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Archive for February, 2006

Rambling on....

February 28th, 2006 at 01:20 pm

How can it be the end of February?!! My husband is out of town for the week for training for work. I think somehow he knew when to leave, as this week is crazy.

For her birthday, I got my MIL some flowers and a giftcard for a local coffee place they like to visit, often with their friends. My inlaws, as well as us and everybody it seems, are constantly battling clutter and are trying to rid their house of things, so I opted for a gc rather than some thing.

Got my husband packed and out the door. The girls have been helpful around the house, and especially in keeping on top of homework and other projects. The Girl Scout cookies and youth group pizzas have been delivered (still waiting on some of the money, though.)

Visited my mom after work today. She has been off her physical therapy for two weeks due to sores on her feet. They are healing, but she is stuck to using a wheelchair, until her pt is reinstated and completed. My brother got the bill for her new level of care - oww! Not sure how long her money will hold out at this rate. She's losing more cognitive capabilities, as well as the physical abilities from her hip break in December. It's been a hard winter for her.

A little later today, I'll help the two youngest set up their displays in the school gym that they've done on their favorite books. They both worked so hard, but boy, what projects they ended up being! Tonight, I'll bring all four girls to work at our incoming Kindergarten meeting - they'll help with childcare. Extra hours for me, my kids are unpayed labor, but very appreciated by my boss.

Tomorrow, my oldest gets her braces off after 2 1/2 years. She can hardly wait to bite into an apple!

Thursday, I'm having my hair done by a friend - cut and color for cheap. I am looking haggard and worn-out, so I've been saving for this and looking forward to it too! Then I take my oldest to her weekly medical appt. In the evening, the youngest has her Girl Scout meeting.

I'd normally look forward to the weekend, but it's a busy one. My third daughter has her 1st Communion on Sunday. On Saturday, she'll attend a retreat with our pastor and her sunday school classmates. Afterwards, there is a dinner at the church for the kids and their families.

Moneywise - I grocery shopped last Saturday for the next two weeks - did very well. I had a few moments last evening after homework to look over February's totals. In general, the totals were about the same (though some like groceries had extra expenses of two parties.) But I had two expense lines that increased - to savings and to the cc debt. And we're still money ahead - banking it for our last month of the huge hosp and dr bills from last year.
Some successes, so feeling pretty optimistic for March.

So goals for next month include:

* Continue to watch and reduce our grocery bill (includes all food except dining out, health/beauty, hh cleaning and paper) by $150

* Continue same amounts to savings and cc (though increases would be acceptable, if there is overtime!)

* Plan some fun and free things to do over our Spring break (nope, we won't be flying to Fla., Mexico or the Caribbeans - can you tell the sort of area we live in??) We have a week and a half off, so we'll intermingle lazy in pj days, with some activites around the Twin Cities.

Thank you for letting me ramble on and on... Did I mention my husband is out of town?? (Yes, he is a saint, and definitely needed a break - even if it is training for work.) Take care!

Long day

February 23rd, 2006 at 06:22 pm

Today ended up being a fairly busy day. The preschool kids were wild! We took them outside for a longer playtime, then sent them home - yay! Worked a little extra after class exchanging the toys in our room. Too many fire trucks crashing around the room - though we may have replaced them with even crazier toys (other types of vehicles - we reserve the option to remove any troublesome toys - darn, not kids, though.) Next week I work extra for our upcoming Kindergarten registration and info night (our program organizes this because we're better suited for caring for all the children.)

Next week also my husband leaves for some training for work. He'll have the travel and motel paid, but will have to provide money for meals (will be reimbursed.) We knew this was coming, so are set for him, except that he would like a new swimsuit for the pool. His was so old the waistband elastic crackled, but didn't stretch back - not a good shape for a suit to be in!

Planning ahead -

Starting to make out a grocery list and plan meals (for the two weeks.)

Need to fill the van again.

The older three girls are working at a youth group fundraiser at our church on Sat.

I need to shop for that above mentioned swimsuit and a birthday gift for MIL.

Bring MIL her gift on Sun.

Go to the library.

Clean up a bit around here.

Help my husband get packed.

...well, I'm glad I enjoyed last weekend's quiet... Take care!

It takes me a while...

February 22nd, 2006 at 07:32 pm

but eventually I catch up! I finally got around to calculating totals for what we spent money on for the month of January. I know, I know, it's practically the end of Feb...I'm not the quickest with this. Can I blame it on my family, house, pets, work, and general lack of time??

It doesn't help that I'm doing it via the very old-fashioned method of pencil, paper and calculator. I do know how to find Excel on my computer, but that is all I can do.

So in an effort to get a start on February, I've started to fill in my sheet on expenses so far this month that have been paid and are done for the month. I took a preliminary gander at the grocery amount, and I'm pretty pleased. Considering we had my daughter's birthday party with her friends, as well as a big extended family dinner, well... ta-da! We're coming in at less than we did in January. I can hardly wait to see how March goes with our new grocery shopping measures (no birthdays or large gatherings planned, so a better indicator.)

A few things were revealed in my January spreadsheet of sorts. Medical was our most expensive category - we're paying off a hospital and dr bill from November, paying for weekly medical appt for one of my girls, and mail-ordered 90-day supplies of 3 expensive prescriptions. The next expense was our grocery expenses - working hard on reducing this! Third is our mortgage. Hmm, more to think about AND act on - I like what has been written about it being nice to think and write (and read!) about money matters, but it's the action that really makes the difference. Take care,all!

Lazy day

February 20th, 2006 at 06:32 pm

The girls and I had the day off. We slept in! The older two headed off to friends' houses. The younger two girls played the rest of the day and didn't get dressed until 4 in the afternoon, and only because one had to go to a church class and the other had to come with me to pick up our Girl Scout cookies. The cookies are all sorted and ready to be delivered.

Puttered a bit around the house. A couple things accomplished, but not a whole lot. Then made some homemade split pea soup, that simmered away the afternoon. It tasted great on our lazy day. There's even some leftover for tomorrow's lunch. After all the activity of the previous few days, I think we needed some do-nothing time. I excelled at that today!! Take care!

Catching up

February 19th, 2006 at 02:33 pm

It's seems forever since I last made an entry. And let me just say, making daily entries kept me on the straight and narrow!

The good - We're entering our second week of the two-week grocery shopping and we're still okfood-wise. My daughter is now really 11, and we celebrated her birthday over the weekend. On Friday, she and her friends participated in our family's standard party - the 'attend the open swim time at the school's pool, homemade pizza, and sleepover' party. Very fun, very inexpensive. We did great with the favors even, hitting the Target dollar spot with clearances after Valentine's Day (not planned, but very welcome.)

The bad - The above mentioned birthday party also had a family party on Saturday night. Gosh, it's been a while since we've had a crew over! The lasagne dinner with a bit of wine and fancy beer was fun, but hardly inexpensive.

The ugly - My daughter brought home her science class project - a goldfish. I admit to saying ok, but I should have checked out the cost of setting up a small tank before I said yes. Lesson learned in dollars. We're pet suckers here.

We also spent money on going to the MN Zoo, not the free one in our area. I did a household membership pass, because it'd cost us more just to pay admission and parking for all of us. We will make good use of this pass, though I probably should have waited until next month. And then there was the gas for the week... Next week will be better!!

Take care!

Heart Day

February 14th, 2006 at 12:55 pm

Happy Valentine's Day! Yesterday and today, I celebrated with our preschool classes. I think the kids were fed candy hearts for breakfast. By the end of the day, the teachers felt like running around the room screaming, right along side the kids!

After work, I headed over to the nursing home - much, much quieter. Mom was eager to see me. I brought her an azalea plant and a soft stuffed dog to hold, as well as some cards from my husband and I and the girls. I usually go for more homemade food sorts of gifts for the family, but she's on a restricted diet now(and it's a pain to get it all approved and written down on her chart.) I got her the dog, because I'm learning the importance of holding soft items for older people. She seemed to be thrilled with it, and kept petting the stuffed dog.

I made valentines for my husband and girls using construction paper and glue and markers - I know, I'm stuck at the preschool level. I collected a bit of candy kisses and hearts into little bags too. We'll celebrate when we're all together at dinner tonight.

Moneywise, we're maintaining what we started in January. I did spend a little on Mom for today, but spent less on groceries for the two weeks. I went ahead and shopped for two weeks, which was cheaper per week, as I expected. I'll try the two week grocery shopping for this month. I mailed out the federal taxes yesterday - we'll get back just over $2200. We owe MN $85, but April is soon enough for that.

Happy Heart day to you all! Take care!

Busy Saturday

February 11th, 2006 at 06:20 am

I feel like all I've been doing is working lately. But I know the extra hours won't last forever, so I'll keep doing them while they are still available. Got back a bit ago from working our preschool's Super Saturday - several hundred kids and adults came. It took a bit to get the rooms back to normal, but it was fun to see everyone having a good time.

My husband got paid yesterday, and my check will be in the account on the 15th. All our OT and extra hours have made it possible to keep up with the interest free payments to the hospital and doctor. Just one more payment to the hospital and two more to the dr - yay! I will be so glad to not have them hanging over our heads.

Our next goal is to then funnel the extra money in paying off the cc debt. We haven't used the card in a long time, and now we are serious about getting it paid off.

Need to send off two more mail-order prescriptions. Got gas for the car - $41. Need to go to the grocery store - am thinking of trying to bump it up to two weeks. I spend a bigger amount, but when averaged over two weeks, the total is quite a bit less. Need to finish the shopping list.

A trip to Target is planned this weekend. My 3rd daughter turns 11 soon, and will have a swim, pizza and sleepover party next Friday. We swim at the school's pool for very cheap. Then we head home for homemade pizza and cake. The girls watch movies (that we own) and hardly sleep. We hand out party favors, but make it cheap. Being it's so close to Valentine's Day, I saw cute little heart decorated tin pails at the $ spot at Target, and we'll add a fun trinket or two, and a little candy. At our house, it's the birthday party down to a science. We've done this one over and over through the years, and the girls don't tire of it.

Wow, the time is flying...

February 8th, 2006 at 03:08 pm

It seems that February just started, and here it is the 8th already.

I've been working a little extra here and there. Tomorrow and Friday are Parent Days at my preschool, so I worked some extra time today tidying the room up a bit, and cleaning paint from pretty much everywhere (I'm still thoroughly amazed how far the kids get it away from the painting areas of the room.) I'll be putting in extra hours for an event on Saturday, called Super Saturday, where all of our rooms will be open, with activities for the under-5 set and their families. Set-up is Friday afternoon and I'll work the event and help with clean-up. Mas dinero towards our hospital and dr bills - yay!

Worked on the taxes. Federal is all done, and we get back just under $2300. This is good, though I'd rather not have such a big amount as this. Still trying to figure out how many withholdings to claim on our w-4, so as to reduce our refund amount. It's on my to-do list! Our state taxes came out fine - we owe $85, so our withholdings are right for state. I just need to check over the state form a final time and everything will be ready to send out.

After I'm totally done with the taxes, I'm going to go over how we spent in January. I especially want to focus on the grocery amount, to see if what we did different in January made a difference. I feel like a lot of people here are far more on top of knowing how they are doing with expenses for their month than I am. But sooner or later, I'll get there! And next month there won't be taxes to contend with.

Oh well, as has been said on this site often - bit by bit, changes for the better (my better!) will be made!

Take care!

The spending is easy...

February 4th, 2006 at 01:54 pm

It feels like I've spent a fortune lately. But when I actually did the checkbook, it wasn't too bad.. I guess it just feels that way because our spending has been only the absolutely necessary lately.

Went to the grocery store and it's back to ugh again. $145. I think I'll look over the total for the month of January. I'm sure it was less than normal, but I want to get a better idea of how much I'm saving or not. Then I'll be able to tell whether the $145 is really an ugh. Gas was $36 for the week. That is another ugh!

The three younger girls, my husband and I went to the school's fundraiser, the Funfest. Spent $22 - not too bad, but my head is pounding from the noise. Not my favorite activity, but the girls love it.

Cleaned the house yesterday. Finally got the last bit of info needed to do the taxes, so that is on the to-do list for this weekend (I have mostly completed them except for inserting this info.) Sleep!! Yes, that's on the list. Otherwise, two of the girls are going to a church youth group event tomorrow (it's free and fun!) So the weekend is shaping up to being a quiet, relaxing one again - my favorite sort!

Have a great weekend...take care!

Now I get it...

February 2nd, 2006 at 04:55 pm

when I find that there is a bit extra in the account, I should not say anything out loud about it! So here's today's damage...

I came home from work, and my husband was home doing some work at home on the computer. We decided to go out for lunch - it's not so very often that there are no kids around! It was a nice treat.

Next I picked up my oldest from school for her medical appt, and payed the planned co-pay. But then, since we were (too!) close to Target, we stopped by to get a couple of things we needed. Hah, when will I learn to go alone? Oh, well, the clearance rack yielded some great deals. Oh, yeah, we also got the original 'couple of things' too.

Well, compared to times in the past, this day wasn't the worst, but it's definitely back to the saving grindstone for us! Take care!!

Holding steady...

February 1st, 2006 at 01:31 pm

It's Wed, and worked this morning. Worked extra hours last night. I also offered to work extra this month, and my boss is happy to let me. Every bit will help on the hospital and dr bills.

I went over the bills and checkbook yesterday, and found we are making great progress in reducing our costs. There was a surplus in the checking account. Well, not for long...transferring more to the savings for building up the emergency fund, as well as paying extra toward the cc bill. Our goal is that after we pay off the hospital and dr bills from last year, we'll increase what we pay to the cc. I give a lot of credit to everyone here for openly sharing their stories and ideas - you all are quite the inspirations!

Some upcoming expenses include a PTO fundraising 'FunFest' at the school on Sat. It's not so much fun to spend money for this. But my younger girls are excited about it - pretty sure it's the constant mention at school by staff and students. We were able to limit how much we spent last year, and will do that again this year. My oldest girl has another payment toward her mission trip this summer - she's working at the pool, but we'll help pay half. She is on her own for this Friday's dance. I bought her the dress. She bought the boutoniere, and will pay for the tickets (it's a Sadies dance - girls ask the boys.) As far as dinner, I told her she could fix something at our house (the rest of us will stay out of the way,) but we'll have to see what she'll think she can afford. (Back when we had a Sadies dance, it was a very dress-down thing - jeans, flannel shirts, overalls, cowboy hats. Ok, it was the mid-70s - but it was sure a lot cheaper back then!)

Dinner is in the crockpot again - a new recipe using some turkey I froze after the holidays.

Take care!