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Archive for May, 2014

Slap me. Or "What was I thinking?!"

May 23rd, 2014 at 07:52 pm

I've meandered from the frugal path. I'm not sure why. I've upped the grocery budget simply because we've got more kids coming in and out, and more mouths to feed. Some of the increase has been prepared foods for convenience since I'm in school now and trying to study/write papers. That is an excuse, but I'm being real. Here are several instances of how I almost abandoned my good judgment:

I almost spent $50 for a NWOT Liz Claiborne beige plaid carry-on luggage. I found it on the local garage sale FB group. It read something like "Paid $155, asking $50. Used only twice." I liked it. It was quite cute. I'm going on vacation to visit my grandmother, how nice it would be to have that item in particular. I'd like to avoid checking luggage and each travel companion will be bringing their school backpacks with their wardrobe (not scared because my grandmother has a washer/dryer and we'll be gone nine days). I found myself inquiring about dimensions, and if it is from a smoke-free and pet-free home. WTH? Where is my good sensibility?

And in thinking about the bedroom redo for the foreign exchange student, I found a gently used comforter that my girls used at some point several room re-dos again. Almost perfect with a perfect sham. Still need curtains but that is far less than the $59 (before coupon) set that I found. So again "What was I thinking?" Crossing that item off of the last post. Thank you, Snafu, for the gentle reminder that I don't really want to fritter away funds? Um, no. I'd like to divert those toward the outstanding tuition balance for the next year.

Looking into the option of only buying one mattress (which is needed) and possibly a gel top or mattress topper to extend the life of an old uncomfortable mattress that one child is presently sleeping on.

We are upgrading our existing patio furniture with my brother's old set. We are lacking enough seating when we have guests. Free to us.

Back shopping for Mother's Day gifts for our moms, I came across a really cute blue/white nautical striped top (Calvin Klein) at Carsons. Seemed like a good deal at $26 down from $50. I decided I'd go back and buy it with funds I knew I was getting. Then I ended up buying some work out clothes at Walmart and an item for my hobby that I ordinarily wouldn't have bought, thus no funds remaining for Calvin Klein shirt I wanted to buy. I forgot about it, but think it would be a good staple item for a capsule wardrobe. I remembered it when I was at Sam's today and found something very similar (less the hood which makes it a bit dressier). I spent $9.81 and don't regret the purchase.

So, I almost spent $50 for nice, but totally unnecessary carry on luggage for a trip that I am scrimping and saving to fund. I also almost spent at least $50 on bedding when I had something nice and suitable in my possessions in the basement. I am expanding my deck seating for free. I saved at least $16 on an item that I intended to buy to stretch my wardrobe.

Ugh, to think that I've lost that lovin' feeling for being frugal. Today is almost three months to E day (End of employment for DH, though severance will see us through the year).

And I got two free samples of daughter's asthma meds for the next two months. Savings $260.00.

OK, feeling better about being strong enough to deny those urges, but wondering where those wants are creeping up from!


Joining the "I need money" club, too!

May 21st, 2014 at 09:01 pm

Had to laugh at English Castle's post! I have taken a look around my house and determined that there is a list of things (not long) that need to be done.

My list of things to tackle includes:

1) 2 twin mattresses
2) Bedding for foreign ex student's room
3) Inexpensive artwork
4) New shower curtain for main bathroom
5) Paint and towels for main bathroom
6) Shelving unit and storage for main bathroom
7) New twin sheets all the way around (six twin bedding sets) Mostly solid colors for mixing/matching
8) New bed pillows
9) Window treatments for bedroom for foreign ex student

Not all in all budget breaking or bending, however, we are going further into serious economizing mode (if there was such a thing). And I'm looking at coupons and sale ads. I imagine that my shelving unit will come from Hobby Lobby (I like what they have there). I also imagine that the bedding will be from Bed/Bath/Beyond as I did see something that I like (duvet cover and sham for $59) Will try to insert link for item here.

http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/studio-3b-trade-kayla-reversible-duvet-cover-and-sham-set/211732?categoryId=12017

I like that it is reversible. And maybe matching blue curtains with orange ribbon tie backs? Economical, but cute?

I also found shower curtains that I really like at Target that cost no more than $25.

So, I will keep this as my "To Do" home improvement list, too. Smile

Providence. (Or where I analyze this) Off-topic with the exception of a salary

May 18th, 2014 at 12:22 am


Life is moving right along and as I've mentioned, proactivity has been very helpful in dealing with the upcoming changes. I know that I've shared that I've returned to school and am attending Seminary going for my certification in pastoral care and counseling (I earned my Masters the year before starting my family and had five surviving children in seven years). My ultimate goal is chaplaincy, in either a hospital or prison. The opportunity for the hospital chaplaincy program presented itself three weeks ago with a January start date for a part-time internship that usually leads to paid employment (part-time) in 6-9 months. It seemed like the job dropped itself in my lap since I heard about it from two different avenues (the present deacon in my parish) and my advisor at Seminary. HOWEVER, my heart wasn't really into it, and I was convincing myself of it. Not quite sure why, but I think I was meant to be in the prisons. My oldest daughter is a huge advocate of abolishing the death penalty and is very much into social justice. People say that she gets it from me. Hospital doesn't necessarily equate with social justice.

OK, this is where providence comes into play. I've wrestled with this path. And today I decided to finally go to Walmart and buy myself some new workout clothing. I was by myself and was walking into Walmart. My WM regularly has a table outside the exit where some organization is soliciting donations for various causes. I usually never ever pay attention, but decided to fish in my wallet for my only paper dollar. The organization was one in my county that deals with the prison population in jail (those awaiting trial/sentencing/or serving less than 1 year sentence). And the collector was a fellow classmate of mine from my Monday night class. I knew she was a minister. However, she is also Director of Operations of this organization.

And I can volunteer starting right away because I have the Masters Degree. And they have an immediate need for counselors in the prison. And if I am interested in paid part-time employment, there is usually a position available every six to nine months. And I have her business card. And I am to call on Monday to discuss my availability. And to think that I was just having a chat with God about how nice it would be to have some sort of sign that I am embarking on the right journey.

So, it appears that my calling to chaplaincy in a prison is really where I am meant to be after all. And to be able to have the potential of paid employment in six to nine months (and a lot earlier than mid-late 2015) is very reassuring.

Looks like I'm going in the right direction. Smile

Mid-month wrap-up

May 16th, 2014 at 04:51 pm


Hard to believe that May is half over. My sixth grader said to me the other day, "It is funny how fast the school year flies by when you are eleven." Yeah, funny how fast it flies when your in your mid forties, sonny-boy kiddo!

Tenant paid $480/$725 with balance coming next Friday. Definitely need to rework the bill pay dates to correspond with DH's (remaining) paychecks and severance so I don't find myself with more month than money.

Most of us had a hard time waking up this morning. I turned the heat off and it was 63 in the house. Our breakfast pickings were slim, with even slimmer lunch options (though only the girls take lunch on Friday). Older daughter had her AP World History Exam yesterday and has been studying that for eons. She wasn't sure how she did and won't find out until July. Then there was bickering amongst the boys on the way to school (very unlike them) with one of them getting very upset and angry and running his mouth (big no no). He decided it was best if he got out and walk the last two blocks rather than risk losing his ipod or technology privileges. So be it. It was raining, but I suppose it was best he walk.

I didn't sleep well and came home and took a nap. I have shopping to do and laundry to fold but I don't feel like lifting a finger. It is a soccer tournament weekend and we've had snow flurries this morning. I imagine we will all be sick next week.

Anyhow, where is summer? Hell, where is spring?

Hope everyone is staying warm and safe and sane.

Learn your geography! Or dreams up in smoke.

May 14th, 2014 at 01:20 pm



In doing a search of affordable vacation homes close to Chicago, I cam across this listing. And I fell in love with it. In all of its oddness and quirkiness.

The price was right. The location was right. Until I determined that it was actually in Bridgeport and NOT Bridgeman where we are initially starting to look.

http://www.homesofsaginaw.com/realestate/propertydetails/395038-

So with that, proximity to home (almost 5 hours) it is off the list. Oh well, I *did* like it.

And I am in the process of a major declutter in the kitchen and coat closet that I will finish up today.

Monday Money Matters

May 12th, 2014 at 05:18 pm

Hope all the Mothers here had a great day yesterday! Mine was nice and low key, with a get-together at my parents' house. We spent $29.98 on beautiful hanging baskets of some flowering plant at Sam's Club. I also contributed $38 cash to my anniversary/MD gift - DH and kids got me charms for my Brighton charm bracelet (my favorite was a spacer shaped like a soccer ball with a diamond chip in it- so cute!)

I also ended up with cash from my inlaws and parents. I am in need of some work out clothes (34 miles run in May alone) and DH needs some gym shoes and socks, so I'll do a run to Walmart in the next few days. It is nice to cross off some of the "needed" items from the list. Smile

We dealt with the unexpected purchase of a battery for the Kia Sedona ($115) on Saturday, and a $10 deposit for a ripped screen to be fixed.

I also spent $175 on groceries because we were almost Mother Hubbard in the kitchen area. I've pretty much adopted an open door policy with my kids' friends, as long as we are home and around you can have people over. Younger daughter has a friend in an unhappy living situation (parents divorced 3 years ago, mother remarried and divorced in that time, moved about 45 minutes away, girl lives with father who works 2nd shift concierge one town over and is always by herself) She's celebrated Thanksgiving and Easter with us in the past, and she was with us from after school on Friday to about 11:00 PM Saturday. I don't mind, but I need to have better stocked cabinets and bigger meals planned.

My brother is back with his long-time old girlfriend - they broke up recently but went into therapy, dated other people and are now back. Wedding is going to be next summer. That was a bit of a surprise, but the gf made an effort to bond with my kids (especially the boys) and taught them card games, and I imagine this will be a nice way to grow the family. She has two children and we met the youngest, a girl who is the age of my youngest.

Also will have the chance to earn $210 at the end of June taking care of brother's dogs when he goes to FL. That will be convenient before our trip to CA in July. I told the kids that will be their souvenir money ($25/each and lunch).

All is good!

It *will* be OK ...

May 9th, 2014 at 12:49 pm


It is a rainy Friday here in the Midwest. A depressing Friday complete with rainy and muggy wind. And it is dark. I would feel woeful if it was a Monday.

Yesterday was the VIP show at the grade school. The highschoolers left school early to attend, as did DH. He left amidst a crisis at work which will probably be there waiting for him this morning. He's still running on empty, but we've calmed down a bit here at home with people returning to being nice and helpful, etc. He said this morning, "I am worried about what comes next." He's referring to post-employment that starts on 8/29. I gave him all the reasons that we will be fine (EF in the bank, offer of help from biological father to cover COBRA expenses - he's got a lot of money and pays my brother's law school loans, severance, unemployment, stipend from hosting foreign exchange student).

It was nice to utter, "It *will* be OK." And believe it. Thanks for helping me evolve to this point with your support and understanding. Smile

And then of course I will be working at some point, and I plan on substitute teaching for the district for the first semester of the next school year anyhow.

And what I think is really nice is that DH was with the kids yesterday when I was at school. I usually try to plan everything - dinner and who needs to do what, but I didn't. He got oldest daughter to a dress fitting, got the middle one to soccer practice, took the girls shopping for clothes at Kohls and Target (they used their own money and are out of uniform on Fridays), and when I got home from class at 7:15, everyone's homework was done and they saved some Little Cesar's Pizza for me.

Life is good. Not sure why I spend so much time with my knickers in a twist. Smile

Just odd random money moves

May 8th, 2014 at 03:14 pm

Today/tomorrow is the VIP show at the grade school where they showcase their musical talent. Each students needs to wear a T-shirt of a specific color. If you order through the school, there is a design/logo on it. They were on sale for $10. Well, rather than spend $30, I went to Michael's and used a coupon and got 3 for $8.50. Saved $21.50+

Opened up a checking account at Chase in DH's name. Will get $150 bonus for simply opening it in ten days. It was an offer for existing customers, and no other issues like a direct deposit or anything. Made it very simple.

Sunday night took the youngest to Target for shoes and a sweatshirt. The zipper broke on Monday. I took it back today and got a credit. Then I promptly spent $23 on four clearance items for the girls and a work out hoodie for myself. Definitely more satisfying to get five items for $23 versus one item for $21. Granted the T-shirt and tanks were $2.70 each.

ETA: Forgot my $3 off of $15 women's apparel purchase at Target. They will honor it within three days of purchase. We can now say that I spent $20.99 for the five items of clothing rather than $23. Can you tell I'm still thrilled to save any and all money?!

That is all for now.

Proactive versus reactive (Or random observations about personal growth)

May 7th, 2014 at 09:24 pm


I had one of those moments today where I surprised myself, thinking about where I have come from and where I am going. I am actually making progress on lots of fronts.

I think back to how I was worried and concerned about DH and the loss of his job. His last day of employment is 8/28 and severance will see us through the year. I had many moment of anxiety, talking myself through scenarios A, B and C, probably D, too.

And then I decided to get myself back to working, or at least being able to. I wanted a part-time secretarial gig 30 minutes away, but instead would only be considered for the full-time job since there was some re-org that went on. Decided that wasn't best for me or the family. And I have a Master's degree already.

Now, I find myself in Seminary. Nine classes will bring me to certification for Pastoral Care/Counseling. I'd like to end up in chaplaincy in a hospital or prison (prison is where I feel I should be) but the hospital option for January has presented itself, so I will pursue that for now. Anyhow, if I take three classes this summer, I will be certified at the end of March. If I take the summer off, I will be certified in one year (June 2015).

I was talking with some relatives today about our situation, and I was rational, calm, and collected. I had the random realization, "Oh, yeah, *M* will be out of work, but it should be fine. I'll be able to work in a year or just under." The old me probably would have burst into tears and asked for prayers.

Other factors are helping: my girls have scholarships and are willing to do work study. We're hosting the foreign exchange student for semester 1 which will take care of most of the tuition at the high school, DH will most likely do some temp/contract work after his first semester of school. We've got the support of our community and family.

And I think that I realized that all I can do is worry about myself and the part that I can play to help make things work. I was fraught with anxiety about an interpersonal relationship that was renewed but tenuous. That was back in Feb/March. Well, to realize that two different people can have different head space and be on different paths but still have a meaningful relationship was a real eye-opener. Wow, my way works for me, but not all. Reminded myself of that again today.

What a difference from where I was. I know it isn't totally personal-finance related, but it definitely has helped deal with the uncertainty of this situation.

Miscellaney + Tracking

May 5th, 2014 at 12:36 pm


Today is my 24th Anniversary. I'm not quite sure where the time went, but I woke up in a nice house with a nice family and it is nice to be able to go to school and do what we do for our family. I am blessed to have this man as my life partner. It has been wonderful to see that we've created nice people who are smart and caring. Our life is full and crazy, but I wouldn't have it any other way. We aren't celebrating today per se because I have class and as far as gifts, DH is going to buy me a charm for my bracelet when the kids go to shop for Mother's Day.

It has a nice weekend. Our impromptu garage sale was only large furniture items plus some donations from my parents' yard (a set of wicker furniture and some deck chairs). We yielded $140 OOP ($15 fee to participate because this is an annual event for my subdivision complete with port-a-potties brought in for the hundreds of folks). We had three soccer games, plus went to see "Divergent" (amended 5/3 costs for $5 snacks at CVS and $30 for movie tickets).

We're officially hosting the foreign exchange student for first semester of the next school year. My girls are very excited and we have a short list of improvements we'd like to make (paint bathroom and get more storage) and repaint the spare room she'll be in. We've got enough furniture around to make it cohesive. And I'll have to deal with the closet in that room. We're signing up to runt he Biggest Loser 5K at Great America (a big amusement park near the Wisconsin border) in August, which should be a fun outing for our student.

I wish that Spring would come. It is dreary and rainy. I'm thinking about 5 miles at the Y today, then research for a paper. And class tonight.

RECAP OF TRACKING

For May 4th

MI: $0

MO: $50 Gas at Sam's
$27.98 Groceries at Sam's
$48.00 Kids stuff at Target and scotch tape

Miles at the Y: 3

I am not thrilled with the $48 purchase at Target yesterday, but it was one of those moments when the youngest son showed me his gym shoes with the hole and his jacket with the broken zipper. It was 6:15 PM and he was headed to the Adler Planetarium today on a field trip. He honestly looked liked an orphan out of Fallujah. So, he got new shoes and new coat and looked spiffy on his way to the bus stop. And he was one happy camper while shopping. The curse of the last one is that he gets the hand-me-downs or else of course I shop for him. So, all in all, his happiness outweighs the $15 I probably overspent not using sales/coupons/etc. Rant over.

MI-MO, Day 2 and 3, + Exercise Achievement

May 3rd, 2014 at 07:37 pm

May 2

Money In: $120 check from Gma

Money Out: $89.53 Groceries
$2.70 Pets
$6.47 Kids Misc (T shirts from Michael for
school show)

Miles Ran: 4.0

May 3

Money In: $140.00 from garage sale sales

Money Out: Est. $30.00 for outing to see "Divergent"
$5 snacks at CVS

Miles Ran: 0

Busy weekend with soccer games and studying and researching for paper. Spring might finally have Sprung!

Wow, revamping the budget. We're def hosting a foreign exhchange student.

May 2nd, 2014 at 07:03 pm


Yep, got the call this AM from the school. The young lady who will be a junior in high school next year would like to stay with us. Because she is an only child, she can experience a large active American family - with someone her age/grade for school help. And she will have her own room. It will indeed be interesting. I am thinking we'll all be listening to some Rosetta Stone Learn to Speak Italian tapes in our spare time.

She'll be arriving 15 days before school starts and return home right before Christmas after the first semester ends. I will need a new mattress and curtains for the spare room, and rearrange some furniture.

We get the email information early next week so the girls can start to correspond. Wow. Three teenage girls in one bathroom will be very interesting!

Anyhow, wanted to share my excitement. SNAFU, I don't know how to PM you on the forum. Can you tell me how? I'd like to find out what your experiences have been. THANKS!

MI-MO, Day 1 + Exercise Achievements, and OTHER

May 2nd, 2014 at 12:24 pm

I'm going to try something new. Tracking all Money In and Money Out on a daily basis for the entire month of May. 31 days in a row of honestly tracking all MI-MO, worrying nothing about categories, etc.

Day 1:

MI = $50.00 for taking care of F's dogs
MO = $11.23 on credit card for minutes on Tracfone

Miles at Y: 3.3

Participating in my subdivision's garage sale tomorrow selling big ticket furniture items: computer armoire, antique pie safe, antique dresser, my parents' couch. Kids will each have a table, too. What doesn't sell by noon (we have a soccer game at 1:00 PM) will be considered donations.

Half way through the quarter. Got a B on the first paper - only grade, not comments. Got comments last night. I apparently am an excellent writer, and he could hear my voice in my writing. I, however, didn't engage as deeply as I could have in the texts, though I did an interesting analysis of Martha/Martha/Lazarus/Jesus relationship across the Gospels. So thankful that I quoted actual text (and Scripture) for my next paper. Last big paper is due in five weeks. I'm starting on my citation already for that.

Today I expect a trip to the grocery store to get us through the next few days, but nothing major. Well, I'll post it tomorrow!

How did you get here so fast?

May 1st, 2014 at 02:09 pm

May! I can't believe it is here. Though I shouldn't be surprised. My daughters have a countdown - 2-1/2 weeks of regular class, then finals. And the boys are out at the beginning of June.

My goals are:
(_) $1,000 in long term savings (have $250)
(_) $250 in reserve savings (have $0)
(_) $200 to retirement

We're doing OK on spending in the "living" category (groceries and gas). The "extraneous" category is going to me minimally funded and used. My girls are in need of some clothes for summer/spring, and I'm hoping to put $200 away from underused categories for them to shop closer to Memorial Day when they have decent sales at the places they like to shop.

We'll be finding out whether or not we'll be a host family for a student from Rome for the first semester of the next school year.

The schedule remains awful. Awful as in busy and I'm spending lots of time in the car driving to/from activities. I am definitely learning to be better organized and my kids are learning the benefit of preplanning and independence.

I get my second paper back tonight in Ministerial Ethics. I got a B on the first paper and am hopeful for something higher than that. I also have a substantial paper due in the Monday night class that is finally taking shape in my mind. I've made an essential connection yesterday in what I was reading with a Postmodern/Enlightened writer (Michel Froucoult) so I think I'm fine.

I had a hard discussion yesterday about my ability to continue in my present volunteer capacity with the youth summer programs at my parish. I've done it for the past five years and since my children are aged out and are only volunteers, I'm not finding it a good fit. The DRE (who is a paid employee) wasn't too happy about the fact that I said I need to discuss with her my exit strategy. I had to pat myself on the back and realize that it is OK for me to move in a new direction unencumbered. I volunteer in plenty of other capacities.

Wishing everyone a happy day. Though here in suburban Chicagoland it is grey and depressing. And chilly.