Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The dream of simplicity

I crave a simple and relaxing lifestyle. Yet, I know this is not possible, as DH has the total opposite personality and seems to be getting worse with the "wants". That personality was fine in our 20's and 30's, but as 50 fast approaches, and we live with DH's disability, I find myself just wanting simple and easy. I don't know if it's because he can't do/have a busy lifestyle, but DH just keeps wanting more and more - more money, more things, more doing. Not that he actually does anything to to make this happen, mostly it's just incessant talking about it - how he wants to do and have more and he's not satisfied with our life.  It's become a daily conversation with him and I'm about ready to just scream in frustration, but I just listen, realizing that trying to change him or disagree with him will just make him want it all more.

Me? I just want to keep it all simple. Realizing this will probably never be my life as a whole, I keep trying to infuse little pockets of simplicity into my life wherever and whenever I can. My morning time when it's just me and the dogs and my cup of coffee and I can get online and read emails and blogs and catch up on news. My hour drive to and from work has always kind of been my "me" time too, listening to books on CD. But, yesterday I realized I haven't done that in the past couple of months. I got to listening to talk radio during the election and then just never got to the library to pick up some audio books and so have just kept listening to talk radio. It's really quite depressing and doesn't really give me alot of hope for the future of this economy or country and certainly does not relax me at all, so after work yesterday I went to the library and picked out 3 audio books.  Back to a nice relaxing drive! I think I should get an ipod, so I can download books from the library to listen to and not have to go to the library to get them.

When DH is busy on his laptop and engrossed into his online world or busy with something out in the shop (and not driving me nuts with his daily "conversations" about how he wishes his life were) I take the opportunity to read a book on my Nook.....or take a nap....or take a bubble bath. Some evenings I manage to watch a favorite tv show or a movie, without his interruptions. Luckily, he gets busy on Facebook or his message boards many evenings, but when he's not it's like he has to be the center of attention while DD and I are trying to watch something, so we end up missing some of it. When the rare time happens when he actually goes somewhere that I don't have to go with him, it's like a different atmosphere in the house. He just has this almost constant vibe/aura with him that creates energy, I guess.

I've been trying to declutter and get rid of excess stuff gradually over the past several years. That has helped me, too. A clean and tidy(er) house makes me more relaxed and at peace.  Fortunately for me, both my kids have my personality, so they don't really add to the more chaotic lifestyle DH manages to infuse into our lives. I can tell there are times they just wish DH would back off, too. I spend a lot of time at my desk, since I work from home part time and it's seeing the effects of my "old" ways of messiness and clutter-ness.  So, my goal today is to clean it up and get it back to how it looked and made me feel when I first set it up for use.

Hopefully, DH will settle down a bit when winter is over and he can get outside again and do things around the property, rather than be cooped up inside the house all day. I'm sure part of it is missing DS and not having little projects out in the shop to work on with him, to help keep him busy.

I still find myself wanting more simplicity in my life and will continue to try to keep sneaking it into our life! I know I'm never going to change him, so not worth the effort to try - trying would just negate what simplicity I have managed to achieve. What ways do you add simplicity and relaxation into your busy and hectic lives? Is there a way to have simplicity, at all, when you have a spouse who is just the opposite?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Watch out!

This has been our weekend...a very energetic puppy who has to wear a collar! He's like a bull in a china shop, banging into everything. The snap near his neck was constantly coming un-snapped every time he moved so DH took some small zip ties and fixed that problem. He has to wear this thing for at least a week, and even though the vet said we could leave it off if we can watch him closely so that he doesn't lick his surgery site, I tried that and even watching him that close he went straight for it. I don't want to spend every second of the day with my eyes glued to him, so he can just wear the collar!

He still thinks he can do his normal stuff - like sit in your lap while watching tv. I spent a few minutes watching tv through the plastic. Or he thinks he can snuggle next to you in bed.  I'll be glad when this week is up and we can go back to normal!

Friday, January 25, 2013


DH and I discussed the ailing washing machine and he said for the time being, since it still works, he will just put up with the clanking noise (it lasts for a couple of minutes) until either the machine stops working altogether or the sound starts driving him nuts. Hopefully they will both hold out awhile and I can get some more $ set aside for a new machine down the road a bit. The transmission for the machine would cost at least $200 for the part and he's not even sure that would fix the problem, so with the age of the machine it seems stupid to put any more money into it.

It seems to be one thing after another this week. DD went to drive her brother's car - just since it hadn't been started in a month, with him away, and it wouldn't start. It's a 2004 car and DH says it's never had a new battery and it's time. Since it's not a car anyone needs to drive right now, we're just going to wait  until I get paid at the end of the month to buy a new battery.  I'm sure once DS gets home (in 11 more days!! yay!) and gets back to working, he will reimburse me for the battery.

Then this morning DH noticed some water underneath his sink in our bathroom. Nothing major, but seems to be a small drip and thank goodness he noticed it right away. Looks like he fixed it, so far so good.

I have a pork roast and veggies in the crockpot cooking for dinner and it smells so good. I usually make a loaf of bread in my (not used very often) bread machine, but apparently the box mix of bread I have bought for years is no longer available. (Carla, the great breadmaker is probably falling over laughing right now!). I know it would be probably just as easy to throw in the ingredients into the machine, but I don't have any yeast, so I will have to get some next shopping trip. Speaking of grocery shopping, my grocery store is offering an .80 a gallon discount on gas if $150 is spent on one trip. I usually budget about $125-130, so I'm thinking some stockpiling and partial next week shopping trip in in order. That's over $12 DD can save on her gas fill up with that kind of discount. I'm trying to work on my list right now - so that my total comes to $150 and I get enough for 2 weeks on alot of things and/or stockpile on some sale items.

I dropped puppy off at the vet this morning for his neutering and microchipping. Poor little guy didn't know what he was in for as he happily let the girl take him in back! We get to pick him up later this afternoon. They sure try to add a bunch of "extras" onto the cost. The surgery was already included in our wellness plan, but there was about $150 in extra's I had to cross off! Everything from a nail clipping, to treats, to some "anal cleansing", which when I asked for more info on it, turns out is for small dogs. I'm sure if I had just agreed to it all, they wouldn't have told me a big dog doesn't need it. So, I only added the big collar for after surgery and the microchipping and that will cost me about $50 total.

This weekend also brings my birthday. 49! EEEK! 

Washing machine blues

Yesterday morning our washing machine started making this awful clanking noise part way into the wash cycle (no, it wasn't just out of balance). DH has been very handy figuring out what's wrong with our washer and dryer the past several years and getting the parts and fixing himself. He had me pick up some parts ($50) yesterday on my way home from work.  Didn't fix the problem.......

So, now he's thinking it's the "transmission", which from what I can see online is about a $200 part. So, now we have to decide do we want to sink another $200 into this old washing machine or just buy a new one? I can't remember how long we've had this machine now, but I'm guessing a good 10 years. We don't need one of those fancy front loading expensive machines.  Just another top load machine is fine and from pricing a decent one it would cost around $500.

I'm leaning toward just buying a new one, but I will talk with DH today and see what he thinks.  I just did a google search to see if I could figure out how old this machine is from the model/serial number. Looks like 2001 - which sounds about right. I think we had to replace our first machine around the time I went back to work. Not sure I want to put another $200 into something that old, but then again with the new part it might last another 5 years or more. What to do, what to do?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A numbers review

I've been taking a look at my "numbers".  Good news on 2 fronts: fast food expenses are down and 401k balance is up. 

December fast food was $116, down a bit from November and this month so far has only been $65. I've really been doing well with the meal planning and sticking to it. I still hate cooking, but what'ya gonna do?

My 401k had a 17.22% gain for 2012! I still have a LONG way to go to catch up with having a decent retirement fund, but since I still have 18 years or so before retirement age of 67 I think we'll at least have a small nest egg and hopefully a little Social security benefits, since I've put into it for the past 30 years and will be for another 18 years.  Right now I'm sitting at  $25,300 (this starting at zero 7 years ago). At the end of 2011 it was $18,267. Mid year there was an employer contribution of $2200 and at the end of 2012 it was up to $24,252. It's increased over a $1000 just since Jan 1st.  Another $2200 is due to get added to it here in a few months with our annual profit sharing deposit from employer.

I'm not one to watch my 401k balance all the time - just every month or two I take a look at it. I am hoping to get back to making payroll contributions in the next couple of years, as my "kid expenses" go down. When DH had to stop working and my employer stopped our bonus program, I had to stop my contributions for the time being. I was putting $200 a month and company matched 50%. Fortunately, though when my employer dropped the bonus program in 2009, they did add a profit sharing of 3.4% of our annual income, so that has helped keep my 401k growing.

Awhile back, I posted about some of my retirement "possibly" being inheritance from my mom. I got a bit blasted for "expecting" this. (I do NOT expect it, at all). While at my mom's for Christmas my uncle had a more in depth chat with me and DH about his will and "estate". He asked that 20% of the sale of a classic car (worth about $100,000) he has goes to some children's charities he supports. I said to make sure to put this in his will and especially which exact charities he wants to help. That would be so cool to be able to give an amount like that to charities! Now, this being said, again, I do NOT expect this money, nor do I consider it a part of my retirement planning. It would just be a "bonus" if I inherit anything from either my mom or my uncle. He's only 70 and could sell that car between now and then. Most likely he will have to sell it and his house, if/when he needs long term care. He does have a house paid off that he said is currently worth about $160,000. But, it would be kind of cool to be able say I got an inheritance from a "rich uncle". LOL. He is my favorite uncle and makes us all laugh hysterically, so I'm hoping he's got many many more years to be around!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday this and that

Do you hear that sound?? Me neither.....that's because my new dishwasher is sooo much quieter!! I've got it running this morning and it's just a low kind of hum.  It's not a super quiet model, but it sure is WAY quieter than our 24 year old dishwasher we just got rid of. I will have to get used to the fact that the wash cycle's on these new washers take like 2 hours or more. The quietness should help DH out too - for some reason the noisy dishwasher was like fingernails on a chalkboard to him.

I think DH and I might go to Home Depot today. He got a gift card for Christmas to use. It's $25 and I'm sure he could find something he can use, but more than likely whatever he finds will be more than that and I'll be kicking in the difference....sigh......He REALLY needs a new desk chair. He spends so much time sitting in it, on his computer, and the seat cushion has worn down and he's been noticing more back problems lately. He found a nice one on craigslist but the lady had someone coming to look at it and never emailed him back, so it must have sold.  I think when I get paid at the end of the month I'll be buying him a new one at Staples. They always have their chairs on sale and usually there is a 15% off coupon you can also print off their website to take into the store. Right now he's got pillows and blankets folded up to cushion his butt and back, along with his heating pad.

I had to laugh at DD yesterday. She came home from work with her first W-2 form. She opened it up and says "what does this mean? I get back $1900?" I look at it and say " made $ get back $12!".  Too funny.

I chatted online with DS the other day. He was excited that he was getting $600 cash for 3 days of work down in Australia. He's helped a guy out who has a construction business and then worked one day at his house - working a website for the guys wife and showing her how to update it, etc. I told him that before he comes home, check into how much it costs to convert his AU money back into USD, since it was so expensive last time he went down there and came home and transferred what he had left back at his bank. I asked him how much it cost to exchange some of his USD when he got there and he said it cost him nothing - he met another racer at the track who was coming to the US for a visit so they did an even exchange dollar for dollar -  pretty smart, eh?!

The way our small electricity company does their billing is kind of annoying. It makes it kind of hard to compare to the same month last year. I had hoped our bill would go down from December of last year, as we did a bit of insulating and we've had DS gone most of the month. It appeared to be more than last year.  But, our billing cycles are never the same each month. They never end on the same day each month. This month had 34 days in the billing period, last year's same month had 29.  So, on closer look, kw usage/cost per day, we did go down some. Now, next month will probably be a shorter number of days in the billing cycle and I am hoping will be a cheaper month. I wish they'd just end their billing cycle on say same day each month and then each month would be 30 or 31 days, not 28 days some billing and 34 other months.  At least they do have the data available on their website so view daily and average usage, so I can at least see if we are now saving some, it just takes longer to figure out and when you never know how many days will be in the bill that comes, it can be quite a bit higher then expected, especially during the high cost winter months. We've had a pretty cold spell here, below freezing every day, the past 10 days or so, which isn't going to help keep next month's bill down any. I am ready for warmer weather!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Eyeglasses and taxes

I took DH to his eye exam this morning and he picked out some glasses (his first ever). They should be ready in about a week. He did of course need the progressive type, which adds to the cost. But, I did great on estimating how much it would cost. I budgeted $300 and with sales tax and adding the clip on sunglasses for $15 we came in at $308 total.  Not that he was trying to, but surprisingly he ended up liking the cheapest frames they had the best. This was long overdue so I am glad to have this finally checked off my to-do list.

Yesterday I started working on getting our 2012 medical and dental costs tallied up for tax purposes. I knew premiums were right at $5,000 for the year, but I had "guesstimated" in my head the rest of the out-of-pocket for deductible, prescriptions and dental (DD had wisdom teeth out) to be $4000.  It was actually almost $7000! Wow, no wonder I had to use up all our EF and felt like I had no extra money all year. And he still didn't even meet his $3500 deductible - prescription costs were a huge chunk of it. This year, if DH can just stay the course with his current meds and have no additional problems, I am estimating out of pocket (not counting premiums) to be in the neighborhood of $2500. I'd even be happy if this ends up half of the $7,000 it was for 2012.

I don't have all my tax documents yet, but my initial estimate with running the numbers is about a $1000 refund, so that is good news. I'm ready to have a better year financially!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Steaks, anyone?

I have never been the type to ask people to go out of their way to do something for me or ask for something different than is offered, etc. So, here I am at the grocery store bright and early this morning doing my weekly shopping and I'm in the meat department looking for the value pack of ribeye steaks on sale for $5/lb. We don't eat steak often (maybe every 4-6 weeks) but I figured this was a great price and the value pack be enough for 2 meals. As I'm looking for the steak packs a lady is stocking the meats back up and asks if she could help me find something. I tell her what I am looking for and she shows me where they should be (in a special section, not where all the steaks normally are) but they are out. She goes in the back to ask if there is more and comes back out and tells me the butcher is packaging some up and it will be about 15 more minutes. I finish my shopping and go back to check and had to wait a minute or two more. The nice lady brings the packages back out and they are these super thick, like 3" steaks! I tell her, no thanks, I didn't realize they would be that thick. I know the store usually carries a thin cut, a "normal" cut and a thick cut, but these were ridiculous!. So, the kind lady, who is trying to be so helpful,offers to go back and ask the butcher lady if she could cut some thinner. I say that's ok, I don't want you/her to go to any extra trouble, but she kindly keeps insisting it's no problem. I just want "normal" cut, if that is possible, but I kept saying, "I don't want you/her to go to any extra trouble". She finally convinces me it's no trouble and the butcher will cut me some thinner steaks and that I'll probably end up with more steaks in the pack than the others, since they are thinner and they have to package them at a certain weight. I say that is no problem.

10 minutes later out come some more packages of "thinner" cut steaks. They are still quite a bit thicker than I like, but by now I feel like a total pain in the butt, so I just say, ok thanks, and take the package. Plus there was only 4 steaks in the pack ( was hoping it would end up with like 6), I'd say she cut them maybe a half inch thinner. So, now I have thick steaks at home and they will probably turn out terrible, because I just can never seem to get thick steaks broiled right in our oven.

See why I just like to mind my own business and not ask for substitutions or exceptions? I felt like a pain in the butt AND now I'm mad because I didn't get what I really wanted.

Friday, January 11, 2013

A good week, overall

I finally got an appointment made for DH to have an eye exam and get glasses - finally have the extra money to do this. All his other medical expenses have been taking up anything I could set aside for this! We're just going to Walmart Vision Center (where I have gone for years) and the exam is $65, plus whatever the glasses will cost. Hopefully he can find something he likes that aren't super expensive, but most likely, due to his age, he'll need bifocals, just as I do, and that will bring up the cost. Guess we'll find out next Wednesday. I can't imagine him in glasses - he's never had them before. Will take getting used to for him, I'm sure.

My generous mom strikes again! She earned quite a few Sears rewards points from the refrigerator purchase (plus I think she had some from Christmas shopping), so she has like $260 in rewards. She just told me there is nothing she really wants or needs at Sears right now. Since she ended up purchasing her new mattress somewhere else, she didn't use up the points. She said there is a dishwasher on sale for half off at $350. Plus she'd get another 15% off ($52.50) buy putting it on her Sears card. With the rewards points it will cost very little.  So, bye bye 24 year old dishwasher. You have served us very well to last all these years! 

I've decided to purchase DD the same type of down alternative comforter that I just got for my bed. Her room is the coldest in the house and this should help keep her toasty warm. It's on sale at Kohl's for $39.99 right now for twin size (reg. $79.99) plus I just got a 30% off coupon in the mail, so it will be $28. More than I paid for the king size on Black Friday, but still a good deal. I see that Kohl's is also having their spend $50 get $10 Kohl's cash. Might be worth it to spend another $22 to get the $10. DD always needs pantyhose for work and she mentioned the other day she needs new socks. Actually, with the 30% off coupon, I can actually spend an additional $32 worth of stuff to get to the $50 total. $40 comforter plus $32 in other merchandise = $72, less 30% = $50, plus get $10 Kohl's cash for future purchase. 

Last night DD found a duvet cover on for $40 that she used her money to pay for. Which by the way, she has quite a bit in her checking and savings now from working her job - over $1500 so far. She loves her job and the servers fight over having her host/help in their section. She gets pretty good extra tips from them, too. It's a great job for her while going to school. It's only about a mile and a half from home, so she doesn't have to spend much of her money on gas to get to the job. Her first quarter of college classes (while still in high school) earned her two 4.0's and one 3.1 (pre-calc) with a 3.7 overall GPA. I'm so proud of her and all her hard work.

The flu and cold germs are starting to go around work - currently have about 4 or 5 people (out of 35) out sick. Knock on wood, and maybe it's because I'm not in the office full time, but I never seem to catch the crud.My boss has it, but she has a very weak immune system due to some health problems, so she is sick quite a bit and I'm not surprised she got it.

My little 401k (that I got a late start on) finally made it up to the $25,000 mark. Plus in the next couple of months we are due to have deposited our profit sharing for this past year, so that will be another $2200 or so added soon.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sweet Dreams!

Ahhh! That was the sound of me under my new sheets and down (alternative type) comforter last night. I'm usually always cold and sleep in flannel pj bottoms. But, right off I was too warm, so I took them off, thinking I'd have to put them on during the night when it got colder. Especially when I'd move my legs and the new spot would be cold......Nope! it was warm wherever I moved to. So nice!

I'm not 100% in love with the duvet cover, but for $40 what can you expect. It will do the job. The new sheet set I do love. When we were at Target over the weekend I had picked out a set that was $59, but it was kind of a strange brown color. By the time I was waiting in line to pay for it and my other items, I changed my mind and didn't buy them. We had to go to Target yesterday to get one of DH's prescriptions and then we were going to Walmart to look at sheets. Kohl's was not an option as they were still having their buy one get one for $1 sale, and that was out of my budget as the cheapest set was like $90 or more. While we were waiting for the prescription we walked around and I decided to look at their sheets one more time - maybe I missed one the other day that would be a color brown I'd like. This week all the sheets were on sale! I did see a set I missed before - 400 thread count - on sale for $50.99 (reg. $59.99). I had $60.01 left on my Visa gift card so I had enough to also purchase the swiffer floor duster we've been wanting for DD's new bedroom floor.

The sheets are awesome. The fitted sheet has elastic all around and the corners are extra refinforced - and there are little "side" labels sewn in so you know which way the sheets fit on - which is always a pain with King size.  I've never had sheets like that - LOL!.

The duvet cover is a cream color and I took a dark brown blanket I already had and folded it across the bottom of the bed for some color and to match the brown shams. I'm going to see if they sell some standard pillow cases in the same sheets to put on our regular pillows so they match the rest, too.  All in all I got new sheets, comforter and duvet for about $125. Not bad, if I do say so myself.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Medical expense reductions

Well, it seems I will now have an expense reduction that will offset the increased payroll taxes, at least for the time being.  DH had a follow up doctor appointment this morning to review the Savella medication he has been on the past couple of months. The main side effect he was having (trouble urinating) just kept getting worse and last week he was just feeling nauseous almost all day. He stopped taking it last Thursday and in about 36 hours those awful side effects went away. The Savella wasn't really helping much with the pain, anyway, at least not enough to put up with the side effects. The doctor had said at the last visit if the trouble urinating did not go away, he'd either have to stop the medication or take another medication to get rid of that side effect.

So, the doc had the same game plan going forward that we did - stay off the Savella and just continue on the 3 meds he has been on the past year or so that have seemed to help the most. He's also learning to pace himself a bit better when he does have stuff to do, so as not to over do it quite so bad (that's a hard one for him!) and use a heating pad when he has areas of bad pain.

One of the current meds had been reduced to half the dosage a couple of months ago (the thought being that anything over a certain mg per day is really just a waste and doesn't help more).  So, with that cost reduction and no $130/mo Savella I am going to save about $210 a month in prescription costs. Plus, he has been going to the doctor about every 4-6 weeks the past 6 months and we won't be doing that anymore (unless he just has some worsening pain or new problems), which will also save me, as each appointment costs about $100-$130 out of pocket, since he has such a high deductible to meet. So, I just have 2 prescriptions that will cost about $65 and $80 each per month and one that is $4. I think with the medical savings we will now have I might even up DH's little $60 a month allowance/fun money I give him each month to $80 or so. Having a bit of his own money to spend has also helped his mental state of mind - to be able to use the money on things he wants or enjoys keeps him a bit occupied and not thinking of his pain all the time.

I'm hoping this year will be quite a bit less than we spent the past year on medical! I'll know the grand total of our medical costs this past year when I do my taxes and it's going to be pretty high.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Getting organized

During my break from work, during the holidays, I also managed to get my walk-in closet and Christmas wrapping in order. It's not a huge walk-in closet so it's always feeling a bit overstuffed. For the past many years I have kept all my bags, tissue paper, bows, and tags inside another huge gift bag. As the bag got old and falling apart I just used packing tape to keep it together. This year it finally fell apart for good. Plus, it took up alot of room in my closet and was always in the way. My wrapping tubes are under the bed, loose.

I purchased 2, long, under the bed plastic storage boxes. I was able to fit all my Christmas wrapping stuff in both of them and they fit perfectly under my bed. I put my birthday/general bags and wrapping in a smaller gift bag and that is still in the closet since we use that kind of wrapping more often. And then I cleaned out the closet and took 2 big bags of old clothes and shoes to Goodwill. It's actually a walk-in closet again!

Monday, January 7, 2013

A few splurges were in order

Over the past few weeks I have used a bit of my Christmas bonus and the $100 visa gift card to purchase a few wants and needs for myself. Boy, does that feel good! One of the "needs" was a new pair of tennis shoes for $35. My old ones were bought in 2007 and I've just plain wore them out. I can still wear them around the house and working out in the yard, but they just don't look nice enough anymore to wear out in public, without looking like a bum. Plus, these new ones (black slip on Sketchers) are nice enough to wear to work with jeans. The other need was a new bra - that was a serious need! I bought one at Kohl's for $30 after sale price and discount. The old one went straight into the garbage can, it was that bad.

For my wants I used the $100 Visa gift card and purchased the duvet cover and (still to be purchased, though it will happen this week) sheet set. I spent $22 or so of my bonus on the new comforter purchased on Black Friday. It has been sitting in my closet since then....just waiting for me to get that duvet cover! It should be here in a couple of days. I'd say the comforter was somewhere in between a need and a want, considering the condition of our current comforter. The other want purchase was a new tote bag for carrying my work back and forth from home to the office. Remember, puppy chewed up the one I had. I've been using a canvas type tote that I had, but it's too soft sided and more tall and narrow. Plus, it doesn't look professional at all.  This is what I bought at Kohl's:
It was regularly $70, on sale for half, plus another 20% off. So, you can see I didn't go hog wild and buy some bag that cost several hundred dollars. Just something basic that looks nice and will fit my needs for the next 5 years or so....assuming I remember to keep it off the floor by my desk...away from puppy teeth.  Now, I suppose I could have just gotten by with using the tote that wasn't very functional, but part of being successful is how you present yourself on the job.

The only other little thing I can think of that I still want is a new lunch bag. I've been using the same bag for over 10 years now and it's bright blue and just kind of ugly. I've told DD I'd like a new one for my birthday, so hopefully she will remember.

Sometimes you just gotta splurge on yourself a bit and take care of those basic needs, too.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


I've been trying to work on my stocking up of food and supplies. It's a slow process, but luckily I have had some extra money to take advantage of some sales and coupons when I see a good deal. With DS being gone, I've noticed an expected drop in my food expenses and am trying to funnel that  into my stockpile.

My recent purchases have been for the pets. I have some buy one get one free coupons for Beggin Strips treats and have been purchasing a few each week. I haven't come across a BOGO sale on them, (which would make them free) I did get 4 last week for $.26 each bag. Last weekend we were low and I had to purchase the expensive Blue brand puppy food we have been trying for puppy's itching problem (which it has seemed to work). He went through the $32 small bag in about 10 days or so. Ouch. Went back to Petsmart last weekend to buy the bigger 30lb. bag and luckily it was on sale $5 off, so it was "only" $48. During the week I got a Petsmart email that included a $10 off your $40 purchase. I went back yesterday and fortunately the dog food was still on sale $5 off and I also got the $10 off. Saving $15 a bag on that expensive dog food is a great feeling! I will definitely have to watch for those coupons in my emails to try and keep the cost of this dog food as low as possible!

Last weekend I also got some dog and cat food for our other pets at Target.  For the Purina One dog food I combined $2 off mfg. coupons with $1 off Target coupons and a sale of buy 2 get a $5 Target gift card to essentially get $5.50 off per bag. For the Purina One cat food I only had a couple of $1 off coupons, but the cat food also had the sale of buy 2 get a $5 Target gift card. I used up the $10 in Target gift cards yesterday toward the shampoo and deodorant DD needed.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

I still got pushed off the fiscal cliff

So what is everyone doing to adjust their budgets for the 2% increase in social security tax? I remember cringing when I first heard 2 years ago that this was "temporarily" going into effect. I knew I'd quickly get used to the extra money each month and knew at some point it would come to an end. I thought it might only be for 1 year, not 2 years. Of course by now the extra money has become part of my monthly budget. Huge increases in health insurance premiums over the last 2 years and high gas and food prices made using the 2% a necessity. It wasn't "extra" money for me to stimulate the ecomony, it was money I needed to live each month.

For me it will mean about $110 less per month. With the $98 a month increase in health insurance premiums starting this month and the extra tax, I'm now trying to figure out how to cover an over $200 drop in income, basically. Back to the drawing board to see where else I can cut an expense. I have 2 in the works - starting next month - a change in health insurance companies, which should lead to lower monthly prescription costs and the change I still have yet to make on DH's cell phone plan. In October/November I just didn't have the $100 extra to purchases the minutes card and then DS left on his trip and I really need him to handle the transfer of making sure DH get's his same phone number. He handled DD's when we switched her to T-Mobile and it was a total hassle, but he finally got it straightened out, only because he kept at it with T-Mobile because he knew it could be done.

How will this 2% increase affect you and your budget?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Making the bed

Why are duvet covers so expensive??  My boss gave me a $100 Visa gift card as a Christmas gift (so nice!) and I want to use it on a duvet cover - but not the whole dang $100! Geez. The cheapest I found at stores like Target, Kohl's or Bed Bath and Beyond is $90. I found one I liked online at Walmart for only $25....but they are out of stock in King size.  I don't want anything crazy expensive, just something I can put over the new comforter I bought myself on Black Friday and easily take off to machine wash off the dog hair and drool.

I was hoping to spend about $50 on a duvet cover and the remaining $50 on a new sheet set. I did find one on Amazon for $34 plus $6 shipping. It's received good reviews and is a beige color.  The dog who lives on our bed is light colored, so I think that would probably be the best color. Our bed is a dark cherrywood. I just ordered it and that leaves me with $60 for sheet set. I think I'll go with a dark brown color. Hopefully, I can find a decent set of sheets for that price at Target or Walmart.