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Not Exactly Murphy

March 9th, 2019 at 08:44 pm

So a number of expenses have cropped up. I can't necessarily say it's Murphy's law as these were not tragic nor an inconvenience. But all of these kind of avalanched at once. A local parent reached out and asked if my son was interested in playing for the traveling baseball team to which my son, of course, said yes. I knew I was going to have to pay high school baseball fees, but they also asked for an additional fee for some supplies. Then my son came home with a flier for baseball apparel for the HS. I also realized I really needed to purchase a bag for my pump as I return to work in less than three weeks and next payday won't leave enough time for it to arrive. Since I rented a hospital grade pump, a normal bag would not do (it's heavy, cumbersome and large). So all of that kind of was a wham at once.

I am really looking to project out purchases so I curb impulse spending. This is where I struggle the most. If I can work on sticking to those projected purchases every pay period, that will help a lot. I know I still need to purchase some new work pants or skirts. I haven't yet tried on my work clothes, but as I'm still about seven pounds off from my pre-pregnancy weight, I'll assume they don't fit. I need to wear pants or skirts as dresses will make pumping difficult. I also need to purchase a good pumping bra. I was able to purchase a cover for $1 on a local Facebook garage sale site. I intend to pump during my hour commute each way. This will help me do that incognito (or so I think). I also need to purchase the car adapter for my pump. I purchased a used diaper bag for $5 from this site so we can send this one to the sitter on a daily basis.

I recently found out my son may have a cow protein intolerance that is common in many infants. It may also include a soy intolerance. So off to Whole Foods I went today to purchase some dairy/soy free yogurt, butter substitute, and a few convenience foods. Obviously, the most frugal way to deal with the allergy is home cooked meals but let's face it, sometimes we all reach for convenience foods, especially in a rush. Also, I love afternoon tea with a few cookies. It's a small luxury I afford myself. Geez, Whole Foods really IS WHOLE PAYCHECK! It was super duper crowded and I can't believe how many people actually do the bulk of their grocery shopping there. I've got to explore what Aldi has to offer in the allergen friendly side of things.

This and That

March 5th, 2019 at 07:22 pm

Looking at projecting expenses for Friday's pay period. I need to pull the trigger and purchase a carseat base for my car so I can have the installation inspected by the fire department before I return to work. This pay period I purchase dog food. I also will purchase two more items from Costco that are needed. Last pay period, I did a big purchase from Costco: men's vitamins, toilet paper, cashews and a few sale items such as toothbrush heads ($29.99 for two at Target, $39.99 for 6 at Costco), dental floss. This go around I will purchase chocolate milk for my son so he can bring them to school/workouts and Nescafe. Other than that, expenditures should be just groceries and possibly a tank of gas. I've been completely local as of late so maybe not. I still have a half tank left. I do need more lotion for my eczema and may need more facial lotion, but we will see.

Lately, my meal planning has been totally on point. I've also done a better job of determining when to freeze to maximize purchase power as well as decrease food waste. It's getting better...no where near perfect. We have also happily not been eating out as much, but part of that is because I'm home and have been cooking more regularly. Sleep deprivation hasn't killed everything.

So the newborn diapers I purchased turned out to be not absorbent enough for my little one. I've been toying with a diaper service (research has yielded this is better for the environment, not necessarily better for the pocketbook though). I then remembered that I bought a lot of about 18 pocket diapers used! I had not yet sanitized them as they were too big for a newborn. The LO has gained so much, he can now fit in them on the smallest sizing. I'm busy sanitizing them today. These are called pocket diapers, so I can put more inserts into the pocket to make them more absorbent. I will see if these work out better and then I won't necessarily need to go with the diaper service. I feel that it's "greener" too because I purchased these used. Diapers DO have a lifespan though, so I hope I can get some time out of them before they stop being effective.

Today is not an NSD because I noticed I needed to add more to BS (big son) lunch account at school. I don't put too much on because he gets to spendy though he is getting better about it. I don't like to give him the temptation. The lunches at the high school are significantly more expensive. This transition has been a lot for him and he's also playing 3 sports this year, so I don't require him to make himself a lunch. I would make it for him, but I am sleep deprived and exhausted. One hill at a time...

I've got some larger expenses coming up for which I need to be planning. I've already been planning daycare, but now I'm planning a Christening luncheon and there are baseball expenses on the horizon. Need to wiggle things around and see where we are at. I want to stick to the saving $700 per month! Still haven't heard what my disability benefits will be for the 3 weeks of my leave that I have no pay. I've used a rough estimate in my planning.

In Like a Lion

March 4th, 2019 at 09:51 pm

Another below zero wind chill day here in the midwest. Most of the week is predicted to be pretty darn cold. The warmer days are slated for snow and rain. Ick! Just want to get out and about a bit more.

Today was my first NSD for the month of March. Friday, I put money on my son's lunch account at school. I ordered pizza Saturday as my sister and her family came to visit. Sunday was groceries. It's been over a month and I still have a half a tank of gas left. All good stuff. Looking for NSD's until Friday.

Tracking NSDs

March 2nd, 2019 at 05:26 pm

For the month of February, I tracked my NSDs. Total of 11 which to me is...not good. Sometimes they're just really small purchases, but those add up. At least I've got a baseline number and can track a bit better this month as I have something to compare it to. I'll track again and try to keep to a goal for April.

My Christmas challenge total is now over $100 which is awesome. That will at least cover the calendars I make for the family (I make a calendar every year with pictures of everyone).

Goals for March: reduce spending, increase saving. I have GOT to get this under control.

Throwing Water Out of a Life Boat

February 21st, 2019 at 11:28 pm

So I've got a nice long to do list of things to complete while I'm off. (#1 is to enjoy the baby, but while he sleeps I can be productive too!) One of my primary tasks is decluttering this house we have lived in for four years now. I feel like I'm constantly tossing stuff only to barely make a dent in the clutter--and we are NOT hoarders by any means! It's like using a bucket to toss water from a sinking life boat. Five weeks from now, I hope to report that our life boat is in a better place.

I posted a number of items for sale on our local Facebook garage sale. It appears that the group is not as active as it once was. I'm a little concerned I will get no interest. If that is the case, I will try Craigslist and possibly ebay. The money earned from sales will go into my Christmas Challenge account.

After over a year of using Achievement, I am finally within 600 points of earning a $10 reward! To be honest, I struggled to wear my apple watch last year so that could be part of it (FYI...watch was inherited not purchased by me). I will be excited to add those earnings. I am also looking forward to getting out more and using my Ibotta app too. I am halfway to a reward there as well.

I updated my current unsecured debt total as of today's date. That should be lower once my statements close for a few other accounts. Love to see that number go down!

Bits and Pieces

February 16th, 2019 at 09:24 pm

So I've taken to marking any NSD on my calendar so I can track and pat myself on the back for not spending. It's another little challenge for me in addition to tracking purchases. Having the two separate accounts (one for bills, one for purchases) is working out nicely. I'm glad I did that! It's helping me be more accountable regarding my purchases for sure!

So far, all is well with breastfeeding. I'm a little anxious to see what occurs as I return to work in a few weeks, but I can't worry about any of that until it happens. For now, I will keep solidifying those practices for LO. Cloth diapering is going well, but as LO is growing, he is now peeing through his diapers (no poosplosions yet...hooray!)

The diapers work just fine and I think should last another few weeks, but I'm beginning to explore larger diapers for when he grows out of these. So many options now a days. I bought used initially in case I didn't do well with it. I didn't want to spend too much and I certainly didn't want to spend a lot on newborn diapers I would only use a few weeks. I've got a pretty good rhythm down with my wash cycle so I am confident I can continue this green journey. To me, it's not just frugal. I can't handle envisioning all of those diapers sitting in a landfill.

The Instant Pot DH bought me for Christmas had a fatal error. I FINALLY received my replacement yesterday and it works! I'm so freakin' excited to expand all of my cooking options. I'm going to try to see if in my sleep deprived stupor I can do some meal prep on sundays. DH also got me an Anova (sous vide) and I'd like to try making sous vide egg bites so DH, DS and I can grab and go in the morning. I am so super stoked about making yogurt. I want simple, clean wholesome eating here. Ball jars are my friend!

A few baby purchases on the horizon:
*additional infant seat base for my car (by return to work)
*detail car (it's so baseball dirt gross from years of neglect)
*larger or more expandable diapers

I've got a few returns to make from baby gifts (you know those super cute outfits you just know your infant will never wear) and will purchase summer/fall clothes with that money. We have plenty of clothes to get us through the next few months. I'm also always scoping out the local marketplaces on facebook and any used baby item events. That is how I plan to roll with Christmas for LO next year. He will NEVER know :P

Payday and spending

February 10th, 2019 at 02:54 pm

Yesterday was a NSD. Friday, which was payday, I purchased laundry detergent and bars of soap from Walmart.com. I put money on my son's lunch account and ordered myself a Contigo cup with a straw from Amazon. Today, I plan on ordering groceries. While I'm feeling better, I still am not yet prime to get behind the wheel of a car.

Other than that, life is quite uneventful. DH and I are enjoying this reprieve from the outside world. The baby is a great sleeper, just not at night. LOL! Pediatrician appointment this week so I'm eager to get some tips on sorting out day and night. DH, who is a night owl, believes it's hereditary. I believe it's sleep training. My older son was such an easy peasy baby to raise. As long as this guy doesn't develop colic, I'll take this switch on day/night for now.

I'm eager to update my debt totals, however, I need to make sure that I wait for the new statements, not just the payments to hit. So that's about another week or so. Grumble grumble grumble. So eager to keep that ball moving!

Tracking the Spending

February 6th, 2019 at 05:35 pm

I updated my spending tracker this morning with the baby purchases and groceries purchased yesterday. I overspent $340, but $148.21 of that were purchases for baby items still needed and $140 were for the baby announcements. Without those purchases, I would have been within budget.

I identified that I spent $109.33 eating out. I will try and be kind to myself for the last time as surviving working full time and mothering another child during your last trimester is a beast. I did order out Chinese one night, bought two lunches and a breakfast. Yesterday, I bought cookies from the local bakery for expected guests.

All told, I've identified areas for cutting back, primarily eating out of the home being an immediate win. I am soooooo happy to be done with the gestational diabetes so my standard breakfast of peanut butter on whole wheat can be resurrected when I begin commuting again. I will not be making a big expenditure like the announcements again anytime soon. Future baby purchases will include a larger size of cloth diapers (within the next month or two) and a stroller. Other than that, we are stocked unless something medical and unplanned comes up.

I anticipate that today and tomorrow will be NSD. My gas tank is still full. I need to get out to the car later today and make sure the engine starts. I haven't touched it since before the big freeze. Fingers crossed there are no issues. It's pretty warm for winter today.

Baby is here!!!

February 5th, 2019 at 02:59 pm

Baby is here! Safe and sound. We are at home and adjusting to our new life. Some health, wellness and financial wins are that breastfeeding is all a go, including already pumping and freezing a small supply. Need to call the insurance today to make sure BCBS will cover at least most of the rental fee for the hospital grade pump that was recommended by the lactation consultant.

While I was all ready with newborn cloth diapers, when we had the circumcision done I was reminded that vaseline is the normal course of treatment. Thus, I've had to delay use of the cloth diapers (as vaseline ruins the microfleece) until that is over. We see the pediatrician today. Good news is the hospital sent us home with a pack of newborn diapies.

I prepared very well for this endeavor so we have not had a lot of purchasing to do. Delivery day was a NSD (I'm claiming it!) as was Friday. On Saturday, I put in an order to Amazon for a few medical items I was made aware we would need and a wedge for under the bassinet mattress (little did I know 37 weekers STILL can have some breathing difficulty, although he probably doesn't need the wedge now). Sunday I put in an Amazon order for a mattress and sheets for our play yard so we have another option for keeping baby safe while we get things done, etc. when we have to. I also put in a Prime Now order Sunday for castille soap in order to wash pump parts. I wasn't anticipating needing the pump for a few weeks, but I was counseled to begin now. I do not have any milk supply issues, I can tell ya that!

This morning I splurged on baby announcements but had received a $20 off coupon and paired that with a 30% off code on the site. After suffering a loss a few years ago and the tribulations we have gone through the past few years, I do not mind the expense. We have many who are excited to receive photos of the new babe.

Looking forward to the next few weeks of mothering, but also of DECLUTTERING! For nine months, I have had zero energy and it's been a struggle just to go to work and take care of routine things. I am feeling so much more myself and am super excited to get some time to just be home and enjoy our house for the first time since we have lived here. My older son is enjoying having his mom stress free, home and attentative, as is my husband. But no chance I'm not going back to work! We will get into a groove Smile

Update: Pump is 100% covered through our insurance! That brings the cost of breastfeeding to ALMOST zero. Just need to continue purchasing bags for freezing milk, but my pack of 100 should last quite awhile. I am considering looking into the purchase of a Willow pump for pumping during my commute, but I'm not 100% on that yet.

Well...it's cold

January 30th, 2019 at 01:55 pm

Woke up to an actual temperature of -21F this morning. It's cold! Never seen my big dog poop in such record time. He's now recovering by the heating vent. I'm trying to wait to let the little dog out until it heats up a bit more (maybe to -17 or something balmy like that).

In preparation for being tucked in today, I stopped by Target and purchased some groceries (supplemented with a gift card) and filled up my tank of gas. We have a garage, but I wasn't taking chances. Plus, I won't be driving for awhile as I'm having a c-section!

On a separate note, I am pleased as pie that I opened the second checking account and have my expenditure budget for the pay period directly deposited there. It really makes knowing exactly how much money I have so much simpler. One account for bills, one for expenditures. Perfect! I'm also really trying to project out expenses two weeks ahead of time. That helps too. Anything I don't spend from the expenditure account will be deposited into the emergency account, even if it's chump change.

Once I'm feeling a bit better, I'm looking forward to cleaning and organizing my pantry. I want to get at our freezers too and clean out some things. I'd like to use those spaces much more strategically. Instead of waiting until freezing after we're done eating 2 or 3 nights or a recipe, I'm going to freeze a batch or two right after I make them. I'm hoping this will help with food waste and assist us when things get hectic.

The Instant Pot DH bought me for Christmas ended up having a fatal error when I went to use it. It was very disappointing. Since he bought it on Black Friday, I went through the company for a replacement. They must have had some trouble because they're behind in production. Over a month and I STILL have not gotten my replacement. It's frustrating because I was really excited about making my own yogurt. I'll keep hounding the company week after week.

Chicken Thighs

January 28th, 2019 at 01:05 am

I follow a woman on Facebook who from time to time, has some excellent recipes. She posted one for baked rice and chicken thighs that I hadn't made in quite awhile, so I decided on it for our Sunday night dinner. The grocery store had chicken thighs on sale for .99 per pound so I paid $2.62 for 8 thighs! .89 for rice, .05 for an onion, spices and garlic at home. Most expensive item was the chicken broth. Anyway, was a really good reminder to me how cost efficient chicken thighs are as opposed to the breast. It's also really cost effective just to buy a whole chicken and cook it.

Here's the recipe in case you're interested: https://www.recipetineats.com/oven-baked-chicken-and-rice/?fbclid=IwAR0NqnPl0VccBqmAudjrvyx4-zlJWRtikv6dxF1OCko5NM8Y8nGBEXxHUkA

So my spending last pay period was a hell of a lot better, but I was still over budget. I did honestly track every single expense. I'm continuing to do this and tweak my purchases. It really has me thinking about wants versus needs. Only 3 more days of cooking this week as I will be in the hospital Thursday through the weekend. After Wednesday, DH needs to man the fort.

Have yet to receive the social security check for my son's survivor benefit. If it doesn't get here tomorrow, I'm going to need to visit the field office. What a pain! Got to address it before Thursday, though. I anticipated paying bills receiving that money last week but it never came. Murphy's law...oh, and the weather to boot! Of course I have a baby the worst weather week in 20 years. I hope it gets above 20 or so when we are ready to head home.

Dirty Work

January 13th, 2019 at 05:43 pm

Last week pay period I did a super diligent and honest job of tracking my spending. I over spent. A LOT! This pay period was the first where I had my grocery/gas money directly deposited into my separate checking account. This should make being honest with myself about purchases a bit easier. I really need to reign in the spending and look at categories that are absolutely unnecessary. This will be the key to sticking with my plan and being successful this year.

As I have been preparing for the baby and clearing out clutter, I am constantly struck by how much WASTE we incur as a result of being a consumer. This is driving me to be more frugal in my grocery purchases as well, especially in food waste. The composting has been great, but there's a huge guilt trip every time I clean the fridge. Waste of money!!!

Also, one area that is suggested to help the environment is reducing the consumption of meat. I currently have gestational diabetes, so going more vegetarian isn't going to happen. DS recently suggested he would like to go more vegetarian. Once the baby is born, I am going to appease that request for all of us. I've got some great cookbooks with some great recipes I can add to my repertoire. Plus, I have an instant pot!!! So excited to use it. Looking forward to making homemade yogurt (save money and save on WASTE!) I also want to make an effort to switch over to more glass/reusable products as possible and cut plastic out as much as possible.

The clutter. The never ending clutter. I'm also putting myself on a purchasing diet with reducing the amount of "stuff" we have hanging around. Oy. Every time I am shopping I will have to remind myself of all the drama I've had just trying to reduce, reduce, reduce around here. We have plenty of space in this house. We have way too much stuff we just don't use.

Crazy Year

January 6th, 2019 at 05:19 pm

So it's been a crazy year. My financial plans kind of derailed a bit focusing on getting a new job, which I did. It's a much more sound job and I'm very comfortable there after six months. One HUGE surprise was a pregnancy. I am currently due very soon. My husband and I are over the moon. This has been a long, private and painful road for us.

With the baby coming, I've got some goals for the road ahead. One thing I have been doing in preparation is purchasing used cloth diapers (the fancier newborn ones for the first month or two) and will transition to more classic cloth once he's a little larger. I'm also going to do cloth wipes as well. I've also been purchasing some used baby clothes and items that I know will be very short lived. My plan is to continue this throughout his first few years and as feasible.

So....financial goals. The debt snowball/snowflake method just isn't working for me. I can pay off a loan because it is structured. So my tactic is now to pay a specific amount per month to each account with a target payoff date. I ran two financial scenarios using an online credit calculator for each account: 36 month payoff and 24 month payoff. Throwing an extra $400 per month at the debt will help me pay off all accounts in 24 months, so I have decided to work with that plan. If for some reason I find myself unable to keep up, I have the finances already worked out for the 36 plan. Right now, I'm sticking with aggressive.

I've also decided to save a specific amount to my emergency fund every month. Very much like another blogger here, Veronak, I feel more comfortable with some padding. So my goal is $700 per month for a total of $8400. This is not inclusive of my 52 week challenge and Christmas challenge accounts.

I reconfigured my tried and true excel budgeting spreadsheet for the year to include tracking expenditures. I also opened a separate checking account where my allocated money for spending every month (gas and groceries) is direct deposited every pay period separately from my bills. This will make it REALLY easy to track my spending as it won't get mixed in with any regularly scheduled bills.

I am looking forward to a really great year. I've got a stash of baby clothes that I hope will help get us through this first year with a few additions here and there. I intend to breastfeed as long as possible and cloth diaper. Some personal goals, I am working on composting through my village's program, reducing overall waste, decluttering and reusing as much as possible! My car is still running well with over 150k miles and is completely paid for! I am researching electric options for when I do decide to buy new, which hopefully will not be until the unsecured debt total is paid off.

Cheers to 2019!

Lots of anxiety

March 24th, 2018 at 12:35 pm

I've been lurking for a few weeks now as I've been focusing on the job search and have been super anxious regarding all of the uncertainty. Lots has been occurring. My son lost his father a little over a month ago. We knew this was coming, but the reality is never good. My son is struggling, of course, to come to terms with this. The good news in all of it is that while I was not receiving any child support the past 3 years, he now will receive both pension money and social security.

My job situation has been tenuous. I submitted my resignation but will finish the remainder of my contract. We did receive a raise with retro pay. The good news is that within 2 months time, I now have $5000 saved up! I've been putting anything extra into savings in the event I do not immediately secure a position. I anticipate I will have 15k saved by July if I am diligent about putting everything additional into savings.

I have gotten interviews but because I am interviewing for high level positions, they are competitive. With my sons getting benefits, I can swing a pay cut. I am entertaining that option. Hopefully that will not be necessary.

Saving feels SO good! I love knowing I have that cushion there. It's also a really nice motivator to keep on saving. Hopefully I secure a job soon and I can really focus on securing our financial future.

Glows and grows

February 4th, 2018 at 06:27 pm

Past two weeks at CVS have been a struggle. I wonder if the company has decided to ditch its couponers. Used to be super couponer friendly. Now, not so much. So last week, went in for a Cerave deal. The deal wasn't in the computer! Had to show the manager the ad to get the deal. Same thing happened this week with Dove! I've got to make the trek back for the $4.25 they owe me.

I've been checking prices and regular Dove price at CVS is $3 more than Target regular price. Target rarely has Dove deals and coupons rarely come out for the bodywash. I'm almost always best off buying at Costco when they have a 3 pack deal. I continue to scope out prices as I shop at different stores. So interesting how one item can be so much cheaper at one place and vice versa on other items.

This coming week, I will be stocking up on meat from Target. There's a coupon for a $5 when you spend $20 on meat in the ad. You can also text the Target coupon number to give you a second coupon! So Friday, payday, I will go and stock up.

I'm getting better at planning my purchases. I am trying to forecast what I will purchase and when. I'm trying to also be really transparent about what I will spend my money on. I'm nowhere near perfect but doing a helluva lot better lately. Will continue to track purchases and plan expenditures for the pay period.

So many challenges ahead. Just working one day at a time. I froze two meals this past week and have started a frozen foods inventory. Have a pot of split pea soup on the stove and will freeze a night's worth of dinner off the bat. Planning on also making chicken and sausage jumbalaya this week and will try to freeze some there too.

Rough week

January 21st, 2018 at 04:12 pm

It seems murphy has decided to pay me a visit. Had an unexpected phone call regarding a bill to a doctor. Also was told by Firestone my tires need to be replaced. Ugh! Top that off with a rumor going around those in higher level positions might not get a raise. Haven't heard a word about a raise from upper level administration. Assuming its true. Once that's confirmed, I will need to rearrange my goals.

Just had a great run to CVS. Spent $8.67. Got 2 bottles of body wash, 2 bottles of dishsoap, 5 deoderants, 2 bottles of babywash and 1 baby lotion. Have been doing a much better job of paying attention to prices at Target and CVS so I can make more informed purchasing. It's been good. I know to buy Tide at CVS, but Dove is better at Target. Interesting how stores mark-up their prices. I like to calculate price per load, price per ounce, etc to help make more informed decisions about when to purchase and when to say pass.

Meal planning has been hit or miss. Have had some really busy days that have messed up my plans. This week I'm looking at the following:

Sunday: chicken thighs, green beans, au gratin potatoes (all in house)
Monday: Slow cooker sweet and sour pork with rice
Tuesday: Leftover sweet and sour pork with rice
Wednesday: Breakfast for dinner (all in house)
Thursday: Grilled cheese sandwiches and soup

I've been packing leftovers or stuff we have in the house for lunches. I'm trying to reduce food waste as much as possible. That said, I certainly haven't been perfect. I am purchasing less groceries weekly so that's good. Trying to pare down the pantry, reduce waste and reign in spending.

Sunday Funday

January 7th, 2018 at 02:38 pm

Went for my weekly trip to CVS. Some good coupons matched with a good sale. Got products on which I usually spend a bundle for significantly reduced cost. I purchased $69.22 worth of product for a total of (including tax) $13.90 out of pocket. Got free toothpaste, a free toothbrush and seriously reduced Cerave and Aquaphor. I am left with $10 in ECBs. Pretty happy with that.

Opened a box this morning that I received yesterday and I got my suit two days early! It is super cute and gave me pause...but it's getting returned today! I willed myself not to try it on, not even give it a second glance. My Sunday activity for this afternoon is predetermined. To Macy's I go!

Wishing you all an amazing and relaxing day. Or amazing and productive. Whichever you need Smile