Thursday, November 20, 2014

Money and Christmas

We are actually sticking to budget this year!  It is amazing! 

I made these cute little treats for all the 10 year olds to 20 year olds in our family.  These are siblings kids!  When you have step-brothers and sisters, the numbers get large!  We have a total of 11 nieces and nephews, and 1 brother of mine that we still gift because he is only 18!






I bought earphones on ebay for $1.50 each and used Christmas cloth from my stash to make tiny drawstring bags for them.  I put red and green m&ms around it in a plastic ornament. 

Ok, breakdown of cost per ornament gift:

1 set of earphones - $1.50
1 cloth drawstring bag (used stash) - $0
1 plastic ornament ball - $1.94
9 strands curling ribbon (used stash) - $0
1/2 bag of m&ms - $0

Total: $3.44 per gift

How did we get the m&ms for nothing?  We used points redeemed from our credit cards to purchase CVS gift cards.  I then used coupons to get the price down further while they were on sale 2 bags for $5.  They ended up costing 2 bags for $4, but since the gift cards were purchased from points, then they were free.

LOVE this gift!  My kids want one!

OK, other news - more to the Citibank -D!  $938!  Down to $12,954.58.  Now, I just want to get below $10,000.  It seems to be taking forever, but in reality, it was over $20,000 two months ago.

This time, it will not get another hit for 3 weeks.  Our next check pays the monthly bills.

Cannot wait until we have NO credit card debt.  I am not sure what living is like with no credit card debt!


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Christmas for the kids

We finally got their Christmas wishes and sat down to figure out WHAT of those we wanted to get them.

For -M

1. Headphones with microphone - $25
2. Socks - $10
3. Jeans - $50
4. Suit - $50 (from Goodwill)
5. Big Bang Theory DVDs/Comedy movies ( from 1/2 Price Books)- $50
6. Door Handle for his car -$15

Total: $200

For -A

1: Subway Gift Card - $25
2. 10th Doctor Sonic Screwdriver - $22
3. Brownies (I will make him a special batch) - $5
4. Money for College/Car - $50
5. Socks - $10
6. Word Search Book (most difficult) - $7
7. Small Sketch Book - $8
8. Movie gift card - $24

Total: $200

For -L

1. A Slytherin Notebook - $35
2. A Deathly Hallows necklace - $9
3. A Doctor Who poster - $19
4. A clock radio w/ ipod dock - $15
5. Clothes - $50
6. 3 missions at Laser Tag - $20
7. A trip to Six Flags - $20
8. Movie Gift Card - $25

Total: $193

For -K

1. Pokemon Black and White DS Games - $84
2. Shirts - $30
3. Socks - $10
4. A trip to the Alamo - $20
5. 3 mission at Laser Tag - $20
6.  Poor thing asked for toothpaste - we will give him extra.  $0
7. Trying to think of one more thing since he asks for so little.

Total: $164


Our goal was to stick to $200 each.  The Something you Want, Something you Need, Something to Do, Something to See worked out pretty well.  They kept the lists slim. 

We are happy with this.  There will still be stockings that include a $10 itunes gift card (we got for free with our credit card points), their favorite candy and fruit, plus toothbrushes and toothpaste, floss sticks and bath puff balls.  It fills out the stockings nicely without breaking the bank.  We have all the dental items already.  CVS couponing!

Whew!  That is checked off the list!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Financial Friday?

It seems we do all our finances toward the weekend.  It is when we are both together and get paid.  Nothing like the almighty dollar to bring a couple together.

Ok, so this check was the second of the month check.  I love the bi-weekly check that give you 2 bonus type checks a year, but they seem to throw off my balance.  It was the case this month as well.  We knew it would be cutting it close on the Jeep note, but BOA took it out 3 days early!  It was supposed to come out on the 15th - a Saturday, so we assumed maybe the 14th, but no, they took it on the 12th. 

Since we 0- budget balance, there was not enough money in our checking account.  Our savings covered it, with a $5 service fee, but still.  $5 thrown out the window.  Those extra checks kill me.

Moving on, we were able to pay another good chunk to the Credit Card de jour!  Citibank -D received a payment of $2,318.17.  We would have been able to pay more, but we had land taxes due, so that took away from debt, but we will be building there, so I don't mind.  That last card is down to $13,892.58.  Still reeling that this is the lowest amount of credit card debt we have ever had.

Reminder to Self: set a line item budget for land taxes  (this way it won't surprise us again)

We also paid our homeowner association dues. We set aside $75 a month for those though and had the money ready and waiting.  Easy check writing.  The $900 a year gives us two large swimming pools, 10+ miles of trails, 2 work out rooms, 3 fishing ponds, tennis court, basketballs courts, soccer fields, community events, etc.  It is worth it.  Yes, we use it!


SPENDING FREEZE

We are like Sharon, no spending except for food and gas, well that and budgeted Christmas items.  We kind of got on a spending spree lately and we have to full stop on that!

My kids are turning in their Christmas Wishes today.  I am curious to see what they wrote down.  It is getting harder as they get older.  Especially since they are not into "things" as much as experiences.

For Food - $150 a week - 6 people and a holiday.  Wish us luck! 
For Gas - $90 a week - two vehicles (hopefully it will not even be this much with the holiday)

Good news - HEB does it again.  Our little workers are given free turkeys by their employer every year.  Doesn't matter what size.  So, we can get a nice big turkey for free. That helps a TON with the holiday meal expense.  We are keeping it simple - potatoes, green beans, fruit salad, turkey, stuffing, gravy, rolls, and a couple of desserts. 

Thanksgiving is low key for us.  We wake up slow.  I would love to watch the parade, but we don't get regular TV or cable (plus I don't miss the commercials). We have sausage balls for breakfast and then I start cooking around 10-11.  We eat late afternoon and then laze around.  We may go for a walk or play Who Knew.  That's it.  My kind of holiday - LOW STRESS!  My sister and her family may come over, but I am not sure yet. 

What are your holiday plans (for those in the US at least)?


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Cold here!

I know it is nothing like everyone up north, but dipping into the 20s in November is crazy here!  

Our gas logs should be arriving soon - the fireplace may not get done on the time frame we wanted with everything happening, but I will have a fire to spite it all!

The gas lines worked well, so all we needed was a replacement key and the logs!  $200 and we are in business!  Cannot wait.  I love a fire when it is cold.

We got paid today, but will not be able to sit down and go over numbers until tonight.  I am hoping we get to put a little more toward debt this time.  I cannot remember if it is the first of the month check or the second of the month check.  If it is the first, then it will only be what I made that goes in.  We are aiming for getting all our monthly bills in one check.  I doubt it will happen while we have kids in the house, but it is a goal.

I am actually looking forward to dinner tonight - bacon wrapped chicken, baked beans, sliced tomatoes and cheddar biscuits.  Not a diet meal, but a very cozy one.  I am craving comfort food like crazy!

Well, off for another cup of coffee - it may be a four cup day.  Just cannot seem to get going!

Oh, here are my younger two at Halloween.  -K was Ash from Pokeman  and -L is the 11th Doctor from Dr. Who.  She is a MAJOR Whovian.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Difficult - not even sure

Something major has happened in our home and I am not even sure if I should be talking about it, but really, I am not telling anyone.  And since I have somewhat of anonymity here, it is the best outlet I know.

I found out last Thursday that my son is cutting himself.

Besides crying and feel helpless, we are still reeling and walking on eggshells. This is my good kid - the one who seemed to have it all together.  I feel like we are in an after-school special.  This is the one who makes great grades, leadership in band, holds a job, saves money, budgets, has a social life - basically the "perfect" teen.  Sure, he would sometimes forget to call when he was going somewhere, not put away his clothes, or leave cups and plates in his room.  Not earth shattering stuff - normal teen stuff.

So, as the story starts coming out - he has been doing this off and on for a couple of years, mainly on his chest and inner thighs, so we could not see.

As a mother, I am back and forth on it isn't my fault, it is my fault.  I cannot control his emotions and according to his doctor, we are not the problem.  It is how he deals with stress and his lack of coping skills. 

Gee, sounds a lot like my fault in not teaching him how to cope.  Not that I am an expert or anything.  I could use some work there myself.  My way of dealing typically involves locking myself in my bedroom and singing really loudly until I am exhausted.  Hey, whatever works huh?  And no, I do not sing well.

Today, I am going to try and book an appointment with a counselor and get this problem on the road to recovery.

It seems overwhelming right now.  Me, exhausted and in pain all the time, youngest son with neurological issues that make him fearful, second oldest cutting, my daughter moody with low self-esteem (her words, not mine), and my oldest skipping too many college classes and blowing all his money on food.  Not to mention, my husband's moodiness at the new job.

Good thing - ALL THIS IS TEMPORARY!  None of it (except maybe my health) is something that will last for years and years and years.  With some help, everyone will get better.  With time, college will be over, lives will be started.

The sun is shining today - upper 40s with sunshine.  It is the perfect day.  We all love each other immensely and times - they are a changing.  This is what makes life LIFE!

THE LAND OF HAPPY by Shel Silverstein

Have you been the The Land of Happy,
Where everyone's happy all day,
Where they joke and sing
Of the happiest things,
And everything's jolly and gay?
There's no one unhappy in Happy,
There's laughter and smiles galore.
I have been to the The Land of Happy -
What a bore!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sewing Area Organization

Hey everyone!  Sorry I have been missing so much.  My back has just not let me come into the office and type away.  I have been on my ipad, which, I am sorry, but I am not hunt and pecking a whole post on that thing.

So, my wonderful husband, spent the weekend making my pegboard!  YEAH!  We put it up last night and I could not move fast enough getting everything up.  It is wonderful!

Here is a shot from before the pegboard.  I kept all my work in progress projects ON the table plus scissors, rulers, fabric pens, pins, clips, papers, my sewing machine when not in use.  Needless to say, it was difficult to cut because I had so much stuff on my table!  I could move it all off to the desk, but often I sewing when I was cutting, so the smaller desk top could not hold everything either.

Now, I will say all the thread is usually on the holder, -D just grabbed before I got a picture.  However, it went on the floor beneath the table.  So, full on top and full underneath.

A REAL MESS!

AFTER - Starting to get MUCH better!
I still have some work to do - like where to put works in progress, but for now, I have them tucked in that brown tote thing with the paper on top under the window.  A lot of that stuff will disappear quickly as they are Christmas gifts.  Sometimes, I do store the WIPs on the ironing board.

The dark brown bin under the table store fabric scraps and I also have an extra sewing machine and Go-Cutter.  It is wonderful to have everything at my fingertips.

Closer shot of the peg board

Cost:

Peg Board - $6 at ReStore
Paint, Clear Coat, nails and hooks - $30 from Lowe's
Cute, Colorful pails (that I am going to add flowers to) and shelf - $15.00 from Hobby Lobby

$51 total!  Much below the $100 budget I set and I am just thrilled.  We already had the thread holder, so we just painted it.

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Hump Day - Better

I am hurting a little less today, but I still cannot stand up straight fully.

My oldest wrote me the sweetest note this morning and had it on my chair.  It was how wonderful of a mom I have been and been great support.  How good it is that I let him grow up, but still help when his needs.  How much he loves me and that he has always felt loved by me.  On and on - almost 2 pages worth.

I thought you got this when your kids HAD kids!  LOL

It was a busy morning, with needing to pick up some thread for a hem job, robotics and the cleaners coming.  I know we were talking about getting rid of them, but we went down to once a month and cut the expense in half, so it helped a little.  With all my issues, we really need to help and once a month seems to be a good fit.

I decided to go ahead and stop by the ReStore specifically looking for peg board. Someone JUST brought in 2 large sheets of it, so I asked for a price.  They couldn't tell me and put a 2 hour hold on it.  I called and each piece is only $5!  These things are like $60 or more a pop!  Only problem, I don't have a vehicle that can fit it!  I would just take the top off the Jeep and call it a day, but it is pouring rain.

-D is going to meet me there later today and hopefully it will not be gone.  They will not hold it for me anymore.  I have a mind if it is gone to check and wait for more to come in. 

Oh, -D wanted me to bring to your attention the fact that we paid down slightly over $30,000 in debt in the past 30 days.  CRAZY!

We won't have a chunk quite like that again, but we are putting $2,000 or more a month to it.  The last credit card is at 0% interest and is getting ALL the extra money.  Then we will tackle the Jeep loan.  The goal is still to be out of all debt but the mortgage by June next year - just 8 months!