Monday, November 12, 2018

What Life is Really Made Of

I get an extra day off work today, in honor of the veterans. The program at the school was inspiring and sad, and inspiring again. I readily admit I never chose to serve, had apprehension when my son turned 18 and registered for the draft should it ever be needed, and worry about where everyone I know is stationed when I hear of a military action involving our troops. I'm a coward that way, thinking first about what service has meant to my self, my family. Still, despite the anger and hostility in our country resulting from competing ideologies about how we create and then keep a good and great society, I know those that sign up to defend our country are truly selfless, and are doing so to keep their own part of a good life preserved. It is up to us not in uniform to hold each other accountable to uphold, without hate, ethical, moral, and incorruptible standards of our freedoms. 

I really don't get corporate and individual need to amass more and more money. I don't understand why having more of something, just because you can, is important. I get that people have different measures of what is enough, of what is saving for a rainy day and what is hoarding. We are all entitled to our own definitions of sound financial practice, household management and personal safety nets. Feeling like I can ride out the tough times while still getting my kids through college, have access to health care, and not work until I'm in my 70's is my personal comfort zone. Everything else, to me, is moving towards the gluttony I opened the paragraph with.

This weekend was a really good weekend and not because of any great event, financial windfall, or material purchase. It was good because it was filled with time spent enjoying the good stuff in my life. I enjoyed sappy movies on the television, a tour of a variety of country barns and houses, hosting retro style craft fairs, so up my alley! I was happy to look, needing no more crafts and d├ęcor, but felt positive supporting a farm market, owned by the parents of an old friend from middle school and 4-H, and bought a couple jars of pepper jelly for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I spent a little one on one time with DH, eating simple but yummy food near a fire in a local pub, in our quaint revitalized downtown. I spent time writing and corresponding with like minded people via Blogger and Facebook, but read and thought about without arguing, different perspectives. 

I bundled up, despite the unseasonably cold weather, and let pup pull me where to go and for as long as he wanted to be outside. I spent a lazy Sunday morning over coffee, fresh baked pumpkin bread, and the weekend newspaper. We had an extended family birthday dinner, where I set my exit schedule to not be overwhelmed, and enjoyed time with people that I sometimes do not. Today I'll eat simply and make a big batch of chicken noodle soup so we can eat simply again later in the week. I'll review the calendar, make sure we all have work and school week laundry, refine meal planning all in hopes of  not getting bogged down by the work week stress. DD1 has off today and we are going to meet up and have some creative time together. 

There is a kind of wealth that no amount of money can build that comes with being happy with what you have in your life. Sure, there are things that I'd like to be different, but most are things I have no control over, and for the most part do not have to do with money. I'm not saying my fear of DH's work situation crumbling, or my angst over DS's career instability will go away, but they don't soak up my thoughts. I'm trying really hard to focus on the things that truly make my life good. Your turn. Tell me at least one thing in the comments, that has nothing to do with money, that makes you wealthy. 

Sunday, November 11, 2018

End of Year Family Admin

Thank you to all who have served and protected our country.  God bless the veterans on this day after Veterans Day, the public holiday being recognized today. I'll be heading to the high school tomorrow monring for the annual program. This year it is at the high school. DD2's choir and orchestra are both providing music as is the concert band. She is proud to have this honor her senior year.

The end of the year is only 7 weeks away. Our open enrollment period at work ends on Thursday. The last few years, we have really not had good luck seeing a primary doctor.  Mine was never available, and DH and DD2 haven't gone enough to establish a regular doctor, though DH has an irregular visit (supposed to be regular) with his heart doctor. We made the decision to change plans and clinic to  level one. The new clinic we chose actually has a better rating than our previous one in several key  areas that were of importance to us. The biggest  benefit is the office co-payment is $25 compared to $85, and the per person cap and family cap is 1/3rd of what it would have been if we stayed at our level three clinic. I checked my rheumatologist and I can still use her, but the level three co-payment will click in and my out of pocket deductible will go up, but overall, the savings is a lot. I decreased my pretax medical account to only cover the max out of pocket.

Since I ended up not having the additional throat procedure, I have a sizable balance in my medical account. While I can roll forward $500, I am going to try and get another eye exam in, and get new glasses. I'm not due until next summer, but if I do early and buy early, I can extend the duration between my next ones  before we have out of pocket costs. Other changes I made, and all together these will balance out and I should have a net $0 change, is to increase my optional life to $150,000, as they allowed the additional $25,000 this year, and the small policy on DH from $15,000 to the new max of $20,000. I also increased my long term disability pay out should the worse happen, by $400 to get to the maximum allowance of 60% of my current salary. It cost very little per month to do so and the piece of mind is worth it.

We'll have to decide in the next month or so if we will top off DH's 401K to the maximum $24,000. I think it makes sense to do that more so than fully fund the Roth in the spring if we need to make a choice. It all depends on what his end of year earnings come to-he could meet it just through the deduction percentage he has, but he is not there yet. It feels like I made good, though subtle changes to protect us all in case of illness or worse. I hate the process but necessary to ensure my family is protected.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Carry Over Meal Plan

Last week I created a big list of meals that I could draw on for the week. The items in bold are the only things we ended up eating. DH ate an assortment of leftovers and DD2 ate at a friends while I was playing cards Saturday night. I made curry Tuesday, with loads of leftovers for Wednesday and the pot of soup. Chicken cordon bleu's and au gratin potatoes were Sunday, ravioli, Thursday, and cobbled together leftovers the rest of the week-but no eating out or take out other than the pizza. 

  • Cheese ravioli with vegetables (crock pot meal)
  • Burritos with rice and refried beans
  • Goulash with corn (double batch-freeze half to bake later after adding another can of seasoned tomato's)
  • Bean soup and ham sandwiches
  • Pork roast, mashed potatoes, and green beans (reserve 2/3rd for other recipes)
  • Roast chicken, roasted potato's, steamed vegetables (reserve meat and bones for two more recipes)
  • Pork fried rice with mixed vegetables and Asian salad
  • Thai peanut noodles with pork carrots and celery
  • Chicken cacciatore, steamed vegetables
  • Chicken noodle soup with vegetables, biscuits
This means, I really do not need to do any more planning for the week! Today I'll cook the chicken that I took out to thaw yesterday morning. Tomorrow we're going to my brother in laws for a birthday celebration, each of us bringing fixings for submarine or hot beef sandwiches and sides. I'm going to just buy a pound of turkey and ham each, plus an assortment of three sliced cheeses, tomatoes, and potato chips at Aldi's, should come in at less than $20. We need for home,  another box of cereal, milk, bread, and fruit, making my shop for the week around $32 or so-keeping me on budget and on track. 

I'm not sure why this past week was a haze, but I know we didn't resort to take out. DH got his burger last night, but since neither of us wanted a drink, our bill wasn't too bad. I didn't cook as much as I planned last week. I hope to do more since I have both Sunday and Monday to prep for the week. What's on your menu this week?   

Friday, November 9, 2018

Frugal Friday Instead of Thrifty Thursday

We were really thrifty this week-no unexpected spending. We did well using leftovers for meals, the usual packing of lunches or DH coming home sometimes (though not all the time to my annoyance). Despite last Saturday being my annual sisters day, spending was less than I have spent other years. Perhaps since we stayed a bit more local, when I saw cute thing in the shops, I paused before buying, knowing if I later decided to, I could come again. Much of my thriftiness was in spending less than I might otherwise spend, but I guess that is what being thrifty is-spending only what you need to for necessary and enjoyment. Here were some of my frugal successes.

  • For the breakfast out Saturday morning with the girls,DD1 treated me and DD2, but I gave her the 15% off coupon I had. It was very sweet of her and it was to thank us for helping her get settled in her new place. For the cards night, I bought the Papa Murphy's, but my sister had discount coupons that I could use. 
  • I resisted the craft fair's overwhelming amount of beautiful things, only buying two bars of goat milk soap for DD2 to try out for $3.00, and a plate of krumkake, her favorite, for her to take with to a friends later that afternoon..
  • DD1 and I shared a glass for the wine tasting event we went to between shopping and poker night, each getting to try 8 different varieties before choosing our favorite. She got to keep the wine glass included with the tasting.
  • Enjoyed a phenomenal  choir festival concert at a nearby college for free. DD2's choir was one of the featured choirs, but we also heard the  Minnesota Boy's choir, and two of the host colleges choirs. For those of you trying to watch your entertainment budgets, look and see what is out there in your communities for free or low cost. The concert really was a good way to end the weekend.
  • DH wanted to go out for a burger after the concert, but I suggested just having chicken cordon bleu's and potatoes at home since we would still need dinner for our daughter once she got back. He was begrudgingly OK with that. 

It's bothering me how much DH wants to go out for dinner lately and at least twice a week he's eating out for lunch. With the holidays coming and the unknown, it is befuddling to me. If  we spend money going out to eat, I think it needs to be planned as entertainment and not just as regular meals. He seems to be enthused about my savings challenges and when extra money can be socked away in an account, but has seemed to forget what has to be done to make those financial wins happen. I'm sure he is going to suggest going out tonight or tomorrow. When he does, I'll figure out where it can fit with the $100 target for the month. I might have to humor him to keep him from going rogue! We already have dinner plans after a play at the end of the month at a nice restaurant with a large group. 

How is your November shaping up so far in the thrift area? Who has had some big wins or are you, like me, a slow and steady thrifter for the week?