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Archive for June, 2014

We are the poor church mice ...

June 30th, 2014 at 02:27 pm

DH has a meeting with the pastor of our parish tomorrow. He (the pastor) "has some ideas" about options for DH. For the newbies, DH's last day of paid employment is August 29th. We are assuming that this is some sort of paid employment opportunities. DH's started assisting with baptisms and is taking up lectoring to add to his practices. He's accompanying the present deacon on visiting the sick and elderly and will be going through the training for being a Eucharistic minister. So life as clergy is starting.

We're attempting to do some decorating on a shoestring budget. So 2/5th of the kids and I were at Salvation Army and Goodwill looking for several items on our list. These are the two that embrace frugality and find fun in any challenge.

Younger daughter: "Yep, with Dad working for the parish and you working in jail, I think that we're going to be officially poor."

Oldest son (who is younger than daughter by three years): "Yep, I think you're right. We are the poor church mice."

Well, this poor church mouse is pretty happy. We spent most of the weekend with our Church family - there was an installation for the Knights of Columbus officers and the K of C Family picnic at a local pool. One of the benefits of being *the large poor family* is that we are always the recipient of leftovers and at present we have enough burgers and chicken breasts to get us through at least 4 days.

We dropped off two big bags of clothes to one of our friends (a younger version of us - large and poor family) and it was very nice to see all their girls in my girls' clothes.

I am one month ahead on the mortgage payment and will make the first tuition payments to the high school by the end of July ($1,000 to each is the goal).

Anyhow, it will be interesting to see what is offered to DH tomorrow at 12:30 CST. I'd appreciate any prayers and well wishes that can be spared. It would be so helpful to finally know what money we will have coming in. Still looking at ways to stretch the budget.

Total spent today: $0. Did find a rather vintage looking bedside table for $6.99 at Goodwill that son though could be sanded and painted. "Spray painted in a cool color" was his recommendation.

Economic choices: How should I spend my money?

June 24th, 2014 at 07:01 am


Here is the first time I asked myself the question "How would you like to spend your money?" It is a very interesting question, especially when one has $20 for "frivolity". (New game rules: DH and I each get $20 every pay period for whatever we want: lotto ticket, bottle of premium beer, treating the kids to $.49 cones at McD's, etc).

My best friend had surgery last Thursday to repair a labral tear (?) in her hip. I've been part-time Clara Barton/Florence Nightingale, popping over to help out randomly. Her live in caretaker came into town to help and is leaving today. I was invited to join them for breakfast at Egg Harbor. Been in constant phone and FB contact with bff, listening to her complain about quality (or lack of) care other friend is giving.

Do I spend my $20 on a breakfast out (at a restaurant I like) with marginal company (love bff, not so sure about her other friend). Or do I spend the $20 on the shower curtain I found and fell in love with at Target (which cost $24.99, but I have a Red Debit to save 5% and random change in the piggy bank).

So I skipped breakfast and will be heading over to Target for my shower curtain. The kids' main bath is in need of an overhaul. We hope to do this in August. Biggest expenses will be towels, paint and primer. But I think I am happiest using my funds for the re-do.

Daily Dollar Doings

June 23rd, 2014 at 09:51 am


(1) We received two free textbooks for older daughter. Since younger daughter will be at a different school, I will return the two free textbooks that she would have used. I will also donate the freshman/sophomore books that we won't be using.

(2) Still waiting to hear how much daughter's dance attire will cost. Appears that the order might not be placed until next week, meaning that we collect rent on the 30th of June - so might be able to use some of those funds.

(3) Older daughter's uniforms (as a junior she wears different colors) will be covered at the uniform swap (I will be turning in all the younger daughter's things so will only need to get black pants - and since she is a 0Tall all she can wear is Arizona brand out of JCP)

(4) Younger daughter is getting hand-me-downs, and already has a brand new pair of Sperry's that we bought on grand clearance last January. I even forgot about those. She thinks all she will need are some grey tights. Smile

(5) My parents did a Sam's run and bought Danimals and Big Texas cinnamon rolls (saving me at least $16 on those items).

(6) DH paid the balance for his bootcamp class with cash left over from his birthday and Father's Day. I did pitch in five singles to make it easy.

(7) Trying to move away from convenience foods, but it is so much easier to have prepared frozen foods for the kids to reheat and eat for lunch. I definitely need to make progress in this area.

(8) Baked Teriyaki chicken and rice for dinner. Also plan on making strawberry white chocolate scones for breakfast tomorrow.

Total Off Topic Vent, Just Because

June 21st, 2014 at 05:31 pm


Phew. I am tired. Older daughter's asthma was really bad earlier this week due to allergies, and the doctor wasn't against prescribing steroids for the inflammation. I should add that steroids + this child do not mix; however, breathing trumps tantrums so 5 days of prednisone was the course. Mood swings, tears, needing hugs and hating people all in the same ten minute interval. You got it.

Then younger daughter was accepted to the high school she thinks she would like to attend. That was Monday. The icing on the cake of this transfer was making the pom squad. She attended the camp for the team for the first hour and half and then called to let me know she's made the squad. OK, now the reality has set in of the transfer because the money changes hands tomorrow (for camp fee, uniforms, etc). She is second guessing her decisions. I've had to tell her that this where she wanted to be, I've supported her decision, she should go and see if it is everything she hopes it will be. She's now afraid of not making friends (she knows people from her grammar school, she is on the dance squad, she will make new friends). She is lacking confidence in her decision and is fraught with tears, anxiety, and fear. I've assured her that it is all normal. And at her exit interview at the school she attended last year, the assistant principal told her the door is always open for her to return because she is a wonderful student, example of Christianity, and a delightful person. So if it all falls apart she can return to where she came from.

So I've had lots of crying girls with yelling and screaming (which is something that doesn't ever happen at my house). I've held it together fairly well, but at this point I am just tired. I wish that we'd return to our normally happy selves. But it does make me thankful for our normal carefree days. Wish they'd come back. Smile

Turning the Financial Page

June 20th, 2014 at 09:56 am


And creating a new account in the resurrected Quicken. I will admit to being a poor money manager this past quarter. School sort of caused a shift in my equilibrium and money sort of dropped to the bottom of the ladder of importance. I didn't bounce any checks and did well overall since most things were on autopilot.

Days of frivolity are done. DH's last day of work is August 29th. Time to fully commit to intentional living and making wise economic choices. Today was a logical time to start, since it is payday. I am holding funds in reserve pending daughter's participation in poms (she finds out tomorrow - she's attending a camp for the present pom squad at the school she is most likely transferring to).

I am also working to try to get the fixed bills down (for cable/phone and Internet). Plus we're all using Tracfones and that isn't making the most financial sense. Will have to post more about this in detail to get feedback and advice on what has worked for you readers.)

I zeroed in on successful money management in the grocery arena for this two-week pay period. Sam's Club has been great buying in bulk, but I spend most of my funds there and now that it is summer I have more time and will hopefully implement some changes for organization to carry over to the fall when we're really in crazy flux.

I spent time searching recipes for soups and on the menu for the adults this week are: quick curried chick peas (DH's lunch) and a chunky lentil and vegetable soup. Brats and chicken on the grill. Also found some easy recipes for splurges like strawberry white chocolate scones which seem healthier (and cheaper) than donuts.

OK, this is more or less just a reminder to me that now is the time to get serious about having those financial funds keep us afloat.

Also: I've been on the search for bedding for the guest room where the foreign exchange student will be living from Aug 5 to Dec 20. I regularly checked out clearance racks at Kohl's, Target and BB&B. I popped over to craigslist and found a brand new never used twin set in a beautiful green/blue paisley. Retails still for $110 for comforter and sham. I am picking it up for $50 tomorrow. I had a $20 saved for "Random" and will take $30 from extraneous. Smile

Money = month

June 19th, 2014 at 01:59 pm


For once, not more month than money. OK, that's an exaggeration. We usually coast into Pay Day Eve with $4.69 balance. This time it was within a buck.

Definitely to reign in on food spending. Time to check those summer and light eating recipes.

That's it. Just a random money observation.

Slicing the money pie or helping kids make wise choices

June 18th, 2014 at 11:29 am


My younger daughter is 15 and heading into the 10th grade. And she is contemplating a school switch. She's a bright girl who is on scholarship at her present Catholic high school. The nice thing is her scholarship goes with her and funds about 50% of the tuition (she had a $600 sibling discount at the old school, and new school is $600 less in tuition, so that is a wash.)

She's trying out for the pom squad on Saturday (she loves to dance and this will be a great opportunity for her should she decide to attend this new school). I gave her the paperwork about the camp and uniforms. She didn't read it until later and came down rather upset, asking if I knew how much this would cost ($150 for the camp and $400 for uniforms which they'd need to measure and order right away for the team in the fall). I said I knew how much it would cost because I read the papers before giving them to her.

She got to work straight away figuring how to help defray the costs of the transition to the new school. No new Irish dance shoes which she needs badly (won't give that up) as they can go to the shoe repair for new heels. Uniforms/books - she sent an email to the mother of my older daughter's best friend who attend the school and is switching to a new uniform as a junior. She asked if she might be able to get hand-me-downs and/or books at a discounted price. (I am pretty sure she'll get bags full of things from this family). She also asked what I thought about taking $100 from her savings account.

I am blessed with kids who understand the value of the buck, especially when the funds are certainly limited giving the whole unemployed father and student-mother reality that we're gearing up for.

I was proud of her. I want her to appreciate her experiences and it is great that she is involved with making economic choices. And I know she is going to make this dance team and I hope she loves the whole experience. This is one of those joys of seeing kids grow up and "get it". Smile

My credit score is

June 13th, 2014 at 11:09 am


Equifax 717 (range 250-900)

Is that good, bad, mediocre, or otherwise?

Just starting to look into these things with interest, given a potential refi or purchase of vacation home.

Thanks in advance.

Quick Check-In, Things Looking Up on jobs, Weathering Sad News

June 10th, 2014 at 07:05 am

Summer is here and I finished classes last week. Still waiting on grades, but it was a time of personal growth (both academically and spiritually). My family has had to embrace some independence as I wasn't always available for everything I used to do (and this is from the littlest to the oldest). Taking the summer off and planning on two to three classes in the fall, and I'm seriously considering doing all the reading for the heavy duty Theology course this summer so that would be off the plate, just then a matter of material review. Kids have adjusted well to summer, sleeping in and staying up late. Smile

I have a part-time job on the horizon. Essentially it is mine if I want it, having been recommended by the Director of Operations whom I met in Seminary. Counseling in the jail (not prison, jail. Mostly groups for life skills and anger management). Once I get my certification I will be able to add individual ministry. This is a piggyback off of my post about divine intervention and providence. Smile

And DH has a promising job opportunity about 1.5 miles from home. He is overqualified, but knows the program software in and out. This would be the filler gap of employment while he is in the deaconate program. Again, DH has gotten most of his jobs by having them fall into his lap, and this is the same case. So we are trusting and hopeful. Positive thoughts would be appreciated.

A very good friend from high school has received some very bad news about a return of his cancer. He isn't able to have anymore radiation or chemo and his team is looking at a bone marrow transplant. I am crushed because it doesn't look good. This is my friend who lost half of his face because of bone cancer in the cheek bone. He was scheduled for his facial reconstruction and the found the cancer in his pre-op work-up. He and his wife have such an amazing bond and it is just heart-breaking. This is my FB friend who responds to every single dumb post I write, and every day I send him an image of a Disney something. So my take away is to live life and be nice. Always be nice and kind.

Good-bye May, Hell-O June!

June 1st, 2014 at 09:04 am


I got tired of May. Struggling to write cohesive graduate-level publish-worthy papers (of which I am on the final phase of third rewrite to finish today). Half the kids on vacation, the other half not. Mini-dramas of sorts with the inner-circle (brother and best friend, nothing major but some hand-holding required), overwhelmed with volunteer work which ultimately means no tuition at the parochial school for my sons, etc.

Then there was the nosebleed of money that left: $361 for brake job for DH's minivan, $128 for plumbing issue at rental property, $30 for DH's driver license renewal, $40 for dog grooming, etc. The only good thing is that nothing went on the credit card. The only bad thing is I didn't make my savings goal.

So we are essential "broke" until next Friday (payday). I borrowed a trash sticker from my mother for trash pick up because we have $4 left in the checking account. I imagine that we will be OK because the gas tanks are filled enough for local driving and the cupboards are filled for six days worth of meals. DH and I might be having potatoes and eggs scramble for dinner once or twice, but that is OK.

And I booked and paid for our airline tickets for California in July. Used miles and paid $1,644 for seven us to and from Santa Ana/Orange County. My uncle can get discounted tix for Disneyland and Universal. Looks like car rental for a minivan will be $700 for eleven days. Also hoping to do a mini trip up the coast to Santa Barbara/Solvang.

So I imagine a low spend month given our choices tend toward frugal when saving up for a trip.

Will be caring for my brother's dogs when he travels for two weeks, so that will be an additional $400 minimum (14 days) spending cash.

Hope all have a great day. And to note: No concrete goals for me for the month other than fritter away funds for our trip.