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Went to the Beach this Morning

October 26th, 2013 at 03:40 pm

We have been enjoying a mild October so far.
It has been cold at night - mid 30s to low 40s, but the days have been sunny and warm. It is 75F right now.

This might be the last mild weekend for awhile so the kids and I headed out to the beach. Once again I was feeling pretty lucky we live so close to the Pacific Ocean. It takes us about 35 minutes to drive out and the road is a nice trip. Pastoral - cows, sheep, horses.

On our last trip we purchased a twelve month county park pass, so the only cost today was a bit of fuel for the Pathfinder.

Cleo at the beach this morning.
She is a big girl now! Smile

DD Has Her Own Checking Acct

October 12th, 2013 at 10:37 am

Our 12 year-old DD has her own free checking and linked savings account now. She feels very grown up and is taking it very seriously. She is a mature, responsible girl and I figure it is never too early to understand banking. It also makes sense for her to have an account to deposit into and "manage" now that she is getting at least one check every month from the survey company.

She is making both DH and I very proud because she has been saving half of any money she gets for many months now.
Her savings account has a larger balance than her checking account. Smile

I was 16 when I opened my first checking account.
How old were you?

Resolution of the Childcare Situation

September 26th, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Currently we are situation "A".
Daycare costs are calculated at the new rate and average number of hours/month.
School costs are fixed per month regardless of attendance.
I work four full days and one half day per week.

A) School part-time/Daycare part-time
School 3 days/week = $590
Daycare (GrandmaB) = $396

B) School mostly/Daycare 4.5/hrs/week
School 4 days/week
+ flat rate aftercare = $885
Daycare 1/2 day/week = $81

C) School Full Time
School 5 days/week + flat rate aftercare = $990

I have asked the preschool to put us on the waiting list to increase DS to five days or at least add the fourth full day I work. This may not happen for weeks or months. This preschool is *amazing* and 100% full with a waiting list.

The school is hands-down the best place for our son to go. He asks to go every day now and financially the numbers speak for themselves - why did I/am I having such a hard time with this?
After more thinking it is because of emotional attachmant and that I very much dislike change.

In my earlier post I wasn't very clear - not even for myself. I was actually struggling to find a reason to *stay* with our current daycare lady (GrandmaB) even given her rate increase. Though it is not logical in the financial sense. I have very personal feeling toward this woman, whom I've known for over 10 years and who has cared for both of my children. She loves them like her own and gets them little gifts for birthdays, Christmas and back-to-school.

Yes, my feelings got a little hurt when she announced her rate increase. I feel that her reason comes more from seeing us "have the money" to pay preschool tuition than anything else. I might be wrong there, but can't help feeling that.

Her home and care is safe and reliable, but it is not enriching, stimulating or exciting. If you picture a small living room and a dining room with some toys and a grandma in a rocking chair you've got the whole picture. And there isn't anything wrong with that, except we can have more for him for essentially the same cost.

I could have enrolled DS full time in preschool when I was planning months ago, but I didn't for these reasons.
1. GrandmaB is flexible. If I work 20 or 30 minutes later it is no problem.
2. I didn't want to "take" DS away from GrandmaB. I didn't want to hurt her feelings by not "needing" her.
3. Wasn't sure how well DS would take to such a big change. (In retrospect this is more *I* didn't want a big change. My baby isn't a baby anymore.)
4. The cost of using GB part time was less by close to $60/month.

Unfortunately, the school is not so flexible with late pick-up. That is the only drawback there. I have already discussed what is going on and the plan with my boss. He is fine with me not being available to work late. It really doesn't happen very often and I can still stay up to 15 minutes after "closing time" if need be. He said he thinks school is the best place for DS too and that is most important.
So there it is, the only real negative factor isn't really a factor at all.

When we end up making the change I will give GrandmaB as much notice as possible and write her a very nice letter of recommendation. There may still be days when we will use her in a drop-in way or maybe in the summer. If not, I will make a point to drop by to see her and still send her cards and pictures of the kids.

Daycare Rate Increase. Thoughts?

September 21st, 2013 at 06:20 pm

Friday evening when I picked up DS our daycare lady told me she is thinking/needing to raise our rate to $4.50/hour. I was totally unprepared when she said it and at first I was thinking that was a big increase (it is *just* $0.50/hour more). I reacted with a bit of shock and resistance. I told her I needed to make some calculations because I can pay a flat rate per month for aftercare at his preschool and that may end up costing less than using her all week.

At that point I'm sure I hurt her feelings a little. She got a little defensive in her body posture and said "do what you need to". *sigh*

Now, of course our son and his safety, comfort and care is a top priority. 50-cents more per hour doesn't seem like a lot. I don't want to be "so cheap" (you all know what I mean by that).

This rate increase would mean us paying on average $40/month more while DS is in preschool. $100/month more in the summer. That is significant.. Right?

I am having a hard time with her reason for increasing her rate which is - She is losing money because DS is in preschool now.
The increased cost would be tough enough to swallow, but I would be more agreeable if her reason was operating costs, or cost of living adjustment, or something along those lines. I mean, come on, when I work less I don't ask for a raise in my hourly pay to try to make up the difference. I feel like that is what she is saying. If she doesn't like losing income then she should take in another child. She only cares for one other little girl four days a week. And it's not as if she didn't know our DS would be coming less. I told her about preschool when he was two and a more serious discussion when all the paperwork was filled out six months ago.

Running the numbers last night it is an even cost if we pay her to watch DS two full days and three after-school days per week or if she watches him two full days per week and he stays at preschool the other three days.

On one hand I want to make a point and if she is going to charge more then I am going to use her less. On the other I don't want to hurt her feelings. She is sensitive and I don't want her to feel as though we don't value her care of our baby boy.

On Monday we will have to have a more thorough discussion since this topic was left hanging right before the weekend. Maybe she might re-think the increase given what I said about having him stay at preschool.

I have been thinking of offering to pay $40/month more while he is in school, but only if she agrees to keep the rate the same. That way in summer I'll be saving us the increase.

Any thoughts?

Working More Hours

September 2nd, 2013 at 02:30 pm

Happy Labor Day!
I hope everyone gets to enjoy a restful day off. We are in relaxation mode here at our house. Smile

Tomorrow I start working Tuesdays all day. For years I have had the morning off. Recently I started thinking I should offer to work all day. I already pay gas money to commute and I could add 3.5 hours to my week by making this change. I figured that after tax and additional childcare costs I will still bring home over $2k/year more. That is hard to say "No" to.

Last week went better than I had expected in regards to my new morning routine of getting the kids off to their schools. What it boils down to is leaving the house 30 minutes earlier. I hope we can keep it up all school year long.

Wednesday Doings

August 21st, 2013 at 10:11 pm

Today was DD's first day of middle school. The lazy summer mornings are gone now Frown Darn it!
Next week I add dropping DS off at preschool to the morning routine. I know it will be worth it. He is ready for more stimulation and he is very excited to start "school". Smile

In the extra income side of things: I received my quarterly check for recording some of my works' inventory usage to a research company. It pays $20/month. So my check was $60. Smile

Unfortunately, I saw an unauthorized charge on my AmEx card this evening. $85.xx. I submitted a dispute form online and fingers crossed it gets cleared up quickly. And no more funky charges!! Argh!

Back 2 School Stuff

August 16th, 2013 at 02:03 pm

DD had her orientation at middle school this morning. Unfortunately, she didn't get the zero period PE, so we will need to come up with a game plan for the morning drop off. I am probably going to drop off on the next street down and DD can walk over to the school.

We bought new shoes today. A pair for me and a pair for DD. (We now wear the same size.. sheesh!)
The really awesome part was the salesman told me to pull up an online coupon on my phone while I was checking out. He scanned the bar code on my phone and we saved 20%!

That was $26 I saved by having a "smart" phone. I need to remember to check for or ask about online coupons since it seems like this is becoming a more common thing.
What about if you don't have a smart phone? It's not fair, but I guess you miss out. Frown

Later today, or tomorrow, I will take DD for more B2S shopping. We have a new shopping center that *just* opened near us. There is a Target and a TJMaxx. She has a $25 gift card to both stores - gifts from her birthday last month. DH and I agreed to give her an additional $150 in cash. She will make the choices on what she needs (Paper, pens, socks, jeans, tops, jacket etc.) and will have to budget accordingly. She has already decided she is happy to reuse the same backpack she has had for three years in order to spend on something else.

Have You Felt Like You Are Swimming in Molasses?

June 7th, 2013 at 02:58 pm

HA! I sure do right now - Ugh!

Financially there have been some setbacks. Now that we are halfway through the year it feels like some goals are so far out of reach it'll take years, not months.

I don't like feeling frustrated, and there are so many things I want and need to do that the best way to describe my position is that I am stuck in the middle of a pool of thick, sticky stuff.

Just gotta keep dogpaddling, right?

I've been so busy the past two plus weeks. I really, truly thought the end of May would be more relaxed than the start, but that ended up all wrong.

For starters work has been busy. Most days we've needed to stay late to finish everything up.

Memorial weekend was going to be quiet. We had turned down offers from friends for camping, daytrips and BBQ. The plan was just to stay home = no spending. Well, Thursday night our friends A & S called insisting that we join them camping. They were not taking "NO" for an answer. They argued that they had already bought enough food, paid for the site and would pay our fuel costs. How could we pass up a "free" trip??

DH and I discussed it and finally caved to our friends' request to go. I am happy we did too. The camping was fun. The weather was nice. And we went to a place we had never been to before - Big Trees State Park - home of Giant Sequoias.

The trip home Monday was where we ran into a problem. We stopped for lunch and afterwards when I started the truck it would drive a few feet and then die.
Hard to start.. Drive for several feet.. Die.
We were in a parking lot thankfully, but 90 miles from home.

Long story short, we had to tow the truck to a nearby shop. Good news it was in the same town as A & S live. The shop of course was closed. We had to leave it. Couldn't rent a car because all those places were closed for the holiday. Our friends graciously lent us their car to drive home in.

Tuesday DH drove their car back and picked up our repaired truck. It was a sensor that went out. Simple fix thankfully, but oh what a huge headache!
So, although we didn't spend much on the weekend (less than $100 on fuel and some food) we did spend money with the extra driving and the repair, which cost $192.

Thursday, May 30, DD had her 6th grade promotion. Big Grin
I can't believe she is old enough to be going to middle school/junior high!

You might recall DD had us running all around town looking for a dress. Eventually we found something she liked. It looked so cute on her and is something she will be able to wear again. I thought we did well spending just $21 on it.

Her graduation gift from DH and I was a cell phone.
She was thrilled - she has been wanting a phone and has been working hard at saving her money (I told her she had to buy her own).

I bought this used phone several months back and just activated it to my Ting account. This will increase usage to the next tier. I figure our cell bill will be about $27/month now.

I have been going to my hour-long Pilates classes each Thursday night. This was a Groupon deal. I have one more class. I really like the workout - let me tell you it is a total body workout. I am usually sore for three days afterwards.

The instructor offered me an additional five-pack of classes at a 20% discount. I'd like to do it, but just cannot spend that extra money when we have so many other financial obligations. Someday maybe....

The silver lining? I am going to try to apply some of the moves I've learned in the class and do a little, mini 10-15 minute routine at home. I just need to get into a routine of making myself DO it. Smile

The garden was seriously damaged by our hens. GRRR!
The hens ate all the leaves on our sugar snap peas - leaving pitiful, scrawny, 7" 'twigs' that dried up and died. They ate the tops of my carrots and all my baby spinach. In DH's box they worked over his corn stalks.

The dog dug up my lemon cucumber.
I planted another - it died - don't know why??
This morning I planted two new plants in new locations - Fingers crossed!! (I really like lemon cucumbers)

My tomato and squash plants are going gangbusters - they look awesome. Yay!! Big Grin

DS and I visited his preschool and turned in his enrollment paperwork. Ah, preschool... that deserves its own post.

Been doing a bunch of reading too. That has been keeping me up late. I am just about to start the fourth and last 'Twilight' book. Then I am going to watch the movies. Curious to see what the hype was all about. Smile

Let Us Eat Cake!

May 4th, 2013 at 04:49 pm

DD needed to bake a cake last night to take to her 4H cooking meeting today (they did cake decorating this morning).

I *KNOW* we have two cake pans. I couldn't find them last night to save me. I think they are still packed away. (We have a kitchen with ZERO storage, so when we moved in we did not unpack all our stuff.)

I had to run to the store at 8:30pm and buy two cake pans ($14). That was after working all day, then coming home and working on the house to get it ready for my in-laws who came this morning for a weekend visit. I was wiped out last night.

Upside? We have two nice cake pans now and we know where they are. Smile

Good Way to Compare Health Plans

May 2nd, 2013 at 06:09 pm

In an earlier post I said we had met with an insurance broker about plans for our children.
Now that I learned how to use the Snip Tool I can post some screen shots of the nifty spreadsheet he gave us to compare costs. I couldn't fit all of them in (there were 66) but you'll get the idea.

For those of us who have a hard time figuring out where to start when it comes to narrowing down the choices I hope this helps - It certainly helped me.

Okay, so things to know when you look at this:
- All the numbers are doubled to account for both kids.
- It's color coded to show different companies. I didn't include the company/plan names for space reasons.
- The HSA and Tax columns are both blank because it's "child only" plans.
- Based on the best case/worst case numbers I chose four plans and investigated their specific coverage. The best thing, for me, was to remember that now with ObamaCare preventative care is covered 100% no matter what plan you have.

Best Case Scenario
Annual Premium. No other money spent.

Worst Case Scenario
Annual premium *added to* Total Out Of Pocket Limit.

I found it very interesting to see how a "full coverage/$0 deductable" policy could really cost you a whole lot more especially if you are a healthy person. You could spend as much in *Best Case* as you would in some cheaper plans *Worst Case*.

We Have Bees!!

April 7th, 2013 at 12:35 pm

DD's 4H beekeeping leader (EM) captured a swarm last weekend.

DD set up her box and EM brought the bees to our house yesterday. We are all excited. Honeybees are so cool. Just amazing when you learn about what they do and how the live.

DD's 4H experiences have been so wonderful this year. It is such a great way to nurture a child's interests without spending a bunch of money. I also feel like it's a great place for social interactions. She gets to spend time with other kids near her age, with similar intrests, but not in a school setting. Actually, there isn't anyone in this particular club that goes to DD's school. I think that takes some of the "social pressure" off a bit.

The boxes, complete with frames and tops, a smoker, hive tool, frame grabber and feeder were all given to DD for free because they were donated to the 4H project.
To buy these items as a package would be about $185.

The bee leader, EM, is a sweetheart of a lady. Completely volunteering all this time to educate and suport the kids. She collects unwanted swarms to populate the hives so nobody has to buy bees.
A queen can sell for $25-$30. A group of bees like ours could cost $170.

We did buy DD a veil, a board for the box and some wax foundation for the frames. To get her started we spent $40 vs. the near $400. Big Grin

Here is the queen. She is the larger, pretty golden colored one. The golden color is special. EM told us she is the prettiest queen she has seen in many years. EM also believes she is a young queen so we might have her for five years or so.

I am enjoying going out to the backyard and watching the activity going in and out of the box. Smile

Speaking of 4H: Yesterday morning DD's cooking goup had a field trip to see a local ice cream shop make ice cream. Really a lovely, locally owned shop in our historic downtown. Everyone got free ice cream. I was naughty and tried an Affogato (not free).
The Affogato is two scoops of icecream topped with two shots of espresso in a latte mug. OMGosh!! SO amazing. Obviously you must love coffee - which I do! It might be my new favorite dessert.

Bye, Bye EF

January 5th, 2013 at 06:36 pm

So we ended 2012 with $4008 in our EF. Smile
By the middle of this month we will be down to $200. Frown

The breakdown:
- $2356 for DS's ER visit (ER, doctor, ambulance)
- $ 248 for DD's first pair of eye glasses
- $ 647 for annual auto insurance policy
- $ 250 for root canal
- $ 338 for equine vet and disposal truck

The silver lining is we have that money, so it's not going on a cc or being borrowed.
That takes a little bit of the sting of wiping out the EF. (Just a little..)

Update and Catch Up

December 3rd, 2012 at 04:26 pm

Update on DS - I stayed home with him today. He had a very restless night, but no fever, and this morning seemed to be feeling much better. At nap time he was restless and sweaty. He is starting to sound a bit raspy, but still no fever. Very relieved about that. Smile

Now, to finish that Saturday post...

Happy December to you all! Smile

Keeping busy the past few weeks. Most of my computer time recently has been shopping for Christmas and reading reviews of girls' bikes.

We had a very nice, relaxing Thanksgiving at the inlaw's. I hope all my SA family enjoyed their holiday time too.

My DH, DD and FIL shopped Black Friday. The best deal my DH came away with?
$0.99 Poinsettias from HomeDepot.

I designed and ordered our Christmas cards from Costco. Just pictures of the kids and the kids with the puppy. I picked them up last Sunday so I could use a $5 off coupon. That meant I spent $11 for 50 personalized cards.

After much searching for the best item and price I ordered the tricycle for DS online. I was willing to buy used and I kept checking CraigsList. There was only a pink one for sale near me and only $10 less than new. It's interesting to watch prices fluctuate near Christmas. I've been shopping this trike for several weeks and have watched prices drop and now climb. Same with the ride-on toy we bought last year. I was lucky to buy at the right time. I feel good about this year too. Some online sites are charging $20 to $35 more than I paid for this trike.

The bike I ended up choosing for DD was out of stock when I tried to order it, so I had to restart my search. I ended up ordering a cute Schwinn from ToysRUs for $140 & free shipping. I was surprised when I saw the same bike was $120 MORE on Amazon!

By using 30% off plus $20 credit I bought DH a $35 handheld "stick" blender for $4.70.
I scored a $13 "Disney Cars" book for DS for $7 and four "Gallagher Girls" books for DD for less than $20.

The kids and DH are set except for a few small candy items for the stockings. I have a few gift cards to purchase for my sister, DS's daycare lady and our niece and nephew. I heard something about Safeway doing a "buy $100 in GC and get a $10 grocery coupon". Need to look into that.

Ambulance Trip to the ER

December 1st, 2012 at 02:44 pm

I was midway through a catch up post this morning when we had an emergency.

First, let me say everything is fine now. *Phew*!!!

DS had a seizure. Turned blue. Stopped breathing for a few seconds.

I was home alone. I called 911 and the fire rescue/ambulance came. IV and O2 started. He had a second seizure in the ambulance. It was so scary. He was pretty out of it. So very scary for a parent.

At the hospital he was a little better. Then kept getting better.

Diagnosis: febrile seizure
Seizure that happens when a fever spikes. Especially in children DS's age.

He woke up with a fever, but it wasn't super high (99F). At the hospital it was 103F.

I know about febrile seizures because DD had one when she was about two. His seizure seemed much worse than hers. She didn't stop breathing or turn blue.

I was worried it would be something worse than a febrile seizure: I was worried about meningitis.

Fibrile seizure you just treat the fever. Dosing Tylenol and ibuprofen alternately every four hours and six hours.

DS is home, fully dosed with the above, and sleeping.

This is the time when you are reminded to thank the Lord for the good health you and your family take for granted everyday.

Busy Tuesday

November 6th, 2012 at 09:54 pm

I started my day at 7:30 with a parent/teacher conference at DD's school. She had a perfect report card and very kind remarks from her teacher. We are so lucky that every year it has been the same - great, great, great. Big Grin

I really give a lot of credit to the wonderful preschool she attended. This is the same preschool that we have DS enrolled in for Fall 2013.

Mid morning I had a dentist appointment. Just a routine cleaning. It won't be covered by my insurance and will cost about $80. I also scheduled my crown for the first week in January. My root canal is scheduled with the endodontist at the end of December. This way I can maximize my dental benefits and pay the least out-of-pocket I have to.

After my appointment I dropped my ballot off. (I filled it out at home, but didn't want to risk mailing it.) It is always neat to see all the different types of voters out and about. Smile

Then I had to stop at MIL's bank. She asked for a $600 loan. This is the second time this year. She always pays it back promptly, so for that I am comfortable. What really alarms me is that they don't have any savings to tap? I'm not saying we are 'The Expert Savers', but we are working on it! (I really understand DH's lack of money management skills when I see things his parents do.)

I bought a banana milkshake from a burger stand next to the bank. It was a serious *want* and it was so gooood! Big Grin Plus, my throat has been sore all day and that shake felt good - wish I had another one right now.

Lastly, I went to work for the afternoon.
It was pretty quiet, so work was the easiest part of the whole day. Wink

Honeybees. Lunch Out. Gas Price. Sports Night.

October 18th, 2012 at 06:47 pm

Tuesday night DD had her first 4H beekeeping project meeting. Before the meeting she was telling me that she wasn't sure she was interested. I had originally urged her to check it out because I would like to have bees in the backyard someday. She agreed that she would see how she liked it after going to the meeting.

Well she must have really liked what was presented because when I picked her up she was waiting in front of the barn with a complete bee box (hive) setup. Luckily, the club had a bunch of used equipment donated for the kids. The project leader is the nicest older lady and she said come early spring the club will collect unwanted swarms so no one should have to buy any bees.

This afternoon DH and I had lunch together at a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich place we had wanted to try. I was able to print an online coupon for a free soda - we shared. Total spent $12.

It had been a really long time since we had gotten to have lunch together. We both decided it's something we need to do more often. Smile

I told DH that next month I'd like to go see the new 007 movie with him and maybe do dinner or dessert. I still have free movie passes from my girlfriend to use.

Filled up this afternoon and the price had dropped a bit to $4.32/gal. Even still it cost $84 to fill up. Frown

Tonight is a big sports night for me. I have to flip channels back and forth from the SF Giants playoff game to the SF 49er/Seattle game.

Come on guys!!!

Ankle Still Aching

October 16th, 2012 at 03:13 pm

A few Mondays back (a month back, just checked the calender) I fell and twisted my ankle. It was puffy and swollen for pretty much the whole week after. Then it was bruised and tender. Now it just hurts occasionally when I step a certain way or flex it just so. I sure hope it all heals up and I don't have any long term pain.

In other news, I bought DD a new pair of athletic shoes this weekend. October seems to be the time of year when I buy new shoes. Changing season, worn out summer shoes..yada, yada. She can now wear women's sizes. Her shoes were $70. I told her to take very good care of them because they will have to last all school year.

DS didn't get left out. I bought him a pair of jeans and two long sleeve tshirts off the clearance rack at Gymboree for a total of $20. I was pretty pleased with that because the regular price just for the jeans was $23. There were some crazy adorable PJs that I wanted to get, but they were not on clearance and cost $21. I'm going to check (maybe even call the store) in a week or two and see if they get marked down. Smile

Not Working Today

October 11th, 2012 at 02:03 pm

I took the day off work so I could drive DD to and from a school field trip. It is to a close regional park for a fall festival. Her school does not have buses, so if they take a big trip they have to rent them. That means at her school most field trips require parent drivers. I don't have the increased coverage needed to drive other kids, but I can drive DD.

This worked out great for today. Thursdays are a half-day at work and I was able to be home to see the SF Giants win their playoff game. Whoot! Big Grin

Our pot roast was so tasty last night. Little DS really ate a lot of the meat.

I agree that the slow-cooker is great all year round, as many of you commented. It's especially nice to use when it's hot during the summer and you don't want to use the oven or stove. I haven't made any desserts in mine, so that's something to try one of these days.

This morning I scheduled payments for the rest of the month. Unfortunately, our cc balance increased this month. There is no avoiding it. These were the charges from last month when DH went to Alaska and he wasn't home earning money. There was also a medical bill I had paid finally.

I am really feeling discouraged. This year will be over in a blink and so much I had hoped we'd accomplish has not been done. This increase in the debt sucks. The somewhat silver lining is it is on a 0% card.

Kids Activities = Money Out

October 2nd, 2012 at 11:28 am

DD has a sixth grade camping trip in May. The school asked for either full payment now or set up a monthly payment plan. I opted to pay the $180 in full now.

We signed up for one after-school enrichment class this semester. $45.

Her monthly childcare contract was due yesterday. $128.

She is participating in a charity walk this weekend. All her idea. Very sweet. We donated $25.

Sunny Saturday. Budget Juggle.

September 15th, 2012 at 05:37 pm

Right now I am sitting in the backyard. It has been a beautiful day today. Really, the whole week has been wonderful, mild weather. Still not having to use the AC or heat. Smile

I worked this morning for my co-worker who is sick. I don't mind working Saturdays occasionally because I get a few more hours on the paycheck, don't have to pay for childcare and don't have weekday traffic to deal with.

I decided to treat myself to Starbucks this morning and used the drive-thru. When it was my turn at the window they told me their system was down so they couldn't take my money, so my coffee was free! Smile

Free coffee was a very nice way to start my day.

Trying to juggle the budget because of the lower income due to DH being gone. He did get some of his time off as paid vacation. Even so, we are about a third short of what he would have made had he been home. In addition to lesser income he spent money while he was gone. A double whammy.

He has $800 coming to him from his side work with the fire department at the raceway, so that *will* help *when* it shows up. Until then I am dipping into the EF to cover the shortfall. Phooey!

Cutting back on the grocery spending is going to be essential now. There also won't be much progress on the CC repayment this month. Frown

DD had her first 4H meeting on Thursday. It was $33 for the yearly enrollment and another $32 to buy presale tickets for the fundraising BBQ. She has signed up for four projects. Her first project meeting is 'Canning & Preserves' and it meets tomorrow afternoon.

Just This 'n That

September 9th, 2012 at 03:24 pm

DH is coming home this evening. I am planning to make the hash brown quiche that everyone loves so much. I'll add either a fruit or green salad on the side.

I paid DD her new higher allowance today. $20/two weeks and $5 for mowing the front and back yard.

I also set DD up with her own email address. She was thrilled.

I went to the grocery store this morning. $157. I bought five boxes of cereal because they were $2 each and I had a $2 off 5 boxes coupon. I like cereal, it's good for breakfast, snacks and sometimes dinner. Wink I don't plan to go shopping again for two weeks.
Going to get that grocery spending down this month. Smile

My BFF had her baby girl this morning! Big Grin

The weather has been fabulous here the past week. Mild. I haven't had to use heat or AC. I love that! Big Grin
Right now it is 80F and just beautiful.

I checked my $1k that I invested in my ROTH a few weeks back and it is up $14. Smile

Getting excited about all our favorite shows as the new season starts up. I so enjoy curling up on the couch on cool fall nights and watching TV.

Had some corn from our garden two nights ago. It was not quite ready, but still very good. I've also been getting lots of green beans and I need to pick more today. Getting plenty of zucchini and summer squash. Enough for us and anyone we know. DD's pumpkins are thriving. I bought more spinach seeds so I can replant that area. I've had several lemon cucumbers and a bell pepper. The tomatoes are really taking their sweet time getting red. I've picked one red one and the puppy pulled one off and the chickens ate two almost red ones. There are *tons* of green ones.

The Amazon seller that we ordered DH's book from offered to refund my shipping *IF* I change my feedback (3 stars). The shipping was $7. I don't know if I want to change the rating; they should do a better job. Still, $7 back in my pocket.....

Off to watch the second half of the 49er game. When it ends it'll be time to switch to the SF Giants game.

Zero Eating Out. Nice Family Visits.

September 8th, 2012 at 09:39 pm

I wasn't "officially" working on the No Eating Out Challenge, but we have not eaten out. Not a meal anyway. I did buy ice cream when MIL visited last weekend. As I said before, it was a nice visit. MIL was way more relaxed.

The last four days my mom and dad came and stayed. With DH gone to Alaska it was wonderful to have the extra help. They drove DD to and from school, watched DS while I was at work and fixed dinner each night. So very nice for me to not have to drive kids around or make dinner after work. I know that helped keep me from eating out or getting food delivered.

On Monday, DD picked 65 apples off our neighbor's tree (with permission of course) and she made three pies. Two 9" and one 6". There were still a lot of apples left so my mom made apple cobbler or an apple crisp the past four nights. It was such a tasty treat to have it fresh and warm topped with ice cream each night after dinner. Big Grin

The visit with my parents was really great. They are so funny.


We did a little shopping this morning. DD had a $10 gift card for Old Navy and $10 in "Old Navy cash". She shopped the clearance racks and bought three really cute tops (clearance) and a hoodie (regular price) and grandma paid the difference of $13.

I spent $0 today. Smile

Happy Labor Day Holiday!

September 3rd, 2012 at 02:48 pm

Hope everyone is enjoying their holiday!

It's a very low key Labor Day here with just me and the kids. Doing laundry, washing all the bedding and doing some general pick up are the only things happening today. For dinner tonight I am going to fix spaghetti noodles to go with our leftover sauce.

DS is coming down with a little cold. He has a runny nose that bothers him at night and wakes him up. Hopefully it clears up soon because we both get cranky when our sleep gets interrupted.

My mom and dad are coming Wednesday for a visit and to help me out by watching DS and picking DD up from school. The kids and I are looking forward to them visiting and helping out. Big Grin

Just before DH left, he and I agreed to give DD an allowance raise. We added poop scooping to her daily chores, something we had been paying for based on amount picked up. We increased her pay from $5/week to $10/week. She was totally jazzed. Smile

She wants to open a checking account soon. I think middle school might be a good time for that. I am going to check what, if any, age requirements there might be so we can plan based on those.

I had my first checking account when I was a high school freshman. When did you get yours?

Back To School and Investments

August 21st, 2012 at 09:30 pm

Tomorrow is DD's first day back to school. I can hardly believe the summer went by that fast! DH started his twice weekly EMT class tonight, so he's back to school too.

DD went to the dentist this morning for her regular check up. Everything was fine and the visit was 100% covered, so there was no OOP. I also found out we have a $88 credit there from an insurance adjustment. I am sure it'll be used. She'll need sealants on her new molars maybe next visit.

Our next stop this morning was JCPenney's for their free haircut. (Thanks CCFree!) We gave the stylist a $4 tip.

DD and I did a bit of clothes shopping while we were at the mall. DD scored on a pair of clearance jeans at Penney's for $6! I bought a plain tshirt at Old Navy on clearance for $3. A few days ago I bought a clearance shirt at Target for $3.
Can't beat those clearance racks! Big Grin

Tried to look up the bonds that the kids were given and I couldn't get them pulled up. I have an email into my cousin to see what I need to do. Very frustrating to spend over an hour messing around with a very user UN-friendly site. Blah!

I did use my $1k to buy into a new mutual fund for my ROTH. I wanted to split it between mine and DH's, but the minimum initial purchase for this fund I wanted was $1k. Meh, DH won't much care, he doesn't keep tabs on the ROTH's. I guess that is the "What he doesn't know won't hurt him??" Theory. Wink

Fair & Camping Photos

August 18th, 2012 at 04:04 pm

DD and her friend dressed up as grapes for a parade at the fair.

Some displays inside the big flower show.

The midway lights

I spent $78 at the fair. That was parking, entry for myself the girls and DS, food and a few wagers on the horse races. I also bought a popsicle freezing set from a Tupperware booth.


Burney Falls on our camping trip.

View off the arched footbridge down the creek from the falls.

Along the way to the camping I stopped at my BFF's baby shower. It was great to have a visit with my buddy and see her baby belly!

Our camping trip was a great break. We really should've stayed three nights instead of two. I mean once all the stuff is packed and we drove up there an extra day to kick back would've been great. The weather was pretty hot up in the mountains. It was about 94F at the campground. It was a perfect 75'ish down in the gorge where the falls were. So each afternoon I would walk down there and stay until dinner was ready. Smile

On the way home we drove thru Redding and it was 115F!

Total camp trip cost was nearly $600. Fuel was a biggie! That also included the camping cabin, fishing licenses, food and two new sleeping bags. Our other set needed to be replaced, so I bit the bullet and bought new ones this year.

Wedding Spending. Shopping. Fair Spending.

August 7th, 2012 at 11:40 am

We went to wedding #2 this weekend. It was very nice and I'm glad it went smoothly. And I'm also glad it's over now. Smile DD looked lovely in her dress and really helped out by keeping the two young ring bearers in line. DH looked very sharp as the best man. I picked out the pink ties that he and the other groomsman wore.

Geez, I had no clue that ties were so expensive. I ended up picking the lesser priced ties and still they were $21 each. Pink looks nice on DH so hopefully he'll have an opportunity to wear the tie again.

We gave the couple a $25 Lowe's gift card and the least expensive cute card I could find. $27.xx total.

We stayed Friday night at a hotel and I drove home Saturday night. We didn't end up leaving until 9pm, but it was so good to be back home and sleep in our own bed. Also great not to spend $$ on a second night in the hotel!


Sunday was a lazy day. I had a $10 off $30 coupon for Kohl's. I bought myself a pair of yoga pants (I was combing thru all the clearance racks for a shirt and couldn't find anything I liked. Grr!) and a replacement plate and bowl that had been broken from my set. That came to $30.62. After $10 off and an additional 10% off I paid $20.80. Smile

I also went to the grocery store and used another $10 off $50 coupon as well as a few other "Grand Opening" coupons from the booklet they mailed out. I am also finally signed up and using the Just4U online coupons.

Last week I saved $62. My total spent was $72 on a bunch of groceries.

This week I saved $45. My total spent was $66.

I have two more $10 off coupons to use in the next two weeks. Smile


We are going to the county fair on Thursday. Our county has two fairs. This is the larger two week long fair with a huge flower show. I'll try to take pics to share.

DD wanted to see Miranda Cosgrove, the star of the TV show "iCarley". She is having a concert at the fair and the tickets were $20-$30! I told DD she would have to pay for the ticket herself. So, she saved her birthday money and a few weeks worth of allowance and she bought two tickets. She is taking a girlfriend with her. I also told her if she wanted to ride the rides she'd have to buy her own wristband too. I told her I'd drive them, pay for parking and pay for the admission, but that was all I was willing to spend.

I am very proud that DD didn't whine or complain about me not paying, she just figured out a way to make it work. Big Grin

Saturday Doings. Checking Acct Fees.

June 30th, 2012 at 01:17 pm

This morning I went to the grocery store. Safeway is running their spend $75 get $10 off coupon promo this weekend. I also needed to spend $9 on selected dairy items by the end of the month to earn two tickets to the new "Ice Age" movie.

I spent $93. Included in that was several boxes of cereal priced at $1.88/box and a few BOGO free items.

The snag came at checkout when the coupon printer didn't print my movie ticket vouchers or my $10 reward coupon. Had to go over to customer service and after a few minutes she got everything for me. Smile

Other Saturday stuff:

Bought new sneakers for myself and DH. $83 total.

Bought a new set of scrubs for work. $42.

Going to pickup DD from camp today. Yay! I've missed her and can't wait to hear how camp went. Big Grin

MIL is coming this evening to stay for two nights.
Two nights is just fine. Wink

A $3 service fee was charged on our checking account this month. A checking account which is supposed to be free. Rolleyes

Do you remember when I posted about having to change my account a few months back (Oct. I think) and I thought it was so odd that it was called "College Checking" but it didn't matter what your age was or whether or not you were in college.

When I called today I was told that because our account is "College Checking" it's only free if you're under 24. Doesn't matter that I was told in the branch that your age didn't matter. *Really..Grr!*
And I guess it doesn't matter that it's been free for months and neither DH nor I have been 24? (I wonder if my birthday last month triggered this fee to start? Hmm.)

The CS rep for the bank asked if I'd like to change my account to a "Value Checking" package.

"You only need to keep a $1500 average daily balance for it to be free. Otherwise it's $9/mo."

Hu? Let me see... I can keep what I've got for $3/mo or switch and every few months (or maybe every month) I'd get charged $9 because the A.D.B would be too low. No thanks. I'll stick with this for now.

As I've said before I would consider a switch to our credit union. The advantage the bank has over the CU is: Convenience. Lots of branches/ATMs/easy online uses.

I do plan to stop at the branch where they told me age doesn't matter. And I'm a bit curious; sound like age discrimination?

Pay to Play

June 24th, 2012 at 03:11 pm

A bit of spending here at our house this weekend.

I took DD and one of her school friends to see "Brave" in 3D on Friday night. It was a GREAT movie! I liked it very much. Very good mother/daughter film. The 3D keeps getting better and better each time I go to the theater. We had frozen yogurt before the movie.
$22 for tickets. $9 for frozen yogurt.

Saturday I picked up a long time friend of DD who lives in the next town up. Then we all went to the fair. We were able to get in for free again this year. (A friend who has family that works for the fair gets us free passes in.)

DD's entries all won first in their respective classes! Big Grin
But not Best of Show in their categories, so I don't think she'll get any prize money. *shrug* It's just fun to exhibit in the fair, winning money is just icing.

At the fair I gave DD $15 to spend. DH and I spent $35 on glorious fair food. Smile (foot long corndogs, fried artichoke hearts, lemonade, cinnamon rolls) We tried a deep fried Twinkie this year - kind of tasted like a donut to us.

This morning I took DD to the sporting goods store for camp related supplies. $61. She'll be gone on her first sleep-away camp for five nights.

Comparing the Annual Spending on Children

June 16th, 2012 at 03:20 pm

Going off Ceejay's post yesterday...

I'm home from work and it's hotter than heck out, so I enjoyed sitting inside with the AC putting this post together. Spent some time looking thru Quicken. Pretty convenient that we are exactly halfway thru the year; it was easy to come up with some averages. Smile

If you missed Ceejay's post here is the USDA report she cited -

I used the Western Region/middle income bracket. Page 28

USDA Figure [Our Actual Spending]

For DS (2 years old):
Housing: $4670 [$0]
Food: $1440 [$950]
Transportation: $1780 [$162]
Clothing: $800 [$300]
Health care: $800 [$250]
Childcare: $2750 [$6750]
Misc.: $1020 [$700]

For DD (10 years old)
Housing: $4670 [$0]
Food: $2460 [$1900]
Transportation: $1970 [$162]
Clothing: $750 [$300]
Health care: $940 [$250]
Childcare: $1950 [$1260]
Misc.: $1230 [$1000]

DH and I would have bought this house or a similar three bedroom house regardless of having the kids or not.

I figured our yearly food costs. I was going to just divide it evenly between four people, but obviously DH and I eat way more than DS. So I just figured DD would eat about half of DH or I and DS would be about half of DD.

The USDA definition was "expenses related only to family-related activities". We do trips and such, but we would do those even without children. I just figured 5% of the annual fuel expenses per child.

Kids get gifts of clothes all the time. I figured an average of $20/mo/child, plus two pairs of shoes.

Health care:
"..the share of household out-of-pocket health care expenses spent on children.."
I've listed copays for annual dr. visit and bi-annual dentist visits.

These are crazy low averages IMO. I get that many people might have family watching the kids for free or work opposite hours so one parent is watching them. Anyhow, our total is much higher than their average.

"..(personal care items, such as haircuts, toothbrushes, etc.; entertainment, such as portable media players, sports equipment, computers, etc.; and reading materials, such as nonschool books, magazines, etc.).."
For DS this is where I counted his diapers, wipes, haircut every 4(ish) months, books, occasional toy and gifts.
For DD I count her gifts, twice yearly haircuts, extra activities (camp, craft classes, movies, trumpet etc..).


June 14th, 2012 at 03:26 pm

I said when I had time I'd post some pictures. Smile

Here is our garden boxes. I still want a few pavers or stepping stones to place between the boxes so I can walk out in my bare feet.

The sad thing is our peach tree was so loaded with fruit that the main trunk split and we had to cut it off (in the pic behind the garden). Then the other half bent and cracked in the wind. I don't think we'll be able to save the tree now. Frown


Sunday I took DS, DD and one of her friends to a local humane, sustainable goat dairy. (Redwood Hill Farm - you might see their stuff at Whole Foods.) Their "Farm Day" was free. You could pet and hold kids, milk a goat, brush goats and sample their products. I spent $22 for four types of cheese. Yum, So good!

Sonoma County vineyards on the drive to the farm.


These are DD's fair entries.
Fused glass plate.
Painted notecards w/envelopes.
Decorated blown egg.

It cost $1/item to enter.
First prize for the egg is $25. **Fingers crossed** for DD!

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