Definitely depends on the church

but of course salaries, health insurance, pensions and building upkeep costs money, but is well worth having a space for fellowship. We have a different “cause” each week, which is either a local charity ( ex. The local habitat for humanity chapter, , local food bank since our church is not large enough for its own, etc.) and each week people can choose to either mark their donation for the cause or for the church budget (which also includes charitable causes in it). We’ve been blessed enough to still continue to be able to pay all of our bills even with this setup.
Since our church budget has been balanced and then some in the past years, I’ve been using some of my tithing money to do my own outreach to people…my husband and I have this amount carefully calculated even through our own work to pay down debt. We know the amount for it each month and it feels wonderful to use the small amount each month to do little things where you see the effect on the person immediately. It makes us want to be debt free to do even more!! Paying for groceries, leaving gift cards on the chair of the single mom at work, etc.

Then dh went to the mailbox on Saturday night

late and there was a royalty check that surprised the heck out of me! We drove to the bank on Sunday, put that check in the night drop and I popped online when we got home as the guys watched the payment being sent. I know that no matter what that payment will clear, so I was anxious to stop the interest as quickly as possible. Of course there will be $10 or less worth of interest that accrued this month that will post late at night on January 3, 2014, but I have that money set aside and will pay it first thing on the 4th to avoid more interest.

I don’t want to say this turn of events made me overly happy, but tears of joy ran down my face as I pushed that confirmation of payment button. You cannot believe how badly I hated that bill and now it’s gone.

Main goal this year – take a family vacation!

I started a vacation savings account at ING Direct/Capital One. Our trip is going to be 12 days. I don’t know how I’m going to save up enough money for the whole trip. I can’t make the budget work. It’s almost $800 a month I need to save. Not sure if I can do it, but I’m going to start slowly with $400 a month and see if I can ramp it up. We may have to cut corners and be more frugal on our trip to save money, but we will see by about June how much I’ve saved and then I’ll re-evaluate our budget and savings.

Most of you know that my DH

and I have really been working hard to figure out how to communicate better about money; it’s been a very sore topic even when financial things have been running relatively smoothly. We made great strides in 2013, through a lot of very rocky terrain. But my DH had a “Christmas present” for me that has been a wonderful game-changer. About a week before Christmas, he offered to become the de facto farm accountant. He would manage all the books, do all the reporting, do all thee paperwork with our tax accountant, and generally free me up to do everything else I have on my plate. When he made the offer, my first thought was “yippie!” and my second thought was “he has NO idea what he’s getting himself into…….” But two weeks later, I can very gratefully say that he has really wowed me with the diligence, patience, and commitment he’s shown to not only doing this job, but doing it well. He’s just about done now going through ALL our 2013 financial receipts, making sure every last penny is in Quicken, making sure all the Quicken accounts and categories and payees are correct and consistent and reconciled, removing redundancies, etc. We’re also getting our utilities payments set up so that either he pays them or they pay automatically, instead of me having to remember almost two dozen payments per month to this-n-that. I had put together a plan at the beginning of December to get all our household bills current by the end of the month (we aren’t terribly behind with anything, but a few things had fallen through the cracks here and there and gone late). When he offered to become accountant, I very nervously showed him that plan, expecting to get yelled at for having let some things slip, but he just took it in stride and said “okie, dokie, how much of the plan has been done so far and what do we still need to do before the end of the month?” So that’s gone very nicely as well. We’ve been having conversations about money that are smooth, peaceful, constructive and without all the angst or anger that have marked so many conversations in the past. It’s very common in farming households for the non-farming partner to do the books. I wasn’t sure how this transition was going to go, but so far it’s gone better than I dared hope. I told him I was going to have to get him one of those green accountant visors as a badge of accomplishment.

Having made that transition, now I’m free to do some bookwork and management stuff that I’ve wanted to do for years, but didn’t have the bandwidth to work on. These past two weeks I’ve been trialing about a half-dozen different management software packages, to get better organized and stay on top of various farm tasks, such as the livestock record-keeping, crops rotation and planning, grazing management, and the big tamale – equipment/inventory/facilities management. Holy moly that last one by itself is huge, and all those topics put together are mind-boggling. I’ve been trying to do all this stuff in my head and let’s just say stuff was starting to leak out of my ears, first in a trickle and then in a flood. Getting all this stuff recorded in something other than a set of monster Excel spreadsheets (which then itself became a management nightmare), has brought a level of organization to our operation that we’ve never ever had before. It’s been liberating.

So for my 2014 challenge, here are my three goals:
1) continue churning through our records and getting all our info put into these management packages, so that each big category of the biz (livestock, crops, land management, equipment/facility/inventory management) is well organized, such that we can finally get proactive about stuff rather than always being behind the 8-ball.

2) start using some benchmarking techniques to measure our business performance (profitability, adaptiveness, liquidity, asset management, etc), ID those categories where we need to make improvements, make them, then continue to track them.

3) use the information generated in categories 1 and 2, to really make optimal use of the land, the livestock, the equipment and other resources we have, to create a more robust, profitable and well managed business. And have a life in the process. That will include all the DR stuff we’ve learned along the way, but it will also include business performance measurements which any business consultant, lender, accountant or other assessment professional could look at and understand and say “yep, that’s a well-run business”.

Posted in DH

Well, I did it – 2016 budget is balanced, on paper

Anything gets added, something will have to change. Locked and loaded. I’m hoping I can pinch this a little bit to add more to savings, on a month by month basis.

Funny, DR talks so much about balancing a month, giving every dollar of income a name, but I could never EVER balance by month. Some months I spend way more than I take in and some months I spend way less. Then there are two months with extra income (from the stock plan, which means lower income the other ten months).

I guess if I were really trying to do a one-month zero based budget I’d add the cash on hand to the income? I tried using Quicken 2013 to do a cash flow budget that included a cash reserve, but it just isn’t designed to do that. Quicken *does* have a very useful “projected balances” feature though, if you put all your spending into it. Which is almost like envelopes, really – if you put down say $100 grocery spending, Quicken shows it in the budget.

Anyway, it balances for the year, and there’s enough surplus in the slush fund to cover the lowest dip. I just need to watch that level.
The slush fund is my ‘sinking’ fund and a chunk of it is going to go for house repairs this year.

That’s scary in a way

I worked with a gal once who seemed like a pretty nice person, good worker. Few years later she and her brother hit the front page of the paper because their mother had died but they never told anyone, just kept cashing those checks.
We have a family member who does not us to know where she lives either so know it’s easier said than done to check on someone. Wishing you well in this.

While under our watchful eyes dmil’s was progressing slowly

We made sure she had her meds daily, checked on her daily and I was working on getting her a visiting angel when THE sil started all this mess.
After she basically kidnapped her and moved dmil into her house we lost a lot of the control of dmil’s medical care and found out as time went on sil was not giving her the meds. We figured it out by rx’s not being refilled. We know this because no claims were filed against her medicare or supplemental insurance for them and I can guarantee you sil was not paying for them out of her own pocket.
Then sil seized control of dmil’s finances and cut us off from dmil completely so we aren’t sure whether or not she is getting medical treatment despite repeated demands to talk to dmil’s doctor. Dh actually has her medical directive, but the sil changed doctors (supposedly) and we have no idea who to check with. We know she’s not with her old doctor because he retired/died.

My mom has Alzheimer’s

She forgets a lot, but she still takes care of herself, keeps track of her meds, drives, and cooks. Not sure how much longer she will be able to do those things. :-(
She has been diagnosed for 5years and has been taking aracept all along. Maybe that has helped slow the progression. She’s 70.

For the most part Christmas was wonderful

Relaxed, good food (even if I did cook it myself), quality time with my guys and the guys did very good in their gift giving to me. I had listed three things I wanted them to choose one of them and split the cost. They wisely shopped sales, used coupons and got me two of the three! Not bad, not bad at all.

Both would be considered “tools” by some, a tablet and a Cuttlebug. For you non-crafter types a Cuttlebug is an embossing machine that will be of great help in our business—which I am determined to work MUCH harder at this coming year. They even got me some small “go withs” for each of the tools and still stayed under their cash budget limit. I’m very pleased.

The little bit of Grinch was I had set a goal of paying off Best Buy by Christmas. According to the snowball chart it wasn’t due to b paid off for about 6-7 more months, but I had the Christmas gift of being free of BB by Christmas set in my mind. We didn’t make it… Well we could have, but I was too chicken to drain the bef to do it.

Then dh went to the mailbox on Saturday night late and there was a royalty check that surprised the heck out of me! We drove to the bank on Sunday, put that check in the night drop and I popped online when we got home as the guys watched the payment being sent. I know that no matter what that payment will clear, so I was anxious to stop the interest as quickly as possible. Of course there will be $10 or less worth of interest that accrued this month that will post late at night on January 3, 2014, but I have that money set aside and will pay it first thing on the 4th to avoid more interest.

I don’t want to say this turn of events made me overly happy, but tears of joy ran down my face as I pushed that confirmation of payment button. You cannot believe how badly I hated that bill and now it’s gone. The Grinch has left the building.

While we aren’t cc debt free yet (3 down and 4 to go) we are so much closer now that hurtle has been jumped. The others should all fall pretty rapidly in every 30-45 day increments now. Well as long as we don’t get thoroughly nuked on taxes.

On our way to make the deposit in the bank dh and I took advantage of the alone time to discuss financial plans for the next six months. In particular the ss checks that are scheduled to start in late Feb. We decided we would use part of the money from the first one to pay off the next bill in our snowball line (our Little Chase bill) and then any leftover would be put into some repairs needing done on the truck. Any leftover from that (if there is any) will go on the next bill in the line.

Originally we had thought to put off the truck repairs, but have decided against waiting for numerous reasons. One is along the “stitch in time saves nine” line.

So despite the super cold temps and ice, followed by near 60 degree temps, followed by extremely cold again on Saturday (wind chill 5) we had a wonderful—warm Christmas.

I hope yours was too.

I don’t think so

They were just saying that the mortgages were the largest part of the UK debt. That’s the same as most places. I don’t see where they said anything about adjustable mortgages, only that the rising unsecured debt interest rates may cause trouble for more families.

I just got an email past new notice from a debt collector

For my dmil at my email address!! No, we aren’t responsible for the bill, dh and I are not connected to it in anyway. This is an account THE sil opened up with a creditor I had paid off for dmil. It’s an entirely different account number, but since it is based on the old account with the credit card company they picked up my email address.

When we ceased being her financial guardians I notified said cc company via certified letter that we were no longer dmil’s guardians and that all email and mail should be directed to THE sil. I also reminded them that dmil had Alzheimer’s, but apparently they opened an account in her name, issued two cards on the account—neither of which came here or to our knowledge had our name on them and now the account is in collections. I wonder how many other accounts she has doen this with.

The only loans provider I have got positive experience with was WithNoTeletrack. The do what they promise – provide payday loans online without performing any checks – and nothing more. I highly recommend them.

I have no legal authority on this account, nor do I want to get involved. They were legally notified TWO years ago of this and warned! Any further harassment by them and guess who is going to file a lawsuit. They were WARNED! I have sent an email to the company reminding them that we are not responsible for said debt and should NEVER be contacted again. Whether or not it does any good we’ll see.

The email includes a phone number, but they won’t talk to me without the account number—which I only have the last 4 digits off the email, or the password, or answer to the security questions. I can do none of that. Heck I’m not even certain where dmil is right now. I know just before Christmas they were still living about 30 miles from us, but there is no guarantee they are now and the phone number we have is not working.


That sounds hormonal or medical to me. If your body does not feel tired, it will not want to sleep. I wish I felt that way. Right now, I am not sleeping well because of my shoulder injury. When I turn over, I wake up in pain. I have an MRI on Thursday and see the specialist next week.

Yes, I’m whining :)

Hopefully I’ll get some suggestions to try out that will help. And DON’T tell me to count sheep! ! ! ! LOL!!!
The last few weeks have been slow torture – for whatever reason, I am just not tired at bedtime and can’t get to sleep.
I do take melatonin to help me get to sleep, but it’s not working either.
So, I’m wondering if it’s the different thyroid meds I’m on (Cytomel, T3 only since I don’t have a thyroid anymore) that have kicked in, or the Target Brand gummy multi-vitamin I’ve started taking.
I thought it might be the vits so I haven’t taken any in over a week, and I’m still wide awake.
As an example, Friday night I got to sleep around 3am, Saturday night I was wide awake at 4am in the morning – hadn’t gotten to sleep yet. I woke up around 10am so I didn’t sleep the day away, but still, this is deucedly inconvenient.
Last night I got to bed around 2am. Was up at 7am, wide awake.
If I can’t sleep, I get up and do something like read or crochet. Something that is not stimulating and hopefully calming.
Any ideas? I really would like to get to sleep by 11pm. I’ve been taking my Melatonin at 10pm and normally it works and I get a little drowsy and toddle off to bed.

We have eyemed

and there are 4 of us in the family (hubbys, self, and our 2 college kids).
I find it worth the extra every year as we get an exam and then our allotment towards contacts or glasses every year for all four of us.
If yours is $16 a month—that is $192 a year….
Look at how much coverage you get and go from there.
My guess is that you would at least break even or be a little ahead for one person—-if more than one, would definitely be ahead taking the insurance.

PS We use C&B Optical One and really like working with them…..real easy peasy….

It is a GONER!

Well except for that last little bit of interest the cc companies always try and sucker you in to waiting the last minute to pay—then they charge you interest on that and it continues. That $10 or so will be paid the minute it posts to our account.
Funny you should ask. Dh asked me that same question about 6 times yesterday. He couldn’t believe we’d paid off the nearly $6,000 balance in less than 6 months with our tight budget. It’s amazing what you can do if you set your mind to it.

Posted in DH

I took it as an expression of just how much of a person’s salary is taken up by debt

It’s an expression of just how in trouble they are. I am sure that the U.S. is also in pretty bad shape. It is the mindset of credit that gets us there and the majority of Americans are in that mindset. If we had not started DR when we did, we’d be at about that level. We are still not in great shape, but better than before and the amount of our income that is going towards debt is towards paying down balances rather than minimum payments.

I’ll try to respond to both notes in one post

A few things about the optical…does your medical insurance include a yearly eye exam? NIf not, it might be worth the vision. Our vision includes the eye exam (I usually go with an ophthalmologist rather than optomitrist…he dilates my eyes and he checks me for glaucoma since I have family history. Also check to see what the vision covers in terms of anti glare, scratch resistant, etc. if your had to pay out of pocket for those things, it would impact cost. Also, I tell people what I do and for some reason a lot of people I know say they hadn’t thought of it (which I’m surprised by!). So, I’m in my 30s, but have horrible vision. My opthamologist says I don’t need an exam every year, though, since my eyes have stopped changing. So, I opt into our vision plan every Other year, so I can get an exam and glasses every other year.
For the flexible spending, we have dependent care and health care…I hadn’t heard of the premium coverage flex before…that would be pretty cool! Make sure you do extra research on that premium fund….although all flex spending is administered by your employer, they are irs tax programs, so you’ll want to be sure to be up on all the rules so you don’t waste money or do something that’s not legal. :).

I do vision

because my son and I both have glasses and so it is worth it. when it was just me, I did the individual plan because it was 4 dollars a month.

For 16 a month, I’d say that it depends upon whether or not anyone will be needing glasses. You’d pay less than that for an eye exam at Walmart or somewhere like that.

OK, another question

I just got off the phone with, a flexible Health Care spending account company.

Evidently you can designate $ to go pre-tax into 3 places: Premium payments, Health Care spending accounts, and Dependent spending accounts.

I asked specifically if my medical insurance premium is say, $400/month, and I send $400/month to WageWorks, does that mean I can get reimbursed for my medical insurance premiums?

She said yes.

So of course, the first month would be a double hit ($400 for premium and $400 to WW, but after that each month it’s only costing me (in real dollars) $400/month.

Anyone have any experience with this?

Thoughts on company medical/dental plans?

I found DH’s paperwork from his new employer about medical/dental/vision benefits. Right now, before the employer mandate hits next year, it’s reasonable if we chose HMO, which we’ve always done.

HMO medical and dental, the things we use the most, is $328 a month for our family. (Remember this is 2013 rates, we don’t have 2014 rates yet.)

It’s Vision that I am wondering about. These plans historically have been so worthless. But this company uses EyeMed, who contracts with Lens Crafters, Sears, Pearl Vision, companies which are usually way less (and out of our previous VSP network) so the $100 allowance for frames etc might actually be worth it.

Anyway, I digress. The price difference is an additional $16 a month more for vision. Should we just go ahead and do it? I was thinking it wasn’t worth it (the company has a health FSA which we could bank money into) but now that I read the fine print that it uses discount vision vendors, I am torn.