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Archive for March, 2014

My own journey starts tomorrow

March 30th, 2014 at 03:10 pm

I've posted a lot about how my family is in flux, trying to ride out the stress of DH's awful job and finding employment, all while preparing for his own return to school in the fall.

An update on the homefront. Things are better, by no means perfect, but at least I feel we are traversing upward from the lowest point we've been at. I'm definitely taking the initiative to maintain contact and listen to the good, bad, and ugly. Our weekend has been a blessing with nothing but a soccer game.

And I've convinced DH to take a vacation day next Friday (kids are on Spring Break) and my mom is funding a trip for us to the top of the Willis Tower. We've never been to the sky decks, will take the train, meet my brother at his office, have lunch at a local Subway. All good.

Tomorrow night I return to school. My first class in forever. I am starting coursework for pastoral care and an eventual M.Div. I was going to take three classes to start, but at this point rather than set myself up for failure, I changed it to two. I was going to do two classes on Mondays (4:00-6:40 and then 7:00-9:40) but then switched it to one Monday night class and a Thursday afternoon which will be better for everyone all around.

I am scared, but very excited. And the potential of being qualified as a specialist in the field I've volunteered in is very appealing, meaning I can become well-compensated.

So, I thought I would share my excitement, and nervousness. If you could spare a positive thought/small prayer for the transition, I would be eternally grateful. Many thanks. Smile

Fitness: expense

March 28th, 2014 at 07:51 am

I am training for a 5K. I've become quite diligent about going to the Y daily and have missed three days since February 19th. I've spent 135 minutes in the past three days on the treadmill running in crappy shoes. Like $14.99 clearance gym shoes (Champion brand) from Payless. Yesterday I was plagued with foot cramps. Frown

Today is pay day and tomorrow I am off to Kohl's to buy some running shoes. I'm not training for a marathon so I'm not thinking I need anything ridiculously priced, but I do have a definite need for new shoes.

And I'm not even feeling remotely bad about this expense. And I definitely won't be running in bad shoes another day.

That's it. (I think in some ways I am justifying this expense to myself through this post.) Maybe tomorrow I will post a photo of my new shoes.

Money Plan for 3/28 and Frugal Fun

March 26th, 2014 at 01:46 pm


$2,681 (Net pay and rent)


$875 (1/2 mortgage payment to Reserve Account)
$403 Living (groceries/gas/extraneous)
$403 Bills (first half of April)
$1000 Reserves (Purposes TBD)

Next week is Spring break here in IL. Economic outings planned: Brookfield Zoo Membership ($129 - to be purchased with monthly gift from grandmother + $29 from living), trip to Morton Arboretum using parents' membership, lunch out at Subway ($25 gift card DH got from boss at Christmas) + overage, and trip to 2nd Run Movie Theatre $20.

We can get tix to a Chicago Fire game for $12 per ticket (the $30 seats) through the soccer club the boys play with, and this will save significantly going through Ticketmaster or Ebay.

So far, so good - frugally speaking.

Concrete progress, or what we've paid from Sept 2013-Mar 2014

March 25th, 2014 at 06:47 am

For whatever reason, my fiscal years seem to coincide with the academic calendar, simply because we pay tuition for the kids, and I try to have our property taxes paid by the first installment deadline.

Here is what we've paid for the first half of the "year":
1) $6,004.20 for high school tuition (two daughters who are scholarship recipients, plus financial aid and grants)
2) $1,000 for elementary school tuition (again, we as parents are deeply entrenched in our parish as council members and position holders in fraternal organization - again financial aid)
3) $1,000 for Club soccer - three players, again deeply discounted - they actively recruited our oldest son who won at state for his age division two years ago, and we made him a package deal with his younger brothers) Note: all kids are talented and we expect this to help with scholarships in the future (both high school and college)
4) $6,000 to property tax on primary residence
5) $1,000 to my traditional IRA

I am feeling accomplished, and still have to pay a remaining $3,500 for rental property tax, but given our situation, may extend that to 10/31 tax payment deadline for second installment.

Under our present circumstances, we have about $1,500-$2,000 per month surplus for these big expenses and extraneous things. I will need to come up with some concrete goals for April's funds.

Lighter (Metaphor, money and me)

March 24th, 2014 at 06:40 am

Last week was heavy. Heavy heart due to losses. Heavy eyes due to insomnia. Heavy silence due to strained communication with DH.

I feel that we've turned a page, or corner. And for that I am grateful.

I feel lighter because DH and I had some quality time together and communicated normally. I better understand where he is coming from and was able to address some of his concerns. My return to work won't impact the 2nd Shift of Life here at home. I am an effective home-manager, juggling the schedule and details and keeping balance, especially for two of our boys with LD. I plan to substitute teach in the Fall, and plan on being in a private practice seeing clients one night a week (classes I'll be taking starting 3/31). DH saw the "post employment plan and budget" and I was able to fill in some unknowns. Cost of insurance, etc. He discussed the benefits of seeing this gig out through 8/31, especially being able to start first semester back in school being able to devote time and attention to things. We've talked temp or contract work, unemployment, etc. It was all good, and since he's opened up, he's talking more in normal conversation, not bottling it all up and then spewing. Smile

We are lighter with the money because we had our dinner party on Saturday and I spent more than usual, but not more than anticipated. We had twenty people over for dinner. The benefit to that is being reminded that we are graced with wonderful kind and loving friends. Our pastor and parochial vicar were over for dinner as well, and everyone now knows that my DH will be beginning the diaconate. It was an important reminder to me that I really do have a circle of support if I need them. One of my friends gave me a hostess gift of a beautiful necklace that I just love. The point of this to me is: I am so tied in emotionally to my "inner circle" (best friend, brother, xSIL, mom, DH) that I don't usually extend out past that, and I might - because those circle of friends are still there for me.

I am down ten pounds due to the daily exercise. I'm now devoting my time and talent to the treadmill, training for a 5K on 5/18. I have some concrete goals for the week on what I'd like to accomplish running wise.

My next post will be more concrete numbers related because I do feel that will help me with being a springboard from success - piggybacking on my above observation on goals.

And we have decided to have a vacation this summer to visit my grandma. She's 94 and in southern CA. My family does love our vacations. And the last one was a big one to CA (going Los Angeles, San Diego, etc). We'll do a day at Disney and then look into the zoo in Santa Ana, the arboretum in Pasadena, a different mission, and maybe a day trip to the mountains or desert).

Life is good. Well, it's always good. Sometimes you have to look harder for the goodness. That is sentiment only directed to me and my mental status.

Thank you

March 21st, 2014 at 08:27 am

for the kind support the past few days with my posts. I've been sleep deprived and worried and stressed and just not in a good place.

I had a chat with DH yesterday (forced myself to, after an avoidant personality disordered moment where I left to go to the Y and put the girls in charge of getting dinner ready with a no screen time order, meaning find a book and read). I came home to silence and DH was on the laptop (tethered to work).

I asked if he thought that maybe pursuing a temp job through a placement agency might be an option to get him out of his version of Hell (aka Spreadsheet Armageddon). He said that would be tantamount to financial suicide for the family. I pointed out that I am well aware that we'll be living on less, and my biological father did offer to cover insurance expenses - he can afford it and that would be a gift I would consider accepting at this point). I also told DH that I am worried about his health (he's gained 20+ in the eight months on the job) and the stress. I encouraged him to take advantage of the last exercise class at work (OM contracted out to a personal trainer) and DH had a reason not to (he has major conflict with one coworker who is a daily participant). There isn't really much that I can do on that end, other than offer up the funds.

We agreed to a "work free" weekend. The laptop is staying at work (or at least in the car) and we're having a lot of friends over tomorrow night for dinner (14 other than our usual seven). I look forward to enjoying company and getting back to a reality outside of our present situation.

Because I just feel like I am in survival mode right now (not being financially prudent), anyone ever been in this situation and what did you do? I guess I am specifically asking about leaving a job and going to a temp job. Not ideal, but I think it might be my reality soon. Our experience is that with several headhunters having DH's resume, nothing is really coming of it. And last day of employment is 8/31. Can he make it that long? I highly doubt it. At least not healthy and happily married.

It is a Different Day (Still non Dollar-related) (Major concern now)

March 20th, 2014 at 09:27 am

And I didn't have the choice to sit around and wallow in self-pity, as I did yesterday, admittedly. My nine year old is home with an atrocious cough that casts me back to sleepless nights of croup. He feels alright now that he is medicated, but the cough he produces is alarmingly bad. Talked with the nurse: liquids, Robitussin or Mucinex, etc. I am pleased that I have a fully-stocked treasure trove of OTC meds. Definitely a money-saving act in and of itself (whatever OTC I need is never on sale and I no longer coupons for those items).

Emotionally I am still feeling strained. I haven't really slept well, but I am still working out regularly and am starting to seriously train for a 5K Fundraiser on 5/18. It is good to have a goal. And I'd like to see myself in the low 120s. It is nice to feel muscles in my thighs, rather than flab (oh, I still have the flab, but there *is* muscle). I haven't moved toward the cute workout clothes desire, but I might be opting for something other than large T-shirts and athletic capris. I'll be sensible though, nothing too whackily colorful and my stomach will remain covered at all times.

I appreciate the feedback from yesterday's post. I don't really know why I feel the way I do, and in the instance of the relationship where I've reached out (and feel rejected), I have to remind myself that there was a reciprocal gesture a month ago, and there will be another one at some point, and I just need to step back. Difficult to do. But I did have a flash of understanding about another relationship I have that I sort of "tolerate" the other person half-heartedly, and this person is in fairly regular contact (not about relevant things). So I am being nicer, realizing that we are all on this walk toward life and why do I need to feel better than this other person or bothered by communication. I hate to say that I am learning these lessons now, at this decade in my life. It goes deeper than the "be nice" which is what I've always told my kids. I suppose it is "be genuinely nice" is the amendment.

I am caring for my brother's dogs tonight. That means $10 or $15. I told my brother that I'd like to run up a tab and he can payout at $100. That way I won't fritter the funds away, and I can use them for summer camp for the kids.

And my mother feels badly that some of us are sick and we're stuck in the house. That translated to an offer of bagels from Great American Bagel and most likely snacks from Trader Joes.

Still feeling very bad about my friend's mother, Sicily/Teresa, the missing plane (that a friend knew passengers on), and etc. etc. Maybe just forced myself to cope better today.

Communication with DH was normal. He left work early and took oldest son to a presentation on human development at our local health resource department. There was no residual stress of the job. And he talked to another recruiter yesterday so maybe he is feeling more hopeful about getting out sooner than later from the job.

Caution: This is where I have a wake up call and am feeling very scared, because all of the above stuff is inconsequential ...

I did take a step in proactive communication and told him that I'm finding it difficult to talk to him because I don't know what sort of response I'm going to get, so I'm feeling that I'd rather be silent than say anything. I added that I don't think that is really a good thing. He acknowledged what I said. Nothing other than acknowledging. I will take that as a step in the right direction. He said he's been having some chest pains from stress and anxiety. I think something is going to have to give. And our EF only has $10.4K in it.

Definitely weighing heavily on my mind right now. The above. Scares me. What if the job kills him?

Yet another Dump (Feel free to skip)

March 19th, 2014 at 05:51 am

I am down in the dumps. I am feeling tired, overwhelmed, depressed, etc. I don't usually feel this way. The weather is dark and gloomy and raining. Death was too much yesterday. My friend's mother and Sicily. I'm perseverating about the missing jet. A friend of mine knew a couple on the plane (a Canadian citizen of Indian descent with a Chinese wife) and they had two small children. I am a person of faith, but can't seem to find it today. I don't think any amount of rosaries is going to make me feel better today, and I might as well feel that pain and get over it.

Someone I care a lot about is experiencing the first anniversary of a death. I reached out and was shut out. I know the grief experience is different and difficult for everyone, and I hate being socially awkward and not having reassurance that I'm understood. Definitely MY problem.

My best friend is falling apart (again) and there isn't much I can do. She sabotaged the new relationship and was highly offended when the man said he was concerned about her recent bankruptcy. She then needed to point out that he lived with his sister and has four kids, which is something she is concerned about (financially). And then my brother turned up as a match for her from e-harmony. Funny, they don't like each other in real life. My brother found this so mortifying that he said he'd block her and wanted to pull a Voldemort ("never call this by name again.") Anyhow, friend doesn't have a job after 4/18 (she is a contract employee) and need surgery and thinks she will cash in her only retirement asset ($8K) to see her through recovery. She has saved $1,300 for her REHAB fund, but then just spent $300 on a refurbished computer that isn't really a need,

And my inlaws have gotten the LIFELINK ("Help, I've fallen and I can't get up") and this has depressed my husband immensely. They are getting up in years (late 60s) and don't have a sound financial plan. They just inherited $8K and had fun at the casino. They did buy my husband a snow blower with the funds, which was a wonderfully generous gift. But he is concerned about them (financially and physically). He is an only child and not handling the stress well of the job and life.

My communication with my husband is at all-time low. He's definitely morphed into someone I don't know very well, which is a shock after 24+ years together. I've gone so far as to suggest that maybe he take a weekend away and go and visit his parents. There is an upcoming retreat in April that I am encouraging him to go on. He is reluctant. He's gained weight, no energy, stress from the job, I don't know anymore.

Well, I've cleaned some of the cobwebs out of my head and might go to take a nap. I'm having 20 people over for dinner on Saturday night and am in denial about that. I guess I will worry about that later.

Signing out.

March 18th: Random Ponderings

March 18th, 2014 at 10:32 am

I missed posting anything about St. Patrick's Day yesterday. In the past, I always tried to share a favorite Irish blessing. In the past we've had traditional Irish soda bread and snacks and watched "The Quiet Man". Reality is yesterday was just about getting through and getting done. My girls danced early (5 PM) in a southern suburb, and I did spend $14 on six shamrock shakes on the ride home (boys came, too).

I am feeling very fragile today. My friend's mother died late last night. And then I see about Sicily Yoder, here. Another reminder of the frailty of life, and the uncertainties. And tomorrow someone I care a lot about will be facing the first anniversary of a death of a loved one. And our communication is awkward and strained, and I tried to reach out, but feel rejected. Oh, well ... I imagine one day at a time.

There is irony in life. Best friend called me four times this morning, never leaving a message. I slept badly, took the boys to school, worked out, came home and went back to bed. What could possibly be so important that she would call continually and not leave a message? Apparently both she (last "relationship" failed) and my brother are both on eharmony (the dating web site that 'highly screens and filters' your potential dates). And my brother turned up on her list of suggested matches this morning. Ugh. This is pretty bad, since neither of them like one another very much. And she thinks she'll help him by critiquing his profile. Oh, no ...

I found out that my oldest son has $180 in his scouting account - from mowing lawns every third weekend in the summer at the VFW and proceeds from wreath sales - so he will be able to attend a second week of camp. That was a very nice surprise. And we are getting a $100 reimbursement check for gas when DH drove to the Wisconsin Dells on a weekend event last month.

And if I am debating whether or not to pay the mortgage with the budget surplus, or take care of all the small extraneous goals: $250 to parochial school, $250 to soccer club, $812.50 to IRA contribution, and $500 to my tuition. There is some personal satisfaction about clearing out all these small things.

And I'm clearing out the basement. Doing a run past Goodwill when I get the kids.

OK, that is it. Clearing out my mind as well after this brain dump.

Rest in peace, Sicily!

Life ... *big sigh*

March 16th, 2014 at 11:38 am

Its been a series of ups and downs. My best friend and brother are both single, and their dating woes happen to coincide at the same time. It does make me tired, especially when I haven't much to contribute. I did give my opinion on best friend's situation (new relationship/difficulties). DH pointed out that I was completely wrong and there are tons of red flags. So I let her know what DH's views were, she thanked me for caring enough to pass on the male's perspective, and ultimately what she does is up to her. Brother is newly single and on eharmony and looking for "the" one in earnest, but is there really just one?

I am thankful for two new babies: one friend from church had baby #5 (in seven years - that's me and my spacing so I'm rather nostalgic about the whole thing). It was a girl named Alice (who joins Lucy, Mae, Frankie, and Vincent). And my xSIL (brother's xwife) just had baby boy #2 Myles, who joins Wesley. And another friend is due this week.

Saw the show yesterday, Heartbeat of Home. By the creators of Riverdance. Just loved it. And my girls are inspired and love to dance. And so all in all, well worth the money. We went out to eat afterward as a treat. I'm not stressing so much about money that one meal out will frazzle me. Was happy to see that tenant paid an additional $75, so I'm still ahead.

We're having a big group over for dinner next Saturday (new pastor, associate pastor, two families were friends with, and I invited my favorite friend from church who makes things fun!) so my goal for the week is to clean the house/organize the basement/plan the menu, etc.

So, it's going with the flow, and wishing everyone peace and good days.

Love the SA Family

March 14th, 2014 at 08:31 am

I was going to blog about DH's paycheck hitting, and his bonus (taxed at 40%) coming in two weeks early, and how happy I was to pay off the $1,000 remaining balance for my younger daughter's tuition. And how I am fighting the urge to make another mortgage payment and pay the other small goals amounts off with the 3/28 paycheck. But then I saw the our Banker Gurl is having a rough time.

And I just wanted to say that I love this little corner of the cyberworld called SA. I've been here forever (in several different blog versions) and I like that we can hold each other up when encouragement and support are needed.

I am glad that I am part of this community. That is all.

Wednesday: The new Dump Day?

March 12th, 2014 at 05:30 am

I am sort of immune to the Hump Day references on Wednesday (one FB friend weekly reminds us with pictures, etc.) I'm dubbing today DUMP DAY because of the snow. Or SLUMP DAY because no one in my family is adjusting well to the time change. I figured to combat the mood I was headed toward, I'd put my robe on, grab my camera, and go out on the deck to revel in the beauty of nature. Here is my favorite pic:

(Sorry, not sure how to flip? If anyone knows and can tell, please share)

We're in the middle of Irish dance performance season. I spent $19 on new socks. I made a mistake in the checkbook by $300 not in our favor. I missed the fact that some bill pays had a later pull date, I assumed they were already paid and then the day they were pulled I was poor.

The price of gas is going up. I may have to start playing the grocery game again with coupons and sale ads.

I am up to my ears in paperwork. For my own return to school (on March 31), and my younger daughter's transfer (for next year). And sending out resumes for my husband's job search. We have the finite end date. DH is considering a less demanding position so he can balance that with school. I'm not worrying too much because the whole point with my return to school is so I can get a job and earn real money. I was offered the chance to go full-time with our diocese as an admin assistant (what I do in my volunteer life, not in my previous professional life) within the diocese office 30 minutes away from home. Thankfully we are not to the point where I felt I needed to go that direction. So, onward we muddle.

I've worked on the budget and it this is the month for paying off things (tuition to all schools/IRA contributions/etc.) April will mean we can come up with some new goals.

Well, I hope all my fellow Midwesterners are staying safe from the snow. And everyone else is safe and happy, too.

End note: Fitness Challenge - I am doing extremely well - I have taken one day off in twenty one consecutive. I'm liking the stepper and bouncing between that, the elliptical, and treadmill. DH commented this morning that I'm looking smaller from behind. And I'm a bit firmer, too. Smile

Value of experiences over things

March 9th, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Well, I'm parting with some funds in order to do things that are important and exciting for my kids. We are an Irish dancing, soccer family, meaning the girls are Irish dancers, and the boys are all soccer players.

For Mother's Day (happening two months early), I am going with my two daughters to see "Heartbeat of Home", by the creators of Riverdance. My girls had a whole argument written out as to why we should go see it. Compelling argument is younger daughter wants to dance professionally (Irish) and wouldn't it be great for her to be inspired. And because I loved Irish dance so much, I started them in classes eleven years ago. Anyhow, we paid roughly $44 per person and are going to a matinee show next Saturday at the Oriental Theatre.

And for Father's Day, my husband and sons are going to see the Chicago Fire play, but their season is just starting and we'll get those tickets next month. I can't even argue because they are counting down the days to the World Cup.

So, there you go. We're gifting ourselves with experiences. Smile

Choices and more choices

March 7th, 2014 at 11:29 am

I've been exercising every day: elliptical, treadmill, or stepper. Every day for seventeen days. Forty cumulative miles, 170 steps (enough to go to the top of the Eiffel tower, Big Ben, and the Great Pyramid of Giza).

I'm definitely getting smaller. I'm also watching what I'm eating. Eating less in general, and more good stuff. In an effort to have a wardrobe that is current, I'm realizing that I will need to spend some money. I found a cute striped nautical dress at Old Navy for $11.99. And today I spent $19.99 on another striped dress (Jones New York at Sam's Club - MSRP $60). Both can be dressed up with nice jewelry or down with a denim jacket and casual flats.

I've also got the list of things that people will need for the spring/summer, and I'm also checking out things on clearance when I'm out.

I have $5 coupon off of $5 or more at Kohls. Not sure what to spend that on. Something from the list.

We're cutting down on recreational spending by using the library for listening, viewing, and reading options.

Everything is on autopilot. I'm working the post-employment budget numbers now. We now the final departure date is 8/31 - and 14 weeks of severance brings us almost through the end of the year. March is definitely aggressive goal-wise: $1,000 remaining high school tuition, $250 remaining grade school tuition, $250 remaining soccer tuition, $500 for my tuition, and $812.50 for the remaining Trad IRA contribution. I also factored in another mortgage payment, too. I think it is all do-able. Then in April, we'll get serious about the upcoming goals for 2014-2015 (tuition/etc).

Off to catch up on the blogs.

March is marching in ... and fitness goal for the day ...

March 3rd, 2014 at 05:31 am

Well, yesterday was my 12th consecutive day at the Y, with 34.47 miles cumulative. I'm feeling good, sleeping better, not wanting to have a mid-day nap at 3:00 when the kids are all coming home, and I am usually awake until 9:15 (I wait for my girls to come home from dance two days a week).

Today my goal is to do some crunches (haven't even remotely tried those in forever. I don't even know what is a reasonable goal. I imagine however many I can muster up. And I am going to try the stepper today at the Y rather than the elliptical or treadmill. I'm not very coordinated, so any success on the stepper will be welcomed. I've been warned by a friend about working out everyday. I'm not sure how I feel about that advice.

Saturday night was the Blue & Gold Cub Scout dinner. It wasn't our turn to run it, but the den behind us has only one scout and the three of us that ran it last year ended up running it again this year. We were supposed to be at a 40th birthday party for one of our best friends, but didn't go because of this. I was bummed the whole night. Then to add insult to injury I ended up with two calls for directions on how to get to the friend's house. I need to win the battle on "Saying No and Meaning No". The party was an hour away so doing both wasn't an option. I am not loving the volunteer work with Scouts anymore. The Cubmaster is difficult to work with and I am not sure where this brain dump is even going ... Benefit of helping out at dinner, a huge amount of wonderful chicken pasta leftovers came our way. Will be eating that through tomorrow. (Again, the perception of large family on modest income always gets the leftovers).

All the bills are paid for March. Had a lot of zeal and took care of everything. Will end up having to cut it close until next payday. Oh well, I forgot to budget in sticker for license plate and the dog is in need of grooming. There goes $150 real quick.

So that is the way the band marches on ...