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Re: The year of increasing the emergency fund

Posted: Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:03 pm
by Wysteria
A few food ideas:

Homemade no knead bread and a simple soup, like lentil or chicken. Search 'no knead bread' on google and go to the NYTimes link.

This is a nice website, with recipes listed with cost/serving: http://budgetbytes.blogspot.com/

Homemade pizza is great, too, and really uncomplicated as long as you're comfortable making a simple dough, though I couldn't swear to the cost as I haven't made it in years. (Which gives me an idea.)

Re: The year of increasing the emergency fund

Posted: Thu Mar 14, 2013 12:33 pm
by partgypsy1
Husband was traveling for 4 days so I was in charge of the kids and all meals. Though I will not win any James Beard Awards, other than 1 lunch out for burritos, and a Sunday dinner at the in-laws I did manage to provide 3 meals a day plus pack their lunches for school. I basically made a big breakfast (homemade pancakes, bacon, strawberries, homestyle potatoes, oatmeal) to fill them up, some kind of sandwich and fruit for lunch, and doing the semi-homeade deal for dinner (ramen noodle with vegetables, quesadillas, yes a frozen pizza one night) plus snacks like carrots, popcorn, yogurt with honey, etc. With planning it would have been better, but even so it wasn't terrible.
Husband back. As of Friday, I am sending in the last payment for the couch fund, so the couch+ ottoman will be officially paid off :clap: ! I know, I should wait until the last minute in September to glean that extra $2 in interest from our savings account, but at this point, rather have it crossed off!
Tomorrow will spend some money on belated anniversary/b-day night out.
Next weekend will be challenging, because we will be going to Charleston for 2 nights. We are staying in a hotel room, so other than left overs, will not really be eating cheaply. There is a plethora of restaurants, and both my father (who we will be visiting) my husband and I love to try new places. I'm thinking of maybe one nice place and the rest more reasonable places, so we'll see.

Re: The year of increasing the emergency fund

Posted: Wed Mar 27, 2013 7:40 am
by partgypsy1
Back from Charleston. We had brief period of Friday evening, and Sat morning of cold weather, no rain, but after that pouring or thunderstorm weather. We did eat in downtown for a couple restaurants. We probably spent less than we could have, because so many of the things we were going to do, were rained out. Sat evening came to hotel early and ate pizza in hotel room, kids went swimming. Anyways I can be somewhat of an over planner, and maybe good for me to see when things don't go the way I hope, that things are still ok. The kids got to spend time with my Dad. I got to spend time with him, just walking and catching up. Although I had budgeted to pay his hotel room, he insisted and also contributed money for the kids, and paid for a couple meals. Even though he is on a limited budget, he has pride regarding these things, so I'm not going to go there.

One interesting thing, is as we are passing through one (nicer suburban type) neighborhood in my home town, he made some kind of remark about how those was the kind of homes that could support 2 generations. He has made it known he would not move down here and to live in our current house (I offered). But it made me realize, that if I had a job with a higher income where I could afford a larger house in a more suburban area, he would have been OK living with me. So a little bittersweet, in that I would love to give him that, if things had turned out differently. But he is realistic about the situation. He has picked up the habit of playing lottery tickets, but I'm thinking he's 81 years old, not going to say anything at this point.

In separate news, hubby was basically offered his job back at old restaurant. I don't think he will, but he is still unsure where to go from here. The new restaurant keeps promising it will happen, but the better shifts at the new restaurant are not opening up. But at the same time he doesn't want to lose his "spot" in line, especially as it would allow him to work afternoon shifts which has been working so much better with the family. But other than that going to keep out of it. He doesn't really want my advice and wouldn't take it anyways.

Re: The year of increasing the emergency fund

Posted: Mon Apr 01, 2013 2:34 pm
by partgypsy1
2013 JAN ingo=4512, outgo=4466
FEB ingo 8662, outgo=5679. (includes tax refund and sale of coin)
MAR ingo = 5463.17 outgo=4835.02. We were really helped by being a 3 paycheck month for me, and Dad giving us cash for hotel room, miscellaneous (thanks Dad : )

Since we now break out clothing and house improvements separately, we have been good about keeping miscellaneous down; 298 in Jan, 368 in Feb, and 183 in March (previously averaged almost 700 a month). Miscellaneous includes all gifts, cash withdrawals, souvenirs, stuff for hobbies, books, etc.

However our groceries/restaurants are still high (to me at least):
Jan 743/249 =992
Feb 983/396=1379
Mar 896/547=1443
The other sore spot is that because I over funded my flexible spending account on a previous year and lost money, I decided to put a low amount (300) this year. This was too low. We have had a number of dentist and doctors visits, and I've already tapped out the FSA. Since we have additional bills (in March came to 533) we will need to work the medical bills into the budget.

So, I'm not sure what's going to happen next month. We don't have any large expenses expected (knock wood) but unless we either figure out a way to cut or hubby starts making more at new job, we are going to start seeing shortfalls. We'll just see how it goes.

Re: The year of increasing the emergency fund

Posted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 6:39 am
by partgypsy1
I've been wanting to refresh my wardrobe, since the Christmas holidays. But money I got for the holidays, I used to pay off holiday bills (Will I ever learn?). This last visit, my Dad gave me some extra money for incidentals. In addition to letting the kids buy some souvenirs, I felt it was extra money. I went to a consigment shop and got a dress and a designer wool blend sweater for $30. And while some people may think this is too much, I also decided to bite the bullet and order a pair of $70 jeans (and also another sweater $40). Suffice to say, other than coats this is the most I've ever paid for a piece of clothing. But, I'm at the age where I'm no longer going to have kids and my body shouldn't be changing, they are not cut so low they expose my hips/butt/navel, and they are flattering. They will still need to be hemmed, but if they fit how I expect, going to have them professionally hemmed because I hope to wear them for a long time.

Re: The year of increasing the emergency fund

Posted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 6:53 am
by partgypsy1
The other "itch" I have, is again about the house. I do like the study better, but the lighting is not good where the table is. We will need to have another light where the work/small dining table is. Hubby would prefer a table or floor light, but I'd prefer a ceiling light to reduce the feeling of yet more "clutter" (we already have a table lamp and floor lamp in that room). Still haven't come to decision.

Also, I keep coming back to the idea of expanding porch. It wouldn't solve all the lacks of our house (no driveway, no extra bedroom). But, it would give one extra living area, that we could use 2/3rds of the year. I can imagine many ways we could use that spot if it was expanded: art days, informal eating area, entertaining. But I don't know if I can justify the cost. The idea is to bump out 3, 3 1/2 feet along a 15 foot area, to make a 8.5' by 15' space, versus the 5 1/2 foot by 15' foot space it is now). But, it would probably cost 10K? (I'm guessing at the cost), while if we simply refurbish the area we have now, it would be minimal cost.
Hubby agreed to call another carpenter to get their estimate, and decide from there. Strangely enough, since the attic is off the table, after talking about it, even hubby thinks that even if it costs that much, it may be worth it because the porch is so old this point it does need to be replaced, and might as well turn it into a nice useful space. But to pay 10K for essentially 120, 130 square feet of porch space, is that crazy?

Re: The year of increasing the emergency fund

Posted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 11:01 am
by alohabear
I understand your delimma, Partygypsy. I just posted in my journal update that I went on a shopping binge for house project materials last month. When I look around my house and get the urge to fix stuff (or fix up stuff), the pull is nearly irresistible. I'm trying to work on a more disciplined spending approach to the house so I can satisfy my desire to turn it into a haven in a way that doesn't compromise our other financial goals. If I ever figure that out (yeah, right), I'll get back to ya. :rofl:

Re: The year of increasing the emergency fund

Posted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 7:42 pm
by CecilyC
Seriously agree about the house refurbishing itch!!! If I did everything I wanted to do, it would be outrageously expensive...but I can't help wanting it!


Re: The year of increasing the emergency fund

Posted: Thu Apr 04, 2013 9:08 am
by partgypsy1
Yeah, I think I have a little of the green eyed monster. My coworker's in the planning stage for a 45K-50K kitchen reno, and a bunch of my neighbors which their already way nice houses, are doing various remodels. Which makes me feel like, well, what I want is less than that, how come I can't? I guess the biggest reason is these are dual income couples.
Looking at what would be involved (roof line, adding to foundation) most likely making a bigger porch area not cost effective. Probably still get a quote, but not so enthused.

I keep coming back to the idea of attic remodel. Hubby thinks if we are seriously considering that, to just sell and buy a bigger house elsewhere. But if we did that we would have to move out of our neighborhood which would make me sad :( .

Back to usual plan of doing all the little things around the house, waiting till kwe now our income situation better before starting anything big.

Re: The year of increasing the emergency fund

Posted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 8:18 am
by partgypsy1
Looking at the balanced money formula trying to figure it out. If I have my gross income, and subtract taxes (fegli,oasdi, fed tax,state tax) plus add estimate of after tax husband earning (350)=5044

For needs I include an additional 459 deducted in health care (including medicare contribution), plus average months of 2012 =1647 recurring+150 car+189 out of pocket medical costs+600 food=3045=60%

If I calculate what I and the government is pitching in for retirement it plus the 100 a month we put into efund=19.8%, pretty close to 20%. If I only include what I contribute then =13%.

So, if I calculate this new way, my "needs" are higher. But my savings contribution is a little higher as well.

Considering that in 2012 we spent an average of 1012 in grocery (413 above wants level), and 361 in restaurant last year, we are spending close to 773 of our "wants" on food and drink. Considering that we only have about 1K a month on wants left off, means only 200-300 a month on everything else (no wonder I feel I can never buy clothes for myself...)
While month to month it doesn't work out exactly like this, bottom line I am surprised at how high (when calculated this way) our "needs" or recurring expenses are, considering that our house payment is relatively low (17.5% of income), and our car is completely paid off.

This is probably compounded by husband's low earning at this time (I am estimating 350 after taxes right now)
No bartending or wait shifts have opened up. Husband says he will wait out until summer comes around, and if nothing changes shift-wise, he will look for something else.

Re: The year of increasing the emergency fund

Posted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 11:35 am
by peachy
I know it seems like I'm always picking on your husband (or maybe I pick on him in my head, and don't actually write much), but I have to do it this time.

Spring has JUST started..Are you really ok with him sitting around for 3 months before he even STARTS looking for a job? He can be a waiter/bartender anywhere. Do you live in a rural area where there aren't a lot of restaurants? I think you always let him off the hook, when really, if anyone needs to be on the hook, it's him. He wants the world (a newer, bigger house was mentioned last time), but doesn't help out, and try to reach it with you. I know that I would be so frustrated. I hope you are ok with it, and making do with what you have, but somehow you have got to convey that he needs to start cutting grass or helping the neighbors for some extra $$, or something.

Re: The year of increasing the emergency fund

Posted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 12:59 pm
by partgypsy1
Sorry if this wasn't clear. He IS working, but running food at the restaurant he is at. He was promised if he paid his dues, he would get the next wait/bar shifts that open up. So I was glad about that. Those shifts would be better all around because they would make more than his old job, and most would be during the day when the kids are in school versus on the evenings.
But, I think he started end of February. And no shifts have opened up. The rationale for waiting is that some waits may be college students who may move on (but I'm not sure). I do want to be supportive so I'm not saying anything, but financially it is not cutting it what he is making right now.
The thing that is more frustrating, is that he is not cutting down on groceries at all, in fact he seems to be spending MORE. We will have 8 boxes of cereal, and he will come home with 3 new boxes of cereal. Going to the store to buy items for single expensive meals versus stuff that can be eaten for multiple days. Making new meals before the next meal is eaten, so leftovers are thrown out. This is a topic we cannot talk about, because it will start a fight.

Re: The year of increasing the emergency fund

Posted: Fri Apr 12, 2013 5:04 am
by kombat
partgypsy1 wrote:He IS working, but running food at the restaurant he is at. He was promised if he paid his dues, he would get the next wait/bar shifts that open up.

partgypsy, I don't know you or your husband, and I know very little about your situation. From the perspective I have, it sounds like your husband is basically a bus buy at a restaurant, with aspirations of eventually being a waiter. While he has a family and children.

Is that his long-term plan? Is that his goal for the rest of his adult life? To work his way up the ranks of wait staff at some little restaurant? Maybe someday be "head waiter?" Get first pick of the shifts?

Again, I hope the reality is much more nuanced than I just portrayed it, because if it's not, no offense, but that sounds like a terribly sad underachievement for a grown man with a family to support.

partgypsy1 wrote:Making new meals before the next meal is eaten, so leftovers are thrown out.

Wow. I can't imagine throwing out leftovers. It's pretty rare that leftovers get dumped into the compost in our house. If your husband has so much free time and restaurant experience, why not task him with planning the meals for the family for the week, so such inefficiencies don't occur as often?

Re: The year of increasing the emergency fund

Posted: Fri Apr 12, 2013 5:49 am
by peachy
kombat-They can't discuss the food issue because it will start a fight. I can understand that.

Partygypsy-I understand now that he is working, but waiting and hoping for a better shift. I wonder why the college kids get priority of shifts over him considering he has worked there longer than they have and he is the one that actually needs the money. The college kids are just buying beer and cigarettes with their money, and he has a family to support. *baffling* I hope it works out for him if the college kids plan on going home for the summer. Perhaps he should ASK the kids what their plans are so he has an idea if there is a future for him at the restaurant. That way he can at least plan for making more money or jump ship and go to Applebee's.

Maybe it's time to have another general money discussion-not necessarily about the food but that you guys are sinking and need him to provide a little more. He can decide where he can bring in more income, whether it's cutting the grass, now that it's spring, or shopping for meals that will last a few days and not such excessive meals. Something has got to give.

Re: The year of increasing the emergency fund

Posted: Fri Apr 12, 2013 6:48 am
by partgypsy1
Well he told me last night that he is going to have a bartending shift. I don't know permanently, or just for next week, so hopefully things will get better. Earlier this week I did ask him to see if we can be thrifty with food the rest of the month, and also said that while we had extra income the last 2 months (tax refund, extra paycheck month) it won't be the case this month, and we have an additional bill this month (semiannual car insurance).
He just doesn't like meal plans. The most he likes, is if I suggest some meals for the coming week, which he may or may not do. The food situation is irratic. Sometimes we will have stuff from 3 seperate meals in the fridge, and stuff ends up not being eaten. Other times it's like there is nothing in the fridge. I know it's a pain to have to think of meals, so I need to step up my game in this regard.

As far as his job issue, at a family dinner that both my parents and my father we ate, he brought up that he was offered his old job back and whether he should take it. The various advice he got was (MIL) you could always go back to work there, and when something better opens up, leave). (FIL) no, you should do something completely different with your life that is more like a real job. (my father) whatever you do, that you should do it with logic, and not emotion. And that logic should be what is best financially and for your family.
And when it happened (getting fired from last job) I said that this may be a good thing, that it will force you to change and consider alternatives. But he is an adult, and needs to figure this out. But I think (like everyone) is really into comfort zones and doesn't want to leave that. And I think he is focusing on meals and lots of grocery shopping because they give him something to do and make him feel productive and useful.