Layout:
Home > Page: 2

Payday Report for 9/29/2023

October 1st, 2023 at 01:40 am

I haven't done this in a long time, and I'm picking a paycheck from a three paycheck month that is missing all the regular deductions except taxes and retirement and one with a lot of overtime on it, giving us a little over $2K above a normal paycheck, but we purchased a lot of items this month on the Citi card that were much needed and DH had to get round trip plane tickets to Salt Lake City.

Those will get refunded eventually and to pay for his hotel in advance.  His company card expired and he was supposed to get a new one, but he leaves tomorrow and the card didn't arrive until yesterday.  In the past they haven't been all the quick with refunds, but they do pay any interest that might accrue.  He's already turned the receipts in and he will have the company card for his meals at least and rental car while he's down there.

The refunded money will get plopped into the medical fund as DD has surgery coming up in January right as the deductible restarts.

Anywho, here is how the paycheck went out the door.

$577.86 Tithe

_500.00 Grocery Envelope

_200.00 Snowblower Fund

_500.00 Medical Fund

3000.76 Citi

_150.00 Phone/Computer Envelope

__50.00 DH Spending Money

__50.00 My Spending Money

__60.00 DS Allowance

__30.00 DD Stipend

__20.00 Bed Frame/Mattress Envelope

_500.00 Bathroom Repair Fund

_150.00 Christmas Fund

----------------

$5,788.62 Total Money Out

Meal Plan for Week 2 of Food Waste Reduction Challenge

September 19th, 2023 at 05:13 am

Okay, now that I've sent in my post on how I did during week one, here is my plan for week two.  I've decided to take it easy on myself, because I still have this cold, or possibly a sinus infection, and it is dragging me down and I don't want to have to work too hard at making dinners right now.

Meal One: Beef Stew--Jarred beef, jarred potatoes, jarred carrots, low sodium beef gravy powder, low sodium beef broth, fresh garden green beans on the side

Meal Two: Fresh Spaghetti (shorter cook time), low sodium basil garlic spaghetti sauce, and frozen homemade turkey and lamb meatballs, salad on the side

Meal Three: Baked salmon (wild caught by us), corn on the cob, fresh garden green beans, baked potatoes

Meal Four: Pork chops smothered in homemade onion gravy, baked potatoes, and steamed cabbage

Meal Five: Chicken with Meditrranean Vegetables and Seasoned Rice

Meal Six: Steak with sweet potatoes and broccoli

Meal Seven: Extra Large Chicken Stew, 12 b/s chicken thighs cut into bite size pieces, with 4 large potatoes, 4 sweet potatoes, 4 carrots, 1 large parsnip, 1 large turnip, 4 stalks of celery, 1 onion, all veggies cut into bite size chunks, 2 packs of chicken or turkey gravy (low sodium) and chicken or turkey broth (low sodium) to make the gravy up.  Cook in crock pot 8 hours on low.  Serves four for dinner and makes several lunches for the week or for the freezer.

My son will be helping with peeling and chopping.

Checking In on Last Week's Food Waste Reduction

September 18th, 2023 at 10:57 pm

Last week we started on our plan to reduce excessive food spending and food waste by using up all of our leftovers, not eating out, not letting food rot in the fridge before we got to it, and buying according to our meal plan, which allowed for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks for the snackie ones.  Also, the ingredients for making deserts are always on hand, you just have to want them enough to make them.

So, on objective one, we did use up all of our leftovers last week, so I am quite proud of that.  That has been our second worst issue when it comes to food waste, whether it be from cooked food or takeout food.

We cleaned out both fridges before making a meal plan so we knew exactly what we had that was good and could be used.  It wasn't a lot.  Of course we had all the meat in the fridge, so we didn't even have to buy that at all.  So starting with what we had, we then looked in the garden to see what we had to use there.  And then I made a meal plan up that would use those ingredients up for the week and might use items in the sales ads as well for fruits and vegetables and other staples.  We were out of nearly every kind of cheese we use.  I have to limit my cheese use, but I found a brand of thinly sliced Havarti that is only 120 mg of sodium per slice, so I can use two slices on a cheeseburger instead of one.

But everyone else eats a lot of different types of cheeses, so I did stock up on that, and because I was going to be making breakfast burritos and egg muffin sandwiches.  Grocery shopping went well, we stuck to buying for the meal plan.  I stuck to the budget and that was while buying 70 pounds of organic carrots to can ($69.93) last week.  We will be buying 100 pounds of yellow potatoes to can out of the next budget on Friday, but that will still cost less than the carrots, because they won't be organic.

So we stuck to our meal plan and we did not let food rot in the fridge.  As for eating out, well that is something we did not do, though it came close, mostly because I kept falling asleep due to the cold medicine I was taking.  I was falling asleep at 3:00 and sleeping until 6:30 or 7:00 for 3 or 4 days last week.  So I started making stuff up ahead of time and telling my son when to put it in the oven and the Instant Pot so it would be ready at dinnertime and to just cover my plate and put it in the fridge and I'd warm it up when I got up.  It worked out great, except the fish night where I didn't have him cook mine since I don't like warmed up fish.

So far I have not fallen into a cooking funk, but it has only been a week.  I am not meal prepping except for breakfasts.  I want to do lunches, too.  I am not making freezer meals for dinners, yet.  But all and all, things went really well for my first week.  And since I have had a horrific cold, I think it is excellent progress.  I'll post my next meal plan in a different post.

Getting Positive about Cutting Grocery Costs

September 6th, 2023 at 01:36 am

Now that I've got a lot of meat in the freezer and only need to buy chicken which has been going on some pretty good cyclic sales around here, we can focus on better fruits and veggies during the rest of the year.  I want to bring my grocery budget back down from $500 to $400 every two weeks and then I want to bring it down to $300, but with that extra $100 going for food to can or dry goods to put away, like pasta and rice and such.  But another goal besides spending so much money is also to stop wasting money by stopping so much food from going out the door to our compost pile and garbage can.

Because the food waste has gotten to be a problem again and I'm wondering if we can get an organic waste garbage can and cut down our regular garbage can to every two weeks instead of every week.  We already recycle a lot, but we do throw out some things we can't compost like meat scraps and some food containers we can't recycle, like when an egg cracks in a cardboard egg carton.  And weeds can go in there, too, like morning glory that we don't want to compost, or the mowing with dandelion blossoms or thistle blossoms in it.  Or any other weed flowers before they go to seed.

While we can afford these things currently, things don't seem to be getting better, and I really used to be good about keeping the grocery budget down and the food waste low and I'm not anymore.

I see the main reasons for this as the following:

1. I am not keeping track of what is in the fridge so I am buying more than I need of certain vegetables I already have at home.  Particularly salad fixings and lettuce.

2. Stuff gets pushed to the back of the fridge, so people forget about their personal leftovers.

3. Stuff gets pushed to the back of the fridge, so I forget about family leftovers, like mashed potatoes or green beans or leftover pot roast.

4. I have quit meal planning.

5. I let myself fall into a cooking funk after my arm got messed up after my angiogram.  I didn't want to and I didn't care.  Takeout crept in.

6. I quit meal prepping despite wanting to.

7. I quit doing freezer meals despite wanting to.

So, I am planning to turn this around.  I am going to keep a large white board by the fridge that keeps track of the food in it and when you take one you erase the amount and write in the new total or 0.  If you finish the last of a thing, you also write it on the white board grocery list, and alert me of that fact.  With butter, milk, eggs, and bread, you alert me when we are down to half of the last thing.

Write down personal leftovers and family leftovers and cross them off as they get eaten.  I am out of my funk so start meal planning.  My arm is mostly working okay, so stop using it as an excuse unless it is really hurting and when it is tag in the son or the husband.  They can make certain meals so make them even if it goes off the meal plan.

Do individual breakfast and lunch meal prepping with my son.  Do some frezer meals for dinner so I have something when I feel awful or the day is going to be really busy.

Start meal planning again.  When I was feeling like crap I spent a lot of time looking up new recipes.  Some I've even cooked and they went over really well. 

I've worked out several meals so far that I can do for a meal plan for this month.  Some of them are new dinners, some I've only tried once but were approved, and some are much loved favorites.  I was just bored and wanted to switch up the repetoire.  Being bored with cooking is never a good thing, because you just kind of sit there and stare into space about what you want to cook for dinner and then the time to start comes and goes and you end up getting take out again.

Which is not something I want to do.  We need to be saving money, not wasting it.  So for the month of November, I don't want to do take out.  I want to spend only our grocery money, not money on takeaway.  I'd like to come up with enough meals for the whole month.  Right now I've got enough for nearly 3 weeks.  I want to get a month or two just written down so I can pull from them when I make a weekly plan.  I know what I am making today and tomorrow so I don't go into a brick wall at dinner time and I am preparing my grocery list for the rest of the week by first looking through the two fridges to see what we have and whether or not it is still good or not.  Going to Seattle for a few days when we did probably means a few foods went bad.

I'll also want to check the garden for zucchini gone wild and strawberries visiting crazy town and pick peppers and green beans.  Because if we have free food growing in the garden that we can eat, of course we want to do that first before buying anything.  The broccoli might even be ready by now, too.

Then I can actually fill up the meal plan properly.  The plan is to do some meal prep kits for breakfasts and some for lunches and then have things chopped up for dinner, even potatoes, but they will be in water so they don't turn brown, so all we have to do when it is time to make dinner is assemble everything in the right order or all together or into separate cooking devices or into one and with directions anyone can follow so if I am out stuff can still get going on time.

If whoever is supposed to doesn't forget to, then we can run like clockwork and we can get stuff done at the right time to get us all on a decent eating schedule with decent food that should help us all lose weight, give my son and I a set time in the day to exercise, and time in the evening to work on getting the house cleaned up after me being down for so long.  I swear, if I am not there to direct people the house just turns into a pig sty and it is time for a deep clean of everything.  I guess Fall Cleaning.  It's not technically fall but the weather has turned and the leaves are not green anymore, so I'm counting it.  Time to get life back under control again.

I Brought Home a Cow

September 1st, 2023 at 07:07 am

Well, technically I bought a steer after saving up for him for a year.  And he fills up 2/3 of my ginormous garage chest freezer (the biggest on the market), and 1/3 of my mini chest freezer in the house.  The rest of the mini chest freezer has what is left of the last beef we bought, mostly a grocery bag of hamburger, then round steaks, round roasts, bottom round, top round, eye of round, can you tell I don't like round cuts?  I also found some sirloin tip roasts and all the soup bones. So those are setting on top of everything else to get used first.  It's not a lot, just 3 grocery bags worth, which will go quickly with my family.  The rest of the chest freezer is filled with what is left from our hog, a turkey, and a couple packs of chicken.

The steer had a hanging weight of 674 pounds.  The cost to us from the farmer was $3.75 per pound, which came out to $2527.50.  The cost from the meat company to slaughter was $135 and the includes the disposal fee of the waste products.  The cut and wrap fee was .92 a pound.  We did not get the organ meats this year, but we did get the tail for making oxtail soup.  We did not get the tallow.  We did lose some bone, but got the soup bones.  So our overall weight that was wrapped was only 653 pounds, giving us a total of $600.65.

We had all of the round cuts made into hamburger this year, along with the usual meat that goes into hamburger and then had half of that made into hamburger patties, so we ended up with 86 pounds of hamburger patties, 4 to a 1 pound package, which had a fee of .80 per package or $68.80.  And yes, I could have saved that fee and made them myself, I even have the press to do it, but you know what inevitably happens?  I don't and we end up buying a bag of grassfed burgers, even though I have plenty of grass fed hamburger at home.  So this year we decided to just do it and I am so glad we did, even if raises our overall price a bit.  We eat burgers a lot, probably once a week to every 10 days.

So that brought the price from the meat company up to $804.56 and since it is a service, the state gets to charge taxes on it, even though food in its raw state is not taxed otherwise.  Taxes came to $70.80.  Bringing their portion to $875.36.  Adding $875.36 to $2527.50 brought my total to $3402.86, which was $90.11 more than I had in my account, so I had to scrape that up.  But I had $16.50 in my coin jar to roll and I had a $47 check refund and I took some cash out of the household envelope and then $3 out of grocery envelope and made up the rest with change from my purse.  I would have just taken it all from the groceries if I needed to, but I wanted to see if I could drum it up if I could.  If I hadn't done the patties I would have almost had enough.  But I wanted those patties.

Anyway, so if I take the total of $3402.86 and divide it by 674 hanging weight it comes out to just shy of $5.05/lb for grass fed beef.  If I divide it by 653, which would be closer to what we are actually left with, it would be $5.21 a pound.  Even considering bone waste, which we don't really have, since we save all our bones for bone broth before we toss them, it would still be at the max $6/lb for grass fed beef.  So I am very happy with that.  It's not that far off from what we paid two years ago, despite having a bigger steer this year and it being 25 cents more per pound and the kill fee and the cut and wrap fee being higher.  I'm really surprised.

We took the time to organize things.  Roasts in one and a half compartments.  Steaks in one and a half compartments, and those steaks alternating, sirloin, ribeye, t-bone, sirloin, ribeye, t-bone, so we don't do something like eat all the ribeyes first, then eat all the t-bones, then eat all the sirloin.  We go through them equally.  We took the weird cut steaks in the house, like tenderloin, flank, and skirt.  It'll make it so much easier to know what compartment to go and grab from.  We've kind of tried this in the past, but stuff has gotten mixed around too much so everyone has been warned not to screw with the system this year.  It really will save a lot of time searching for stuff.

My next focus will be to take those soup bones from the last steer and make them into low sodium bone broth, which I will need for a lot of the new recipes I have been trying out.  While I did find a good broth from Bonafide, it is expensive and I'd rather save it for making soup, not gravy or sauce.  Then I will take the new soup bones and make broth with them, too.  Just want to get it done and have the space because I have a bunch of tiny zucchini coming on that I will need to be shredding and putting in the freezer in about a week and a half.

It took my son and I 45 minutes to load it into the van, but we were also sorting the different cuts into different boxes and insulated bags.  Then when we got home DH was off work.  After figureing out what went in the house, we took the rest to the garage.  It took about an hour to get it all back there, mostly because we kept having to stop and rest.  It's one thing to be able to back right up to a loading dock and move stuff a few feet, it's another thing to have to walk 40 feet with 40 pounds of meat (DH) and 15 pounds of meat (me).  But at least we got it done.  And we were both exhausted.

My elbow from the side I had the catheterization on can't support any weight today without pain, so I'm back to that, but at least my hand is working fine.  And it was worth it.  That meat is going to last us a long time.  Probably 18 months, since we have a lot of fish and pork in the freezer, too.  We are low on chicken, but I buy that as it goes on sale.  It is the only thing I don't buy organic or fish for wild.

Organic chicken is so expensive and I can't see paying $30 for one chicken.  And I'm not set up to raise chickens anymore, nor do I have the energy or physical capabilities or desire.  The best I can do is look for ones not pumped full of brine.  Not the easiest of tasks.  Maybe that's just something I will have to save up for next.  102 chickens will not come cheap and would require another chest freezer.  So probably out of the question.  But it would help us on our road to health.  We all feel better when we eat truly organic or wild food, from farmers we trust, and our own fishing lines or prawn or crab traps, so when we can afford it the transition will be fully made.

 

On to Better News--Unexpected Raise and Maxing Out Retirement? Maybe

August 11th, 2023 at 07:49 pm

DH got a raise!  Neither one of us was expecting it after last year's raise-a-paloosa.  It's more than a cost of living raise of 2% which everyone got at least that much, but somewhere around 3.2%, so a bit higher.  They are trying to create a new position for DH that doesn't exist yet, and that may take until next year, and with that should come another pay bump, but I'm not counting chickens.  This was a nice, unexpected raise of $5200 a year.  I don't have the exact number, because of course when I finally go to write about it, I've misplaced the paper, so chore number 3 for me today, after writing this and paying a doctor's bill, will be to clean off my desk and sort through the paperwork.

So that should work out to $433 per month or $200 per paycheck.  Before taxes.  I'm thinking we should just put the raise into the 401K and pretend it isn't there and then we don't have to worry about it messing up the budget or possibly being bumped into a new tax bracket.  Although all the overtime this year might do that anyway.

Right now we have contributed $16,941.51 to the 401K and have $5,558.49 to go to hit the regular max of $22,500 for the year and we will get that just with his regular pay and the OT will put us over somewhat.  It will be the first time ever we have hit the regular max.  Since we are both over 50, though, we can go for the catch up max of an additional $7500, which would put us at a $30,000 max for the year if we want to try for that.  I don't know if we can get the $30,000 max, but with any extra, it might be wiser to take the extra money and open up a spousal Roth IRA for me.

It would be nice to have some money that has already been taxed to use later in life.  If whoever  is in charge of the government at that time doesn't screw things up and mess with money that isn't protected in a 401K.  I just don't know how much we would have to have to start it up.  I know he can start up a Roth for himself through the same company his 401K uses and his company will just deposit the after tax money right into the account from his paycheck, but I don't know if they will do that for a spousal IRA, too.  We will have to look into it.  The 401K company just sent us some paperwork about him opening a Roth and gave a number to call if we wanted to talk to them about it.

I'm not sure when the raise will start.  DH and everyone else was told it would be on the last paycheck and it wasn't, so who knows?  It might show up on the next one.  They said first paycheck in August, but maybe they meant first pay period in August.

Maybe I'll just bump the percentage up in the 401K until we hit the $22,000 max goal and then when we do that, we can decide what to do next?  We have time to open an IRA for me.  I know I have said that year after year, but this year we might actually be able to do it.

The 401K is finally making serious strides and not only that, the IRA is finally back above $13K.  It needs to hit $13,900 something to be where it was before February 2021.  It's taken a long time to climb back.

$107,392.57 Amount in 401K

+_13,052.63 Amount in IRA

------------------------

$120,445.20 Total Retirement

That is a rise of $7101.69 since the last time I updated my side bar.  That also raises my net worth to $214,619.04.  Maybe if we push hard with retirement, we will have a quarter of a million dollars in net worth by the end of 2024.  That would be amazing, because it would mean we went from paying off $250,000 in debt when you add in interest, to being worth $250,000.  It is an interesting parallel.  Back in the debt days, I never, ever thought we would get close to having that without a positive number in front of it.  Meanwhile, my next goal is $225K. Onward towards that.  I just have to keep our spending in check.

What do you know?  I made it through that entire post without it hurting my hand until the end, and even then it is not too bad.  Things are getting better.  Still lumpy, but better.  Hope everyone is having a great day.

 

 

She Lives

August 8th, 2023 at 08:10 pm

I have tried to write about my experience in the hospital numerous times and one thing or another has led to my draft getting erased, usually be the computer restarting itself.  My computer is falling apart.  It has lost some screws so the hinge isn't working properly which sometimes knocks out the cord and I'm not getting a low battery warning.

Anyway, the angiogram was a horrible experience.  My arm and wrist are not back to normal 4 weeks later.  Driving hurts, writing with a pen hurts, using a stylus hurts, pulling out a drawer, using my phone, resting my head on my hand, carrying more than 2 pounds, typing (though not as bad as it was and okay if I use the brace), brushing and flossing my teeth, stirring food, and even flushing the toilet.  For the first two and a half weeks, bathroom hygiene was agony for my wrist and it shot up to my elbow and sometimes my shoulder.  And when they realized they couldn't get the catheter to my heart they took it out and burned me from wrist to 3 inches below the arm pit.  I guess they were cauterizing or something.

The problem was that my arteries (and my veins), even the main one in my arm, are too little for the catheter wire to reach my heart.  Or as the doctor put it, too delicate and small.  What was really bad, is that my arm never went numb with the local anesthetic they used the entire time the did the precedure.  I cried the whole time.  I told them I was in pain the whole time.  They kept giving me pain killer and muscle relaxants, which worked great for the rest of my body, but my arm never went numb during the procedure.

I almost screamed that my arm hurt.  That's when the doctor said give her more lidocaine and valium.  At that point they were still shoving the wire up my arm and I knew what was going on, but the valium had made it impossible for me to communicate coherently, other than to say ow.  But I knew what was going on.  Or thought I did.  Lidocaine is closely related to novacaine.  Novacaine takes 3 times longer than it should to work on me.  It takes 3 times as many shots.  And it wears off a lot faster than it should so requires more shots mid-procedure.  We've also tried meviticaine and same thing.  Lidocaine was acting exactly the same.  And it didn't start working until I was in recovery when they were dosing me heavily with pain killers and my arm went numb.

After they pulled the wire out, they went in through the groin artery and made it into my heart, but even that artery was smaller than it should be.  I didn't have any blockages, though.  What my problem was, is that with the small arteries and veins, my heart was having to work harder than it should have causing the pressure to be very high.  The enlargement was due to both the Covid virus, which any virus can effect the heart if it is bad enough and you have it for long enough like viral pnuemonia or influenza, and my heart working so hard.

I was fine up until the first time I had Covid in 2020 because I was still getting exercise by swimming and doing water aerobics, but after Covid 2020, it took me almost a year to recover.  I was short of breath all the time, they shut down the pool, so when I did feel good enough to exercise there was nowhere to go, and my back was getting worse due to not exercising.  Then they didn't want us going to the parks or anywhere to walk, but it was getting harder to walk anyway.  I didn't feel good, so I didn't cook.  We ordered takeout, so we ate more sodium, which made the blood pressure get higher.  It was a vicious cycle as I caught cold after cold with no resistance after Covid 2020.  I caught two mild cases of Covid, due to having the vacine make it milder. Which they say made the next mutation even worse.  If I hadn't caught those two, the last one wouldn't have knocked me down so hard.  But at the same time, my BIL nearly died from one of the times I had a mild case.  But he was unvaccinated, so who knows?

When I got a bad version of Covid again Thanksgiving of last year, everything got way worse.  No one could cook.  Every meal was from a can or a frozen meal or delivery.  The sodium was off the chart.  Which made my heart work harder and helped cause the enlargement.

The thing is, all along I knew there was something wrong with my heart.  I insisted on getting a heart monitor test a few months before I got Thanksgiving Covid, but it never seemed to pick up what I was feeling.  So they were like, la la la, nothing to do here.  And I knew.  I knew my body.  I knew.

The other thing that is wrong with me is that I have too much water in my blood, so I've been water restricted, or rather liquid restricted, to 2 liters a day.  And that is really hard for me because I was drinking 3 liters of water a day on a normal day and more on a hot day.  And that was just water.  So now I always feel thirsty and my throat is croaky after a couple minutes of talking and then painfully dries out.  I do better if I suck on ice.

I have had to reduce my sodium intake to 2000 mg.  That isn't just the amount of sodium I add to food while cooking, it includes the amount naturally occuring in food.  So that was pretty hard in the beginning.  Especially since the stuff that sets off my insulin is the stuff with almost no sodium and the stuff that doesn't is higher in sodium.

There are a couple restaurants I can still get food from, but I am holding off on that for a while.  Right now it is better to eat at home and since I have reduced my sodium, I feel like cooking.  Left-handed stirring is something I am getting used to even if it is still awkward.

Today I had an ultrasound done on my arm to see if there is anything going on due to the the catheter.  There's not.  But there is still a large raised bump in my wrist so I am sure some kind of tendon or ligament got damaged or something got dislocated.  Plus my thumb and index finger still have spots without full feeling in them.  Probably nerve damage according to the ultrasound tech.

I just want to know if I go to a bone doctor or a regular doctor or physical therapy or maybe a massage therapist if it is muscular.  It's been 4 weeks and I don't have a follow up with cardio for a week yet.  And that is not with the doctor, but with the PA.  But if I finally have someone who gets eyes on this thing, I might finally get some action.

I do feel better since reducing the fluids, reducing the sodium, and having my diuretic raised yet again, plus getting a much higher prescription strength calcium pill compared to my little on the shelf mineral supplement.  I still don't feel normal, but I have started taking little walks with my walker.  I can't do much yet.  I also am going out to the garden more regularly.  Everyone has been keeping it up for me since I can't really pick anything or pull any weeds.

I'm sorry for any typos.  It took me over a couple days to type this one, saving it in drafts this time.  I need to get ice on my wrist and will read through it later and fix them.  I just wanted to get something up to let you know I'm not dead yet.

 

She's Home

July 15th, 2023 at 04:48 am

My wife asked me to update for her.  She is home from the hospital and is doing okay, just in a lot of pain.  She can't type for several days due to the shape her arm is in, she developed several hematomas, and her back was pretty messed up from the postition she had to be in for so long.  She will give details when she can type again.  There is still some worry, but no stents were necessary.

Unbreak My Heart

July 13th, 2023 at 10:10 am

Yeah, I'm being flippant with my title, but I think I am allowed to be, and I thought it was more appropriate than Total Eclipse of the Heart, which was a strong contender.  Today is my heart procedure.  My check-in is at 1:30, so less than twelve hours.  My procedure should start around 2:30, but will probably start later, since everything always runs late at any hospital procedure or surgery I've ever been to for myself or anyone else.

I don't know how long I will be in recovery either.  It can be six hours.  I am going to try to sleep in until noon.  I have to wake up and take a pill at 6:30, but can hopefully fall right back to sleep, so I don't have to worry about feeling hunger from fasting all morning, and then I have to take two pills at 12:30.  These are for the surgery.

I am a little scared, because, you know, wire in the heart.  And then there is the fact that I woke up from anesthesia last time in pain and I remember it, so I really don't want that to happen again.  But the insurance is going to cover the whole thing, so at least we don't have to worry about the money side of things.  I hope it is easy and they can fix things with this procedure.  I just want to get my life back.

Take Out Food Can Cost You in More Ways than One

June 25th, 2023 at 10:12 pm

Last night I started a ten day process on getting the freezer full of individual frozen dinners for me to have ready to heat and eat like TV dinners, only homemade. I am eating healthier by avoiding takeout now.  I have always read ingredients and have been having some of the cleaner, healthier geared ones, which are still full of sodium, something I have to be careful with.  If I cook it myself, I can avoid putting in a ton of salt and if I make it gluten free, I can avoid a lot of the fillers put into food.

I cup up one of the store bought turkeys that was in our chest freezer.  We had bought one for Halloween and one for Christmas, but of course we got hit by Covid the week of Thanksgiving and I was still pretty sick the week of Christmas, we all were still exhauted and dragging, so we cancelled both holidays except the gift giving part at Christmas where MIL came in to our house and she and my mom kept a nice safe distance across the living room from us.

Anyway, cutting up a turkey is a lot harder than cutting up a chicken or a rabbit, but I got most of it done.  It was worth it in the end because it was an organic turkey with no ingredients other than turkey.  I did have to have my husband come and split the breat in half, because I chose not to keep it whole and I chose not to filet it.  I like roasting them, and in order to fit them in our little pressure oven, I have to cut them in half or they will touch the ceiling.  I keep the skin on and the bone in because it gives extra flavor to the bird.  Then after it cooks, I will filet the breast meat from the bone and slice it.

I did the legs, thighs, and neck last night for dinner and there is a lot of that left, too, and enough drippings to make stuffing and gravy.  So after I put one half of the turkey breast in to pressure roast, I'll start one of the Instant Pots going with two of the back pieces that were quite meaty, the wing tips, and some other scraps that came off, cover it with filtered water, and seasoning, and make stock.

Then I'll prepare my stuffing on the stove and put it in the oven for an hour (yes, I know it is technically dressing when it isn't inside the bird).  While it is baking, I will make gluten free no salt gravy with lots of herbs, while my husband makes a box of Instant potatoes (just potato flakes) for me (they do better in TV dinners).  Then I will take a break for dinner while everything cools and then put the other turkey breast in to pressure roast.

After dinner I will start assembling turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy in the big compartment and either frozen green beans, or frozen mixed veggies in the small compartment.  If I have one with two small compartments and one large, I'll put the stuffing in the second one.  Frozen corn, and frozen carrots would work, too, if you don't mind the whole dinner being frozen carbs beside the protein.  So would peas, but not in my world.  Peas are meant to be an ingredient used sparingly in rice or soup, not an entire serving by itself.

By then the stock should be done and I can strain it into another pot.  The bones can be picked free of any meat and then put back into the Instant Pot with the bones I saved from the thigh and leg meat.  I will be using some of the broth for the liquid as I make the gravy on the second batch, since I won't have potato water from making the gravy and I will use gluten free flour, so the meals will remaining gluten free.

With any remaining meat, I will do turkey tip bowls and soup.  You know how you have steak tips in gravy?  Well, this will be turkey tips in gravy over mashed potatoes, with corn and cheese mixed in and then a green vegetable can be added like a can of green beans, frozen broccoli, or a salad, along with a biscuit or two.  I will make some up and put them in the freezer so they can warm them up when they want them.  It's basically a famous bowl from KFC only without it having crispy chicken in it.  They like those.  My version will be gluten free.

I plan to repeat this with meatloaf, a mix of roasted sweet potatoes, turnips, potatoes, and parsnips, and then for the non-root veggies, zucchini, summer squash, or green beans.  I will vary the meatloaf between ketchup, BBQ sauce, meatloaf gravy, and plain.  If I have some plain ones, my daughter can have one of those.  These meals are mostly for me, but this way she can have one or two.  She is the only one who can't fend for herself.

Now I have also cut the wings in half, so I have two flats and two drums from that.  They are large enough for the drums to be two meals and the flats to be one meal, so I will fry those up to make three meals.  I will season them with sazon and I will do sweet potato wedges and green beans for those.  I will air fry those and then warm them up in the air fryer.

For another one, I am going to buy a bag of gluten free chicken strips that I like and fry them up and divide them into the TV dinner trays and add mashed potatoes and green beans.

I think if I have the energy I will make turkey and sausage meatballs with my sauce over gluten free pasta, bake it, and then put it in aluminum containers to warm up.

I'd also like to make up some steak tips in gravy, baby potatoes, and zucchini and summer squash.

My son has promised to help, but we all know how that goes.  I just don't want to fall back on store-bought TV dinners (except the chicken strips, which are pretty clean).  I don't want my family eating out, either, so I need to make sure there are family frozen dinners for them, too, like a ham dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy and green beans, cheezy ham and rice bake, turkey enchilada bake, a family size meatloaf dinner (in the freezer already), a ravioli bake (in the freezer already), spaghetti and meatballs, and taco mix, maybe some pizza blanks.  Just enough to keep them going for a week to ten days.

I'll lay out recipes for my son and make sure he understands them and the ingredients he may need to buy, in case my heart is worse than expected and I take longer than a week to recover from this.  He is a good cook and I've taught him a lot, but he tends to stick to stir-fries a lot because they are easy.  After I am better, I will have my own individual meals for a while and I can serve them some of the things I don't like, like Chicken linguine Alfredo and not have to cook a second meal for me.

Eventually, I want to make enough meals that anyone can grab a TV dinner and eat it if they don't like the main meal or if no one wants to cook.  Take out is expensive.  Store-bought TV dinners are expensive.  This way is the cheapest way to do it and I won't feel like the dollars in my food budget are just slipping through my hands or worse, the Citi card being used too much to buy takeout because we are tired or unprepared.

I do pay it off in full each month, but has gotten to be a bad habit and I am worried we are slipping further and further into bad habits and one day buying food like this might push us to the point that we will have a month where we don't have enough money to pay the bill in full.  It's a slipperly slope.  I still guard against that every day, but I don't think I am guarding as hard as I should be these days.  It's a slippery slope and I need to get back off the mountain and go back to using the credit card only for automatic payments and at Costco for cash rewards, as was intended.

I need that extra money for other things right now, namely the bathroom rebuild.  I know some of the spending can't be helped with my heart being so underpowered and my husband working so many hours, but I am just going to have to put my head down, take it slow, and try harder.

It's a nice beautiful day, so I am going to go keep my husband company in the garden and if I have the stamina, pull some weeds.  The beans are surrounded and need some help or they will surrender.

New Numbers Update for Retirement and Net Worth

June 24th, 2023 at 05:49 am

Our new net worth is $207,517.35.  This is a combination of factors, but since it involves the new ESOP contribution, I can't get specific about numbers.  I am excited that we turned the next big numer on the old odometer, if money were miles, on the trip to becoming a millionaire.  $200K is a big one.

Payday Report for 6/23/23

June 24th, 2023 at 05:00 am

DH has been working between 80 and 90 hours a week since April 23.  Unless I have to slow him down when he starts getting hollow eyed.  Or when he got sick a couple weeks ago and he took 1 day off.  I won't let him work through the weekends, since the only reason I agreed to this was that he helped me in the garden on the weekends, since he was supposed to take two weeks off of work in May to get the garden going.  Well, the garden still hasn't really gotten going very much, because he's been too tired.

They do give them meal breaks (lunch, dinner, second dinner), regular breaks, and "oh, my gosh, my head is going to explode, I need to do a lap around a building or two to clear it," breaks.  They can snack at their desks whenever they want.  Some of them are working 110 hours a week.

Unfortunately, with my heart and him going down with some kind of bacterial infection in his leg so that he was unable to do much more than eat, sleep, and otherwise work from 8 a.m. until 10 or 11 p.m. and not being home until midnight, and my son hurting his back, we ended up having a lot of food delivered for 3 weeks.  That was very pricey, hence the Citi bill.  $800 of that is for automatic payments that are put on the card, but the rest was takeout food.  I didn't use $250 of the grocery budget so that got redistrubuted into my other envelopes.  Anyway, this is how the paycheck got disbursed.

$478.55 Tithe

_400.00 Grocery Envelope

__75.00 Household Envelope

_800.00 Bathroom Replacement Fund

_150.00 Gas Money Envelope

2367.05 Citi Card Payment

__95.47 DH Life Insurance

__80.74 My Life Insurance

__48.71 DH Long Term Care Insurance

__50.00 DH Spending Money

__50.00 My Spending Money

__60.00 DS Allowance

__30.00 DD Allowance

------------------

$4785.52

Heart Update

June 18th, 2023 at 05:49 am

The long and short of my appointment with the cardiologist is that I am going in to the hospital on July 7nth for an angiogram, which may or may not turn into an angioplasty or if things are very, very bad when he gets in there, open heart surgery.  But he thinks it is a blockage he can clear or just put a stent in. 

He was concerned enough to get me on the schedule as fast as he could, making an opening for me where there wasn't one, though, on his own schedule since the hospital had a free OR, because the flow rate had dropped from 45% to 43% between appointments with the lung doctor and him, based on the tests I did there and there has been no change in the enlarged chamber.

The risks of the angiogram are stroke, heart attack, and damage to the artery for the big 3 and those are 1 in 1000 risks, and then there are a litter of smaller ones.  But I can't keep living like this.  It's not living.  So if it has 999 out 1000 odds that I'll get through it just fine and improve my quality of life, I want to do that.

Meanwhile he gave me 4 meds to take, nitrogycerin when I feel any squeezing or pain in the heart, baby aspirin, a second blood pressure med with a non-sulfa based diurectic, and a beta blocker.  So that is where I am.  I still tire easily, but I am starting to feel the beta blocker working and am not having as much squeezing.  I don't know if these are forever drugs or not  It still happens, but not just because I change positions.  And I am sleeping better because my heart is not working as hard.  Even my fitbit and my c-pap tracking app agree with that.  So that's as much as I know right now.

It's Not my Lungs, it's my Heart

June 8th, 2023 at 05:28 am

So you may or may not have noticed that I haven't posted for a month and there is a reason for that.  I've had a series of tests on my lungs by pulmonary, and the breathing test showed that I couldn't blow out as hard the second blow as the first blow and then we waited and the same thing happened.  There were other test with the breathing and they weren't that great, but the damage wasn't really to the lungs, despite the shortness of breath that had been a near constant and the cough I can't ever seem to get rid of or my oxygen saturation being only 1% above COPD since 2020.

They had previously done two tests on my heart a couple of weeks before the breathing tests.  So I got the results of those as well as of the breathing tests on the day of the breathing tests.

An electrocardiogram (ECG, but sometimes referred to as an EKG) was first.  It was where they put some leads on you and monitor the electrical signals that make the heart beat.  That one was simple and painless and wasn't stressful at all.  

The second was an echocardiogram (you will hear it referred to as an echo on medical dramas) where they stick a transducer wand into your rib cage and press up hard under and into your breast and you really want to smack the technician because it hurts and you think he's going to break something.  I ended up with bruises.  It transmits and recieves sound waves that bounce off the heart and created an image and a sound on the screen.  He was having trouble with it making an image, so they ended up having to inject me with some chemical (gave me hives an hour later, had to take 6 Benadryl) to make it more visible or something.  Then he wasn't digging so hard into me.  It probably isn't so hard with men or flat-chested women.

Anyway, the news wasn't good.  I have an enlarged right chamber of the heart and my left chamber has a flow rate of 45% and it is supposed to be 55%.  She said I may have a blockage and maybe it can be removed or maybe they will have to put in a stent.  First they would have to do a stress test and since I can't do a treadmill test because of the hip and discs in my back, they will have to use chemicals to induce the same thing in me.  Oh, joy, more chemicals.

So they referred me to cardiology and I figured great, that'll be 3 months before I hear from them, because that's how long it took when I had to get the heart monitor and then an additional couple of weeks before I actually got an appointment to get it fitted and it turned out to be a big ball of nothing, even though I was absolutely sure something was going on with my heart.  Because there was, just not something that could be picked up on a monitor, hence me going to pulmonary.

But no, cardiology called me that night with an appointment on the 14th, which kind of freaked me out, because they moved that fast, which made me think it was even more serious than I was thinking, based on how long it took before.  But we were still under Covid restrictions before, so maybe it doesn't mean anything that I got an appointment in two weeks.

Anyway, the pulmonologist thinks the damage was either caused by Covid itself or possibly by a rare side effect of the vaccine I took, which was supposed to be the safest one, since I had these tests done back when I was fainting and my heart was fine then.  That was chocked up to be the aural migraines.  But those two debilitating bouts of Covid and maybe the two minor ones are the more likely causes of the heart thing in my mind. The vaccine could have thrown in its 2 cents worth as well, something about people with autoimmune diseases being more prone to that.  I think.  And I was kind of shocked, you know?

Most of the time when a viral infection damages the heart it does heal with time, but they know so little about Covid still, this version of it that was deliberately made worse and worse so they could study it, but seem to know nothing about the long term effects of it. What little they do know isn't good, she said.  I don't want to jump the gun, but it is hard not to think about it.  I've read some of the reports, because I'd rather go into this with my eyes open.

And it might not be Covid at all.  It could be my rheumatoid arthritis drugs damaging my heart.  Because they can.  So I might have to go off those and just live with constant pain.  Of course, I do anyway, but if I have to go off them, I'll have to live on pain pills and my doctor is super stingy with them.

The only really bright spot lately is that I found a prescribing nurse psychiatrist for my son and he's put him on a higher dose of his meds and they are extended release and he is doing so much better.  Once all this heart stuff is figured out, I will go and see him, too, because my meds are not right, either.

It's a lot.  It's really a lot.  It seems like there are only four or five people left on the blogs anymore.  But if those of you that are left could keep me in your prayers and thoughts, I'd appreciate it.  

Other Fund Updates

June 8th, 2023 at 01:11 am

Just thought I'd give an update on how my other funds are doing, too.  Some of them are funds that are much shorter term, some of them are long term, and some of them are very long term and won't be included like the medical fund or the garden fund, because those are rolling funds, money in and out constantly, at least at this time of year with the garden fund and always with the medical fund.

$2500 Bulk Meat Fund  This is earmarked for our steer which is due to be butchered in July.  I allowed for a few hundred more than last year since the cut and wrap fee has gone up slightly per pound and the kill fee has gone up $10.

$400.00 Car Maintenance Fund  This is for things like brakes, oil changes, line flushes, wind shield wipers, fluid replacement, air filters, cabin filters, new tires, engine work, etc.  Some of the minor things we do ourselves.  Things that are necessary to make the car run.

$50.00 Car Expenses Fund  These are things like registration with the tabs for the license plates (just got done paying so it is low), paint job, body work, detailing.  Basically cosmetic things that will make the car look nicer, but aren't necessary.  I put registration in here just because I didn't want to make a whole envelope just for it.

$480.00 Fishing Expenses Fund  This fund pays for licenses and gas for fishing.  I am not sure if we are going to be doing any fishing, shrimping, or crabbing this year.  DH has a bad bacterial infection in his leg and it is causing him a lot of pain and swelling. Plus with all the overtime, I don't know if he can take the time off.  So this money may end up getting swept up into the House Expenses Fund.

$1100.00  House Expenses Fund  This covers things like Repairs, Insurance, and Taxes.  Since the latter two are covered for some time yet, everything I am saving here is going towards the bathroom repair.

$600.00 Summer Things Fund  This is for buying a pop up canopy, a propane grill, and eventually, maybe next summer, I'll start saving for a hot tub.  I'm not sure if I'll even buy any of this stuff this year.  The B.C. wildfires have already started and they are sharing their smoke with us down here.  I figured we'd have another month.  Now I don't know if we'll even get the rest of the garden in, because you can't work in that even with masks on.  And with DH's leg, we weren't able to rototill the last patch of land we need for the tomatoes.  And this was supposed to be my big tomato and pepper year.  It's been windy a lot the last couple of weeks so hopefully it will blow this stuff out to sea,

$65.00 Hawaii Trip Fund  This is a far on the horizon trip.  I am not saving large amounts for it at all.  Usually $5 to $10 a payday.  I just want to feel like I'm putting something towards it.  If the bathroom hadn't happened, I was going to start saving up in earnest for this at the start of next year.

$65.00  Electric Vehicle Fund  Like the previous fund, this is a far on the horizon fund.  Both vehicles we have are functioning perfectly and we plan to drive them until they can't drive anymore or the parts to fix them are no longer available.  Or Washington outlaws gas vehicles altogether.  When that time comes I want to be able to purchase a vehicle in cash.  Two would be nice, but by then we might need a truck anymore.  2030 is when we can't buy new gas powered vehicles in my state anymore, but I bet used ones won't be far behind.  Unless there is a very big change in our leadership and we break away from the lockstep of California and Oregon or we get a huge influx of centrists or republicans, I don't see gas powered vehicles continuing on much past 2035 or 2040.  In 2040 I'll be 70 and won't be wanting to drive much anyway and it will probably all be AI driven cars anyway.  But I have to wait for the bathroom to be fixed and I will start saving for this equally with the Hawaii trip.

$60.00  DD's Phone Fund  This is just DD's contributions so far.  I will be contributing, just not yet.  We are doing DS's phone first since his fell apart and he took a loan from MIL to get a new one.  We are contributing $500 towards his and $500 towards hers, but I wasn't expecting it and it wasnt in the budget yet.  Hers was planned for this month, but had to become his.  Hers still works, though, just the battery is only at 50%, but she never goes anywhere when she's not with me and it last through waiting at the doctor's office so she's still good.  I will be able to make my full contribution towards her phone in July and then she will have to save up the rest and add in her birthday money.  To be honest I might contribute more to her, since she doesn't make as much as her brother does doing chores since she is disable and can barely do anything.

$60.00  DS's Phone Fund  Again this is just DS's contribution so far.  I will make a $150 contribution on Friday and then on the payday after that $350, so our contribution will be done in June for him.

$11.00  Furniture Fund  This will start off by going for a new adjustable bed frame and mattress in the full size, and then will go toward a recliner that lifts you to a standing position.  I am downgrading my bed from a king to a full and then will add a recliner.  DH sleeps in his own room because he gets up very early for work and I have bad insomnia, it takes me forever to fall asleep, so if I get woken up that's it for me.  And I can't run on 4 to 6 hours of sleep.  I can barely function on 7 to 8, because even with a c-pap machine I don't get enough sleep.  And he's a tosser and turner which also wakes me up.  So there is just no point in my having a king size bed.

Plus, they have ruined by bed by sitting on it and creating a wallow, so that when I raise the feet it is lopsided.  Also, it is the side of the bed I sleep on, so my legs go down into it and it is hard on my hip.  The other side of the bed is too close to the window and I'd have to walk sideways to get into bed that way and because of my hip I can't walk sideways.  So the wallow is why I want to get the chair, too, so that they can sit in the chair instead of my bed.  Well, and I want it for when I need a change, because of my hip and tailbone.  Then anyone coming in to talk can sit in my computer chair.  It wouldn't be so bad if my husband and daughter didn't weigh so much, but it is a lot of weight to put in one section of the bed, day after day, when beds are meant to have the weight distributed and the foot is usually the weakest part of the bed frame.

Anyway, those are all my current funds.  At least I am earning interest while I save up.  It's still not much, but it is much better than it was.  I don't know if I trust the banks enough yet to put it back into C1-360.  My credit union is nice and safe.  Between these funds and the almost $10,500 of my emergency fund, well, that is a lot to lose for me.  I can't remember if it was last week or the week before when the government seized another failing bank, so that stuff is still going on.  They are keeping it much quieter, but it happened.  So I am still willing to forego the higher paying account for the time being.

 

Retirement, Emergency Fund, and Net Worth Updates

June 8th, 2023 at 12:08 am

I updated my sidebar.  There has been some serious progress made in DH's 401K since the last time I upated retirement and of course that has propelled net worth forward a great deal.  DH has been working 80 hour weeks since the last week of April, so that has doubled his contributions and it has doubled the amount that his work has put in as well.  So 3/4 of the rise is due to contributions.

The rate of return for the year isn't great compared to any time in his working life except the two Obama years in a recession and last year (also was in a far worse recession by definition even though they won't call it one), but it is almost 8% for the year at the moment, which I will happily take over the negative of last year, or the 2% and 3.5% we earned during those two Obama years, which at least were still positive.

I remember how excited I got when our net worth hit $100K and then $150K and now $175K. We will soon be closing in on $200K.  I know they say once you hit the first $100K stuff starts to pile up more quickly, but it is really weird to see it.  Usually at the end of June is when they dump in more company stock, too.  I'm not sure how much DH will get.  You get a certain percentage just for working there, based on how many years you have worked there, but it doesn't vest for 3 or 4 years, and then you get bonus shares on top of it based on how many hours you have worked beyond your regular hours, and how high up in the company you are, if you have gone above and beyond your duties, etc.  And sometimes there are bonus shares if someone has retired and sold back their shares, which you have to do when you retire.

Anyway, DH is now fully vested in both his company stock and his 401K, so it is all his.  He loves his job and he isn't going to leave it, but if he suddenly had to he could roll over the full 401K and sell back the full amount of stock.  That's always a good place to sit.

I also updated the Emergency Fund.  It was off by $500.01.  That was a payment to the mold guy.

I had a great dream last night that my mother won the lottery, the biggest jackpot ever recorded, and we never had to worry about money again.  A nice retirement was assured.  Wouldn't that be piece of mind?

It's My Blogoversary! 4/9/2023

April 10th, 2023 at 07:29 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 02:25 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 05:16 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 01:57 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.

 

 

Other Testing

March 19th, 2023 at 03:27 am

Let's see if it works from Edge.  Because it isn't working from Chrome.

Testing

March 19th, 2023 at 03:07 am

Testing

Murphy's Law Can Suck It

February 27th, 2023 at 10:27 am

I am just so sick of it all.  Everything.  Just every darn thing.  One after another after another.  Murphy can just be drawn and quartered and whipped and boiled and hung from the neck until dead and take his stupid law with him to the grave.  We cannot catch a break.  Every time it looks like we will, like we are getting ahead, like we will have a little extra money to start saving for some big goals and a real family vacation, we get slammed by something else and we were already slammed really hard this year with the black mold.  Fighting to keep our heads above water just seems so useless.

If I have to go back into debt over having to buy a new furnace because this company will not do their job properly after five or six service calls so far this winter, I swear I will go catatonic.  And now they don't want to honor their contract.  Nowhere in the contract does it limit visits per year or per contract.  Lifetime free service waranty my a--.  

The Last of the Black Mold is Out and Son's Sinus Surgery Results

February 21st, 2023 at 09:08 am

The last of the black mold has been removed from the attic and the area was all treated, so I just need to transfer $782 from the emergency fund to pay the credit card and that part of the black mold disaster is over and we can decide whether or not it is worth it to submit a claim to the insurance or not.  The new policy starts April 1st and the rates went up $200, so it will not cost $1000 a year instead of $800.  The year before that they were $600.  Way to go Washington state insurance commissioner, looking out for the people, as always.

There has never been a claim submitted on this homeowner's insurance in all the decades my mom has had it, but we just know they will jack the premiums to kingdom come if we put in a claim.  So we need to figure out if it will be worth it.  So far, the costs have been close to $6000, but the insurance may not pay the $850 for the dumpster rental, so maybe $4550.

Then there will be the cost of replacing the bathroom that was torn out and they will pay the minimum they can get away with, so it will probably be the cheapest sink, cabinet, shower/tub, walls, paint, flooring, toilet, light fixture, door, water resistant drywall, etc. on the market they will reimburse, not what we will actually spend on it.  We can't actually put a shower/tub combo in, because the house was built around the original one and you can't fit one through the doorway, even with the door and frame off.

So we will have to do a tile shower that runs the area the old combo was in, because the way the space is set up, you can't put in a corner shower and get into it without blocking the toilet the one way or climbing over the toilet to get into the shower the other way.  It is a small bathroom.  And if we put it in straight, we'd have to build a wall, making the shower area two narrow for a fiberglass one and also being right up against the toilet, which violates building codes.  A tile shower will be better in keeping mold at bay anyway.  I don't know if they will pay for any tile, and definitely they won't pay for the price of the tile we want, but anything towards it would be good.

Then they will want to know why we can't use the old toilet and the old sink.  Which we could use the old sink, but the cabinet that held it was infected with mold, so we'd have to get a custom made cabinet which would cost more than a new sink and regular cabinet.  And the toilet needed to be replaced, so we might be out on that one.  But they had to cut up the shower/tub to get it out.

I'd say if they will pay $8,000 or so then it is worth it for the claim, but otherwise, probably not.  There is $1000 deductible, so we are out that regardless.  I am hoping to cash flow some of this.  I don't want to run the emergency fund into the ground.  I'd be happy to get the bathroom finished enough to have the the flooring, sink, and toilet in, and the walls painted, and then we can use it while we wait on the shower until we have the money to start working on that.

This was really not the way I wanted to start out the new year.  It's not all bad, though.  My son had his sinus surgery and it went way better than the doctor expected.  The doctor had thought that at the most he would have a 40% tops improvement in his breathing, but he wouldn't know until he got in there.

Well, when he got in there, though, there was a lot more cartilege to work with than he thought and he was able to repair the collapse with that and barely had to use any artifical cartilege at all.  They didn't even have to pack it.  The doctor is confident that he should see somewhere from 90 to 100% improvement.

Tomorrow will be one week out and even though his nose is still swollen, he is breathing so much better.  He can take the tape off tomorrow.  We won't know if it has changed the shape of his nose or not until all the swelling goes down, but the doctor seemed to think it would just make him symmetrical again.  We go back in another 3 weeks for a follow up,  and since it will be his birthday we will stop at the Red Lobster on the way home for his birthday dinner.  It'll be the first time I've set foot in a restuarant in...well, I can't even remember when.  I need to remember to put that in the next budget.

Rearranging Plans to Mostly Shop My Fridge to Save Money

February 9th, 2023 at 08:47 am

So the grocery ads are an abysmal flop this week.  I mean there is a possibility that there is a good sale on Ribeye steaks at Freddy's this week, as it is 50% off, but they don't tell you off of what price.  I hate it when stores do that.  They just want you to go there and find out.  Especially when there is no other reason to go there.  It is on DH's way home from work, so he will stop in and check for me tomorrow.  If it is a good price we will buy a value pack, because we do a like a good steak once 3 to 4 weeks, but I'm not willing to jump through hoops to get them.  If they are what I consider a decent price then I will give him some grocery money and he can pick them up on Friday.

So, with the bad ads in mind, I went back and looked through the fridge and the backup fridge and realized I don't need as much as I thought I did.  I just need some green onions, lettuce, tomatoes, fresh cilantro and parsley, 5 or 6 carrots, and 2 turnips.  Maybe some zucchini or yellow squash if they look good and aren't dinky and fresh green beans if they look good, frozen if they don't.  I still have plenty, and I mean plenty, of onions, garlic, and potatoes that I grew myself, as well as cucumbers, radishes, a giant parsnip, a puple cabbage, 3 carrots, a bunch of celery, a jalapeño, a fennel bulb, and 9 bell peppers (6 for stuffing, 2 for fajitas, 1 for pizza).

As for fruit, we have 9 lemons, but I plan on making lemonade with 8 of them, 1 lime, 6 pears, but 1 is questionable, 2 avocados, and 2 Pink Lady apples.  I plan to buy some sweet apples since those are tart for making curries, and a case of oranges since these will probably be the last oranges of the season before they start being not very good again.  Maybe some bananas or possibly something else if anything has a good price and depending on where it is from.

For staples, I need yellow cornmeal and unbleached pure cane sugar.  For seasonings I need sweet paprika, smoked paprika, and Hungarian paprika.  I'll only get one this week.  Spices have skyrocketed.  Maybe I'll just get the sweet.  I'll probably have to order the Hungarian anyway, but I am on an Amazon freeze this month.  I also need a big container of Italian seasoning.  I need a big container of fine grain pink Himalayan sea salt, but that will probably have to be ordered, too, and it can wait until next month as I just filled the large shaker up with the last of my old container.

We are good on cheeses and yogurt and peanut butter.  Well, I might need an 8 oz brick of extra sharp cheddar.  I forgot to check for that.

I have a vague idea of what I'll be planning for suppers this week, but I'll sit down and flesh it out tomorrow morning.  It's late and I need to get to bed.

Real time: 12:45 a.m. PDT Real Date: 2/9/2023

Looking for Motivation and Planning out My Grocery Shop for Meal Planning

February 7th, 2023 at 11:00 pm

Have you ever had one of those mornings where even making toast seems like too much work?  I swear if I don't start getting more than 4 to 6 hours of sleep a night, I'm going to go to become a Mombie zombie.  But life went on and toast was avoided and eggs were made and cucumbers sliced and life was brought back into this tired lady's veins.

The grocery ads came out today and I will sit down with them and see what meals I can plan around them.  I don't need to buy meat unless they have some tremendous sale or the have steelhead trout at a reasonable price because we love that.  Mostly, I just want to see what fresh produce is on sale and if there are any sauces that might trigger some dinner ideas.  I am so bored of the usual meals.  I want something more exotic and flavorful without being so spicy that my daughter can't eat it.

I can't exactly make February a no eating out challenge since my son has his surgery in Seattle and then has a follow up appointment a week later, but that will just be DS and DH.  DS can't eat before surgery and will probably only want a milkshake afterward, if he doesn't sleep the whole way home from the after effects of anesthesia.  My husband will need lunch and maybe dinner on that day.  On the follow up day they can eat before they go, but they will need at least one meal on the trip.  I know they can pack food, but it is a hassle they would prefer to avoid and we don't currently have a cooler.  But it won't be out of our pocket, because MIL pays for all travel expenses related to medical visits to Seattle for us.  She even pays for the hotel if we have to stay down there, so that takes a big burden from us since we have to go down there so often for our daughter.

Every other day of February I want to do no eating out.  We have to tighten our belts if we are going to get that bathroom rebuilt the way we want it to be, which also means no more willy-nilly Amazon purchases.  They all have to be perfectly planned and budgeted for.  Speaking of Amazon purchases, my new set of pans came and I love them.  We seasoned them and they are working so nicely.  The instructions were garbage, so we followed the advice of someone in the reviews and it worked a treat.  I am so glad I returned the other pan and bought these.  They weren't expensive, but I think I will be very happy with them.  So far I have only cooked veggies and eggs in them.  I'll get back to you after I have made meat in them.

Anyway, time to go look at the ads and then make up a meal plan.  Remember when I used to do those?  I knew my motivation was around here somewhere.

  

Black Mold Bathroom Demolition

February 7th, 2023 at 10:12 am

It's been a long several days, but we got to come back to our house on Saturday and it was so nice sleeping in our own beds again.  Next time we will definitely spring for the nicer hotel with hopefully better beds, but we did not know how long we were going to have to stay away for and there isn't really any family we can stay for that is set up for more than one person and still be near DH's work, and of course the kids had doctor appointments.  Thankfully, it was not too many days.

I was just grateful the city was able to put us in touch with someone so quickly.  One day it was just some weird orange mildew on the ceiling and the next week there were black splotches creeping down the walls.  We had to have the floors and walls completely gutted.  We had been planning on replacing the toilet anyway and the shower/tub combo had to come out because we had to see if there was mold behind it.  The sink, cupboard the held the sink, and the cabinet the held the mirror all had to come off, because the wood was probably infected with mold spores.  We will also have to be replacing the door and frame and all the trim.

Fortunately the floor tested negative for mold spores.  The floor was a little squishy around where the toilet had been from the leak we were going to replace the cracked toilet for (we had caulked it), so we will have to replace about 1 foot of floor, but so much better than it could have been.  All of the studs in the walls are free of mold.  They put the stuff that is supposed to keep mold from growing on it onto it.  Mold remediation alone is $1500 and tear out was on top of that.  We had to go half and half with Mom on it and our share is $1925, but some of that was dumpster rental, which I think was $850, but we have it for the month, so we can finish filling it up and there are a lot of things around here that can go.

Anyway, the costs are a big Ouch.  That'll be quite a hit to our emergency fund, but I don't know what bigger emergency there is than getting black mold out of the house.  Bad news is there is still more, but it is up in the crawl space.  It is closed off from the rest of the house and it is where the roof leak was that my mom refused to believe was a roof leak for two weeks and blamed on my son's showers being too long just causing the vent to drip water, at least until the storm that caused a five gallon bucket to half fill with water in six hours.  So that has quietly been growing for a couple years

That will have to get fixed next.  The guy said it wasn't too bad, but since it had to be a separate job, it would be at least another $1500, plus taxes, but it can be completely taken care of by mold remediation, nothing will have to come out.  It's just a flat fee of $1500 per job.  Sucks, but it's not a DIY thing and we did do a quick shop around and most places were higher and the city did not recommend those and honestly, neither did a lot of the congregator websites.  Most reviews and the city said the others did shoddy work and these people guarantee their work for 10 years barring further roof leaks.  So for us, that will be $750 more.

It's rough when we were just starting to put money back into the Emergency Fund, but we have to do what we have to do.  I am not going to use my spending money that I have been saving for a year and last year's and this year's birthday money and my Christmas present money on this.  Everyone else got to spend theirs through the whole year and I have given up my stuff for other people too many times when I am saving for a goal and I am not going to give it up for this.  So I am making other plans to try to cash flow some of this without taking too much from the EF.  I can stop contributing to it, but I want to not pull too much.  So for Feburary I will at least have that $500.

I have already made plans to purchase a beef in July so I am locked into that, so I can't change that.  I have to keep putting money away for that.  He is charging the same amount per pound this year as last.  He put away plenty of his own hay last year so he did not have to buy any feed, so his prices have remained stable.  Kill fee, cut and wrap have gone up, but I know how by how much, so I can budget that and it allows me to figure out where else in the budget I can pull from.  This is from things that are primarily wants that we were finally going to get to this year.

In March I was going to save $650 towards a propane grill and put $500 for the Emergency Fund.  That $1150 will go towards the bathroom.  April is a three paycheck month.  The plan there was $500 to go to the Emergency Fund and $2000 to go for the first family vacation since 2013 (I think).  What's one more year on the vacation? *sighs*  So that's $2500 more for the bathroom.  So far we are $3650.  In May the plan was to spend $850 on outdoor summer furniture and $500 to the Emergency Fund or $1350.  Now our total is $5000.  In June I would have put $500 towards the family vacation, $500 towards the Emergency Fund, and $638 towards a Snowblower.  That brings us to $6638.

I think we can manage on that, but I know these things always run high.  If worst comes to worst, we will get the walls and ceiling built and mudded and paid for.  That will keep the house solid again.  DH can do the light switch and the light and we can take off the door and frame.  Then the people who screwed up the paint last time and caused part of the problem with the orange mildew and doing mold remediation incorrectly (or possibly not at all as the new people said they saw no evidence of it being done) will be coming back to repaint it for free, which will seal the room.  We can pick out a light fixture and be done with that.

Our next priority will be to get the plumbing, floor tiling, toilet, sink, shower pan, and shower floor tiling done.  I'm not quite sure in what order that has to go with the floor tiling and the toilet and sink plumbing, but I know the shower pan has to be installed by a plumber.  We have the tile picked out for the shower walls and the tile picked out for the bathroom floor and shower floor which match and I have picked out the sink vessel I want and am narrowing down the faucet.  A vessel sits on top of a cabinet instead of down inside it like a traditional sink.

DH is going to build the cabinet for the vessel to sit on, so we can have something solid instead of the easily breakable cardboard and not really wood stuff they make these things out of today.  And it will have a sturdy roll out step stool in the bottom, because my son and husband use that bathroom the most and would like a taller sink to wash up in.  They have some beautiful non-wood-colored stains these days if I can't find a natural wood finish I like.  One of the bathrooms and the main kitchen have solid wood pine cabinets with a pine varnish already, but I'm not sure if that is the look I am going for.  I don't want to do white, but I need something that will go really well with the blues and greens of the sink.

It's going to take a lot of time, but as long as we get it to where we can use the toilet and the sink, the rest can take time.  There are still three other bathrooms in this house.

 

Lots of Stuff

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

Can I Squeeze this Purchase into the Next Budget?

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.

 

More Retirement

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.


<< Newer EntriesOlder Entries >>