<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
You are viewing: Main Page

The Non-Paying Tenant - Part II

June 20th, 2008 at 07:46 am

I heard back from the non-paying tenant. She will pay $500 cash today toward last month. As of today she owes (assuming she pays cash at 6:30)$2,485. In the message I left her stating pick up time, I asked for a written plan/timeline as to how she plans to become current with her rent. It will be interesting. DH thinks we should see what her plans are before we decide to not renew her lease. I agree; however, being the worrier that I am I feel as though I need to plan for the worst.

DH's salary is enough to cover our basic living expenses (mortgage/utilities/simple food/clothing). Also minimums on the credit cards. This month we will have saved $500 - $400 for retirment and $100 into HSA. So there is room for additional money should we suspend/alter those contributions.

I am trying to plan for several months NO RENT should we decided to get rid of tenant A and opt for a go around with new tenants. There are several houses comparable in the area already FOR RENT so DH thinks it might be best to work with the tenant we have. I am not sure of this.

Worse case scenario - I don't receive another dime in rent this year - my deficit would be $4K - I suppose that DH's irregular salary from side jobs would be roughly $2K to $3K so I would have to take $1K to $2K from savings to pay the last installment of real estate taxes and Cathoic school tutition.

I feel somewhat better, but not sure I am completely fiscally comfortable.

Didn't work out as planned (my grocery shopping)

June 19th, 2008 at 12:27 pm

In my previous post I wrote about the non-paying tenant and my budget until next Friday.

I added all the cash to the checking account which brought my total liquid cash to $130.00. I spent on shopping trips today I spent $110.00 on groceries. I did manage to get at least ten days worth of meals, maybe more.

I stopped at Walgreens and used their store coupons and $24.09 got me (3) Kraft mac & cheese, (3) small Bush's baked beans, (3) Butterball 99% fat free chicken broth, (3) 20 oz cans of pineapple, (4) 11 oz mandarin oranges, 1 16 oz coffee cream, (2) Campbell's soup at hand, 1 dozen eggs, 2 quart-size Ziploc freezer bags, 1 12.5 oz Doritos, and 4 rolls toilet paper. That was my last stop and it put me over intended amount, but I feel I got a lot of bang for the buck.

Now I have to trade a post-dated check for $30 with my mom for cash. Not happy about that, but I very rarely ever have to do that.

Lesson learned: Sometimes skip that last errand and you'll remain on-target, but you might miss some good buys.

Lesson learned: You're never too old to count on your mom.

ADDENDUM: In the mail I got a $58 dental insurance reimbursement. Yay, I am solvent - won't have to get an advance from mom. Paid that visit with checking account.

My tenant can't pay her rent! Need to rework the budget -

June 19th, 2008 at 09:00 am

I responded to a post earlier stating my tenant always paid her rent on time (well, within the two week frame). Well, my tenant has bounced her rent check (did it last month, blamed it on a snafu with her transfers from savings to checking, paid in cash two days the rent plus the fee my bank charged)again.

She left a message on Monday stating she wanted to use the security deposit as rent and then pay late next month's rent. I said the first is not an option. I left a message (Monday) and said I needed to know what portion of rent could be picked up Tuesday. No return message - haven't heard from her at all. I did leave another message today stating that I need to hear from her today.

I paid off tons of bills, made a dent in the credit card debt, was feeling really good about things. This throws a monkey wrench into my plans.

My husband's salary covers our regular expenses - however, I didn't account for *no* rent and got our checking account down to almost nothing.

I WILL NOT use my credit card to cover expenses. I have weaned myself of using it for "points".

DH gets paid next Friday - he will also be paid for a painting apartment job he's finishing this weekend. I will have enough for the mortgage payment and all bills. My challenge is to get through to next Friday (eight days) on the cash we have (when all checks clear I will have $26 in the checking accout).

I have $100 cash - I have budgeted $30 for gas ($15 for each minivan as both are on E) and the $50 for groceries. My cupboards are somewhat bare - but I'll be hitting the buy one, get one free at the one store and will hit Aldi's for all else.

I'm driving today (not tomorrow) so will hit the library and kids consignment store (drop offs)

Lesson from this: Never completely count on someone else's money to add longevity to your budget.

I do have a $1000 EF and short-term savings of 3 months living expenses. This doesn't exactly qualify as an emergency, just a reworking of the budget pots.

Concept of a billion stated in an interesting way

June 18th, 2008 at 04:58 pm

I don't usually share any emails and I am a rather unpolitical sort. While the economy is on people's minds and we are talking about balanced budgets with the candidates, here is an interesting analogy.

There is a comment about mothers who stay home close to the bottom - I am a SAHM and wouldn't chose any other option for my traditional family. This is my own personal view, so please don't argue back with me on any ills of society. We all choose what is best for our own particular families.

"How many zeros in a billion?
This is too true to be funny.

The next time you hear a politician use the
word 'billion' in a casual manner, think about
whether you want the 'politicians' spending
YOUR tax money.

A billion is a difficult number to comprehend,
but one advertising agency did a good job of
putting that figure into some perspective in
one of it's releases.

A billion seconds ago it was 1959.

A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.

A billion hours ago our ancestors were
living in the Stone Age.

A billion days ago no-one walked on the earth on two feet.

A billion dollars ago was only
8 hours and 20 minutes,
at the rate our government
is spending it.
While this thought is still fresh in our brain...
let's take a look at New Orleans ..
It's amazing what you can learn with some simple division.

Louisiana Senator,
Mary Landrieu (D)
is presently asking Congress for
to rebuild New Orleans . Interesting number...
what does it mean?

Well... if you are one of the 484,674 residents of New Orleans
(every man, woman, and child)
you each get $516,528.

Or... if you have one of the 188,251 homes in
New Orleans , your home gets $1,329,787.

Or... if you are a family of four...
your family gets $2,066,012.

Washington, D. C
< HELLO! >
Are all your calculators broken??

Accounts Receivable Tax
Building Permit Tax
CDL License Tax
Cigarette Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Dog License Tax
Federal Income Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fuel Permit Tax
Gasoline Tax
Hunting License Tax
Inher itance Tax
Inventory Tax
IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax)
IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
Liquor Tax
Luxury Tax
Marriage License Tax
Medicare Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate Tax
Service charge taxes
Social Security Tax
Road Usage Tax (Truckers)
Sales Taxes
Recreational Vehicle Tax
School Tax
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Tax
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax
Telephone Usage Charge Tax
Utility Tax
Vehicle License Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers Compensation Tax


Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago...
and our nation was the most prosperous in the world.

We had absolutely no national debt...
We had the largest middle class in the world...
and Mom stayed home to raise the kids.

What happened?
Can you spell 'politicians!'


NSDs and Other Frugal Thoughts

June 17th, 2008 at 07:36 am

In an effort to curtail last week's expenses which seemed high to me, I am being rather homebody-ish about life this week. Yesterday was a NSD - Sunday was the normal donut run/gas/last minute gift for FIL who we weren't supposed to be seeing but did. Expenses so far this week $58.

June 16 and 17 NSD -

We are heading out to the library - DD10 likes foreign language tapes and we have no dish/satellite TV until we switch back to cable on Fri (reception went out after storm, the tech people insist it is a problem with the switch - they'll send someone out on Thurs for $70 per hour). Guess what? Only $49 to switch back to comcast and their package is $99 versus the $150 I've been paying. Anyhow need to stock up on DVDs and movies to watch til then.

And I have a bin of winter stuff for kids'consigment store. Hoping to make some money there (I'd be happy with $30)

I've been doing cheap snacks this week - rice krispy treats and chocolate pudding and jello with cool whip. Need to explore more snack alternatives - I'm thinking about making trail mix - haven't tried granola bars yet to make.

Have a good day!

Week of June 8 to 14: A Recap

June 15th, 2008 at 09:01 am

Here is what I spent this past week:

Church $12.50
Gas $75.00
Living $175.31
Misc $10.48
Gifts $40.00
Clothing $26.91
Kids $25.06
Entertaining $45.00

TOTAL $410.26

How I covered these expenses:
CASH ($115.58)
GIFT CARDS ($235.68) Purchased $125
thru church
CHECKING ($59.00) (Plus $125)

Incoming Extraneous Income

Cash from laundry machines $58.00
Unexpected gift card DH $30.00
Gift (check from Gma) $100.00
Gift (cash from Mom) $10.00

TOTAL $198.00

Thoughts on this:

It has been hard, but I am abandoning the use of the credit card to cover expenses. I loved the thrill of point accmlation. I am opting for trying to cover things with cash and gift cards. DH pays for some things and doesn't access the "envelopes" so I need to work on that - and check payable to church for tax records won't change.

Gas/groceries were higher than had hoped - on las day of spending period had to put gas in car $20 additional and we hosted a several-friend slumber party which caused a second shopping trip when I spent more than planned and at least $12.00 was on ice cream/toppings/soda - all buy ones get ones - I didn't know that Beyers has gone up to $6.49 a tub! Yikes!

Gifts - Father's Day - paid cash and used gift card for Barnes & Noble from perk point cash-in bonanza.

Clothing - I am reducing the $200 BTS shopping by this $26 shoe purchase. I returned one item for $14 from last week (shorts that didn't quite fit one of my monkeys) I plan on spending across the summer months to plan for BTS.

Entertainment was spur of the moment outing with DH's thank you gift card for $30. Had to pay $8 over $30 for meal plus 20% tip of $7. Meal $38+$7 tip = $45 less $30 gift card = $15 OOP - fun, spontaneous, great plan, and you can't beat deep dish Chicago style pizza!

Kids category - covered tax on their PS 2 Karaoke game and $21 for the blow-up pool. Not unrealistic - well spent already provided hours of fun this week alone.

Still hopeful that I can reduce these categories significantly. Better planning I suppose.

unexpected Gift Card = Entertainment and Fun

June 14th, 2008 at 08:43 am

Today was last soccer game of the season for DS5. He is our first boy doing sports, and DH has loved taking him to practices and games and, in general, helping out.

Today DH came home all happy and showed me a Thank You card and $25 gift card to a local pizza place. They called him "Coach " and all DH thought he was was the dad who practiced defense drills and filled in at a practice or two when the head coach was gone.

We are celebrating Fathers Day tonight at the pizza place (will probably have to kick in some $ for a side order of breadsticks and a pitcher of soda).

Happy early Fathers Day to all the dads out there.

Update to Yesterday's Solicitation for Advice

June 13th, 2008 at 08:54 am

Thanks to those who helped advise what they would pay down given my funds and balances/interest rates. Out of the $4K I am paying - I paid $1,750 to debt #2 which was $2,300 at 0% now through November 09. I will pay more in the next few days - I have a tenant whose last rent check bounced - so untl I am sure that those funds will remain available I'll be happy with my payment.

In an effort to spread out BTS shopping for DK's - I took the first grader yesterday to Shoe Carnival for a pair of Sketchers originally $44 on sale for $29 and then I had a $5 coupon so it brough the cost down to $26.91. Happy about that - and we bought a 1/2 size larger to allow for any growth between now and then.

Help Deciding What to Pay Off?

June 12th, 2008 at 08:14 am

I paid off 1/2 of my consumer debt. I owe at this point a remaining $6,800 which I'm hoping to tackle in the short-term future (by end of summer). I have (as of tomorrow) $4K to apply. Here is what I need to tackle:

$2,300 @ 3.99%

$2,700 @ 0% til Nov 08

$1,700 @ 0% til March 09

Divide it equally among all three?

Total payoff of the $2,300 then apply the balance to $,2700 on line 2?

Pay off those at 0% because interest will be higher than 3.99 when balances come due (though I hope to have them paid off).

I will also have another $1,000 at the end of the month to throw at this.

BA - This one is for you - Rather Off-Topic

June 11th, 2008 at 06:38 am

I have been on the blog long enough to know that fellow blogger Broken Arrow likes kareoke, and is good enough to share some of his renditions with us.

Fast forward to home of the Senses. We own a Play Station 2 which Santa brought. The games are rather expensive and the kids have their favorites plus we rent some from the local Family Video. While I wouldn't quantify it as quality family time, we do have fun trying to beat one another at Dance Dance Revolution.

DD10 was at a friend's two weeks ago and did a version of Kareoke. She convinced the other kids to chip in their monthly allowance from their grandma to purchase this item.

We headed to Toys r Us yesterday with their cash and my $10 off coupon (I had hoped this item wouldn't be that expensive and I could get some practical like socks or undies for free with coupon). The item was $49.00 less the $10 then the $4 tax. My OOP was $4 to cover tax, the value of this item is priceless!

Having parents in their 30s, my kids have listened to 80s music forever. They opted for the 80s version (compared to the 90s and pop and some other version). First off, my kids have great talent - there is a playback feature and they sound really good. Even the three year old who knows some odd refrains to some of the songs. They performed at Hopeful level. DH and I cannot harmonize, carry a tune, read the words that accurately, or hold a note. We were awful and we were ranked Tone Deaf.

Aside from the fact that some of the me in make-up confused by DD9 (like Boy George), we had so much fun! We laughed until we cried (after listening to ourselves). I never would have thought that such a contraption could further our family fun.

I also had to realize that prior to the transaction that my children are making choices with their money. I cannot be allowance gestapo - they will make right decisions, and they will make wrong decisions.

Now go and find BA's blog and listen to some of his quality songs. I gotta go sing a round of Our House by Madness, then Everyone Wants to Rule the world by Tears for Fears.

First Time Shopping with Envelope System

June 10th, 2008 at 01:20 pm

I had my list of errands today which included several stops: grocery store, post office, gas station, etc.

I have a plain old envelope system which has prepuchased gift cards (as gifts and from a program at church where a certain percentage benefits the school), plus cash from DH's side jobs where 50% goes to groceries, 30% to gas, and 20% to misc.

I spent $62 at the grocery store and used 3-$20 gift cards. This was grocery staples and produce for four/five days.
Balance: $95 gift cards, $47 cash

I used a $25 gift card at the gas station. Balance: $25 gift card, $30 cash

I spent $4.80 at the post office, $3.50 to cover tax on kids purchase at Toys R Us (they pooled allowances to buy PS 2 Kareoke 80s Pop - I had $10 off $50 purchase and they offered to reimburse the $3.50 tax), $16.50 for DH's Fathers Day gift.
Balance in Misc Envelope $3.00

This certain makes it easy to budget - I plan on assessing the cash situation on Saturday's and add money accordingly.

I am needing to wean myself from plunkering down the credit/debit cards for the point program. I just redeemed a ton of points. I do think though that this puts money management in a different perspective when you're seeing the actual dollars coming in or coming out.

Upon my return home I jotted down amounts spent, stuck the receipts in and put the envelopes back.

Budget Related - Paid Utilities with Some to Spare

June 9th, 2008 at 04:52 pm

I sat down and paid the bills for June. I had anticipated $750 for utilities, and only had to pay out $700. Glad about that - will leave taht $50 there for next month.

Also paid off the remaining medical bills to the tune of $425: $68.36 for nebulizer, $80 to pulmonologist,$191.75 to lab for blood test allergy testing, and $80.40 for diagnostics on labwork.

Ah, sigh of relief to pay those off ...

Hard to believe that (knock on wood) we have been sooooooo healthy that there has't been one visit to the doctor at all this year. And we are on a HDHP.

My DS did have a speech eval today and he will be starting therapy weekly at the end of the month. It is so nice to have money in the HSA to cover this.

The psychological burden of debt

June 9th, 2008 at 08:06 am

I have stuck my head into the sand lately pertaining to the big picture of our financial life. I get bogged down by the little things and have this black/white all-or-nothing mentality. I have a list of things that I should do and justify not doing because I confess I am a "chronic starter over" as I mentioned in some of my previous posts.

I paid off half of our debt (roughly)last week. We acquired this debt when DH was unemployed and we had $10K in real estate taxes, $3K parochial school tuition, and COBRA to the tune of $1,086. I have enough money in the bank to pay off the remaining debt but I have clung to that money for dear life as a safety net for "JUST IN CASE". I am using it to pay off the remining debt so I can really start over with a clean slate.

I have halted the traditional IRA contributions to Vangard and decresed the contributions to the HSA by 1/2 so I can get a better grip on things. I decreased DH's 401K contribution to 6%. Why? I have done this in order to have three months of as much money as possible. I am going to ladder three 1 month CDs for our EF. I have to pay some medical bills (small but several) that I make minimum payments on.

I need to incorporate some Mary Hunt for a freedom account which is where I am thrown for a loop at times. I reread Dave Ramsey and felt OK about suspending payments for the next few months.

I can ideally get things on track and then use the rental property income simply for savings/far future expenses (like 09-10 school year and 10 property taxes).

In order to move on, I am paying off everything - the $700 on Kohl's, the medical bills $500, the remaining balance on AmEx blue to the tune of 3.99% incterest. By July 1st, I will have it all paid off. Scary, but exciting.

I did have DH check into his company's severance package - and it is 2 months - so that helped me overcome some of my angst!

Donut Ritual Must Remain Unaltered - Sorry Aldi's, Bakery Donuts then Mass

June 8th, 2008 at 07:06 am

I picked up donuts on my trip to Aldi's earlier this week. A dozen donuts in a bag - four plain, four powdered, four cinnamon (I admit this is light for a family my size but I had planned on supplementing it with a fruit salad - or at least apple slices and yogurt dip).

Imagine my shock when I woke up to my DH and several children trailing behind him humming a funeral dirge - carrying the bagged dozen donuts. I had to admit they looked skimpy compared to the store bakery donuts that we usually buy - hell, I saved over $4 on this.

My DH said, "This is hardly what we are used to." and DD9 said, "They are so thin", and DS5 said, "Where is the chocolate" and DS3 wrinkled his nose and said, "I no like" I am sure that the children not there to comment would have followed suit had they been awake.

There was nothing for me to say except stare blankly. "I didn't think they would be that bad," I stammered.

DH said to the children (as if I wasn't there), "Quick - we have time before church - get your shoes. One chocolate donut per person, no that isn't right - it will be cheaper for a full dozen. Let's skip the chocolate milk this week - go hit the change bin! Quick!"

I made it down in time to see the mismatched lot of them leaving quickly - quarters jingling - God love the man that loves his donuts!

The five year old then pointed at the donuts on the table and said, "Those are the parent donuts."

I think we will be skipping bags of Aldi's donuts in leiu of store bakery donuts. I must admit- I do like sprinkles on my frosting!

Successful NSDs and Supplemental Income Paid

June 7th, 2008 at 06:26 pm

I posted yesterday by weekly expenditure totals two days early - declaring Fri and Sat as NSDs.

I am pleased to report that this was successful! No moolah spent yesterday or today. Yesterday was cheap fun for the kids - playing outdoors with the hose, then a trip to the library for books/movies. Today was one of the kiddo's soccer game and an outing to the park. Pizza (from Aldi's which was good) and salad for dinner. No carry out food today!

DH did an odd job for my dad last night for $25, yesterday he got a $500 check for mowing the lawn for our old neighbors' for the summer. My DH paints for my dad and there will be an apartment next weekend. Labor is $550 and supplies are reimbursible - so will have more money coming in as well.

Feeling pretty good about the money coming in and the limited amount going out.

Have a good Sunday!

Weekly Recap of Spending (June 1st to June 7th)

June 6th, 2008 at 09:06 am

I am going out on a limb here, posting my stats, but I am declaring today and tomorrow NSDs. The menu is planned so I won't have to run out for grocery items, I am heading to the library today for recrational reading and movie watching - so no money required for movie rental.

I budgeted $175 per week however I had some cash from DH's side-job that goes into the envelopes and some gift cards for cash. My cupboards were bare upon return home from vacation.

Here is the breakdown:

Church $22.50
Gas $77.50

Living $192.34
(Groceries/Household cleaning/paper products/Personal care/Pet food)
Misc $7.14
Clothing $17.36





Thoughts: We have full tanks of gas, so that should be lower for next week. We have several days of menu planning done for next week. Groceries should be down. Will try to increase church donation for next week. Clothing was a good deal on polo shirt for DS for $3.00 plus a pair of school shorts for him for the fall $12.00.

This is my first attempt at posting weekly.

Aldi's Update

June 5th, 2008 at 01:50 pm

Well, I stuck pretty much to my list, but added several other days of dinner (prices were great on ground sirloin and turkey - so I added a batch of chili and meatloaf muffins to next week's menu) and I got two weeks worth of canned dog food.

The milk was $1.99 per gallon and I bought five. By far the cheapest around here, other store have it for $2.28 a gallon with a $10 purchase. I went hog-wild with the produce buying green and red grapes, two batches of strawberries, bag of apples, head of cauliflower, pint of grape tomatoes, two bags of carrots, two cucumbers and a bag of romaine hearts.

All in all, I spent $78. Which is awesome for my budget! I did get namebrand Colgate toothpaste or $2.20 and namebrand Smart Balance for $2.69, plus premium Kraft mac & cheese for $.79. Also snacks for one of my Kidd-Os soccer game on Saturday (two boxes of namebrand Rice Krispy treats for $4) Also decided to try their version of tombstone's personal pan pizzas. I pay $6.50 for those at Walmart and bought them here for $4.99.

I did have a quarter, and I had to use $33 on debit card over my cash stash. The cashier was very nice and didn't snurgle a bit splitting my payment method.

I will be going back to Aldi's again definitely.

Shopping Trip Today - Aldi's, here I come!

June 5th, 2008 at 05:44 am

There have been lots of posts about Aldi's the past few days. I am finally serious about THE BUDGET. I have tracked expenses, I have budgeted the numbers, I have lost interest, get the idea?

We are low in the fresh produce dept. I am heading to Aldi's simply to hit their produce stand and dairy (plus a loaf of bread). I can be in and out of there in a few minutes with minimal distractions. I am sure that I will be able to stay under budget.

I am heading out with cash (I am nudging my way to the cash in the envelope system) I am heading out without my children. Great opportunity for bonding time with Grandma.

Yesterday was last day of school for most of them and I collected items in good working condition and rounded them up for August. Looks like I won't have to buy that many things (like scissors and stretchy book covers). And the school uniform store is taking 10% off purchases now through July 12. I guess a truly frugal purchases has a roving list aand isn't pigeon-holed into seasons for shopping.

Have a good day!

Scored Big at CVS today

June 4th, 2008 at 09:46 am

I finally have something to share - in relation to how much $ I saved at CVS.

We are back from vacation and I have two digital camera cards filled with pictures. The pics just usually sit there on a disk waiting for me to print out. Well, here is what I did to get pictures printed out and share-able...

CVS flyer has buy one custom photo album, get one free. They cost $12.99 plus tax for a 10 page 6x8 hard cover book which they assemble there for you. I was able to choose 54 pictures from our trip. There is also a title page that you pick the picture of and can customize with text.

I was shopping at CVS last month and got a coupon for $5 off a custom photo book. I also has $4 ECB from a purchase earlier this week.

My total came to $4.30 out of pocket for the two albums - one I am sending off to my grandparents in CA. I love deals like that - the savings was over 70%. YAY!

Debt pay-off - reduction by 1/2

June 3rd, 2008 at 07:02 am


I have managed to "save" enough money to pay down about 1/2 of my credit card debt (third paycheck in May, state refund, leftover vacation money). This amount is roughly $5K - I am puttig $3K onto the AmEx Blue - $1K on Capital One - $1K on Citibank.

Redeemed Reward Points and Weekend Spending - Minimal

June 2nd, 2008 at 06:45 am

I finally accumulated 130K points on my debit/credit cards with National City (put as much possible on cc with car purchase, plus first installment of real estate taxes and other living expenses). I redeemed them yesterday for:

$100 Toys R Us gift card
$100 Target gift card
$50 JCP gift card
$10 Barnes and Noble gift card
$10 Panera gift card
$10 Chili's gift card
$5 Starbuck's gift card

After July 1st I start my Christmas/birthday shopping for the DKs- I know, kinda early but there are quite a few of them to shop for and it would be a budget buster if I waited til the last minute)

In an effort to continute to track living expenses, here is the breakdown of spending for June 1 -

Church $22.50
Groceries $18.89 (milk/coffee/donuts)

Have a good day!

Home from Vacation!

May 31st, 2008 at 12:09 pm

We returned last night from our road trip to Disney! It was the first major trip we have taken with all of the kids. The ride from the Midwest to FL was fine - did it in a 1-1/2 days - saw a lot of intereseting things.

We did four days at Disney - I was surprised by how well everything went, no really long waits thanks to FastPass. Kids made wise choices with souvenirs and in the end I spent about $80 from the left over Disney dollars to get everyone T-shirts. Got some shopping done with coffee mugs for grandfathers for fathers day. Did manage to stop at a Citrus World and buy tacky coconut monkey banks as gag gift and $.99 key chains for kids friends (it was buy five get one free - 12 keychains cost $9.90).

Good news is I over budgeted in every category and came home with $700 (though we did put the stroller rental charge on the credit card and did have to purchase an extra pair of sunglasses for DD 10).

I'm looking forward to June!

Can he ride if he has a ticket?

May 19th, 2008 at 01:21 pm

Well, I'm in the midst of planning for the trip - I have two suitcases in my living room, as well as a bin for shoes, a bin of food, a bin of picnic supplies, a bin of DVDs/books/etc. I have limited "friends" (dolls and stuffed animals) to one per person. I am assuming that my children will buy at least a stuffed animal as one of their souvenirs.

My five year old comes down with a bin with his five favorite friends. Two are Build a Bears, three are webkinz. I said he could bring one. He went away sadly saying to them, "But you are all my favorites."

The three year old comes down with a laundry basket filled to the brim with every last stuffed animal from the room (a dusty Elmo, a Bob the Builder with bad batteries that scares them when it talks, etc. etc.) He smiles and says, "My friends."

I said "No - no way - there will be no room for you. Nope!"

Five year old to three year old, "I have my allowance. How much is a ticket to ride?"

I might let them bring two.

Countdown to Disney has begun

May 18th, 2008 at 04:32 pm

Well, we are on the brink of the big family vacation - driving from the Midwest to Disney (one additional day on the Gulf of Mexico- Homosassa Beach and Weeki wachee) four days at Disney proper, then another day in Bowling Green (vette museum and DinoWorld park) Soooo looking forward to this ...

I researched hotels on priceline.com and stayed within my budget for those rooms for the four nights. My parents/in laws are taking care of the furry animals saving lots of money on a kennel stay. I have the gift cards for Disney souvenirs and snacks purchased. I've followed the advice from all on a previous post and have plenty of bottled water and will have snacks to bring in.

I did take advice from one of the blog entries about buying souvenirs (disney) at target or walmart. I did find a 750 piece panoramic puzzle for $7.50 at Target - good for me. DH just rolled his eyes at that. I laughed heartily and said he'd thank me when he saw the price of puzzles there.

We will hit the Disney outlet store in Orlando and hopefully make progress there. But then again, my children have their own gift cards and will make their own purchases. I'll have to bite my tongue on that one.

I'm working on the food situation - trying to avoid eating fast food driving down - I'm taking grilled chicken for dinner on the first day - some pasta salad - cheese and cut ham for the picky eaters - lunch on the second day (PB&J muffins and some fruit/veggies). breakfast is simple - I have bagged cereal and will travel with 1/2 gallons of milk in the cooler. I have microwaveable popcorn for the hotel rooms and chips with dip/salsa. I'm feeling OK about that ...

So now it is a matter of laundry and packing! We leave on Thursday.

Observation: Grocery shopping more often actually saves money and time

May 15th, 2008 at 05:45 pm

I am pleased to report that in the past week (since Monday) I have grocery shopped twice. I lacked a lot of enthusiasm for big menu plans, plus I'm rather tired of couponing (unless it is something I use regularly in a brand I prefer).

On Monday I had to get milk and produce and a few odd staples for dinner. I spent $24.00.

Today I shopped again, getting two more gallons of milk, fresh fruit, ground sirloin/ground turkey for tonight's meatloaf muffins (planned for earlier in the week), tomorrow's chili, and dinner on Saturday. Aside from the fact that I paid $3 for furniture polish and would be cheaper at Walmart, I spent $36.

I am doing far better cooking from scratch as far as snacks for the kids and by having a juice alternative I am saving money on milk.

I also hit Michael's and Joanne's using coupons (40% and 50% off) I am still stock-piling travel items for the car trip down to Florida which is a week away.

If I keep this up, I might actually have a budget for groceries that I am proud of.

I do plan to try to geton a system where I go to Sam's Club once a month for stocking up on thigns like vitamins and Zyrtec.

And I'm able to zip in and out in about 1/2 the time. And I'm grouping my errands and outing to economize on the gas.

Just an interesting observation I had to share ...

Two NSDs in a row? Menu options for kids!

May 13th, 2008 at 05:48 am

Yesterday was a NSD for me (yay! I like those) and I think if I scrounge my cabinets and a batch or two of muffins (PB&J as lunch or the kids) and blueberry for breakfast I can make it two NSDs. This AM it was toast, bananas, and apple sauce for the school age kids and bagels/cream cheese for lunch. I have definitely worked on my bread and lunchmeat sandwich philosophy, as well as trying to do away with crap cereal for breakfast. And I'm noticing it is cheaper!

And tonight it is House Hopeful's meatloaf muffins - which my kids LOVE!

Recap of Weekend Spending (5/9-5/10)

May 12th, 2008 at 06:50 am

Well, weekends have previously meant over- and frivolous spending - I am tracking diligently and here is the breakdown:

$35 oil change ($15 air filter was not included in my $23 budgeting, but it needed to be replaced)
$30 gas
$10 rental property repair (2nd go around at leaky toilet repair)
$10 misc (more coupons to spend at Michaels and Joannes - got tissue paper for wrapping Mother's Day gifts for grandmas - and a Hannah Montana iron on decal and a solid color T shirt for one of my daughters)
$30 donation to church
$20 groceries (for our Sunday breakfast, this included paper)

TOTAL $135 - All of this was budgeted for with the exception of the $10 rental repairs and $10 misc.

All in all, I'm pleased that I'm staying on track - plus I am realizing that I will need "x" amout of money for school shopping in August - so I'm going to resort to the envelope method - I'm acquiring some discipline and enjoying the freedom that it brings.

Three cheers for DH - my DIY Plumber Man

May 10th, 2008 at 06:41 pm

My DH has a desk job - he analyzes corporate finance. He has never been one to DIY - he has scoffed at my suggestion that we tile the bathroom ourselves. He did sand and stain our kitchen set that we purchased piece by piece from Naked Furniture (real wood unfinished furniture). It was tedious but turned out nice.

Fast forward to our rental property - last weekend under the tuteledge of my stepfather - he tackled a leaky toilet. Well, the toilet was leaking again and my stepfather wasn't able to help him out. Today DH went and purchased another wax seal, disassembled, then reassembled the toilet Plus the pipe was leaking and he fixed that too. I am sure that in and of itself, toilet repair/removal isn't brain surgery. But for DH it is.

So he saved us a plumber's trip out - at least $80 to get them in the door. AND he had left over parts to be returned to the tune of $9. He has the receipts! These items can go back!!

The old version of DH would have said, "Well, call the plumber." I don't know where the new version came from, but he can stick around for awhile!

Stimulus Money In .... Stimulus Money Out

May 9th, 2008 at 08:02 am

Well, as promised, the money was there in my checking account this morning. My, what a high balance! I am pleased to report that I have accomplished two of my short term money goals;

(1) Paying installment #1 on real estate taxes on rental property - CHECK

(2) Having enough money to put new tear-off roof on rental property - CHECK

and with the rent check for May and the additional paycheck, I will be able to pay installmetn #1 on real estate taxes on primary residence!

I am feeling so much better about having an honest working budget (realistic, as well!) I shopped at Ultra Food yesterday (for those of you outside of the midwest, it is a chain similar to Cub Foods where everything is discounted and you have to bag your groceries yourself), stayed to my list and spent $70 on meals for the next five days (Sunday we will be guests out - so I just needed to buy fixins for taffy apple salad) and I allowed one day for leftovers. I found gas at the cheapest place and filled up for two weeks. I have had the Mother's Day gifts for the grandma purchased a month in advance. DH will take the kids shopping using gift cards we have. I am able to pay some additional on our contribution to the Church. I will have enough to cover fees for my daughter's sports for 08-09 school year. I am paying $37.50 per week to our three credit cards and will tackle that more aggressively upon our return from Disney in June. (The trip is paid for, I have cash saved, and I purchased Disney gift cards for souvenirs for the kids).

I am hoping that I am able to sustain this! Thanks to all the inspiring folks here.

A Wonderful Evening Out

May 8th, 2008 at 06:38 am

I have had a bad bout of comparing myself to others (seeing myself both better and worse off than I am) as well as a general lack of discipline. I've decided to stop being speculative about this, and I'm moving on!

I did well yesterday with my spending - stuck to the list for groceries (regular menu things plus snacks and things for our road trip in two weeks). I got haircuts for the boys and one dog groomed, going only $3 over budget (forgot the two coupons or $1.01 off each cut). I got the dog groomed as well. Doing pretty good with this new budget (allowing funds for these things I need to get done). I think my head was in the sand when I first worked the numbers back in Jan.

Anyhow, back to the Other Half Living - DH and I had our anniversary on Monday. My mom babysat and we went out to dinner (haven't done that in ages). There is a new Lettuce Entertain You - French restaurant in an upscale outdoor mall in the area. (I don't usually do French, and I don't usually do that mall). I was enticed by a flyer offering $25 off any meal and we have accumulated $125 in gift cards from DH's boss at Christmas, gift from brother, etc. So I made the reservations figuring I'd be spending all the gift cards.

I usually am in a quandry about what to wear outside of my usual "mom" clothes. I did finally go to two resale stores without my children and purchased clothing that I tried on, that fit, that were almost brand new and cost less than one item from a Macy's, Bloomingdales, Nordstroms (get the idea?) Anyhow, there I was casual, but "cute". I had on a pink Ralph Lauren knit shirt that cost $4 and a Gap khaki skirt that cost $4. I did have on new shoes (clearance Kohl's $6) DH complimented me (which was nice) DH looked nice too based on contributions from my brother's hand-me-downs (a trendy print shirt requiring cuff links) etc.

As fas as dinner, it was wonderful - I had a steak roquefort and DH had bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin. We didn't drink alcohol, but had a lemon shrimp scampi appetizer and split a bowl of the best French onion soup. It was SO nice - and after a 20% tip we still have money left for another trip! We had a nice conversation about anything and everything and I was so into the experience, rather than the materialism of other people.

When we got home, we listened to our oldest daughter read outloud from Marly:A Dog like no other and we all had quite a few laughs. What a wonderful day!

<< Newer EntriesOlder Entries >>