Sunday Thoughts

  • We have 22 days of school left. 20 for the kids. I have an additional 2 workdays (Monday June 7th and Tuesday June 8th).
  • Today is Mother’s Day.  My gift was being woken up at 12 am with Zach throwing up.  Lily started getting sick at 2am. I have been up and down with them most of the day. Hopefully no one else will get this lovely bug.
  • On Thursday, Kendall had seizure like activity and was rushed to the Emergency Room. We currently have no answers and lot of questions. She has an appointment on May 19th.
  • I am trying something new and some different recipes this week. I made 2 casseroles that just need to be cooked. I will make a third one on Tuesday so each day will be heat and eat.  I am hopeful that we can add these into the rotation as we are getting bored again of the same food. I am also trying to use up things in my freezers to make room for summer produce.
  •  We have purchased a batting cage for Zach.  The old swing set was taken down and we are currently waiting on rubber mulch to begin installing the cage. He is continuing t make improvements with his skills and really enjoying the game.
  • Matt and I added grids to the garden beds today. We currently have lots of things growing. I am also planning another planting at the end of May to extend the growing session.
  • I decided just this week that I will continue to work in Guam on Sunday nights all during the summer. This will allow me to keep some contacts and also supply the extra money needed for the outside projects we have been working on.

Life Happens- Unexpected Trip

Things change very quickly, as has been proven yet again. Matt’s father passed away on Sunday January 10th. We made the very difficult decision to leave all the kids here and head to Florida to help make arrangements and for the memorial service.  This trip was total unplanned but fortunately we were able to cover the cost without causing significant hardship.  The emotional toil was significantly higher than any money spent.  Amanda was able to spend Monday- Thursday night at our house. Haley stayed Friday and Saturday night.  My mother was the bus driver and made sure that Kendall and Zach got to school every day and to piano.  A friend stepped in to make sure the kids got to church on Wednesday night. I had already written our meal plan so no additional food or groceries were needed at home, although the kids ate out several times as a sister treat.

One thing we learned very quickly was that the small town in Florida that we were heading to was hosting a dog show.  The price of a room jumped from $72 a night to $114 after our first two nights.  Total cost for hotel was $546.71

We chose to drive with both of us going. We did consider flying but would have needed to rent a car for the week so we could not justify this expense. Total spent in gas was $112.25

We did go to Disney Springs on Wednesday night for dinner. On Thursday, we used a remaining day ticket from our December trip to spend the day at Magic Kingdom. I was able to redeem point to cover the parking and several snacks. Although this increased our trip cost by $150, this was a much needed break from the stress of the week and I would not change a thing. Our photo pass from December also was active so I will share some pictures on Wednesday.

Our total cost of the trip was $1471.  We placed most of the expenses on our gas credit card that we planned to pay off this month. During our trip Amanda who has been driving our older van decided to obtain a car loan and get a new to her car.  She returned the older van which we will sell to recovery $1000. This is very unexpected but will enable us to cover the trip with little to no financial strain!

Saving on Sunday and More

Yes, that is me with my head bobbing above the water. October has definitely been a huge month of change for us. Matt started a new job which added an additional 20 hours to his work schedule in addition to a significant pay increase. I also have finally after 18 months added a second job. The hours will vary greatly for me but at this point I am guess an additional 5 -10 hours a month. This may increase in January but I am very grateful for the slow start as crazy needs to slow to a slightly less than crazy before any more significant changes. This week, we made a personal decision to add a car payment to our budget. This may or may not be a long term budget item but we are able to cover the payment amount in addition to slowly reduce our debit and get a good control over our finances. We have seen in many different ways that God’s hand and timing are perfect. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is God’s will so we are going to praise him even when we are not sure the how or whys.

One thing that has not changed this month is that we are continuing to find ways to save money! I want to include a detailed list so that next year and 3 years and 10 years when I look back, I am able to see that all the little saving did add up.

  • Running the dishwasher and dryer at night. We are making a conscience effort to reduce our electricity use. By running this at night we add a little bit of heat to the house on the cool evenings and prevent heat from staying in the house on the not so cool evenings.
  • Not turning on the air conditioner. This sounds simple, especially in October, but the temperature today inside was 81*, We did turn off the heat on Wednesday of this week but I refused to flip the switch and turn back on the air. Instead we opened the windows and turned on a couple of ceiling fans. The weather is actually suppose to start to get cooler with a high on this Friday only in the 50’s.
  • Hanging sheets out to dry. Yes, it was not convenient and the weather said it was suppose to rain but I got up and got them on the line.
  • Shopping for items we need and on clearance. So far this month, I have spent $203 in groceries. Which including stocking up on soda and items for Braxton’s birthday party. I always check on clearance items and have been able to grab both hugs/kool aid drinks and Gatorades on sale for $0.25 each.
  • Combining sales and coupons. I scan my card each time I go in Food Lion. In the past, I have been able to grab pasta at fifty cent a box. Today, I got 24 waters for $0.99 and 3 packs of brown gravy mix for a total of $0.77 which is less than the price of two. Neither one of these items were needed but I will definitely use them both.
  • Meal prep. It is so much easier to prepare lunches ahead of time. Four out of the five of us need to pack a lunch each day before leaving the house by 7:20am. We save a minimum of $10 a day by packing lunches instead of buying. We are also able to stay on track by planning dinner meals a week ahead of time. This week, I even used the instapot to brown the ground beef ahead of time so that I can get dinner on the table even after attending a workshop all day.
  • Call and asking for help. We are continuing to struggle with stopping a leak in our master bath room. Matt has replaced the entire floor and subfloor and is trying to replace the shower faucet. Yesterday, he was able to contact a manufacturer and receive a replacement part he needed for free. He has been asking for advice and suggestion through out this process and we are saving money just by completing it ourselves.
  • Using items on hand instead of immediately purchasing a replacement. Braxton does not like and will not eat meat baby food but Rugar, our dog will. Instead of buying dog food we are using the baby food that would otherwise go in the trash.

June in Review

I am almost in disbelief that the month of June is finished! I really have enjoyed the first two weeks of my summer vacation but it is going way to fast! In fact, we declared yesterday a chill day and I actually slept for about two hours which made a huge difference in my mood!

The garden is producing at a steady rate. We are on the verge of getting tomatoes and cucumbers! I am hoping to harvest enough tomatoes to make at least 12 batches of spaghetti sauce but will be happy to enjoy several sandwiches a week! The cucumber plants are blooming with several small cucumbers but nothing to great. We have two watermelons that are growing already! Unfortunately, we lost all but 2 of our corn plants. I have decided that corn growing is just not for me! We also lost both of our zucchini plants but were able to harvest several zucchinis first. I currently have enough in the freezer for zucchini something once a month for a year. I did discover zucchini hushpuppies which are a huge hit around here. Matt has been able to harvest enough jalapenos to make a batch for him to snack on. We are getting a steady supply of green peppers! I have only been able to freeze on batch but we are using them in a lot of things! I am trying my hand at drying basil this year in hopes to keep the plants alive and producing until the tomatoes come in. My plan is to plant pumpkins this month but need to check the almanac first!

My increase of free time has included lots of clearance shopping! I have been able to stock our freezer with both chicken and pork this month. I spent a total of $302 this month in groceries which is less than usual but more than I had anticipated. We have started to use items in our freezer and pantry and I have started a “stockpile” list. My goal is to keep spending low but also to maintain and improve the stockpile. I have realized that during the school year it is very hard to shop the sales and so I am hopeful to make huge gains in this area as well. I also am planning to attempt to cook ahead one item a week. For example, last week I made a huge batch of taco meat and froze enough for 8 additional meals. This week the goal is to make 10 pounds of sloppy joe mix.

We ended up spending $311 for gas this month. This is a decrease from previous months and I anticipate this to decrease even more for the month of July.

In the area of finances we are holding our ground right now. I did sit down and figure out my new salary. I also am actively pursuing several additional job opportunities to increase our income. This is always a hard decision and one that requires lots of prayer. Join me in praying that we follow God’s will in our financial life even if it is not easy!

I have been able to exercise at least twice a week this month. I actually increase my walking to two miles this week. This has not translated to the scale but I do notice a difference in the way some of my clothes are fitting which is always a nice thing,

This is post number 14 for the month! I am surprised at how difficult it is to reach 15 post in a month!

We have continued to earn money with Swagbucks this month, we were able to gain $75. I also have enough sitting in my account for another $25 gift card but am waiting so I can get it without a delay. My plan for this first gift card is Lowes to buy filters and plywood.

PLANS: July will be a busy month. Zach has 2 weeks of camp to attend. Lily will be at an International Youth Conference for a week. We will all be involved in our church Vacation Bible School the third week of the month. Followed by our family missions trip to Clarkston Ga. Spending should be minimal as everything but the mission’s trip is prepaid!

September Financial Reset

Disclaimer– This is a hard post for me to write. I have actually been avoiding it for several days. It is not hard because of regret, I stand by our decision but it is hard because it is not the conventical choice and it requires that I admit how far in debit we really are.

History– With my recent job change, I needed to decided what to do with my retirement. For the past 10 years, it was mandated that I place 2% of my earnings in a retirement account. The best news is that the hospital matched this 2%. In addition because of my length of employment, I was fully vested.  I was given a choice of simply leaving things alone with a small percentage based fee every quarter. 2nd option was rolling the monies into my “new” retirement system or similar, or 3rd, take a partial  or  full withdrawal facing the penalties.

Choice made– After much thought, prayer and comparison, we chose to take a full withdrawal from my retirement. The penalties include 10% Federal tax, 5% state tax and 15% early withdrawal penalty. My logic for this decision is that I am not losing any money that I placed in the account. My employer match covered all the penalties and still contributed to my final pay out. Matt’s logic was a little different as although this was a HUGE boast to our budget, in retirement it was not enough to cover a full year, really a small drop in the bucket.

How we spent– I really wanted to use this money in a way that would affect us in a positive way. I did not want this to become a decision that even a year down the road, I looked back on and regretted.  I spent HOURS planning and working and re-working the numbers. First, my new job is awesome but I will actually be bring home around $400 a month less than previously.  I did set up a summer savings account which will “pay” out the two months that I don’t receive a pay check. I will receive 12 paychecks a year which allows budgeting to be much easier. We loosely based on decisions on the “Dave Ramsey 7 Baby steps”

First we established an Emergency Fund of $1000 dollars. Next we paid off all outstanding medical bills. Matt will not be covered by my new insurance so we decided to also set aside some money to off-set any medical cost we will incur. We also will all a line to our budget on a regular basis for medical cost. Our next step was to pay off credit card debit. We have been able to reduce our debit by half. We do have two remaining debit that we will continue to pay at with the goal of payoff within 2 years. We have also used some of the funds to fix/ repair/replace items around the house and with our vehicles.  Several of these are large purchases such as a car and both a new push lawn mower and a riding lawn mower.

The Result:  We did a total budget reset on September 1st.  I am excited to begin “fresh” we were able to start with a cushion for both groceries and gas. My pay schedule is once a month at the end of the month. This is exciting for me as we are leaving on last month salary and using a more cash system. I plan to share the budget in detail very soon! But for now… the clean start is working and feels awesome!

Five Things Friday 8/10/2018

1. We are currently on vacation in Cherry Grove South Carolina.  Our vacation started last Sunday and we will head back home this Sunday, the August 12th. Haley came down on Sunday and stayed to Wednesday.  My mother came on Monday and will be leaving on Saturday. Amanda and her significant other arrived late Wednesday night and will stay till Sunday.  We have had the perfect beach weather with lots of time on the beach!

2. On Tuesday, I was offered a position at Davie County Schools.  I accepted it the same day. This is a different school district than the kids are in, but the schedule should be similar enough to allow us the flexibility we need.  I will get off two months in the summer in addition to a couple of weeks at Christmas, a week in the Spring and all major holidays.!

3. After accepting the new position, I realized that I have been wearing scrubs  for the past 7 or more years. I have purchased some jeans and shorts but did not have but one pair of pants other than jeans.   We have also spent some time shopping at the outlets near by.  I was able to purchase 3 pair of pants, 2 shirts and a long sleeve dress for $125.00

4. Today is my 46th birthday!  We spent the morning on the beach. We shopped at the Nike outlet this afternoon, prior to going to eat real fresh seafood.  We also spent time shopping at a Christmas store. Both LIly and Amanda purchased new items for my birthday at the store. This has been an awesome birthday.

5.On Saturday our lawn mower, started an untimely death. We will have to replace it during this next week.

Thursday Thoughts- Sheila’s Work Update

I have been sort of quiet about my job change for a couple of reason.

The first of which is that the hospital required a 28 calendar day notice.  I also needed to tell my patients/ families in person.  I was also concerned about how notice would work out. I have only one day left and am relief that all though it has been very stressful and I have struggled, things have worked out the way anticipated regarding dates.  My official last day of work will be tomorrow August 3rd, but my official termination date is August 10th. The difference is I was allowed to use my already scheduled vacation. This does not seem like a huge difference because vacation time will be paid with my last paycheck but the difference is my insurance. We, as a family, will lose insurance on August 18th.  I will plan to post an entire blog about insurance and my thoughts in the very near future.

Another issue has been working out details regarding both of my new jobs. The first is really a night time job as I will be working in the evenings/nights Sunday- Thursday via Skype in the territory of Guam.  I am still not certain of the number of hours even each day but hopefully will be able to schedule around the kids activities.  I have been working on receiving OT license for Guam since May. The latest update is that I should be approved on August 10th.  I am now anticipating starting this in September. My second or daytime job is   I will be doing Home Health therapy with children under the age of 18 years.  I have signed a contract with this company but will not be official begin work until August 27th. I will be working four days a week, continuing with Thursday off, the biggest change is my hours will be 8-2pm so that I can pick the kids up from school each day!

Did you look at the calendar?   Let me share that I will have an extended 3 week vacation between jobs!  We have our annual family vacation the first week but I am so excited to have a couple of weeks at home to catch up and enjoy before going back to work. I am planning to share a lot more on the blog during this time and also hope to share other changes including finances as well.

Survival Mode

I can definitely say that for the last week and probably at least till next Saturday (August 4) we are in survival mode. The fact that everyone is dressed and breathing is the goal. Eating should occur but otherwise count me out.

Why survival mode?
During this two week period, Matt and I both are working full time jobs. Matt’s job is extra stressful due to this being his first month. He is working hard to make improvements that are noticeable but still being respectful to his predecessor. I am completing  my final two weeks at the hospital. It is hard to say goodbye to some of my patients and the management is continuing to make it very obvious that I have made the right decision to move.

Kendall and Zach attended an Art Discovery camp this past week and plan to attend our church Vacation Bible School during this coming week. This adds stress for being on time, drop off and picking up. In addition, grouchy children are very possible.

I have been diagnosed with an infection, which is occasional painful. The bigger issue is that I think that the antibiotic is adding to my fatigue and overall poor mood.

I am still trying to obtain licensure in Guam. I have been working on this since mid-May.  I am becoming more and more frustrated. The first problem is that the department ONLY reviews licensure application on the first Friday of each month.  The second problem is that they appear to only answer email on the third Friday of each month.  Finally, this process is set up for a new graduate, not a season therapist. For example, based on their required forms, I need a professor from my college to sign a document that detailed the number of theory hours and the number of fieldwork hours. This document needs to be attached to my official college transcripts from the college. Last Friday, I received an email reply to one of my four previous attempts that simply stated these were required in order to review my application.

The blessing that are being discovered and enjoyed in this survival mode.
Matt LOVES his new job and the hours will be perfect once I am no longer working so much. I am convinced now more than ever, this job change is much needed!

My mother has been so generous to help with picking up and dropping off children and is making sure that get to eat lunch or a snack with her.

Because of the antibiotic, I need to limit my sun exposure. Saturday, we all stayed home and got a lot of housework and cooking completed. Today, Sunday, Matt and the kids are at the pool. I am using the time to catch up here and in other small ways around the house.

Because of my notice, I ended up with only two patients on my schedule last Friday which allowed me time to head to Winston Salem State University. I contact the OT department to discover not only was one of my professors still on staff but she was in the office on Friday. I spent several hours but was able to get the form completed and attached to my transcripts, which were sent out in the mail Friday afternoon. I have again provide all the required information, so hopefully my licensure will be approved.

5 days and counting………..

Job Update

Matt has started his new job and absolute LOVES it.  He is currently working from home 50% of the time, which allows us to continue with our busy lives!  We have purchased several pair of dress pants and a couple of pair of dress pants but less than $50 has update his work clothes.

I am currently working out my notice at the hospital. I officially have 8 days left but who is counting. I had a previously scheduled vacation for the second week of August, which they chose to honor.  My last official day will be August 10th. My job with the home health company will not begin until August 27th.  I am a little anxious but mostly looking forward to the two week break between returning from the beach and officially beginning the new position.  I realize that I will need to purchase some new long sleeves/pants outfits to wear. I have been wearing scrubs for most of the last 10 years with a coat in the winter time or long sleeves under shirts to this is a huge need.  I have enough OT t-shirts that until it turns cold I should be ok.  I am actively working with the company to get started in Guam. I am anticipating this to start in mid August as well. I have no concrete details but hope things start to take shape in the near future.

We have purchased a new to us/used car to reduce the number of miles and improve gas mileage.  We currently have spent several hours cleaning it up but are very hopeful that we have not discovered any major issues. Matt will be driving for the next month until I start my home health job.

I am hopeful to increase my post as I look forward to having additional time at home starting in August.

Season of Change

I have hinted several times that big changes were in the works for our family.  I am so excited and scared to death to share and start these changes. First  let me explain the reasons for the changes.  We have been struggling for over a year with two things, first finances and second- how busy we are. The answer to our financial problems seems easy- increase your income. The answer to our crazy busy lives seems much harder.  I could have never imagined that both of these problems could be answered at the same time.

Both Matt and I have been actively seeking different employment during the last several months. I am excited to share that we both have been successful and will be changing jobs in the next month. Matt is the marketing manger for the Davie County Humane Society. He actually started with training this past week  and will officially start this Monday.  I have given my resignation and will be completing my employment in mid August. I have accepted two different contract positions. One is for local pediatric home health and the second is school system contracting in Guam and several other states.  Matt position is for 30 hours per week, so he is increasing both his pay and hours.  The positions I have accepted are going to start at around 20-25 hours per week but may/ hopefully increase to around 30 hours in the next year. My hours will be school hours (8-2) and 7pm to 10 pm Sunday and Wednesday nights.  These are flexible and will allow me to be at home and spend much more quality time with the kids. I am so excited. Kendall expressed why this is so important to us with this statement “Mom, you will be home for dinner EVERY night?  That is the best news EVER!” My salary should remain about the same as now depending on the number of patients, I am given to start with. The biggest change will be with insurances and taxes.

Change is scary! Change in jobs is really scary!  I will not be able to establish a good budget or really much of any budget until at least September. My best estimate is that we will work paycheck to paycheck until November with the goal of establishing and maintaining a budget by January.  There are several reasons that establishing the budget will be so difficult. First, I will have a two-three week period where I am not working at all or very minimal at best. Second, I am still unsure of how many hours I will be working at each position. Third, my hours will continue to be unsteady until at least October. We must also decided and obtain health insurance and figure out our tax liability.

In anticipation of these changes, we have tighten the budget and are really working to save every penny possible during the month of July.  I will try and share more about these major changes as I process through them.  We have decided not to change our scheduled Beach vacation so that will give us some time to re-charge and actually communicate!