Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Reeling in spending for good

I love frugal blogs. It is inspiring to me that someone can turn a pair of pants into a skirt. (I thought about trying this and remembered I couldn't sew. ) I do read a handful of them and have got many great tips from them. My love of cooking probably got me reading one, then you click on another and bam you are a frugal blog reader. Frugal bloggers don't eat out much. Or they use a coupon.  This is not a frugal blog because one of our biggest downfalls that I have discussed before is take-out and eating out in general. Grabbing this, stopping for that. I am the coffee getter.  I probably drop $20-$25 a month of coffee.  It doesn't seem like much, but it adds up. Also we have never really planned for miscellaneous expenses like gifts, holiday expenses, new appliances etc. We don't account for spending. Finally the reason this is not a frugal blog is because we are not surviving on $40,000 for a family of six like many blogs out there. Our income, at this point in life, is good. Oh yeah, and we aren't that frugal.

I have seen readers destroy people who make a decent amount of money and have debt by saying that they aren't spending it well. I try to be nonjudgmental. Everyone has story, and it is hard to know another person's without walking in their shoes. I really admire frugality and hope to find some.

The other day I went to do my bills and started as I have been starting by paying what I put on my credit card before I got paid. Yes, I did not have enough money to get to the next check.  Yikes! It has been that way for some time.  Also, I had a balance on that card from the month before. I stopped. I transferred that balance to 0% interest card so that card would be empty for good. Then I opened the drawer, took out the scissors, and snipped that card up. I knew in my heart it was the only way to prevent me from using it.

As a disclaimer our house is not decked out in top of the line Crate and Barrel furniture. We don't have i Phones or tons of expensive technology. We have been milking the same broken lap top for some time and I do shop grocery sales.

However we just completed a renovation this past fall, in which we borrowed almost all the money. Yes, frugal blog writers would never borrow money to renovate their house. I know this. But we spent ten years in a very small house and it got crowded, and I am inpatient, and it is too late now.  It is not some giant colonial. It is still a modest cape style home, but it is cute, not so crowded, and we are staying here for good.  Our choice to borrow a variety of loans for the renovation was the choice we made, and we are okay with that. However, our spending was not in line with us being able to pay back those loans and live without using more credit.  We do have enough money coming in to pay our bills and other expenses if we are careful and really account for all of our spending. Also, we have committed for a number of years to these loans. As they start to end we will feel the relief, but our new "frugal" life style really has to be a life style change.

This really means no eating out.  No eating out. No eating out. This also means shopping as carefully as I can while I have the time. I do have the time in the summer to do this, but it is hard.  It is amazing how quickly food costs add up.  I wrote a menu plan on last Thursday that we have stuck to for five days.  It feels good to stick to that. We also still have small college accounts we are contributing to each month. I am also saving each month, which we continued to do. Also, no random nail appointments. I don't get those things done regularly, however, I do those things occasionally. Done with that.  I am still wrestling with my hair. It is highlighted, and I know I can't maintain that without a salon. Still mulling that one over. The fact that I am even thinking about my hair just shows you how frugal I am not.  It just looks so much better lighter than darker, and my weight is not where I want it to be, and yes I am a bit vain sometimes. 

So our no eating out commitment feels good. We concur that it will help us on our quest to pay our bills off without incurring more debt. I will keep reading those frugal blogs because they have great ideas and maybe some day I can make a skirt out of a pair of pants.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

When Your Heart Hurts

Life is very complicated right now because my father is not well. It is surreal, and lousy, and mind numbing, but it is true. Also, without the whirlwind of school to run my day it is hard to avoid thinking about. Not that I hadn't been thinking about it. It is always there, but now there is nothing else that is looming over me so I just think about Dad, and Mom, and my sister and how bad things happen to good people and there's not a damn thing you can do about it. My father was already dealing with some memory issues, but since the stroke there are much greater moments of confusion, combined with the difficulties a stroke can bring. He is in a wheelchair, and though he can stand, he can not walk independently.

It is sad to see him a situation like this and hard to see the toll it takes on everyone. Both my sister and I worry about my mother and how it is impacting her.  She has dealt with a lot of illness and loss during the past eight years; this is a lousy addition to it all. It is frustrating too how others deal or don't deal with it.  He has been at various facilities for over eight weeks. It is interesting to see who visits and who can't.

One of the challenges of all this is talking to my kids about it.  They are only eight and six. My eight year old knows a bit more. I explained what a stroke does and how we don't know the outcome. They know he isn't home, and that he looks different. I can't say much more about it to them. They are already hesitant when they see him. It is unsettling for them. I don't think he notices their hesitation, but my mother does and it makes her feel terrible. My daughter knows she can ask me questions if she has any. I worry about what they may be thinking.

So now my heart hurts for my family, my parents, and my kids, my sister and both our husbands who are helping us deal with the situation. My own husband has already experienced the loss of both parents. He is quite supportive and feels bad that my parents are experiencing this situation at much younger ages than they should.

I pray that we find a way to make it through, and that my father's condition improves. That is all I can do right now.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Behaving Poorly

Yes, I did this. I behaved poorly today. And for this I feel bad. Really really bad. One reason I feel bad is that my children were witness to it.  I did tell them later that I was upset and I should have been calmer. Another reason I feel bad is that a stranger that knows nothing about me probably thinks I am a jerk.  Finally, instead of enjoying this gorgeous June day I am feeling guilty.

It's the last day of school for the kids. Their normal routine is to go to an after school program, however, today they were to come home on the bus. This year they were at separate schools, but in the fall it will be the same school. The bus that picks up my little one goes to the elementary school. That is where some shuffling of kids takes place and everyone goes home. Somewhere, somehow there was no shuffling. As my daughter got off the bus, I realized my son was not on it and my phone started ringing telling me to pick him up at the elementary school where he was waiting for me. I was pretty unhappy. By the time I arrived I greeted the bus aide who now hates me with "I am really upset. How did this happen?" She responded in a fairly defensive way, but I did put her there. She relieved herself of any wrong doing saying that she did not know what his plan was. But I did send the paper back.   I tried to say in my heightened and frustrated voice that I was not blaming her, but I think my initial approach put her on a defense that I could not change.  Overall it was not a great conversation, and probably a moment in time I will always wish I could fix, but I can't. I did speak with the principal to share my frustration with the issue. I also mentioned in talking with the aide that I was quite upset.  It is upsetting when your child does not get off the bus.  However, I could have handled it better.  If I had approached in a calm manner and asked what happened it may have changed the scenario. But I did not, and I can't go back.  All I can do is try to do better next time. That is all we can ever do.  So to the person who I was unpleasant to. I am sorry that I behaved that way.  I was just upset about my child.