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Viewing the 'Off on a Tangent' Category

Rough Week

October 22nd, 2014 at 03:52 pm

I think I am finally starting to come out of the flu. I have not been this tired in a long, long time. Now the kids are down with it and both stayed home from school today. Fortunately all they want to do is sleep, so I can still rest.

Last night DH went back to Alaska, so I don't have him to fall back on. And of course last night was a major wind storm that managed to rip one panel of roofing off the turkey coop and leave one panel dangling down the front of it. The piece of roofing that he jury rigged to keep the rain from going in the duck coop window was also ripped off.

I can fix the duck coop, but I don't know what I am going to do about the turkey coop as that requires going up on a ladder and I can't climb ladders with my knee. Maybe I can throw a tarp over that half of it. The turkeys will just have to stay on one side of the coop, I guess.

DH wanted to loan his sister money and I had to say no, because we don't have it. I mean, we physically have it, but it has to pay for all the expenses of December when he is off work for 5 weeks with no pay. And if we loan money to her, we won't be able to meet our own expenses. December is only a month away and there is no way she'd be paying us back on time.

I feel bad for SIL. She was in a car accident that was not her fault and has been off work for a month. She will eventually get a settlement, but it certainly won't be in time to pay us back for December bills. We have helped her where we could, but we just can't do it this time. I can't put my own family and finances in jeopardy for her.

I don't think DH gets how tight things are. I think he thinks that things are as good as they were 4 years ago. But he's bringing home $1000 less each month than he was even two years ago due to higher taxes and bigger medical deductions. I have told him and told him, but it doesn't seem to sink in. The fact that he even asked me shows that. And I end up feeling like the bad guy in this.

But I know if it comes down to it, SIL and niece can move in with MIL and FIL. Or she can get money from her boyfriend. Or from her rich uncle. She's been holding onto a house she can't afford since her divorce several years ago.

I'm very frustrated. I don't like being made to feel guilty. It makes me resentful. Her situation is not my fault. I plan hard to take care of emergencies and times of no income and she doesn't and never has. And I feel like I'm being penalized for it, just because I said no. But I have every right to say no. I know DH doesn't mean to make me feel this way, but that doesn't stop me from feeling it. He just wants to help his sister. I do, too, but not at the expense of our own family. /rant

December Planning

October 10th, 2014 at 07:45 am

I found out last night that instead of having to take 4 weeks of unpaid time off in December, DH is going to have to take 5 weeks of unpaid time off going into the new year. I'm pretty sure we won't be able to handle this without dipping into the Emergency Fund.

DH is going to try to get a little overtime, but they have not really been forthcoming with it this year, so we certainly can't rely on that.

We have plenty of vegetables and fruits canned and meat frozen, so we could get by without having to buy too much in the way of groceries in December. Mostly just things like milk and lettuce and oranges. Between our five laying ducks and our four laying hens we have plenty of eggs.

I am a little concerned about Christmas, though. We don't buy for many people anymore, but I still need to come up with about $500 for it.

I hate not being prepared for things, but when they jacked up the portion of medical insurance we have to pay this year the paychecks really took a hit. It wouldn't have been so bad with a lower deductible, but $5000 out of pocket is a lot on top of that. We've got 3 people on medications that are quite expensive so we'll be slapped with that again when January hits, since the don't cover prescriptions until the deductible is hit.

With the end of those tax breaks a couple years back, DH is effectively bringing home about $1200 less every month than he was when he first started working for this company. And they decided they wouldn't be giving raises out this year after all. It frustrates me. Especially since we can't rely on the Christmas bonus to make up the shortfall of no pay for five weeks. We used to be able to save for this, but this year has just been one thing after another.

We have decided to start DH on his bachelors degree. Since there isn't really any place he can go right now to get a higher income, this is the most sensible move. We'll have to pay $100 to have his transcripts reviewed from his A.S. in Electrical Engineering, and then the first class he will take will cost $800. We may dip into the Emergency Fund for that, too. I know it's not a true emergency, but it'll get us to the tax refund time and then we can pay for the schooling out of that and some how or another start setting some money aside as well. How? I don't know yet. It's something we will have to figure out.

Hay Bale Garden Update and Farm Dreams

September 22nd, 2014 at 01:35 pm

I've been able to get out and do some serious work in the gardens this week. I've got a lot of food coming in, though never in the huge quantities I had expected for some of it.

The hay bale garden has been far more successful than the straw bale garden. It has had far less weeds and the growth has been phenomenal in comparison. So next year I think I will skip planting in straw bales at all and just go with the hay bales, if I do this again.

So far I've yielded $357.25 of organic produce over the price of my start up costs for the gardens. Next year if I start things from seeds instead of buying organic transplants, start up costs will be lower. Since I got started late though, I did the transplants to catch up some time.

[url]http://youtu.be/N_5RvnetdYc[/url]

If all goes well with the house sale and if we find a small farm and if we can actually buy it before next spring, I will be building raised beds out of rabbit bedding and rabbit manure, which can be used right away, and setting up compost piles for the bird waste and bedding, since it needs to compost for at least six months before using. We will use wire and t-posts instead of wood to keep things loosely in place and will build it up at least 3 feet tall. With the amount of bedding we could compost in place that will be by far a better method. Then we will have deep mulch as it breaks down to between 1/2 and 1/3 of its original size. It'll still be a foot off the ground so I can pull up a chair to do my gardening.

I'm not going to rush buying a farm, though. We may need longer than that even if the house sale does go through. I want to make sure I find the right place and that we have a big enough down payment that we are not struggling at all with making a mortgage payment again.

I am picky about what I want. It has to have a well for water. It needs to have either a creek or a pond on the property, but not too close to the house in case of flooding. It needs to have either a good barn or several outbuildings, preferably one with power and water, but at the very least power. It needs a house that is one level only, preferably with handicapped accessibility, and at least 1600 square feet with a minimum of 3 bedrooms, though I'd prefer 4, and 2 bathrooms.

The kitchen needs to be of a decent size for canning and processing meat. It needs adequate pantry storage. It needs a garage and no basement as most basements around here have flooding issues. It needs a wood stove and a propane or gas stove. It needs garden space, fruit trees and nut trees, and at least 2 acres of pasture and 2 acres of wooded land. Fencing around the pastures is a must. It needs a good site for a green house for aquaponics and growing dwarf citrus trees, and a good site for solar panels and possibly a wind turbine. Wants, but not must haves are a willow tree and a flowering cherry tree or two.

We will probably buy 5 acres, though if we can save up enough, I'd prefer 10. We don't ever intend to move again after buying our farm so I want it to be right or at least easily able to be made right, like planting my own fruit trees and nut trees, willow tree, and flowering cherry trees.

Feeling Overwhelmed

August 19th, 2014 at 03:16 pm

I am trying to keep a positive attitude right now, but I do feel like I am being overwhelmed somewhat. With them taking so much more out of DH's paycheck for medical now, I kind of feel like we are back to living paycheck to paycheck. I know we aren't really, but the only things I feel like I am able to plan ahead for anymore are property taxes, upcoming propane costs, and dues. Besides those and the EF, I haven't been able to fund any of my funds.

I like having an Appliance Fund, a Christmas Fund, a Computer Fund, and such that I send money to each month. Now I can't do that. And I can't do a college fund, either. My daughter has decided she is going to work for 2 years after high school and save everything for college. At this point, we can't contribute. I'm not even sure college is right for her anyway. She's not really cut out for it.

Every year for the past 3, things seem to have gotten tighter and tighter, despite paying more and more things off. Taxes went up and took $500 of take home pay away from us, just as we paid off the credit cards. When we paid off the mortgage this year, it finally felt like we were going to have breathing room, but we don't. The increased medical, the increased plane fare, and the increased storage fees basically replaced the mortgage.

I know this won't last forever. We have less than 3 years left on the van loan. It's gotten down enough that we are only paying about $70 in interest each month and the majority of the payment is going to principal. I love our van and I still think it was a good decision to buy it, but I don't think we will ever buy a new vehicle again. And we'll not finance one again, either.

We have 4 years and 9 months left on what we owe to Mom. That's the big thing. If we didn't have to pay that $1000 each month things would not be tight. Or they'd be tight by choice because we'd be saving part of it and funneling the rest to retirement.

If our house sells it will make some differences. We won't have to be paying electricity, phone, water/sewer, security, HoA dues, property tax, and house insurance. We can save that money until we are ready to buy a house. Which at this rate won't be until we pay off the van.

DH hasn't gotten a raise in over 3 years. Which, no one has, but this year is a new contract and they are supposed to be doing raises. The new contract was signed a while back. The new medical is being deducted, but so far no one has received raises and it has been months. I am starting to think the company is going back on its word. Each year, with more money being taken out or going to taxes or going to increased plane fare, it is like taking a pay cut.

I know we have enough. DH's income is excellent. We are in a lot better shape than so many people. But I want to get ahead, not just tread water. It feels like we sacrifice and sacrifice to pay off all this stupid medical debt and our house and still have nothing to show for it. Which is stupid, because we do. We've taken trips and we've got decent things. We have a paid for home. But it still doesn't feel like it. I just want to be free of it all. Free of all debt. Every single scrap of it. And with enough money in the bank that I don't ever have to worry about it again. I don't know. Maybe that's a fantasy. But it's how I feel.

Well, thanks for listening now. I feel better getting it all out and I think I can stop feeling sorry for myself for a while now.

One Thing I Didn't Miss About School...

August 4th, 2014 at 01:08 am

...was all the fees. With one kid starting as a freshman and one kid going back to complete her senior year I get to pay twice the fees. So far it is going to cost $80 for two ASB cards and $100 for two year books. If we wait until second semester to buy the year books it will be $130.

But starting off with $180 before even buying school supplies and clothes annoys me greatly. Maybe I will just do the ASB cards to start and see if I can postpone the yearbooks until next month.

I won't be doing school photos. Too expensive, no choices, and if they turn out bad there's no recourse unless the kid had his eyes shut. I'd rather take them to the mall were you get several choices to choose from if I want photos like that.

Not looking forward to packing sandwiches again or having to pay for deli meat. Still, in my physical condition, I just cannot homeschool this year, so it is what it is. /vent

Paying with Cash Confuses People

July 2nd, 2014 at 04:43 pm

So I purchased something that came to $20.07. I handed the cashier $21. Her cash register computer was going slow and not giving her the change total to give me back. She stood there and stared at the machine for 75 seconds (I timed it once I realized what was going on) waiting for it to tell her what the change was supposed to be.

The whole time I was biting my tongue, because I knew what my change would be the moment she gave me the amount, thinking how hard is it to calculate that $1 minus 7 cents is 93 cents? It is basic. You can do it on your fingers even, counting backwards from 100. She didn't even try. I know I could have spoken up with the amount, but I seriously wanted to see how long it was going to take before she even tried or the total came up. And she might have insisted that she had to wait for the computer anyway to be sure.

She was at least 16 years old and spent the entire time apologizing for the slow computer. This stuff is covered in 2nd grade math. I think they would have had to close the store if their computers went down. I guess they don't make people take math tests to be cashiers anymore.

I think people are so used to customers handing over plastic, they don't even know what to do anymore with paper. And they are getting so dependent on machines to do their thinking for them, they are not sure what to do when the machine conks out. I found the whole thing amusing, and a little sad, but probably because I wasn't in a hurry to get out of there.

Some Shopping and I Still Hate Girl Scout Cookie Season

March 5th, 2014 at 08:30 am

We went to the dreaded Wal-Mart yesterday to find a shockingly empty parking lot (only half full) and a badly understaffed and understocked store. There were no greeters and no shopping carts inside the store. I haven't been in there for over a year. I'd never seen it like that. We went to try to find some sweat pants for the kids. Of course all they had was swim suits, shorts, and tank tops. Wal-Mart used to carry sweats year round.

I did pick up some cheap plastic pots so I can repot my spider plant, poinsettia, lemon thyme and rosemary. I also got some glass plates to put under each pot to catch drips and dirt. I couldn't get potting soil though as the garden center was closed and locked. They didn't have anyone to staff it.

I bought some black towels for the rabbitry, new underwear, a Ball canning book, a new set of canning stuff (tongs, funnel, magnet, bubbler) and some totes for storage.

I'm afraid I snapped at a girl scout on the way out who had asked me on the way in to buy cookies, but I swear they are like little raptors pushing cookies in your face. I hate girl scout cookie season. Most of them are aggressive and rude. I was very tempted to tell her if she could pronounce all the ingredients on the box I might make a donation, but I sure as heck would not buy the box of poison she was peddling. I held my tongue and just gave a very sharp no after my earlier polite one.

I hate that they are allowed to camp out at store entrances. Drives me crazy. It's going to be like that all month everywhere I go. Even if you don't make eye-contact or are clearly making as wide a loop around them as possible and still get in the door, they come after you and get in your way. The adult supervising them just lets them do whatever they want. No manners are taught at all when it comes to selling. It's just all about pushing the sale and being in your face.

We never would have been allowed to behave like that when I was a girl scout.

Payday Report

February 21st, 2014 at 12:31 pm

$1000.00 to Mom
__144.00 Water/sewer Old House (2 months)
__600.00 Mortgage Old House
__100.00 Property Tax Fund
__100.00 Emergency Fund
___19.00 Dues Fund (HoA Old House)
___90.00 Physical Therapy
+_100.00 Cash for Week
-------------
$2153.00 Total Money Out

I've also got to pay the kids' allowances for the last two weeks and buy groceries. I don't need to get that much. Milk, potatoes, lettuce, kale, chard, parsley, salmon, cod or snapper depending on what is in, deli meat, turnips, maybe a winter squash, and cabbage. I think I want some pears, too, but it will depend on how they look. I still have some apples and oranges, a couple of bananas, and a very unusual for me out of season imported watermelon, so not doing bad on the fruit front.

I need to pick up some black oil sunflower seeds for sprouting with the barley fodder, for the rabbits and some new chew blocks to hang from their chew toys. I am glad they are refillable. I also need to pick up some locking hardware for the 2 outdoor rabbit hutches that never had it put on and two feed cups. I have plenty of extra water bottles. We will be using the outdoor hutches when we bring the new rabbits home. They will be in quarantine for 4 weeks before I put them in with the other rabbits to make sure they have no illnesses.

I am going to risk breeding Piper with the red buck after he settles in simply because I don't want to wait a month. I want our first batch of spring bunnies by the end of March/beginning of April. I will breed them outside in one of the rabbit tractors (movable pens) to minimize exposure.

Piper is our best doe so she'll be the odd one out. The others I will pair up so I am having two does having litters at the same time. When Kalia is old enough to breed she will be paired with Piper. Then when the two red doe kits grow up I will pair one with Piper and one with Kalia, because end game is to have two unrelated litters growing out at the same time so if someone wants breeding stock that is not related I will always have that option for selling.

Okay, that kind of went off on a tangent.