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Back from vacation

June 28th, 2013 at 04:54 pm

We don't go on vacation often, this was only the 3rd time in 10 years. Now I remember why!

We took a trip up to Washington D.C.. It was the first time we have been there, and most likely our last. Don't get me wrong, it was kind of cool to be in the Nation's capital. But traffic, parking and prices were a nightmare.

We got there on Saturday before our hotel room was ready so we decided to drive in to the city. There were 2 festivals going on that made traffic a nightmare. We stopped at a chain restaurant to get some lunch. 4 burgers and sodas cost $75.00! Holy cow. How can anyone afford to live in that place?

Parking was a nightmare, too. Besides being hard to find and expensive, we managed to get our car locked in one of the garages. Talk about panic. It all worked out finally, but it soured me on driving down there again. The last day we took the Metro, which while expensive, worked much better for us.

I have some great pictures, not so great memories, big blisters on my feet and an empty wallet. I'm glad to be home.

So much for my No Spend day

June 10th, 2013 at 05:00 pm

After a not so frugal weekend, I had planned on today and tomorrow being no spend days. All of that got blown apart when DD3 layed her glasses down on a chair and DH sat on them.


Thankfully, we did buy the insurance on them, so replacing them won't be quite as much as paying for it outright. She's also due for her annual eye exam, so I will have to pay the copay for that, too.

I'm thinking about buying a second pair of glasses just to stash away in case this happens again.

My Q1 Update

April 6th, 2013 at 03:48 am

Considering I started in February, I did fairly well. I've paid down a little less than 25% of my goal this year on my debt. I still have a long way to go, but it feels good to watch that slider move each month.

I've also added $200.00 to get my emergency fund in place. Granted, I'm still in deep doo if I have a big emergency. But just knowing there is a little something set aside makes me feel good.

I'm getting a tax refund this year. I'm torn between throwing it all at the debt and splitting it between my debt and EF. I know the smart thing to do would be to pay down the debt, but I truly do view the EF as Murphy Repellant.

Happy April

April 2nd, 2013 at 12:21 am

I love the first weeks of spring. It's finally warm enough to open up the windows and let in some fresh air. Unfortunately, the weather forecast says we are going to be back down in to the 40's by mid week.

I need to get out and do some yard work soon. I need to make some room in the budget for a few new flowers and a new paint job for the front porch. My mom has some beautiful butterfly bushes that I'm planning on taking cuttings from. Hopefully my lantana will come back this year, too.

We've had some other expenses I wasn't really planning on. Not because they were unexpected, but because I just didn't think about them. DD2 need a prom dress, plus we have to take a couple of road trips so she can finalize colleges. DD3 had a growth spurt and needs new clothes for the summer unless I want her in short shorts and mini dresses. (ummm, that would be a no!) Her choir also one a competition and is advancing to the next round, which means entrance fees and transportation costs. Ugh.

I've put my craft room redo on hold for now. I've just been too busy to work on it. It seems like every day that I am off, I'm spending it catching up on laundry and house work. I guess my time is something I need to budget better, too.

Redecorating on a budget

March 10th, 2013 at 06:34 pm

We hit a milestone here last month. DD1 moved in to her own apartment. She graduated last may with her BSN. Took her boards in July and started a new grad program in August. Her leaving means only 2 kids to go until I'm an empty nester.

It also means I can't finally convert her room to a craft room/guest room/office for me.

So I'm starting by cleaning the room from top to bottom. I love the kiddo, but she was definitely a piglet. Her carpet is pretty bad. I was going to hire a company to come out and clean it, but the cheapest I could find was $140 for 2 rooms. I borrowed a Bissel from my mom instead. It's a lot of work, but definitely will be worth saving $120 (after spending about 20 for the cleaning solution). I'm taking a break right now and blogging, then I will get back to scrubbing.

Once that's clean, it will be time to paint. The room and bathroom aren't that big, so paint will be a relatively inexpensive spruce up. After that, I plan on "shopping" my basement for things to furnish and decorate the space with. My current craft table is a door on two wire book shelves in the basement. Not pretty, but functional. I think I'm going to take some of my fabric stash to make a table skirt to beautify it, as well as hide supplies underneath. The guest bed is going to be a tougher item. It may take awhile to come up with something for that, but I'm not really in a hurry.

Lots to do, but my plan is to convert it from a kids room to my new space for less than $100.00.

Wish me luck.

Well pfff...Illness derails my budget.

March 7th, 2013 at 07:02 pm

Wouldn't you know it. I thought I was doing a good job working on my budget. But events of this past week showed me a hole that I need to fix.

DD3 woke up Friday morning with a fever. By Saturday, she had a headache, a sore throat and an upset stomach to go with it. The last 3 together have always heralded strep throat. Being a weekend, of course, her pediatrician's office was closed, so off to the urgent care center we went. I have insurance, but the copay for urgent care is about 1/3 higher than a regular office visit.

After a rapid strep test came back negative, the doctor told me that there was a virus going around that was mimicing strep symptoms. They had seen approximately 100 cases in the last few days. So instead of going home with antibiotics, we went home with a prescription for an anti-nausea medication so she could keep down fluids.

Fast foward to Wednesday. DD3 was doing better, so DH sent her to school. I had worked Monday and Tuesday night, so I came home and was taking a nap. Low and behold, 2 hours later the school nurse called. DD3 was in the office with her fever back full force and now she was wheezing on top of it. I picked her up and called her pediatrician. Again.

This time, the lovely receptionist informed me that they were booked solid for the next 2 days. They would happy to fit her in on Friday. Hello?! Friday? Did they miss the part where she was wheezing with every breath? My only 2 options were back to the urgent care of the emergency room.

I'm lucky. There is a fantastic pediatric urgent care clinic not far from my house. We check back in for the second time and waited our turn. As soon as we walked back in to triage, the nurse took one look at my daughter and got an order for a respiratory treatment. After the doctor saw her, she ordered a chest xray (which will run about $300 when the bill finally comes in). Thankfully, there was no pneumonia present, but she was showing signs of inflammation from reactive airway disease.

When DD3 was little she would get this every time she had an upper respiratory infection. It had been about 4 years since her last bout, so we (the pediatrician and myself) had assumed she had finally outgrown this tendency. We no longer had a prescription for an inhaler on hand. So we left urgent care with a new order for the inhaler plus steroids.

I know I'm lucky to have insurance, but an inhaler is still not cheap. Thankfully the steroids were only $4 at the pharmacy we go to.

So back to the budget. Because the we are lucky to be a relatively healthy family (the kids rarely go to the doctor for anything other than their annual checkups), I had only budgeted for a single (regular) office visit plus one generic medication. This past week blew past all that.

I need to redo the budget to find room for the more expensive visits. Anything left over will then be rolled over in to a long term healthcare emergency fund to cover the unexpected.

The best laid plans...

Where do I start?

March 3rd, 2013 at 11:50 pm

Last week, I blogged about how I ended up with the enormous amount of consumer debt that I have. Basically, it's just because I have bad spending habits. This week, I want to focus on how I can turn those habits around and get rid of that number.

Obviously, I need to know where my money is going. The credit cards have been taken out of my wallet, so all that is left is my debit card. That's helping limit some of the spending. Plus, it makes it easy to track where I have spent my $ each week because I can download right in to Quicken. Great, but again, that's AFTER the fact.

I've decided that I need to know BEFORE I spend anything, whether or not I can afford it. That means budgeting and having that budget with me at all times. So I am going to have to either go to the Cash-Only envelope method or find some type of (preferably free) App that lets me do the same thing with my debit card.

My personal preference would be to have an App for a couple of reasons. I hate carrying cash. Many years ago I had my locker broken in to at school and my wallet stolen. At the time, losing that $30.00 was a huge deal. We never did recover my wallet or find out who did it. Another reason I have touched on already is that I like the convenience of having my spending download to my financial software automatically. I always have my smart phone with me, so being able to enter things right away is ideal.

The newest version of Quicken appears to have an associated App that would let me track my budget on the fly, so that's one possibility. Can anyone recommend any other software/apps?