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Archive for July, 2008

Another Summer Day...

July 21st, 2008 at 03:16 pm

Sent the girls off for their last week of working mornings at the pool. I finished my summer session last week.

My goal this week is to work through the pile on my desk. Then I'll help my two youngest with their room - clearing out the old stuff mostly. My youngest is slowly parting with her toys. Our donate pile is growing!

In between, we'll head to the beach. We need to enjoy some time there before the summer quickly passes. Beach days are always 'no spend' days, as it's just a beach on a small lake the next town over from us. There's a dock to jump off and a rope swim in one of the trees overhanging the lake. We bring our own snacks and water and something to float on. I can spend hours out on the water - my kids are the ones begging me to go home. I can't think of a more perfect way to while away an afternoon.

But right now, I need to get a load of laundry hung up on the line. Thinking ahead for dinner - maybe grilled chicken (need to take a package out of the deep freeze to defrost in the frig.) Then it's the desk and that pile of papers for me until the girls get home!

Take care!

Money In...Money Out...Money Saved

July 18th, 2008 at 01:03 pm

I got a check on Tuesday, and my husband got his yesterday. Oh, the ways to spend them!

After the deluge of recent medical, things have settled down - finally! In a bit I'll head to the grocery for our two week shopping.

I do have a Target list, and a pack of girls who want to come along. They have been informed that if something isn't on my utilitarian list, they have their own money to spend.

Upcoming spending to keep in mind...

We head up for our annual camping up in Duluth and along the North Shore of Lake Superior in early August. We don't spend a lot, and it's probably a wash for what we would spend at home. But gas prices are up, plus we like to eat out a couple meals, as a break from the hot dogs and hamburger over the campfire.

My third girl is a returning cheerleader, and the fee is due mid-August. So far no mention of an extra camp (and fee) - this is good!

Then there is school shopping - hiss, boo! It seems like summer has barely started... Actually, only the two youngest have supply lists, and the older two just need basic supplies for high school. Bags and backpacks are in good shape. My youngest will need athletic shoes, though her feet keep growing fast, so nice but cheap is in order. She'll also need some jeans. They all enjoy going to a favorite thrift store, and of course to Plato's Closet. We don't buy too much up front, as it's still warm at school. A nice outfit each usually to start. School pictures are the first day at the high school.

Speaking of pictures...I started pricing some senior photo sessions for my oldest. There is quite the price range, though I can't imagine paying some of those top figures (someone must though.)

Enough thinking of ways to spend. There will be still enough to send a few hundred over to savings. It's nice to get it all together to do all three...earn, spend, keep.

Take care!

Working on Loose Ends

July 17th, 2008 at 01:35 pm

My husband had his eye dr appt yesterday, and he needed glasses. No getting by with drug store cheapies. I told him he was getting old - ha! So another $100, exam copay included. This is the end of our vision care needs, for this year anyway!

A lot of loose ends got tied up this week. Not sure how they get lost in the pile...

We've got the rest of the dr appts scheduled in August, as well as an orthodontist retention appt.

I sent off my second daughter's discount papers and license info to the auto insurance, so they can calculate her insurance into the picture. I also sent along our homeowners' insurance info. In the past they haven't been able to give us a better deal, but as we add drivers, it's worth it to keep checking.

Need to reply on a shower and wedding invites for our next door neighbor's girl - and get a gift for the shower, and a card for the wedding (I think money will be most appreciated.) Gosh, wasn't she just a little girl...

Still need to schedule my oldest girl's senior pictures, or decide if my digital camera is up to snuff for it. It's not very high in pixels or optical, so we'll see... I can try a few outdoor pics.

And I even printed out the school supply lists for my two youngest (the older two tell they need only 5-subject notebooks and pens and pencils.) I can't bear to peek and those quite yet. Maybe another beach day will give me the strength -ha!

More Medical Spending

July 15th, 2008 at 01:30 pm

I took my two youngest girls to the eye dr yesterday. The 13 yr old got her first pair of glasses last year, and a had significant change at this exam. So she picked out a new pair. My youngest checked out fine in her exam, and no glasses necessary. On Wednesday, my husband has his appointment. He's only needed to get cheapie reading glasses, and we think they'll suffice still. (Will keep our fingers crossed though.)

Which brings me to our HSA... This is our first year using one, and I'm finding that my conservative use estimates done in November 2007 are severely underestimated, and it's only July. Part of the problem is that with insurance changes each year, it's hard to estimate exactly how insurance will cover the charges.

For example, as I mentioned above, my 13 yr old got a pair of glasses a year ago at our cost of about $250. This year we paid $60. Another example is how a prescription was filled for my oldest. She needed to take 60mg in the morning and 80mg in the evening of the same medication. In 2007, one script was written, stating the above directions. The mail order pharmacy filled it as one prescription with 20mg capsules, with the directions stating the number of pills to take in the morning and evening. The first time using a new mail order pharmacy this year, the pharmacists filled it as two prescriptions, and accordingly charged it as two (very expensive) prescriptions. Pooh!

Then I came across a reference to Target having 3 mon for $10 prescriptions (I knew Walmart did, but there isn't one convenient to us.) Sure enough, I found three of my families meds were on the list. I mail order these at $25 each, but for $10 at Target, it's worth it to switch. I always check out where it will cheapest to fill our prescriptions at the beginning of the year, whether we have an insurance change or not. But I'm finding that that may not be often enough. Am I the only one feeling like I need to be constantly checking on all of our insurances - medical, vision, dental? I wish it wasn't so hands on all the time ... I mean really, I have other things in my life that need attending to - our finances, the girls, definitely the dust bunnies taking over my house!

Take Care!

A Little Side Job Woes

July 9th, 2008 at 01:30 pm

Yesterday afternoon, I worked on a little side job. Even though I changed positions within the school district, my old place still keeps my mailbox filled and offers me the job of processing their bulk mailings. I get paid by the hour, and it's a quick way to earn a little pocket money in an afternoon a few times a year.

This time, for some reason, one of the four flyers that wasn't trifolded at the printers. So I had an extra hour for folding (yay for the money, arg for the mind-numb.) Then they were short on the outer piece (imprinted with the bulk stamp.) After work today, I'll run to that school, near my house, and get the copies to finish the mailing. Then hopefully I can get the PO for the postage from the district office right away. With that I can finally head to the post office with the mailing. Whew! I'm not sure $10 an hour is worth the hassle. Oh well, I'll collect my check and run!!

Spurts of Spending....

July 7th, 2008 at 11:19 pm

...or maybe more like gushes! Nothing too out of ordinary, but still...

My two oldest and I went to the eye dr today. We all wear glasses, and we all needed new prescriptions (it's been four years on the current glasses, so not too unexpected.) The girls said it's like shopping! I felt the same, only without the exclamation point. I'm always amazed at how the word 'shopping' brings two such diverse reactions in my house.

The girls have simple lens needs, and so after insurance, their pairs cost about $40 each. Now mine, on the other hand...not even close to that. I would be wearing very thick lens, if not for the wonderful progressive thin(!) that are available now, for a price. I'm at an age where I appreciate the blended feature of my bifocal, for a price. And my frames, again for a price, make my grey hair less noticeable and might even make me look a bit funky...um, thank you daughters, I think?! Well, these super-duper specs came to about $350. I very much appreciate the sight they afford me, so it's ok and a part of my life, such as it is. But still...!

Over the weekend, I did our two-week grocery shopping. Because of some great store coupons deals on meats especially, I spent a little bit more than usual, but not too bad - $240. We also made a bread run to the thrift store and got enough bread and buns for a few weeks (I freeze most of it.) They've been out of bagels the last two visits, which my girls enjoy, but we'll make due until they get them in again. I probably need to get there earlier in the morning. Plus I go on the one of the two discount days, so lots of things go fast. It seems more people than ever are shopping there - it can get a bit crowded at times.

We've been going through a dry spell here, weather-wise. I've been hanging my laundry out on the line. I know it probably sounds corny, but I do enjoy doing it. It's been beautiful outside, and I get to watch the birds and squirrels chasing around. It's usually a solitary activity, which isn't a bad thing in our not-so-large, not-so-quiet house. Sometimes my youngest comes out to help and chatter. I look over the flowers, while I'm out there. I talk to our three cats who sit in the window begging to come out (ok, no longer corny, now crossing the line to loony...) Well, you can see, it doesn't take much to entertain me!

Tonight is a grill night (it's hot and humid.) On the menu, hot dogs and brats, beans, chips and cut up fruit (we have guests - teenage males to be precise - so cheap, but plentiful is the plan.)

After dinner, we'll have some monster badmitton time. A couple of weeks ago, we bought a set with its big raquets and birdies, and the kids have been having a great time with it. Not particularly a financial note, but it is a fun and inexpensive way to entertain the troops.

Enjoy your evening. Take care!

Wow, it's been forever...

July 5th, 2008 at 03:08 pm

All I can say is that life and computer issues get in the way sometimes.

A little update - I've updated all of my girls ages, the latest birthday just this past week. We have added a new driver as of May. My oldest bought her own car in May, and we added another cheap used car in December, as our conversion van wasn't defrosting its windows (and it wasn't the winter to have that happening!) We are starting to look a bit like a used car lot. We entertain the neighbors I'm sure as we pull the cars in and out of the driveway, repositioning so whoever is parked at the front of the line can get out. The girls pay their own insurance and gas - we help out on maintnenance and repair ( where's daddy? - look under a car! Yay for handy men!)

I finished my first school year in my new position (special ed paraprofessional,) and loved it (and the pay increase it included.) I'm working this summer for the extended year for special ed - just two more weeks. All four girls are working at the pool (same hours and building where I work, so we all drive in together.) The oldest is a Red Cross swim instructor, the second is a lifeguard and the two youngest are safety aides for the lessons. The older two have additional hours in the afternoon. All in all, we couldn't ask for better jobs for the girls - great pay and hours, and we can easily schedule fun and vacations.

With my increase and with the overtime and oncall my husband has gotten over the past few months, we've been able to accomplish a lot. I'm paid two times a month, and earmarked one check to savings and one to reducing our old debt. We've paid for a Washington DC trip my third will be taking in Oct. We increased the % going into our my husband's 401k.

We were even able to take a "spring break trip" with the girls in March. We did it the insanely frugal way, but with ALL on board for this it worked out great. We drove in a Plymouth Voyager minivan from MN to Galveston, TX and camped in a state park on the beach of the Gulf. The wonderful parts included warm temps (it was snowing when we left - again!) We loved everything about the island and the beach. We found an aligator, and saw lots of pelicans, but couldn't find any dolphins. We hiked in wetland areas and on the beach. We found a wonderful, delicious restaurant that was cheap! We brought home tons of shells and photos and lots of stories. The only insane parts involved driving straight through with only rest stop and gas breaks (no motels expenses for us) and packing the van so tightly, bags would burst out every time anyone had to get out of the back. And there was that day-long search for the aligator, but we found him at last! We made it there and back, and lived to tell the tale. The girls are already asking to do it next year. I think it's like childbirth - you forget some of the more difficult moments. I do see us doing it again, crazy as it was. 24 hours (one way)in a minivan, brings the family together in oh so many ways!

We also headed to Bemidji State Park after school ended in early June. It was a bit chilly for swimming and a tad rainy at night (soggy tent camping, oh joy.) But we had fun walking across the Mississippi, we rented a pontoon for really cheap and putted around Lake Itasca (where my youngest insisted that a dunk into the lake was something she had to do - the rental guy thought she was crazy.) We rented canoes on Lake Bemidji. We saw the most spectacular double rainbow ends to ends. We hiked many trails, testing out multiple layers of various bug sprays. Lots of campfires. With a family our size, camping is the way we go! We have another camping trip scheduled for early August.