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Archive for April, 2014

Possible employment on the horizon. Prayers, please!

April 30th, 2014 at 01:32 pm

I've posted a bit about my return to school (Seminary for certification in Pastoral Care and Counseling). It has been a wonderful experience thus far, and I'm half way into my first quarter. I've been graced with a wonderful Christian environment that celebrates diversity rather than scoffing at it.

It was my ultimate goal to do hospital or prison chaplaincy. I'd like to do prison ministry, given my girls' dedication to social justice; however, the local hospital three miles from my home has a part-time program starting in January for PCE/hospital chaplaincy. I was referred by the present Deacon in our parish and learned that my admissions counselor in Seminary works with the coordinator to set up internships.

I will need to take three classes this summer, and then three in the fall. This means that I can potentially have a solid salary in less than a year, which would make things much easier financially on the family as my husband returns to school.

It is an exciting, but apprehensive time. To be in this state for the next year makes me tired, but I think with some organization and delegation it can be done. I'd appreciate any well wishes and prayers that anyone can spare. Smile

Where the extra money went this month and some thougths to the future

April 29th, 2014 at 10:07 am


I had high hopes for banking the extra money this month, but instead paid off the following:

$785 stupid balance of Chase, now $0
$329.50 dental balance for DH's dental work 2013
$250.00 paid toward my tuition ($200 remains)
$250.00 prepaid Irish dance tuition
$250.00 to savings

I imagine I will try to bank as much of May's funds for savings with these little nagging things off of the plate.

We're contemplating hosting a foreign exchange student for the first semester of the next school year. There is a $1,000/monthly stipend which could defray the tuition for the high school to manageable. The details will follow; we're on the list of families interested. The student would be a girl entering junior year, and I've got one (a daughter going into 11th grade) so it might be a good fit.

And DH and I are considering a downsize in the next 18 months. My brother is in the process of annulment, pursuing a marriage to a fellow Catholic. They're proposed ideal place to live is Elmhurst because bro's GF would still be close to her parents and there is a train to the city. That means a downsize of 2,500 square feet to about 1,700 square feet. I yearn for a simpler life in a smaller house. This move would allow us to be mortgage free and own two properties outright.

Well, that is it. Back to hit the books. But I did want to share the financial aspects of life here.

Life

April 28th, 2014 at 05:54 am


This week marks the half way point of my ten week quarter, my first in Seminary. I am graced with gifted theologians as professors who are teaching me such interesting and profound things. I am the only Catholic at present, but my ultimate goal of being a hospital or prison chaplain is in congruence with what they teach and what I need to learn. I wasn't sure how I was would be regarded if I shared my RC with people, but I am blessed to be in a place that celebrates all the diversity that exists within Christianity. One class requires analyzing a particular text, but another text for the class is written by a priest so I'll be analyzing that one instead. I got a B on my first paper. I felt a bit bad about it, having been an A paper writer my last go-around at grad school. There were, however, some Cs, so I'll be happy with my B.

DH is muddling his way through the last months of the job. He has a countdown and sometimes a sense of humor. He's working 55-60 hours and this last week was fraught with blowups and problems. I've learned not complain or even breathe a word of anything negative. I've learned to adapt, have patient kids, learned to ask for help from my parents, and friends. My youngest had to cross over in Scouts without a parent there. Broke my heart. My husband is the leader but had a major issue at work. A family friend is the Cubmaster who adopted "A" during the ceremony.

So we muddle through with schedules and assignment and logistics and all the financial stuff is on the backburner. We had to use the credit card because the replacement debit cards didn't come in and I didn't make it to the bank. Oh well, life does go on.

Off to catch up on the blogs. Hoping all is going well for everyone!

Wife and the Wardrobe

April 25th, 2014 at 02:03 pm

Well, the reality of being in school with a husband who is living at work has made things chaotic, fraught with anxiety, requires diligence and coordination of efforts. I am grateful for parents who are helpful and don't mind driving. Despite the difficulties, I am enjoying my studies and got a B on my first paper. I would have loved to say I got an A, but my cohort are second and third year grad students in Divinity, so it could have been far worse.

I continue to exercise and ran 17 miles in four days this week. The surprising thing is I am much smaller and none of my clothes are fitting me, so I am looking at rebuilding an entire wardrobe. I lamented about that in a previous post. So I am at Square One.

This is what I have purchased so far:

The striped dress with the bold red at the bottom was an exchange at Sam's Club (the original was green/blue). Cost of that was $19.99 back in March, Jones New York. I like it.

The chambray shirt dress was $13.99 at Old Navy on clearance.

The denim skirt isn't as short as it looks at was $13.99 at Old Navy on clearance.

The red/white striped shirt was $4.99 and the tank was $5.99.

I'll be heading to Goodwill for some capris (denim and khaki) plus some solid color tops.

$39 + tax this go around, and I feel like my funds were well spent.

Happy Easter to my fellow Christians, Happy Spring to everyone else

April 19th, 2014 at 08:45 pm

I know that we are a diverse bunch here at SA, but we respect those differences. So for my fellow Christian Peeps, I wish you a Joyous Easter celebrating the Resurrection. For everyone else, I wish you peace.



After Mass I am hosting brunch with the parents, parents-in-law, and my brother. We will be watching "Easter Parade" - our perennial favorite - and we've added "Harvey" with Jimmy Stewart to our movie line-up. Hope everyone has a wonderful time with family and friends.

Any thoughts for building a wardrobe on a budget?

April 16th, 2014 at 05:40 am


Well, I've been a SAHM forever and most of my socialization out is with like-minded moms who are dressed pretty basic. I do have the one or two "go to" outfits for more formal volunteer meetings, etc.

Now I am in school and will be entering the work force (part time) next year. I'm down about ten pounds and all of the things that I have are old and baggy or just plain don't look right.

I was out and about yesterday and looked at clothes at Target and Kohls. I'm in need of a total overhaul and find it overwhelming. It is far easier for me to outfit my husband and kids, and I don't know why.

My thoughts are to find some basic things for summer in a similar color scheme to mix and match. (Dresses have always worked easier for me, less trying to pull things together).

Any advice on where to begin, keeping in mind that I am fashionably challenged.

Small updates and other 'isms'

April 14th, 2014 at 05:51 am


1) Payday was Friday. One of the benefits of the spending plan is I now know where every dollar goes. Makes it bland, predictable, boring, but comfortable. At the end of the month I will transfer the EF to the only available money market remaining at Vanguard where the rest of our money lives. I did start the Reserve/Savings funds with $100 ($50 each) and expect to have a combined total of $1,550 in both.

2) Cash only is working out fairly well. I am definitely much more prudent and judicious on the grocery items that I am buying (is this nutritionally sound? is this something that everyone likes? etc.) But I am trying to balance thing, too. We've declared Monday as donut morning because my kids love their donuts and think it is a fun way to start the week. We are also instituting milk shake Fridays - using the vitamix, making new concoctions each week. Their version of a shamrock shake was pretty close. The $5 tub of vanilla ice cream at Aldi's goes pretty far with that endeavor.

3) The extraneous fund started 4/11 with $225 in it. My goal was to stretch it out with some carryover to 4/25 but that didn't look likely after needing one new tire and dog training for our puppy T. And grooming, too. My inlaws are sending us a $125 gift card to Walmart. That will help with covering most of the cost of the tire (at Walmart). That was a nice little extra that will help keep the boat afloat.

4) It was a low spend weekend. It looks like it will be a low spend week, too. That is always good!

Family, Friends, Faith and Fellowship = Frugal Fun

April 11th, 2014 at 02:18 pm


Tonight we are going to a function at church. Because it is Lent, we traditionally celebrate the Stations of the Cross depicting Christ's crucifiction. The 8th graders at the school are re-enacting it in silhouette form. It will be in the school hall tonight at 7:00 PM with a simple soup/bread meal following, served by the Youth Group.

I've got some meatless taco soup cooking in the crockpot and bought some cheese and tortilla chips to go with it. We are skipping soccer practice tonight for the boys (this is the frenzied third practice of the week) and making this a fun family time.

I like this inexpensive, memorable family times. Smile

Happy Friday. Happy Payday. Hello Q2 (officially).

April 11th, 2014 at 05:59 am

We've managed to survive the first week back to school after Spring break, the first week of spring soccer practice, and my second week in Seminary. It is definitely tiring, but I am seeing the value in preparing and planning and having reasonable expectations. And the value in delegating to the kids. And the value in having helpful family members. A time of personal growth for all of us.

Today is pay day. I paid the mortgage and a few other bills. I started the two newly designated savings account with $25. I started this pay period with $225 in the extraneous account, and planned spending will probably be 1/2 of that - a new tire and dog grooming,.

We're continuing the cash only experiment a bit longer. $375 into the gas/grocery envelope, and $225 into the extraneous envelope. With the price of gas going up, I'm paying more attention to couponing (like the $1.49 gallon of milk ones).

We've had a run of generosity from the parents and parents-in-law recently. I'm far less "weird" about accepting gifts and help. And asking for assistance - even if it is only driving to pick a child up. My mother in law knew that I was in school two nights a week (well, one night from 7-9:40 and one afternoon from 4-6:40) and when they visited last Saturday, she brought over two tubs of frozen meals (chicken/vegetable soup for the kids and baked chop suey for the grown ups). And my inlaws took us out to dinner (at Steak n Shake - though I contribute with coupons and kids eat for free Smile ) so I can make a good dent in the original bill. They also stocked up on some pet food and dog treats. And my mom called to tell me she bought one of my favorite books in hard cover and got it autographed by the author last night. Smile

All for now. Going to catch up on the blogs. Have a wonderful day.

My fruitful shopping trip

April 10th, 2014 at 08:36 am

I always admire those posts that have a picture and then a breakdown of how much (little) someone has spent. I finally feel as though I have one of those to share:



(Just noticed my daughter's puppy Teddy in the background!)

At Target, I purchased the following:

Bio True Contact Lens Solution
Claritin Allergy Kids' Liquid
Claritin Allergy Kid's Tablets

Lens Solution: $8.99 - $2 Target coupon - $1.50 coupon
Claritin Liquid - $8.99 - $3.00 coupon
Claritin Tablets - $17.99 - $5.00 coupon

Target coupon for spend $15 get $3.00 off

Total cost for above items $21.92

To sweeten the pot, because I purchased the two Claritin allergy items, I received a $10 gift card. I thought it was supposed to be $5, but then wondered if there was another offer going on for the greater amount.

So I spent $21.92, and have the $10 gift card, bringing my money outlay to $11.92.

Smile

Late to the Challenge, but cleaning and clearing out

April 9th, 2014 at 08:20 am

Last week was spring break and I started seminary so I was in no shape to take the declutter challenge seriously. I am now ready, in earnest, to make some positive progress.

Goals for today:
1) Box up donated camping gear we aren't keeping and move to Boy Scout Troop Garage
2) Move bag of hand-me-downs to car (deliver later in week when we go to see the new baby)
3) Make arrangements for truck rental and gather helpers for ultimate donation.

Do you recall the photo I posted of my unique oddity that has been in my living room for the past decade (back in early February?). Our Vietnamese pastor was over to dinner in March and fell in love with it. We gifted it to him. It is leaving. I couldn't be happier. That is the ultimate declutter.

Revisiting the Budget and working the Virtual Wallet

April 8th, 2014 at 08:58 am


Our primary banking is done at PNC and we have a virtual wallet set up. The savings account has our EF of $10K. I am planning on transferring that to a money market at Vanguard where it earn more interest. I plan on moving it at the end of the month.

The plan will then be to put $250 biweekly into the Reserve Account ($500 monthly) and $500 biweekly into the Savings Account ($1,000 monthly). I won't plan on touching those funds. This will also allow me to start growing the Extraneous Funds by about $500 a month (less expenses).

DH managed to throw out my debit card. I picked up an RX from Jewel Osco. My card was put into the bag along with the Rx bottle. DH thought he was being "helpful" and brought it in, throwing out the bag AND debit card. We had it cancelled and we are now using cash. It isn't as bad as anticipated, and it is definitely a cost/cash saving measure in keeping your funds.

I will plan on funding the accounts mentioned two paragraphs previously with the state income tax refund ($250 to each). [Random thought came after writing]

The schedule is once again getting filled up, but we're definitely striving for balance, too. Date time, family time, family outing, etc. DH decided has been working long hours and is opting out of a fraternal organization meeting tonight for an impromptu dinner picnic (finger/snack foods in family room on blanket, watching DANCE MOMS). He also took last Friday off and will take Good Friday off. And we're finalizing our vacation plans to CA.

All in all, it is all good.

Equlibrium

April 7th, 2014 at 08:17 am


I finally feel like I am back on solid ground, spent most of the first quarter feeling like I was floundering in my home life and communication, etc. Not financially, because we made significant progress taking care of outstanding tuition/bills/etc.

DH took Friday off and we had a day trip downtown to Chicago. My parents funded it, paying for the train/lunch/admission to the top of Willis Tower. And we had enough for snacks before the ride home. It was very nice to have quality family time, and DH is either handling the pressure/stress better or has realized that there is an end to this thing called "Spreadsheet Armageddon".

We stayed within budget for Spring Break Fun. I was under-budget on my books for my two classes.

Today starts my second week in Seminary. I have selected a course of study that will take nine classes and in the end I will have certification in pastoral care and counseling. I have had the good fortune of being in two Ethics courses with incredible teachers. I thought that the first class was going to be the best, but the second class will prove to be one of my greatest academic classes ever (given the professor, scope of topics, and classmates).

Moneywise, we are on autopilot. Quarter 2 officially beings with this Friday's first paycheck of the period. I have decided that we'll have two accounts and divert the funds 25% - 75%, with the 75% being for long-term use. I am also trying to grow the extraneous funds account and am throwing extra funds, budget category remnants into it.

So, things are looking good here. At least it isn't feeling very chaotic and fraught with anxiety. Been there, done that.

Life

April 3rd, 2014 at 07:58 am


Enjoying Spring Break with the kids. Bought the Brookfield Zoo membership ($125, of which $100 was my monthly gift from my gran) and spent $4.60 on theatre candy at CVS afterward. (We walked a lot longer than planned and my children didn't complain at all about being hungry).

Tuesday we went to the library and took out movies and Xbox games. Fun and frugal.

Wednesday we went to the Arboretum and walked 3 miles. Free as we were guests on my parents' membership, then they treated to Happy Hour shakes from Steak n Shake. Then my stepdad went through a whole arsenal of free camping gear we inherited from one of my husband's fraternal organization brothers. Yielded some interesting finds, though most of it is going to the Boy Scout Troop.

Today we're off to the second run movie theatre to see Sherman and Mr. Peabody. Budgeted. Weather is rainy so that works out well.

Tomorrow my mom is funding a trip to the top of the Willis Tower. We'll take the train, eat at Subway, see my brother's office.

And then there is school, which I am loving. My brain is no longer flat-lined. I am definitely being challenged with lacking some concepts familiar to third year M.Div. students. Coming from a Catholic perspective doesn't seem to matter at all. And this afternoon my professor is a very prominent Chicago pastor. Both of these are classes on Ethics, which I find fascinating, and how the lack of them can lead to spiritual abuse.

Wishful thinking

April 1st, 2014 at 12:19 pm


If I sold my rental property and my primary residence, I could live here mortgage free.

It would be tempting if my kids were older. I have been pining away for one of these townhomes. They very rarely come up.

http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/1135-Gilbert-Ave_Downers-Grove_IL_60515_M77647-04208?row=3

Wishful thinking concluded.

Hello 2nd Quarter

April 1st, 2014 at 08:25 am


Hard to believe that April is here already. Summer is right around the corner as the kids are in their final quarter of the 2013-2014 school year.

My goals for the 2nd quarter are:

$1,500 for Reserves in April
$1,500 for Reserves in May
$1,500 for Reserves in June
$1,500 for Extraneous ($500 x 3)

I am waiting to hear on scholarship renewal for older daughter and financial aid/grants for sons before I come up with concrete numbers for tuition. Until then, I'll just designate those funds for the Reserve. Our EF is back at $10K and I feel comfortable with it there. I don't like anything less in it and was unhappy to be at $9.4K earlier in the month.

Working on the list of things I'd like for the house (new shower curtain and towels, some things for the kitchen, etc). I've done a fairly decent job of having a list of clothing items for the family, and thought I'd make it more encompassing. I'm frequenting Goodwill a lot more and am better able to peruse quickly rather than spend a lot of time.

My first class was last night. I might make it my only class based on the fact that I've been out of grad school for 15 years and I'm taking this class which is an elective for 3rd year Divinity students. I've got a fairly comprehensive background, but these people are *really* smart. I had to come home and read up on redemptive hermeneutics, Augustine vs. Gregory of Nyssa's concepts of celibacy, and some other things I know of marginally. All in all, my brain is engaged. And it is 800 pages of reading in ten weeks and a 20 pages paper on an ethical dilemma presenting both sides of the argument and then the writer's POV based on what has been presented.

Happy April Fools Day. Smile