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Archive for October, 2014

Outwitting the Money Grabbers!

October 31st, 2014 at 04:21 pm

Oldest daughter is ready to emerge as a driver. She's planning on taking the road test next week. She's completed State Farm's Steer Clear online program and her most recent report card shows a 3.8 GPA. I called to find out the cost to insure her (increase in our premium).

According to State Farm, we have three cars (which we do) and we will have three drivers, so DD will be a primary driver on one vehicle. Cost for 6 month premium is $479. (Our six-month premium without her is $218.16).

The third car is a 1973 Chevy Corvette that sees the light of day only in the summer, never when there is a rain cloud in sight. It is a stick shift that I can't drive. It sees maybe 350 miles annually.

We've had this car insured by Haggerty in Traverse City, MI which specializes in classic cars in the past. I don't recall how it ended up back here at State Farm.

I decided to transfer coverage back to Haggerty. Thus, State Farm considers us a two car family and Isabella is back to being an occasional driver. And our six month premium drops from $479 to $378.47.

The woman in the office wasn't too happy to do it, but Hell, my money is my money. And State Farm doesn't need to get more of it than necessary! And similar coverage at Haggerty will cost about $2.50 more per month.

Takes a bit of thinking to outwit the money grabbers! And so what if I pay Haggerty vs. State Farm. *sigh*

Then vs. Now

October 28th, 2014 at 01:19 pm

SCENARIO 1: HALLOWEEN

THEN:

I used to be one of those people in a consumer mindset. When the kids were little and there fewer of them, I actually spent quite a bit to outfit them for Halloween. Mostly the Disney store. By the second Halloween with kids we had Winnie the Pooh and the Hunny Pot. And then a few years after that we had two different Tinker Bells and a Peter Pan (really a Robin Hood that I doubled as either/or). We've had cheerleaders in NFL uniforms with football players as there were more kids.

NOW:

This year the response to Halloween costumes, "Hit the costume bin. I'm sure you'll manage to put together something that you like."

SCENARIO 2: CLEARANCE ITEMS

My boys occupy one room that we cleared out last Friday and streamlined. Removed furniture that they don't use. They are at the age where they like the XBOX and we have one TV in the house (aside from one in the parents' bedroom). We had the family party for the boys this weekend (they are Aug/Sept/Oct birthdays). They opted to pool their gift cards to buy a TV for their room, for the video games. DH took them to Target and brokered the transaction.

THEN:

Never would have considered buying a clearance TV (a 39" flat screen Magnavox) with no box/stand/or remote. It was $180. DH would have moved on to something far more expensive.

NOW:

DH asked the sales guy what was the best price they could do, given it didn't have box/stand/remote. Sales guy consulted Store Manager who discounted it by 30%. They purchased a universal remote and spent OOP (their gift cards) $$150. We ordered a wall mount for $25 on Amazon. And the coolest thing, the boys were impressed with Dad's negotiating skills.

SCENARIO 3: PARTIES

THEN:

I used to be far more concerned about entertaining. More complex recipes for foods that my kids really didn't like. Buying cake pans for whatever the party "theme" was - and the kids would have outfits and decorations that all "coordinated" (we did Blues Clues, Angelina Ballerina, Madeline, Bob the Builder, etc.) After Winnie the Pooh etc. I actually ordered party paper goods on line to carry the theme through. Totally crazy nuts I was.

NOW:

I run to Sam's Club for Italian beef tubs because that's the boys' favorite. I also pick up a 24 count cupcake box. I also run to Aldi's to pick up ingredients for their favorite salads (pasta and taffy apple). And the Dollar Tree for sports themed paper goods. And I turn their sisters loose to decorate with what we have (reusable banners and streamers).

SCENARIO 4: RECEIPT SURVEYS

THEN:

Throw out all useless receipts.

NOW:

Take that survey online or make that 1.5 minute phone call. In the past month alone, I saved $4 at payless using a coupon, $6 on haircuts (coupon found on back of Jewel receipt), and $3 at Pet Smart on food for our bearded dragon. Very simple ways to save. And those 40% off coupons at Michaels help defray the cost of kids' school project items.

I quit over $40/Vent (stretch to call it money-related)

October 27th, 2014 at 01:58 pm


Not from a paying job, but from a volunteer position I held. As a member of the Pastoral Council/Parish Board that consults with the pastor of our parish on all aspects of business.

One of the things that I did was to write up articles for our weekly bulletin which showcased parishioners and their works of service both within and outside the community. For example, the woman who coordinates PADS with other churches in the town I live, and the man who heads up the Pro-Life Committee. I think I'm able to do a fairly good job sticking to the information (I am rather a Pro-Choice sort of gal, while I hope that everyone makes the right choice in their personal lives, as a therapist I worked with too many broken people to believe that one blanket statement is everyone's truth.)

This last write-up I did was about my friend's organization which I wrote about in a previous post. My friend didn't want to talk about herself, rather the people who have been helped by her organization (to bring solar powered light to the remote regions of the Philippines). In my one page article (single-spaced, mind you) I wrote the sentence: "The cost to bring light to a family in the Philippines is $40 for two years." Just as plain as that.

The Bulletin Proofer flagged my article and stated it should remove that sentence or appear under "Stewardship". Since this is something I'm fairly passionate about (this organization), I let the secretary know that if they pulled that sentence out (which I consider is information rather than a "fund-raising pitch") that they didn't have my permission to run the article. Well, they ran the article because it would have been too difficult to fill that full page.

Well, the President of the Board who micro-manages the entire Board, found out and accused me of using this platform to assert my own agenda. It was one sentence about the cost. And I was told that I am not serving the parish because I didn't agree with them (mind you this was the proofers opinion and no one on staff).

So, I have concluded that it is best for me to just be done. I am struggling a bit because in some ways it seems petty. But the accusation was pretty clear. And I would think this man knows me fairly well.

But then again he doesn't really like me because 1) I've studied at a non-Catholic Seminary, and 2) I don't exactly fit the Mother Walton or Mother Ingalls persona.

So I'm going to have a chat with our Pastor and let me know that its just not a good fit. I expect he'll argue with me and not be thrilled; however, I volunteer in plenty other capacities.

For standing my ground on $40, I'm out. But that's OK.

I really just needed to type this out. Couldn't do it over in the other corner of the blogosphere because I'm not anonymous there.

Temporary to Permanent, Or Where We Leave Limbo

October 26th, 2014 at 03:00 pm


Thank you all who have been supportive and held my hand during the trials and tribulations of the outcome of my husband's employment situation. His last day was supposed to be 8/31, but then he was extended through 1/31/15. He had a very promising lead several months ago which ultimately was a "no" as far as hiring him.

He had a prelim phone interview a week ago Friday with the OD HR team in FL and it went well. He then interviewed last Monday for a financial analyst position which was presented as some sort of administrator. The individual who will be his boss is someone he's known for awhile.

I should also add that there was another round of interviewing that he did in mid September which didn't culminate in any offer. Very discouraging.

The good news is he was offered that job as the rebate administrator - lateral move, same pay, same three weeks vacation. It is a huge relief to know that this period of unrest, worrying, wondering, perseverating over numbers and scenarios, etc. is behind us.

I'll be posting the budget and requesting feedback. A bare-it-all approach because I feel we could be doing better. The $100,000 post of the forum got me thinking.

Thanks again. I feel I emerged with my sanity (sort of) intact. Smile

Bringing light into the darkness

October 21st, 2014 at 12:36 pm

A friend of mine started a not-for-profit a few years back and it has grown quite a bit. Her mission is to bring solar lighting to the darkest corners of the world. The first place she has targeted is the remote island of the Philippines.

1.6 billion men, women and children live in darkness after the sun goes down. Kerosene is a costly way to provide light; however, not only does it damage the environment, but it damages the upper respiratory systems and causes thousands of serious burns a year (in places where there is little to no access to medical help). Light is the fastest way to improve the situation of the poor. It allows mothers the chance to work longer to make goods to sell at market to support their children (one organization cited a 30% increase in income). Children with access to light can study longer and overall attain 2 more years of formal schooling than their counterparts without light. $40 brings a solar light that lasts two years to these families.

What I was most excited about it is for $24 a solar headlamp can be purchased. The mission trip is in February (which I had hoped to go on, but cost $2,500 and that is 60% of fee for our home study) and some tribal groups in the mountain region of the Occidental Mindoro have been identified. The mission is going there to equip the midwives with headlamps to assist in delivering babies. How neat is that? As a mother who loves the idea of motherhood, I've asked my family (immediate and extended) to consider making a donation in the amount of $24 for the purchase of headlamps (In lieu of my November birthday gift). And my daughters (November and December birthdays) have joined me.

So, how many headlamps do you think we'll be able to have donated in our names? We are hoping for 20! How exciting is that? Smile

Mid-month Check In and More Frugal Finds

October 17th, 2014 at 12:19 am



Hard to believe that half the month is already over! The kids are finding their Halloween costumes from the dress-up bins and we've decorated with from our stash of seasonal things.

Money is on auto-pilot. We're not spending much and what we are spending seems reasonable.

DH is interviewing for yet another OD analyst job. Its gotten tiresome, and I imagine when he has an offer he'll take it. Though we are still meandering down the deacon path and that seems to be the door that God's keeping open.

We're feeling quite part of the community again. I've had to decide not to attend Mass said by one particular priest because his sermons are just not uplifting. I am of the mindset that if someone is at Mass, they are at Mass. I don't particularly care the way people are dressed. I imagine this is because I myself have several piercings and dyed black hair and I don't fit any particular "mold". Last Sunday it was all about being inappropriately dressed. I see the point, but that particular Gospel had SO MUCH more to it. Anyhow, DH suggested that we "visit" some of our past priests at different parishes they've been moved to. Despite that, we've rallied around my friend's family - he is having a bone marrow stem cell transplant at the end of the month. His sister/my friend is in the hospital with pneumonia, so I've been cooking for her husband/son and taking meals over to their dad who is 92. DH was the recipient of leftovers from a K of C function on Tuesday (brats and sauerkraut). Definitely need to remind myself all that is right with my faith and faith family.

My frugal finds: located on the local FB garage sale page for my community: $35 for the following - all in brand new condition Nike Air Jordan brand - four sweat pants, four shorts, two sweatshirts, two long-sleeve tees. And also two Waverly valances for $10 (redo of my kitchen) and I happened to have a third panel that I have loved and never gotten rid of.

Off to catch up on the blogs. Smile

Difficulty Taming the EXTRANEOUS Expensens

October 9th, 2014 at 03:38 pm


I think part of my frustrations come from not managing the EXTRANEOUS category very well. And in all honesty, I consider everything other than LIVING (gas/groceries/household/pet) and UTILITIES (that is obvious) to be EXTRANSOUS (ink for the printer/contact lenses/pet grooming/oil changes/clothing/etc.) However, I am not sure how to unwrap my mind around the ill-defined concept.

Tomorrow is pay day and we are in need (again) of ink, grooming, oil change, and glasses. And guess what? The next pay day in two weeks will require covering grooming (different dog) and oil change (different car).

I am open to any/all suggestions on tackling this challenge. The funds available for these expenses are usually $200 a month. $100/two weeks. And that also includes clothes and sporting items.

The season change is requiring some additional clothing for the boys who grew. I found a lot of NIKE clothing (four pants/four shorts/two long sleeve hooded sweatshirts/one long-sleeve T) for $35 on FB local garage sale page. Buying those today at 12. Have to advance myself $10 from tomorrow's EXTRANSOUS fund.

Not lamenting, open to the challenge, any appreciate any other way to view these regular expenses. Just having a very difficult time shedding EXTRANEOUS. Maybe a revamp of the expanses and how I categorize?
Maybe better tracking? I do buy online when I can (for lenses) and I watch for coupons for oil changes. Just looking for suggestions. Thanks in advance!

I'm Back :) with a Frugal Find

October 6th, 2014 at 10:57 pm

Over in the other corner of the cyberworld, no one would really care about the amazingly frugal find I found today at Kohls. So I'm back to share.

We're at that place where every dollar has a job, and the clothing budget is sadly understaffed. No, we're not exactly all running around in sack cloths, but the clothing category is rather scant. My older daughter went to Homecoming after shopping in the closet. And shoes. And she did her own hair and make-up. She covered her own ticket and dinner ($35).

I had $10 Kohls cash and found a dress for my brother's wedding in June. We had an orange color scheme going for Easter this year and anyhow, I found this dress on clearance. And paid $5.15 (tax included). And I saved $60+.

What do you think? Acceptable for a summer morning wedding?