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Friends, sigh with me!

November 10th, 2016 at 01:49 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 06:41 am


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 10:46 am


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 11:18 am


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 05:16 am


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 12:34 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 07:27 am


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 06:49 am

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 09:41 am

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 05:26 am


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 05:36 am

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 02:13 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!