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Archive for March, 2010

Creativity in Meals when the Pantry is Empty

March 30th, 2010 at 08:49 pm

Its 4:30 and I did not plan out my meals for this week while DH was gone. Nor do I want to go grocery shopping. In fact, even if I wanted to I can't. I have exactly $3.36 in the checking account that we use to pay bills.

Sure I could transfer money from other places we have money. But I won't. I'll make due till I get paid tomorrow.

So I searched the pantry, we have spaghetti... but no sauce.

We have frozen squash, frozen peas, pre-cooked chicken, and lots of rice

As a result, tonight's dinner is buttered noodles w/peas. I guess I could throw in the meatballs.

And tomorrow we're having brown rice, chicken, and squash.

I don't have much of anything else... I thought about doing grilled cheese sandwiches till I realized we don't have cheese. Just a lot of odds and ends, but mostly condiments.

Anyhow, I plan to go grocery shopping after my CPA exam. We need dogfood anyway.

*sigh* Life without my DH is certainly interesting as I try to juggle all this. DD ended up going to school after all. I called Dh at 7 am in a panic and after looking at her tonsils with a flashlight, they didn't look swollen or red.

But she's gargling lots of salt water, sucking on lozenges, and doing everything else just in case. She has a doctor's appointment in the morning to be on the safe side.

On a better note, I did take a simulated exam for AUD today and I'm feeling more confident - got an 85 on it. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I perform just as well on the real exam.

Burnt Out

March 28th, 2010 at 05:16 pm

If I fail the Auditing part of the exam, I will know where I went wrong.

I got burnt out.

Studied too long on too much of a relaxed schedule.

Last week I was scoring in the 80s and 90s, this week... 70s. I seem to have engagement planning down. My weakness is engagement review.

I took a Gleim Diagnostic Test and they told me my 80% score was broken down as follows:

Engagement Planning 100%
Internal Control 83%
Information 75%
Engagement Review 50%
Requirements & Government 80%

Thankfully, DH left today which I know sounds odd to say "Thankfully" but we are both MUCH more productive people when we are apart. Now that is not to say I would be an ulta-successful single person... but when he's here, I feel obliged to spend time with him, so instead of studying for hours - I'm spending it with him. Even when I do try to sit down and study, suddenly I hear "Hey, you should come watch this!"

I seemed to have been much better at doing that with Financial, but this whole CPA process is starting to drag on and I have to balance my attention with my marriage. I don't want this CPA process to cause my happy marriage of 10 years to go down in flames over a certificate.

So anyhow, on the way to the airport we were talking today & we both agreed we were more productive individuals when we weren't together.

He is taking his last two courses for his associates, so while he's gone this week he is hoping to finish his finals and then apply for graduation. Me, I'm hoping to pass the CPA exam.

I'm really looking forward to when all this can be done. He'll have his degree, I'll have my exam behind me. Then I think the only thing is getting the work experience, but in comparison to what I've been doing - I hope JUST working will be like a breath of fresh air.

He's doubtful he'll go for a bachelor's degree. He's not the school type & sees himself primarily relying on rental incomes, pensions, and a successful wife... and a part time job when he leaves the military.

And I'm okay with that... as much as I enjoy cooking and my family, I don't like being the one that stays at home all the time.

DH is going away to a school to drive race cars, then off to a foreign country, and then another school to ride ATVs for a later trip to a foreign country.

I have to say I'm jealous. I'm not Martha Stewart who enjoys crafts. I would want to be out there driving race cars or playing on ATVs. I'd love to go rock climbing or sky diving (eek!) but I don't. Someone has to stay back for the kids.

Had I HAD my 20s to enjoy and do those things, I probably wouldn't feel this way. But I ended up being a teen mom and this is my life. I'm not complaining, I'm making the best of it and I know one day when the kids are grown - or DH can be there more... I'll be able to do those things too.

Cause really, I'd love to travel, and nothing that I want to do isn't too totally off the wall. Jet skiing would be cool. Running a marathon.

Then I have other goals... like creating a scholarship for my college so that it could give a struggling parent a full-ride scholarship.

But anyhow... so yeah, I'm feeling burnt out at the moment. I think I need some fun in my life.

My co-workers keep saying "What are you going to do after you pass the exam? You're so used to being so busy"

And my response always is...

"I'll probably take up a hobby for the first time"

Want to get rid of something? List it for free

March 25th, 2010 at 06:33 pm

We have 100 red bricks that used to border our flower beds & hubby decided he hated the look... so he took them out

With no plans on what to do with them

So they've become makeshift steps and whatever other decoration we can turn them into

But I finally got frustrated and decided to list them on Craigslist for free. I didn't anticipate the response I got... 30 emails in less than an hour

Just goes to show, if you REALLY want to get rid of something - just list it for free.

I think I'll do this for the excess firewood we have in our backyard when DH had to cut that tree down that fell on our fence.

And my litmus test for deciding whether to sell or donate/give something away is simple... If I was just going to throw it away - then donate it. If I would rather take money than part with it, sell it.

Moving Plans

March 25th, 2010 at 04:02 pm

In anticipation of this move, it has essentially taught me one thing...

We need to downsize and I think in the end it will be therapeutic.

Less stuff, less to worry about, more time to enjoy life.

I've decided through all this a few of things I'm going to get rid of are:

Our sofa, loveseat, chair, and ottoman in our formal living room.

Our two extra laptops that we haven't used in months

Prom dresses I know I'll never wear again, but have kept them for the past 10 years simply for the inspiration of "Hey, I can still fit that"

Going through my textbooks and tossing a lot of them

Letting go of "momentos" I kept from the kids (specifically baby clothes). I don't need to keep their bibs to serve as a reminder of how little they were. Their artwork and one or two outfits per kid is sufficient.

Loads of kitchen stuff that causes my cabinets to overflow. I have two COMPLETE sets of stainless and nonstick cookware. Which really, I could take bits and pieces from each to make 1 set and then donate the rest to charity.

And on that note, I have about 30 bars of soap I think would benefit a homeless shelter more than sitting on the shelf for the next 30 years waiting for me to use it. I use soap but I use the Pampered Chef soap dispenser thing that makes liquid soap last an extremely long time. Hence, I have never used this box that was given as a promotion for buying our water softener.

There is a lot more, but that is just for starters.

I'd like to live a minimalist life and what better excuse to finally start doing it than the thought of moving down 1000 sq ft.

I think in the end, others can benefit from our downsizing - and that in itself feels good.

Kids just don't get it

March 24th, 2010 at 11:06 am

To say the least, I'm frustrated

Got a "low balance" notification in my email this morning from the kid's school lunch account.

Which was a surprise to me because they are grounded from buying lunch from school. DD #1 is struggling in grades and DD #2 broke the bunk bed. So neither of them are allowed to buy lunch until I get good reports back. They have weekly progress reports.

Not only did DD#1 take her lunch to school, she also bought lunch in the same day and bought fruit snacks.

DD#2 isn't so bad. But she did use some of the money for ice cream w/o permission.

But I'm just so frustrated that I just told them I'm done. From now on, once their money runs out, they are taking lunch. I will not put more money in the account.

DD #2 at least has a shot at earning the lunch privilege back. I told her if she was good for awhile, then I'd put money back in the account.

Just don't know what to do with DD #1, her grades are slipping, she's passing notes, not paying attention in class and now this. Maybe if we had money to waste I wouldn't care about buying two lunches and junk food all in the same day.... but we don't have money to waste. I thought I was being generous giving them $20/month to buy lunches knowing full well the lunches aren't really that great nutrition-wise.

I wish kids came with a manual.

Must repeat to myself

March 23rd, 2010 at 02:59 pm

That just cause its nicer to buy... doesn't mean you should or can afford to

This whole move makes me very aware that we'll have to downsize significantly. We're currently in a 5 bedroom with 2500 square feet and in the new place, the majority of places available to rent are THREE bedrooms.

If I had two boys and two girls then I wouldn't worry so much. But I have three girls with one of them being significantly younger than the others. I just don't see how they can share a room because they have different schedules.

On top of that, the house itself is smaller than our other house... 1100-1500 sq ft. At least the ones that fit our budget. And these range from $1000/mo to $1500/mo.

But if I look at the homes available to buy, they have 4 bedrooms with 3 car garages for less than $200K.

Key though is, I want the nice things and the space but I don't want the added headache and having to carry the costs of maintaining 3 homes. My mom and Grandma are in the nearby area but I also don't want anything else to tie me to the new location.

No, must stick to my guns here and not even entertain the thought of buying. It'll be tight, but I just have to hold out hope that something that will be perfect for us will open up in the rental market.

Then again, who knows if we could even buy if we wanted to. With our CC debt and having to get a conventional loan because DH's VA funds are tied into this house... renting is smarter, I know it is. Just may not be fun but I'm sure I'll enjoy less hassle with the headaches of home ownership and the overall reduced costs... no closing costs, property taxes, etc.

Like I said, may not be fun but the right decision is rarely "fun" in the short term but it'll pay off in the long term

Still debate this...

March 22nd, 2010 at 05:01 pm

With the additional inheritance... I have $11,336 in savings, not counting our $1000 emergency fund.

So I struggle to come to terms with the idea of dealing with the $8750 I have in CC debt.

If I paid off all my CC debt (keep in mind, DH still has a $27K balance on his), it would still leave me with $2500

For a total EF balance of $3500. Yet, its not high interest debt... 1.99% and 6.74% after the intro rate.

I get a better rate of return on my retirement accounts. Last year DH got a 25% return on his TSP and we barely put any money in. This was largely because I anticipated the whole Nov '08 drop and transferred the money into government secured funds and slowly, month by month, re-invested it.

I guess patience is key. Like weight loss.

I could easily pay off my card, but the key really is making sure I've addressed the behaviors that led to the CC debt.

That said, once I have the card paid off... I'm canceling the card. I'll only keep 2 cards from there on out with a total maximum balance of $6K, maybe not even that. I don't know. But I plan to significantly downsize my credit report & finances.

The other question I struggle with is the playset my Dad bought. It was a $900 playset... the last gift he gave the kids.

Since we're moving, I don't think the Navy movers will move it. So I debate selling it or trying to move with it. Moving it would cost a lot, I'm guessing we'd have to get a POD or something.

But on the other, I struggle to part with it. Its only a year old and it was built to last 10 years. I wonder if my Dad would be upset that we'd have to part with it just cause of a move.

My husband just wants to leave it here for the tenants. Which I am adamant against. I don't need a tenant to get hurt on the playset and claim liability against us for assembling the playset.

So whatever happens, its either getting sold or we're taking it with us. But I can't decide & we don't have too much time since we will probably be moving within the next 3-4 months.

Does it ever serve to save old textbooks?

March 20th, 2010 at 02:45 am

I wonder about this.

First off, I have only saved the textbooks that I thought would help serve me later in life. Books on accounting (my major) from financial to managerial. I've saved my legal and negotiation books.

I've even saved my psychology & human resources books. Books like "How to Work With Difficult People", "Type Talk", along with books for hiring like "Top Grading".

In the end, I haven't touched a majority of these books in a long time and as I stare at my monsterous Becker books for the CPA exam - I wonder, will I ever use them again?

My accounting textbooks from undergrad are easily 6-7 years old. My tax book is from 2008 and already outdated.

Maybe my legal book will serve to be a good reference. Surely with my anticipated job search the TopGrading and other human resource books should be helpful, along with my books for conflict resolution & negotiation.

Hmmm... maybe I just don't see the value in these books because I just don't have the time at the moment. I'm sure at some point I will be glad to have them in my library.

Ok, maybe not my undergraduate accounting books. Aside from being out-dated, I haven't touched them. Yet maybe I'll stand to part with them a few years after I've been working as an accountant. The overall rules may change, but the fundamental principles usually don't.

Since I'm not a working accountant now, I'm sure I'll feel more confident parting with them after I have experience to reassure me that the knowledge has become a part of my everyday information. Till then, I guess we're going to have to take it with us on our move.

All these thoughts sparked from DH. He is working on his associates degree and should graduate before we move.

Anyhow, he told me the company he rented his textbooks from (Chegg) planted two trees for the two textbooks that he rented. I thought that was a wonderful idea & for $92, he has textbooks rented for the semester.

Those same textbooks would have cost $150 used. I think I like this idea of renting textbooks if I wasn't so interested in holding onto mine.

Lack of motivation & random ramblings

March 16th, 2010 at 05:42 pm

Having one of those "blah" days.

My Aunt called a couple days ago saying she had finalized all of my Dad's affairs so I would be getting another $5500. Off to savings that goes.

The doctor regarding the surgery called. $9K and I'd have to front the money whether or not insurance covers it. So I think I'm just going to wait. I'm doing my best to try to adapt to it. As much as it annoys me, I know if I end up having the surgery and we end up in a bad financial position because of it... its not worth it when I compare the discomfort.

My son finally got his soccer coach assigned to him and practice starts Thursday. So off to get cleats, a soccer ball, shin guards, socks, and some other practice clothes I go.

I think I'll probably have to go alone though. DH is stuck at work late today.

He also left me for a lurch for my CPA exam. For weeks I have been saying "Ask for the fifth of April off" "When should I take the exam?" "You're SURE I can take it on the 5th?"

So I schedule the exam and he calls me yesterday saying that I may have to reschedule it.

By this time I'm fed up. My life has been on hold trying to accommodate his schedule for years now. I realize that if I'm going to take this exam and get it done in my planned schedule, I'm just going to have to find another way. Sometimes I just can't rely on him.

Luckily, my neighbor down the street said she'd watch the older kids for me.

Its a pain, but I guess I better get used to it. Something about the Navy doesn't equate to being reliable even though I know my husband completely means well to.

I wonder if this means I'll have to have 2 or 3 backup childcare providers when I start working outside the house.

Weekend Derailments

March 14th, 2010 at 03:11 pm

Not sure what happened this weekend, but we were frivolous. $40 on shoes & a $12 belt for me since my frequently used belt is pretty much ripping now.

The shoes, keep in mind I only have about 5 pairs TOTAL, I'm not one of those women who have 40 pairs of shoes. Then DH got shoes for $80. He doesn't buy shoes often but I've been so tired of him complaining about how I can always get stuff when I want it but tell him 'No'.

$150 on clothes for the kids. The baby really did need clothes. Which I guess I should stop calling her a baby, she's two now. Yet, she's the baby of the family.

$30 on eating out.

I think I'm going to stop watching Oprah. All this sort of sparked from her shoe & handbag show. And while I didn't go out and buy the 6 different types of shoes every woman must have in her closet, I doubt I would have wanted to buy shoes at all if I didn't watch the show.

Pretty much wherever I go, I wear sneakers. So I bought a pair of black high heels.

It was a derailment to say the least and something to make me very aware that I still have a long way to go before I feel like I'm really able to justify spending my inheritance. The behaviors, although fewer and farther from each other, still happen so if I were to go out and pay off my credit card... I could offer no assurances that I wouldn't repeat the behavior that got us into this situation.

But at least now I know I still have lots more work to do on my behavior.

I did the finances today. I can't believe I'm already planning for April, the first quarter of the year is almost over. Where did it go? We'll be moving before we know it and we still have so much to do.

I scheduled my Auditing exam for the 5th. Just keep debating about BEC. I did the first section of BEC and it seemed easy but I'm sure it'll get harder and I don't want to threaten my chances of success on the other portions of the exam.

So what has this weekend taught me?

Spend less time watching Oprah and more time studying for the CPA exam and planning our upcoming move.

Making some headway

March 11th, 2010 at 02:51 pm

So I've been plugging away at studying. I can't take another exam until April so I'm studying for the Business section while I review Auditing.

The plan is to take AUD on 4/5 and BEC on 4/9. Then take REG just before Memorial Day weekend. I just want to get this exam over with so I can focus on moving, finding a new job, and spending time with my family... and allowing my home time to really be HOME time.

I have a feeling BEC will be like a nice break. I'm almost done with the first module & because I already have a love of legal and some private company experience... it seems pretty easy. But I'll see how the other 4 modules go.

AUD, that ones sort of tricky. I need to review several aspects and make sure I'm comfortable with the simulations. Thank goodness I have around 3 weeks for that.

So we'll see. I am scoring better on AUD than I was for FAR, so I'm really hoping FAR was the worst of it (but I'm not going to underestimate it either)

I hope I can pass them all on the first time. That would be great to have the exam done with 5 months after graduation.

At least I can hope.

Should I?

March 4th, 2010 at 04:50 pm

Its been 5 months since my Dad passed and I keep thinking about the money and using it to pay off my credit card.

That would leave just DH's credit card balance.

I'm tempted to do it for a few reasons:

1) We already have our $1000 EF
2) The $10K isn't earning much interest while the balance is costing me about $15/mo on my CC
3) I don't want to have a $9K CC balance when I start applying for new jobs and having to explain that. My other debt... two cars, two houses, and student loans are stuff that are easily explainable... Cars are in both our names, houses are rental properties, and student loans were for my education.

I've debated a lot about using the money to pay off my CC. My Dad was always a source of rescue for me, but by paying off the cards... and then CANCELING them... I think it also gives me a sense of freedom.

I don't want to be in debt, and CC debt is the most annoying of all debts.

So I continue to debate this. I don't think it would be an unwise move so long as I take the necessary steps to ensure I never get into debt again.

We do have the move coming up, and if I get a job outside the house I'll have to plan for additional expenses (work clothes, etc) so I hesitate sometimes.

Honestly, some days I'm really not sure. But to have the CCs in my name GONE, I would be thrilled. I'd then cancel them or at least reduce the credit limit to something really low.