this month.  We will probably have a couple hundred to pay towards that, just not all of it, but still, no interest will be charged.  Just no more erratic purchasing, only planned and deliberate ones, and we need to cool even those for a while. I will come back to tag this entry once they are working for me again. Just wanted to let you all know I did not screw up as badly as I thought I had.

All Over the Place

September 14th, 2022 at 12:12 am

We are spending too much money again.  I am not sure if we are going to get out of this month without carrying a balance forward into next month on our credit card.  Some of it was paying for glasses and contacts for me and my son, but a lot of it was eating out way too much and being a little too fast on the draw with that amazon mouse click thing.  You know when you suddenly get a big raise and you think, "Yee Haw! I can spend again, I don't have to be tight anymore!"  And you overdo it?  Yeah, that's us.  So now I need to reign it back in and get us back on track.  I don't want to use the emergency fund to cover us.  Maybe interest is what we need to teach us a lesson here.  Moving on.

I read an article the other day that said that those who get debt forgiveness for their college loans are going to have to claim that amount as income on their income taxes.  I wonder if they know that?  I bet it is going to hit a lot of people hard in the gut at tax time.  It'll make a lot of people used to getting a tax return have to pay taxes, maybe for the first time in their lives and they probably won't have that money to pay because they won't know about it.  No one is preparing them.  No one is showing them the dark side.  Just the la la la skipping through the daisies side.  It's not really forgiveness if it comes with that kind of string attached.  If they are going to do it, they should do it free and clear, not with a price tag.

It is so nice to see clear, blue skies again.  The forest fires were blowing their smoke this way again, giving us the apocalypse sky of light brownish gray with a brilliant orange sun behind it.  The sun always looks amazingly pretty when this happens, but I prefer to be able to go outside and breathe.  I did have to go outside one day with one of those medical masks they wouldn't let anyone buy at the start of Covid and quickly pick tomatoes, but otherwise stayed inside.  Even with that, I had to use a nebulizer treatment afterwards.  I got 12.2 pounds of tomatoes, making the running total of tomatoes 23.6 so far from the garden.  I'm going to pick more today, so will update that in the next post. 

On the medical front, I continue to lose weight, this time in a more healthy manner than when I had that horrible stomach flu.  Once I started eating again after that, the weight loss that stuck was 12 pounds.  I've now lost 20 pounds.  I'm eating mostly chicken and fish, regular vegetables, and starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, potatoes, and squash.  I'll have rice or corn on occasion, but no other grains.

I can't remember the last time I had beef, maybe 3 weeks ago when we had spaghetti, though we did have a ham from our half a hog a week ago.  I didn't have much, though it was very good, just a little too salty for my taste.  I cut off all the fat.  We'll save the other one for a holiday when there will be more people to eat it.  I did save the ham bone and will make broth with it later on.  It will flavor broth nicely with it's smokey saltiness. 

Plus I have all the scraps I have been saving, onion skins, garlic skins, shallot skins, carrot peels, celery tops, parsley stems, and a few herbs from the garden, to add in to making the broth for extra flavor.  I used to always do that when times were tight, but over the last couple years got out of the habit.  When food costs started skyrocketing, I got back in the habit of doing a scrap bag in the freezer again for broth. We have to be economical with food in these times of massive food cost rises.  I always try to be, but it is necessary now more than ever to go back to my previous cost cutting ways.  Which, in the end, is better for my diet.

As for other medical stuff, yesterday I got my mammogram.  It's been 7 years since I've had one done and the technology has changed.  It is very futuristic robot looking as opposed to a garage workshop vice clamp.  Don't get me wrong, in the end it is still a vice clamp, but looks like it belongs on a space ship.  They really ought to have some kind of chair that moves with the machine for disabled and old people though.  Getting into position hurt my back and legs, which was the part that caused pain.  Now my doctor will stop nagging me, though.

I know I should have done it sooner.  My mom had breast cancer at 40 and I did one at 30, one at 35, one at 40 and one at 45 and I was supposed to do one at 50 so I am 2 years overdue.  But I've has so much other medical crap to deal with between me and my daughter these last few years, I really didn't want to deal.  My eldest sister (64) had uterine cancer recently, so it has hit my family of origin twice.  That's what got me to go in.  That's the only one I don't have to worry about since I had a hysterectomy at 33, but still.

I'm thinking about having DD tested for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations and probably me, too, depending on cost.  If insurance covers it, great.  If it doesn't, than just DD.  I'd like to do genetic testing for Ehlers-Danlos on her, too.  If we can afford it.

Then today I went to the cardiologist and got my patch.  It's a portable EKG.  They used to have to do a harness thing, but now they can just attach a patch to your chest and it monitors stuff.  It has a button you can push if you feel anxious, arm or neck pain/tingling, chest pain or pressure, dizziness, fainted, light headed, pounded, fluttering or racing, short of breath, skipped or irregular beats, or other.  Then you mark it down in a book with the date, the time, the duration, and what you were doing.  It only gives 13 pages.  Hopefully that is enough or I might have to add some.  Some weeks I have a lot of incidents and others I have none.

It is a two week test.  It was ordered by my neurologist to try to get to the bottom of my fainting spells to see if I was having syncopy.  My regular doctor has been wanting to do one for a while, too, but we have been trying to control my asthma first, which got bad with Original Covid, then Covid II: The Return, then what they call long Covid.  Then the summers with smoke from forest fires have not helped.

The treatment plan I'm on has helped some, but not completely, so he has wanted to look at my heart next, because I have racing heart, and I was born with a heart murmur that may have gotten worse, and sometimes I feel pressure, and shortness of breath when I am sitting still that may or may not be caused by asthma or long Covid.  So this test will satisfy him as well, or at least give him information.  And if there is nothing wrong there, than I think the next step will be an MRI of my lungs.

Honestly, the possibility of heart issues, is what has kicked me into gear with the diet this time.  If that is something I have to fight, I need to get into a healthier body to do that.  I need to anyway.  It is exhausting to be this way.  Losing weight will help with my fibromyalgia and my joint pain, so it will help lesson some of my RA symptoms, too. What I have to do is just stay motivated, even if there is nothing wrong with my heart.  I am sick and tired of always being sick and tired.

I am going to be stopping the shot I've been on for RA.  The side effects have been bad.  They are frequent colds and respiratory infections.  I have had nothing but that since I started this drug.  I wash my hands all the time.  I use sanitizer when I'm out.  I sanitize the steering wheel and door handles if my husband drove last because he brings stuff home from work.

I santize the door knobs.  I wear my mask and vinyl gloves in stores on the rare times I go in one even though we are not required to and I still get sick.  Sure the RA pain has been completely gone, but I can't live like this.  Every time I've stopped it with antibiotic use and gotten better, then taken the shot again, two days later I've caught something else.  So, no more of that.  I can't deal with it.  It has been a miserable summer.  I've barely had a chance to enjoy it.  I want to enjoy what is left of it.

Okay, well, after all that word vomit, it's time to go make dinner and not order it.  Baked chiken thighs, roasted potatoes, and green breans.  The chicken I pulled out of the freezer said 99 cents a pound and was from May 7, 2022.  It was the last time I saw that sale price.  I'll proabably never see that in a store again.  But I've got 8 more pack of it in the freezer, so there's that.

 

 

Trying Not to Be Frustrated with the World

February 2nd, 2019 at 02:11 am

Despite the fact that it has been since July, it still feels strange to not get paid weekly. I mean, we budget for two weeks and it isn't like anything needs to be done during that time period after the bills are paid, but maybe that is the problem. I am so used to being hands-on on a weekly basis and now it is like it is set for cruise control and I'm there, but there is nothing for me to do unless I see an accident coming up ahead.

DH and I have started watching the Financial Peace University videos. We had started a while back and then life got busy. We decided to restart from the beginning and I am glad we did, because they have completely revamped the presentation. And what's really neat is that DH knows one of the guys in the video doing the testimonials. He worked with him up in Alaska.

We took a big step and cut up all but one credit card. DH is cancelling them, too, but the idea of cutting them up just seems so huge and something we have really both been resisting. We are keeping the one for auto pays, as I've had them double charge too often. Yes, they fix it in a couple of days, but if you double charge on a debit card and there isn't enough money to cover that, you get fees and it is such a mess to sort out even when it isn't your error. I feel more secure having the auto pays on a credit card for that reason.

Now you could say that we could just keep extra in the checking account, but we run a zero based budget, so that makes it difficult, as we don't keep a huge cushion in there. I know we can do it, but I'm just not sure we are 100% there yet. There is also the fact that with the debit card they can put a hold on your account. A hold on a credit card with a huge limit is not that big a deal, but a hold on money in your checking account is.

I know that I am justifying. I just think that when we only use it for travelling and auto pays and it is paid in fully each month, and we are as disciplined as we are, we can handle it. One day when we have enough money to have a large cushion again, we can go fully to debit, but that will not be until after the loan is paid off and we've saved at least 3 months of expenses. We will get there, but we are not there yet.

Personally, I want to do the part where you stop all retirement contributions until you are out of debt, because I think we'd be out of debt by the end of the year that way, but DH is against it. He's the one who wanted to do Dave Ramsey in the first place, but he doesn't actually want to "do" Dave Ramsey. Just the parts he agrees with. I get all his arguments, I agree they make sense logically, but I just want to be out of debt.

I don't mind doing retirement while saving up the full EF, but I want to be done with this debt. It frustrates me, because I feel like if you are only doing things halfway, it'll take twice as long, if not three times as long. I am so tempted to call Dave's show and ask him what to do about this. Of course he'll tell me to get rid of that last card, but he'll also tell DH to knuckle under to the plan. I think maybe some straight-talking from the man himself is in order. Or maybe I'll just email him.

We have been debt snowballing for as long as I've been blogging here. Not on the Dave Ramsey plan, just debt snowballing. And having a small EF. And it worked, but I don't think it worked as well as it could have if we'd been all in and had refused to take on any more debt (like the car purchases we made along the way). And we still aren't all in. We're 3/4 of the way in. Well, I'm 3/4 of the way in. DH is 1/2 of the way in. And while he is more of the free-spirit than I am financially, he still qualified as a nerd on the financial nerd vs. free spirit test. One more point and he'd have been a free spirit, though. I only had one free spirit point and seven nerd points.

In other news, I signed up for my Enbrel co-pay card. It should be here in a couple of days and then I can call the mail-order pharmacy and get the shots shipped to me. I am really hoping this will help me function better on a day to day basis. I'm not thrilled with the side effects of the drug, but the side effects of RA are at this point making it worth taking the risk to see if it helps. It may not even help.

In other, other news, the Girl Scouts are out with their super aggressive cookie sales and behaving as badly as ever at a store near you. I will be so glad when cookie season is over. Meanwhile, I will shop in the mornings instead of the afternoons, and see about making a small contribution to Campfire USA. I've never had a kid from there block the doors, grab my cart, and shout that I had to buy their cookies because they were almost at their goal. No, entitled munchkin, I do not.

I got the shower and tub cleaned today. I still need to do the sliding doors and the little shelves, though, but I will do those when I shower. It's easier. I used Barkeeper's Friend. It is amazing. We are keeping up with the kitchen so far and not letting it devolve into chaos again. Tomorrow's goal is to clean off the top of the bathroom vanity, clean the bathroom sink, and sweep the bathroom floor. Well, that's my goal.

DH's goal is to get the little section between the fridge and the cabinets cleaned out and to clean behind the fridge. And then if either one of us still has energy to take care of the armchair that has turned into a catch-all. We will get organized this year if it kills us.

FPU and ACTH Results

July 8th, 2018 at 11:47 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.

Moving Further Away from Credit Card Usage

July 6th, 2018 at 01:19 am

DH finally made it over to the credit union to order his debit card. Since we had never done one on that account we had to go in in person to get one. I sent for mine last Friday, but DH kept forgetting to go over and do it.

I finally managed to track it down and Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Ting all accept VISA debit cards as long as they are not one time use cards. So once my debit card arrives I will switch those accounts over to debit. I need to look on my credit card statement for due dates for each service. Well, I know when Netflix is due, but the others. We do have some other things that come out periodically, like Sirius, which runs our up to the minute GPS traffic warnings in the car as well as satellite radio, and Shockwave, and my son's Proactiv which comes every 3 months.

We have so much Proactiv I will probably cancel that, they send far more than you need. If we don't get to those before we cancel the credit card, it'll kick it back to us in an email and we can fix it then. I know Sirius will bill and you can send a check so I don't imagine debit will be impossible.

I also have my monthly eye supplement, which can use a debit card as well, but I might cancel it. I seem to be getting as much benefit from taking double doses of vitamins E and A. I'm going to try going without the supplement this week and if it makes no difference, I will drop it. I started using it before the vitamin regimen and it helped, but I'm not sure if it still is. Now that I have the new glasses, it is a good time to test it.

You know, in the beginning I was very overwhelmed with the idea of stopping all credit card use. I wasn't sure if it was something I wanted to do, let alone something I could even pull off. I really wanted to hold on to my Costco Citi card, because of the cash back. But when I really think about it, we aren't using the card like we were. Our Costco trips are now under a strict budget, so $400 to $500 monthly visits no longer happen. We don't use the gas station anymore because they don't take cash and I don't want to use a debit card where it is very likely there might be a skimmer. I'm not sure we'll earn enough cash back to pay for the membership anymore.

So that makes it all easier to give this card up once everything is switched. And the Master Card will go. The last one to part with is the Alasaka Airlines Visa. DH is having a hard time with that one. He does have a point that having one for travel, where they put holds on a chunk of credit at hotels and car rental places, will be easier with a credit card. But just because we hold with the credit card, doesn't mean we need to pay with the credit card. Though I do think we'd have to make one or two minor charges a year just to keep the card from being cancelled.

I don't know. One step at a time. AMEX is gone. Citi is next. Then we will kill the MC. We were keeping that one, so DD would have something for emergencies, and then I remembered that we can put some money on a pre-paid debate card that she could keep on hand for an emergency at such time as she might need to use it. With her current health issues, she doesn't go anywhere without us, so it's not as big a deal as it once was.

Then we'll see about the air miles card. Having one card we use periodically until we qualify for a mortgage may just be the road we take. It is our oldest card, so carries a lot of our debt history with it. There are some practical reasons for keeping it and we are completely responsible with credit cards, so I don't really think it will be an issue to keep it. But...I don't know. Is there such a thing as too much Dave Ramsey ideology? Why is it so hard to just let go?

More Identity Theft and Cancelling Credit Cards

July 3rd, 2018 at 07:33 am

DH got a letter from the IRS today saying that someone had used his social security number to gain employment. They don't give out any specific information because apparently their system doesn't keep track of who used it, just that it was used somewhere that didn't jibe with their information on him, i.e. someone from a different state while he's earning in this one. They really ought to track that better.

This is not the first time this has happened. It happened back before we were married in the early 90's. When DH lost his job due to injury and had to file unemployment it was something that popped up on his list of jobs. It got taken off at that time. It was someone working a job in surprise, surprise, California who was an illegal immigrant. It's probably the same situation this time. Irritating.

So I've taken care of my side of things, setting a fraud alert on my accounts and pulling all three of my credit reports and going over them, since all my stuff is linked to his. My stuff is all correct. I don't think this is related to the fraudulent credit card use last month, but we just don't know. DH still has a fraud alert from then, but he needs to check his SSA account and pull his credit reports as well. All of it can be done easily online, thank goodness.

I cancelled our AMEX cards today. I had been planning on it anyway, but this letter spurred me on to get it done. They did not want to let me leave, but were very polite. I just kept saying no that I wanted to cancel and that I didn't want any other perks or cards. Honestly, after the supreme court ruling on what they can do with their business practices, I don't think I could ever use them again anyway.

I know we still have to cancel the Master Card. Baby steps. It is hard letting go of our credit. I know that it is the direction we really want to go in, but I didn't think it would be this hard to give up the ones we don't even use. It is psychological. It did feel good cutting up the AMEX cards, though. DH is the primary card holder on the MC so he will have to take care of that one himself.

Then the question will be do we want to do the Costco Citi card or the Alaskan Air Visa. Since we are only spending cash at stores now, we don't really need the Costco card. But I do want to get my cash rewards from it. And it doesn't look like DH will be going back to work in Alaska again (things look promising at work), so keeping the BoA is probably not necessary, except it is our oldest card and we will be wanting some credit history at least until we buy a new house and something for the auto pays to be on at places that don't accept debit or electronic checking. Plus for hotels and car rentals on future vacations. I know what Dave Ramsey says, but I'm not sure I want to make my life that difficult. They would be rare exceptions for credit card use and actual payment would be with the debit card, just using the credit card to hold things.

I am looking into Identity Theft insurance. We can get the whole family insured for $145 a year. This problem can get much worse and they will deal with it if it does. I know my daughter's info was breached because her high school sold all the information from the kids without permission to a company and then that company was breached, so it would be good to do all of us. I wish we didn't live in a world where this stuff happens, but we do.

Fraudulent Charges and Credit Freezing Question

June 13th, 2018 at 09:45 pm

I think we are starting to see the first bit of fall out from the Equifax breach. Today someone tried to use our Master Card. This was always a card we rarely used, but we have not used in 2 months for sure. And it was for some service called NEVERBOUNCE, that cleans up email list servers or something like that. Not something we would ever sign up for. They tried to charge it three times.

Fortunately BOA was on the ball and temporarily froze the account. I had to fill out the fraud form, which is really easy online. Then they will likely be calling DH to confirm what I did online.

Tonight we are going to cancel the Master Card. Since we will be eliminating all but one card until I can figure out how to do everything through debit cards, auto bank deductions, and paypal, we might as well get started with this one. No more dragging our heels.

I know a couple of you have been through some identity theft issues before. If I freeze my credit through the three reporting agencies will that prevent me from using my card at all, or just prevent anyone from opening up a new credit card account or loan?

We won't be taking out new cards or any kind of loan until we are ready to buy a house again and need a mortgage. That is a few years down the road, so freezing our reports won't affect anything in that regard. Then when we are ready to apply for a mortgage we will unfreeze them.

I Finally Opened the Door and In He Walks

May 15th, 2018 at 07:20 pm

I don't usually buy books, but I made a book purchase on Saturday. Yes, my library does have this book, but I was 13th on the waiting list. High demand books mean that people can only keep them out 2 weeks instead of 3, but that was still looking at a possibility of 26 weeks before I could read it, assuming people turned it in on time. Most people don't.

So I handed over my cash, $27.51, to the young man at B&N, who tried to sell me a membership card, but no. I don't buy books often enough to earn back and then benefit from the savings. What book did I buy, you may be asking by now? Well, I finally gave in and decided to read Dave Ramsey. I bought The Total Money Makeover.

I have been avoiding Dave Ramsey for the last 12 years, to be honest. Yes, I did do a debt snowball, but I didn't know about it from reading him. I just figured doing it like that would make me feel like I was making progress faster. Yes, I did build and keep a $1000 emergency fund before doing it, but that was on advice from people here, not based on his method. Although it probably was, since a lot of you have read him. But I wasn't going to.

It wasn't that I thought he was bad or anything. I just didn't want to give up my paid off credit cards. Well, I did give up some of them, but we still have 5. We pay them off in full each month. But...oh, and here's the big but, I've been feeling for a while that we weren't using them responsibly enough, because they are just too easy to use.

But my chiropractor's office plays Dave Ramsey and I kept hearing him on my visits. And then he came up in my suggested videos on youtube. God has been putting things in my path right now that I have been struggling to deal with. Dave is just the last in a line.

First I was struggling with tithing while still in debt to my mother and my internet preacher answered a question on tithing. Then I was concerned that I lacked motivation, but in getting the spending back under control and in doing my five times a week Bible study. Then I was struggling with forgiveness for DH's sister and nieces over the stuff they pulled at Thanksgiving.

Forgiveness was in the next lesson and in such a way that it heals the person who forgives, not the one who holds on to the anger. Doesn't mean I'm willing to have holidays with them, but I might be able to at least see them now. So I asked for help about the budget and in walks Dave Ramsey, so to speak.

So I just finished reading the book last night. It took me 3 days. And I figured out how come I felt that way about credit cards. It's because we just buy what we need with no thought to it. And because I know we will pay it off each month in full, I haven't really been sticking to a budget when it comes to groceries and household expenses or clothing or eating out.

And with these bad habits getting out of hand, things felt tight every month and I didn't feel like I could possibly make payments on the loan to Mom, the only debt we have left. So I sat down and made up a better budget and if we actually stick to it, then yes, I can start paying Mom at least $500 a month.

DH's mother just gave us $1000. We had thought to put it in the Emergency Fund, but I think instead, we will use it to get current. The next two paydays will pay off what we have left on the credit cards before they are due and then we will go down to simply charging the auto pays, which total $407.50. It might be a little lower, but I am allowing $50 for Ting. We don't always go that high, some months we are lower, but we have never been above it, so that is what I put in the budget. But we won't use the credit card for anything else. Nothing but the auto pays. And we will use paypal from our bank account for online purchases, but not until we've had a moratorium on online purchases for six months or so.

I have also budgeted $1000 for groceries/household. I do think I can keep it lower than that, but I haven't been. Since I track my spending, more or less, I know I haven't. We are switching to cash for that. I will start with putting $250 in the groceries envelope. I figure $200 for groceries and $50 for household. Maybe I should break it down into two envelopes, except I usually buy household stuff when I go grocery shopping. We'll see. I know I need to get toilet paper, deodorant, and quart size Ziplocs, which will take up a good share of that $50.

I have transferred all the auto pays to one card, and as soon as the last little bit on the AMEX is paid off, I am going to cut it up and cancel it. I was just using it for Netflix and Hulu. I am also going to cancel my Best Buy card and no longer do any 18 or 12 month same as cash deals. I paid off the last one with part of our tax return. Instead I will be saving up money in a computer fund, though that won't start for a while.

I am not sure I am ready to cut the cord completely with credit cards, but I can't see having more than 3. One is the miles card, which DH will need if he starts working in Alaska again and has to fly all the time. He usually got 2 free flights a year, sometimes 3, so it definitely was worth it. Then there is the one my daughter is a signer on. Then there is the Costco Citi card, but I am not sure if that is going to be worth keeping yet. Without charging all of our groceries and gas, the amount of cash back will dramatically drop, and that was the only reason I got it in the first place.

My head knows that the best thing for us to do is to get rid of all but one card, but I am scared to do it. Mostly because the EF is not where I want it to be. I know you aren't supposed to use credit cards as a back up EF, but you know what 2016 and 2017 were like for us. If we had run out of money at least we would have had those cards to fall back on, which of course, is exactly that attitude I'm not supposed to have.

I knew Dave would let me have it over these ideas and I wasn't wrong. It sure has shown me what I need to work on and try to not rely so much on my security gland ruling what I do.

So next, I go back to an envelope, pay with cash system, except for those auto pays. I am looking into whether or not there are ways to pay them without paying by card. I think you can pay both Netflix and Hulu through paypal, but I'm not 100% sure. I think we can put storage on direct withdrawal, but I don't know about Ting. I haven't been able to find anything about Ting. But one of the reasons I really like doing auto pays on the credit card is so that I only have one due date to worry about, not an additional five. Right now I only have two to worry about and they come out on the same day.

So I will fund this coming payday's grocery/household envelope with $250.00 from the gift money, so all the money in the paycheck can go for the tithe and the Citi card.

I have already handed DH an envelope marked vending for the vending machines at work with $7 in ones that I had in my purse. He is to get $25 a month to use in the vending machines at work (he's been charging them). This gives him a little over $1 a day and the charge is 85 cents, so anything left at the end he can spend or set aside and save it for something he wants. Or he can save it all and quit using the vending machine altogether.

I will also have my own $25 envelope for something I want to do. I have no idea what I want to do with it, but sometimes just saving makes me happy.

I really would like to be able to squeeze out more than $500 a month to pay Mom. It might be $100, it might be $25, who knows? But whatever I can throw at it. She won't like getting weird amounts, but I don't care. It is not up to her how much I pay back at a time. It is up to DH and me.

As soon as we know what is going on in June with the job, I can decide what to do with the Emergency Fund. If I want to bump it down to $1000 and pay Mom with the rest or if we need to keep it there in case of possible job loss. It is scary to keep it at just $1000, but Dave says it keeps you more driven to pay off the debt so you can build the EF up to 3 to 6 months of expenses.

I get it. I get everything Dave says. I think I'm in the stage where I am not yet drinking the Kool-Aid, but I have read the ingredients and directions on the package and started preparing the beverage. He has his baby steps and I have mine. I do want to get there. And I want to get there fast, so time to put our heads down and start pushing that stone uphill.