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Retiring and Wishing All Well

September 12th, 2017 at 02:44 pm


Time has come to close the book on the money melodrama of my life (this blog). I've struggled to maintain momentum on money management and dedication to blogging here. I'm leaving some posts here that outlined particular chapters (like the whole rental property drama from one year ago) and I've deleted things that were anxiety-producing (like the posts relating to my husband's cancer and the car accident that totalled my car), etc. Some of it is good for laughs, so it will stay.

I've considered closing the book before, but this time just seems right and natural.

My money situation hasn't changed at all -now there are two in college, one in high school who has lost one substantial scholarship, medical bills that are looming on collections (and I'm still paying $300+ a month), my own job/education dilemmas that just seem to continue, etc). And DH's job is again the next one in line for "redundancy" - I like that term better than "on the chopping block". I wish I could say that I've gained so much wisdom to get those money ducks in a row, etc. However, the sad truth is that I'm still wallowing and swimming and living paycheck to paycheck (albeit with a small but increasing EF).

We do have plans for the (nearish) future such as downsizing to make maintaining two homes feasible. So maybe that will be the key to improving or changing our circumstances.

I do wish everyone well. This place was immensely supportive to me and my own little corner of the cyberworld where I could be really honest and vent. I appreicate all those kind words that gave me enough wind in the sails to propel me forward. I think that I am able to go foward now and trying to overcome introvert tendencies to make some real life connections, and I am pleased to say that I have made some new friends in the most recent chapter of my life and I am much more transparent and authentic. I will be okay and it will be okay.

Thank you, SA Friends! You are all fabulous. I'll continue to be prayerful for CB's dear friend C and that everyone can return to their homes post-hurricane. It's been a good ride. Smile

Friends, sigh with me!

November 10th, 2016 at 09:49 pm


'Rental property renovation is complete with two hours to spare.

The tenants sign the lease and get the keys.

The nightmare is over.

I will post later on the lessons learned from this little excursion.

Until then, please just sigh with me. Had I energy, I'd do a happy dance, but alas, I don't.

*SIGH*

Adjusting Trajectory: Upward

November 6th, 2016 at 02:41 pm


The tenants sign the lease on Friday.

We saved $160 by cancelling a junk pick-up. We've done two trips to the dumpster at my father's apartment building and will spend about $30 in refuse stickers.

We delayed driveway sealcoating until next year. Saved $160 on that, since we were an end of season request and we had workers needing access to the driveway for the interior work.

I spent $1,025 on new appliances (fridge/stove/dishwasher) at the Ding and dent event at Sears Outlet. And since I bought during Halloween season, I saved an additional 13%.

We saved tons of money doing all of the cleaning and painting ourselves. We recruited my inlaws for that. Any stepdad helped relay the bathroom floor and installed all the new light fixtures and closet doors.

My parents were helpful and purchased a set of four new tires for me. My inlaws purchased a needed tire for my husband's minivan. Plus both were helpful paying for an outing (movies/pizza) and dinner in (Chinese food, etc). Also sundries. And when my kids' were in need of extra funds, my mom put them to work at her house with tasks.

I've learned to stretch the budget by shopping only at Aldi's and The Dollar Tree. And I defrayed the cost of some convenience foods.

I was blessed with a dear friend who sent me a much-needed crockpot. Smile And I did find a find $10 Target card floating around an old purse that I forwarded to a young working mom making minimum wage trying to support her daughter. It was so nice to pay it forward. I clearly lived without it and passed it on.

I also cash-flowed older daughter's community college tuition ($1,450 plus helped out with about $200 in books). I did cover her $81 flight home from CA.

I did speak to the high schools about the inability to pay tuition until our financial situation changed; since my kids are partial scholarships, they front loaded those payments so the kids are current and can sit for exams (one in December, one in January).

So we've had to rental property income from 9/1-11/15 and thousands of dollars in expenses. I haven't tallied it up, but I will. We've cash-flowed most of it. We do have one credit card that we used to book work, though if it was billed, we paid it off.

This is a long and rambly. Just sort of a quick recap to myself of the timeline.

Next time you hear from me, I'll be setting some goals for ourselves for the remainder of the year.

I splurged yesterday at Walmart (while buying draino and light fixtures) and spent $.75 for a salt shaker on clearance. It was a cute fox that I admired when he was part of a matched set for $4.98. I already have squirrels that are on my mantle. Apparently the pepper shaker was gone, so he was reduced. I snagged him up and he's on the mantle with the squirrels and pumpkins. I decided he was too cute to pass up. Not needed, but wanted.

So upward.

32 Days to Better

October 30th, 2016 at 05:46 pm


32 days until December 1st, which will officially end the Money Armageddon.

Still in "thrift is the only option" mode.

Our meal plan this week consists of breakfast foods (just because we have tons of that on hand), curried chickpeas, tacos and nachos, other canned convenience foods.

At Mass last night, our parish pitched the plea for pledges for a major campus improvement. To the requested tune of $20K spread over five years. And we've been invited to the parish Christmas dinner at $50/person. Wow. When I am in a better place financially, I am thinking that my money might make more of a difference in places where they need clean drinking water and other rudimentary things. My perspective on money is changing.

Well, I may just not post until December 1st. I've stopped tracking money since it was depressing. I'm simply monitoring success by how much money we have left before payday.

Looking forward to new beginnings.

Upswing Predicted

October 28th, 2016 at 06:18 pm


November will be that last month of Money Armageddon.

December is looking better with no anticipated rental property renos and an upstart of rental property income.

Paycheck to paycheck living is tiresome. I'm tired of stretching the dollars and being creative and robbing Peter to pay Paul.

At some point in the future, after this is over, I'll detail the storm fronts that collided to create the perfect storm.

Other than that there isn't anything significant; I am just happy that the end is in sight.

Update

October 21st, 2016 at 12:16 pm


Well, I'm proficient in living paycheck-to-check. Today was payday and we cruised in with $4.xx in the checking account and $6.75 cash. Wa-hoo.

I still haven't touched the EF. It is indeed scant and meager, but it's still there, albeit on life support.

The spending is allotted down to the dollar. I'm doing fairly well keeping a cap on things by shopping every four days. I don't know why that appears to be the magic number in what I'm able to effectively manage. The cupboards don't seem to be as bare this way and there is at least always fresh fruit/veggies. Even if its only bananas and carrots.

The rental property reno is progressing as planned. We have been able to save some money here and there by doing things ourselves (like the painting/and we have recruited the inlaws for rolling). Tomorrow my stepdad is installing the new bathroom flooring and helping out with some other odds and ends. The crack in the foundation has been repaired. We have sealcoating of the driveway this week as well as the tub reglazing. I was able to push back the installation of the new front and back doors to 11/19 which given my budget a bit of breathing room, though I am hoping to factor in the cost of those from the funds we have. We're keeping the cost of trash down by using the dumpsters at my biological father's nearest apartment buildings.

Still tracking every red cent. Still humming "Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming" to myself. I think that I will really like 1/1 when we roll into the new year with funds from the 12/30 paycheck to start afresh.

I've started a list of things that we need. And my crockpot died yesterday. That is a very sad thing since most of the warm meals my family eats come from the crockpot. My birthday is 11/15 so I think I'm just going to ask my mom to buy me one now as an early gift.

Well, that's it. Update: still alive, still spending, still in process of rental property reno, still have EF.

When the money gods smile on me ...

October 9th, 2016 at 07:34 pm


Nothing major as far as luck bestowed by the money gods. Still working our way through the rental property reno. I spent most of yesterday edging the living room and bedrooms. My husband painted the kitchen and bathroom and FIL is rolling the rooms that I edged on Wednesday and Thursday.

The budget is pretty much on empty, and I shudder at spending even on what I have to. That said, our money is going pretty far in what we are spending.

One-way airfare from California to Chicago for older daughter was $81.

Youngest son was in need of dress shoes for winter uniform that started 10/1. He now wears mens sizes and that is a budget-buster. However, he found a pair of Sperrys for $35 on clearance at Famous Footwear and $1 pink athletic socks (which he needed to wear today from the breast cancer awareness game today).

We also found new football gloves for him at Marshalls for $14. This was part of his birthday gift. Those regularly go for $29.99 (cheapest) and up at Dick's Sporting goods.

I scored cake mix and frosting for $.80/each at Jewel and stocked up for fall/winter birthdays and Thanksgiving meal contributions. I usually would run to Jewel for $5.00 mini cupcakes, but instead delegated to daughter to bake those.

Everyone is pretty much aware of our financial situation. My parents purchased me tires last month and slipped me some additional money for my son's football pictures and also brought paper products from Sam's (packs of toilet paper and paper towels). My MIL also gave us money for a tire for DH's minivan and bought a round of vitamins for us.

The old me would have been smug at accepting help. Not anymore. I've learned to just smile and say "thanks, that will really help."

Tomorrow we're going to the earliest showing of "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" ($4.50/ticket) and then going to the Arboretum (free using parents' membership) and bringing our own snack ($5 for 4-pack Starbucks Iced Coffee drinks that came with a free box of Otis Spunkmeyer snacks).

Still taking one day and task at a time, and taking time to enjoy life while on the journey.

4th Quarter

October 2nd, 2016 at 02:27 pm


Well, the money situation remains stable.

The rental property situation remains unstable. We had a tenant and then we didn't. He gained residential custody of children and couldn't leave the school district. Now we have potential tenants for 11/1; they rent the house two houses over which has been sold, leaving them needing a house. I asked for them to commit by the 15th or else I will place an add.

The work is going slower than anticipated. On Thursday DH and our handyman replaced the floor underlayment and did some electrical work. No installation of basement vanity or repair of a/c leak.

What we've spent thus far:
$96 vanity for basement
$250 plaster repair of ceiling and walls
$50 underlayment for upstairs bathroom
$300 for handyman (4 hours)
$100 on paint and items for window reglazing

We still need to deal with the hardwood floors. There doesn't appear to be too much to be able to resand in the living room. We thought about carpeting, but might save that until next go around.

We still need the foundation crack repaired ($380), bathtub reglazing ($390), new front and back doors (est $400), new refrigerator, and new roof on garage.

The entire thing is overwhelming. But DH and FIL are painting next weekend, so progress is at least being made.

We're essentially on money-lockdown over here. With the income deflated and outgo inflated, it's paycheck-to-paycheck. I am relieved that Homecoming is over (it was costly since my two highschoolers don't have jobs).

My highschooler is looking for a job.

My stipend will hit the end of the month.

My inlaws generously gifted us $400, of which we're getting one badly needed tire and an oil change on DH's minivan.

DH has a stash of $60 cash for his "fritter away fund".

I have a stash of $60 cash for my "fritter away fund."

We're expecting $180 from DH's side gig.

Onward and upward has been replaced by "just keep swimming, swimming, swimming" (whenever I type it, I hear Ellen Degeneress signing it).

Here is to simply surviving the 4th quarter.

Only upside is: I've tracked every single rent cent spent from August 25 to present.

Budget Update and My List

September 17th, 2016 at 01:49 pm

I just concluded the third week of budget lockdown and tracking my spending. The confluence of certain events occurred, and poor timing, diminished EF, and other craziness made this an inopportune time to "crisis"; however, that said, we are still managing (just barely). We are living the paycheck-to-paycheck existence, have not touched the EF, and are still fairly happy and definitely healthy. I'll say "we're managing in the money department."

That said, I capped the spending at $236 per week. I'm about $5 over my estimates. Here is the breakdowns
8/26-9/1 - $242.33
9/2-9/8 - $229.78
9/9-9/15 - $249.60
Average - $240.57
{That includes all spending outside of utilities and mortgage. We did have some clothing items (most from Goodwill), providing dessert for the team soccer dinner was $20, Netflix was included in that since its not a utility, admission to sons' football and soccer games, ete.}

In full disclosure, my parents gifted me a set of four new tires. I repeatedly turn down offers of help; however, since safety was involved and there was a great offer, I said yes. They were happy to help, and for once I was happy to be helped.

Now my list:
1) I don't exactly remember when I started blogging since this is a third version of one. Maybe eight years?
2) I live in the Midwest, but came to love the West Coast this past summer.
3) I am one of two children and my husband is an only child, so we have a rather largish family.
4) I have met two SA bloggers in person, one follower person, and have several as FB friends.
5) I have been a dance mom (daughters Irish danced for many moons) and am now a soccer mom. I have been a Momager who was very involved in my daughter's modeling career when she was a minor. She now lives out of state pursuing her passion.
6) I hate labels. I struggled with the concept of being the only Catholic in a Protestant Seminary; but I've moved past that, and labels in general.
7) I have a fear of clowns.
8) My husband is a cancer survivor. One of my best friends is fighting cancer. I hate cancer.
9) I clip coupons every Sunday because I think I will use them. I usually never do. So I waste time on things I think will save money.
10) I love The Walking Dead.
11) I love Project Runway and am a huge Tim Gunn groupie.
12) I like to kayak and bike.
13) I love SA because I feel like this is my cyber family where I can get support and advice.
14) I recently started back to work as a teaching assistant to one of my favorite professors at the seminary I attend. I'm expecting my first stipend next month.

Open House Expenses; Or Where I finally track every expense and know exactly how

June 5th, 2016 at 04:41 pm

much I spent.

The Open House for the 2016 graduates was yesterday; it went really well. It was a nice stream of people in and out, and ended up with the kids' friends having a s'mores fest on the deck.

I didn't know how many people to plan for and we had about 40+ people (30ish ate a meal, 10ish grazed or had dessert)

I paid cash for most of it. Here is what I spent:

1) Food (deli spread/meatballs/salad/fruit) > $107
2) Dessert (cake/cupcakes/s'mores) > $61.25
3) Decorations (streamers/nice frame) > $30.00
4) Souvenir autograph pillows > $36.75
5) Paper Goods (plates/napkins/cups/utensils) > $18.00
6) Flowers > $5.00

TOTAL SPENT >> $258.50

The upside is I also have enough leftovers to feel that family for a solid several days, plus one unopened bag of meatballs and enough supplies for one more night of s'mores.

The kids received generous gifts. They'll do their thank you's tomorrow.

My house is neat and clean and (for once) organized. Everything I borrowed from my mother is heading back tomorrow. I do really like her double-sided crockpot (actually keeps hot food hot and is an easy way for a buffet to look nice and neat). I borrowed my mother's table clothe and serving dishes. And will admit it looked nice, my food spread.

We're house-bound today with only a bike ride on the to-do list. Time to start thinking about California in earnest. We land on the 15th and on the 16/17 my daughter has five meetings with various top agencies in LA. So exciting. Though I'm scared at the prospect of driving in that commotion!


Open House on Saturday, Other Preparations

June 2nd, 2016 at 12:26 pm


Our graduation open house is on Saturday; my first go at hosting something like this (with no definite start and stop times, though my relatives do tend to like to hang around longer than necessary). I've done some list making/comparison shopping/menu revision and here is where it stands:

1) Deli spread with ham/roast beef and Swiss/cheddar
2) Meatballs - half in marinara and half plain
3) Rotini pasta salad with ham cubes/peas/mayo
4) Tri color pasta salad with vegetables and Italian dressing
5) Orange cool whip jello recip
6) TBD other salad

I've priced out fruit plates and can do it cheaper by myself (versus picking up one at Sam's). We found a very nice and reasonable two tier cake at Sam's for $35. I've decided to round out the desserts and snacks with home-made pan cookies (might get exotic with mint chocolate chips for one).

For chips I am buying a 50 count bags of Doritos/Sun Chips at Sam's for $10 and will get two bags of veggie chips at Aldi's for a total of $14.00..

For drinks, Jewel has two liters on sale at $.88 if you buy in multiples of 4. I will get 8 and spend $7.20 plus cost of plastic cups. I was going to do cans but there is the potential for waste and its more expensive.

For decorations, I'll buy a bouquet of flowers and some balloons from the Dollar Tree on Saturday morning. Should spend roughly $15.00.

Today I am renting a Rug Doctor from Ace and cleaning all the carpets in the house. Fun? Not really!! But end result will make me happy. Cost for this: $30 plus cost of soap. My brother asked why I didn't just hire someone, or borrow his oldish spot cleaner.

I mowed the lawn yesterday. I find that highly therapeutic (not sure why). My brother asked why I didn't just hire someone, or pay my child to do it.

My mother also has some ideas on how I should entertain: such as how punch should be served, the service bowls that should hold the salad, etc, and suggested where I should purchase the cole slaw from (Culvers).

I'm finding it rather ironic that I'm able to now say (without angst) "That's a great idea. I will consider it." It acknowledges peoples valid points without stating that they may not be relevant to me. The old me would say yes and change my plans or defend my reason why I won't. Too much energy to talk sometimes.

And on a money-front:

My goal for over the summer is to acquire enough extraneous funds so I can live this month on last month's paycheck. The entire YNAB concept that confused me as to how I was going to achieve it.

Onward to clean carpets and cake orders!

Another Version of Myself - Non-fiscal related post ahead

May 25th, 2016 at 12:36 pm

Or the appearance of the 14th Doctor, though I imagine I'd be the 15th?!

Been a rough haul of late. Got out of one medical drama (husband) and then moved onto anxiety issues with my oldest son (one stemming from a moderate medical condition that unfortunately coincided with DH's medical issue). Two visits to a pediatrician (one covering/one our regular), an ultrasound, a visit to the specialist. Conclusion: outpatient surgery can eradicate the problem if it persists.

My goal now is simple and healthy living. In the future that may include art therapy/yoga/acupuncture/massage/etc. - all that is holistic and whole. Of course, this decision doesn't coincide well with our summer spent away (though a change of scenery to a beautiful place without the stress and chaos of our usual lives will be welcomed). I've decided that the grocery budget needs to be increased. [Full disclosure/confession: my bout of depression made it virtually impossible to do anything other than survive - and it was a lot of prepared and convenience foods.]

Biggest thing I've done is stop comparing. That comparison thing that I'd do made me feel bad and I turned into one of those people dwelling on the negative. Authentic living? HA. Call me a fairly successful fraudster. More than several people said they couldn't believe what was going on (DH's medical issues) because I didn't say anything and my demeanor didn't change. The real friends knew, but acquaintances from church not really.

So we've had two graduations (oldest from high school last Sunday, oldest son had cap and gown Mass yesterday). We've got a party planned for June 4th. My mom has gifted me some funds to get started with the planning and buying. It's an open house and I've invited roughly 100 people (some of those are largish families with smallish children). My daughter purchased "2016 Graduate" t-shirts for herself and brother E. I thought that was very sweet of her - they have a nice bond.

Well, that's about all for now.

Fiscally, I have:

1) Gotten tired of tracking and spending Frown

2) Gotten tired of looking at ads and coupons and stacking Frown

3) Not used credit cards with the exception of opening one for a $200 credit on airline tickets

4) Switched my family over to cell phones from landlines, consolidated phone plans, put us all on I-phones (4s or 5s purchased certified refurbished from Amazon) which will save significantly in the long run

5) received good news about financial aid and scholarships for the 2016-2017 school year


Warm wishes for Snafu

August 3rd, 2015 at 09:13 pm


I wish that you had a blog to post on! But I saw your comment on other Laura's post.

I hope that you are feeling better! And taking it easy! And that you take care of yourself!

Also wanted to say that I added a white blazer to my list of things to look out for at Goodwill, to go with my striped shirt dress. I find all of your input (here and on FB) so valuable!

Be well, Friend!

We save, so we can sometimes spend ...

July 7th, 2015 at 01:15 pm


It was one of those days yesterday. I needed to take older daughter back downtown on business yesterday afternoon; DH ended up taking a day off and we made it an unplanned for outing. It was very convenient to have curb-side delivery service for just a 5 minute visit.

We then parked at Water Tower Place ($25 parking). We ended up spending about $17 on underages for purchases at the Lego Store for the boys; the boys and DH then went to see visit the sports museum there ($18 admission and $5 souvenir picture); we ended up finding a better dress for younger daughter (fits her much better, and this was $11 over the previous dress - to be returned today for a credit); and I kicked in $13 for a pair of jeans for older daughter at Hollister. We skipped snacks or eating out because we had lunch at home right before we left. I did bring the snack bin with us, so no one starved before we got home.

It was just a fun day -- and if we can't have fun with our money that we work to save, what is the point?!

July 1st

July 1st, 2015 at 08:37 pm

We did our road trip to Rockford to visit the Japanese Gardens. Much, much smaller than the Morton Arboretum which we frequent quiet often, but very serene and tranquil.

My parents came along and covered our $32 admission (no need to comment negatively). I packed snacks and drinks and my parents packed sandwiches items, so we tailgated. A very fun experience.

I will blog about the dress drama (my own) for the wedding, and how I ended up finding what I will wear on clearance at Nordstrom Rack for $21xx and how this put $70 back in the budget for a shopping trip to Sam's trip. (I was essentially lied to - think of the answer "No" to the question "Does this make my butt look big?") I was told that what I was going to wear made me look like Great Aunt Tillie from my parents' wedding picture 45 years ago - and that my second/third choice items actually made me look much bigger than I really am (muumuu style/patterned blousy material that cinched at the waist). Since I'm doing the reading (Gospel/homily) and know I will be in pictures I wanted to look "nice". I am so glad I was able to find a floral print sleeveless dress size 5/6 that makes me look like a 5/6 and not a 12/14. Smile



From the gardens today.

Finding Balance and Planning

June 30th, 2015 at 03:29 pm


For once it *feels* and *looks* like we are proactive versus reactive to our money situations. We've got the goal of the family vacation in December and are funding that with snowflakes. We managed to fund younger daughter's ipad with point redemption from three different credit cards (and one blood donation visit Smile ).

I've added more funding than usual for July because of the wedding and having family in town. I am also going to try to cut down on the trips to the grocery store (this is difficult since we're still very heavily into making smoothies and eating salads and we tend to go through these things very quickly). I'm also going through baking staples at a much quicker rate since I'm baking at least every other day. Our chicken and fish consumption is up, red meat consumption down (though my boys do love their burgers and hot dogs).

I made an appointment for DH's car to go into the shop for a going over and getting quotes on fixing brakes. This is his 1973 Corvette that lives in the garage and doesn't see much light of day - the cost is $76 for a diagnostic (he has $130 cash of his own stash from Father's Day and check from second job with my father). So we can plan accordingly to take care of what needs to be fixed mechanically.

And I'm feeling a bit lighter about skipping the class. At first I wasn't sure - but it required so much work outside of class (which I am fine with) but not in the summer when the kids are around. It was so nice to be able to go and play tennis with the boys for an hour yesterday.

Tomorrow we're heading to the Japanese garden in Rockford. A bit of day trip (90 minute drive north west of Chicago). My daughter will get to practice on driving on the highway. We're packing a picnic and I have snacks for the ride. Should be a lot of fun. Thursday we are back downtown in Chicago on business with our older daughter.

Wow - overlooked a bounty

June 25th, 2015 at 08:45 pm


We pay my DH's chase card online and never pay attention to the rewards count balance. I knew he had points to redeem and thought it was on his Citibank card which we use regularly.

Imagine my shock to find enough points to redeem 19 - $25 Target cards. Younger daughter's ipad for school is now considered PIF. (Paid in full) And stands at $575.

Rediverting the $140 of the $280 Scouting refund to the December FL Fund > $500 presently.

Wow! That was a nice little bonus, possibly a cosmic or karmic reward for the lack of freak out over pending unemployment grind again?

Funny how these things tend to work out!

And I had a delightful early lunch with CB today! So much more fun! Smile

Welcome. You've arrived ...

June 24th, 2015 at 12:31 pm

to that place where you are free of all the ankle-biting worry scenarios, catastrophizing, and thinking the worst.

I am not naïve in thinking that I don't need to plan for unforeseen or even "maybe" situations, it just isn't an energy suck/"OMG! What will we ever do?!" that it used to be.

DH attended a meeting at the new employer (or shall we say "transitioned to employer") to discuss the timeline for the next buyout. Papers will be signed in six months, expect changes in the next 9-12 months. It is helpful that he's on his path to a different career option. It also helps that I've got the potential of making money.

Our conversation about the situation was a total of about five minutes. He told me the severance details. He also gave me his new job description for me to update his resume. He thought he might see a recruiter, but might not. We can live on bare-bones if need be.

I've got the EF. We've got the rental property we could sell and pay off the mortgage on this if things got really dire. We're not living high off the hog and would need to radically readjust. I'm not running off and stopping 401K contributions of 10% (actually upping to 11%). We're not stopping our future plans on adoption or educating our children in college for 2016-2017. (No need for negative comments here or flames about that - they will be deleted).

Wow, just a total different mindset from where I have been in the past dealing it the same exact situation.

I think I like it where I have arrived. I might definitely stay here.

Feeling good about balance

June 22nd, 2015 at 11:10 pm


I'm feeling pretty pleased about finding and maintaining a money balance.

The 6/30 rental property income will be the first payments on 2015-2016 tuition and soccer club fees, representing about 8.5% of balance.

The 7/15 rental property income will be used to take care of the balance of the air fare due on our trip to Dec in FL. We've moved the trip forward 3 weeks and save 50%+ on air fare. Booked that on DH's new American Express. Have $400 so far to pay - will throw other "found funds" towards that first payment.

Just pleased with the spending patterns and choices we're collectively making. And oldest son's birthday is in August. He asked if his birthday gift could be a wand. And we said, "Of course." He is our biggest Harry Potter fan.

Preserving the Capital

June 22nd, 2015 at 11:54 am


We've managed to keep the expenses down for Father's Day. The men golfed on Sunday morning; FIL took care of DH's cost as part of his gift.

My brother hosted a cook out. Our contribution was an ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins. Oldest son found it in the Sunday adverts and it was shaped like a mug of beer. Cost was $18.50 after $3 coupon.

Gifts for stepdad and FIL were VERY LARGE draft beer mugs that I found for $3.50 at Walmart, and then I picked up six packs of German lager at Aldi's for $6xx each.

DH and I have a new unspoken rule about buying each other what we'd like. I had assumed that I'd throw some odd funds into DH's Corvette brake job jar. But he also informed me that he's like Tae-bo DVDs. He enjoyed the VHS tapes years ago and I found a set on Amazon for $14.

Event total (gifts and food including) roughly $63.

And everyone was quite happy with their gifts. No need to break the bank with golf shirts or Best Grandpa T-shirts after years and years of that.

Definitely thinking smarter, not harder.

Hope all had a happy day celebrating with loved ones.

Stayed Afloat/Economic Choice

June 19th, 2015 at 01:42 pm


Today was pay day. I think that I finally have a better grasp on the inflow and outgo of money - if I keep to DH's regular pay every two weeks for mortgage/living/most extraneous, then it is a predictable amount I'm working with. It gets complicated if I comingle the rental property income that comes in mid and end month. That is what I consider for savings/tuition/taxes/etc. So, really it is a pretty boring money in day -- paid the bills that needed to be paid, worked a rudimentary spending plan for "extraneous" -- here is where economic choice comes into play: Thursday night is wristband night in our home town where the carnival comes and you can have unlimited riding for $25 from 5:30-10:00. I'm giving each child $30 - enough for a wristband and an overpriced snack and if they opt out, they can keep the money, if they opt in, they are covered for a minimum of fun, and if they want A LOT OF FUN they can dip into their own funds.

Not everyone likes to do the same thing - though my boys tend to travel as a herd (they share friends and the friends they have don't mind hanging with the other brothers). One daughter definitely won't be going because she has pom practice, but she could always go another day if she wanted to.

My brother asked us if we'd watch his dogs when he's gone on his honeymoon. And this is a paid gig for us (no need to flame me, because he does save 50% over what he'd pay at a boarding facility). This will go towards the Dec FL trip. We are nudging along quite nicely on that - seeing the fund didn't even exist one months ago.

Other than this ramble, enjoy your weekend! Smile

Simplifying the Feeding Frenzy

June 18th, 2015 at 08:03 pm


1) Have in stock the staple items to make individual English muffins pizzas in the broiler (shredded cheddar/pizza sauce/seasoning/pepperoni)

2) Have ingredients on hand for baked potato bar (fall-winter idea)

3) Look into having pre- homemade muffin mix ready to go (just add eggs and bake)

4) Snacks: popcorn for the air popper and seasoned salts and toppings

5) Just plan enough quantity for one or two more eaters

This follows up my previous post about feeding eight children dinner and then seven children breakfast. I do like the open door policy we have with our kids (and I'd rather have them hang here where I know where they are and what they are doing), but in doing so there are certain concessions to be made -- like a better planned stockpile.

Any other simple ideas that I am missing? Please feel free to add! Smile

Feeding lots of people ...

June 18th, 2015 at 02:08 pm


I try to keep spending at the $125-$135 range per week (and this includes all consumables including pets/cleaning/paper/personal care/etc).

I may have to have a small grocery slush fund for those many times when I'm having lots of kids over. Last night I fed dinner to eight children (we did Italian beef sandwiches and meatball subs). This morning I have seven for breakfast. We've trucked through a majority of the fresh fruit, so I'm running back to Aldis for more $1.29 bags of plums/peaches/nectarines.

Tonight its going to be leftovers: I have about two cups cabbage tomato soup/two servings turkey chili/one beef sandwich/and 17 meatballs.

Stocked up on milk which happened to be $1.69/gallon at Aldi's. We go through lots of milk here.

I'm thinking I should most likely have a bit of cash on hand for a Little Ceasar's pizza or two, and more baking items on hand to at least make cookies or muffins for breakfast.

This is definitely workable with a plan. This just happens to be a random observation and musing.

Analyzing the Spending and EOM Goals

June 17th, 2015 at 07:48 pm


Well, the spending is in the first half of the month and there isn't anything really surprising. I'm average about $80 a week on gas and $125 a week on groceries. Gifts/Clothing categories are down - carrying over for July (my brother's wedding and more family in town).

End of month goals:

1) $103 additional principle payment to mortgage (I'm liking even hundreds in the balance Smile
2) Making some prepayments to 2015/2016 tuition (about 5%) of totals since we know what we owe since all financial aid and scholarship amounts are in
3) Increase 401K contributions to 11% from 10%

Also trying to rework some things to see about sponsoring a child through UNITED and maybe increasing contribution to church by a bit.

Dec FL balance is at $400
M's ipad balance is at $270
(I expect the FL balance to increase with DH's side gig check up to $500)
(I expect the ipad balance to increase once I redeem a forgotten 23000 thank you points with Citibank on DH's card)

Slow and steady wins the race - or in this case - funds all the pots.

What a $1 bag of frozen fruit at the Dollar Tree get you:

June 16th, 2015 at 01:57 pm

10 oz of frozen blueberries
10 oz of frozen strawberries
12 oz of frozen pineapple
12 oz of frozen mango

I should add that the selection of what is offered varies; sometimes it is only berries, other times it is mango and pineapple.

This has been helping to keep the price of our smoothie consumption down. I will admit to buying the bags of pretzels, frosted animal crackers, and fudge covered graham crackers (which my children prefer from the fridge) as snack staples for the days I don't bake.

Last night was my oldest daughter's scholarship Mass at our Diocese's chapel. It's been celebrated by the auxiliary bishop the past few years. She has been the first student ever to receive the scholarship all four years of high school, and she was approached about speaking at the fundraising luncheon next spring. That is a great honor for her, and we as her parents are so proud. The reception was very nice and low-key, my parents came as did one representative from the council that recommends her.

Photo will self-destruct in a bit, but wanted to share. Smile



Tracking the Spending; anyone bank with Byline?

June 15th, 2015 at 03:35 pm

After several weeks of tracking the spending (consumables/extraneous/utilities), I've found that
on the average the household has been spending:

Groceries $130 (after 10% savings with coupons)
Gas $80

Groceries includes all household/personal care/pet products.

The grocery spending is up with the increase in fruits and vegetables (still on the smoothie kick - though I can buy frozen fruit at the Dollar Tree - so I buy whatever they have: been pineapple, mango, and blueberries - we've been doing recipes according to those). We're also going through more Greek yogurt and almond milk, more chicken (about 7-8# a week), and baking stuff since we're cooking a lot more from scratch for snacks and stuff). My goal is to be in the $125-$135 range weekly.

Surprisingly, the healthier eating isn't costing as much to the budget as I initially thought it would. We are also going through flax seed and nuts so that is included in the budget increase as well.

I'll continue to track the spending. I've worked up a list of needed things to buy, and I'm just watching the sale ads from the Sunday paper and for other deals - last year I ended up with a $100 Old Navy card purchased at CVS and got $15 ECB which worked out well for me outfitting my sons and buying some baby shower gifts.

And does anyone here bank with byline bank? They have a pretty good deal right now - $300 for a checking account and savings account with $5K. I'd lose the liquidity of my EF for 90 days, but think it'd be fine. (Already farmed out $5K of EF for another offer.)

End of month goals:
1) Make a payment of 8%-10% on tuition balances for upcoming 2015-2016 years.
2) Make additional mortgage principle payment of $103
3) Increase 401k to 11% up from 10%

These things should be easily attainable if spending remains within normal limits. Entertainment: going to spend $20 on a groupon for local pool admission for one day.

Daily Udate

June 12th, 2015 at 12:45 pm

Dark and rainy morning here in the Midwest. Most likely a good day to go back to bed, but the girls need a ride to church where they are helping out with a drama camp.

Frugal triumphs yesterday
1) Saved gas and had girls bike to church
2) Made homemade mac and cheese and chocolate chip cookies for dinner
3) Opened the Capital One account for $50 bonus in 90 days

I missed having a NSD because I spent $6 on elastic ankle supports for my oldest son who was complaining of some pain after the last soccer game/practice. I am so glad that the season is ending tomorrow, and I imagine if the pain continues he'll go to see the doctor. We've never had any sports related injuries which is surprising with all the sports/dance the kids do.

Moved up one extraneous expense (pom camp fee for younger daughter). It is in August, so I assumed I could pay in July and had it on the list of "To Pays". They'd like payment now, so my additional principle payment to mortgage drops from $200 to $103. Oh well, so the juggling of the money balls continues.

Still operating from the premise of economic choice - decided to put off an outing to see the first run movie Jurassic World to next Tuesday when it is $5 at the local Cinemark. We'll treat the cousins and then have a sleepover, should be a lot of fun. If we had gone today - would have been $8/person. Still spending the same amount, just including others.

Frugal doing for the day:
1) Library for movies and books and wii games
2) Eating from pantry/freezer
3) Still on track for my weekly budgeted spending of $125 on groceries, looks like we'll be using frozen fruit in the Vitamix for our smoothies, since not planning on shopping til next Tues or Wed.

Organizing goal for the day:
1) Books > final cut to shelf/picture books and early readers to basement
2) Final bag up of items for tomorrow's drop off to SVDP

All is fine in and out of the money realm. Smile

Frugal festivities continue

June 11th, 2015 at 02:55 pm

along the lines of:

1) Opened capital one savings account with $5K from EF - will get $50 in 90 days (this was in lieu of opening checking accounts - which I had planned, but never did). Also considering the Discover savings account for DH and making another $50. Will most likely divert those bonuses to Dec FL trip.

2) I have decided to take a seminar this summer - one week long the first week in August. Tuition during the summer is 35% cheaper than in the fall/winter/spring sessions.

3) I returned an impulse purchase to Sam's Club - $5.xx. I realize that I don't look good in orange and I never will, and I really like my white/black/grey palette. Note to self: avoid clearance priced clothing in the color orange/melon or turquois/aqua green. These will never, ever work for you.

4) I returned the Christmas gift to the store DH purchased it from and have a store credit for $76. I didn't have his debit card for it to be credited to - but I do like the store he shopped at, and will have it for future needs or whims.

5) Cleaned up the jewelry that I'm going to hopefully sell tomorrow.

6) Limited driving today and designated it a NSD.

Frugal Doings

June 10th, 2015 at 12:11 pm

1) Tracking spending (again) and realize that I save 10% average weekly on the groceries using coupons on things we use regularly Aldi's had almond milk and Greek yogurt on sale, so I stocked up a bit on those items (still cheaper than regular store)

2) Took two surveys at the bottom of receipts and yielded one free donut at Dunkin Donuts and free fries at Portillo's.

3) Today will spend $3 on Wed. morning kid movies at our local theater

4) Cashed out $150 in Target gift cards from PNC Bank to put towards younger daughter's ipad needed for school

5) Passed on textbooks to nephew for his frosh and soph years

6) Cancelled oldest son's registrations to Boy Scout Camp (he's going on a different trip with extended family that week) so that resulted in a $280 refund.

7) Gained back 1# of 8.5 lost - need to make better food options - definitely attributable to carbs. Frown

8) The Christmas trip fund has $225 thus far (two of DH's checks from side gig plus money my daughter didn't spend on her trip to FL that need not go back into the cash flow).

9) Going to move $5K to a savings account at Capital One for a $50 bonus to be credited in 90 days.

10) Going to work the smoothie recipes around the seasonal produce on sale coming up

11) Younger daughter found a dress for my brother's wedding at Nordstrom Rack - can't say that I've ever been there - but will most likely visit again. My limit was $30 and she found the cutest Betsey Johnson dress (but smallest size is 2 and it will have to be altered) for $48.xx after tax (down from $130?!). She covered the overage, and I'll cover the alterations. So cute, and the girls are now done with clothing for the event.

Smile

The old Polish proverb goes:

June 9th, 2015 at 08:42 pm

"Not my circus, not my monkey."

Flipside of that is:

"Not your circus, not your monkey."

In the event that anyone feels the need to offer unsolicited advice along the lines of "what I think you should do" or "I don't agree with you" - such comments will be deleted. I'm not asking for anyone's approval on or acceptance of what I or my family does.

You don't like how we chose to celebrate birthdays, move on and don't comment.

I try to afford people the respect that I would like to receive. Life is too short for such drama.

Smile


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