Financial troubles

My husband found out how much I have on one credit card. He. blew. a. fuse. Understandable. But he decided that we would separate our money. My paychecks from my part-time job would pay for groceries for me and dd (he refuses to eat American food and so gets food from his mommy’s house every week), pet supplies, gas for my car, and anything I buy for dd. I’ve agreed to not buy any books or homeschool stuff for right now. We’ll use his pay and the money from his parents to pay the bills.

So I went grocery shopping yesterday. Apparently, since I already have some canned food, I’m not ALLOWED to buy any more – even with “my own” money. The point of having a stock of food is to eat out of your stock if you cannot replace it, not to eat it all up when things are still acceptable. To me, that’s the whole point of having a stockpile. To have extra available for when it’s truly needed. I spent the rest of the evening in the basement just to not have to listen to his criticism. I’ve tried to get him to look at the news and I think I’ve pointed out to him things about the economy and the food situation in California, but I’m just the idjit wife. It doesn’t really matter what I say or think. It doesn’t matter who my sources are (Peter Schiff and Gerald Celente).

I pretty much hate him. He brought home an apartment locator mag “by accident” last night. I was looking through it hoping that I could find something that would even be close to my monthly pay. The regular apartments that take pets were all too high, even for a 1-bedroom. I think I need to try to get hold of a free attorney while my husband’s away on business next week so I can find out how everything would work out if we left. I hate being here when he’s home.

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I did it! No Goodwill shopping!

I didn’t go Goodwill shopping in February. I decided I’m going to wait until the last Sunday in March (clothes marked down 50%!) to get dd’s size 5 clothes done. My NS-DH complaining at me helped influence my decision a little. ;- )

I did go to Walmart yesterday for NS-DH’s business trip clothes and fishing stuff. I’m thinking/hoping to supplement the family’s menu with locally caught fish. I found out that our county stocks to county lakes with trout and you can take 2 per person per day. So, if I can get 4 each time we go (2 for me and 2 for dd) that should help. To that end I had to get a fishing license, bobs, a net, and a fishing rod for dd. I didn’t think I’d get many fish if dd was constantly telling me “I want to do it” with my one fishing pole, so I think it’s a necessary expense.

I started to pick up some of those activity books for $3.27 each, but I put them all back! I was so proud of myself. It might not seem like much but books for dd is a BIG problem area for me. Babysteps; one day at a time. Yeah,me!

Head-banging financial issues.

My issues are much more than financial. I think I need… I don’t know what! Help! I have this desperate drive to store food and supplements/medicines that is not funny, but it makes me feel so out of control.

So this is what I did on one day (ONE DAY!) last week:

1. First stop, the Farmer’s Co-op. Bought a 50 lb bag of rabbit feed for times when I can’t find veggies for them and a 50 lb bag of baking soda (save much money on your house cleaning, baking, bathing for the rest of your life!). Spent about $23.

2. On to the “apple store”. Close to the end of the season so I got 20 lb of yellow delicious apples for about $13. Running total: $36.

3. I joined Sam’s Club after checking it out. Luckily I could get a business membership for only $35 instead of $40. But then I went the first day and spent $200! On food, but still. Running total: $271.

4. Next stop: grocery store with a BOGO sale on Nature Made vitamins. Spent about $48, but saved a little over $20. Running total: $319.

5. Next stop was Rite-Aid because I could combine coupons and rebates. For example, they had a rebate on Sambucol for $3, I had a $4 coupon (get on their email list at www.sambucol.com), resulting in the price for the first one being $5.99 and $8.99 for the second one I bought. Got a little bit more there for a total of about $61. Running total: $380.

6. Local health food store (co-op) for lots of eggs, beef and buffalo jerky (trying out different flavors to see what we would like to get), and supplements (mostly anti-virals) for a total of (drum-roll) $224! Running total: $604. (Are you feeling faint yet?)

7. Thanks to all that’s holy the day is almost done. Costco is last with a measly total of about $35 – fresh fruit/veggies with a box of madeleines (no “fake” stuff: ingredients are butter, sugar, eggs, enriched flour, vanilla extract, salt). I don’t like to buy him cookies because I think it sets a bad example. Also, he snacks on them so they’re not kept as a desert or treat. DD then thinks of them as something to snack on when she’s at the computer. If I put them away when he’s not here, it’s not too bad – I can frequently redirect her. The problem is me remembering to put them away for sure he won’t. Anyway, back to business. Running total: $639.

So $640 in one day, plus the gas to drive around. Ask me how I know the accuraccy of the totals while I’m sitting here at the breakfast table. I don’t have the receipts with me; I went to my credit card’s website and looked them up! That’s right. Everything but Sam’s and Costco went to making my hole deeper. So I can pay 10% interest for a stocked pantry/medicine cabinet.

Was it worth it? I don’t know. I guess if you look at the world right now, just today, maybe not. If you are looking back on this post from 6 months in the future, who knows? I try to console myself that all of these things that I’m buying will be used. I just wish I had the actual cash to pay for them, as well as the self-control to “just say No!” when I don’t have the cash.

Oh, yeah. I also had to pay $21.20 in late fees to the library on Wednesday. They charge $1 per day(!) for DVDs and we had out 10. Tough way to be reminded to pay attention.

Sunday is the last Sunday of February and Goodwill has 50% off on clothes. I want to finish sizes 5 and 7 for DD (does size 7 usually fit pretty much like size 8 or only if the clothing is marked 7/8? Anybody?) and have to get some dress pants for NS-DH for his new business. Guess how I’ll be paying if we go over $40? It ain’t over yet!

This Sunday will be the next-to-last hurrah for the big spending. I have one more planned purchase that I’m trying to get done as soon as possible but the item keeps going out of stock. I hope to get that done within the next 2 weeks. Then I’ll be done. Stick-a-fork-in-me done. After that I’llbe trying to no-spend as much as possible.

Financial gains and pains.

Let’s see. February 2 I found 16 dozen organic eggs that had January 29 listed as their expiration dates. One dozen were broken but I got to use about 6 dozen before they finally went bad. Also, I didn’t think about it ahead of time, but I think the store (Food Lion) injected bleach into a couple of eggs in each dozen so I threw away the ones I had frozen. So we got mostly good eggs but just had to be careful and smell each one.

About 1.5 weeks later we found some organic yogurt they (Food Lion had thrown out) that had either just expired or, in the case of a large Stoneyfield tub, had a crack in the plastic lid. The Stonyfield tub had a month left on the expiration and, you guessed it, they injected bleach into it.

Bottom line – be very careful diving at Food Lion.

Still not getting many veggies at the cheap grocery store I always check and it’s been hit or miss at the co-op since so many other people take theirs. You have to show up pretty much about 10 minutes after they close usually to get anything.

Now for the really painful part. I thought we had saved enough money to pay our real estate taxes in cash. Nope. Not even close. We had an ING savings account I set up just for the taxes and had about 75% saved as of January. Between my NSDH getting suspended then demoted, and having to put my doggie to sleep, we had about 40% left over at the end of January. I transferred that to our checking account at the end of January to pay it in February and it all went away. All of it. I managed to spend about $400 extra between homeschool curriculum, clothes for dd (including dress-up), and large blueberry bushes. I don’t feel too bad about the bushes since they will provide food, but I feel REALLY bad about not controlling myself on the other stuff. In just 2 days of slipping, after a few weeks of not really spending much, I crashed us. It wasn’t enough to pay off the real estate taxes but it would have helped me feel better about myself.

I ended up putting the real estate taxes on my credit card. It was going to be delinguent as of March 1 so I didn’t really have any choice at this point. Somehow, I now have to ring enough out of the budget (and control myself) to come up with the next payment by June as it’s due in July.

For March, our budget includes: $650 for real estate taxes, $10 for the emergency fund (don’t know what kind emergency will be handled by that but it’s a start), and $200 for groceries. We are paying the balance on a half-hog in March so I’m hoping we’ll have a little bit left over afterward. Hmm, maybe I should send the farmer an email and get an estimate on it.

Hopefully, the weather will get a bit nicer and the utility bills will go down a lot for April. (Please, please, please.)

Saving on groceries and pet food (with flower pics).

One thing that has helped keep the grocery/pet food bill down quite a bit is (drumroll) dumster diving.

It’s not as bad as it sounds. Our local health food co-op has a bin out back where they put there “trash” veggies and fruit to be picked up for compost. The food is not loose – they put it in a trash bag. Sometimes it’s there, sometimes they’ve already been picked clean. I was told by an employee that other people who goats  and some with chickens also come by to pick up from there. Usually it’s greens (kale, turnip, lettuce), outer celery stalks that broke off, lots of citrus right now that starts to go soft before being picked, and the occassional apple with a bruise or hole poked in it. This one I’m less concerned about us eating it.

The other store I pick up from is a conventional grocery store. The food is thrown out loose in boxes. We usually will only eat from bagged items from this place (e.g. bagged apples, celery or carrots).  We give the rest of it to the bunnies.

Something I’ve noticed recently is that both stores are throwing out less food. Or maybe less is there by the time we get there. I’m a little concerned about what that means for the economy – if either the stores are putting out less food because they’re trying to save money (not a bad idea) or if more people are resorting to DD to put food on the table (scarier thougtht!).

We found a 3rd store that we tried last night. Not too many veggies picked up – only enough for 1 day, but dd was hollering for me to get back in the car because she wanted to go inside (the beginning of the hollering *sigh*). Note to self: try not to go to store without taking a nap first!

We did get some boxes of pancake mix that syrup had spilled all over. I can’t salvage the boxes but I’m going to repack the mix into a vacuum storage bag tonight. We don’t usually eat pancakes (I’m trying to be as grain-free as possible), but when you’re looking in dumsters to save a buck on food, you might want to save what you can’t use for the lean(er) times. Or to trade with someone else later on.

We also got 3 bunches of flowers! A very pretty yellow bunch with a few purple and pink accents that I’m sitting in front of typing, a dozen red roses, and a dozen pink-edged roses with greenery and a vase. They had not even dumped the water out of the vase before tossing it! Unbelievable! I really think they brighten up the house quite a bit.

We’ll be going out again tonight or tomorrow night in search of more fruits and veggies. Snow or no snow the buns have to eat and since the offspring that don’t sell as pets will be used as food, I need to keep them all fed and healthy.

No spend going fairly well.

I had to pay for some homeschool stuff on Ebay that I had bid on before I started the no-spend challenge, so I’m not sure if I count that as being against the rules or not. I’m thinking not because (1) I promised to pay before starting and (2) after I get everything under control again I will have a little set aside each month in the budget for homeschool. I guess I should count this purchase against the budget though. That means no homeschool spending until April. THAT is going to be hard.

I did give in to the tears and bought 1 package of cookies for $2.99 on about the 23rd or 24th but I did not give in last night. Miraculously, when we went back in the store (after calming down outside for 1/2 hour), we found the last piece of Sara Lee cake that the store had set out samples of! Thank you!

So we haven’t spent anything unplanned for since about January 17, with the exception of that box of cookies and the Ebay stuff. I think we’re doing pretty good! It’s getting a little easier as times goes on but I’m so tempted! I’m dreading going to Costco next week.

It looks like my in-laws might be able to swing some money our way next month. I’ll raise the grocery budget a bit (I had it down to $50 – we were going to have to eat pantry/freezer only) but I’m going to try to put the rest toward the Emergency Fund.

No spend update.

I did spend money yesterday on food. Mostly food for the dogs and rabbits (the store had pork picnic roasts for $0.97/lb!), but I did buy about 1/2 lb of grapes for dd. I feel conflicted about that. We were able to get them because they were on “special buy” at less than $1/lb, but I hadn’t planned on getting “extra” food. We were “this close” to buying a $1 toy because we had enough money with us when dd saw the strawberries.

We broke out the calculator and checked. Couldn’t afford the strawberries. By this time, dd (3.5 years old) is putting her mouth on the container. *insert roll-eye smilie here* Think fast, mama. Wait! There’s a red “special buy” sign under the grapes and you can adjust the weight! Negotiations/explanations ensued. Got 2 days worth of grapes in exchange for putting back the strawberries and the $1 pony.

So I will count it as no-spend. I can’t seem to shake the feeling that spending on food is still spending. Even for the bunnies. I’m usually able to get enough veggies for them out of the dumster at this grocery store and the the compost bin at the local health food co-op.

I think I’m going to have to make up rules. Rules post soon!