Home > Archive: December, 2009

Archive for December, 2009

good mail day and pay day

December 18th, 2009 at 02:36 am

It was a good mail day today. I talked to a friend of mine the other day, the one that bought a laptop from me, and my husband delivered it. He didn't know how much I was charging, her husband thought $200 and she thought $250, so my husband said just pay me when they saw us again. Um, all FOUR of us have cell phones, so you could have just called, but whatever Smile Anyway, I haven't seen her for over a month now, but talked to her on the phone, and she said "I owe you for that laptop! How much is it?" Told her, and she mailed it to me, even though we only live like 10 miles apart. lol. So that check came in today.

Got a refund from a radiological outfit that did my ultrasound when I was pregnant. That was $16.03.

Got our 4% patronage check from the coop, for $71.50.

That should all go to the snowball. The monthly snowball is at $370, and I got it up to $850 for this month. The electric bill was $5 less than I thought, so it went up to $855.

But, because the Federal Government is run by nincompoops, it went down by $100. Let me explain. I switched bank accounts for the bills, and I changed the bank information on the Direct Loan website. BUT, that doesn't change your automatic payments, it only changes the manual one time payments. Of course that isn't stated anywhere on the site. So, my 11/14 payment didn't go through. Got a letter saying that I missed a payment and it would be going into forebearance. WTH? I've never missed a payment. I logged in and made a payment of $100 to make me current from the new account, and then I called, and they said you have to download a form, put the bank info on there (even though the new bank info was already on the website) and send it in by mail. Because of that, I thought that the $100 web payment wouldn't go through, so I sent another $100 payment in by check. Looked at the bank statement today, and they got both payments. Called today, and they said I have to make another web payment in January, because it takes 30-45 days to change that automatic payment information. REALLY? I can do that immediately on most sites! Again, WTH?

The more I interact with the federal government, the more I realize they are all pretty much idiots or just don't flippin' care. Either way, it reinforces why I am a conservative Smile

Anyway, that extra $100 payment makes the snowball go back down to $755 for this month. At least I didn't just blow just went to goal #3 instead of goal #1 (1 is house, 2 is smallest credit card, 3 is student loan).

But now, I can add Round($200 + $71.50 + $16.03 + $755) = $1045 to the house, and only about $300 left! Yeah!

I got a bill for the chiropractor for $141. I have a $500 deductible on my insurance before they start paying anything, so I think I am about half way there (year is October - September). But, $141 will come out of my non-bills account, and then I'll take 1/2 of the gasoline bill I get from work and pay that out of the non-bill account ($170.50 is half) with one more paycheck before the end of the month which will cover the other $170.50. That leaves about $105 in the non-bill account as of pay day today (after the above mentioned bills) which I could send to the house as well. $1045 + $105 = $1150. My next paycheck is 12/31, and I want to pay this payment for the house before the end of the year, but maybe I'll wait until that week and see how the non-bill account is coming, and I might be able to send more in. All Christmas gifts are done, and we don't have any travel to speak of for Christmas, so I don't see any problem with that.

The plan was almost 4 months (3.88 to be exact Smile ) to pay off the house at the original snowball, and it looks like I will be damn close in 1...and if the government hadn't screwed me up for $150 I KNOW I could have done it in 1!

So someone asked how we budget. I have three different checking accounts. One is strictly for bills, one is for gas and food and misc stuff, and one is for farm. Of course these somewhat liquid, because after all, when a bill has to be paid, a bill has to be paid. But this is the ideal way I have it set up.

I deposit $600 every two weeks in the non-bill personal account. I deposit $1000 a paycheck into the bill account, and the rest goes to the farm account, about $295.

I don't really budget the $600 or the $295, because the $600 is pretty flexible, and there is a big buffer in there if I get in trouble, and I haven't figured out how to budget for unexpected farm expenses. But, I do have a strict regimen for the bills.

Easiest way is just to show a screen shot:

As you can see, I do it in a spreadsheet., in fact. The free version of excel.

So, let's go through this. The top four lines have been paid, and have been reconciled with the bank from the last statement. That is shown by being gray and having the black column Cs. Under that black is an X, so I can filter on blank or non-blank (you can't filter on color).

The next 12 lines have all been paid, but not reconciled, because they are gray without the black box. Chase Visa #1 (line 215) and Bank of America (line 217) have been scheduled to pay on those dates, shown by being gray with no black box.

Yellow lines are automatic. I put Auto on some of those lines, but really don't look at that first column, so Auto isn't on all the lines it should be (oops). I color them gray when they are done (the day of or the next day, depending on when I check the spreadsheet.)

The orange ones I have to log on to that site and schedule a payment, and once I schedule it, I color it gray (I don't wait until the day of. That is why Chase and BOA are gray now).

The blue ones I have to send a check to, so I have to schedule it ahead on bill pay. The date on the spreadsheet is the due date. It will go gray when I send the payment.

The green one is the current special emphasis item. That is where I keep track of the current snowball. It will go gray when I send the payment.

I actually have this scheduled out until the end of February. The lowest I'll get is $48 on 2/10, but I'll get paid on 2/11, so that should be ok. I have a gap between bills from the 14th to the 25th, so if I need to change bank information at work (which takes a paycheck before switching, and during that switch, we get a paper check) I can deposit it and allocate the money as I said above.

You can see that I allocate $200 a month for gas for the house (line 219) but on line 198, I only paid $67.01 for that bill. The difference goes to the snowball.

How did I get $200, you ask? Well, that is another sheet...

These records go back to Jan 2007. Again, gray means it is done. I have two sheets as a check on myself...I could code it to automatically update one sheet when I do the other, but I like to see both spreadsheets in their respective formats. Yellow, orange and blue mean the same as above. Green isn't on here, because it wasn't a monthly bill (private contract, with very understanding previous owner). But when I start snowballing a credit card for instance, that one will be green.

First column is what is due, and the second row for that entry is the max bill since the beginning of the sheet. You can see that on line 14/15, The most I have ever paid Kansas Gas is $197.15, so that is why I budget $200. Now for Geico, the most I had paid for that is $123, but I change policies and it is now $68.04 every month without fail, so I budget exactly $68.04. Variable items get budgeted the most and exact items get budgeted exact. Once I know the exact amount for a variable bill, I update it.

The rest of the spreadsheet are due dates and amounts due. I started this when I was juggling bills for two houses (mine and DHs when I used to work 2.5 hours away) and I couldn't keep track in my head when everything was due. This very easily shows the due date and the amount, and the other shows if I have the money to pay!

My other two accounts just look like ledger sheets, and I use gray and black boxes on them as well, but no other colors Smile

Meatballs and minestrone soup

December 15th, 2009 at 04:21 am

Thank you, pinchthatpenny, for the meatball receipe:

I tried it today, and boy, were they good. I think next time I'll only use one egg, though, because they were pretty running when I was putting them on the pan.

For some reason, I wanted to make those, and I wanted minestrone soup as well. So, I looked up a couple different minestrone soup recipes and kind of mixed them together. I cooked the meatballs, then took half of them and minced them up to put in the soup. I'll put the recipe I used on my sidebar. DH and I both liked it, though it only cooked for about 30 minutes. I'm going to keep it simmering until we go to bed, and hopefully it will be even better for tomorrow.


Had a nice surprise last week. Big storm came through, so my boss told me I could work from home for two days, Tues and Wed. We planned what I would work on, I had a couple projects to do, and I made sure to work hard on them so this experiment won't be a bad experience for my boss. I got a lot done, and he was happy with it. I think, after a few more months, I'm going to ask if I could work from home 1 day a week or 1 day every couple of weeks. I think he really likes what I am doing, but I don't think they have a policy for doing that. I've only been there 4 months, but they are really happy with my work.


I've been trying to work on my sister's wedding invitations, but I am having a hard time doing it. I could do mine, because I knew what I wanted. But I don't know her taste, so I'm kind of floundering. I'll try to get more of that done in the next few days. Dear Sis, don't read this: I am going to print one out and actually send it to her in the mail so it is kind of a surprise when she gets it.


Found out that the calf sale is in Salina on Tues, Jan 5. DH called the manager of the sale barn, and it seemed like the manager remembered our calves from last year, which is a huge surprise. Last year he stopped the sale to point out how good our calves are, but there has to be hundreds of thousands of calves go through there every year, so for him to remember us is kind of a big deal. It may be that the auctioneer just holds out a few more seconds, asks for one more bid, anything, and it could mean a lot more money. Hope our calves impress again like they did last year.


Got paid for another laptop, so another $200 towards the snowball this month, I had a $50 check from a credit card, and other bills were less than expected, so I'll have $850 to send to the house this month. (Snowball is $370, so I added another $480 this month). I got $100 in cash as a Christmas bonus from work, and I have some cash from our hunters renting out the pheasant hunting rights on our property (I think $305 left) but I've been slowly giving that to DH because he likes cash. I've been giving him about $50 a week for groceries, gas, misc other stuff. I have one more laptop to get paid for.

I also have been doing a lot better job in my gas/food/misc check book. I was dipping into the cushion quite a bit when I was still paying the truck loan. I get paid every two weeks, and deposit $600 in there every paycheck. I have about $650 of buffer in the account, and I got down to -$631 at one point! Two weeks later I pulled it up to -$201, er, then it went back down to $242, and now, after a few months, I'm at +$139 as of the last pay check. Today, it is at $445, all presents are done, and pay day is Thursday! I'll need to pay $340 to work for gas for the month (I have a gas card that gives me $.05 off a gallon, but I charge it - no interest - and have to pay it by the end of the month), but I should be able to sweep extra money into my snowball from now on.


I took back some batteries I had bought to Alco. I bought D batteries, but the hot shot takes C batteries. Then, I got the last presents I needed to get, with a 20% off coupon! One shirt I got was originally $50, marked down to $10, then 20% off is $8! I got another shirt, some candies, and a DVD. Everything else I got I ordered from Amazon...and learned a lesson there. Not everything sold on Amazon is shipped from Amazon. Those things, even if you are over $25, cost shipping. An expensive lesson. I bought some glow-in-the-dark fingernail polish for my sister, and the $3.95 polish had $7.00 in shipping! yikes! I didn't catch it until after I okayed the transaction.


Need to work on my net worth statement. I don't know why, but in order to complete the IRA to Roth IRA transaction, they need all that info. Doesn't make sense. I mean, if I had a negative net worth and not enough income, they wouldn't do it? I have to get that done tonight so I can send it in tomorrow. I'm anxious to see if it all works out like I hope it will.

went to the doctor...

December 1st, 2009 at 06:11 am

and the news is disappointing but hopeful. My aunt sent me a book about the St. Paul VI Institute in Omaha and how they treat women's infertility. It was a good book, but I couldn't drive to Omaha for checkups as they suggested. But, it turns out that there is a doctor in Salina that has been trained their way, and I met with her last week.

Basically, they treat the woman's entire body and not just her ovaries. They don't throw birth control pills at you and don't throw clomid at you. They try to get your body healthy, measure estrogen, progesterone and other hormones on a regular schedule, teach you to recognize your fertility markers and encourage you to eat healthy (low carbs in my case because of PCOS) and exercise. I don't think I have ovulated in the past two months, and I have been charting my basal body temperature, and it has been mostly below 97'. (The lowest number on the chart is 97', so that was a clue that something was wrong.) I think it might be thyroid, especially since at my first appointment from when I was pregnant the doctor circled the thyroid numbers, but didn't say anything else about it. (That shocked this new doctor. She said the thyroid can be very instrumental in getting and staying pregnant.) I feel a lot more comfortable with this doctor and my specific problems compared to my previous doctor that didn't even know that metformin can be prescribed for PCOS, and who had to call another doctor after my miscarriage to discover she should have had me on progesterone the entire time.

So, either PCOS and thyroid problems are making me gain weight, or my weight gain is exacerbating my PCOS and thyroid problems. So, we get to lose weight.

GAH! It seems like an impossible battle. But, if I don't do it, I won't be a mom. It is that simple. So, a lot of hard work is in front of me.

I started the diet today, since my last Thanksgiving thing was yesterday. Doing Atkins, which has worked for me in the past, but is really hard to stay on. I need to work on proceeding up the levels instead of staying on the induction phase forever and then stopping cold turkey. Made a yummy italian salad dressing from scratch to put on my salad tonight and DH made steak. Leftovers for tomorrow!

I played in an alumni basketball game for our high school on Saturday and played a little paintball on Sunday. Today I worked out using an old VHS tape I was going to throw out. It is a Power 90 tape I had from back when I was in college. It used to be so EASY (I was used to working out 3 hours a day for basketball, so I didn't even break a sweat then) and now it was terribly hard. I am looking forward to getting to level 2 because he is kind of annoying on the tape in level 1 Smile

I went in for a blood test on Friday, but haven't heard the results yet.

I have an appointment on Tuesday to meet with the person who is going to teach me the Creighton Model Fertility Care System (charting your mucus) to tell when you are ovulating. It will also give an indication of how your hormone levels are doing. It is very interesting. We have so much information we can get about our bodies if only we know how to read it!

I really think it is a shame that medicine has shifted towards the pill for PCOS and IVF and other non-natural remedies for infertility. Many doctors I have gone to don't actually know much about a woman's cycle, or don't want to follow up to see if you can regulate it any other way. The message seems to be "acne? take the pill. PMS? take the pill. PCOS? take the pill. athlete's foot? take the pill." I mean, goodness, it is not the panacea to all female problems. In fact, I think it may mask some problems, and be treating the symptoms, not the problems.

I don't know what all this is going to cost out of pocket. She is treating PCOS, so it should be covered by insurance, but I don't know about the Creighton Model teacher. Probably not.

In money news, I have figured out my debt snow ball (can't remember if I blogged about this yet, but too lazy to look). Tomorrow the last payment for the ambulance ride from 3 years ago will be paid. My debt snowball is currently $335 (pickup, table and Bandit surgery), so I was able to send the entire $320.50 that was left with no problem. Add the normal ambulance payment of $36 and the new snowball is $370. (I like round numbers. So sue me.)

Next is the house. We owe about $1300 on it, but we aren't really on a set schedule to pay it off as it is private contract. DH would like to pay the entire thing off by the end of the year, but I can't send that much out of the bill bucket. We would have to sell something. We are selling calves in January, so maybe we will use some of that money to pay it off. But, if it comes out of the bill bucket, I'll be able to for sure send $565 on Jan 1, maybe $10 more, depending on the electric bill. That puts the house pay off by March 1 at a minimum. Of course, that won't grow the snowball because we hadn't been making regular payments (with the previous owner's blessing, by the way) but another debt will be gone.

One bad thing is that our smallest debts are also the lowest interest rates, and even though I know in my head that paying off highest interest rates first makes more money sense, I think I need to follow a system. DR seems to be a good one, so there you go. The next debt is a credit card with $1477 currently on it at 0% interest, then student loan of $2590 at 3.125% interest. I should get through these by the end of next year.

I guess there are my goals for 2010:
1. pay off house
2. pay off capital one
3. pay off student loan

That is all the further out I'm going to project, except that my preliminary numbers show I can get us out of all of our non-farm debt in 3.5 years (though technically, all the credit card debt did come from farm purchases. it just feels differently than a bank loan, though.)


I have been wanting to get a preliminary estimate of our taxes finished so I can convert my rollover IRA (from my old 401k) to a Roth IRA this year. I want to roll over enough to keep us in the 15% tax bracket, and not get in the 25% bracket, as I see taxes going up and up and up in the future. We may look back at 15% with longing and nostalgia. Hell, we may look back at 28% with nostalgia. I learned tonight that I will have more wiggle room than I thought. We bought about 60 cows cows this year, and I can section 179 as many as I need to bring the income level down to 15%. I didn't know if I had to do all or nothing, but a friend of mine who does farm taxes said I could do a specific dollar amount, not even a whole cow! So, figuring we didn't pay any taxes last year, lost my $92,000 job, I was on unemployment for 6 months, and my new job is only $60,000, AND having $72,000 of wiggle room from the cows, I think I can safely move $20,000 from IRA to Roth IRA. I still want to go through the receipts and do a better check, but if I don't get to it in the next week, I'll have my adviser pull the trigger. I can always recharacterize it next year before I submit my return, so the only risk is not doing enough, I suppose.