Wednesday, October 31, 2012

back on the medication merry-go-round

Today is payday - thank goodness!  Bills are paid and some money is back in savings.

This morning I went with DH to his doctor's appointment. The doctor wanted to see how he's doing the past couple of weeks,  now that he's off the Lyrica and back with his other med he's taken for pain the past year.  He has been much better off the Lyrica, that's for sure, though the 2 days of putting in DD's floor took it's toll and he's been feeling like crap the past 3 days. Once he gets back to "normal" (probably 2-3 days of more rest) the dr. wants him to start trying another fibromyalgia med - Savella.  I'd already looked up some pricing on the medicine when the dr. mentioned it at last visit. It's as pricey as Lyrica, so you can imagine how relieved I was to see the doctor walk back into the exam room with a starter pack of samples! This medicine has to be gradually increased over 2 weeks, so this is a packet already made up for that. Plus he gave me a co-pay assistance card that will save $30 on each of the next 3 prescriptions (if he ends up staying on this med). Every little bit helps but getting this 2 week trial pack is awesome - gives me a little more breathing room in my budget for this pay period.  We are keeping our fingers crossed again that this one will help.

DH has been drinking one of those weight loss shakes for lunch every day the past 3 weeks. So far he has lost 10.5 pounds and is down to 206 pounds. His goal is 190, but I know he will just be happy to see his weight get below 200 for the first time in years.

Puppy has another vet appointment this afternoon - more shots. I'm kind of relieved I won't be out another $100 right now, since I signed up for that wellness plan at the last visit - just $35 on the 12th for the monthly amount and DS is going to be paying me back for it.

Can you believe it's November tomorrow? Since I don't have to think about DD's upcoming birthday present (the new floor was her present) I actually was able to focus my brain towards thinking about Christmas presents! I was looking online for some fleece fabric with a tennis theme, so I could make her a tie blanket for Christmas. I found some for about $7 for a yard, plus I'd need to spend about the same for the back side in a plain fleece. But then I saw on Amazon a large sized blanket already pre-made (sewn, not the tie kind) for only about $6 more. I think I will just order that with my amazon gift cards I have saved up from Swagbucks. She will love it! It's still really cold around here in the spring while they are sitting around waiting for their match to start - the girls are always wrapped up in blankets trying to keep warm.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Scared myself

Yesterday, while I was taking a quick lunch break, I finally wrote out all my bills due when I get paid on Wednesday. I have quite a few extra due to doctor bills and the list was quite long.  When I added it all up and subtracted from my income I really wasn't going to have ANY left over, but with all the extra bills I wasn't totally surprised.  I was really bummed and didn't want to go another whole month most likely ending up short.

Last night I decided to re-write the income and expenses in a new notebook I got and I re-added it all. This time showed I had an extra $336! I must have added wrong. I re did the math 2 more times and the $336 was correct. - Whew! I felt so much better when I went to bed last night.

Monday, October 29, 2012

It's Monday already

Boy, did this weekend fly by fast. I'm very proud of myself that with all the busy-ness of putting in DD's floor I didn't go get fast food! Saturday night I made french dip sandwiches.  Some sliced thin roast beef from the deli counter heated up, some au jus and swiss cheese melted on the meat made for a very quick meal.  Yesterday I popped in a Stouffer's frozen lasagne to the oven with some french bread and jello. I was just too tired for a lot of prep work for something from scratch, but at least there was no money spent on take out.

Hmm, black dogs shed black fur? Imagine that! I vacuumed twice yesterday (and I am NOT a neat freak!) and there's more black fur this morning.  

Everyone is driving me nuts this morning. The dogs are playing (usually the older dog is still asleep in our bedroom), the cat keeps wanting back and forth over the puppy gate. DH is really feeling the effects of all the work he did this weekend, so is having a hard time sleeping so keeps calling for me to tell me something or ask me something.  I put the dogs outside, put the cat in DS's room and told DH to go back to bed!

Issues with our water well again. We are having lots of air coming through our pipes all day yesterday. None of our neighbors were home to ask if they were having same problem so I had to call the well owner lady. They are having the same problem so she is supposed to call the repair guy today to come out and take a look. At least we still have water, but we filled up the bathtub and our 5 gallon jugs just in case it goes out or has to be turned off for repairing. I wish I could think of some character on TV to compare her to - to describe how totally annoying it is to try and talk to her. Trying to talk to her reminds me of some Carol Burnett/Tim Conway skit!  She always thinks we are going to run out of water. I don't know how many times we and our other neighbor have explained to her that our water well is tapped into a glacier fed aqueduct - pretty much guaranteed the well will never go dry. I had to explain that to her again yesterday as she thought maybe there is air in the water because the well is going dry from our very dry summer. Hopefully it will all be resolved quickly today and we won't have to deal with her for another 6 months, when something else goes wrong.

Time to get moving and get to work. Have a great day!

Sunday, October 28, 2012


DD and I came home yesterday around noon to find this:

All her bedding piled on the dining room table and everything else from her bedroom stacked out in the family room. Surprise! Happy early Birthday - we are putting wood flooring in your bedroom!! While we were gone DH decided (unknown to me!) to get started on the floor. He had originally wanted to try and get it all done when she was at school or work one day, but figured it was most likely going to take longer (and it did) than the average 6 hours or so she is gone at a time.

She was so surprised! We tore out the carpeting and got to work

Nine hours later it is all done except for the trim and transition pieces. Never having done this before, DH made a couple of goofs in the very beginning but once it was figured out it overall went pretty well. All the prep work to just get started and the cutting and measuring sure takes time, but it was so worth it!

Today we will finish it off and restore her room back.  It was so funny as we were driving home yesterday she said to me she thought she'd rearrange her room that afternoon (she's always doing that) and now she can start with a clean slate.  I'm ready to do the whole house with this (wink wink!).

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The weekend is here

Last night for dinner we tried something new - commenter Susie Q's Zatarain rice and beans in tortillas. We added some shredded cheese, lettuce and sour cream. Very Good! Everyone liked it and when DH has 2nd's of something new that makes it an official new meal I can add to my menu planning.

I rocked with coupons yesterday for my weekly shopping. I used $24 in paper coupons, saved another $5.45 with coupons added to my store card and got a $5 Target gift card. I saved the most at Target. They had a sale of Clairol hair color products buy 3 get a $5 Target gift card. I've had this Target catalina coupon in my purse for $4 off a Root Touch-Up kit (it expired yesterday). I also had (2) $2 off any Clairol haircolor, so I bought the Root Touch-Up kit ($5.89) and 2 of the Foam hair color ($7.99 ea). Total was $21.87, less $8 in coupons brought the price down to $13.87 for all 3 and then I got a $5 gift card, making $8.87 for all 3! Almost the price of just one foam color box.

DH loves the Crystal Light individual ice tea packets - seriously - we go through like 3 boxes a week. He drinks the stuff all day. Target always has them for about $2 a box and I recently purchased some $1 off 2 coupons from ebay (I paid $2.60 total with shipping for $10 in coupons, so still will save over $7). Target had a sale of buy 3 get one free, and I bought 8 boxes, got 2 free and was able to use 4 of my $1 off coupons. With my additional 5% discount for using Red card, that made each box .95 cents. I probably should have bought more and just used up all my coupons!

A few good deals at the grocery store - Comet cleanser with bleach (I think that's about all we used to clean the kitchen and bathrooms when I was a kid!) was on sale .88 each. They had some cans that were 20% more and stuck on top of them were .65 off each coupons. I picked up 2 cans for .23 each. Some good cheap cleaner. I stocked up on 2 Best Foods Mayo for $1.49 each by combining store sale, an additional store coupon and a mfg coupon. Also got some Eggland's Best eggs (I use these to help with DH's cholesterol) regularly $3.29 for $1.49 after sale and coupon.

On tap for today - a visit to see my grandma. I try to get over to see her at least every couple of weeks. Last time I went DD was working, but she's off today so we are both going. It's really hard to visit with her because she is so hard of hearing and won't wear her hearing aids (says they bug her!) and after a visit I feel like I just spent 40 minutes or so screaming at the top of my lungs.

After that we were going to go drive over to a private university that is really close and just check out the campus, but it's pouring rain today, so I think we'll save that for another day.  I think DD has kind of narrowed her choices down to 3. This private university, which is less than 10 miles away and she could live at home, or 2 of the state colleges. One is about an hour a way and the other is about 2 hours away. I'm hoping she either picks the one where she can live at home or the one that is 2 hours away. It's in a smaller town, smaller campus and I'd feel safer for her than the one in the big city with the huge campus. We've still got about a year to decide but will visit them all so she can get a feel for what each is like. Since she'll have her AA degree when she graduates high school she will be able to transfer in to her college of choice as a junior.

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Using whats on hand and little freebies and savings here and there

DH has been outside putting covers on our crawl space vents to see if that will help keep some extra heat in the house this winter. We have never tried this before and I am curious to see if it will cut down our heating costs a bit this winter. DH has never cared one whit about saving money as far as heating goes (or much else, for that matter) and I really don't think saving money is really his intended goal in this project, as much as it is just to maybe keep the house warmer (he's always cold). He said he was outside standing near the vent the other day and could feel the warm air coming out of it. So, if it benefits both ways I'll be happy.  Though I will grant him props that he is using some old pieces of boards he had laying around to cut to fit over the vents, so we are saving by not going and buying some foam or some type of pre-made cover.  He's even going to paint them to match the house with some leftover house paint. If nothing else, it's keeping him busy with a little project today that isn't costing me any money!

A free sample of dog food came in the mail today. We train our puppy with kibble and sometimes packaged treats, so why not use free kibble?! I had received a free sample bag of one brand right when we got the puppy and when I ran out I looked online at a freebie site and found a different brand offering a free sample bag.  Works great for training. Whenever the puppy goes and does his business outside I give him a treat. And he's learned "sit" so well, I give him another one :)

I was going through the mail yesterday while sitting at my desk and DD was in her bedroom. I hollered over to her there was something in the mail from JC Penney for her. She hollered back something like "just throw it away" and I have a feeling she thought it was just some advertisement. It was actually like a letter in an envelope so I opened it up and hollered back "well, if you don't want this $10 off $10...". She was out of her room and had that snatched out of my hand before I could finish my sentence!

Abigail over at I Pick Up Pennies had a post today about InboxDollars. I had signed up for them sometime back (probably a couple of years ago now) but at .02 cents per email read, it just seemed like it was gong to take forever to earn the $30 required for them to send a check, so I gave up. It appears they have updated their site and now also offer payment for doing searches - doing them daily could earn you up to $57 a year. So, I re-signed up (my account had lapsed and been closed), earned a $5 bonus for signing up and already have over $6 in the account. I'm sure I could use $50 or so come this time next year!

My Women's Day magazine that I got free last year from MyCokeRewards is about due to expire, so I used some of my 600 points to order another free subscription. I love just reading magazines as a way to sit and relax and all the ones I subscribe to have been free (Woman's Day, Family Circle, All You, GoodHousekeeping). with the rewards points each year. DH loves to drink the MinuteMaid light lemonade in cans, so I might as well take advantage of the freebies from the points codes on the boxes.

I've done awesome keeping to my dinner plans this week and have done NO takeouts! I'm already working on my dinner menu for next week (starts Friday for me). The grocery store ad and store coupons have some good deals to stock up on, along with some mfg. coupons I can stack.

Bar-S meat franks will be .62 each. Definite for a stock up and freeze them!
Mission Tortillas - .99.  I just googled and found out you can freeze these too. We never seem to go through a whole bag before I have to throw them out
Best Foods Mayo - This appears they are going to end up .99 a jar! The store has an special for $2.49 plus an added coupon loaded to my card bring it down to $1.99. I just printed off 2 $1 off coupons from the internet to stack on this deal.

Lindt chocolates (Yum!) recently had a Facebook promotion for a coupon for a free bag by liking their page. I printed one out and so did DD. We went to Walgreens the other day to get our free bags. She got dark chocolate and I got regular - figured we share with each other. We got home and she opened her bag and it was all messy and melted inside. She stopped a different Walgreen's on her way home from school today to return it and get a new bag. Got home with the new bag and it was even worse inside than the first bag! This is getting a bit annoying and I'm not really sure it's worth it to make another trip and time inside the store. I did send a message to Lindt on their facebook page about the problem. Maybe they'll send another free coupon and we can try getting a bag at some other store than Walgreens.

That's all I got!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I've mentioned before I have a side job (well, 2 actually).  I've been doing this one about 2 1/2 years now. I don't even get to see the company owners as they are in another state, about a 2 1/2 hours drive from us. We just communicate via email and phone calls. It's a satellite office that the company I work for used to own, but we sold it off and the new owners wanted me to do their books remotely. It has worked great for both parties.

I always bill them the first of the month for the hours I worked the prior month. Usually around 24 hours. I was already down to the wire this month with my money and then with our unexpected furnace repair I'm going to be in the negative before the end of the month.

I emailed the company owner and asked if I could have a favor....could I bill him now for the hours I have put in this month so far and cut myself a check (I'm their bookkeeper, so I have checks too) as our furnace had stopped working and I had an unexpected bill come up.  He emailed back and asked how much the furnace was. I emailed back and explained luckily we didn't have to replace the whole furnace, just a bill for $183.

He emailed back that he is sending me a check overnight for $300 and it is not coming out of my regular invoice to them nor do I have to pay it back! He just wanted to do this for me, for one less thing to worry about! I almost started crying! That is so amazing of him and I totally was not expecting that at all! I just wanted to bill him for what I had worked so far.  I sent him back a HUGE thank you email. 

I am so blessed to work for 2 great companies. I was sick yesterday (sore throat and headache) for my regular job and this morning my boss emailed me to ask how I was feeling and if I had planned to come in to work today, to just work from home instead.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ready to freeze!

As I begin my quest to start a food and supplies stockpile a nice unexpected surprise has come our way! My mom has decided to get new appliances and offered us her old refrigerator, if we could use it out in our garage.  I'd really like a freezer, but even this would be great to have! It's a side by side and I think one whole side is freezer section, if I recall.

But first we have to FIND room in our garage. It is packed to the ceiling! And not in a messy hoarders way. No....DH is a bit OCD remember? It is organized down to the labeled bolt trays in the bolt bin (he went a bit nuts when we gave him a labeler one year for Christmas!). He has everything so organized and packed in the garage/shop, shelving units, etc, that I really didn't think there would be room at all. But, I should have known, if anyone could find a way to make it fit, DH could.

So, we will be getting a 2nd refrigerator/freezer later this week. It will be so nice to have some more freezer space, especially when meat or poultry goes on sale. I have always wanted to buy an extra turkey to freeze and have a few months later. Now I will be able to! If meat goes on a good sale, I can stock up. I'm not sure I'll use the refrigerator side much, but I probably need to have some things in there so that it will work efficiently as possible, right? Guess I can put extra pop and water in there.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Well, I was pretty darn close to my $50 goal for yesterday's grocery shopping trip. The total came to $51.45. I'm blaming the excess on DD :).  She ended up not having to work yesterday - a big miscommunication on her bosses part.  So, of course she wanted to go with me. I had to explain that this was a bare bones trip because I AM BROKE. She was actually quite helpful in throwing out cheap dinner ideas and we did add a couple of items to my list so we could make our own snacks.  Yesterday she made some banana nut muffins and a salmon dip that we eat with Ritz crackers (we already had the muffin mix in the cupboard and the stuff to make the salmon dip)  and I made some brownies. She took a look through the freezer and pulled out a bag that had a few quesadillas left in it, so that was what we had for lunch. I pulled out the lone frozen OJ and made that for another beverage choice to put in the fridge. Dinner was supposed to be chili and corn bread, but I totally messed up on pouring in the milk - I poured in 1 2/3 cups instead of 1 1/3 cup. I had to throw it out - Boo!.  I could have kept the total under $50, but 24 pack of soda was on sale for $5 each, limit three and this is an awesome stock up price that will save me more over the next few weeks, by not having to pay $7.50 or $8 per pack.

Today, I am making some banana bread with the 2 over ripe bananas I have left.  I'm still using up the fresh farm eggs my mom gave me awhile back, but with all the baking they are almost gone now. Makes me want chickens :) 

The puppy is on my $#&! list today. I thought he was laying behind me while I was at my desk this morning, chewing on this dinosaur sized chew bone. I turned around to make sure that was what he was still doing. Nope, he had moved on to chew on my tote bag I carry back and forth to work. Chewed up the handle and a hole in the bottom corner. Sigh.....It's not like it was some super expensive leather bag, but still! Maybe me and DD will stop by Goodwill and see if I can find something cheap to replace it. I do have a canvas bag I used to use, so I guess I will use that again for now.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Murphy dropped by

Murphy dropped by - a couple of times today, in fact! First was when our furnace would not turn on this morning. Ugh! DH did his best (not knowing anything about heating) to check out the thermostat (that's 23 years old now) and clean the inside of it a bit to see if that helped. Checked to make sure the wires were getting juice. So, I had to call a repairman. Luckily he came right out within an hour. Took one quick look and said it's a bad "sequencer". Apparently they usually only last about 10 years. According to his records  he put one in for us 17 years ago! 10 minutes and $183 later he was done.  He did say that BigName heating company in our area charges $800 to fix this!

Then Murphy came in the mail. A bill from when DD had her wisdom teeth out for $104. Guess the insurance didn't pay as much as they expected. Guess I'll add that to the other stack of doctor bills I have to pay.  I think I should just crawl back in bed - it's nice and warm now, at least!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Scouring the cupboards and freezer

Money is super tight right now until the end of the month.  So much so that I'm really really going to have to keep the next grocery shopping trip to a bare minimum. I made a menu plan of  as low cost meals as possible, but then decided I'd better take a good look in the freezer and actually see what is hiding in there that could be dinners for next week.  Found 3 things! Some chicken breasts I can use to add to a rice and veggies recipe I have, a bag of Gorton's fish fillets (dinner tonight) and a frozen skillet pre-made meal stuffed in the back of the freezer. Whew! I already knew the beef tips and gravy Hormel meal was in the freezer. I stocked up on a couple of these earlier when I got them on sale and with coupon for $2.99. That will help the grocery bill this week a lot.  I also found a coupon online for $3 off Fresh Express salad, so that should make it free and help fill out a couple of meals.

Fortunately I'm already pretty much stocked up on pantry basics and things for side dishes with the meals. I have enough in the cupboards for my work day lunches brown bag. We are completely out of laundry detergent, but DH has mentioned he wanted to try something different than what we have used the past umpteen years. He doesn't feel like the clothes smell very fresh anymore.  Instead of forking over $11 for a box of our usual, I'm going to try Gain - the grocery store has it on sale for $4.99 plus I have a $1 off coupon and another .40 off with a store coupon. I was so surprised DH wanted to try something new. Once he finds something he likes or it's just what he's always been used to, he's impossible to try anything new (I think this goes along with his OCD tendencies), so I'm happy to get some cheaper laundry detergent. It's a smaller size (I usually get the biggest) but still a good price to try something new out.

I'm also going to wait and go shopping tomorrow morning while DD is at work, so I'm not tempted to buy anything that is NOT on my list! Especially snacks.  We can make cookies or cake from scratch this weekend with ingredients we already have.  DS has not been home all week, so I still have milk, peanut butter, pop and chips left from last week. My goal is to spend less than $50.

DH has been trying the weight loss shake for his lunches the past week and a half.  This was paid for a couple of weeks ago for the next 30 days, so I don't need to add his usual lunch stuff of bread, lunch meat, cheese, and chips to my grocery list. Guess what? He was down 5.5 pounds the first week! Overall, since he last went to the doctor and was weighed 5 weeks ago he has lost 12 pounds. I know this will help him feel better, at least as much as he can, by getting some of this excess weight off.  The Lyrica medicine was the cause of the last 10 pounds or so he gained so quickly. Glad it's gone!

Here's the dinner menu for the next week:
Fish fillets
Club sandwiches
Chicken/rice/mixed veggies
Tuna Casserole
Chicken w/rice skillet meal
Beef tips and noodles

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Rebuilding credit

I'm still trying to decide if what I did last night is a good thing or a bad thing! I was opening my mail and had received a 5% off your next shopping trip coupon for Target (from their pharmacy rewards program). I have a Target Red Debit card, which also gives me 5% off. I've been getting all our prescriptions there the past several months rather than Walmart, who I had always used in the past.

I was online on Target's website looking at my pharmacy rewards account info and decided to apply for the Target credit card. I really didn't think I'd get approved at all, but figur if I at least try for something every 6 months or so, maybe eventually we'd get approved for credit and be able to start rebuilding our credit score. I was approved instantly for a $300 limit!  Sounds like a reasonable amount, nothing I could get in over my head about, that's for sure.

So, just a little over 2 years past our bankruptcy filing, I was approved for something. Part of it made me feel good, that I'm now considered responsible enough again and part of me said "oh crap, you do not need a credit card". But, I think it might come in handy for these hard to plan for costly prescription changes DH keeps going through, if I am in a pinch until payday.

He went back to the doctor on Monday, after an extended wait to get back in to see him (doc was on vacation). The Lyrica was NOT working, in fact we were pretty sure it was causing him more problems. Over the few weeks he kept feeling worse and his hands got so tight and clenched up he was having a hard time opening them, especially in the morning.  Last Thursday morning it was so bad and painful for him he just wanted to cry. I said let's stop the Lyrica. We decided to just stop the morning dose (rather than quit cold turkey) until we could get back in to see the doctor.  Within a couple of days one of his hands was doing a lot better. Monday the doctor said to stop taking it and put him back on the other medicine he'd been taking for the past year (that did help some). By yesterday his hands were back to normal (well, as normal as they can be for him). We have to go back in a couple of weeks and then it sounds like the doctor wants to try another fibromyalgia medication. I looked this one up for cost and it's as expensive as Lyrica!

If we keep having to try these meds and I never know when I'm going to have a huge prescription bill (makes it hard to budget) at least I'll have the Target credit card as something I can use if I absolutely need to. I'll also be improving my credit score over time, too.  The meds expenses are a given, so I might as well use them to help rebuild our credit to better standing.

Monday, October 15, 2012

It's getting harder

Gosh it's so hard to keep a secret! So many times in the past few weeks I've almost blurted out about doing DD's bedroom floor.  Then Saturday, when I went and got the flooring and my mom went with me, DD asked what I did while she was at work. I didn't want to tell her I saw Grandma, because then she'd have more questions and I'd just have to make up more lies! So, I just said I didn't do much, went to Walmart and cleaned house.  I don't know how many times over the weekend I almost mentioned something me and my mom talked about.

This morning I ordered some knee pads for DH on Amazon. I logged in with DD's Amazon Student prime account because of the free 2 day shipping. As soon as I hit submit on the order I realized she will now get an email about it!  Ooops.  DH said to make up some story about he needs them for out in the shop or something. Sure enough 15 minutes later DD texts me "what did you just order from Amazon?".

I'll be glad when these floors are in and I don't have to keep telling fibs! I suck at it!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunday - general update

Things have just been kind of status quo the past couple of weeks. DS has not found a full time position yet, but he has been doing quite a bit of side jobs.  He's been taking whatever work the computer repair shop throws his way, which last week was 3 full days. The guy is just paying him cash, and he's paying pretty well and DS made $540 from those 3 days. He's also working again for him on a job site on Tuesday, which will pay DS $35/hr with a 4 hour minimum.  The shop owner also has several companies who want websites done and he is just waiting for them to make the down payments before DS can start working on those.  He made $175 working on a website for a guy he had created for him last year. Just needed some updates and changes. Then he just finished a "hero card" for a fellow racer and set him up a very basic one page website (to start) and will get paid for that today.

DD has been very busy with her 3 college classes and 1 high school class and then working every Saturday and Sunday for about 6 hours each day. No more sleeping in for her! She has to be at college by 7am, but is done by 10am. She had her first tests this past week. A's in Political Science and English and a C in Pre-Calc (that will be her hardest class!). She is liking her job and the other people she works with and has so far, with tips, been making a little over $600 a month, which is great for her. She's putting most of it in savings, though she did help chip in $200 for the new tires that were needed for her car.  She's also enjoying having some spending money for clothes and an ice cream or a coffee out with friends. The early mornings 7 days a week have her in bed by 9 or 9:30 every night!

I finally spoke with a disability attorney and found out (just as I thought) that DH is not eligible for disability. Not working much the past 10 years and no diagnosis or proof that he was totally disabled way back when he was considered eligible with enough credits would make it about impossible to go back and get any back pay. So, I think this news really brought DH down.  Unfortunately he made some poor decisions years ago that led to this. First off (and this was just ignorance on our part) we should have had his company set up as a corporation and gave him a salary that would have been taxed with Social security. Instead he was a sole proprietor, that had so many write off's most  years that he either had a loss or very little income, so not much put into SS.  Then 8 years or so ago when he did apply for disability and was turned down, he did appeal. He was then denied, saying he could work 2 hours a day. I spoke with an attorney then (not a disability one) who said DH should definitely get a lawyer and fight that one. Instead he just got angry at the whole situation and just decided to do nothing.  Now, he has no more credits and it's too late.  I did explain to him that when we reach retirement age he will get Social Security, as he will be able to get half of my monthly amount.  On the to-do list for me this month is to get that additional term life insurance policy taken care of.

The puppy is doing great and even starting to go to the door to go outside now. We take him out so often he hasn't gone in the house in almost a week. He's kind of starting to get on a schedule so it's getting easier. He even went to bed in his crate on his own last night :)

I got the laminate flooring for DD's bedroom yesterday! It's kind of a warm honey oak color.  All the boxes are hidden under my bed and the long wall trim pieces are out in our garage.  It's been so hard to keep this a secret - I'm so used to just talking to her about everything that I almost blurt it out in conversation every once in awhile.  DS is the worst secret keeper, so wouldn't surprise me if he already told her - haha!

Friday, October 12, 2012

How I plan my grocery shopping trip

I'm getting ready to take a lunch break and go do my grocery shopping.  First I looked through the store's weekly ad to see what is on sale.  I make out a meal plan for dinners for the next week, add to my list what I need for the meals and then also add all the other miscellaneous items we need.  Then I get online with my grocery store and add any coupons or sale prices to my store card. I look through my coupons on hand (though most times I just know in my head if I have a coupon for something) and then I go online to one of my favorite coupon websites and use their coupon database search and go through my list and see if I can find any additional coupons I can use.

Here's are the coupons and discounts I have come up with for this trip, just by taking an extra 10 minutes or so to look:

Campbells Tomato and Chx noodle soup         -.40/4 (I have 2 of these so stocking up on 8)
Margarine                                                          -.75 (catalina coupon from last trip)
Lunchables - club card price 1.49 ea                -1.25/6 (catalina coupon)
Yakisoba                                                            -.50 (I have 2, makes for a cheap work lunch)
Miralax 30ct                                                      -4.00 (part of Dh's medicine needed)
canned chicken breast                                       -.75/2
Del Monte canned vegetable or fruit                 -.75/1 (wish I had more of these! this came in a             mailer)
Soup at hand                                                      -.75/2 (again good for work lunches)
Quaker chewy granola bars (4)                           store card special 1.88 ea (usually at least 2.50 ea)
dryer sheets                                                         -1.00
Crystal Light tea packets                                    -2.00/4 (Target catalina)
Plus I added some store club sale prices to my card for buns ($1.09 ea), bananas (.49/lb), and bath tissue ($5.00)

Just the coupons I have total $13.80, plus there will be additional savings with the adding the store club prices to my card.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thursday This 'n That

The missing check finally cleared my bank. I don't know how I didn't remember writing it! It was written on pay day for DD and myself to get our haircut! $30.  I'm really loosing my memory in my old age.  At least it was for a relatively small amount.

Speaking of writing checks. One of the few I usually write each month is for our pest control service. As I was starting to write it out and get a stamp to mail it, I suddenly thought to myself - why am I not paying this through my free online banking? I don't have to pay .45 for the stamp!  Duh, that's a no brainer.

We took the puppy in for his 2nd round of shots yesterday and he's gained 6 pounds. The vet staff just go silly over him, he's so cute. I went ahead and did the wellness plan - not sure that it will actually save any money (unless we need extra visits for problems) but, since DS is paying for these visits, it will be easier for him to spread it out over 12 months at $35 rather than big lump sums. The visit yesterday would have been $140, we have another one in 3 weeks, that will probably be $100 and then there is the visit for when we neuter him and a couple of other tests for worms, etc. We will also get a 10% discount on having the microchip put in when they neuter him. I only want to have this plan for the one year, so I have put a reminder on my Outlook calendar to call and cancel it after the last payment next September, otherwise it will automatically renew.

My mom is going with me on Saturday morning to look at laminate flooring for DD's bedroom. I need to get that figured out as to what I want to put in there, so we can get this done in the next month and surprise her for her birthday.

I've been doing some planning and research on starting my emergency food stockpile. I've found some neat websites and will probably write a post about this over the weekend. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Another budget reduction

Have I mentioned before how glad I am that I switched to Progressive Insurance a year and a half ago? My 6 month policy renews next month and I just got my new payment schedule - it went DOWN $24 a month! Wooo! So far, each 6 month renewal it has gone down since I first got the insurance (last time was only $5 a month, but still better than an increase).  My old insurance always went up each term, always.  Plus, who doesn't love Flo?!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Murphy tried to get me

Why is it that when something good happens or I get a break something bad just swoops right in to take it's place?

My boss handed me another employee's expense report yesterday and said she is adding 1/2 of this employee's internet bill per month since she works from home quite often (or rather, she works at the office full time and then also puts in more time at home). Then my boss said "if you want we can start reimbursing you for 1/2 of your internet since you work from home"!!  Thank you thank you thank you!

So, I'm sitting in my chair doing the happy dance and since my internet is bundled with my phone and tv, I'm not sure what the breakdown of cost is. I got online with Comcast to look at my bill to see if it breaks it down and what do I see?  My new bill for October is up and it's $43 higher than what it has been! Seriously? 33% increase? Seriously?

I just got off the phone with Comcast and apparently the "promotion" plan I was on for the past 2 years ended. She checked and was able to offer me the same plan at the same cost as I had been paying (for one year). Whew! 

I'm glad I got on the phone (I hate talking on the phone) and called and asked for a reduction.  Now, I really do get to feel the benefit of an extra $25 a month,  with my employer paying half.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

What's cookin?

It's a beautiful Fall day here in my neck of the woods. Sunny, crisp air, and crunchy leaves on the ground.  A perfect day for Taco Soup

Here's the recipe:

1 lb cooked hamburger, drained
1 large can tomato sauce
1 can white beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can garbanzo beans
1 can corn
1 can black beans
1 can chili beans
1 can Rotel
1 packet of taco seasoning

Mix all together and heat up.  Top with whatever you like. We like shredded cheese, sour cream and eat it with Frito's scoops! It's a huge favorite meal of ours and one of the few things DH will eat leftovers.

Saturday snippets

I thought the dishes in the dishwasher were clean when I got up early this morning. In my sleepy haze I grabbed a coffee cup and made my cup and drank it.  I realized later the dishwasher never got turned on.  I could have sworn I turned the dishwasher on last night! Yuck!

I forgot to uncover the birds until after 10am.  At least someone got to sleep in.

I took the puppy outside shortly after he ate his breakfast - he puked it up in 3 spots on the front lawn - and then tried to eat it again.  Better there than on the carpet, I guess.

My missing check still has not shown up or cleared the bank.

I didn't realize there were no refills left on a prescription DH takes regularly (kind of like an advil type medicine) so he'll have to go a couple of days without it. Nothing serious by not taking it, but guess I will give him some of the leftover 800mg advil he has to take the place of it tomorrow and Monday, until I can get the refill called in.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Planning ahead for not so great times

This isn't meant to be a post about politics. I'm not a political debater and I think everyone has the right to support whichever candidate or issues they believe in (that's what makes this America!) but I told DH the other night, after watching some of the debate, that if our current president gets re-elected for another 4 years I am going to start seriously stocking up on food and supplies. Empty me a section of shelving in the garage because I'm going to be filling it up.

This is, of course, going to have to be a gradual process, as money allows. I'm going to have to get serious about getting back into coupon and deal shopping to stock up on what I can get free or for cheap and stock up on the rest during good sales.  I'm going to start doing some research on the best way to store certain foods, especially bulk type items.  Our one neighbor we are pretty good friends with (a single guy in his 50's) probably seriously has enough emergency food stored in his shop to feed us all in the event of some type of disaster (natural or economic). He has purchased pallets of Emergency foods and supplies.

Maybe other families have seen an improvement in their lives the past 4 years, but ours has continued to decline after the recession hit. Before the recession hit (not Obama's fault at all) I was making 20% more a year in annual income then I do now. That bonus was gone January of 2009.  Thankfully it was never any money I planned in my monthly budget (but that extra $11k a year was SO nice to have and was really starting to make a difference in our lives!). But since then, for us anyway, it has just gotten worse.  The healthcare insurance premiums for DH and the kids went from $188 a month to $422 a month. In one year! (I constantly compare rates with companies - they all went up) Then 2 months ago, thanks to the new healthcare laws, the insurance company dropped the generic prescription coverage that came with the plan, so I went from paying $15 on 2 of DH's meds to now paying over $200 for these meds a month.  Overall, my family has seen an increase of $436 a month in out of pocket healthcare costs - a month. I thought this new plan was supposed to cost less and help us?!! I could switch to a plan that covers the prescription (though at higher than $15 a month copay) but would cost me an additional $300 per month (and that was just for DH!)

I just don't see it all getting any better and personally feel it's going to get worse. I'm not going to be a "doomsday prepper" but I am going to get serious about having several months supply for us (and the pets).  At least if I lost my job we'd still be able to eat.  If a natural disaster causes the electricity out we have a generator that can run our well, so we'd still have water. We purchased quite a few 5 gallon water jugs last year. We need to get some type of camping stove or propane bbq, I guess. Our "doomsday prepper" neighbor has a HUGE generator (seriously the size of a small car), so that is good too.

So, occasionally I will be posting about my progress in getting stocked up. I'll be interested to see how long it takes me. I imagine a couple of years before I could get it all done, cost-wise. I'm going to get a supply going no matter who is elected, but I'm much more scared for our future if we have another 4 years like we have had the past 4 years. If the past 4 years has worked for you, that is great - then that is who you should support, no question, but for me personally, it's costing me more and more.

Off to start reading the coupon blogs........(gotta start somewhere!).  If anyone has tips on stocking up and also how to keep it organized (that will be my main challenge!) please let me know. I'm all ears.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Over budget oops

A recent birthday celebration for my son's 21st birthday had me overspending what I had budgeted. At the time I was thinking to myself "OUCH!".  I didn't want to spend that much. Originally the plan was to take him to dinner at the Mexican restaurant we usually go to.  For the 5 of us it runs about $65. But then DS said he'd like to go to a different restaurant.  I did look their menu up online before we went just to get an idea of their prices and they were comparable to the other place so I thought I'd be ok.  The bill came to $118 with tax and tip.  Two things made the difference.  At the Mexican restaurant DS and his girlfriend always split a meal, at this restaurant they don't and we invited Grandma to come with us, kind of last minute. (I had thought she was going to be out of town, but it turned out she wasn't, so of course I invited her).

I took a look at my budget for this pay period to see where I could cut back a bit to make up for some of the extra in the birthday budget and actually came up with more than I needed.  Another bill I was expecting came in $40 under the budgeted amount. I had budgeted $110 for gas (auto) this pay period but an extra day working from home and less running around overall resulted in about $25 in gas saved. Even though I've already made up for the extra spent I'm still planning to try and cut my grocery bill when I go grocery shopping tomorrow.  I'm still working on the menu plan, but trying to plan a couple of super cheap meals.  Last night I pulled out a couple of cans of ravioli that had been in  the pantry for awhile and used up the corn on the cob my mom had given us, so managed a quick, cheap meal.

We don't usually go out to dinner for birthday celebrations. Usually I ask the birthday kid what they want for their birthday dinner and make that. But being 21 we kind of wanted to go out and at least let him order a drink and feel all adult. He's not the type that was going to go out partying and drinking with friends, so this was it :) The cake was cupcakes that DD made. 

Sometimes extra's come up not in the budget and I tried not to beat myself up too much over it and just looked for ways to make up for it, if I could. You only turn 21 once and it's kind of a big deal.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Puppy pics

Here's he is!  Cute as the dickens but lots of TROUBLE!!

Life with a new puppy

We've had the new monster - errr - puppy 2 weeks now. He seems much more energetic than I remember our older dog being as a puppy.  He's into EVERYTHING and seems to have the attention span of a gnat. Or ADHD, yes I think ADHD describes him perfectly.  Considering that, he is starting to pick up quite a bit of what we are teaching him pretty quickly. Or at least it seems that way to me, but I really only have our older dog to use as a comparison, so for all I know new puppy is way behind schedule.

He is 10 weeks old now and has learned to sit on command already.  He is now sleeping all night in his crate, without a peep. We only had a couple of nights of crying and barking.  We are very diligent about taking him outside constantly, so the concept of doing his duty outside is slowly starting to sink in. He does know that when I take him outside and he pees he immediately gets a treat (provided he sits, of course). He also is starting to remember that I will ask him to sit before I open the front door to go back inside.  We are still having accidents in the house once a day or so, but there have been a couple of times he has gone to the door by himself, but then he quickly seems to forget that is an option.  We are trying to teach him not to go into the kitchen area and while he knows hes' not supposed to he will try anyway any chance he gets if he thinks he can get away with it.  The cat food on the other side of the kitchen is his primary target. And occasionally we forget to set it back up on the counter after the cat is done (cat likes his bowl filled at all times so he can graze whenever he feels like it). Lets just say puppy has eaten a lot of cat food in 2 weeks.

Though he is sleeping all night the schedule he is on is still wrecking havoc on my normal sleep schedule. DD has to get up by 5:15 or so now to get ready to leave for school at 6:25. Of course once she is up, so is the puppy. At first we had him in the small crate in her room at night (she hadn't started school yet when we got him, so this worked great the first week) but when she woke up so did the puppy. This week we have been putting him to bed in the big cage type crate that is in the corner of the dining room. She is now able to get up and get herself ready in the morning before he will wake up when he hears her going to the kitchen for her breakfast.  I then get up at 6:10. Hop in the shower and then get dressed to be ready for puppy duty as soon as she walks out the door.

At this point it is about 90 minutes of non-stop puppy energy. I'm supposed to be working at my desk, but puppy is anywhere and everywhere.  So we got a gate to go across the opening of the family room entrance to keep him back where my desk is.  This is working pretty well.  Finally about 8 am he will plop down at my feet under my desk and fall asleep for a half hour until he hears me leave my desk (to leave for the office) and then DH gets up and takes over.  I've also discovered that if I give him a rawhide chew bone, he is quite content to try and chew on that and stays out of more trouble in the mornings.  Big dog wants nothing to do with this early rising so he is very content to stay sleeping our our bed while all this is going on.

The rest of the day he calms down quite a bit and pretty much alternates between an hour of play and an hour of naps.  Big dog is starting to play with him and they rough house quite a bit back and forth. Our big dog will not leave our property, so we have been experimenting with letting puppy go outside with him for a few minutes without us right there. So far puppy doesn't leave his side and will even come back to the front door on his own when he is ready.  The house looks like we have little kids again - toys everywhere.

Future plans, as soon as we can, are obedience classes and neutering.  My favorite commands learned when we took our older dog to these classes was "leave it" and "drop it".  To this day he will not take any food or treat until he is told it's "ok".  Let's hope new puppy even has half of his manners!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

So is it a check I forgot or stolen?

DH's wallet is missing.  This is the wallet of a guy who barely leaves the house and if he does he doesn't usually even take his wallet because someone else is driving and he really doesn't like sitting on his wallet.  He went somewhere Friday and before that was a week and a half ago - when he did take his wallet to drive to my mom's when her house was broken into. He's been leaving his wallet on his desk next to his monitor.  Sometime around the same time he used it to go to mom's he also told Ds to go get some cash out of his wallet to buy some plywood.  DS said the wallet was laying by the monitor, he took out the money and set it back.  DH kind of remembers later that day sitting at his desk and opening his wallet to see how much he had left.  He doesn't think he took his wallet last Friday because DS drove, but he has a message into the friend he visited to see if it got left there by accident.

We have looked everywhere. At this point the only thing he could come up with is it might have been stolen by the teenage daughter of a couple who was visiting us on Saturday. We were all outside chatting and enjoying the sunshine and the girl asked to use the bathroom. I took her inside to show her where it was and then I went back outside. You have to walk though our family room, but DH's desk is off in the far corner and he has quite a few things on his desk, so unless she specifically
walked over there to his desk it wouldn't have been easy to notice from the distance of the bathroom area.  But she was in the house by herself, so certainly could have.  I didn't pay attention at all as to how long she stayed in the house.

Which then got me to desk is also in this same room and I always leave my purse on the floor. Someone would actually have to walk up to my desk to see it sitting beside it. It's kind of hidden from view by a cabinet. Seems like she would have just been better to take the cash in the front of my purse (the wallet is built in front) but maybe didn't notice that and was just looking inside the purse, found my checkbook and decided to pull out a check?  We just don't know!  He just hasn't been anywhere enough to lose his wallet somewhere.  So, now do I stop payment on the check, if it was indeed stolen or do I get embarrassed if I did write it to somewhere and then have to explain it being stopped?  Frustrating, to say the least.  He's gong nuts trying to figure out where his wallet is and I'm going nuts trying to figure out if I wrote a check or not.

UPDATE: The wallet has been found! Thank goodness. Dh was about to drive us all nuts after 4 hours of searching and trying to figure out what might have happened to it. We had looked in every car but DS's (didn't think he had been in there) but there it was under the seat. He forgot the few minutes he jumped in DS's car at midnight one night to follow a car that had pulled in slow and turned around in our driveway. This was just after confronting the guy who was trying to sell my mom's diamond bracelet and DH thought it might be him, since he had DH's cell # and our license plate#. missing check must just be from my stupidity afterall.

I hate it when I do this!

So, I have a missing check I apparently wrote sometime in the past week and didn't write it down. I have racked my brain since last night and just can not figure it out! I hardly even write very many checks any more, you'd think I'd remember.  I know I'm operating on a bit of sleep deprivation this past week (thanks to new puppy) but boy, this one has me stumped.  I recall the last check I wrote was 9/10 and when I went to tear it out I also tore out the check below it, so that check has been "loose" in my checkbook on top of the other checks.  Then when I got paid on Friday I used that check (that's even the number I wrote on my copy of the doctor bill) to pay a doctor bill.  Last night I went to write a check to leave with DH to pay when the ant spray guy comes and it's the next check number after it should be. I looked over my list of bills I wrote out last week that were due to see if there was something I just forgot, but everything else was paid online or using my debit card. I never write checks at stores. I don't remember voiding the check when I wrote out the doctor check.  I'm going to be trying to figure this out all day...GRRRR!  Guess I'll just be watching my bank to see what it is when it clears. I need more sleep.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Added time off

The company I work for finally made a decision regarding our sick and vacation time.  They are going the PTO route, which I like, but there are still some parts of it I'm not totally thrilled with.  If we leave the company none of it is paid out, where before someone quit or got laid off they'd get paid any unused vacation time. When I first learned of this possible change to PTO my boss said they would probably allow a certain percentage of it to be paid out, if you left the company.  Not that I'm planning to leave, but I know this will make those that are try to use up their time off before they leave, since it's a use it or lose it deal  now.  I've seen that with other companies I've worked at over the years.  Guess it does send out a signal that someone might be leaving....

At my current rate of annual vacation plus our 7 days of sick leave, my new combined yearly PTO will be 22 days/176 hours. We will only be allowed to ever have a maximum of 216 hours on the books, so for me only a one week "cushion", should I ever need to use a lot of sick time.  For those that are only earning 1 or 2 weeks vacation a year, they are still allowed to accrue up to a maximum of 216.  Those earning vacation at a lesser rate than myself can have more of a cushion and not take all their vacation, each year if they don't want to.  I won't have that option.

That all being said - my unused sick leave through the end of September is 42 hours, so I have decided to bank the time and add it to my PTO, rather than taking the bonus of $525 ($100 per every 8 hrs).  42 hours is worth a lot more pay-wise than $525 and I'll have that added cushion of time off built in now, should I need it for anything down the road.  Thanks to everyone for their suggestions earlier on what I should do with this time.

What a nice treat

DD came home from work yesterday afternoon and asked me what I had planned for dinner (a casserole) and then said that she and a friend from work (who also happens to be the sister of DS's girlfriend) wanted to take me and her mom to the restaurant they work at for dinner. I ended up making some club sandwiches for the guys before we left and we went off to have breakfast for dinner. It was such a nice girl time and I enjoy visiting with the other mom when I get a chance....afterall we'll most likely have 2 kids married to each other some day :)

Then we stopped at my mom's house as she had called and had a bunch of straight from the garden veggies and fruit for us, along with some fresh eggs.  Her boyfriends daughter lives on a small farm and had lots of extras.  Carrots, tomatoes, pears and apples and some corn.  Yum!