Friday, July 29, 2011

Payday!

Finally! And since the July bills have been paid, I'm actually starting a new month here. I am so done with June and July. August has to be better. Not that I won't be down to counting pennies to pay the minimums, but I'm hoping to get back on the no-new-debt bandwagon. My only consolation is that the added debt was not for "extras" or because we did too much frivolous spending. It was the result of life and of not having an adequate EF.

Paid our annual vehicle tax bills today. And tallied our July grocery spending. We came in at $472.25 - that's $27.75 under my monthly goal! The goal that seemed absolutely impossible a year ago. ... Now if I could figure out how to deal with the crazy gas prices.

Best of all, I've added to the EF! On to a new month!

Sarah

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

And the balance is ....

27 cents. That's how much is in the checking account right now. Payday is Friday, so there can be no spending of any sort tomorrow. None. The bright side of this news is that there is 27 cents. It's not a negative balance. I don't need anything crucial that can't wait until Friday. We're out of apples and bananas, but my gang will have to get over it. They can eat what we have and be happy that there is still enough in the pantry and freezer to keep them well fed. I'm under budget on groceries for July, even though I'm way over budget in other areas since Murphy decided to vacation here.

August is just around the corner. And with it will be a fresh start. I'm ready.

Sarah

Monday, July 25, 2011

Homespun fun

We celebrated DD's 23rd birthday this weekend. She requested a favorite meal and we had homemade cake and homemade ice cream. For entertainment, we watched old home movies and played board games. It was perfect.

There have been birthdays when we have gone out for expensive dinners and not had nearly as much fun. Yet another reminder to me that money can't buy happiness. And going further into debt to pay for it is so not worth it.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful Monday!

Sarah

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Another annoying expense

Hot on the heels of a new hot water heater, I had to begrudgingly shell out some more money today - though not nearly as much as yesterday.

DS will be a high school senior this year and with that comes senior pictures. Having been through this twice already, I know I will have his taken by a family friend who is a professional photographer. The pictures turn out great and we get a huge discount. But in order for DS to appear in the yearbook, he has to have a picture taken in a tux at a local studio. But not just any studio. It's the studio that is doing the pictures for nearly every high school in five counties. And it's a zoo.

They sent us the slick brochure some time back offering several "packages." Basically, the package is the number of outfits and poses you decide you want and the corresponding sitting fee. I called the studio, saying I only wanted to have his yearbook photo taken. That's fine, she says. And it will be $25. That's to sit, not to get an actual photo to take home.

I realize the studio has to make money, but it annoys the heck out of me that I don't have a choice. (I did check in to this. The school only allows senior photos sent from this business. I'm not sure, but I think that's called a racket.)

Adding to the fun is the fact that it is a mere 102 degrees here today. And there was barely enough room for me to turn around in that place, much less a very large wheelchair.

Fun, fun. Let senior year begin....

Sarah

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

So much for no new debt ...

After trying various fixes, it has been determined that the hot water heater is kaput. Well, that's not entirely true. It could be fixed, but the cost of the repair would be nearly as much as a new one.

So today we will have a new one installed. And it is at this point that I am so frustrated that I haven't been able to rebuild our emergency fund after draining it for a medical expense earlier this year. If I had that $1,000 in the EF, I could write a check for the stupid water heater and be done with it.

But I don't. And so I am having to pull out a credit card. I have to tell you, it's killing me. It means I won't be making any progress this month and it will feel like I'm going backward.

Could I have made different decisions in the past six months that would have enabled me to add more to the EF? Maybe. Probably. But the fact remains that we currently live paycheck to paycheck and any time there's an extra dollar there seems to be an extra bill that eats it immediately. No excuses, it just is what it is.

Tomorrow is a new day. And with any luck I will have had a hot shower.

Sarah

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I hate our hot water heater

I took a cold shower this morning - not on purpose. And then I checked the water heater. Pilot light out. I followed the instructions to re-light it. Nada.

I do not have a good relationship with this water heater. We bought it in 2003 and have poured a couple hundred dollars in repairs into it since. I just called the repair service I use because they're honest, priced fairly and quick. They no longer deal with hot water heaters, I was told. Too time-consuming. I hate the thought of calling someone I don't know anything about. I hate the thought of what this might cost.

I would love nothing more than to ditch this monster and have a tankless unit installed. But I can't afford it. One of the many, many reasons I hate being in debt.

Sarah

Monday, July 18, 2011

Stuffed

I spent the weekend helping my sister (not Jenny - our other sister) move. Her marriage has ended and because her ex is not providing child support, she had to sell the house and move to an apartment with her two children.

I realized while unpacking boxes that she has been medicating herself for quite awhile with "stuff." I had already put sheets on the three beds when I went to tackle the linen closet. I folded 31 pillowcases. Thirty-one. There were enough towels to open a small boutique. And I do believe her kitchen tools could outfit several kitchens. When I asked her what a particular item was and she couldn't tell me, I knew there was a problem. We talked a bit and she agreed to start a box for things that were really not necessary. A friend of hers is having a yard sale next weekend and she will send it there.

The result of my being surrounded by so much stuff, was that I came home in a mood to purge. After 25+ years of marriage, we do have a lot, but clutter makes me crazy (I have some OCD tendencies), so it's not out of control. But every time I decide to clear out, I find plenty that needs to go. Today was no exception. I cleaned out some shelves and organized some things. And as always, it made me feel better.

Why is it that we have so much stuff? Life would be so much simpler if we stuck to what we need and what we love.

Sarah

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Summer fun

The trip to Zaxby's was a success yesterday - and DH was thrilled with the repeat offer. The only downer was when I had to yell at an incredibly rude woman who parked in the striped area of the handicapped spot. When I pointed out to her that it was not a parking spot and that her car prevented my getting my son's wheelchair in and out of my van, all she had to say was "There weren't any other parking spots." This didn't go over very well with me and I am sorry to say I let loose on her.

It was over 100 degrees for the third day in a row, so we stayed inside with the drapes drawn. Dinner was salad, fruit and leftovers.

A perfectly fine summer day.

Sarah

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I fell for the spiel

Since coming home from Florida, I've stayed home - a lot. I'm fine with this. I can find plenty to do at home and am thrilled to be out of the car since I spend so much time there during the school year. My son has been really great about it. He is physically disabled and limited in what he can do, so I know there is the potential for great boredom. But he's busied himself reading and writing and catching up on movies. He loves to swim and we have free access to a pool in my mom's community, but I can't lift him in and out so that's a weekend activity when DH is home.

So I was feeling a little guilty (not much, just enough ...) yesterday when I got an email from Zaxby's that today is repeat day at our local restaurant. I had no idea what that was, so I kept reading. Seems if we go eat there today, we can take our receipt back next week and get the exact same meal(s) for free. I know it's a BOGO in reality, but I admit that they hooked me. We're going to head over there for lunch and then I'm going to hand the receipt to the hubby and he and the boy can go for lunch after church on Sunday. A double win for me, since I don't have to cook then either!

In my ongoing attempt to rationalize any purchase, I reasoned that the price of a fast-food meal was more than offset by the gas I haven't bought by staying home. Sometimes you just have to live a little, right? OK, so doing that is part of what got me into this mess, but baby steps. Baby steps.

Sarah

Friday, July 8, 2011

We hit the magic number!

I bit the bullet and added up the debts to see where we currently stand. This is a particularly rough period for our finances and I'm not kidding when I say I held my breath as I pushed the total button. There's been some robbing Peter to pay Paul recently so all the money I've been sending out hasn't added up in the grand scheme. But the good news outweighs the bad news ... We've paid down $10,122.63 this year!! I expect the second half of the year to be as hard as or harder than the first half, but this gives me added motivation to stick with it and not give up.

I can't thank all of you enough. It's amazing how much it helps to see the numbers going down in black and white and to have the encouragement of friends who know what it's like to be in this place. Together, think what we can do by this time next year!

Sarah

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Excited to have $8.97

Well, not really. What I'm excited about is that the bank and I both agree that I have $8.97 in the checking account. When my head was in the sand, I would sometimes be off by $30 or more ... which translated to twice that once I got hit with overdraft fees for not knowing how much I had available.

So even though the balance has not gone up, at least I'm paying attention. That's half the battle. And tomorrow is payday. That's the better half.

Sarah

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Summertime and the living is easy

It's been a quiet week. After a very busy month, I've insisted on staying home most of the time. The upside to this is that I have not put gas in the car since we got home from Florida more than a week ago! Good thing, too, cause the checking account is down to the pennies.

It's raining outside and it is so nice to just sit indoors and enjoy the thunderstorm. I love summertime!

Sarah

Friday, July 1, 2011

A different kind of thank-you note

I collected the mail yesterday and as I was flipping through the junk, I spotted an ominous looking envelope. It was from Chase - I'd seen them before, and they have never been good. Usually a pay-up now or we send you to the big, bad collections snakes kind of letter. Thing is, I have all our Chase accounts in BLPs and I've been paying them as agreed. I mean, it's been hard to scrape together enough to meet those obligations, but I have done it. So I was a little worried about what I had missed and what that meant for our finances.

So I steeled myself for the worst and opened it. It was a thank-you letter. That's right, a thank you. Thanking me for taking the steps I had to set up a BLP and for abiding by the terms.

Think they were just a little worried that they were never going to get the massive amount of money we owe them??

What a relief. I so prefer thanks over threats. See, things really are improving!

Sarah