Friday, July 24, 2009

EyeballPalooza Auction!

These two lovely handmade items were donated by my mother and my daughter in order to help raise funds for Jackierocket's eye surgery. Jackie is my dear friend, she performed the naming ceremony for my daughter and the renewal of our vows, and is a wonderful lady all around.

She has cataracts and needs surgery to prevent her going blind. She has had one surgery already and it has gone well, but she still needs our help for Eyeball #2.

First up is a beautiful handknit baby blanket. A "carriage" size, it is the perfect size to use on your sweetie when they are in the "baby bucket" or stroller. It has no fringe to get tangled up in the mechanics and is fully machine washable and dryable. It is made from hypoallergenic acrylic yarn with a yummy soft hand and a beautiful spring green shade.

Bidding will begin at $35. Please submit bids via comment on this post. Highest bidder wins.

Next up is a 4x6 photo frame embellished with fabulous big rhinestones. This frame is special because it was made by my almost-2-year-old daughter! She loves to sort through the "sparkies" and select just the right ones for her project. Maggie wanted to donate this frame for her Auntie Jackie.

Bidding will begin at $10. Please submit bids via comment on this post. Highest bidder wins.

For both items, minimum bid includes shipping within the continental US. Please email leopard mama 169 @ gmail dot com for a shipping quote outside of the U.S.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pros/Cons of the Stupid Condo Fantasy

* no more yard work
* no mortgage
* half the taxes
* no more garbage stickers
* heat included
* fresh perspective
* chance to pare down to essentials
* more money for fun things
* easier to keep clean
* easier to supervise Maggie
* Maggie will still have same schools, same friends

* less space
* E will no longer have private Guyland
* will have to make serious decisions about posessions
* no garage
* will have to park outside
* no yard for Maggie to play in
* less space for parties
* unit potentially less updated than my house
* difficult sellers market
* may be priced out of housing market later
* will not be able to make certain choices about decor & exterior stuff
* will have to deal with more immediate neighbor issues

Shit, they seem pretty even don't they? I was hoping for a strong bias one way or the other.

I simply cannot get this idea out of my head. I wish I could! It would be much easier! But every time I pay that mortgage, see that huge gas bill in the winter, work my ass off in the yard to see it go to hell only days later, have to argue with Maggie again about throwing stuff down the stairs to watch it break, go into my craft room and want to scream.....it just seems so....nice.

Part of the problem is I feel like this is SUCH an odd concept that I'm not just odd for having it, but like I'm missing some huge potential regret. How could I possibly want to give up a yard and a house? I really wish I were one of those people who saves their asses off for a house and are willing to give up all their luxuries to "keep the house". I'm just...not. Somehow I couldn't give a rip about the house and I just would rather have the extra time for....life. Less time cleaning, more time taking Maggie to the park. Less money for bills, more for going to museums and out for dinner. Sometimes I feel like the house is sucking the very life out of me. My annual salary is less than the annual taxes. I work an entire year and couldn't pay the taxes on my own. NOT EVEN JUST THE TAXES.

I never really looked at it that way but I am stunned. I am paying all that for...virtually nothing. Sure, nicely paved streets and city maintenance and all, but I could enjoy those same perks at half the price and give up some things but gain some very important things!

Well, this post was supposed to clear things up and it just made them worse. Harumph.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Drastic Action Needed

I have the house I always wanted. Three bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, an eat in kitchen, a dining room, a yard...everything.

I should be happy with this. I should love it and want to spend all my time keeping it lovely. But I don't. In fact, I feel like it is a giant burden on my shoulders; something that takes far far far more work to keep at a minimum standard than I ever spend enjoying it.

I have a beautiful dining room set that I always wanted. A buffet, a HUGE table with fancy chairs, and a china cabinet with glas doors on the top. These things are all dusty because I never use them. I wanted to host big dinners with all my family. Truth be told I think that's the most labor intensive and boring way to entertain. I only do it when I have to. My family tries to push it on me all the time because that's the way they like it, but I prefer to have several locations of party stuff like food and things and everyone mill around rather than all sit as one large unit. This is not even taking into account the enormous amount of time it takes to clean off, set, serve, and then clean up said table.

I have a huge living room. After my last, old living room which was very small, I thought I'd love this huge, airy living room. I don't. It's impossible to make cozy and comfortable. There is either way too much furniture or not enough. The floor is always covered with birdseeds from my parakeets and even though I love the laminate floors, I don't like stepping on birdseed all the time.

We have two complete media setups. See, my priority is "ease of use" and E's priority is "mega quality". While this is great for parties, it also means an enormous amount of dedicated space for both setups, not to mention money. And with two setups to choose from, each designed specifically for its primary user, we can't watch movies together because he doesn't think my setup is properly optimized and his couch makes me fall asleep.

I finally have a decent sized kitchen. I have a pantry of which my mother is insanely jealous. I have counterspace. Of course, what I've done is fill said counter space, because it's easy to grab stuff off the counter, and the pantry is mostly empty because it's inconvenient to get into with the table in the way.

I have 2.5 bathrooms. I initially thought this was awesome. E's friends wouldn't poop in my bathroom and we wouldn't have to "alert" each other if we were going to be awhile in case the other person had to pee. We can both bathe at the same time--it's nice. But it's also three toilets to clean, a shower and a bathtub, and all that mess.

And then there's the yard. It's a nice size for a yard, but the large trees and odd sun/shade pattern means it would be a prohibitively intensive job to try to get the lush green barefoot lawn I'd like. Our yard is full of sticks and dirt patches and weeds. Maggie far prefers to go to the park rather than play in the yard.

We have an attached garage, too, which is great except that it is too narrow to park the car in it and also get out of said car. I use it for storing things I don't know what else to do with. Mice live in there in the winter. It smells, too.

On top of all this, we have finally figured out the problem with our budget. The expenses equal more than the income. It's the classic problem, isn't it? So now we are stuck looking at what to get rid of. And unfortunately, we can't reduce the mortgage or the taxes or the car insurance or the utilities. What we're stuck with is choosing among the enjoyable things in life; the things we decided were worth the money because we get a lot of enjoyment out of them. Things like Netflix, Blythe dolls, fancy silk ties, Blu Ray players, the YMCA membership, the Blackberry, the internet service, going out to eat.

So what do I do? I don't know. I suggested cancelling the internet service but E isn't willing to give that up. He suggested cancelling the Blackberry but I am not really willing to give that up. I wish there was a way to reduce the things that AREN'T fun, like medical expenses, car insurance, and electricity.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Typical Week Blog

(I'm going to try to blog a typical week in order to figure out where the money is leaking).

Monday. I usually work on Monday. E does not usually work late and so we have dinner at home. Since I shop on the weekend, we usually have a "nice" meal on Monday because I save my freezer stuff for the end of the week. So, dinner, around $15 for the three of us. Sometimes a treat in the evening like Dairy Queen $10.

Tuesday. I'm off on Tuesday. So Maggie and I either go somewhere (to the city, usually $15 gas or trans and $20 lunch) or we stay around and do errands, and have Gong Ho for lunch ($6). Errands typically include the post office ($15 on average but not every tuesday) and the craft store (okay a few bucks get dropped here, around $20, including the thing I need) and Target ($100 weekly for necessities, and probably an extra $10 per trip on something fun). Tuesday is my night off and I used to get a pedicure ($40) but now I usually go to the gym and then have a nice dinner at the local restaurant ($20 on average).

*okay I'm seeing where the money is going do I have to keep writing? yeah? fine*

Wendesday. I work Wednesday. Usually I make a frugal dinner ($10 for the three of us) and then we might go out and get slurpees ($5 for the three of us)

Thursday. I don't work Thursdays. Maggie and I usually take a ride to the thrift shop to drop stuff off (but we usually don't go in) and then get lunch at Burger King or Gong Ho ($10 or less for lunch). Sometimes we hit the used bookstore (but I haven't paid for a book there in months, I use credit from trading in old ones).

Friday. E's night off. Maggie and I do something every Friday. Lately we've been hanging with my folks, which is free. Sometimes we go out to see my friend Carrie, which is technically free except for gas and we usually want to bring something along, so ($5 for either a treat for the dogs or for the people!). Or we go out for dinner with a friend ($20-25 for the two of us).

Saturday. In the morning we clean up the house, and then we go to the store for our groceries and Target needs. Like diapers ($10/week) and Maggie's milk ($6/week) and groceries (typically $80 a week) and cleaning needs (there is always something, say about $20 a week total). Since we're out and about we usually buy lunch at Subway or at the grocery store ($20 total for the three of us). We usually cook a meal together.

Sunday. We usually have a nice breakfast and lunch....yeah, Sunday pretty much goes the same as Saturday. I'd say we could cut out those meals out, but if we don't go out we have to buy stuff for lunch and then that ends up being a certain amount as well.

Things I want to know while looking this over:
* why is it I spend around $100 at Target on the weekend and yet still need stuff from there during the week?

Gah. I have to meditate on this I guess.

Money Money Money

Well, the good news is Mr. Knitty got a nice raise. Now during the shitty part of the month, instead of having to decide between bills and groceries, I can do both, but barely. Sigh. I was in a full on panic yesterday because I owe the driveway contractors a $2K down payment. I figured I'd take some from the new, larger paycheck, some from my regular savings (where I had been stashing money for this project) and some from my deep savings.

Well after taking grocery money out the checking account was around $30 so that didn't happen.

And the savings account was missing about $700, which I remember I used for our St. Louis trip, which I also planned to take out of that account, I just spent the money twice.

And so I was panicking as I drove to the bank which holds my deep savings account, praying that there was enough money in there. There was. I am happy.


This leaves me with about $600 between both savings accounts.
And I have a $800 car insurance bill, a $200 medical bill, and a $400 credit card bill.

Where does the money go? I realize that this past month I DID in fact purchase a doll wig, a doll body, and a pair of doll glasses. That totaled slightly over $50. But I honestly do not recall spending any other frivolous dollars!

If I may be shallow for a moment I'm really glad that Mr. Knitty is weaning off his meds soon because his doctor likes to see him EVERY month, and the $95 charge every month is killing us. My doc at least only needs to see me every 3 most of the time. And it's not like this was a severe case or anything with him, so I really believe she's just doing it for the extra money.

But for the next two weeks I am planning some ultra frugal meals because...well...$200 has to last us until the next payday. And I fully realize that many folks eat on far less, but I'm just gonna play the kid card and say that they probably don't have a kid who wants MEAT. I confess I just sort of roll my eyes at these folks who can subsist on tabbouleh with some organic zucchini from the farmer's market. I am feeling low on protein because we are not having meat every night.

But I have a plan in place for the food. I'm going to buy a ton of chicken legs, which are always cheap, and cook them all up at once, shred the meat, and store it in meal-sized containers in the freezer. With that I can make chicken and rice, chicken tacos, and chicken enchiladas. I'll also get some Italian sausage; they make it at the store so it's a bit less expensive, and I can make 1 package of sausage last two meals. And then the rest is pasta.

I'm gonna sound spoiled here, but as soon as we have a few extra bucks we are so going to the Brazilian steakhouse and pigging out on meat!

But yeah, I am not quite sure what I'm going to do.

Maybe I should blog a typical week and see where it's going?