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

December 16th, 2009 at 10:17 am

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!

Another almost no spend day & a surprise treat!

December 11th, 2009 at 03:55 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!

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

December 8th, 2009 at 03:39 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?

Spendy weekend. Ouch!

December 6th, 2009 at 06:51 pm

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 might as well be a 578(h) account!

December 2nd, 2009 at 03:36 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

"What can you do for me?"

December 2nd, 2009 at 10:27 am

That's what my 19 year old stepdaughter asked the salesman of a furniture store recently. She'd told her dad she'd found a living room set she wanted and it cost $2000. He cautioned her about getting in over her head and she insisted she could pay for it. She gets a lot of overtime and makes very nice money for someone her age. We were concerned about this large expense since she's on her own, has a car payment, insurance, etc. but she's of age and will spend her money as she sees fit.

However, after her talk with him she got to thinking about his words (and presumably the wisdom of them, lol), went to another store and found a set she liked just as much that was $1600. She told the salesman she'd pay $1000 cash for it and he agreed! Then she said something to the effect of, "Okay, I'm giving you a thousand dollars of my money for this set. What can you do for me?" He apparently was a little surprised and hesitant but threw in an extended warranty and arranged for free delivery. A few days later she found out her overtime was cut way back and her paychecks are substantially smaller, though still very good.

I still think she spent too much but how wonderful that she considered her dad's words, rethought her plan, came up with a better one, and seems to be learning.

We're giving her Dave's Total Money Makeover book and an envelope system. Certainly that will be money well spent!

Thoughts on "kids" and money

November 29th, 2009 at 08:45 am

My "kids" are 26 and 25. The oldest is married and the youngest lives with the married couple in Austin, Tx. I've talked to them about Dave Ramsey and they seem interested so I ordered a copy of Your Total Money Makeover and 2 starter envelope systems, one for each son. I don't know that my daughter in love would use the envelopes but I figure if she falls in love with her husband's system I can get her one, too.

Both young men have had their share of financial problems in their young adult lives. The oldest put himself through college with just a little help now and then from Mom and Dad and now he has a job he likes for the most part and he makes good money. His wife also has a good job but they have money issues too often and admit they blow too much money. The youngest son has struggled with college and jobs but is doing well at the local community college there and is trying to find a decent job. He's gotten a little help from Mom and Dad, too, but has also taken the loan route to help finance his education.

They're both very intelligent, gifted (and handsome!) young men but they had lousy financial role models growing up. Truly. Their Dad and I didn't know how to save, accrued a lot of credit card debt, and just generally sucked at money matters. I so regret raising my sons in that manner and hope they each find a better way to live. I think my mother has had some of these same thoughts about me over the years. Maybe Your Total Money Makeover and the envelope system will get their feet set on the right path, maybe not. I should have done this many years ago but I didn't. Here's hoping it isn't too late but hey, it wasn't too late for me!

Good thing I'm not a hair puller....

November 27th, 2009 at 12:00 pm

or I'd be bald! Today was so incredibly busy at work! I clocked out a little after 1 this afternoon and I hurt so bad it's ridiculous. I guess because I spent almost 9 hours basically hunched over making drinks. I got a break and a 30 minute lunch but they didn't help much. At any rate, I think I still have most of my hair and for that I'm thankful. Wink But if I hear one more screaming child, I might crack!

We're going to head out in awhile to do a little shopping. Yeah, the great deals are gone but we aren't after those, anyway. We just like to go out to eat and do some minor shopping in the evening on Black Friday when the crowds are gone or at least greatly diminished. There are still good deals around and those are good enough for us.

Happy Black Friday!?!?

November 27th, 2009 at 01:09 am

I woke up at 2 this morning because I have to clock in at work at 4 AM. Yes, its true, 4 AM! I detest Black Friday and the Christmas season but they're something I have to put up with since I work retail.

To wake up at 2 AM with sufficient sleep behind me I had to be asleep by 6:30 last night. I managed that with the help of 2 Advil PMs and a little night time cold medicine. By 6:15 or so I was sound asleep and this morning I feel refreshed. I'm not thrilled with the why of it all but hey, its one of the evils of my chosen field.

At any rate, I work 4 AM til 1 PM then will spend the afternoon/evening with my sons. We'll probably all go out for dinner and just enjoy each other's company and I'm looking forward to it.

Anyway, happy black friday to you all! Enjoy the deals if you get them but be careful...its nuts out there!

The last eighteen months in a nutshell & Happy Thanksgiving!

November 26th, 2009 at 07:29 am

I'm still working retail at the same place and the man person still has his business. It's grown quite a bit and although its a one man operation it pays the bills and then some. We left the envelope system behind some time ago but still have an emergency fund and some extra money saved. However, we still don't have any investments. Honestly, we don't know where or how to start and are afraid of making the wrong move so we've done nothing in that regard. Well, we did do something....

A Primerica rep visited with us last night and hopefully we'll have our financial needs analysis before too long. I've read good and bad about Primerica and although neither of us wants to be a rep/advisor/whatever they're called, their products might be good for us. I think we can do most of it on our own but again, we simply don't know where or how to start.

We need to change that but inertia seems to have us in its clutches. And I think we saved more and just felt better about money when we used the envelope system. Its simply too easy to overspend when we don't use it and we need to give serious consideration to going back to it. We've talked about it and agreed that we should do it but haven't actually done it.

We still don't have health insurance. DH had a heart procedure done recently and we got the bill last week. $47,000! Yep, $47,000 and that's just for the hospital. We haven't received the physician's bill yet. I haven't a clue what we're going to do about this new expense but we'll come up with something. I've already started putting pennies in a jar for it. Ha!

DH got a small life insurance policy on himself. It's only $15,000 but its a start and better than nothing. We're looking into larger policies but with his health history the premiums are outrageous. No insurance on me yet but that's coming soon, I think.

Last week I got a call to clean a house someone had bought and I earned some extra moolah. The job took a little longer than I'd expected but I did it on a day off the regular job and I made about $25 an hour which beats the $8 and 40 some odd cents an hour I make at my regular job. I really do need to concentrate on growing the house cleaning business. I don't know that I could do that only but two cleaning jobs a month would give me an extra $200 to $300 and that's nothing to sneeze at. Every little bit helps...

I'm still working on 2010 goals. I have a few cemented in my mind but most are still up in the air. I'll post about those when they're a little clearer.

In the meantime, have a wonderful Thanksgiving and don't overeat. Oh heck, go ahead and overeat. But get to the gym tomorrow! Wink

Has it really been eighteen months??

November 25th, 2009 at 07:38 pm

My last entry was in May of 2008. I really am one of the worst bloggers on the planet, I think! At any rate, its hard to believe its been that long but apparently it has been. Please forgive me...again. If it will help any, you can give me 40 lashings with a wet noodle!

A lot has changed in the last year and a half, mostly for the better. I'll post more about that within the next couple of days. In the meantime, though, how does one go about finding a reputable financial advisor? No, I didn't win the lottery and don't have tons of money but it's past time I started thinking ahead and I'm kind of lost. And if anyone knows how to proceed, it would be you guys. Maybe I don't even need a financial advisor. Perhaps I can figure this out on my own. But I don't know where to start.

Thoughts? Input? Thanks!

A month has passed...& a stupid mistake!

May 20th, 2008 at 08:38 am

since I posted an entry here. Life has been crazy hectic but I wanted to take a few minutes to post and then spend some time catching up on other blogs.

Let's see..what's new with me? My oldest son graduated from University of Texas in Austin this last Friday. Woohooo! He's going to work a year or so then go back to school to work for his Ph.D. My mother, sister, other son's girlfriend and I rented a great little cabin near Austin and had a wonderful time. We had a nice party for the graduate at the clubhouse where we rented the cabin and had a marvelous day of it. We spent too much money but how often does one's oldest son graduate from college? Wink This is the same son who is getting married in August so I'll spend a lot more soon.

On the job front, things are okay but very soon I have to make a major job related decision and am afraid I'll have to quit the job and find another. I don't look forward to that and am waiting to hear from the head of HR. In the meantime, I'm applying at other stores..just in case.

We completed Financial Peace University. It was a great course and we learned so much. I miss the classes now, though!

Oh yes, on the drive back from Austin my mom asked if I'd gotten my 'rebate' yet. I told her no, I hadn't filed. She asked why and I told her because I only worked about 3 weeks in 2007 and wasn't required. She then told me that I should have filed anyway so I could get the stimulus rebate. Duh! I didn't even think of doing that..I just knew I didn't need to file. Well damn, I missed that boat! Stupid tax on me, huh?

I just checked the IRS website and one of the qualifications is $3,000 of income so that disqualifies me. But at least my 'stupid mistake' wasn't!

That's about it for me right now. I'll post again later after I catch up with others. Smile

So... you want a Tall/Grande/Venti what's the point...

March 22nd, 2008 at 08:42 pm

That's pretty much what I say when someone comes in and orders a decaf, non-fat, sugar free whatever. Whether it's a vanilla latte, a mocha, or a jazzed up coffee of the week, when I hear the words "decaf", "non-fat", and "sugar free" in the same sentence, my eyes glaze over, my tongue feels a little fuzzy, and the first thing that comes to mind is...what's the point?

If you're pregnant I can see it, maybe, but even that's pushing it. Apparently the common obstetric advice now is that pregnant women should go decaf. Okay, so order a decaf. But why order it non-fat and sugar free, too? Why not just drink water with splenda in it? Oh, it wouldn't taste the same, I know, but still...

No really, I don't mind that people order that...I just can't help but think of it as a "what's the point" and then call it that. The customers think it's funny which is a good thing. I doubt that the muckety mucks would like it, though. Huh...

And what does this have to do with personal finance? Not much, though water with splenda would be a hell of a lot cheaper, but I wanted to share my thoughts on it with yall. Wink

Hoping everyone has a great Sunday!

March Update....

March 19th, 2008 at 07:46 pm

Well, let's see. Financial Peace University is going very well. This week we had the "Buyer Beware" lesson. I enjoyed it a lot but that's really only because I'm such a Daviac. We also talked about our March budgets and cash flow sheets and how we're all doing on saving vs. spending.

DH and I have most of the money ready for the next round of bills. We're short on one or two but have time before the payments are due so we aren't sweating it too much.

On the work front, things are going pretty well. Most of my hours are spent at the java joint but I have some hours as cashier, too. I enjoy cashiering sometimes - it makes for a nice break from the other. This week and next week I'm working close to 40 hours so my next check should be fairly good. Also, the company my sister works for is paying me to do some work on their site. Nothing fancy, just some additions and revisions of things. I won't make a killing doing it but should bring in a few hundred dollars and that's always a good thing. I'd like to be able to add three hundred or so to savings and hopefully between the hours at my job and the free lance work, I can do that.

So, that's about it in my world. I don't have a lot of time for blogging lately but try to catch up with everyone once or twice a week...

Today's doings...

March 14th, 2008 at 09:52 am

I'm off today and have a few errands to run. I'm going to the bank to get cash to fund the envelopes for the next two weeks and will talk to them about opening a savings account with them. Then off to the washateria to do laundry. Oh joy!

After that, I'll head to work and pop in and say hello to our DM who will be there conducting a two hour training. I won't stay long, maybe 5 minutes. I just want to meet the man and get a quick look at the training stuff. While there, I'll check out the 75% or more clearance items and see if there's anything we really need. I doubt there is but I like to look, anyway. Just in case.

From there, I'll come back to the shop and when it closes tonight we're headed to the local grocery. They're switching to a new store brand and all items of the old brand are 50% off! Hopefully we'll find some good stuff at great prices.

Dinner tonight will be Slow Cooker Chicken and Biscuits with salad and fresh green beans. I made the chicken and biscuits last night and there's plenty left for tonight. It's a good recipe and the dish is quite tasty!

Unexpected expense this morning

March 13th, 2008 at 05:58 pm

DH has eye problems yet again! We just went through this in mid January and here we are, going through it again. Yesterday he called a different doctor, a local ophthalmologist he trusts, for an appointment.

She examined him and told him he has 'recurrent corneal erosion', a long term problem and not an infection, dilated his eyes, gave him artificial tears to put in before bed to help keep the eye moisturized, talked to him about the condition then presented him with the bill of... $215! Gulp! We didn't expect it to cost quite that much but are thankful we had the money for it. We didn't even have to take the money from the EF but we would have if necessary. He has a horrible time working when his eye is giving him problems and that constitutes an emergency to us!

Anyway, we'll see how the artificial tears work. If they don't do the trick, some kind of laser treatment is a possibility. We don't have the money for that so here's hoping the artificial tears help.

Keep us in your prayers, please...

Oh, while I waited in the waiting room for him to come out, I got some great sounding recipes from a couple of Diabetes magazines. I'll try those next week, probably. And I found a quarter lying on the floor. Cha-ching! Wink

Something weird going on with the checking account...

March 13th, 2008 at 03:59 pm

I'm not great with numbers but can handle a checking account with no problems as long as I actually stay on top of it. But there's something going on with our account right now that I simply don't understand. If I check it online or call the automated number, the balance will be $XXX.XX. I find out what credits and debits there were, add deposits that don't show yet, subtract payments and such and get a new balance. So far so good. The next day or two days later, I call and get the balance and transactions again. But the numbers don't jive. The transactions that came through don't explain the balance. Does that make sense? I'm quite frustrated. Yesterday, the balance was over $1,300 and I made a $55 deposit last night after they were closed. Today I called and it's a little over $600 with only $400 some odd dollars in transactions coming through after the $1,300.

What am I missing, y'all?

I'm off tomorrow so I'm going in to talk to them about it. But I am puzzled and very frustrated!!

Thoughts on this?

Okay, I figured out part of it. The only other online banking I've done had the pending transactions right there on the main page with everything else and they were visible at a glance. I've gone months without any kind of online banking and am just getting into it again. I realized, while standing outside fretting over this, that there must be a link to those pending transactions so I looked and sure enough, the balance the bank shows is *after* those transactions. Whew! That explains most of it. The rest I'll figure out in the morning. My brain is fried from worrying over this!

Nice little cha-ching today!

March 11th, 2008 at 12:36 am

My youngest son, the OTR truckdriver, is in town and since I was off Monday I decided to spend the afternoon with him. I picked him up around 1:00 and he treated me to a great lunch in Tyler at a Tex Mex joint called Cancun. I'd not eaten there before and it was a nice restaurant. He had enchiladas and I had beef fajitas. And to have my son pick up the tab! Oh la la, it was great!

We then went to the washateria and washed clothes together. We both needed to tend to that chore so it made sense to do it together. While the clothes washed and dried we talked about his girlfriend, money, Dave Ramsey, money, his job, money, and such.

He heads back out on the road Tuesday morning and I won't see him for another 5 weeks or so but before I dropped him off he had me take him to an ATM where he got money. And he gave me some! He gave me $300 toward about $500 he owes me. I've tried to tell him he doesn't have to pay me back, that per Dave and many other finance gurus the money was something I could do for him, not a loan. But he wants to give it back. He's anti-debt in a big way and I understand why he feels as he does. But really, he doesn't have to give that money back to me.

Since he insists, though, I took it. There are a lot of things I could do with $300 but these $300 are going into savings. What a nice cha-ching!!!

Finally over the flu and catching up

March 9th, 2008 at 11:37 am

We're finally over the flu. Well, we still have horrible coughs and off and on headaches but that's it. I have to say that was the worst virus I recall ever having. It was horrible and it seemed to take forever just to feel human again!

I've missed reading all the blogs so today I'm trying to catch up on them. I'm off today and tomorrow and though I don't feel really chipper (I stayed up too late last night) I'm going to get some cooking done today for the coming week. We're eating out too much again and better meal planning is necessary to put an end to it.

Hey, guess what? Today is the 9th of March and our rent, electric and phone bills are paid already, two of them well ahead of their due dates! How is that for progress, sports fans? I say it sure does sound like progress! We have a storage bill due on Tuesday and my car insurance is due next week but that's it for this month, I think. Yep, the envelope system is definitely working for us. Except we do have one snafu. One day last week, DH needed change for a hundred dollar bill a customer gave him. He didn't have it in his money so he took the $80 from our food envelope and gave it to the customer. And he didn't replace that money yet. But that's okay as long as he pays for whatever food we buy for the next week, up to $80. But he agreed to get change from the bank and stop using the envelope money, which was good.

Anyway, I'm off to catch up with y'all. By the way, thanks for the well wishes and notes of concern while I was sick. I appreciate them! But for the most part, I was too sick to respond to them. Frown

February 27th, 2008 at 06:18 am

So forget that I haven't seen my Dr. since coming down with the flu. I know what he'll say so there's no reason to go spend money to hear it. And I won't take antibiotics for an infection that *might* develop as a result of the virus. It's still expensive, this bug.

I couldn't cook for four days so DH bought several meals. He also bought me a few meals, which all tasted like the same mushy cardboard, by the way. The cost? About $65.

We pillaged and plundered local cold/flu sections of stores twice to the tune of about $25.

I couldn't do laundry but needed it done by this morning so I could go to work if I felt up to it so we dropped it at the washateria last night and paid them to do it for us. I've done that one other time in my adult life, also when I was ill. The cost for that was (gasp!) $24.36! Outrageous! But it's nice to have it done.

But wait, there's more! Either a weird lower back ache is part of the bug or I pulled muscles coughing and if that doesn't right itself soon I'll see the chiropractor next door. That will cost $35.

So, my getting ill cost us about $115 and might cost more. Now DH has it. He's running about two days behind me in this and today is feeling very, very poorly. I'm going to work, though, and I hope I make it through the day. If I do and am not totally exhausted when I get off, I'll make him a nice dinner of something healthy...and frugal!

Financial Peace University session canceled

February 26th, 2008 at 03:08 pm

Last night's FPU class was cancelled because only one couple showed up. Everyone else phoned or sent the facilitator email letting her know they were sick. With what? This flu bug I have!

This is day four and it's kicking my butt. I can't stay awake for more than 30 or 45 minutes, I toss and turn all night with the body aches, sweating and freezing, and I've missed two days of work. I need to be at work tomorrow morning but don't know if I can handle it. In the meantime, I hope I can rest well tonight and be there bright and early tomorrow to do my job. I detest calling out even if I am sick and I need all the hours I can get.

Anyway, back to bed with me. I hope the rest of you stay flu-free!

A dumpster diving tale

February 24th, 2008 at 09:33 am

I'm not a dumpster diver, though I've dug through one or two full bins in my adult life. I'm also not a curb crawler, though I've found a few good things on curbs. However, I don't set out to locate items using either of those methods. I just kind of happen upon them now and then. Like this morning.

DH took the trash out at his office and seemed to be gone a long time. When he returned he came into the room where I was resting (I have the flu..ugh!) with a new plastic rolling cart loaded with boxes. Apparently, someone had dumped a lot, and I do mean a lot, of good office supplies in the dumpster. In addition to the cart itself, there were 25 expanding file folders, a case or two of perfectly good, still in the wrapper paper, both letter and legal sizes, 5 desk top organizers, several hole punchers of various sizes, a brand new AT&T phone, 35 new and unused 3 ring notebooks, 3 steno pads, and more pens, highliters, markers, sticky notes and flags, rubber bands and plastic paper clips than you can imagine.

He told me there was more and asked me to go along with him. So I did. On that second run, we got two easel pads (but no easel) a very large roll of butcher paper, a clothes hanging bag, more expanding file folders, desktop organizers, notebooks, pens, highlighters, markers, sticky notes and flags, rubber bands, and plastic paper clips. Oh, and we found change in the organizers, .44 to be exact. That goes to my $20 challenge fund. There's more but my brain isn't operating too well thanks to the virus and that's all I can remember right now.

When I feel up to it, we'll go through it all and decide what to keep and will Freecycle the rest of it. My thought through all this was, "Why would someone throw all this out??" For the life of me, I can't imagine the reason for such waste. This stuff is perfectly good and all of it is almost new. What silliness...

Just thinking aloud in a virtual sort of way...

February 22nd, 2008 at 09:30 am

The medications & supplies I use cost $1800 to $2000 a month and that doesn't include physician visits or lab work. When I didn't work and DH's business had a loss I qualified for free medications and supplies through the pharmaceuticals. Now that I'm working I still qualify but barely and if I keep the job and make more money the time will come when I don't qualify. As DH's business grows and profits the chances of my qualifying become slimmer, also, but the point at which that becomes an issue is a ways off.

I talked to the benefits department of my employer this morning and I'll qualify for health benefits in July. The choices are fairly limited, too, and regardless of which plan I choose, after the $30 co-payment, the company will only pay $500 maximum annually for prescriptions. I'll use that the first month so that option isn't a good one. Insurance through the state's high risk pool will cost me about $800 a month. There just isn't a good option from what I can see.

It's ridiculous but it seems as though I'm better off not working. I don't want to not work but I don't want to not get my medications, either.

If you have thoughts on this, please share them with me...

Hey, I just realized something!

February 17th, 2008 at 08:07 pm

Today was a no spend day! DH didn't go anywhere all day and I worked from 3:30 to 8:30 but didn't stop anywhere on the way to and from work and didn't buy a thing from work. Oh wait, I did get newspapers this morning for $2.50.

So it wasn't a no spend day but it was a low spend day! Wink Ehhh, that's better than a spendy day so I'll take it.

I'm off Monday and Tuesday (unless I get called in to cashier) and plan to wash some clothes and do some cooking for the week.

Our FPU facilitator is gone on a cruise so we have no session tomorrow night. I'll miss it, I'm sure! I really like the sessions but DH finished putting all our financial information into spreadsheets to make it easier for me to keep track so we'll probably go over those tomorrow night. At least we'll be doing something finance related. Wink

Well, pooh! Where does one get coupons?

February 17th, 2008 at 08:41 am

I got a local paper this morning and a Dallas paper. They both have a few Walgreen's coupons but that's it. Where in the world do you find coupons? I can't print a lot of the internet ones because right now I use a Mac that has OS 9 on it. I do have access to one that uses X but there are still a lot of sites that require Windows to print the coupons so ummm... what now?

Come on, you coupon gurus. 'fess up! Please! Smile

Edited to add:

Okay, I found them (missed them the first time apparently) but they're pitiful. There's one for coffee I might use and a Target coupon for Colgate toothpaste that I might use and the rest are for things we don't eat/use. Ugh, see this is why I haven't bothered with couponing for so long! I spent $2.50 to save maybe $1.75.

Well, I offered & a question about the envelope system

February 14th, 2008 at 02:37 pm

I offered to get another retail job to help pay off debts or throw extra money at savings but DH doesn't want me to. I'm working only about 26 to 28 hours a week but he's afraid I'll wear myself out if I work too much. The business is picking up and he thinks that before long I'll have more hours at work and we'll be out of the tight spot we're in. I hope he's right but told him if he changes his mind, to just let me know.

I really am not opposed to working another job if it will benefit us and I think it would. Not that I really want to work more but 26 or so hours a week isn't many.

In other things, I spent several hours today playing with Clusty, a search engine I just found out about. I still prefer Google for general and overall results but if I need categorized or specific results Clusty is my new favorite. I imagine I'll use a combination of the two engines to maximize efficiency.

One of the terms I researched with both engines was 'envelope system'. Google turned up more results but Clusty's results were very neatly categorized and pointed me to specific things about the envelope system. That was handy.

In the process of reading the sites I was referred to one of the things I read over and over was that one shouldn't borrow from one envelope to put into another and one shouldn't use the debit card if one is out and about and needs/wants something that falls into an envelope category and one doesn't have the envelopes! Those are things we've done a little of here. And we know we need to stop. Most people, including Dave, suggest going back home and getting the envelopes or not getting the item at all but with gas costing around $3 a gallon, turning back for the envelopes isn't always the fiscally responsible thing to do and not getting the item isn't always the best option.

In light of that, why not use the debit card if you have one and either take that same amount from the envelope and deposit it in the bank or deduct it from the money for that envelope next time you fill it? It seems to me that either of those accomplishes the same basic thing without using excess gas and without deprivation. Yes, I understand the concept of 'if you don't have the money don't buy the item' but I don't carry the envelopes with me and sometimes need to stop for milk or bread or some such thing.

What do you do?

Simple pleasures

February 14th, 2008 at 09:42 am

A day off

Not smoking for two weeks

Enjoying the company of my cat

Visiting with family

A bowl of freshly made chili on a cold day

Perusing the pages of Reader's Digest

Writing out checks for the phone and car insurance bills on the same day and mailing them with the solid knowledge that not only will the checks not bounce but the payment of said bills doesn't totally drain the checking account!

Happenings lately!

February 13th, 2008 at 06:24 am

Well, let's see. What's been going on in my life the last few days...

It's been 1 week, 6 days, 1 hour, 41 seconds since we smoked and we've saved $164.74. Yippeee!

We had our third FPU session and it was a good one. We went over the quickie budget, cash flow sheet, and the other forms Dave recommends. Since we have most of them completed already that class was more of a review than anything but it was great nonetheless. Even the things that are review for us help keep us motivated and the discussions that ensue between DH and I bring us closer and remind us that we're working together for a common goal. That's always a nice thing.

Oh, and I'm now a certified barista where I work. I needed a few days of actually making the drinks to get it all very firmly planted in my mind but I got those days and feel much more competent now. So yep, I'm officially certifiable...uhhhh, certified!

That's about it for the last few days. It's been quiet and we haven't spent a lot of money though we did have to make an unplanned trip to Louisiana yesterday. Fortunately, we had enough money for it so it didn't cause any financial stress. I'm off today and go back to work tomorrow so I'm cooking some things today to feed us the rest of the week.

Session Two of Financial Peace University

February 4th, 2008 at 07:45 pm

DH and I both felt this class was more of a review than anything but we certainly enjoyed it. In general, it was about how couples can work together to manage their finances and teach their children to be responsible with money.

For me, one of the best parts was when one of Dave's daughters got on stage and talked about what it's like to be Dave Ramsey's kid. That she had saved $8,000 by the time she was 16 and her dad matched that to help her get a $16,000 car, paid for in cash, was pretty impressive.

Unfortunately, my kids are past that age and I missed those early years to teach them about money. I didn't know so I couldn't teach them. But I'm learning now and want them to have a better start in their marriage/relationship/adult life than I did so I plan to send both sons and their significant others to FPU. I think that's the least I can do to attempt to make up for being a bad example of financial responsibility. If only I'd known then what I know now...

And in other news, today's spending is $128. We spent $100 for our FPU course, $9 for laundry, and $19 for dinner out. We'd planned and budgeted for this dinner so there's no guilt here! And it was so nice to just take the money from the 'clothing and laundry' envelope this morning before I headed to work, knowing that it was there just for that and using it wasn't going to cause any kind of crisis...

"My financial life began turning around when I took responsibility for it."

February 1st, 2008 at 06:42 am

Dave Ramsey said that in his book "Total Money Makeover".

I read this line a couple of years ago when I read TMMO but it didn't jump up and scream, "Look at me!". It was just another line in his book, albeit a great line in a magnificent book. But for some reason it didn't click that taking responsibility for my financial life was something I hadn't done.

Recently I ran across it again on a personal finance related site. I read it a couple of times, moved on, then found myself returning to it over and over. It was definitely jumping up and screaming at me to notice it. And notice it I did. Maybe that's what's behind signing up for and attending Financial Peace University and finally being honest with myself about our financial situation. I'm 45 and perhaps growing up...

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