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the light is getting brighter

June 26th, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Sometimes it's not what you know, but also who you know.

DH has a new job - one that is a M-F position, pays more, has a car allowance and gas compensation program. No more heavy lifting, no more 13 hour days, no more working weekends. We are both so happy. I want to put an exclamation point after that, but my shift keys won't work....

My initial estimate says we'll be able to start saving about 750 a month, give or take. I'm thrilled about that, because life is constantly getting in the way of our savings efforts. Our first goal is to fix our garage which is falling in. That will cost just over 1,000; we have a trustworthy friend doing the work. This will include a dumpster, wood and paying him for labor. We will have that completed before the end of the summer. Next savings project will be for our new roof. I'm estimating 10k, so we'll start saving that much before we get quotes.

I am so happy to know that we can actually start tackling the projects that need to be done, rather than just dream about them in the future. This is a whole new chapter in our lives open. We are truly blessed.

Where has the time gone?

June 5th, 2011 at 09:13 pm

I haven't posted in AGES! I've been busy, which is good. Here is a typical week in a nutshell:

M - F I have my full time job from 8 to 4.

Monday nights I work on my part-time sales gig. Tuesday nights I teach sewing to a 9 year old. Wednesday I baby sit (well, we hang out and have fun) a different 9 year old. Thursday night is me and hubby time (either bowling, date night or something for just he and I). Friday night, Saturday and Sunday all vary from week to week. Could be working, could be playing, more than likely I'm getting some housework done.

I spent this past weekend weeding, mulching and sprucing up the yard. I was working last weekend (Memorial weekend) and it was so darn hot. The temperature this weekend is such nicer. I'm glad I didn't overwork myself last week like every other weekend warrior out there!

Had to buy a car sooner than we had anticipated. We ended up buying new. I have a 2011 Kia Soul - the warranty, price and mpg sold us on it. Once I test drove it, I was definitely sold. We were able to knock the price down $3,000 - so we only paid $15,000 for it. Knowing our credit still isn't stellar from the bankruptcy, I was able to take a loan out from my 401K at work. 4.25% interest, and the money comes right out of my check. I know I'm not retiring in the foreseable future, so we felt comfortable doing it that way. All in all, we felt confident we did the right thing considering our situation.

I'm considering a yard sale 2 weekends from now. Our garage is not structurally sound - and we have a whole lot of junk in it. DH wants to get a dumpster and throw it all out before it crashes in, but I'm going to see if we can sell some of it. He doesn't think that a yard sale is worthwhile. Then again, he doesn't like to spend his day outside either. I don't mind it. I'll do some yard work and/or visit with the customers.

Our furnace has been uncooperative with us and I have someone coming to look at it tomorrow morning. We heat our water and heat through it - and for some reason the heat just keeps coming on! The temporary fix has been to flip the emergency switch on and off when we need hot water for a shower or to do the dishes, but that's worn thin and we think we should be able to fix it. And if not, we'll at least know what the cost will be and will get it fixed when we can afford it.

DH has been looking at other employment opportunities. The job he has now is really tough on his body. He aches from head to toe every day. I dream of winning the lottery so he doesn't have to work at all anymore, but no such luck. I'm too cheap to buy a ticket!

I hope to write again sooner rather than later. I don't like that I don't check in very often!

February Resolution update

February 26th, 2011 at 10:42 pm

1. Hold a yard sale. I'll tackle this one in May/June.

2. Continue to eat clean. Easy peasy. Actually did what is called a "cooler one" and lost 5.5 pounds and can fit in some of my clothes that are a size smaller. Smile That always feels good!

3. Do something new each month. I went to my first same-sex wedding; I started teaching a 10 year old how to sew (that's fun!); and I met another goal (See number 6).

4. Pay off parent loan 2. Parent 2 is on vacation, so I won't send the money until they are back home. So no progress this month, but I hope to send a double payment next month.

5. Save up for and get a new roof. Not for a while. Still working on the emergency fund.

6. Complete a marathon each month. As of this moment, not done, but I will be walking tonight, tomorrow and Monday. I consider this goal met! This feels good. I've always struggled with meeting goals, so this is a real triumph for me!

7. Fully fund the emergency fund. Car repairs, vet visit - they've both been factors delaying the progress. However, we paid cash for all of those, which is very different from the past. In fact, DH doesn't seem to realize that we've saved money...and when he needed brakes for his car he said (in a very glum voice) "now we have to figure out how to pay for this" and I said "we'll take the money out of the bank." His mood lightened rather quickly!

8. Finish up the taxes from the business and get the rest of the paperwork and boxes into the storage area and out of the office. I've brought it up, but no headway on this goal.

9. Spend more time with my friends and family. I slept over my father's house for the weekend, as did my brother. We had a fun time. It's funny to be a grown up and go to your dad's house to sleep over!

10. Be happy. Very happy. I feel energized and recharged, like nothing can stop me now!

a little extra going out.

February 19th, 2011 at 01:18 am

It was an uneventful month up til yesterday. Our one year old cat had a bloody paw. She has the extra digit (aka double pawed) and we've been diligent at clipping her "thumb" nail, but as I found out at the vet, there is yet another claw that needs to be trimmed (she can't scratch them down like the other claws on her paws). Our not knowing caused her to have an ingrown claw (basically, it grew so darn long it went into her paw, the poor little thing!). So...$157 later we have well trimmed nails, a small hole in her "thumb" (which has to be watched, cleaned and monitored) and another appointment next week for evaluation and booster shots. We lucked out, however, because she didn't cry, fidget or anything while the doctor was clipping out and treating the infected area...otherwise we'd have the added cost of putting her under and boarding her for the day while she recovered. I did splurge on a new cat toy for her, but I think she earned it! We'll be paying a bit more for the next visit too. DH already has put in a few extra hours to help cover that added expense. We (unfortunately) haven't gotten to the point where we can sock away money for vet bills, but we took money out of the emergency fund for that.

Beyond that, it was nice to enjoy some unseasonably warm weather. We're experiencing some thunder and lightening storms right now in New England! Tomorrow it will be winter once again, with wind chills tomorrow night at the minus 2 temperature. You know what they say about New England: if you don't like the weather, wait a minute. It will change!

I'm tired of winter.

January 26th, 2011 at 12:32 am

There is no more room for snow in my yard. And we're expecting another foot tomorrow night. Waaaaahhh!!!

On the bright side of things, I got a "job" teaching a 9 year old how to sew. One hour a week after work - I'm going to suggest $15-$20 an hour. This family is rather well off, and I don't think that price is too much for them, nor is it too much for the service. I would think it will go for about 6 weeks minimum. We'll get together next week where I'll show her how to use a machine (she got a "cheap" one for Christmas) and bring some fabric scraps and thread to get her started. Should be fun. I've often thought about being a sewing teacher, but wasn't sure the best way to get that rolling (and the lack of time is a big factor too!). This should be good for her and for me.

The money I make from that venture will go to the emergency fund/savings. I was thinking about using it for my mulch/flower/gardening fund, but I think I need to really focus on what I need to do financially rather than what I want to do. There's always next year to get the best yard on the block.

Tax time

January 22nd, 2011 at 01:26 pm

I've been pulling all my paperwork together for the taxes...and I can't seem to get the TurboTax site to work properly! Maddening. I know my refund will go to pay back what we owe Uncle Sam, but I still want to know how much! I'll give them a try again later.

Snow, snow, snow! If you live in the Northeast, you know what I mean. 2 feet last week, another 7 inches in the next storm, 5 inches yesterday - and more to come next week. I'm pretty much done with winter. It's bitter cold today, but I'm home in my snuggly clothes keeping warm. I probably won't need to turn the heat up. Maybe once the sun goes down I'll crank it up to 65. It's at 63 now, where we usually set it.

DH and I are finally feeling healthy again. We've both been sick with colds, and it's been difficult to getthe things done that we need to do because we felt so lousy! I was the one that felt best when all the snow came, so guess who got to do the shoveling? Yup - me! Luckily we have a neighbor who plows (he charges us much less than his other customers), and our other neighbor has a snowblower and does the sidewalk while he's doing his own (I always give him excess produce from our garden in the summer). That just leaves the walkway from the driveway to the doors - it's still a long walk to shovel!

We owe less than a grand on parent loan 2! Wow - that feels good. It actually feels like it can be done. The other loans and debts, well, those are a work in progress. I don't forsee them being paid off this year, but they will happen when they do. Our next saving venture (after the EF is funded) is for a roof.

I'm now hoping that next winter we can get a "winter car." My car won't go in the snow. I need something with AWD or 4WD to get me to work on those days. Not to mention it's a 2000, with nearly 160K in miles on it. It's a Volvo, so I expect it to last a while, but the repair costs are also higher on it. And the check engine light is on because the rear O2 sensor needs to be replaced, and DH estimates that to be $1,000 or more to fix - AND I need to have my car inspected before the end of the month, but it won't pass if the light is on. One day at a time, one day at a time....

The holidays are upon us.

December 7th, 2010 at 12:14 am

Here it is, early December, and my holiday shopping is pretty much done. I have a few little gifts to get for a few people I work with (because they're like family) and then wrapping and decorating. Normally I have all of this done well before Thanksgiving. This year, well, I guess I've been busy. We don't even have our tree up!

It's okay - I'm enjoying the time, and am not stressed. I'm looking forward to going to a craft fair next weekend and enjoying looking at everyone's handiwork. I don't plan on making any purchases (well, maybe from the guy that makes the awesome mustards). I hope to get out to a few Christmas concerts too.

Too many people have the wrong idea about this season. It's not about spending, it's about giving. And the giving doesn't have to be money. Give your time, give your energy, give your love. That's what it's all about.

long time no see!

November 14th, 2010 at 10:19 pm

I realized I hadn't posted in ages. I guess when money isn't so scarce, and you're moving along, you aren't as obsessed about it. I think I'm that way.

I no longer find myself pouring over articles about frugality and money saving tips thinking I'll find the one that will save me. I don't sit and calculate and re-calculate our bills and income, because I know we now have enough to pay our bills. We even started saving!

My home business is picking up; sales are always up in the holiday season, and it's keeping me busy. DH's job, although not highly lucrative, is still his job. He's been looking for something else as this job is too physical for his weary back to handle, but he knows he can get through the winter doing it. The summer is the tough time of year for his industry.

I'm now focusing on myself somewhat - I hadn't the energy when I was trying to figure out how to keep a roof over our heads. I've changed my diet, started exercising, started cleaning. The office, after having it on the list of things to do for MONTHS, is tidy and orderly. That's a good feeling.

I haven't had a chance to catch up on anyone else's blogs, so I'm off to do that now. Glad to "see" you all again! I'll try not to stay away so long next time.

It's August

August 8th, 2010 at 11:03 pm

Well, things have been going rather well. I've made our first payment to parent #2, and am getting ready to send another installment out to the IRS. On top of that, we have $$ in savings, and "enough" in the checking. I'm so relieved by the feeling of not wondering how the next bill will be paid. I never thought I'd feel so, well, relieved. I guess that's not the only word I can use to call the feeling. Toss in: comfortable, reassured, safe, happy, in control, and a gazillion other happy words. A year ago, I was dismal, scared, out of control, sad, depressed, miserable. And broke.

DH isn't 100% sold on his job still, but he's not hating it as much as he was. It's hard work, long hours, but it's also good money. I did tell him at one point that if he hated it that much then he should just quit. "I can't - we need the money!" was his retort. I said that he had 2 choices, either do the job or don't, but I would choose to have a happy husband and not the miserable SOB that was living with me now. Smile I know just the right things to I have a happier husband doing the same job that all of a sudden isn't as bad as it was 2 weeks ago. Tee hee hee

I went out and bought myself a new dress today with a friend. Now, don't think I've become a spend-thrift! I had a 20% coupon off of something that was already 50% off...and I would have paid full price for the darn dress cuz it looks good on me. Anyway, it ended up costing me $20, down from $50. We have a wedding to go to, so that's what I'm wearing. My friend (who is also going to the same wedding) got her dress for $15, using the same couopon. Ta da!

While out, however, she called to check her credit limit on her CC. She didn't use the card while shopping (we also stopped at a shoe store, a supplement store and a department store, though she did use it for gas - she drove - but it wasn't more than $20) but I'm so glad I'm not a slave to that anymore. I wrote a check for my two purchases (the dress and some supplements) and surprisingly, I didn't buy any shoes. I love shoes. A nice pair of shoes always makes me happy. Years ago I couldn't leave a shoe store without 3 pairs (trust me, it's true) but now I am much more selective and make sure that I'm buying quality rather than a shiny new thing. I also thought about it, and I have about 5 pairs of shoes that would work nicely with that dress. I hate to admit how many shoes I actually own. Shoes and dishes. Oh, I love them both so much. I like purses...but no where near as much as I love shoes and purses. Thank goodness it's not diamonds that I quest!


July 10th, 2010 at 11:15 am

Hazy, hot and humid. Even the AC isn't cutting it! We have one in our bedroom so we can sleep at night, but it's hard to sleep when you are lying in a pool of sweat! At least it's breaking this weekend and we'll get some badly needed rain as well as some less humid weather to follow.

I was able to visit my veggie garden a few evenings ago. I haven't really been near it since I planted it! How neglectful! I mananged to pull out a lot of weeds, and my 10 tomato plants are thriving. I'm so happy especially since last year there wasn't a decent tomato plant in the state. I have some green beans (well the plants) growing well, and 4 big mounds with zucchini, butternut squash, spaghetti squash and something else! I can't remember what the other one was that I planted, nor can I remember what I planted where. This should be fun! One of the plants has some large flower buds on it, so I'll have to keep my eyes open. I think it's the zucchini, and I don't want the veggies to be the size of baseball bats, so I'll have to be on top of it. I had some herbs not grow, so I'm going to put in a few more rows of green beans. We love them, and I'll can them up. I can the tomatoes too.

The IRS payback will start in August - $200 a month. Originally we were paying $280 a month, but I was concerned about having too much being committed. We have 5 years to pay off the balance, and with $200 a month it'll be less than that. Once our savings gets a little more plentiful, we'll start throwing more cash at this debt.

The other debt I'm starting to pay back is Parent Loan 2. Only $100 a month, but I'll feel better about it as I don't like owing family money. I feel great that we're now able to pay on all of our debts, and not just a few. Those numbers will be dropping and I like it! My mortgage has dropped to $11[u]0[u],710.75...the zero is nice and I was thrilled to see that on our statement. I showed dh - he was less excited than me, only because he's a glass half empty guy and paid more attention to the fact that we still owe well over $100K on it.

We also received dh's gas reimbursement check - that goes right to savings. He's really doing better about spending. He said he was just caught up in the moment, which I understand, but I'm still going to be monitoring him and his bank account to make sure he doesn't go all spendy on me again!

Enjoy the week, everyone!

The weekend is here...

June 26th, 2010 at 01:36 pm

But there's no rest for the weary!

It's been a couple of rough weeks at work - some transitions/power struggles (at least that's how I see them) has been causing everyone a lot of undue stress. Normally everyone's very happy there, but there have been a lot of angry people lately. But, the issue (or individual I should say) has been taken care of. Things are starting to come back to normal, but not without everyone putting in extra hours to get what needs to be done taken care of. That's the bad part about being overtime. So I'll be working to do my part in the catch-up.

However, DH has been making a few extra bucks with working overtime. Unfortunately, he also got spendy. When he took the job and we found out his wages, I told him we'd be able to put money in the bank. Well...for whatever reason, he seems to think that he can be a little freer with his spending. Not on anything substantial - $20-$30 here or there. I sat down with him Thursday and tallied how much he spent in one day. $130. He had no idea. He also needs to have gas in his tank for work (he gets reimbursed for his mileage, but not til the end of the month). I told him there was no money for him to have for gas until the next payday - his reply "but I need it." I told him I understood that he needed gas for work, but if there's no money, there's no money.

He also has this concept of "well, I put in a lot of hours last week" so that should justify him being able to spend some extra money today. I ask him "did you get paid for that yet?" I think he's so accustomed to using credit that he still hasn't grasped the whole "cash only" deal we agreed to.

I'm just venting somewhat. He's a good husband and he's a good friend. I think shopping/spending makes him feel better, just like it does for so many others. I just need to make him feel that way about saving. I feel I have a long road ahead of me to retrain his brain! I will be creating a graph of debts decreasing and savings increasing so he can have a visual. Any other thoughts on how to make him think saving is cool?

A busy Saturday

June 19th, 2010 at 01:28 pm

I have a number of errands to run today - I just made my list and I need to get going! Orders to deliver, lawn to mow, go to the bank, finish some sewing projects...oh, and some cleaning. Frown I did do the brunt of the housework last night. DH was coming home late from work, so I took advantage of the "me" time and mopped a few floors and did a good scrub of the living room and bathroom. Took care of the laundry as well.

I've been getting up and walking with a friend every morning before work. We start at 5:00. DH has been getting up around the same time, so I've been getting up at 4:45 and packing him a lunch** before I go for my walk. We don't walk on the weekends, and I must have been tired, because after I got up this morning with DH, I crawled back into bed...I managed to fall back asleep and there I was until 8:20. It wasn't solid sleep for that extra 3 hours - I did have a cat or two pouncing on me, but I sure do feel rested now!

We received our auto insurance policy last week - I had DH make changes since we have both cars paid off and we don't need the extra covereage we had for the business. It went from $2600 last year to $1840 this year! I'm trying to get the savings built up so I can
pay it all at once; right now we're doing monthly installments. With DH now working (and getting overtime) I hope to have the EF built up quickly and our remaining debts paid off.

**I know you're saying "packing him a lunch? Why doesn't he do it?" Well, he just doesn't. He's not at all a morning person, and won't eat a sandwich made the night before because it's "soggy." If I don't pack him a lunch he doesn't eat - or worse - he purchses food out. He appreciates it, and I know he's eating something during the day. All you moms with really picky eaters at home, this is what the adult version is like.

Its been a while

June 6th, 2010 at 08:10 pm

I've been so busy, but I realized I needed to post: DH got a job! It's a bit more physical than he had anticipated, but he's been at it for 2 weeks and is feeling good about things. YEAH!!!

We bought him some new safety shoes today, and selected frames for some new eyeglasses. He has his eye appointment on Wednesday, but I won't be able to come with him, so we decided to go out and select the frames together. They're holding them for him, so he doesn't have to worry about getting something that doesn't look good. I never realized how difficult it is to choose eyeglasses! While at the mall, we stopped and got a gelato. Then went home in time to shut the windows because a storm was on its way. Rained pretty hard for about an hour, and now the sun's peeking out again.

We needed to pull some cash out of the slowly growing efund to pay bills...but with another income, we should have no problem building it back up again.

The garden is planted and beginning to grow. Today's rain will certainly help. The lawn needs mowing, but I'll tackle that tomorrow.

Not as good as I thought, but not horrible.

May 3rd, 2010 at 01:09 am

Well, when I looked at my Quicken again...I saw that the car insurance wasn't included, nor was a few other payments that are 10 months a year (budget plan for oil, house get the picture). So...that just means that we don't have the savings we (I) thought we would have, but it does still seem to balance out and we aren't in the red.

Also, found out that we won't need to pay the state out of our pockets. We were able to sell off equipment from the business and will pay it off with that. That was quite a relief! DH will be calling the state tomorrow to get that taken care of. We still have the federal taxes to complete for the business, and DH is really hoping I will lend a hand. Which I will, but I really hate doing that kind of thing, and we certainly can't afford an accountant. We had filed a previous year with TurboTax, and although a little scary to do a business return on our own, it did come out correctly.

DH took care of bundling our phone/internet/cable, and that will save us about $40-50 a month. Also, my raise in July will net about $40 a week increase. Plus work will be picking up another 10% of my health insurance costs starting then, so I will be feeling even better about things!

I do have to say that it feels great to be up to date on the bills and not as worried about them as I was just a few short months ago. I was also able to give one of the parents $100 toward our debt. That made me feel good, though at that rate there is still a long way to go!

Busy week ahead. I've already planned dinners and activities on the calendar, and tried to organize myself as much as possible ahead of time. Hope everyone has a great week!

The IRS ate my refund

April 25th, 2010 at 01:21 pm

A comment from Jerry prompted me to get back to my blog (thanks, Jerry!).

And yes Jerry - you were right. We were under the impression that the IRS couldn't take our refund because our bankruptcy hadn't discharged...but state laws apparently allow all refunds to be applied to taxes that are owed. Well, it's good because now that means we owe less, but to be honest, the cash in the bank would have been handy right now!

DH has been having severe back issues. I think it's not helped by the inactivity. He'd normally be out golfing and moving around more, but he's concerned about going anywhere because he's afraid of spending money. I keep telling him that we'll be okay, but he just is in a funk. He had gone on another job interview and thought he had it, but never heard back from them.

I had great sales the last few weeks in my side business. It didn't bring in huge bucks for us, but it helps.

It was nice out yesterday and I worked on preparing the soil in my arms are sore! I turned it and raked by hand; we don't have a tiller. I thought about how nice it would be to have one...and then thought about the calories I was burning. The may flies were making themselves known. Anyone know any good way to keep them away?

We cooked burgers on the grill for dinner. Yummy! I ended up waking up early this morning, and have some other projects already going.