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Archive for December, 2009

Quick wrap up of 2009 & today's spending

December 31st, 2009 at 10:19 pm

Okay, so this year was good, bad, and even ugly financially.

The Good:

The man person's business is doing pretty well and pays most of the bills. I'm still working at the job I've had for two years and we manage to save a good portion of what I bring in or we use it for "fun" stuff.

In May of 2009 I opened a 401(k) with my employer and while there isn't much in there, it's something. I also have a very small pension amount with them. I doubt that I'll be with the company for 20 more years but who knows? It could happen.

We're about 1/3 of the way to having a fully funded EF but feel pretty good about what we have in it now. Even the amount we have gives us some security.

We rarely are late to pay a bill now. When it does happen, it's because I simply forget to deal with it, not because we don't have the money.

Our credit reports look a hell of a lot better than they did two years ago.

The Bad:

There isn't much in my 401(k) or pension account. Yeah, they've only existed for a few months but I want them stuffed with goodies..now!

We're only 1/3 of the way to having a fully funded EF. I want it fully funded..now!

Once in a while I'm forgetful and we don't get a bill paid on time. I want to have no bills to pay..now!

Our credit reports, while looking a lot better than they did two years ago, still have a hickey or two on them. I want them cleaned up..now!

Okay, so I'm a little impatient.

And the Ugly:

We have that $45,526.52 hospital bill to tend to. We have a payment plan set up with the surgeon but will throw extra at it and are paying on the pathology bill and will throw extra at it, too, but that hospital bill just looms over us as we try to figure out the best way to deal with it.

All in all, I'd say 2009 was a good year for us financially. Not spectacular but better than 2008 and certainly much better than previous years.

And here's hoping the upward trend continues in 2010.

Oh yeah, here's today's spending:

Laundry - $2.50
Cigarettes - $4.70
Denise Cell Phone - $80 (this is normally around $45 but I got a new phone and part of the monthly charge was pro-rated so this bill was higher than usual)
Americano to have while washing clothes - $2.11

Figured out how to keep track of expenses!

December 30th, 2009 at 06:41 pm

Our expenses for December ended up being very close to what we had on the planning sheets we prepared at the end of November and that's a good thing, indeed. But I've been agonizing over finding a better way to keep track of expenses. It dawned on me, finally, that I already knew the way to do it.

Some years ago the man person created a Filemaker database for me to keep track of blood sugar readings, meals, exercise, medication, physician's visits, etc. and I still use it. It's great and it's so easy to sort and find things. Why not do the same for expenses? Duh! I could even use it for income.

So, I sat down and made a list of the things I need it to have and he's pondering it for a day or two before he gets started on it. Apparently its better to get it right the first time than to revise the thing once its done.

I can't wait until it's ready and I can start entering things into it. I'm turning into quite a numbers geek. Wink

December 27th - January 2nd menu

December 28th, 2009 at 08:26 pm

I worked until 6:30 last night so it was a YOYO (You're On Your Own) night. The man person had a sandwich made with some of the barbecued chicken I prepared yesterday and I had some Dreamfields pasta cooked in beef broth with a little stewed tomato and garlic. It wasn't exciting but it was cheap, hot and filling while watching the Cowboys game!

Tonight we're having garlic baked salmon with salad and steamed carrots.

On New Year's Day we'll have black eyed peas, cabbage and fish of some sort for lunch.

The rest of the week we'll have, in no particular order:

Roast beef slow cooked with sweet potatoes, carrots, and onions, served with tossed salad

Open face roast beef sandwiches (made with leftover roast beef) and green beans

Vegetable beef soup using the last of the cooked roast and vegetables

Sticky Chicken cooked with fresh green beans and served with salad

Homemade chicken pot pie (using Carbquick to make the crust), salad, and steamed spinach

And that's it for this week, tasty, nutritious, and thrifty food!

Happy eating!

Post holiday stuff, more this and that, here and there

December 27th, 2009 at 04:27 pm

Even though I don't "do" Christmas, I really enjoyed taking Mom and Pop to Dallas to see the family. Both of my sisters were there, both nephews, two of my three nieces, etc. The ex husband of one of my sisters was there and he brought his best friend from waaay back, someone I hadn't seen in well over 20 years. The food was great, the company was fantastic, and the day over all was wonderful! I got some pictures but most aren't too good, darn it. We only stayed a few hours and headed back that evening. The traffic wasn't bad at all and I wasn't too late getting home.

The next morning I had to be at work at 6:30, which I wasn't thrilled about but oh well, such is life. It was a crazy, busy day, though! I think the post -holiday sales brought more people than the pre-holiday sales and we stayed very busy all day long.

The man person and I did a little grocery shopping this morning and I do mean a little. We don't need much and spent a tad over $13. I'll fund that envelope again Friday morning but until then we have $9 left to spend on food. Woot! Wink Like I said, though, we don't really need anything so that's no real challenge.

Speaking of challenges, I'm working on 2010 goals and not getting very far. The hospital and physician bills we have to deal with have crimped the plan and I'm not sure just what to do so I'm pondering it and considering options before proceeding with next year's goals.

Okay, time to head to work. Have a great day, all.

No white stuff for us!

December 25th, 2009 at 12:35 pm

The storm cell that was to bring freezing precipitation broke up and we woke to very cold but dry weather this morning. We had a few tiny snow flurries yesterday but not enough to notice unless you were actually looking for them.

So, I'm headed out in awhile to pick up my mother and stepdad and get to Dallas for the day. It will be good to see my sisters and nieces and nephews and just spend time with the family. Too bad my boys won't be there but the oldest left me voice mail last night saying they aren't mad and wishing me a happy holiday. I think they were mad and had time to cool down and realized that perhaps they weren't being fair.

In any event, have a safe and healthy day and a great weekend!

Major plan muck ups and a better late than never menu

December 24th, 2009 at 11:36 pm

It's Thursday and it's been sleeting a little and now it's snowing. It isn't a heavy snow and it probably won't stay too long since the ground is too warm but we're under a winter weather advisory until tomorrow morning, anyway.

Unfortunately, this weather put a crimp in my plans. My sons are in Dallas but they have to head back to Austin tonight or in the morning and I had planned to go see them but by the time I left work the meteorological nastiness had started. I can't drive in unfamiliar territory in the dark and a trip to Dallas in this was just too scary for me so I decided not to go. I'm afraid my sons are miffed at me now and I understand why but as much as I love them and want to see them, it's just too risky to head out in bad weather for a 2.5 hour drive. So, I'm going to take a week off in January, I hope, and take Amtrak to Austin and spend that time with them. I hope they don't stay mad too long. I hate when that happens!

So, it's Thursday and I'm just now getting around to posting this but oh, well!

Sunday we had baked cod with spinach and salad.

Monday we had Swiss Steak with mashed cauliflower and green beans.

Tuesday we had homemade chili I'd prepared in the slow cooker. It was exceptionally tasty with a couple of crackers and there was plenty left to have for lunch the next day.

Wednesday night we had Jewish Chicken with steamed broccoli and wild rice. No self respecting Jew would eat it, I think, not an Orthodox one, anyway, and I didn't name it. But oh man, is it good!

Thursday night's fare is YOYO, You're On Your Own. We have some leftover Jewish Chicken and a nice selection of deli meats and cheeses so finding something won't be hard.

Hopefully I'll be with my family in Dallas Friday, weather permitting. If so, there will be turkey, dressing, green beans, desserts and most of the traditional fare. Yum! And if things pan out the way I hope they do, I'll bring home plenty of leftovers and we'll have those over the weekend.

I'll post next week's menu on Sunday, provided I don't forget. Wink

Happy eating!

I don't do Christmas but....

December 24th, 2009 at 09:25 pm

I hope you all have a safe, happy, and healthy holiday. Enjoy your loved ones, eat til your appetite is sated and cheer your favorite football team!

In the event you have a few minutes with nothing to do, you might look at this site:

http://adventconspiracy.org/

It's Christmas related but at least they seem to be headed in a better direction than most folks and I think a lot of you will appreciate their purpose.

Peace out and stay safe!

Totally OT but a tornado just touched down near us!

December 23rd, 2009 at 10:54 pm

It's done some damage but is moving away from our area at this time. However, we're smack dab in the middle of a nasty cell that's spawning a few of them... please keep little ol' Denise and her family in your prayers!

Whew! That cell has moved on but more nastiness is on the way, apparently, and we're under a tornado watch until 9:30 or so tonight. The tornado touched down about a mile from us and stayed on the ground for about 20 miles. They aren't sure how much damage was done but know there was some.

I just love living in East Texas!

Received itemized statement for the man's recent heart procedure = : {

December 23rd, 2009 at 07:46 pm

Jiminy Christmas! The itemized statement for the heart cath, stent placement, and slightly over 24 hour stay at the hospital is 4 pages long and that's with a small font! I haven't a clue how we're going to pay this bill. If we give them $200 a month it will take a little less than 19 years to pay off. *sigh* We can afford to send them that but anything we pay is going to eat into money we should be saving/investing for retirement. Grrr, just when we're starting to get ahead!

Damn you, life! Wink

Look what I saw!!!!

December 21st, 2009 at 03:25 pm

Yesterday, I walked out of the office to head to the van and this is what I saw!



I ran back in to get my camera and grabbed a few shots of the balloons as they went by.



We were a little concerned about how low this one was and the man person got a photo of it with me in the foreground.

Anyway, it was interesting to see several of these lovelies floating so close to us. I hope you enjoy them!









I sure did!!

Probable explanation for why business has slowed...

December 20th, 2009 at 09:41 pm

As I mentioned in an earlier entry, the man person's business has been slow recently. It isn't dangerously slow and we aren't really worried but it's a little troublesome. This week the shop brought in a little over the minimum we need it to and that's a great thing but since October there's been a definite lag going on.

While we were out today we went by one of the businesses that very often sends referrals our way. The man and the employee at said business started talking shop and the employee mentioned that her company didn't hire new folks for the holiday, implemented a hiring freeze, is consolidating management, and is laying off quite a lot of people. She also stated that they're having a hard time meeting last year's numbers much less exceed them as they're expected to do and they're being pushed to sell, sell, sell. Ahhh, this explains why we don't get so many referrals from them and it's exactly what we thought was going on!

The pressure is more than likely on all the corporate stores that send us referrals and the smaller local shops are probably feeling it, too. We're still not worried but we're very grateful for our low operating expenses and emergency fund which we haven't needed to tap but lends some feelings of security.

Dave and Suze (and other money savvy folks) are right - everyone needs the security of an emergency fund, call it what you will, and if you don't have it, 2010 is a great time to get it. Start now by selling what you don't need or want, working extra hours, cutting back on whatever you can until you have at least 3 months of living expenses. Once you have that, work toward having 6 months, then 9 months, then a full year.

Trust me, the security alone makes the effort worth it. And a good night's sleep goes a long way toward making all sorts of rough times liveable.

Here and there, this and that...

December 20th, 2009 at 05:07 pm

Besides paying bills and putting gas in the van I haven't spent much at all. I forgot to take my lunch to work yesterday and the shift was too long to go without eating or drinking so I spent about $5 but other than that the spending has been kept down to a dull roar and I've managed to have at least two no spend days the last week. Yaaay for NSD! My shift today is a short one and I'll eat dinner before I go so I shouldn't have to spend any money. But I'll take along a small container of soup and a drink just in case.

Speaking of soup, last night I put the ingredients for split pea soup in one of the slow cookers and I've already had a small bowl of it this morning. I'm on a split pea soup kick right now and who knows how long it will last. I love the stuff and it sure is good when it's cold outside.

Today we have to do a little grocery shopping so we'll go to the bank to get money for groceries and gas. Things are a little tight right now so well get only what we need - creamer, milk, bread, etc. No luxuries, no fun stuff!

There's a young woman at my place of employment who seems to spend too much of her time struggling with finances. Actually there are several young women there like this but right now I focus on the one with whom I work most often. Her checking account is often in the negative and she wonders why she never has money. She lives with family members, half of her income goes to bills and the other half, somewhere around $800, apparently gets frittered. We've talked briefly before about this issue but she approached the subject with me again last night. I quickly explained the zero based budget concept to her and by the time we were finished talking her eyes were tearing slightly.

I think she's truly agonizing over this and doesn't want to wake up some morning to the realization that she's 47 and scrambling to deal with debts, retirement, and the fact that the "plenty of time" she had to plan and save has passed her by. I invited her to stop by the office some time so we could talk more about this. I'm not sure just how to get through to a young person like this but I want to help her if I can. I imagine my mother thought the same thing about me when I was young. But I wonder if telling her about some of my personal experiences and how challenging it is now to play catch up would help. It might. If you have suggestions on this, please share them with me!

How do YOU keep track of income/expenses, etc?

December 17th, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Out of curiosity, how do you keep track of your budget items? Do you use a computer program like You Need A Budget or do you use a ledger or something else?

Since we're Dave fans, we do the sheets at the end of the month for the next month but that helps us figure out what's due and not the other intricacies of our finances, which is where we need more help.

I really need to find a system that works for us so I figured I'd pick the brains of you moolah mavens. Whatever method you use, please share the pros and cons of that method. I'm open to any and all suggestions.

Mmm, what's that I smell? No, it isn't money, darn it.

December 16th, 2009 at 06:17 pm

Too bad it isn't money but it is baking chicken and a pot of split pea soup. Mmmm! Neither of those are on the menu for this week but one of the nice things about my kind of menu planning is the flexibility it provides. I'm off today and it's cold outside and that put me in a cooking mood so rather than make Swiss Steak, which is what I had in mind for tonight's dinner and doesn't take much effort or create a great smelling house, I put a highly seasoned whole chicken in the countertop convection oven and started a pot of soup in one of the slow cookers.

The man person isn't too fond of split pea soup but will eat mine once in awhile. Instead of cooking the peas until they're mushy or running them through a blender, ending up with a pot of green gunk, I cook them in a pot of broth with seasonings, vegetables, and meat. The resulting soup is ambrosia on a cold day! Today's version is made with beef broth, one small red potato, carrot, onion, green beans, plenty of garlic and the meat from a smoked turkey leg. Oh man, it smalls so good and tastes better!

And to keep this on the topic of personal finance, having the soup and chicken ready to go will keep us from eating lunch or dinner out, saving us about $20 for each of those meals. Okay, that's a tenuous tie to personal finance but it works. Wink

Happy eating, all!

Pooh, no Roth for us!

December 14th, 2009 at 11:06 pm

Because we file separately we can't do the Roth thing. We were geared up to get that going when we found out. So, now we're looking at Traditional IRAs and SEP IRAs. I'm sure we'll come up with a good alternative but it's a little disappointing. Don't ask me why because I can't say why...I guess I just was all prepared to open the Roth.

Oh well, flexibility is key in investing, I'm sure.

On a slightly, and I do mean slightly, more positive note the man person wanted to go out to eat tonight. I told him I was going to make chicken, dressing, and some sides and it wouldn't take long and he decided he'd rather do that than eat out. It took less than 15 minutes from start to finish and it was a lot cheaper than a trip out to eat would have been. Yaaay for choosing to eat at home and double yaaay for using up the last of the leftover chicken! And there's enough left for lunch for both of us tomorrow. Wink

December 13th - 19th menu

December 14th, 2009 at 03:20 pm

Last night the man person had some of the leftover baked chicken while he watched the Cowboys game (not sure how he managed to eat while watching a game that sounds so ugly but oh well) and I had some when I got in later.

Tonight we'll have Chicken and Dressing with tossed salad. I'll have brussels sprouts with mine and the man person will more than likely eat a lot of salad.

The rest of the week we'll have, in no particular order because I like to leave things somewhat open:

Baked cod with salad and garlic green beans

Swiss steak with riced cauliflower and snow peas and steamed spinach

Grilled Chicken Alfredo Bake (frozen dinner bought on sale, intended to be one serving but we'll split it) with spinach caprese salad and almond green beans

Cheesy Turkey Meatloaf with buttered red potatoes and steamed cabbage

Breakfast taquitos with cucumber tomato salad

And there you have it, this week's thrifty but nutritious menu!

Happy eating to all. Smile

Pardon me, but you're stepping on my budget!

December 12th, 2009 at 05:01 pm

Our shop week runs from Monday to Saturday and the shop needs to bring in $445 a week to pay rent, utilities, buy food, etc. Consistently it brings in more than that and has since shortly after opening. But this week is troubling. For the first time in almost two years it looks as though the shop won't meet that minimum for the week. We're short slightly less than $100 and although it isn't time to panic or even worry it's a little disturbing.

For the last two years the shop did very well between November and January but it doesn't look like that's the case for this year. Most of the December bills have been paid, we won't go hungry or heatless, we do have an emergency fund, but still...

It's wreaking a little havoc on my mind! At this rate, that $2000 surplus we had last month won't be duplicated in December. However, even though I didn't expect that duplication I did expect to 'crack the nut', as the man person calls it, this week and hoped for a nice surplus to start off the new year.

So, to you people who aren't coming to our shop (like they read this, ha!):

Pardon me, but you're stepping on my budget!

Rant over. Smile

Another almost no spend day & a surprise treat!

December 11th, 2009 at 11:55 pm

So close! When I left for work this afternoon, my van didn't warm up well and when I got to work I was very cold so I spent $1.84 on an Americano. The heat problem at work is still going on but I resisted the urge to buy iced tea and drank water the rest of my shift so that's all I spent today. Between yesterday and today I had two really, really low spend days. Maybe I need a category for those and should pat myself on the back a little when I have them. Wink

I got in this evening and got the chicken breasts cooking. When I opened the package of chicken, I saw that the breasts were huge and there are five of them! So, I'm cooking three with the Memphis style barbecue spice and the other two will be used plain. I don't think we'll be able to eat all of the three I'm cooking tonight so I'll take some with me tomorrow for my lunch. If I do it right, I might be able to have a no spend day yet.

A girl can dream!

As an aside, a patient brought in a special dessert for us today. Last year it was Christmas Stollen and this year it's this incredible pumpkin cream cheese roll thing. I don't know what its called but wow, is it a special treat! I took one bite and realized it's dangerous to have around so the man person gave a good portion of it to people in the offices around ours and the rest is going to work with me tomorrow to be given to my workmates. Really, it must go! And quickly!

December 11th & 12th eats with awesome meatball recipe

December 11th, 2009 at 03:40 pm

I love menu planning. It saves me a lot of time, money, and stress and its something I've done for years. I share my menus in a couple of Yahoo cooking groups and sometimes put them here, too, because they're definitely finance related.

Knowing what we have on hand and what I can make with it all keeps us from spending money on eating out and eliminates excessive grocery shopping trips and with the cost of food now, keeping those trips down to a minimum can save a lot!

I normally sit down on Sunday and plan the week's dinners so this entry will have meals for tonight and tomorrow night only and Sunday I'll post a new entry for the coming week.

You won't see a lot of inexpensive, high carb meals from beans and rice because we're both diabetic and try to keep the carbs down to a dull roar. The man person also has coronary heart disease so we keep fat under control, too. It aint easy eating lower fat and lower carb! What you will see is fairly balanced meals made with quality ingredients, all purchased at my price.

So, on to the food!

Tonight we're having barbecued skinless chicken breasts with green beans and buttered red potatoes. Rather than using barbecue sauce which normally contains a lot of sugar I prefer a little Memphis style Barbecue Spice which contains no sugar. It's great on cauliflower, too, specially when the cauliflower is slow roasted. Mmm!

Some of the leftover chicken will be chopped and used for chicken salad, one of the man person's favorites for a quick lunch or snack. The rest will be used in Vegetable Chicken Soup, one of my favorites. I usually have a pot of it in the fridge and it's great for cold nights.

Tomorrow night we'll have Breakfast Meatballs with tossed salad and spinach. These meatballs are great anytime, not just at breakfast, they're very portable for a meal on the go, and they freeze very well. Honestly, these are my second all time favorite meatball with Swedish Meatballs just barely coming in first.

Breakfast Meatballs - original recipe with my lower fat adaptations noted


This is a somewhat blurry picture of my breakfast meatballs laden mini-bento box. Yummy lunch!

1 pound turkey sausage (I use homemade)
1 pound lean ground beef (I use buffalo)
2 eggs (I use egg beaters)
3 Tablespoons onion, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
3 to 5 ounces cheese, grated (I like cheddar, swiss, and a little asiago)
salt, pepper, garlic, and other spices to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Roll mixture into bite sized balls and bake until done, 15 to 20 minutes.

To freeze: after baking put meatballs in the fridge to cool then put a few in a freezer bag or plastic container, label with the date and contents, and freeze.

When ready to use, just heat meatballs in a 350 oven for about 25 minutes or microwave them on high for about 4 minutes.

So there you have it - two of our upcoming meals with more to come on Sunday. Enjoy!

A little admiration & almost a no spend day!

December 11th, 2009 at 11:45 am

I have serious admiration for the young man in this story:

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/local/story/1115004.html

He must have some serious moxie and I hope he does beautifully in school, work, and life!

Would/have you gone to such lengths to prevent or eliminate debt? I haven't and although I'd like to say I'd be willing to go so far, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak and I can admit that. I'm just sayin'....

On a more personal level, yesterday was one of my set NSDs. I almost made it but not quite. When I got to work I discovered that something was desperately wrong with the heat in the store. The section I work in was hot and I mean hot! It had to be at least 82 or 88 or 112 and even with a couple of the front doors open it stayed hot all day long. Yes, ALL DAY LONG, from 7:30 to 4:00 PM! It was so hot the customers didn't stay long at all and they complained and complained.

I'd taken chili to work because chili is good in cold weather and even though in the midst of that heat and sweat I didn't want chili I ate it when lunch time came. I couldn't bear the thought of more water (since I'd been drinking it a good portion of the day to keep from dehydrating) so I bought a glass of tea. Yes, on a NSD I bought a $2.15 glass of iced tea. And damn, was it good!

Oh well, I tried and will try again today, even though it isn't Tuesday or Thursday. Wink I only work a 4.5 hour shift and I don't have anywhere else to go so I should make it today.

Keep your fingers crossed for me! Smile

Do you barter?

December 9th, 2009 at 06:11 pm

We love to barter, the man person and I. We don't get opportunities to do it as often as we'd like but we enjoy it when we get the chance and when we get a chance like the most recent one, we really enjoy it!

There's a local family owned Chinese restaurant here that we patronize on a regular basis. Mom and Dad cook and their son, daughter, and nephew run the register and wait tables. We've been going to this place for at least two years and recently the daughter asked me who made my glasses, shown here:



That gave me the chance to tell her that the frame is just a regular stock frame but the man person customized the glasses with vintage plaques from the 40's.

Here's a closeup of one of the plaques, the ribbon looking thing with some dull rhinestones in it:



I love the frame and plaques and get questions and compliments on them often.

I'm considering reworking this plaque to put better rhinestones in it but I looooove these glasses! And there isn't another pair just like 'em on the planet. They're one of a kind, just like me. Wink

Anyway, the young woman got very excited and showed up at our office a couple of days later, ready to get some glasses.

She doesn't need prescription glasses but she picked out vintage plaques for three frames, one for sunglasses and the remaining two for regular glasses. He got non-prescription lenses for them and she came today to pick up her frames. They haggled a little and she ordered another set to be made so when the smoke clears we'll have 27 Chinese meals we didn't pay cash for!

Now that's bartering in action, folks! Do you barter? If so, how often and for what? I'd love to know more about your experiences with bartering.

If you haven't tried it, you might want to. You can get some great stuff/services for little to no money and it's a wonderful way to help one another.

Sweet! Managed to have a no spend day!

December 9th, 2009 at 03:58 am

I did manage to have a no spend day on a personal level. The man person spent a little but I didn't spend a penny. I drank water on my break this morning and took my lunch but got off at 12 so I just ate after I got off. It was just as good sitting at my desk at the shop as it would have been sitting in the break room at work! Wink

I'm aiming for Tuesdays and Thursdays as no spend days and am going to try to do this each week. I probably won't make it each time but at least I'm working toward it. I'd like to have three NSDs a week but really, that's probably asking way too much of myself! But wait, that might be a good goal for the coming weeks...

Credit Reports - not great but not as bad as I thought!

December 8th, 2009 at 11:39 pm

For a little back story, see this entry.

Since we don't use credit cards and don't have a mortgage (and hope not to have one i the future) I'm not overly concerned about credit reports but since I hadn't checked mine in a couple years I did so this afternoon. I was only able to get two of them;Experian and TransUnion but neither had the slew of stuff on them that was present when I checked it in 2007.

They each have four things listed under "Accounts in Good Standing" and two things listed as negative. One of those things is the home foreclosure from 2007 and there's nothing I can do about that. But the other is a $340 electric bill in collections from last year that I knew nothing about. Now that I know about it I'm going to deal with that one.

DH checked his reports, too. There's a small medical bill we don't recognize and are going to call about tomorrow and an old cable bill from when he was working in another part of the state.

The total of things that need to be paid on both reports is a little less than $1000. Hey, not bad from $16,000 eighteen months ago, huh? Of course, the one report I couldn't get might have a lot more on it but I don't think so. I'm going to send them the request form tomorrow and should get a printed copy of that before too long.

I don't plan to need credit anytime soon but it's good to know that the report isn't the disaster it was the last time I looked. Yaaay for paying off debts and getting them off credit reports and for old debts rolling off credit reports. Smile

But we mustn't get too terribly excited - DH's heart procedure a month ago is costing us $52,000, all from our pocket. We've worked out a payment plan for the physician's $5,000 but not the remainder. Ahhh well, life's a bitch.....wear a helmet, right?

December 7th spending & no spend days

December 8th, 2009 at 12:55 am

Spending for Monday, December 7th

Business - $8.69
Groceries - $5.44
Medication - $24.88
Paid storage bill - $100
December 7th total - $139.01

I'd really, really like to have at least two no spend days a week. In the past we've had weeks with four or five no spend days but honestly I can't remember the last no spend day around here!

Maybe while we're working on the Irregular Income Planning sheets tonight I can bring up the no spend days idea. Even if the man person isn't supportive of the idea I can aim for personal no spend days. I can take my lunch and drinks to work and hit the door as soon as I clock out rather than walk around a little to see what's on sale. In fact, I just packed a bento for tomorrow - leftover baked chicken from tonight and celery sticks, some with peanut butter and some with a marvelous cream cheese dip I made. I'll take along some instant coffee so I don't buy a cup of java on break and will drink water with my lunch. I have half a tank of gas right now and unless we drive a lot more than usual that should last until Friday or so. Yeah, I think I'll aim for Tuesday and Thursday as no spend days, at least on a personal level, and I'll try to fit another one in.

Sounds like a plan to me!

Back to the basics for 2010 & $146.13 in change!

December 7th, 2009 at 10:21 pm



Actually, we're starting a little early with a checklist of financial things to do now and in the coming year. One of the more important tasks was to revamp our zero based budget to reflect the changes the business has undergone in the last year.

So, this morning I dug out the Dave Ramsey Monthly Cash Flow and Irregular Income Planning sheets and we've spent most of today, in between patients, coming up with figures to put on those sheets. Since our income and expenses vary substantially we budget a little over what the average for each expense is and any surplus goes in a separate envelope in case we need it for the same expense in the near future. It's a little complicated that way but we don't come up short on any bill payments. We're just about finished with the Monthly Cash Flow sheets and will work on the Irregular Income Planning tonight.

We also hauled 27 lbs. of change to the bank to be rolled and deposited into our main account. They charge 10% to roll and wrap the change but neither of us is too enthused about doing it and it's worth 10% to not have to do it. The man person guessed there was at least one hundred dollars and I figured the total would be over $125 but I just checked the bank account and discovered $146.13 was deposited. Sweet!

More on 2010 finances later...

Spendy weekend. Ouch!

December 7th, 2009 at 02:51 am

We went to Natchitoches, Louisiana this weekend for the Festival of Lights. For those who don't know, Natchitoches (pronounced Nack-A-Tish) is where the movie, Steel Magnolias, was filmed. It's also the man person's home town. We don't celebrate Christmas in any way but this festival is a big deal in Natchitoches and we like the fireworks display and enjoy seeing his family so we decided to take the three youngest kids, 19, 18, and almost 17 for the weekend.

We stayed with the man person's aunt and cousin which negated the expense of a hotel room. Thank goodness! We managed to find a free parking spot with a walk of a few blocks to the festivities. The last time we went to the festival there was no entrance fee but apparently, in an effort to keep out the riffraff, they've implemented a paid armband system. Just to get in to see the parade on Front Street cost $48 for the 6 of us!

Unfortunately, the parade was quite a disappointment. It was very slow and the participants lacked enthusiasm. The marching bands didn't perform much and the ones who played their instruments appeared to not enjoy it and in my opinion, marching bands should be energetic and excited! Of course, the weather was cold and they walked at least three miles, literally, to the spot where they started marching. Maybe they were just exhausted by the time we saw them and the fun had worn off. Regardless, the parade was one of the worst I've ever seen.

After the parade we hung out on the hill across from the stage and listened to Ronnie McDowell, the singer. We'd hoped to catch the several different bands until the fireworks display a couple of hours later but the cold finally got to us and we wimped out after being at the festival for only 6 hours. But between armband fees, food, hot chocolate and coffee we spent a little over $100! Ouch! $100 for a festival we didn't even enjoy much!

The kids may go back on their own some time in the future but the man person and I probably won't. Each time we go it's less impressive than the last time we went and it's simply not worth the money anymore. However, if you're in that area any weekend between November 21st and the first weekend of January, you might want to check it out. Just make sure you bring layers of clothes and plenty of money!

It's snowing! and a bit about potential income

December 4th, 2009 at 10:34 pm

Not a lot and it won't stay but we're getting some beautiful flakes. Smile

I have a one-woman-with-the-occasional-helping-pair-of-hands-from-a-friend house cleaning business on the side but it's a secondary sort of thing. You know, something I do when sought out but not something I actively pursue for the most part. I cleaned a house last week and received two calls today. One is for the standard 3/2 house that just needs some cleaning and a little TLC. If I get that one, I'll do it next week and that will be another $125 or so to add to the piggy bank. The other one is a different ball of wax of another color.... Wink

The homeowner is apparently a hoarder. Perhaps not one diagnosed with a disorder but she hoards nonetheless. She apparently has some medical issues that contribute to her situation and a family friend is trying to finance the project to clean up the place.

I'm not the most experienced with cleaning hoarder's homes but I've done it. I know it's a major job that is physically and emotionally draining but I also know houses like this one are simply dangerous...both to live in and to clean. I'm willing to take it on, though, and when I gave the caller a tentative price for the job, $3000 to $3500, she said that was in line with what the other person she'd called said. She won't have financing until January and will give me plenty of notice so I can clear my calendar for five to seven days but if I get the job I'll have a nice chunk of change when the smoke clears and the homeowner will have a clean house. It's a win win situation. Smile

Tightening the belt

December 4th, 2009 at 03:30 am



should enable us to contribute $1,000 to $1,500 a month to savings/investments, presuming we don't opt for life insurance on me at this point. Now we just have to figure out the specifics. We're thinking perhaps a Roth IRA for each of us, with his being $6,000 a year and mine being $5,000 but that still leaves some money to invest.

In addition, we'll have another $10,000 to $15,000 to invest annually, either in a lump sum or some other fashion. I haven't a clue what to do with that but it seems to me that investing $22,000 to $30,000 a year should help us catch up, right?

If you have thoughts on venues other than a Roth or 401(k) please do share! We're actively researching and considering our options.

If you were 47 and your SO was 57 and you *had* to pick just one....

December 3rd, 2009 at 03:41 am

which would it be...buying life insurance or catching up on retirement savings/investments? Really, let's say you just can't do both so you need to pick between getting life insurance of somewhere around $150,000 on each of you and using non-essential income for saving and investing.

The kids are grown, you're not big wage earners, you don't have a mortgage or much debt of any sort but you don't have much savings, either, and you don't have health insurance. You both have health issues that make health and life insurances difficult to find and expensive but you don't have enough money to pay for high insurance premiums and play catch up for retirement.

Which one would you pick? Or would you take a totally different path?? Come on, I know most of you are thinking something like, "But I'm not in that situation..." or "But I wouldn't find myself in that situation..." but we're pretending here.

Discuss amongst yourselves..but share with me, please. Enquiring minds really do wanna know. Smile

It might as well be a 578(h) account!

December 2nd, 2009 at 11:36 pm

The Primerica rep we met with recently is coming back tonight and is bringing his manager along.

No, we aren't looking at joining Primerica's MLM force and more than likely won't partner up with them in investments but it can't hurt to pick their brains, I think.

I found the paperwork for the 401(k) through my employer and logged into the website trying to understand just what's being done with my 500 some odd dollar balance. For all that I've read about 401(k) accounts, it might as well be a 578(h) account for the good it does me. Oh, I understand its a shell for investments but I don't understand just what those investments are. Here's some of what the website shows me:

Your Current Asset Allocation
This graph shows you have 51% in Lifecycle/Pre-Mix, and 49% in Company Stock.

Well, that's just hunky dory but what is Lifecycle/Pre-Mix?? Apparently, 51% of the money is in LifePath 2025 Index (yeah, like I know what that is) and the other 49% is in company stock. I googled "Lifepath 2025 Index" and its apparently a fund (mutual fund??) of mixed investments designed for risk reduction as retirement age gets nearer.

The financial engine says that to reduce risk I need to increase the percentage of non-company stock and decrease the company stock amount to 20%. Alrighty, let me just hop on that! They're talking to someone who is just about clueless on this stuff but I'm trying to learn. I know that the LifePath 2025 index is managed by Barclays Global Investors and is a passive fund. Quite a bit of what I've read about them says they're inferior and not recommended but I found a lot of biggies who use the LifePath funds. Perhaps I'd be better off doing something else through Vanguard or another entity but with my lack of knowledge that's very scary to consider.

Grrr, I think I need to talk to the HR person at work. Maybe he can help me make heads and tails of this. If not, he probably knows who can, right? Right???

What if I have money I want to add to this 401(k)? Can I do that? So many questions, so little time! But maybe I can pick the brains of the Primerica guys tonight and see what our Financial Needs Analysis turns up, eh?

Input appreciated, as always. Smile


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