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Archive for May, 2007

Uncovered medical expenses

May 30th, 2007 at 02:26 am

Despite having very good medical insurance, I am facing more than $3,000 in uncovered medical expenses for my daughter over the next 7 months.

In the big scheme of things, this is nothing when you consider those with no insurance or those with $2 million in medical expenses. Not to mention, my daughter's condition is not life threatening in any way.

But it still stinks to have that kind of expense staring you in the face.

I think I'm just going to go to bed and be depressed now....

The Grocery Game Part Deux

May 29th, 2007 at 03:21 am

As some of you may recall, I've been playing the Grocery Game for the last three week. Each Sunday I get a list of deals for my local grocery store and then I go shopping with my coupons and supposedly save a bunch of dough.

For instance, yesterday I saved $93 on my groceries, but I still spent $150 overall. This to me is not "saving" necessarily since my bill usually hovers around $100 weekly.

Honestly, I don't know if I have the self-control to play the Grocery Game. I found myself buying things like candy bars and weird processed food that I wouldn't normally buy but did just because the stuff was a good deal.

Next week is the last week of my trial membership. If I'm not able to lower the grocery bill considerably, then I probably won't stick with it. I have already come up with a menu for next week and do have most of the ingredients on hand already -- based on purchases I already made while playing the grocery game. But, I don't know if I want to make it a habit of eating hot dogs and processed crab cakes just because they were half off.

Done wallowing....

May 23rd, 2007 at 08:53 pm

Once I got over not going on a beach vacation, I got off my pity pot and put together a three-day trip to the mountains with my daughter while my husband is gone.

We are taking the train to a town with a huge hot springs pool. Normally, we could drive there in 5 or 6 hours, but I've always wanted to take the train and my daughter aspires to one day be a train conductor so she'll have fun. I was able to get the train tickets, a hotel, pool admission, and two breakfasts for $326, which includes transfers and taxes. I'll still need to bring spending money and pay for other meals, but we can eat cheap.

Excuse me why I wallow

May 22nd, 2007 at 02:05 am

My husband is going to ride his bike across the state with a bunch of other crazies in a couple weeks. Then, after two days at home, he'll be leaving for a business trip. He'll be gone 11 days in all.

Long story short, my daughter and I can not afford to go with him -- or even take a long weekend getaway this summer. Granted, we will be hanging at the neighborhood pool between OT and vision therapy appointments and all my jobs, but it's not the same. I WANT TO GO SOMEPLACE ON VACATION!

Sure, mini me and I can go to the amusement park and I can even farm her out to some relatives if the going gets too tough, but I STILL WANT TO GO SOMEPLACE ON VACATION!

Also, I've spent my first weekend off in a long time cleaning up the yard and garden and cleaning the carpets while looking after my daughter because my husband's been at school or work the whole time.

Yes, I am feeling a bit abandoned, lonely, ticked off, pathetic and generally unhappy. Living within my means really sucks right now. Where the %*#( is my credit card?!?!?!??!

Me and my pricey garden

May 20th, 2007 at 11:09 pm

Some of you may recall that I recently invested in a composting bin. It's about a quarter full and is slowly producing compost.

In the meantime, I'm busy preparing the vegetable garden for planting. This means hauling bags of compost and peat moss from the garden store home since I don't have enough organic material on hand this year. Because I'm experimenting with lasagna gardening -- and because some wannabe greenthumb built five huge raised beds in my back yard years ago (I must have been optimistic when I did this...) -- this has been a costly endeavor.

So far, I've spent $200 on material for two of the three beds. I ran out of compost today, so I have decided to experiment with the other beds by throwing plain grass clippings in whenever the "recipe" calls for "compost."

I've already planted snap peas, lettuce and arugula in one bed; and they are coming up. I also stuck five tomato plants in the ground today. My plan is to continue working on the clean up of the other beds this week and get everything planted by Memorial Day.

Once there is no evidence of weeds, dog poop or muddy kids, I'll share pictures with all of you.

Told you so....

May 15th, 2007 at 02:42 am

As promised, I considered all your money-saving advice (from all two of you)....

Question: Do you eat out or have a coffee habit? Do you have a soft drink habit? Smokes? Magazines? Books?

Answer: We eat out maybe once a week. I believe in not living a life of deprivation so my monthly spending plan includes an "eating out" category with $255 in it.

I don't have a coffee or soft drink habit. I don't smoke. And all my books, magazines and DVDs come from the library.

Question: Do you keep a record of what you spend? It's quite surprising when you see it in black and white - your areas of waste show up quite clearly.
And don't forget to check out the bigger areas - like getting a better deal on insurance, comparing power providers etc.

Answer: I am an active participant in a 12-step program for compulsive debtors (DA). And, as a result, religiously record every time I spend. And, I haven't forgotten to check on the bigger areas. I'm getting a great deal on insurance and I only have one choice for power in my area.

Any other ideas?

Update on the Grocery Game

May 15th, 2007 at 02:12 am

Turns out I saved $33.37 playing the Grocery Game. I was dutifully impressed, but I'm still waiting to see how the savings add up during the trial period before committing to a regular membership.

I have not tried the jam/chili sauce recipe that one of you suggested, but I might since I ended up with two pork roasts instead of the one I thought I was getting. Apparently there was a 2-for-1 deal that I didn't notice.

We rarely eat meat, but I was craving some comfort food so thought I would make a roast. I haven't made one in 6 years, so I need to brush up on my carnivore cooking skills.

I just want a simple pork roast with some mashed potatoes, green beans, rice and mushroom gravy (yes, the kind mom used to make with Campbell's soup....) Mmmmmm...I can already taste it!

Playing the Grocery Game

May 14th, 2007 at 01:47 am

A friend recommended that I play the "Grocery Game." At first, I thought this involved play money and buying little plastic houses until she set me straight.

I'm not too keen on the whole concept of buying processed food and I really don't need 10 pounds of apples or 10 sticks of deodorant (OK, well maybe I do....). But I decided that for a 4-week trial period that would only cost one buck, it was worth checking out.

I have my groceries delivered, so I first checked to make sure I would still qualify for all the deals. I did, so today when the Grocery Game folks published their weekly list of deals in my neck of the woods I promptly highlighted all the non-perishables that were worth stocking up on.

Before I even added these items to my cart, my grocery bill for the week would have been just under $50. This posed a problem since the store only delivers on orders of $50 or more. When I've been short previously (a rarity, but it has happened), I've added a case of water to get the bill over the $50 mark. (Yes, I drink bottled water, but that's a whole other posting....)

Today, though, I started adding a few of the deals I found playing the Grocery Game. I threw in 2 jars of grape jam (one can never have enough sticky fingerprints around the house), 2 jars of picante sauce, and some anti-bacterial soap.

My entire bill came to $53. Not bad for a family of three and two hungry dogs. We'll have to see how the Grocery Game goes as far as ultimate savings. I'm not completely sold on it, but should I start craving picante sauce mixed with grape jam maybe I'll change my mind.

And the winner is....

May 10th, 2007 at 01:24 pm

My readers have spoken ... all three of you (thanks for caring, Mom)! I think we're all in agreement that I should not be messing with my retirement funds to pay off my debt.

Now, how to pay off that debt a little faster? Ummm ... well, I could take any of the following actions:

1. Rob a bank (Highly unlikely since I don't look good in prison garb)

2. Get yet another job (Not gonna happen since I'm already working two official jobs, plus various unofficial ones; and I do occasionally require my beauty rest.)

3. Win the lottery (Also highly unlikely given the odds and the fact that I keep forgetting to buy a ticket)

4. Sell my stuff to raise more cash (Hey, this might actually happen since I'm hosting a garage sale in a couple weeks -- come over and buy my junk if you're in the neighborhood)

5. Sell my plasma (This could happen, too, if I get desperate enough)

6. Sell my body (Uh ... yeah right! Did I mention I'm old?)

7. Cut back (Already happening ... we got rid of cable a while ago, we've given up the exotic getaways and gotten rid of the private lear jet. But, sorry, the hired help is staying for now -- wouldn't want to throw mom out on the street since Mother's Day is Sunday after all!)

8. Keep chipping away at the hulking pile of debt just as we've been doing (The most likely course of action at this time. One third of any extra income goes toward the debt -- in addition to our regularly scheduled payments.)

Feel free to send your own suggested action plans for paying off my debt. All suggestions will be seriously considered.

Yes, I do read your comments....

May 9th, 2007 at 05:34 pm

I'm not great about responding to your comments, but I do read them all.
For instance, Jim asks why we don't use our savings to pay off our debt. Good question, Jim. Here's my response:

1. Most of our savings are in 401Ks. To take the money out would cost us mucho money in taxes.

2. I'm old (41) and am married to an even older spouse (50). When/if we retire, we don't want to be eatin' Alpo. Organic dog food maybe, but not Alpo.

So am I wrong to think this way? Should I be paying off my debt with my hard-earned retirement fund?

Your thoughts please...

What ticks me off...

May 8th, 2007 at 01:58 am

The folks at Dollar Buy Dollar posted this today and let me just say that Discover has managed to wipe that smile right off of my face!

http://www.dollarbuydollar.com/

What makes me happy....

May 7th, 2007 at 11:21 pm

I try not to post more than once a day, but I just have to say that whenever I read blogs about saving money by anyone 25 and under, it brings a smile to my face -- especially when I see 17 and 18 year olds starting Roth IRAs and working so hard to reach their financial goals. These folks have it figured out. Too bad I didn't at that age....

Survey says....

May 7th, 2007 at 04:42 pm

I'm still undecided about the value of doing online surveys that pay. I signed up on a number of different survey sites a while back after reading posts here about it being easy money.

For me, it has not been easy money for numerous reasons:

1. It seems like the surveys take too much time away from my business and my family.

2. I have yet to get one to pay off because I've either not made it all the way through a survey since I didn't fit certain specifications or the prize for the survey was something other than cash.

3. I saw a huge increase in junk email after signing up on three or four different survey sites.
I abhor junk email.

So for now I'm just trashing all the surveys, but I would be interested to hear what others think about surveys for pay.

Hey, what happened to my money????

May 6th, 2007 at 02:45 am

Thanks to a slight decline in some stock holdings, my contingency fund fell $374.47.

I can't complain, though, because overall this stock has done very well throughout the years and I do expect it to bounce back.

In the past, I wouldn't have even noticed this drop in stock value because of my chronic case of vagueness when it comes to my finances. But, I'm happy to say, that I am now learning to live in clarity when it comes to money, so there's hope for me yet.