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Thursday epiphany - seriously!

January 5th, 2012 at 04:30 pm

I had an epiphany today - not in the religious sense but in the "a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience." sense. (Thank you, dictionary.com!)

I was looking in my refrigerator for the cheese I needed for the King Ranch Chicken written about at homesicktexan.com (Thank you, CCraw!) and as I looked at the five containers of leftovers that need to be eaten it hit me - I love to cook but I don't necessarily love to eat what I've cooked! Let me repeat that. I love to cook but I don't necessarily love to eat what I've cooked. Slowly now. I-love-to-cook-but-I-don't-necessarily-love-to-eat-what-I've-cooked. The light bulb went off as I looked at the stacks of food that were soon going to have to make room for the leftover King Ranch Chicken and I almost fell over. How could I not have seen this before?

I love to cook but the eating of what I cook is often simply a chore to me. I eat enough to judge the recipe, rip it up, spit it out, etc. but I don't actually dig in and enjoy it. I don't savor it. I don't linger over the scents and flavors like I do food that I don't cook. I basically eat it without paying much attention to it because by the time it's ready, I'm bored!

It explains so much;the almost constant overflow of food languishing in the fridge, the overspending on the grocery budget, the leisurely pace at which I grocery shop when all other shopping means I run in, grab what I need and get the hell out, perhaps even the lack of interest I have in plating and presentation of the food. Of course, the latter can also be explained by the fact that I feed just me. But still. Do you see where I'm going with this?

It might not seem to be much of an issue but it is when one is opposed to waste and on a limited budget. Today I made King Ranch Chicken when I have two containers of chicken and dumplings, a large container of mexican stew, and two containers of beef and barley soup. I didn't need to prepare another dish! But I did. And now I have six containers of leftovers in the fridge.

I dislike how most food tastes when it's cooked, frozen, then reheated though I don't mind it with soups and things with very little to no meat. So freezing everything isn't the answer. The answer is apparently to make smaller amounts, make myself eat what's in the fridge before preparing more, etc.

If you have ideas on this, please share them with me as I absolutely have to get this under control.

Now that I'm aware of this I might find it easier to control it but I need some input and suggestions. I'm trying to figure out what to do with the food that's in the fridge now. The mexican stew will be fine in the freezer but not the other stuff. Oh wow, how could I not have seen this??

A somewhat brutal day - parents and dementia

December 15th, 2011 at 05:17 pm

My Dr's office called yesterday to remind me of an appointment for a cholesterol check this morning. I'm glad they called as I'd totally forgotten about it. I got that tended to and spent $10 on my co-pay (there's some confusion about that but I'll post about it separately) then headed to Target to get some things for my mother.

Most purchases I make at Target are bought with either the Target Visa or my Target debit card so I can take advantage of my team member discount and the 5% card discount. So today I spent $2.50 for breakfast at Target Cafe and $1.45 for a nice cup of Starbucks Christmas Blend coffee. The lab work was fasting and I was famished and the blood sugar was rapidly dropping so food was a priority! I got $33 worth of stuff for Mom and put that on the Target Visa. I also got $14 worth of stuff for myself and used my Target debit card.

I got to Mom's around noon and we had a good visit, including lunch of hot dogs and salad. Before I left she asked if we could go to Fred's so of course I took her. Smile I spent $4 there then took her home and came back to my place.

So what makes all that brutal? Nothing. It's the fact that my stepfather's dementia is progressing rapidly and Mom is just about at the point where she can't do it all alone anymore. That hit me like a ton of bricks today. I don't know what more I can do besides quit my job and move in with them but it's too big for that, even. I'm at a loss. They don't have the money for a facility and he isn't quite to that point, anyway.

I talked to one of my sisters this evening and the only thing we can think of is for me to quit my job and give up my place, put Mom's house on the market (she bought it only 6 weeks ago!) and the three of us move to an apartment near my sisters so more help will be available. That isn't the ideal solution but it might be the only one.

Do any of you have experience with a loved one and dementia? If so, I could really use your input.....

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

December 17th, 2009 at 04:22 am

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.

Tightening the belt

December 3rd, 2009 at 07:30 pm

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.

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