Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Debt reduction

Smaller post today.

We paid another chunk to the Citibank -D.  To the tune of $2,548.19.  -D laughs because I always want to put every cent into it, so yes, we actually pay those odd cents - no rounding here.

Last month it was at $12,954.58, now it is at $10,406.39.  So close to being under $10k! This card has 0% interest right now, so I love seeing the numbers go down exactly.

As for the Jeep, well, chugging along.  It is not getting any extra until the card is paid off, but it is going down.  I haven't updated it in a couple of months, so it seems like more was paid than actuality.

We have set up our 401k to start at 6% which is the level that the company matches at 100%!  We could not pass that up.  100% guaranteed profit right upfront.  January 2nd is the 1st day we can start - after the 90 day hold on almost everything from starting the new job.

This means, though, that our monthly income will be less, so pay-off is going down a bit.  I know this isn't the standard of thought in the debt world, but we are getting to old to put this off anymore, so debt and retirement will have to be done together.

Now, when the debt is gone, then we plan on increasing the amount of withholding for 401k and reducing our income even more!  Right now, we do have more slated to come from bonuses.

I have heard that companies may short change you with their match if you contribute through bonuses, them preferring to pay a little out every month.  We will see.  You would think the HR department would know this, but we have them a little stumped with all our questions and situations that they have not encountered before.  Like being able to set up 401k BEFORE the 90 days so you could transfer from another 401k if you choose.  Seems simple, but no one has ever asked before.

 That's it for today.  Our end of year bonus was a ham, so I am off to pick that up shortly!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Savings and Rant

OK, I know we still have a way to go before we are debt.  The eye is on the prize, believe me!

We were dreaming this past weekend though and trying to figure out the best way to allocate money once the debt was gone.

It seems to me in reading other blogs, that most people still struggle just as hard once they are OUT of debt as when they are in debt.

There are repairs to be made, roofs that need replacing, appliances that heat unevenly and cars that start leaking oil.

There are kids that need money, parents that need money, friends that want companionship (with a price tag), siblings that ask for more than we want to give.

There are health issues that crop up and linger longer than you want, surgeries that need attending, and preventative measures that add up.

There are weddings and funerals, and plays and concerts.

I have not even gotten to our wants yet.  Much less the dreams.

These things are important, not only to ourselves but in the relationships with others.  They pull at our hearts and confound the mind.  Also, our bank accounts.

Some of the things we are determined to save for is:

1) Retirement.  First and foremost - before schools (including college and the private school).
2) Emergency Fund - currently being at $2,004.  It is not exactly peace provoking.
3) Pay off the house - we figure the house on the land is our dream and at least we would have this house if it is paid off.
4) College - Yes, we plan on paying for the tuition and books ONLY of a state college for all four of our children.

I stop there because I am out of money.  Really, I am out of money at #2, but we try to shuffle around and get the funds.

This does not include money for fun.  We will still be as tight as when we were getting out of debt.

I know this is our fault - it is just a bitter pill to swallow some days.

This was made worse by a response to my last post. 

The anonymous poster offended me, even though I tried not to.  If the question had been just if I was going back to work and stopped there, I would have not been.  But the insinuation that I am not providing for my family was a blow.

I may not provide the same amount of financial stability my husband does, but I provide in other ways that no amount of money could pay for.

1) I am here every day for my family - no matter what time.  If my oldest blows a tire, I am there helping him change it.  If my daughter starts her period, I am there hugging her.  If my husband left his computer at home, I am the one that brings it to him.

2) I schedule, maintain and attend all daytime doctor appointments, teacher conferences, repair services, shopping, and household errands like bank, post office, etc.

3) I organize all birthday gifts and cards and make sure they are sent out on time and to the correct person.

4) I make menus and prepare meals.

5) I clean on a schedule and make sure our family is neat and clean, floors, kitchen, bathroom, laundry.

6) I perform some of the yard work, but not all as I have a joint issue, also we have 4 teenage children that can help with that.

7) I also have a small business sewing, and believe it or not, it provided the money we needed to live while we were buying and selling our homes.  We were beyond broke, but without that little bit of money, we would have been really bad off.

8) I am the emotional healer, so to speak.  I am a psychologist, a confidant, a disciplinary, and a friend.  I talk about friendships, sex, drugs and relationships that mortify me, but I keep going.

9) I coupon, look for sales, make things and repurpose/reuse to save money for our family. 

I am 100% THANKFUL, that I can PROVIDE for my family in this manner.  I am the one my teen kids come to when they need help and they get their information from us FIRST, so they can better filter the mess that it out in the world.

Now, does this mean I look down upon those that work, NOT AT ALL.  All our jobs are tough - theirs tougher because they have to do all this AND work.  I just do not like being told that I am not providing for my family if I stay home.  

Provisions are not always monetary.  And monetary provisions are not always the best ones.

My wish is that there would be more support instead of criticism in this world.  We are after all - connected by our humanity. 


Friday, December 12, 2014

Cars and Car Insurance

Well, I know this is not a popular issue with me.  I took a pretty hard beating from purchasing the Jeep.  I still do not regret it though - I smile every time I am in it!  I love the hard top and I love the way I feel when I am driving it.  It will more than likely be my last Jeep ever because my joints are only going to get worse as I age, not better.  I am going to get my thrills from it while I can.

However, it does not work well for our growing children. Since they are going to be going into private school next year and there is a car pool line, hauling into the backseat of a Jeep is cumbersome at best! It also takes a while.

Which means, I need to start driving the SUV come August.  We bought this vehicle used, we owe nothing on it.  It has bad window, an oil leak, it needs a major belt replaced and various assundry other things which if we repaired would cost more than it is worth.

It is also incredibly uncomfortable for me.  The Jeep is better, so that should tell you something. 

Now, the SUV is the vehicle we use to visit family.  ALL our parents are aging and live out of state - 6+ hours drive to them.  A comfortable car is a MUST for me.  I am no good laid out the entire time we are there because of a car ride.

Chevy Equinox
So, we decided to buy a NEW smallish SUV.  Not now, probably May of next year after the credit card is paid off.  We get a MEGA-discount because of his Dad's work history with GM, so driving off the lot, we owe less than the blue book value at any given time.  Yes, we will need to finance it.  However, we do plan on putting about 20% down or more, plus a trade in.

This brings us to Car insurance, since the current SUV is paid for and should something happen, we would just go ahead and purchase another one, we are dropping the insurance down to just liability, saving us money in the interim.

Thinking of financial goals for 2015 now...

Thursday, December 11, 2014

General Busy

Well, the past couple of days have been all about getting the Christmas Cards out and the packages of gifts sent.

Today I went to the post office - I love our post office.  Since we live in such a large city, you have to expect a wait.  People in general are rude, and somehow lose their brain when it comes to selecting a way to send packages, but these postal workers keep a smile on their face ALL the time.  Not the fake kind either, but a genuine smile.  Yes, I have to stand in line sometimes up to 20 minutes, but I will do it gladly at this post office.

So, all but one went out today.  I did not have a box large enough, and neither did the post office.  I decided to take some measurements and go to a discount box place not far from here.  Those mail box shops charge and arm and a leg for boxes then a premium for shipping.  No thanks, I will just go get a box, pack it myself and go back to the post office - all within 2 miles of each other.

It feels really good to get it all out.  My hands and wrists are killing me, but I can rest them for a couple of days - nothing is pressing now.

We did decide to go ahead and get our youngest son counseling - more like occupational therapy.  He has a TON of fears that keep him from enjoying life to the fullest.  One of which is speaking in public.  I know, I know, it makes everyone a nervous wreck, but it is expected in school and his reaction is a little more than the usual stomach nerves.  He full on has a screaming breakdown.  It is this way with dogs (of any kind, nice or not), thinking of death, large enclosed spaces - like movie theatres and entertainments places, echoes, creamy foods, etc, etc.

Other than just the daily grind not much has been going on.

For an update on my older son -A, he is doing much better.  The psychologist does not think he will have to go but for a couple of more sessions.  We have worked out ways to keep from getting so stressed and who to talk to, etc.  This went much better than I thought it would.

Ready to get going with 2015!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Cards

I am working on getting out our 80 Christmas Cards this week.  Determined to have all the packages and cards out, so I can get to cookie baking.

For the past umpteen years, I have written about our lives to the tunes of various Christmas songs.  It was a spin-off of the long letters.  We hit a couple of highlights and moved on.  People loved it, but as the years progressed, we kind of got tired of coming up with the words - life is so busy.  Especially since I started homeschooling, so this year, the for the FIRST TIME EVER, we bought Christmas cards.

Feeling guilty, I decided to make some special ones just for close family. 

The front

close up of the sewing portion

I am 100% in love with the Kraft paper look, so this years had to incorporate it.  I am also in love with trees this year (last year was snowflakes), so I combined kraft paper, trees and sewing.  For the snowflake sewing design I used metallic thread so the glistening against the rustic brown paper is actually stunning.  Cannot show it in the pictures really well.

They look terrific to me, so on we go.  I am going to start hand writing all the addresses tonight and hopefully I will get done tomorrow.  I am doing them in sets of 10 and it goes pretty quickly that way.

As for the cookies, so far, I have made fudge w/ walnuts and butterscotch haystacks.

To go:
1) Shortbread cookies with maraschino cherry inside dipped in chocolate. (for -L)
2) Reeses bars (for -M)
3) Chocolate cookies covered in pecans with a salted caramel thumbprint, chocolate drizzled over the top. (for -D)
4. Peppermint brownies (for -A)
5. Plain fudge for my sister
6. Almond Pizzelles as a tradition
7. M&M cookies (for -K)

As you can see, I have some baking to do!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Rollercoaster!

Whew!  The kids can create drama - Oh my Goodness.

Saturday, I started not feeling well.  Then -L became sick as well.  We have been fighting it all week, culminating in a doctor run this morning.  She is actually doing better, but I have taken a turn for the worse.  If I am not doing better by Monday, then I have to take a Z-Pack.

Sibling irritations that I am having to referee.  Ugh - I am getting so tired of it.  We are all in much closer spaces now and it is showing.

Then on Tuesday night, our oldest came to us and said he wanted to move out.  He is 18 years old.

I didn't sleep - sick with worry.

Wednesday, he went with his to-be 26 year old roommate to look at apartments.  I could not relax.  When he got home, we all sat down and discussed the cost of the apartment.  He was excited - $493 for the apartment (his portion).  Well, I wrote down a list of the other expenses - electricity, water, internet, phone, insurance, food, car expenses, etc.

He freaked out.  He said he could live on $25 a week for groceries.  Um, not really. 

So he stormed into his room.  I tried to explain that it was his choice, I was not against him moving out.  It is just that I did not want him to struggle so much when he is trying to go to school.  He makes less than $1,000 a month, so having an apartment at this point would seriously make him want to quit school.

We came up with 3 options with him.

1) Stay home, as planned, save $500 a month toward college expenses when he goes to university.  He would stay here while going to junior college for another 3 semesters.

2) He could apply to university now, go ahead and move there in the summer.

3) He could move out now.

Ultimately, he decided with option #1.

The apartments we are looking at for university are a private bedroom and bathroom, all bills paid including cable and internet (not phone) and you are not dependent on your roommates.  For example, your roommate leaves school and stops paying rent.  You are not responsible for their portion.  Excellent!  They also offer leases in 6, 9 and 12 month terms.  This is all $500 a month.

Now you see why I am having him save $500 per month.  When he goes, he should have ALL his rent paid in full for the entire time he is there.  That will help him a ton!  He still will have to cover food, phone, car insurance (1/2 of it, we cover the other half), and entertainment.  Working 10-15 hours a week should cover that nicely.  He works (for more than 2 years now) at a Texas local grocery store and gets paid over $10 an hour.

Wow - the roller coaster though.  I have whiplash.

Going off to nap now, just wanted to check in.  I feel awful!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Eye Glasses

WOW!  It has been a very long time since I have purchased retail glasses. 

Since my oldest was about 6, we bought at a discount place close to us.  The first pair cost us $120.  Over the years, the prices there rose to about $200 per pair, which made us go on-line.  Really, glasses are ridiculously expensive and there are 5 of us in glasses now.

Because of the cost, both my husband and I have gone without replacing our glasses or getting an exam for a couple of years.  At our age though, we really need to be getting checked yearly.

It is the cost of the glasses that keeps us at bay.

So, we have new insurance that covers frames and lenses - first for us, so we made our merry way to the eye doctor and settled in for some new frames.

This was -L's first time to get a prescription for glasses, so a big deal.

We sat down and I asked for benefits first.  $120 off frames, and 20% on lenses.  Total for ONE pair of glasses including exam - $410.  The lowest level of frames was $225, so not horrible with the insurance, but the rest of the cost were the lenses!

OMG!!!!!!

Very uncomfortably, I asked for the prescriptions and got their eye measurements.  All while having to listen to the high pressure sales tactics.

Needless to say, we are going on-line for glasses.  Not sure exactly how we will do that for our daughter's since she does not have glasses we can measure for ear distance, etc.  We may go to Wally World and have her try on some and then take the measurements.

I am not trying to cut corners on their glasses, but I cannot pay that much either!  For all five of us, it would be about $2,000 per year.  Killer!

On-line, all five of us can get glasses plus sunglasses for around $750 per year.  HUGE difference.