Wednesday, September 28, 2011

More Musings from the Hospital

For the Time Being...

I'm sitting in here again, day six. Even though the work hours are very light at this time because business is down, I gave today's shift to a co-worker. I still haven't had a proper nights sleep. I'm really feeling it today. I have no energy and almost feel drunk. If I don't get sleep soon....

It is hard to see your child in a hospital bed, even if they are 21 and just resting and waiting to give birth. The doctor has estimated the babies weight to be around six pounds, and after the ultrasound they did when she arrived at the hospital they let her know it's a girl. The waiting is the hard part. Her room is in front right by the nurses station and she has already watched several families come through the door, scream for a while and leave the next morning with a newborn mewing softly like a kitten. I'm exhausted and she is bored. My husband is tense and sleep deprived as well. There is just too much to do, too much to be accomplished, and too little money coming in to the household.  Okay, that's enough of me complaining.


I should never had said anything when I did, but a year and a half ago I bragged about becoming debt free within a few months. I was so excited about my shrinking debt that I had to share. The bills were dwindling, the student loan was finally off my back and there was just one credit card. That's when Chloe (our dog) became even more ill. She needed hospitalization and more frequent medication and a very expensive specialized diet. I'm not complaining because she needed it and it had to be done, she was family after all. Too frequently there wasn't enough cash to cover her care and quite a bit of it went on credit. We even opened a new account for her final hospitalization thinking a miracle would be performed that would buy us a little more time with her. I'm not upset I used credit at all, I just feel I may have jinxed myself a bit by calling myself almost debt free too soon.

I keep track of my total debt each month and I can almost taste it. When I saw $1500.00 in black ink I smiled. Soon after I was giddy when I wrote the figure of $1200.00. Now it is at $869.00 and I am trying to get rid of it as soon as possible. I can't wait to see zero.

RV Lust

I know that I will never remain debt free forever. There are some large ticket items that I may need to purchase on credit. Recently I decided to see how good my credit was and see if I qualified for a loan. I know, I really should reach zero first, and there is a lot going on in my household, but... I have wanted an RV for a long time.

I want an RV with a burning passion. I wouldn't mind living small, and I want more travel in my life. We can do the types of jobs we do anywhere. Also at this point with a full house, a night owl two year old, and soon to be a squalling newborn, it would be really nice just to park it in the driveway and get a full nights sleep.

We went to the dealership just to look, and then we fell in love. We test drove, discussed, and then decided to fill out the paperwork just to test the waters and see what shape our credit is in now. We had a bankruptcy in the past because of a bad housing decision, and poor budgeting choices. I had no idea where we stood credit wise. Turns out we were at 710 and 719, not bad but still too close to the bankruptcy so we were turned down. They said if we tried again in a few months we could probably be approved. It's okay because it's nice to know we are almost where we want to be.

I plan to try again in six months to a year and have it paid off before we do any extensive traveling. It may keep us here longer in the land of no jobs and low pay, but I don't want to take a chance and go anywhere when I have more than just a few thousand in debt to keep up with, unless of course I have a fabulous job waiting for me.

My husband tells me to stop lusting over RV's. He tells me I stare at them when we pass one on the road, and I need to quit. Sigh, I'll have one one day.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Well, There is Actually More to the Story

When youngest came back home she was pregnant and due on October 31st. I thought I would have more time to write about this,  but she went into early labor and has been at the hospital for the last three days.

They have given her three different medications to stop the contractions. The first didn't do much, the second made her sick, and the third has slowed them down a bit. She is four centimeters dilated and they are trying to keep the baby in her as long as possible. That paired with her not really noticing when the contractions occur means she will stay in the hospital until she gives birth.

The first few days I was off from work and able to spend most of my time at the hospital. Today my husband and I both had to work and I felt awful for not being able to be there for her, even though she is feeling better now. Luckily other family and friends took turns visiting and she was never alone for long. I work early tomorrow morning and then I will spend most of the night in the hospital with her. I am filled with worry, and I really  miss sleep.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Living Penny by Penny

I am in fact still here. Life gets bogged down in the minutia of scrambling for daily existence sometimes. When work, poverty, the heat, the noise, whatever gets me down it's impossible to concentrate on much of anything.  My life lately has consisted of working, cleaning, and purchasing the items we need to survive at the lowest possible price I can find. Living life penny be penny can get you down sometimes but usually it is a challenge that I am proud to have just about mastered.

The bills are paid, we have a place to live, we have food to eat, why complain? I'm not complaining, we have it better that so many others who have no job at all, and others who have lost their homes. We know how to survive on smaller salaries. We've even managed to add to our savings during a recession. Not everyone can claim that. I am grateful.

I just about gave up on couponing when we had an empty nest. We were purchasing much smaller quantities of everything and adding very few processed foods to the pantry. Things have changed now with a full house, the combined eating and cooking habits of six adults, and the scarcity of free time. I have restocked the pantry very carefully so the bills would still be paid on time and we could continue adding a bit to savings each week. I'm couponing more now than I ever have before.

I've found a new way to use coupons that takes a lot less time to do. Let's face it couponing is a chore that can steal too much of your time. After I read my Sunday paper I look through the coupon inserts with a pen and a 3 by 5 index card. I write small and keep track of the coupons I might use. I write the amount of the coupon, the item description and the expiration date. When done I tape the index card to the front of the coupon insert and file it in an expandable file. The end of the month cleanup is a breeze. I simply pull out the section of coupons that will expire and toss them in the recycling bin.

This has freed up so much time! I simply browse through the sales circulars and make a list for each store I may shop at. After my list is complete, I look in my folder, read the card on each circular and clip only the coupons I will be using. As I clip each coupon I mark through it on the index card so I don't look for it again. Some weeks the sales are great and I buy a lot and other weeks I purchase only milk and produce. Either way, I only spend about an hour deciding and preparing for a shopping trip and I save at least fifty percent off the regular price. This is still nothing like the Extreme Couponers on television.

I decided to keep track of how many coupons I used for the month of August so I could decide if it was worth it or not. With the increased family to feed I have started purchasing four Sunday papers when there are good coupons in them. So I could spend up to sixteen dollars each month on papers alone, and then there is ink and paper for online coupons, but I don't use as many of them. I did quite a bit of shopping in August, there were good sales and my pantry was depleted. I used $126.89 in coupons for the month. I included store coupons for dollars off in that figure. I didn't include the 3 ten dollar gas cards I obtained for free with a purchase at CVS. I also didn't include the online coupons linked to my reward cards in that figure.

I've learned three new things about shopping this past month. First I've learned that when CVS says you get a free gas card with a thirty dollar purchase of certain items, that is a pre-coupon price. You can still get that gas card when your order drops to $23.00 after coupons. I've learned that coupons, for now, are still worth it for me. I've also learned that it isn't a myth that you can get virtual coupons linked to your store savings card. I'll give a proper link for that in an upcoming post.

I watched a few Extreme Couponing shows last week. In one episode a huge donation was made to charity. It was thousand dollar order and they paid around fifty dollars for it. That just doesn't happen in real life shopping, at least not at that scale. It can happen in small amounts here and there. I bought four bottles of bathroom cleaner for fourteen cents each. I also paid $1.84 for three bottles of laundry detergent and twelve rolls of toilet paper. I imagine an extreme couponer would have ordered extra coupons, obtained the sales fliers early and ordered huge quantities of product from the store.  I was happy with the few of each item that I purchased. I don't have the spare room to store the stuff, and the spare time to prepare for gargantuan shopping sprees.

The past month may have been rough. There were weeks with too much work, and weeks without enough hours, the heat was brutal, the air conditioner was not working as well as it should, but we survived. I feel as if I've suffered through and overcome another horrid Florida summer.  I feel this way every year around this time. Welcome Fall!