Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Some good deals and extra income

I decided to use my $10 JC Penney coupon towards some new jeans, which I have been needing for work attire. I got some nice black jeans. They were regularly $36, on sale for $19, so I got them for $9!  Dd had an Aeropostale $10 coupon, so she got some fragrance she's been wanting for $2.50.

I know this isn't exactly "frugal" but I love reading magazines, it's a nice way for me to relax.  I only get them if I can get them free or a big discount. has Family Circle for $3.20 per year, for up to 4 yrs! I got 3 yrs for less than $10!  Figured that was worth a little splurge, especially since I'll be working a little more to earn extra income - I'll need some relax time.

The little accounting side job I made about $600 on is turning into something more long term.  I'll be doing their bookkeeping and misc. accounting needs on a remote basis.  This is for a company that the company I work for sold off this branch.  I know the system and they only need part time help and don't want to have to train and spend the extra money right now.  So, I think it will be at least $300-400 per month extra to me, which is much welcome. Helps keep us off the "edge" of my budget and will allow for a little savings each month. Wooohooo!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Saving where I can

I try to take advantage of any coupons I can to save money.  One nice little "perk" I get in the mail every few months is a $10 coupon from JC Penney. This is good on any purchase $10 or more.  I seem to get 4-5 of these a year in the mail (on my birthday I got a $15 coupon).  In the past I've tried to use them towards something as close to $10 as possible, so I am out of pocket very little (usually just tax).  Things like socks, underwear or a shirt.  My plan for this year is to use them to purchase towels and washcloths, to replace those in my linen closet that are getting old and worn.  With my $15 birthday coupon I got in January, I was able to get a towel and 2 washcloths, that were on sale half price.  I just got another $10 in the mail yesterday, so am hoping they will be on sale again during the 2 week period the coupon is good for.  I'm hoping by the end of the year, I will have about $50 worth of new towels/washcloths for free :-)

Another way I earn about $60-$75 a year is through Swagbucks. I do searches daily and earn swagbucks.  When I have enough "bucks" I trade them in for $5 Amazon gift cards.  With this money I usually try to purchase my pets flea treatments.  I have found they are much cheaper through Amazon than the online pet supply stores. For the cat I can get a Frontline or Advantage flea treatment "kit" for very cheap. I just have to measure out the doses with a little eye dropper, but it's really easy.  With our big dog, the doses are already as big as you can get, so I have to purchase in the normal individual type doses, usually 4-6 months in a box.

When I get MyCokeRewards codes I trade them in towards free magazine subscriptions.  I love getting magazines, but I hate paying for them.  I don't get as many codes as I used to since I don't buy Dasani water anymore (Walmart now has their own brand for $2.97 per case) but we do occasionally buy Coke and Minute Maid lemonade in cans.

I also use MyPoints and get another $80 or so a year in giftcards.  Mostly I get my points by opening the daily emails, but I also try to use MyPoints whenever I am making an online purchase. For example, I purchased one of my son's textbooks through Barnes & Noble and got 12 points per dollar spent. This gave me about 864 points - equivalent to about half the points needed for a $10 giftcard.  I usually either get a Walmart or Starbucks giftcard.  The Walmart giftcards are nice to reduce my grocery bill, but the Starbucks are so nice to have a little treat once in a while :-)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Doctor visits and extra money

It's been busy with some doctor appointments for Ds.  He got an ingrown toenail. We tried the "home remedy", which didn't much help so went in to the doctor.  They didn't have anyone on staff that day who could cut the nail back, so the PA ended up giving him some antibiotics and the "home remedy" we had already been doing.  He tried that for 9 days and then I called the podiatrist office that was recommended by the PA and they had a wait until May 7th! (but would put us on the call list because they always have cancellations, said the lady).  So then I called back the pediatricians office to see if someone would be in who could remove part of the nail and they had someone on Wednesday.  So, it's on the mend now, with more antibiotics.  At least the antibiotics were only $4 each at Walmart.  The antibiotic ointment from the first visit ended up being $12.60, but still not too bad.

I've already been online with our insurance company to see that our deductible share of the first office visit will be $87.  I don't even want to know how much the 2nd visit will be! I used to work at this pediatricians office in the billing dept and I recall this type of procedure is expensive.  We have a large deductible to meet, but at least there is a negotiated rate with our insurance to bring the cost down some.

I've been working a little side accounting job and just got a check for $600, so can use that towards the doctor bills to come, without having to dip into our regular budget/income.  I thought this little side job would be complete after I billed for this $600, but they want me to continue to help out a bit for awhile, so I'm thinking it will probably be at least another $200-300 per month for the next few months.

Dh sold some more things off the old piece of equipment so offered to give me $500 of it towards a new dresser for our bedroom.  We purchased the bed about a year and a half ago and knew we would just have to buy the other pieces as we got the money available.  I'm going to use $270 our of my $600 extra income to add to it, as with tax the dresser will come to $870.  Pricey piece of furniture, but I want it to match the bed. We've never had anything match before and this is heirloom type of furniture that will last many many years. The current dresser we have is something I got as a teenager! And it's made of particle board! The handles have broke off most of the drawers and dh has been just stacking all his clothes on top.  Not very nice to look at.  Ds and I will go down to pick up the new dresser tonight :-)

Our income tax return of $972 was direct deposited today, so that will be used to pay our 6 months of auto insurance premiums.  I am always so glad when I am able to pay the full 6 months up front. It saves $20 a month off of the monthly payments option and frees up almost $200 a month out of my regular budget, which gives me some breathing room for those unexpected expenses that always come up each month.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

School expenses

Dd and I had to go shopping this morning for black shoes she would need to march in a parade (for band class at school).  I was a little perturbed that I was expected to go out and pay money for shoes she will wear once, maybe twice.  We looked at cheap tennis shoes at Walmart, but she wasn't too keen on anything they had (she's got a jr high image, you know!).  We went to JC Penneys and she ended up finding some LA Gear black tennis shoes she liked that were on sale for $32 (reg. $48).  This was way more than I wanted to spend on a one time thing, but she said she really liked them and would pay half from her own money.  The sales clerk scanned some coupon that added discounts on top of the sale price and they ended up only being $25! And Dd likes them so much she will wear them alot.  She's spent years wearing those darn skateboard type of shoes that she stuffs her laces in and has under her soles! After wearing these new shoes all afternoon she commented she forgot how good it felt to wear "good" shoes.

Hectic week

It's been kind of a stressful, hectic week.  With my 91 yr old Grandma all moved into her new assisted living apartment, we thought things would settle down a little now. much for that idea.  Grandma has been a total "poop" about the whole new living situation.  Absolutely nothing about it makes her happy.  My poor Mom was beside herself for the first week.  Finally just deciding the situation just called for some "tough love"on her part.  Then Monday, after dinner, my Grandma was heading back up to her apartment and fell in the elevator.  She was inside as another was trying to get in and the door was starting to shut. Out of instinct Grandma put her wobbly little arm out to try and stop the door - bad idea - as she certainly doesn't have the strength for that and down she went and hit her head.  They called the paramedics and then tried to call my Mom (who wasn't home) and then called me. She was ok, other than a scrape to her elbow and a little bump on her head and didn't have to go to the hospital. (though now her whole arm is a big bruise)

The rest of this past week went downhill from there, with Grandma complaining even more about her new home and eating less than the little she normally eats.  On Thursday my Mom finally just took her to her place to stay through this weekend, to try and get her to eat, rest, and get some strength back.  I feel so bad for my mom in having to deal with this.  This is a VERY nice assisted living complex.  My Grandma is getting a little bit forgetful of current things, but is by no means not mentally capable of knowing/understanding that she can't live on her own any more.  It's just so surprising that she is being so negative about it all.  Before the fall in the elevator both my mom and I had decided that my Mom just really needed to let my Grandma be "on her own" a bit more now than the first week (where my mom was spending every single day with her, sometimes over there twice a day) - to let her get adjusted/used to the routine there, while my Mom could finally get some much needed time to her own life.

At her old house, Grandma basically just sat by herself most all day. My Mom would drive to see her about 4 (sometimes 5) days a week, usually spending half the day with her.  Now she is at a place filled with people to visit with at any time and my mom is closer to drive to see her.  She told my Mom she didn't like this place because "she's lonely"! Oh brother!  It seems she's just complaining about anything she can think of regarding her new home.  Guess we'll see what happens next week.  Mom says she's taking her back and not going over there every single day like she has been.  Mom just keeps saying to me "I hope I'm not like that to you when I get that old and have to move!"  So am I, LOL.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Extra Income

Dh managed to profit about $140 from ebay sales this past 2 weeks, so that is welcome money.  I received a $100 visa debit/gift card in the mail as a rebate on Ds's contacts.  I guess these are the new way to do rebates now, instead of a check.  I much prefer the check.  I did get online with Visa to see exactly how to use the card, since I'd never be able to get what I'm purchasing to come out to exactly at $100.  I guess I'm just supposed to tell the cashier I want $100 put on the card before I have them try to run it for the full purchase amount.  I think I'll just use this at Walmart when I'm buying groceries this afternoon. I always go to the same checker - he's awesome and friendly and seems pretty smart, so he probably won't screw it up LOL.

I don't think I posted that he also sold the other big piece of equipment he had left to sell from his business. He got $3000 for it (was asking $3500).  He has one more thing for sale for $750 and a guy came and looked at it the other day, and seemed really interested, but we haven't heard back from him.  Dh hasn't done anything with the $3000 yet.  He has been wanting to buy an older pickup, something we can haul, pull a trailer with and also something more decent for Ds to drive, other than this 24 yr old car that isn't too reliable. So, he's just going to keep looking for a really good deal, I think...though it's really hard for him to hold onto money just sitting there in front of him! I honestly can't believe I married someone so opposite of me on money.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

No disability income

Back several years ago when Dh was seeing doctors here there and everywhere, he tried to apply for disability with Social Security. Of course he was denied (I've heard they deny everyone up front).  He appealed and was then denied based on their conclusion he could work 2 hrs a day.  Hallelujah! He could support his family on a job he could find that was 2 hrs a day! NOT! By then he gave up and I couldn't convince him to use an attorney to fight it (nor did we even have the money at the time to get an attorney to fight it).

I just got his annual Social Security statement in the mail the other day.  According to this he is no longer even eligible to get disability - he doesn't have enough "credits" for the past 10 yrs. Most of those years he was showing a loss on his income tax return for the business (or very little income) and several years of no income at all.  Well, that's just great. He's worked for the most part since he was 16 yrs old and can't get anything because technically he didn't make any money the last 10 yrs. But then on the one page it says "even a young person, who has worked as few as 2 yrs, may be able to get disability.  He shows income 22 out of 29 yrs of work and isn't eligible anymore?

That is very disappointing news, as we had been talking recently that he was willing to start going back to the doctors (not expecting any change in that they can't figure out what is wrong with him), but at least to get the ball rolling so he could get an attorney to apply and fight for disability.  We were thinking even a $1000 a month would sure be helpful.

Moving Day

I took yesterday off work to help my mom get my grandma all moved into her her assisted living apartment.  What an exhausting day! It's only a little studio apartment, with a bedroom alcove, still lots of stuff to unpack and put away.  At nearly 92 Grandma couldn't do much to help, other than to tell us exactly how to do things :-)

It's a very nice place and I think she will do well there, especially for eating, since they do all her meals.  I think she has tended to not eat a lot living on her own as she doesn't feel like cooking or doesn't know what sounds good to eat.  In my opinion, that probably contributes quite a bit to the days she doesn't feel so well.  She had a few things she grumbled about yesterday (the brand new carpet looks "dirty" - it's a taupe brown that kind of shows light and dark in the texture, her apartment key was hard to get out of the lock) , but all in all I think she'll settle in. It is such a relief knowing she is safe and looked after at all times now - and will give my mom back some free time she needs after spending years being my dad's caretaker. Plus she is closer to us, so less driving time to go see her.

Speaking of Mom - she is the BEST!  I paid her off one of the loans we had from her.  I still owe her $3,000, but that's a whole lot better than the $9,350 the balance was at! I reminded her that a year ago I borrowed $648 to pay Dd's braces in full.  She said not to worry about it. She also turned around and handed me back $1000 - $500 for each of the kids to save for their own vehicles.  So that went right into their savings accounts.

Driving home from Grandma's new place yesterday, I was so tired and decided to stop and get fast food, rather than make dinner at home.  But, as I got closer to home, I talked myself out of doing that. I figured I could just as easily make us some soup, salad, and sandwiches.  So, I saved at least $16 by not going to get take out.  I'm working from home today, so this morning I put a pot roast in the crockpot for tonights dinner. Later I'll get some bread going in the bread machine. It will smell good in our home today!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Decluttering contined

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been slowly decluttering little areas around the house.  I've also been doing this quietly and not bringing attention of it to the other's that cohabit this house.  Well, it must be rubbing off.  The other day Dh decided it was time for "round 3" in parting with some more of Ds's trophy collection.  Round One was 2 years ago and Round 2 was a year ago!  We're talkin' ALOT of trophies and what's mostly been left this past year are the BIG ones.  I'm talkin' some as tall as me, like 50 or more of them!  We have a big family room (that we don't really use other than my desk area and Ds's drafting table) but those things still are taking up probably close to 25% of the rooms floor space.

They are Ds's trophies, but Dh is the one who is sentimental about them and has had such a hard time parting with them.  We pulled off all the plates and placques on them signifying the wins and I took a picture. They did manage to weed out 20 of them that we will recycle to a kids organization.  These 20 alone probably take up a 3 or 4 square foot area on the floor!  And we had 2 extra tv's in this room (a 13 in and a 19 in) that aren't used, so we have listed them on craigslist.

We also have a large dog crate (42x29) in one corner of the room, that our spoiled, lovable dog rarely uses, only when he has to be home alone, which is like hardly ever, since Dh doesn't get out of the house much.  So we decided to collapse it and will just fold it out when we need to use it.  Now, if I could just get Ds to get rid of the weight bench he never uses, this room will look a little more usable, rather than just a catch all for stuff.

One of these days, I'll get my desk decluttered :-)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Weekly Grocery bill

Hmph!  I think I need to be more realistic on what it costs to feed us for a week.  It wasn't too bad, but I still need to buy pop and water (I didn't buy pop at $7.48 at Walmart as I see Safeway has it for $5.49 this week, along with case of water at $2.77), and I know I will need a couple more gallons of milk midweek.  I spent $119 on food and $35 on non food (dog food, drano, and school supplies).  I did use $5.25 in coupons this week.

I guess I need to realize it will be a little higher since we are not doing fast food/take out as my expense is going down in that area.  I had an idea that I think is starting to help bring the food budget down.  When we were eating fast food at least 3 times a week, I would only meal plan for 4-5 it was a guarantee that we would have to go get fast food, since I didn't have a meal planned or anything purchased on hand to make a meal at home. Now I am planning for 7, even 8, dinner meals for the week. That way, if we get down to the end of the week and the last thing on the menu doesn't sound too good, we have another choice. And it's helped - the last 2 weeks we've only gotten fast food 1 time each week.

I don't plan breakfast and lunch meals.  Since the kids are in school and I'm at work 3 days a week, there isn't much point in it.  We all kinda do our own thing for those meals and I just try to keep on hand what we always eat.  Dh pretty much has had the same breakfast and lunch for years.  For breakfast I make him an "egg sandwich", for lunch he usually has lunch meat and cheese on 7 grain bread and some chips.  Ds is lucky to eat breakfast - since sometimes he doesn't even get up until almost lunch time (he goes to school at night and stays up late). Since he was about 3 yrs old he's pretty much lived on PB&J sandwiches. Dd has cereal, toast, or instant breakfast drink for breakfast, and lately she's been buying lunch at school (usually a bagel and cream cheese). I really don't like a big breakfast first thing in the morning, so since my teenage years I pretty much always have instant breakfast drink.  Lunch is leftovers or soup at hand.

I know some of our dinner meals could be made cheaper if I made from scratch, but with working full time (and the fact that I really don't like to cook) it's hard to get up the iniative to cook.

Hacked for a bit

Wow, I went to log into my blog and view it and it was redirecting to another site. I freaked for a minute and then googled (gotta love google) my predicament and quickly found others having same issue today. It was a hit counter I had added as a gadget.  It was a bit tricky to remove - you had to be really quick to hit the remove button, so it took me a few tries, but now it's gone and blog is working properly.  I had a feeling something was fishy about this counter, it was showing like 600+ hits.  The reality is more like zero LOL!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Food Spending this week

I'm a little late posting this but my grocery shopping trip last Friday ended up being $162! Ouch. I still don't know why it was so high. I was hoping it would be around $125.  Taking Dd with me (but I love her company!) doesn't help as she always finds things I forget we need or she adds to the list.  I think part of the extra is I'm actually buying for 6-7 dinners for the week, since we are trying not get have fast food more than one night a week. I did buy a few meals that were expensive - Stouffer's family size lasagna (6.84), Tyson chicken wings ($7.44) and a big box of hotpockets for Ds ($11.38), and some cut melon ($6.50 - I really should buy the actual melons and cut them up myself!)

I did come across, the prior week, that Walmart now sells their store brand of bottled water.  I always wondered why they did not have a GreatValue brand of bottled water. Dh drinks water like crazy and I usually spend $4-5 for a case, though lately Albertson's has been having it for $3.50 (I buy 2 cases a week).  The good news is their case price is $2.97 - that's about $106 a year savings!  Though this may change in the near future. Our wonderful (I say this sarcastically) governor is probably going to sign a bill that includes a .01 cent PER OUNCE tax on bottled water.  That would make the $2.97 case cost an extra $4.05!  That is so ridiculous.  When I told dh he mentioned he would be ok with getting a water filter system, if this law passes.  We don't actually drink our tap water too much. We are on a private well, owned by one of our neighbors. It is their responsibility to maintain it and treat the water, but when I checked with the county health department years back, this is more on the honor system.  The county requires them to submit a sample once a year.  When I asked how do you actually know that is where they got the sample from? What if they went to a city water tap and put that in the test bottle? The county's answer was they can't control it.  So....we don't fully trust this as drinking water, especially since dh likes to drink alot of water.

As per usual, we're almost out of milk by today so I picked up 2 more gallons this morning.  I shouldn't have to buy any other grocery items this week.  Dh did splurge for lunch today and went and picked up a fish and chips meal to go from a tavern nearby.  It's one of his favorites and he actually hasn't had it for at least a year, probably closer to 2 years.  They've upped their prices though - it came to $10.30.  But he says he's filled up and won't really need dinner now.

Hopefully next week will be less money.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


One of the ways I save money is by using our library - alot.  I use it for books, books on cd, and dvd's.  A couple of years ago we used to have movies delivered.  That was $16.33 a month, nearly $200 a year.  When I realized I could get all the movies through the library and Redbox I dropped that expense.  I occasionally use Redbox where a one night rental is $1.09 (w/tax), but most of the times I have used Redbox I have a coupon code for a free movie. 

I absolutely love to read, but don't like buying books for 2 reasons. One the cost, and the other reason is I would end up with tons of books and even more clutter. For my hour drive (if I am lucky it's only an hour) to and from work 3 days a week I listen to books on CD.  This is so much fun and makes the hour go by so fast as I get hooked on the stories I am listening to.  My daughter gets quite a few books at the library, too.

Luckily our nice library is only a couple of miles away so it's very convenient.  I can get online and browse for titles and put what I'd like to borrow on reserve. They either transfer it from a library that has it in, or I wait until a copy becomes available.  Quite often I have to wait awhile, but I try to keep quite a list on reserve, so that way, I usually have something to read, listen to, or watch.  I get an email when something is ready to pick up and emails reminding me when a due date is coming (though I still sometimes forget and have a late fine - ah well!) When the kids were preschool age I used to take them one night a week for story time and they always enjoyed that.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Grandma update

Good news - my grandma's little mobile home sold and we found her an apartment at an assisted living place fairly nearby.  It'll be less than a 10 min drive for my mom and probably 15 min for me to go see her.  I haven't seen the place yet.  The place we had first looked at ended up increasing the price $500 per month after my mom got more interested in it. 

Grandma is a little stressed with all the change coming.  I'm sure once she gets settled in and in a routine she will do fine.  I know she doesn't even realize how depressing living all alone and being alone so much of the time really is making her.  I think being around other folks and having help to care for her will do wonders for her. AND is will be so much easier on my mom, who less than a year ago lost my dad to a very long bout with MS, stroke, etc.  She was trying to be full time caregiver to my dad and part time caregiver to my grandma at the same time.  It wore her out and I didn't want to see her becoming full time caregiver to my grandma now.


I'm sure the experts are correct - a cluttered home corresponds with cluttered finances.  I have never been a very good housekeeper.  There's clutter and there are piles.  I stack papers in piles..on m desk, on my dresser, on top of file cabinets - you get the picture.  And we've had lots of clutter, especially in our family room which became the catch all for "too much stuff". 

I've been working at it though, both in the house and financially.  But, it's a been a slow process - over a year and a half.  We started with our family room, which when the kids were little was the "play room", with our "office" area in one corner.  The summer before last we finally tackled it - taking loads of stuff to Goodwill. For the most part it's stayed fairly clean, though it is still what I would consider cluttered because there are tons of trophy's that Dh will not part with (they belong to the kids)

The past few weeks I've been trying to make sure I use some of my weekend time (or weekday evening time, if I'm not too tired) to at least get one little decluttering project done.  So far I have cecluttered our laundry room, cleaned my bathroom counter top of all the stuff, cleaned off a dresser top filled with papers, straightened up my night stand and cleaned off all the clothes laying on the cedar chest.  Who knew - underneath all those clothes was an antique sewing machine! LOL.  So far, it's all stayed clean.

This weekend I had an idea for the kids cluttered small bathroom (which also serves as the guest bathroom).  As Dd says, it's all her brothers stuff! So Dd and I headed off to Lowe's and purchased a nice oak medicine cabinet to hang on the wall and get all the stuff covering every inch of the counterspace up inside. It looks wonderful! So nice and clean :-)

Not sure what the next little area will be - my desk area really really needs it, but that might have to be broken into a couple of project times.  It'll be interesting to see how this uncluttered home affects our finances.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Dh finally sold his piece of equipment, left over from his business, today. He's been trying to sell it off and on for a year or more.  And he got his $4500 asking price!  WOOHOO!!  Now if I can keep him from spending most of it - we can pay my Mom fully off what we owe her...and that will help the monthly budget by getting rid of that monthly payment.  But I'm not holding my breath on him not spending it.  He's been wanting to buy a used pickup that he can haul stuff in and pull a trailer with, so it won't surprise me if he suddenly comes up with that idea again :-(

Update:  Dh gave me the money to pay off my mom :-) 

Friday, February 26, 2010


With Ds starting college classes this past Fall, I got the shock of how much textbooks cost! Yikes!  Granted, my mom is covering the cost of this, but still....

And I've discovered quite a difference in prices when I started comparing around.  For example, a book he needs for one of his classes next quarter is selling at the campus bookstore new for $161.70.  Used it is $121.30.  A little online searching and I found it new at for $96.00 and $80.00 used.  A little more searching on (a site that compares many sites prices for you) and I found a "like new" used copy for sale on for $30!!  Needless to say, I bought this one right away :-).  Plus I went through and got 5 points per dollar.  I'm sure Mom will appreciate being told it's $30 and not $161.

Ds is doing what our state calls the Running Start Program, where as a high school student he can take college courses that count for both high school and college credit. Tuition is paid for by the school district (we just pay quartely fees and books). He could have started last year in his Jr. year, but we didn't hear about this program until the end of his Jr. year.  But, by the time he graduates High School in June, he will have 40 credit of college out of the way, saving us $3080 in tuition.  Not a bad deal at all.

Finally Friday!

This week has seemed so long. I spent most of it (until this morning) unable to access into my desktop at work so that I could work from home, as I do about 24 hrs a week out of my 40.  Seems we had server changes at work which affected those of us with remote login.

I started my usual Thursday evening task, last night, of making a grocery list.  I was having a mental block as to what dinners to plan for the upcoming week.  As of lunchtime today I still only have 3 ideas of meals that sound good for dinner. This isn't like me at all.  Maybe I'm just tired from the computer struggles of the week....but the grocery shopping trip is only 3 hrs away...

Ds signed up for his spring quarter college classes this morning.  He wanted to start going to day classes but EVERY single class they offer during the day is filled.  And finding night classes was even a struggle. I think because he's a high school/running start student his registration comes after regular college students in the priority line.  He did manage to get 3 classes on 2 nights a week (this quarter he has been going 4 nights) starting at 2:15 and ending at 10pm.  A long day but only twice a week and the last class on Tues is only on Tues nights, so on Thurs he'll be done at 7:40.

Dh has off and on for the past year been trying to sell off a couple of large pieces of equipment he has left from his business, on Criagslist.  He's had the price down really low and still no luck. Nobody has any money to spend in this economy. Well this morning he got a call from someone who seems pretty darn interested in one of them.  Would be about $4000, I think! I'm keeping my fingers crossed :-)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Spending update

I did manage to only spend money on milk at the store - I sent my son to get it! LOL

It was a very unproductive day.  I worked from home today and again had computer problems all day and didn't really get to work at all.  This time it was something wrong with server settings at the office end. It's getting so frustrating not to be able to get my work done and then have to try to make up the hours.

We didn't have fast food/take out the last 2 nights.  Last night was steak and baked potato, tonight was a chicken/rice/mixed vegetables meal.  Tomorrow is supposed to be chili.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Spending so far this week

Food/groceries came to $100.50, which is really good.  I spent an additonal $36.46 at Walmart for some oil for ds's car, shop towels and some speakers for my computer.  We were doing great eating the meals I've planned until last night.  Dh wanted Wendy's, not the steak I had planned.  But, I only spent $9.61 at Wendy's, the rest of us ate stuff from home.  Sunday night I had a craving for Dairy Queen Peanut Buster Parfait's! I thought I'd splurge on the treat since we hadn't done any take out in 4 nights. That came to over $16! If I had known dh would pull a fast food night last night I probably wouldn't have done the Dairy Queeen.  Oh well.

So, tonight's plan is for the steak and no take out for the rest of the week. (I plan my menu's from Fri - Thurs since I usually shop on Friday's). I will need to make one more store trip this week for more milk and hopefully I can get out of the store with only milk.

Dh spent $24 for something on ebay...I don't remember what it was...some tool he "has" to have.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I don't want to be 92 yrs old

Today we took my soon to be 92 year old grandma to check out an assisted living home....something we've been trying to get her to do for a couple of years now.  It's way past time and my mom finally realized that.  Grandma's been pretty stubborn about staying at her place, but at her age and health it's just not a good thing anymore.  My mom has tried to have someone come in to help her mornings and clean house, but she doesn't like the lady - "she's too hard on my things".  She doesn't want an assisted living apartment because "I don't like apartments". 

After pressing her "life line" button a few weeks ago and a trip to the hospital for tests (nothing found, she's just old!) and a week stay at my mom's, my mom finally set her foot down and told my grandma she cannot live on her own anymore.  She is getting very forgetful lately (which isn't a good thing when she takes several medicines) and can't get around much walking. She doeasn't do much of anything and alot of the times in the afternoons just sits there - no tv on, nothing.  She doesn't read anymore, nor can she crochet. My mom visits her nearly everyday and I stop on my way home from work on Thursday and spend about an hour and a half visiting her. My mom put her little mobile home up for sale and we think there is already a buyer.  We should know for sure in the next couple of days.  Of course grandma thinks my mom didn't ask enough for it!  Then when my mom mentioned having an estate sale (this of course, would be after her place is sold) grandma said "oh no, I wouldn't want people coming in my house getting the floors all dirty!"  Too funny.

The trip today was to a new assisted living place less than a mile from my house. It's very nice.  She'd have a little one bedroom apartment, 3 meals a day, housekeeping and a way to get around to places like the store, if she wanted to go with on the community bus. We got to have lunch there with her.  The only thing grandma could find "wrong" with the apartment was she wasn't sure if the microwave was the right wattage! We assured her it would heat up her food :-)  I hope this is the place she ends up - it's so close to both me and my mom.  I would have much more time to visit her being so close. Where she lives now is almost a half hour drive and hard to squeeze in on busy weekends.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Weekly Meal Planning

I always plan out a menu of dinners for the week before I go grocery shopping.  I do the bulk of my shopping at the Super Walmart and also scan the Albertson's and Safeway ads for really good deals.  This week's Albertson's ad has a free 2 ltr Dr Pepper today, Franz bread for $1.29, shredded cheese for $1, and Soup and Hand (I like to take these for my lunch at work) for $1.  I'll be stopping by there today, along with a stop at the library to pick up a book on hold for me.  Other than that we are just going to enjoy this beautiful sunny, near 60 degree day!

Though I don't always stick to it (we do fast food way too often) this is what I planned and purchased for this week:
Spaghetti, french bread, and jello
Steak, baked potato, applesauce and rolls (Dd doesn't like steak, so she will fend for herself - typically french toast or a microwave meal)
French Dip Sandwiches
Swedish meatballs w/rice, applesauce and rolls
Chicken and rice casserole, jello and rolls

Last night was supposed to be the french dip sandwiches, but dh wanted Wendy's hamburgers. He ended up having that, Dd and I had eggrolls, and Ds had hot pockets.  Tonight's plan is for spaghetti, which I usually have leftovers that I can take to work on Monday.

Friday, February 19, 2010

No Spend Days

I read about "no spend days" all the time on blogs and message boards.  I just can't seem to grasp the concept to apply it to my life.  I mean, sure I understand something like not making a major purchase or making yourself wait a few days to see if you still really want it, rather than an impulse buy.  But, I do not understand how proudly stating "I just had 3 no spend days" really helps the budget.

I'm going to spend each month what I'm going to spend, whether I do it today or wait until tomorrow.  If I have to buy my Dd a new pair of black dress shoes she needs for concert band, I have to buy them.  Doesn't matter if I wait and not spend anything for 3 days, I still have to buy those shoes...or gallon of milk, or whatever it is that is needed.   And, since I try to make my shopping stops when I'm already running errands or to/from work I'm not wasting extra gas.  If I purposely don't go buy the needed gallon of milk today on my way home from work (because it's a no spend day) then the next day (when I work from home and don't need to drive anywhere) I would have to make a special trip just to the store because we gotta have the milk.

When the month's all said and done, my spending is most likely going to be exactly the same, whether I spent a little every day or waited and spent it all on one day.  I think I'll skip this "no spend days" method of getting out of debt/saving money and focus my time on finding other solutions to reducing our spending.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

ER Trip Avoided

Eegads!  Dh was working out in the shop last night using brake cleaner and an air the same time.  Sprayed it all right into his eyes, face and nose.  He quickly started rinsing his eyes in the shop sink and then blindly fumbled his way back to the house for help.  The can of brake cleaner said to rinse for 15 minutes, so we got him into the shower so he could get both eyes rinsed at the same time.  I thought for sure I was going to have to take him to the urgent care clinic - or worse - the ER.  Fortunately the water rinsing did the trick and saved us a costly visit to a doctor!  I reminded him which drawer the safety glasses are in.

Making Do

We try to make do with what we have.  It can be hard to curb the "wants" when you live in such an affluent area where my kids friends all live in big nice homes and their parents drive Lexus's and BMW's....

and our place looks something like this....

We live on just the edge of these nice neighborhoods, on a little private road with 1+ acre lots with a mixture of dwellings...houses, manuf. homes (of which we have) and single wide trailers.  So, while our neighbors aren't 10 feet away, like the nicer homes nearby, they aren't the most quality neighbors, either.  We make do with our 20 yr old, run down home.

We drive older, paid off cars.  Dh's truck is 11 yrs old, my car is 6 yrs old and Ds drives a 24 yr old car to school and back. We make do and make sure we do regular maintenance on our cars.

Our couch is looking at it's last days, the hole(s) in the seating getting bigger every day.  I have a towel tucked in over one section of seat. It would probably look better if I had it on the other 2 sections so it all matched, but I bought one towel just to see how it would work.  It's always coming loose and I'm always tucking it back in.  Haven't decided if I feel like doing that for all 3 seat sections yet.  Our spoiled 15 month old dog pushed the couch over the edge of shabbiness and I don't feel like making him stay off a brand new couch so we make do with this one for now. (though I do have my eye on one that has been on sale for $400 (from $750) a few times.

The only thing we stopped making do with is our bed.  When I got my last bonus we dumped our old 23 yr old mattress with the big "sink hole" in the middle and bought the cherry sleigh bed I've always wanted, with a quality plush top mattress (couldn't afford the matching dresser, night stands and armoire).  After over a year, I still get into bed every night feeling like I've died and gone to heaven :-)  Making do with that old mattress had gone on way longer than was healthy (I'm thinking those invisible dust mites) for our system or our backs!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Budget on One Income

Here's what we spend our money on each month:

Mortgage  $1423
HELOC    $400
Comcast    $128 (phone, internet, cable)
Cell phones $135 (3 phones)
Electricity  $175 (this is the average based on yearly total)
Garbage   $25
Water     $10
Food & household supplies   $700 (this seems to vary)
Fast food/take out meals    $100
Gas   $200
Health Ins  $188
Life Ins  $18
Auto Ins  $232
Loan from Mom  $200 (or whatever we can afford)
Medical   $30 (copay and prescription)
Kids allowances  $60

This adds up to $4024 - leaving us $276 to cover all the unbudgeted, unexpected expenses - of which there always are.

Comcast will probably be going up in May, after our one year offer is up. (We switched from Qwest and have been saving $10/mo from what were paying with Qwest).  When this happens I plan to call and at least ask for a continued discount.

Cell phones - this will be going down next month and then again in October, after 2 of our phones reach their contract date.  We have 3 phones on this plan. I hardly ever use a cell phone, just want it for emergencies while driving 40 miles each way to work. My plan contract is up next month and Ds's is up in October.  Ds just switched to grandma's plan (which she is kindly paying for the Ds and Dd now at $10 each per month)
We are on a family talk and text plan but don't need this much coverage.  And we've also been paying $7 a month for Ds to have coverage for when his phone breaks, which they always seem to do on him for some reason (which I just now got online and cancelled!).    By October I just plan to cancel my and Ds's phones and put Dh on the cheapest plan.  Then I will get a cheapy prepaid tracphone that will cost about $7 a month. I'm estimating Dh's phone plan will cost about $40 w/taxes (he hates change so at this point easier to just leave him on same phone/plan rather than deal with him trying to deal with changes!). So, by October we should get the cell phone monthly outgo down by $88 a month.

Food/household supplies and take out meals are the only other areas I really have to try and save. Some weeks I do ok, some not so good.  I've already gotten the lowest car insurance I can find and this may in fact go up as Ds was a total idiot for awhile and got 2 tickets! One was deferred if he didn't get another ticket, but then he got a doozy and that went on his record, so I'm sure the deferred one will be adding on....and then our insurace will eventually catch up with it.  Arrgggh!!  If (well, WHEN) this happens Ds will have to suck it up and get a part time job to help pay for insurance.  Right now we want him focusing on school and college as much as possible.

Cutting down on the grocery bill will be a big focus for me and how I go about that will be in future posts, along with some accounting of what I end up spending.

Day One of Blogging

Ok, here we go! I love reading blogs, especially about money, family and frugalness, so thought I'd try my hand at it.

A little background on how we got to be a one income family.  Dh was self employed in the construction industry for the past 20 odd years.  Toss in a frustrating health problem and a recession that wiped out any and all work available to him and you have a business gone down the drain.  Technically, dh has been unemployed a year now, though financially we've only felt the pinch harder the past 6 months or so. Being self employed he cannot get unemployment compensation and after spending years and thousands of dollars trying to find out what is wrong with him physically, which has the best neurologists in the country stumped, we haven't yet been able to get him on disability. I've always tried not to count too much on his income, which was always so seasonal and hard to predict from month to month.

So we live on my income, which consists of approximately $4300 per month take home pay. We have a rather large house payment ($1823) on a rather old run down house (due to a home equity loan taken out when dh was actually making some money and we didn't see the recession coming), but we have no car payments.  Seems like we should be able to do ok financially since we have no car payments, but every month seems to be a struggle.  For 2007 and 2008 I received very nice bonus's of about $12,000 each year.  The recession took that nice big perk away, so we haven't had the cushion of that for the past year.

The boy (Ds) is 18 and graduating this spring, with no plans to move out anytime soon :-).  The girl (Dd) is 14 and in junior high school.  Fortunately, my mom (my dad passed away last year) is very comfortable financially and has always said she would pay for the kids college. Thank you Mom!  Ds will be going to the nearby community college, where he has already started taking classes through a high school program. Wonderful Mom also helps subsidize us in other little ways...more on her later.

So, that's it in a nutshell.  This looks to be our lot in life for awhile so hopefully we can make it - or make do!