Thursday, May 17, 2018

Update.....Another Funky Mood Edition (Lengthy Post)

Remember me? If you don't,  I can't say I very much blame you since I have been so MIA lately.

I had such high hopes for May but a LOT has gone off the rails....

I haven't been spending a ton of extra money or anything like that.
Actually I haven't been doing a whole lot of anything but sleeping and sitting around...
As much as I have tried my best to fight it, I am super depressed...
Like I am making an appointment with my primary doctor for a physical and for a referral to a therapist kind of depressed.  I think know my meds (originally prescribed by my neurologist) are way too low a dosage - it hasn't been changed in the ten years that I have been on it.
I just haven't been interested in doing much at all.
I'll get through it.
I'm okay and not suicidal or anything of that sort so no worries.
I'm just not sure how much blogging I will be doing while I'm dealing with this little mountain I have to climb.  (Then again who knows?  Maybe I'll start writing MORE - I doubt it but you never know right?)

Moving on, let me get you guys update on stuff around here....

1.  My brother is an idiot - as I have established in the past.  He spoke with my parents recently and told them he was buying a house with the estranged wife, Princess!  Well, not *exactly* with her as she won't be on the deed. ((insert eyeroll, please!))  They aren't even getting along but they are adding a house to the mix?!?!  (A three bedroom, 2 and 1/2 bath house for the TWO of them I might add)  I really think she is setting him (and herself) up for the future.  I may be mistaken, but, isn't everything acquired during the years a couple is married up for grabs during the divorce?  Whatever.  In the end, it's his problem and he deserves what he gets.  Harsh but so true.
He did tell my parents he wants to work on "fixing" his relationship with them.....
AFTER he asked them to help buy out his remaining lease for the condo they are living in!
My parents have helped (and continue to help) us so I don't begrudge them helping my brother at all.  I'm just angry that he asked for anything since he has treated them like such garbage lately.
I understand my parents position a little bit though....I don't know if I could cut off one of my girls you know?

2.  Mother's Day was pretty chill - the way I wanted it!  My parents were in Canada for a few days so I dropped off a tray of cherry bars for my mom as a surprise when she returned on Monday morning.  We also went and visited my mother in law  - which ended up being a quiet visit, which is rare since it's always a madhouse there.
Although not on Mother's Day, G1 did something that made me cry (and Papa admitted he almost did too!)  Back at the beginning of last week, I was looking at Erin Condren planners on my computer...I have wanted one of these for a LONG time but didn't want to pay the price for one. I was browsing again just because I was thinking maybe I would get one after we heard about how much Papa's car would cost (more on that in a second).  G1 saw what I was doing and asked about it - I stayed very vague because I didn't want to make a big deal about it.  Later that evening, while we were walking the dog, G1 hijacked my computer and bought me the planner!  But, she also added extra stuff to it and express shipping so I would get it by Mother's Day!  I guess she asked Papa at some point if he was buying one for me and, when he said no, she told him good because she did.  I didn't know anything until last Friday morning when she texted me from her boyfriend's house to say she was expecting a package that day and I could go ahead and open it to see what it was. (I was clueless still because she is always ordering stuff online for herself)  We happened to be on the phone when FedEx came and I knew immediately what it was when I saw the distinctive Erin Condren box - nicest surprise I have received in a very long time and a much needed one!  When I told her she should have saved her money, she said "But Mom, you have done so many things for me in the past.  I wanted to do this for you."  More than the present itself, that meant so much to me. 
Admittedly, I can't wait to start using that thing in July!  LOL

3.  Papa's car is still at the freaking mechanics - tomorrow will mark TWO weeks!  The warranty people are dragging their feet and haven't been much help.  Finally yesterday they told the mechanic they want the entire engine stripped down to "see" what is wrong with it and, in the meantime, they will begin to search for another compatible engine.  The mechanic said it will take three to four hours to completely disassemble the engine and it's unclear who is paying the labor for doing it - Papa has to call the mechanic back later this morning to see what the warranty people say, but, we decided that if we have to do it, we will pay for the dismantling.  We just need to get this moving, you know?  Of course, there is always the chance that, after the engine is apart, the warranty people will deny the claim completely.  At this point, I feel like it can go either way.  Papa said he is hoping that the claim will be approved and we will *only* be out around 1K....but I'm very doubtful that we will be that lucky.

4.  We had a wicked storm here on Tuesday - seriously the scariest thing I have witnessed ever!  A tornado touched base in the northern (and adjoining) part of the town next to us so, while we weren't in the actually tornado, we definitely felt some of the force.  I was in my car trying to get home when the storm hit.  I was about 1/2 mile away and it was the absolute worst drive I have ever done!  I saw a transformer blow and catch fire, trees topple over, the rain was coming down sideways, and debris was pelting my car!  We lost power but no more trees came down in our yard, thankfully.
I feel very lucky, to be honest.

So, that's mostly what has been happening around here.

Sorry if there are any typos above as I am writing on the fly at the moment.

No matter what happens, I will try to update this blog as I am able and I will most definitely keep up reading everyone's blogs - and will comment when I can too!

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Day Book for May 9th, 2018

Outside my window....
The sun is shining and there are still quite a few kids walking home from school.  Lots of cars are driving past as well.

What I am hearing...
A neighbor behind us must be using some hedge clippers or doing some kind of yardwork, the dog is sacked out on the floor in the living room snoring, G2 and her boyfriend are watching YouTube and laughing their heads off.

What I am wearing...
Gray shorts, black T-shirt, bare feet right now.

What I am reading...
I'm still reading the book Wool...It's really quite good.  And, I found out that is part of a series so I will check the library to see if they have the next two books.  If not, I may consider buying all three books with my Barnes & Noble gift card.

What's annoying me...
I still can't figure out what the deal is with commenting on my own blog!  Right now, I have to go through the entire process of writing in my name/URL and proving that I'm not a robot!  Do you all have to do that to comment on my blog?  I'm wondering if I can somehow remove that so it makes it easier on everyone - especially me!  Haha!

What's making me proud...
G1 got her driver's license on Tuesday!  It was a long time coming but she did it on the first try!  She was super nervous but, thankfully, the instructor saw through that.  I told her that I wasn't comfortable letting her drive all the way to her boyfriend's house yet - For anyone in Connecticut, it involves driving on I-84 through Waterbury and the "Mix Master" so it's a pretty tricky and congested area.  I want her to continue to work on her highway skills first and she seemed to agree with it so it's all good. 
I was SO worried about calling to add her to our insurance policy but I was pleasantly surprised....Our rate "only" went up $103/month!  I am guessing I can thank having two older cars and the fact that she is 19 for the slight change in premiums.  Trust me, I had seen in our community forum on Facebook that some people were being charged an extra $500 PLUS/month so what we are paying is very slight in comparison!

Thoughts on the next stage of my life...
While I wouldn't say that I am having a midlife crisis, I will admit that I am struggling with this next life stage.  The Guppies don't need me as much as they used to and I don't know where to go after being "just Mom" for almost two decades.
Papa is trying to get me excited for what lies ahead and, I'm really trying to do it.  But, I just don't know what I want to do now.  I love writing but I don't feel it's very productive and feel guilty about sitting and "just writing".
I haven't completely honed in on anything yet but I do know that I love helping animals/people.  To volunteer at an animal shelter would most likely be too much for me to handle - and Papa isn't prepared to live on a farm, which is what I would make our house by bringing home ALL the animals from the shelter!  HAHA!
So, I'm toying with the idea of seeing what kind of volunteer opportunities are available at the hospital where Papa works and/or the nursing home about one mile away from me.  Maybe if I feel like I am contributing to the great good I won't feel as guilty spending time on my writing.  As a bonus, if I can get some volunteer time at the hospital, maybe it would help me get a foot in the door for some sort of per diem job there as well.
Anyway, those are the ideas I am currently batting around my head.

Family Update....
My brother showed up to my parents' house earlier this week with Princess (who stayed in the car).  He brought my mom a card and some flowers for an early Mother's Day gift since he won't be around this weekend - and neither will she.  (She and my dad are travelling to Canada this weekend because, you know they are invalids and all. ***insert eyeroll***)  My mom said he was fairly nice to them...maybe because of Mother's Day?  Maybe a change of heart?  I hope it's the latter but I don't trust it for a second.
I will continue to keep an eye out for them.

Plans this coming weekend...
Have greatly changed due to Papa's car situation.  We were going to drive to Vermont for the day on Saturday but that has been nixed.  We could take my car but we both decided it's not a great idea to continue to beat on it as we approach 300k miles! 
Saturday is also Papa's brother's birthday...the first one without him.  It's going to be a hard day for Papa and even a harder one for my mother in law. We are supposed to visit her on Sunday for a bit but I am wondering if we will end up going on Saturday too/instead.
Sunday night G2, Papa, and I will probably go out to eat - possibly Plan B Burger Bar.  And, I would definitely like to poke around a bookstore if possible at some point this weekend.  I like to think I am a pretty easy person to please - =)

Speaking of Papa's car....
There's still no word on it as I write this.  We have been by the mechanic's a couple of times and it has definitely been moved.  They were swamped though so we aren't sure if it's been diagnosed yet.  Papa has been waiting on calling them because, in a way, he doesn't want to rush the job.  Our "extra" check this month comes in next week so he was hoping to put it off until around then.  It would SUCK if we had to use most/all of that check to pay for the repair but we will do what we have to do I guess.  Maybe it won't be *that* bad but we certainly aren't counting on that.

And with that, I am off!

Hope everyone is having a great week!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Spending Journal May 1st - May 5th

I'm really excited for a new month!  Especially a three paycheck one at that!

Here are my goals for this first week of May....
1.  Spend no more than $200 on "discretionary items - gas and food are included in this.
2.  Have at least one No Spend Days.
3.  No eating out!

May 1st:  $0
Guppy 1 and I went to Stop and Shop - but ONLY to use their CoinStar machine!  While we could count the paper money in the kitty, we wanted to exactly how much change we had as well.  As of today, we have $77.01 saved for our summer adventure - not nearly enough yet.  But it's a start.  AND I am super proud of myself for not going anywhere else in the store!  I reminded myself we have plenty of food choices left at home for everyone so there was no reason to go snooping around in the aisles.  LOL

Very happy to have been able to start the month off strong with a No Spend Day!

May 2nd:  $90.03
One of my headlights went out and, since Papa will pick up a replacement on the way home from work tonight, I declared today a "Spend" day....As in try to get all my errands/spending done today!

Guppy 2 has a sweet 16 party on Friday night and a confirmation party on Sunday night so I needed to purchase cards/gifts.  My first stop was Dollar Tree where I spent $5.85 on cards, a present bag, tissue paper, etc.  Next stop was virtually across the street to CVS.  I had $7 in ECBs so those went towards bath bombs and face masks for the birthday girl's gift.  I decided that the confirmation girl (who I know and like very much) would get a $30 Visa gift card.  All in all, I spent $48.70 which I don't think is *too* bad for gifts for two parties.

Then I ran over to Big Y to grab my dad a Lyman's Orchards apple pie and some vanilla ice cream. ($13.98 total) Then I drove over to visit him to see how he was feeling today after the trip to the emergency room yesterday.

I was so determined to stay out of the grocery stores this week!  But, alas, I had a blip already!  G2 is having her new boyfriend over today and I thought it would be nice to bake some cupcakes.  Well, the cupcakes stuck weirdly to the pan (I couldn't find my liners so I used nonstick spray).  I really didn't want to waste the cake so I tore it up to make a trifle...and then I saw I was out of Cool Whip in my freezer.  So...I went back to Big Y and ONLY bought the Cool Whip and a package of 18 eggs since we were down to a lonely one in the fridge.  Out of pocket:  $4.49

Replacement headlight:  $17.01
Gifts (including pie for my Dad):  $68.53
Groceries:  $4.49

May 3rd:  $11.74
We jumped from Winter straight to Summer recently and I wasn't prepared!  It was wicked hot today (we went over 90 degrees) and the house was even worse!  (Our central A/C isn't working properly and we haven't put any of our wall units in yet.)  I ended up feeling super sick - heat and MS are a bad combination!  And,  I definitely didn't want to crank up the oven as originally planned so....I ended up at the grocery store again.  I'm disappointed in a way but I keep trying to remind myself that what I bought -the fixings for BLT's and some ice cream - was a LOT cheaper than if we did takeout.  Also, it seems like the cash method seems to be working well since I was much more aware of what I was spending so that's a "win" too!

Groceries:  $11.74

May 4th:  $26.27
Today was NOT a good day by any stretch of the imagination!  This morning, Papa's car broke down AGAIN but this time it may be *really* bad - like the engine is blown bad.  I held it together (the best I could), met him where the car broke down and waited for the tow, then drove him to his off site meeting (45 minutes each way from home).  Thankfully, he was able to get a ride back to the office so, when I get him at the end of the day, it won't be *quite* as long a drive.  We are still waiting to hear from the mechanic but, I swear, I am taking a restraining order out on Murphy!  From all the extra driving this morning, I had to get some gas AND my car needed oil too.

Gas:  $20.01

Oil for car:  $6,26 (2 quarts)

May 5th  $0
Sadly, we decided to skip the Farmer's Market today.  Papa has another yogurt for breakfast for the upcoming week and we aren't out of milk yet.  While I love going to the market, supporting the farmers, buying super fresh stuff, etc, we are still in a holding pattern waiting to hear about Papa's car.
That's not to say we didn't keep busy today though!
G1 drove us to my parents' house (to practice driving) and we put two of their three air conditioner units in - the last one has to wait until the paint/finish the new windows in their bedroom.  Before we left, my mom offered to let us borrow their truck for the week so Papa could get back and forth to work while we wait to hear about his car - totally unexpected and appreciated!
While Papa mowed the lawn and G2 was at her boyfriend's house, G1 and I went for a hike up the street from us.  It was really nice to have that time with her alone since she is usually not around on the weekend or with Ramsey.  We spent most of the hike talking about our summer adventure - although still no firm plans at the moment.
And, finally, G2 went to another friend's house for the evening so Papa, G1, and I binged watched the first half of the second season of Stranger Things on Netflix.
All in all, a nice No Spend Day!

Total spent this week:  $128.04

I'm pretty happy with this number!  Obviously, what helped keep me in check was that we didn't have to fill up the cars....Mine will need to be filled up tomorrow though.

And, hey, I made all my goals too!  Woo Hoo!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

May Groceries: Week 1

I had *hoped* to not go into a grocery store to do any grocery shopping this week...

Sadly that's not completely the case...

But, I think I still did great!

As a reminder, I allocated $500 for May's groceries.  We are a household of four (my husband, me, and two teenager daughters) - plus we usually have a revolving door of the girls' friends/boyfriends to feed too!  LOL 
And, this month, I decided to implement the "envelope" method, coupled with giving myself only $100/week to spend - rolling over any leftover money to the next week.

Big Y:  $4.49
I was determined to stay out of the grocery stores!  Until Wednesday happened...LOL  I went to make chocolate cupcakes with the mix I had in the pantry and well, they stuck to the freaking pans!  (And reminded me exactly WHY liners work better for me than plain old nonstick spray!)  Anyway, I didn't want to "waste" the baked cake so I tore it up into chunks to make trifle....only to discover I was completely out of Cool Whip/heavy cream and the like! 
Oh, and while I was making the above mess cupcakes, I noticed we were down to four eggs (one after I made the batter!).

1 18 count store brand eggs - $2.99
1 store brand container of "Cool Whip" - $1.50

Big Y:  $11.74
1/2 lb American Cheese - $2.95
1 (1/2) gallon chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream - $1.97
1 loaf of clearance store brand bread - .$0.34
1 lb store brand bacon - $4.99
1 large head of iceberg lettuce - $1.49

Farmer's Market:  $0
I may need to lower my grocery budget to help pay for another repair to Papa's car - this one may be a HUGE expense as it possibly involves the engine.  Since we are still waiting to hear from the mechanic (car was just towed there yesterday) AND we have yogurt for Papa's breakfast next week (one of our main reasons for going to the market this early in the season), we decided to stay home today.  Even though I love going to the market, browsing all the fresh produce/products, and helping out local farms, I need to keep my spending in SUPER check at the moment if I am going to be able to even come close to my May financial goals.

Total money spent this week:  $16.23
Leftover to (possibly) roll into next week:  $$83*
*all coins/change are still being put into the summer adventure jar at home

Even though it's still early on Saturday morning, I am confident I won't be heading to the store today.  The temperature is supposed to be MUCH more tolerable and I already pulled out everything I need to make a chicken stir fry for dinner tonight.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Friday, May 4, 2018

Cutting Expenditures

I have been trying to examine our budget and see where I can (semi-painlessly) cut to help our bottom line.

This week,  I was able to find two items!

First off, I discontinued my online subscription to the Weight Watchers plan/app.  Last fall, I was doing awesome and then back in early December, they changed up the whole plan.  I know it has worked well for some, but it's just not working for me anymore.  I have been struggling to follow it and have consistently found myself frustrated.  It's a MUCH better idea to try to go back to watching what I eat/smaller portions and continuing with only my awesome (free!) Fitbit! 
Money saved per month:  $19.99
Money saved per year:  $239.88!

Secondly, I FINALLY went through with it and cut the house (land line) phone!  It was hardly ever even plugged into the wall and, when it was, it didn't work half the time!  (I'm not sure if it is a problem inside or outside the house but I know I wasn't going to pay to find out!)  I'm not going to even pretend that it wasn't difficult to do....I'm too sentimental for my own good since, at first, all I could think about was how it was the first phone number the Guppies ever learned/memorized.  Then I did the numbers....
Money saved per month:  $29.10 (barest of bones plan too!)
Money saved per year:  $349.20!!
Too much money to waste on nostalgia!  (Especially when the phone isn't ever used to boot!)

Every little bit helps!

Especially over time!

Have a great Friday everyone!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Quick Parental Update.....

*First off, sorry I haven't been able to respond to comments as of late.  G2 used my computer for something school related and now I keep getting notices that I am *unauthorized* to comment on my own blog because it keeps kicking back to her accounts!  I am going to have her sign herself out of whatever she was on later today!

My brother has seen my parents (I think) maybe twice since vacation.  He remained pouty and as my mom put it "cold".  His wife, Princess, has not been around at all - besides during vacation when she went to my parents house and took almost all her crap out of storage in their basement. 

While having their conversation when he was there, interestingly enough, my brother didn't deny that it was Princess pretending to be him talking to my mom via Facebook messenger as we suspected (discussed in previous post about my parents).  He also told my parents he and his wife were still "technically" married - whatever that means, he wouldn't elaborate. 

Oh, and he hasn't been staying at my parents house at all.  My dad has seen his vehicle at our local firehouse (where my brother volunteers) so there is a possibility he has been staying there.

Whatever.  It's his mess/life.  My concern is my parents.

Which brings me to what happened on Tuesday....

I called my mom as I usually do in the morning and she told me she was bringing my dad to the hospital!  He was having difficulty/pain walking/moving his legs.
How sad was it that the first thing out of my mouth was NOT to call/tell my brother?!?!
I offered to come down and help her get him in the car but she said she thought they could manage.
The local ambulance station is volunteer and shares a large building with the firehouse so....of course everyone there knows my brother and parents, especially since my dad is a retired fireman too.  It's a pretty small town.  Calling an ambulance was out of the question if they wanted to keep it from my brother.
Anyway, after a series of X-rays and an ultrasound came back clean, they determined the pain/issue was radiating from his back.  The doctors figured he pulled muscles in his back on Monday....when he was digging a drainage system in the backyard!  (Yeah, you read that right!  My "invalid" father was digging ditches.  LOL)  Since my parents have had a LOT of work done on their house recently, my dad was trying to find a way to eliminate the water that will sometimes creeps into their (unfinished) basement when it rains.  The doctors sent him home with pain prescriptions and he is (hopefully) going to rest and let his back heal. 
Papa has offered to go to their house and finish the digging.  (I truly married a great guy!)

That's where everything stands at the moment.

I know my brother has really hurt my parents feelings and yet I also think they would like nothing more than to be able to help him out and come to an agreement about selling the house to him. My dad had made a comment about something to that effect on Sunday when we saw them.  I mean, in a way, I get it.  No matter what, my parents want to see my brother settled and as happy as he can be.  But, it's not their fault he has transformed into such an asshole and made a mess of his life.  I honestly do NOT care what happens to the house....AFTER my parents are gone.  Until then I want to see them stay there as long as THEY decide.

Oh well... I guess the saga continues...

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

A Different Approach...

I have had only on and off success (mostly off at that ) with the way I handle my grocery budget....

 I think it's time to shake things up and try something new!

For the month of May, I have allocated $500 for groceries - including paper/cleaning products and health and beauty.  My "usual" routine would be to leave that money in the bank and continue to "deduct" what I spent by tracking it on my blog.  I'll be the first to admit it has been a loosey-goosey kind of thing that led to frequently going over my allocated amount because the funds were available in the bank....which is what concerns me for this month.  There will be extra money coming in BUT there are things I need/want to do with it.


I'm incorporating both the envelope system AND the rollover system! 

First, let's take my monthly budget and divide by how many weeks there are in May.  500 divided by 5 = $100/week.

For the envelope aspect, I am taking the full $500 out at this week and leaving it in one envelope.  I plan on moving $100 into another envelope to buy groceries for the current week.

As for the rollover part, I plan on adding anything left from the previous week to the new week's amount.  For example, if one week I only spend $50, I would "roll over" the remaining $50 and add it to the next week's budget - leaving me with $150 to spend.  *I should mention that I do NOT plan on rolling over any change.  Coins will be going straight into my summer adventure kitty to help that grow!
And, if by some miracle, I have *any* money left at the end of the month, I will decide then what to do with it.  My options are to roll it towards June's grocery budget, put it towards the credit card debt, or just plain old save it.  Right now, I am thinking one of the latter two options will serve me best but we will see if I even have to make a decision!  LOL

While it's a bit more complicated than swiping my debit card, I am hoping it will also keep me more aware of purchases AND in overall better check!