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Archive for January, 2008

8 hours and counting...

January 31st, 2008 at 01:44 pm

Since DH and I had a cigarette. He's having a pretty rough go of it but I'm doing okay for the most part. I keep thinking, "Hmm, I think I'll go outside for a smoke.." then realize that I can't/won't. One end of the straw I have is chewed up, though. Ha! And I'm trying not to eat everything in sight...

Ugh!

January 31st, 2008 at 06:44 am

I don't know what happened but my blog is all messed up and my entries are gone!

Thoughts on baldness, saving money, and quitting smoking

January 31st, 2008 at 05:59 am

This is Day 1 of what DH and I call "The Quit". Before I got up, he'd made and eaten his breakfast so when I got up I made a cup of coffee, sipped a little of it, checked email, then cut his hair for him. Rather than have that "man losing his hair but not admitting it" thing going on he keeps it cut very short all over. I like it but then, I think bald is sexy. I do! Yul Brynner was one of the sexiest men in my opinion. And while DH has much more hair than shaved Yul, I can only hope he is someday totally bald! So yes, I cut his hair for him and that's always a nice savings.

I also shaved a spot on his back for his nicotine patch and placed it on for him. It isn't sticking too well but it's there. I might have to use some medical tape to keep it on. Mine is on my left arm. And we're each in possession of a small piece of straw. It gives us something to hold in our hands and in our mouths. It really does help with the physical habits acquired during years of smoking.

So far, so good. We aren't yelling, snapping or biting one another but it's only been a short time. We'll see how the day wears on. The nice thing is, even if we have a rough day, at the end of today we'll have saved close to $10. How 'bout that, sports fans? I need to get my quitmeter up and running. It really helps keep with motivation.

So, here's to those of us who are bald or love bald, saving money, and quitting smoking. May we be successful! Smile

Staying calm in very disturbed waters

January 30th, 2008 at 05:43 pm

Since posting the entry earlier today about our Cash Flow Plan shock, DH and I have done a lot of talking. Blessedly, we're on the same page in all this. And even more wonderfully, he's a rock right now. He's concerned but is staying calm and keeping me from freaking out. He'll freak out later when I'm calm. That's how we do things around here;only one person freaking at a time. Otherwise it's pure chaos.

Together, we decided to have dinner out tonight (our last hurrah for quite awhile!) and enjoy it. So we went to a place that serves great hamburgers. He had a hamburger and I had a steak sandwich and we split an order of incredibly fantastic onion rings. The cost was $16.72. And since we'd already decided that we must quit smoking NOW we went to Target and got a week's worth of nicotine patches. We know the patches help since we used them during our quit in 2004. While at Target we got milk and a couple other things we needed and I used my 10% discount and a coupon for $5 off any purchase of $25 or more so we spent $37.96.

The patches cost $24.34 with the tax and discount figured in and although I'd guessed we spend about $45 a week on cigarettes he told me today we spend closer to $70. So, since we won't smoke while using the patch that's an immediate savings each week of $46 and some change. Back in 2004 I used the patches for just a few days and he used them for a couple of weeks. I don't think we'll need them for more than 3 weeks so we will see the $70 a week savings very soon if it goes as it has before.

We talked about me finding a different job and the issue with my medical expenses. He made me see some positives in all this mess like the fact that his business has very low expenses and is growing and we both know how to live on almost nothing and creditors aren't hounding us right now.

I get paid Friday and will use $87 of whatever I get to put in the food envelope. This is a three pay period month so I figure it's okay to divide the monthly food budget amount by three rather than two. It makes me feel a little better, anyway.

I remind myself to take deep breaths and I tell myself, "Four walls first, we'll be fine.." It helps.

FPU's Cash Flow Plan! Hold me, I'm scared!

January 30th, 2008 at 02:50 pm

Earlier today we filled out our quickie budget sheet for FPU. So far, so good. It was fairly painless and things looked pretty good or at least not as bad as I thought they would.

I'd read in the FPU forum several messages where members said they were scared and I wondered why they were scared. Now I know why!

We're working on our Cash Flow Plan and the numbers just aren't working! What a shock, huh? With the expenses broken down as they are in the CFP, it's very clear to me that we have way too little money. Duh, I knew that! But I've just flown by the seat of my pants and buried my head in the sand so long and so well that although I knew we didn't have enough money I didn't know just how much we didn't have. Now I know. And yes, I'm scared! I was shaken enough that as DH and I talked about it, my eyes misted over. Okay, they didn't just mist over. I actually cried a little. Yes, I'm very scared. DH is so calm, though. He's a rock, telling me it will be okay and not to worry about it all right now, that we need to know what the truth is and that this is the best thing. I know he's right but its still scary.

According to the numbers right now, we have $85 less than we need per month. And that's before we figure in things like retirement fund, furniture replacement, water and gas (which we don't pay now but will at some point), any kind of health, disability or life insurance (which we don't have and do need), dental and optometry care, or payments to any of the creditors we owe (which we don't pay now and haven't in years but want to).

And then there's this. For the last year I've gotten my medications free through the pharmaceutical companies but now that I'm working and DH's business is half way good, I more than likely won't qualify for their programs. So I won't get free medications and supplies and we don't have insurance to help with that. It wouldn't be so bad if the cost of my medications and supplies wasn't astronomical but it is astronomical - $1300 to $1500 a month, give or take a couple hundred dollars or so. And there's simply no way I can afford health insurance right now even through the state's high risk pool which quoted me a monthly premium of about $875.

Okay, so what to do? Well, it looks as though one thing I need to do is find a job that either pays me enough to pay for health insurance or medication or provides HMO coverage for a reasonable charge. My employer is keeping me below full time hours and I don't see that changing any time soon so I don't qualify there. Great, just great. And I don't have the job skills to land the kind of job that's going to pay me what I need so I'll have to find a job with decent medical coverage.

So yeah, I'm scared. I'm really scared right now. And I don't like it one bit but it is what it is.

I'm drinking the kool aid and it's pretty damned bitter.

Brutal honesty at work, Part II

January 29th, 2008 at 10:14 pm

On January 2 of 2007, I posted an entry called Brutal honesty at work. That entry was about what was on one of my credit reports. Sadly, that same credit report, pulled about two weeks ago, hasn't changed except that item #2 is now slightly over $1300 and we no longer have the house payments. Unfortunately, we don't have the house payments because we lost the house in foreclosure. It is what it is, though.

Well at least there's nothing new on it but I'm shamed that a full year later I'm still trying to figure out what the hell to do with all that debt! The total on my three credit reports is close to $7000. DH has about the same amount in old debt. :::deep breath:::

I do have a tentative plan in mind. I can't deal with it all right now but I'm going to get a firm plan in place and get that stuff dealt with quickly. Some of it is due to roll off before long but I owe the debts and I'm going to pay them. It might take me awhile but I'm going to do it. I'm tired of those things hanging over my head and I want them gone!

I feel better just 'fessing up...again.

Session One of Financial Peace University

January 28th, 2008 at 07:16 pm

Tonight was the first session of Financial Peace University. It was great! We met some seemingly very nice people, some of whom seem to be very deep in debt, and at least one couple that is debt free except for their house, thanks to what they've learned from Dave Ramsey.

I've never really watched Dave but have listened to his radio show quite a bit. He's absolutely hilarious to watch and really does a great 'show'. Learning is an added bonus. Smile

The kit is nice. In it is the book, Financial Peace Revisited, the Financial Peace Course Workbook, Dave's envelope system, and each course session on CD along with several bonus CDs.

The first session is basically information on Baby Steps 1 and 3, both of which deal with the Emergency Fund. Dave explains why its so important to have an emergency fund and gives some very convincing scenarios of how the EF can save your buns! I have to say that although DH was already on board with the EF concept, he wasn't really focused on it. Well, he is now!

I didn't get the savings account opened today but he said we'll have the money to get that opened this week and building that EF is a real priority for him now. Yaaaaay! It will be so much easier to stay on track if we're working toward the same goal.

On the way back from the session we talked about what constitutes an emergency and came to an agreement about that and how we'll prepare for it. We also talked about our eating out habits. We eat out a lot less than we used to and although we agreed to eat out once a week, he still likes to go to Chik-Fil-A for a particular breakfast sandwich and he likes to go get chicken wings. I don't begrudge him those things at all but if we're going to get 'gazelle intense' to use Dave's phrase we're going to have to put an end to that. So our compromise is that we'll eat out once a week only (my goal is once a month, if that) and if we get breakfast sandwiches one morning or wings for lunch that's our one meal out for the week.

So all in all, I think the first session was great and I think FPU is going to help us get on track..both of us!

Today's goings on

January 28th, 2008 at 09:00 am

This morning I paid the electric bill of $64.19 for the little house I still rent. The bill would have and should have been much lower but the neighbor who checked on the house and Bob the Cat for me recently was worried that Bob would get too cold so she kept the heater running most of the time. Now that the cat isn't there, there's no need to run the heater so the next bill should be somewhere around $20, give or take.

Since I'm off today I plan to go the laundrymat and to the bank to open the savings account. It figures that I'd open one when the interest rates are so low but I need to get the money out of my immediate reach and that's certainly one way to do it. Opening a savings account is one of my main goals for this month and the month is almost over so I need to get on the ball and just do it.

Tonight is the first night of Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University class we're attending and I look forward to that. We didn't attend the orientation but since we listen to his show and have read TMMO I figure X amount of what's presented, including most of the orientation, will be review for us. I really am excited about going, though. Thanks for all the input about FPU. I believe it will be a worthy investment for us. By the way, someone asked if the cost is $100 per person or couple. The $100 is for a couple and it includes the kit and access to the paid areas of Dave's website, apparently.

I'll post updates on FPU now and then for others who might be interested in it.

Financial talk for the rest of us....

January 27th, 2008 at 09:47 am

I love reading blogs, even the ones with content on things I know little to nothing about. I read blogs and sites on homeschooling (though I no longer have kids at home to homeschool) cooking, gardening, personal finance, and a myriad of other topics. The PF blogs can overwhelm me at times, though.

Of all the finance blogs I read, the ones I enjoy the most are the ones that are 'for the rest of us'. You know, those of us who don't have $200,000 in savings (or debt) and who live on lower incomes, stretching every dollar to help us get by.

Those blogs are generally loaded with information that's relevant to my life. There's some real humor in a lot of them and that's a show of human spirit. If you can find something humorous to write about in regard to feeding a family of seven on one chicken while fighting off the dogs begging for tidbits and the children clamoring for cookies, you'll be okay no matter what life throws at you. Said blogs also provide me with hints and tips that are helpful and often teach me something new. While I enjoy reading about someone's 401k and it gives me something new to consider and very often inspires me, those entries don't help me a lot in my day to day meanderings and that's what I need most.

So, here are some blogs I read regularly, mainly of the 'for the rest of us' genre though there are a few that are a good mix of advice for us all and a few that are a bit lofty for my life right now. They do give me something to work for, though, and that's always a good thing.

A Frugal Living Blog by a Frugal Guy - He offers some great practical suggestions on saving and frugality

Cash Tactics

Consumerism Commentary

Free Money Finance - Make sure to check out the 10 Commandments of Personal Finance series

Frugal Homemaker Plus

Frugal Village

Ideas for Saving Money

Money Blog

Money Hacks

Neville's Blog - The entrepreneurial adventures of a young man in Austin, Texas

Simply Thrifty

The Simple Dollar

Wise Bread

So there's a small sampling of blogs that I find to be most helpful and sometimes entertaining. There are many more I read and I keep my eyes open for others. So if you know of some, please share! My pocketbook and bank account will appreciate it.

Thanks and this week's dinners

January 27th, 2008 at 07:00 am

Thanks for the comments and email replies to my work woes entry. This work situation has me all messed up. I ranted to my husband about it and he listened and is happy to but there's a limit to how much he will tolerate and I don't want to push that limit. When I went to bed, I laid there for awhile stressing over all this, going over drinks in my head, thinking about how I could have handled things better.

I'm not one to handle pressure well which is one reason I work retail and not some other field. Yes, there's pressure in retail but if you're a peon (and not management), it's generally seasonal and short lived and not too intense. I won't go into management. Been there, done that, and it's not worth the stress for me.

I've decided that if I don't learn this stuff quickly and get some relief from the pressure I feel I won't continue with the java joint.

So, on to more positive things!

Today we're having chicken cooked with onions, broccoli, and little green peas and will have nice leafy salads with it. The leftover chicken will be used throughout the week. So the rest of our meals this week, in no particular order, are:

Creamed chicken over toast or whole wheat noodles with green beans and carrots

Slow cooker meat loaf, mashed potatoes, and spinach (leftover meat loaf will be frozen for later use)

Barley and vegetable soup made in the slow cooker (Yaaaay, a meatless meal)

Barbecued shredded beef on whole wheat muffins with tossed salad and green beans

Chicken noodle medley with tossed salad and spinach (Yaaaay, an almost meatless meal! lol)

Hamburger steaks with mashed potatoes, gravy and green beans

There might be a night in there where things change but that's the plan...

Work woes - I got the java blues!

January 26th, 2008 at 07:00 pm

Pardon me while I vent!

Tonight I was so frustrated. I worked at the register for 3.5 hours then worked at the java joint for 4.5 hours. But they're only scheduling me there a few hours a week and I'm simply not 'getting it'. I dread working there and each time I have a shift there coming up I am almost in agony from it.

Tonight one of my co-workers got frustrated with me and got an attitude. I was almost in tears myself so I took a break, went outside, and walked in the cold air.

It's just not working for me and the java. I don't have enough time there to learn all I need to learn. I'm scheduled to work there about 26 hours in a couple of weeks and hopefully that will ease my pain but in the meantime I feel just stupid when I'm working there. I'm too slow, I still get confused over 'simple' things and it's just not pleasant for me and certainly not 'fun' which is what it should be.

Oh well, hopefully things will improve quickly the week I work there more. I just needed to vent a little...

Today's spending...not too bad & more clearance knickers!

January 25th, 2008 at 08:58 pm

I found two more pair of those clearanced knickers! Someone had returned them, I suppose, so I bought those suckers for $3.74 each. I also bought a dark milky way bar. My spending today came to $8 and some change. Not too bad for two pairs of sleep pants that my DH *really* likes on me and a quickie snack during my break. And I never even thought of looking at the other clearance items. I was just thrilled to find the knickers!

I took my lunch to work - homemade beef tips and rice with gravy and green beans. I ate it hastily but it sure hit the spot.

Tomorrow I work most of the day so I'll take a sandwich and a tin of kippers and an apple. That should keep me going until I can get home and eat dinner with DH. Dinner is going to be barbecued shredded beef sandwiches and chips. Light and easy since I have a full schedule.