Saturday, January 11, 2014

Working on the household budget as a family.

After a bit of a kerfuffle with Hubs over the fact that he wanted an upgrade on an item that I wholeheartedly refused, he saw me sitting at the computer staring at the Family Budget.

"Oh, no!  Not the Family Budget!"

"It's the time of year.  I do it twice a year."

After crunching numbers and moving things around, adding some additional expenses and (thankfully) some additional monies into proper places, I was ready to present my report to my people during dinner.

Hubs saw the paper sitting on the table.  "But I have to work out tonight.  You can't deny me working out!"

"It'll be a dinnertime discussion and I believe that you'll basically be pleased."

As we were enjoying the Pinterest deconstructed pot pie that I made, we reviewed changes that occurred over the last 6 months.  I went over my Family Budget report line by line.  Each of us discussed different things, but we discussed it together-- as a family.

I can't speak for Hubs, but I know that my experience in growing up gives me visions of my mom sitting at the kitchen table, juggling bills and the checkbook.  We were definitely poor, but Mom always paid the bills and paid them on time.  Often, I don't know how she managed it, but she did.  However, she didn't hide away and cover up the fact that there were finances and little money and some pretty hefty stretching that needed to happen.  It was good for me to see this.  As a childhood experience, I don't look at it as a negative, but rather as a positive to show me that you have bills, you have money and you can only spend what you have.  If you don't have money for it, don't spend it.  Believe me, there were plenty of times we would have liked different things as kids, but there was no additional spending money for them.  Don't get me wrong, we had food on the table and clothes on our backs.  There was a time when I was in second grade that my brother (4 years younger) shared pants.  You do what you have to do.  The only real time that I remember crying about not having extra money was when the book fliers came in and were passed out.  I always wanted a book and could never get one.  That is why Scholastic is a $5 line item on our Family Budget for K.

We discussed with K that while we have money in savings and in the bank accounts, "living within our means" is a bit different for us.  We talked about jobs not always being stable, but having savings there as a fall back.  We talked about being blessed to pay for our car and not to have a car payment, but that we worked very hard to make that happen.  We talked about health insurance costing less, but that copayments are more.  We talked about changing insurance companies and having better coverage for $85 less a month.  We talked about the fact that since we do live within our means and that we do put money into savings, it is the way that we are able to put braces on her teeth.  It also enables us to get glasses for both her and her dad, rather than skipping it or not being able to do it at all.

She told us that she would be willing to sell all of her toys at a yard sale to put money into the family savings.  Bless her dear sweet heart.  We told her that it is definitely not necessary, but that we appreciated her offer.  We told her that she needs to remember that when we go to the store and she asks for $1, $2 or, "It's just $4, Mom," that it is all little monies that add up to a lot.  She also came up with another idea.  "I have a great idea!  When we aren't home or we're sleeping, we can turn the electricity off."  Now, I do believe that this idea was a spin-off of the water issue we experienced this summer with the bathroom.  We did have to shut the water off at the main valve because of intense faucet leaking (bathtub 2 1/2 gallons an hour) while we were working on correcting the problem and awaiting our wonderful plumber to be available.  We explained why that option wouldn't work, but applauded the problem solving that she was doing.

We discussed how it is an incredible savings for her to have a uniform for school and how wonderful it is that we're able to re-wear some things from one year to the next. We talked about how we go to the uniform swap to trade out/buy new uniform pieces and by going to the thrift and the resale CD store that we're saving a lot of money.

We talked about how we know that a lot of kids in her school got tablets for Christmas and as those are grand, we have a computer that we all use and she loves reading paper books.  I told her that we talked with Santa and we just can't do big Christmas' like that.  She also brought up different things that people spend money on that would be viewed as wasteful to us and by us not buying or buying into such things saves a lot.

She knows that church and the local homeless shelter are line items on our budget.  They come from the first fruits.  We're blessed to be able to do so and she is the one to drop the check into the plate each week.  I was brought up in a home where we were regular church attenders and no matter how little we had, Mom always put something into the offering plate.  She knows that we only have what we have because of God.  Even Hubs chanted to me this afternoon what I've always said to him, "We've always been provided for."  Even as that is true, it is still up to us to be responsible with what is given to us.

Our discussion went on for about an hour.  We explained things to K and she had different ideas and questions.  It is important for us to have this money to be viewed as "family money" and not "our money."  It is so very important to Hubs and me to teach K to be financially responsible because you never know what is going to happen.  A few years before K's arrival, I lost my job.  I was out of a job for a summer.  I was working a job for a friend, but outside of one $500 paycheck, I was stiffed for the other $1000.  I drew unemployment for about 6 weeks until I got the job that I have today.  I was out of work for a month after the loss of Bailey and recovering from preeclampsia/eclampsia.  I was out of work for a few weeks when I had knee reconstruction.  I broke my foot, but missed no work despite that.  Still, there were bills.  Hubs went from one park district to another, cutting his salary by 25%.  The old RAV was paid off, but wrecked and totaled a result of someone rear ending us, leaving us to get a new car and back to a car payment.  We bought a house that needed a new roof, new doors and new windows.  All of those expenses ended up being far more than our original estimate.  We also needed a new furnace, whole house air conditioning (we didn't have that), and a new washer.  The bathtub faucet needed tightened, which turned into needing replaced, which turned into needing a new surround, then some exterior repair needed done because the exhaust fan stopped exhausting, a plumber was needed and while he is extremely reasonable (and didn't charge enough so I sent another check) it was a project we didn't see coming.  My bathroom got repainted though.  With that, we reused everything we could and repainted everything we could instead of ripping everything out and replacing.  We did other things around the house and yard that were needed.  There is continual maintenance on house, cars and health.  I have a habit of getting holes in my tires.  In the last week, all of us have been to the dentist and my two people have gone for glasses.  My point of rambling is that we were explaining to K that though we have a budget, things come up and we don't want to run ourselves so tight on the budget that there isn't room to take care of the extras that come up that need tended to.

Consider discussing finances with your children.  Sometimes you'll have a better report than others.  In order for us to raise financially responsible kids, we have to be their role model.  Sometimes you can't get the upgrade.  Sometimes you choose a fuel efficient car over a nice shiny truck.  (Hubs' personal choice and it was a great one.)  Sometimes you have to eat food you have and though it isn't what you are hungry for, it needs to be consumed.   Sometimes you have to say no.  Sometimes you have to pull out a needle and thread.  Sometimes you have to carry your mom's backpack from her college days.  (A purple Jansport made in the US and the vintage age of 22 years old with a leather bottom and wearing like iron.  You'd never guess it to be that age at all!)  Sometimes birthday parties are craft kits that you have that you share with your friends, and a laid back at-home party with a sleepover instead of a destination party.  Sometimes summer sandals are ones that your mom bought for herself (in your favorite color) and wore only a few times and passed down to you because she didn't know when you would grow out of them because shoe sizes weren't lasting that long at that point.  (K loved them!)  Sometimes it means camping in the dirt and not sleeping in a hotel.  Whatever it means to your family, discuss it with your kids.  They need to know that credit cards need paid back, life isn't free, money doesn't grow on trees and bills need paid.  Don't sweep it under the rug.  Teach them.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

It's my husband's fault.

I've told all of you before that my husband is basically a walking dictionary of a large chunk of rock music.  He knows who plays what, who was in what band, which bands collaborated, who hated each other, the music that influenced different people and what morphed into what.  (And more, probably!)

Oh, my. After 20 years in his presence, it has rubbed off on me.

After watching PJ20 (and Hubs bought me my own copy so that I didn't have to scab it off of You Tube), I became interested in bands that influenced Pearl Jam.  Many references were made regarding Fugazi, which I recall being played in the many art studios I worked in while in art school.  I listened and listened and was reminded that I do love them.  I looked up The Misfits and on first listen, I didn't know what to think.  I gave them a second listen and while I don't know that all of their albums would totally rock it out for me, darnit-- I like them, too.  Frankly, it is more art school music and let's face it-- I was there for 7 years and heard a lot of music!

Ian MacKaye is close friends with Henry Rollins.  (Fugazi was the glass shop.)  Henry Rollins was an art school thing for me and I do believe that there is a chance that I got Hubs onto him.  (Print shop.)  The Misfits were lead by Glenn Danzig, who I believe we saw open up for someone.  (More music from the glass shop.)  We liked him, too.  Of course, Hubs knew all of this.  One of the songs on the Garage Days EP from Metallica was a Misfits song.  I didn't know that but Hubs laughed tonight and said, "Of course I knew that!"

I don't know how Mr. Bungle came to mind last night, pulled that up on You Tube, it sounded like Mike Patton from Faith No More, I looked that up and found that it is the lead singer from Faith No More!  It's a small world!  (More from the print shop.)

Now I understand.  I really do.  You want to give a listen to the people who have influenced the people that you listen to.  Sometimes you hear a lick of the influence.  Sometimes you hear a lot of the influence.  Either way, it's not a bad thing to know.

Hubs, I get it.  I do.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Remember, Velveeta isn't cheese.

I'm just sayin'.  Don't worry y'all.  Nachos will rock on.

ETA:  I stand corrected.  Apparently it is technically cheese.  It is not of cheese consistency and is shelf stable.  It is squishy and I once (in high school) ate an entire loaf of it in 2 days.  I can tell you that eating an entire loaf of shelf stable cheese-like food results in some pretty mean constipation.  I mean, I graduated in 1991 and still have vivid memories of the pain.  I haven't had the same relationship with Velveeta since then.  If you so desire, go forth and eat-- just do so with much digestive caution.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Eden Pure lap dances and hugging a space heater.

Y'all, it's been cold.  Now, while I don't disclose my location, I can tell you that I'm in this mix:
Daily record lows broken today in the Midwest (old records in parentheses): 
-11 (-7) in Cleveland; -11 (-5) in Akron-Canton, Ohio; -12 (-7) in Mansfield, Ohio; -14 (-6) in Toledo, Ohio; -12 (-6) in Youngstown, Ohio; -7 (-5) in Columbus, Ohio; -9 (-3) in New Philadelphia, Ohio; -8 (-3) in Zanesville, Ohio; -14 (-5) in Detroit; -14 (-10) in Flint, Mich.
The lovely Arctic cold snap has left our kids on extended winter break.  They earned themselves 2 additional days off, with some (not ours) on a 2 hour delay or canceled for tomorrow.


When I went to bed last night, it was -12 F and that wasn't in the end of it where the thermometer reading would reverse.

I was up at 2 AM to start the cars.  I'm not kidding.  I got up, started and ran them for 15 minutes while I snuggled up in a warm blanket on the couch, watching That Metal Show.  I came back to bed to a less-than-thrilled sleeping spouse who was not wanting to share his accumulation of heat.

He isn't a pleasant sleeper.  I'll give him that.

I weaseled my way in anyhow and later, he decided that my intense heat production had returned and he would take advantage of giving me a hug to steal my warmness.

I might add that the furnace in the building I work in has been out for over a week.  Now, it isn't because my bosses are too cheap to fix the furnace.  The gentleman who was repairing the furnace didn't seem well versed as each time he replaced something, something else would magically come up broken.  The temperature has been anywhere from 50-65 F.  The 65 F was on days that were warmer and I might add that those have not been recent days.  We have space heaters.  We've been running the faucets.  We've been leaving the halogen lights on to give some supplemental heat.  We've been managing, but we've been working with our coats, hats and many layers on.  We've been getting things accomplished, but it has been slow going.  Today, our highest temperature was 54 F.  It isn't -12 F, but I can tell you that it is rather chilly.  We have a coworker who was kind enough to lend her Eden Pure heater to us.  There is a little space heater, about the size of a sheet of paper, that we keep on the counter.  It blows hot air, makes my hair full of static, but I was hugging it yesterday.  I'm thankful for the supplemental heat.

Turns out that I wasn't the only without heat.  Hubs' work was without heat, too.  They maxed out at 54 F.


It could be worse.  The temperature is only up from here.  We were actually colder last night than the temperature recorded at the South Pole!

Chilly willy puddin' pie!  We'll survive!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

They act like the final days are coming.

Y'all, it's snow.

Y'all, it'll be cold.

We'll survive.

I don't know that the coverage is exclusive to our area but geeze o' Pete, we live in a northern climate.  We get snow and cold on a regular basis during the winter months.  It should be of no surprise.

Okay, I get it.  It's supposed to be below zero.  When Hubs and I started dating, it was -25 F with a windchill that took it to -50 F.  Everything, and I mean everything, closed around here except for Kent State.  I remember leaving myself enough time to building hop on my way to class.  KSU was on a delay start.  They started classes at noon.  I remember laughing because apparently Carol Cartwright thought that there was going to be a heat wave precisely at noon.

There wasn't one.

I decided to park at one of the parking meters.  I had to take my glove off to get the money into the meter and I kid you not when I tell you that my hand froze in a curved position.

As an art major, that did concern me.

My car, a 1985 Trans Am with leaky t-tops was the only car in the driveway that would start.  Getting it out of the driveway that was on a hill and adjoining in a way to the neighbor's drive with a telephone pole separating the drives at the bottom.  Most of the time in the winter, I was the last in and the first out, so I would just leave it parked at the bottom of the driveway.  I do recall getting it to the top during the freeze and freaking my mom out because my dad taught me to spin the back end around in order to be able to back up, but to miss all of the cars parked in the driveway.  I think she had a near heart attack every time I did it.

At any rate, I recall the snow freezing so deeply that you could stand on top of a foot or two of snow and not fall through.

Current snow estimates have varied quite a bit.  Temperatures have varied quite a bit.  Hubs' response to the news was, "It's just snow."  That it is.

K might not have work for a few days, but my work will be up and functioning.  Hubs might have work on Tuesday, but who knows?  We might have an extended holiday break.

Who knows?  It's just snow and some cold.  It's nothing that should shock the northern half of the United States.

ETA:  School was canceled for tomorrow at about 3 PM.  My cousin phoned and her daughter's school is called off for Monday and Tuesday.  She only lives 15 minutes south of us.