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Archive for April, 2010

Surgery is tomorrow

April 28th, 2010 at 07:59 pm

It was very last minute but I called the doctor today and told them my dilemma about trying to plan the procedure around my husband's military schedule. He's on leave right now & she had a last minute cancellation so they got me in for tomorrow around noon.

I transferred the money from savings and paid in cash. $1300 doesn't seem like a lot when it means having to no longer be in discomfort. I've been trying to hold off on the procedure, I really have, but its become a daily annoyance. I only recently got the courage to follow through when a friend of mine who had a similar problem got the procedure done with success.

It was tough explaining the last minute procedure as a reason to be out tomorrow afternoon to work. I simply just explained that I was seeing a specialist. The department boss didn't press me, but when my main boss asked if I was okay I told her "Yeah, I'm okay - just some mommy problems". Which I guess could mean anything from a problem with my kids or what not.

I didn't tell anyone I was having surgery, its a quick procedure under local anesthesia where I should be home within a few hours.

Hope all ends well. I'm nervous, but I know because its outpatient and relatively low risk - it should be fine.

I also scheduled my Regulation exam today for the 7th. I think I have a shot of doing okay, although I realize I may be pressing my luck if I'm also including 2 days of being on painkillers as part of my "review" study plan.

Hopefully I don't have to be on the painkillers that long. When I had my breast augmentation I was off of them by day 2 & that seems far more invasive than the surgery tomorrow.

But I anticipate the recovery to be much less than when I got a breast augmentation. I guess I'll see how I feel tomorrow & if so then I can reschedule for $35, but I really want to get this out of the way while DH is still on leave. Knowing the military something would come up if he wasn't on leave & I'd have to go through the same mess like I did with Auditing.

$1000 Saved

April 27th, 2010 at 08:22 pm

It took two days, a chainsaw, an ax, a shovel, and cargo straps but DH got the tree out. No 4WD required.

The tree was about as tall as our 2 story house. Since the roots were growing towards the foundation and we had a beautiful Japanese Maple by our front door, we decided to take out the large tree and replace it with the smaller Japanese Maple.

Have to say I'm impressed DH did this all by himself. Once he had the cargo straps, he tied it to another tree and got the tree out. In fact, had we used a 4WD we would have burst our sprinkler system pipe because they would have had to pull in that direction. By using the other tree as leverage, DH pulled the stump in the other direction maintaining the sprinkler line.

I have to say it looks a lot better. And I'm glad I have a DH who can do so much on his own. Like I may have mentioned earlier, a previous landscaper quoted us $1000 to take out the tree and transplant the Japanese Maple. But with a few simple tools, and two days, my DH was able to get it done.

**************

Anyhow in light of finding out we are staying here, I'm thinking about going ahead and scheduling my surgery. Now if the Navy cooperates and at least allows me to plan a few weeks/months ahead of time so I can get it done without losing the upfront deposit. Its still bugging me and after talking to a friend who recently had the same procedure, I feel better about going through with it.

But aside from that I finished studying for Regulation today, now I'm in the review process. I hope to take it by the 6th. I'd really like to be in that first phase of results and they speculate that I'll be in the second phase if I take it after the 7th.

I just hope I'll be ready by then. Some of the stuff I'm not 100% on, but I have to remind myself I wasn't 100% on FAR either but I passed.... the actual exam was much easier than the study materials. If I can get comfortable with the simulations, I should be fine for Multiple Choice especially since they only have 72 MC vs 90.

Once again the Navy throws a curveball

April 27th, 2010 at 08:37 am

Now we are staying here indefinitely till DH can get a replacement at his command. And in order to fix that he needs to get his command to change his billet from an E5. Its rare in his rate for there to be an E5, and if there were - his command wouldn't want an E5 in his rate. Most people in his rate are E6 and above. So nobody in his rate would want his billet if its saying E5 in the system.

Till he gets that fixed, he can't find a replacement.

We're still slotted for Nevada but with his rate being so undermanned - they won't move him till he has someone in his place. Sometimes they can let a billet go unmanned, but they can't with his.

He says a few years ago they started getting rid of all the incentives and benefits to entice people to join that rate. When we did, he got a $60K re-enlistment bonus. We didn't get it all at once, 50% upfront and the rest is in annual installments over the contract term.

I'm sure everyone is wondering what happened to that $30K. Well, we paid off my Dad's PLUS loan he gave me, paid off our credit card debt, put new flooring in our house ($7K) cause the previous owner's cats had ruined it to the point we bleached the concrete slab underneath to get rid of the smell. Then we also bought kitchen appliances.

But surprise, surprise - we didn't learn by having our debt wiped out and managed to rack it up again. This is why I'm convinced the only way for me to get out of debt and STAY out is the slow, little by little, method.

So anyhow, they got rid of the incentives and started sending his rate to Iraq and Afghanistan a lot. So a lot of people in his rate either retired or got commissioned to Officers. Without the incentives to bring in new people to his rate... it causes a problem with his rate being undermanned.

I have to say I shouldn't have expected anything different from the military. A life with the military is a life filled with tentative plans and changing dates. If anyone can teach you how life can change at a moments notice - its the military.

For someone like me who would sit down in elementary school and plan out my entire life, its been a challenge - but a necessary learning experience.

Life happens when you're busy making plans.

So anyhow, thats that. We were supposed to list the house May 1st but now that is on hold (obviously) but yesterday DH brought the tree down and now he's struggling to get the stump out.

We have a 20 ft tree in our front yard that was put too closely to the house. The roots have been growing close to the foundation and with the prospect of us leaving, I don't want to have to worry about that.

We also have a small Japanese Maple that the previous owners planted right by the front door (Why I don't know). So the plan was to remove the big tree and replace it with the Japanese Maple. A landscaper quoted us $1000 but DH is certain to get the tree out himself. He brought it down okay, but the stump is proving to be a formidable foe.

We'll see though... he's from the "country" so he's removed trees in the past. Only difference is back then he had a tractor to pull them out. Here, we don't have a truck so he is probably going to ask our neighbor if they can help pull it out with their Jeep or ask someone from work.

Either way, its $1000 saved. Worst comes to worse, we will just cut the stump down and put mulch over it and put the Japanese Maple in the backyard.

Rethinking our plans

April 25th, 2010 at 06:52 pm

So we bought the water heater today. That obliterated our EF with the other things that have come up this month.

The water heater itself wasn't so bad. $700 including installation, permit, etc. But I don't feel good about now having $134 in our EF. The goal is to really get that EF back to $1000 but I don't know how we'll do that in May. Dh still says the military owes him $300 and by selling our laptops we'll get $268, but we need to get a box.

I'm seriously thinking of just cancelling our South Carolina trip. I really want to go and it would only cost $300 but I do NOT want to tap into my inheritance. Like I've said before we have $11,336 (or something like that, I might have a 3 and 6 confused in the last two digits) so IF a major problem comes up, we're covered but we're moving... lots of things can happen.

We need to touch up paint in our current house, have to put filler dirt in the side yard of the other house. The attic in the other house & the GFCI needs fixed. Then we have our property taxes, termite protection renewal, flood insurance renewals, and the pets annual vet check. Oh and we can't forget his dress blues for $400-$500.

I almost feel like if I took this trip I'd be asking for bad karma. You know, the kind of karma Suze Orman talks about in her book when you take a trip that you can't afford & your roof caves in while you are gone.

Speaking of which, we do need a few shingles and a new "boot" on our roof. Should probably add that to the list of things.

This bites, sucks, whatever dismal word you want to attach to it. Dh would have those days off and it'd make a great family vacation to see a part of the country we'll probably never see otherwise. Yet I just don't want to be foolish.

So we'll see, as of right now - I'm doubtful we'll be able to go after all to our weekend getaway.

Extra money found

April 24th, 2010 at 08:15 am

Thanks to Earth Day, we saw a segment on the Today show about recycling old electronics.

So I decided to check on the value of the electronics we have at Gazelle.com. Our two laptops that we never use anymore are worth a combined total of $268.

I plan to also recycle some items that don't hold any value (internal computer hard drive, Palm Pilot, our extra desktop and camera)

I'm looking forward to more space & more money in my life with less clutter.

This is not to say we may not one day get a laptop, but we've been holding onto these old electronics forever that just take up space. Its nice to know we are actually getting paid to do something good for the environment.

I also received the clothes I purchased so I went into my closet today and purged some of the items that I haven't worn in a long time. Essentially I have a basic rule, I receive 4 things, I take 4 things out. This way, clutter doesn't accumulate in my life and the clothes I get rid of are donated to Goodwill.

One of these days I'll get down to the essentials, for now I'm still working on it. Slowly but surely I'm getting there.

New Clothes and Affordability

April 23rd, 2010 at 05:39 am

So I never went into the store, I ended up just going on-line and purchasing clothes. Went by a few basic rules I know for my body shape and a store I've come to be very familiar with their sizes/styles.

Bought a shrug, 2 shirts, a pair of jeans, a pair of pants, pair of cargo pants, and a black dress. All for about $163.

Had I ordered them all at once it probably would have been cheaper ($5 first order, $6 second order, $10 third order) because of shipping but most everything was on sale. Then today when I went online I noticed a few of the items went on sale so I'm going to call today to get a price adjustment. It won't be much but $12 is money.

But hopefully the clothes I bought work out. I really hate having to do returns. I never trust those sizing charts though. The size chart says I'm a size M for tops, but I have SEVERAL pieces from that store & the Mediums that I do have feel like they are going to fall off, but all the Smalls fit.

I wanted to order stuff from Ann Taylor Loft or Banana Republic, but they are sooo expensive. Plus I don't have any pieces from them so I think I actually have to go into the store to see how they fit.

Speaking of affordability, while I was making dinner I heard Entertainment Tonight on the TV give fashion advice and say "This shirt was ONLY $36, add that to these shoes which were ONLY $42, and a pair of slacks for $58 and you have a very affordable outfit"

Are you serious? THAT is affordable?!?!

That is ONE outfit for $136... and I didn't even include their "accessories" they quoted.

I spent $163 and got at least 5 outfits (some I can mix and match with pieces I already own)... and I got them from New York and Company.

If you followed their guidelines of affordable, a new wardrobe would EASILY cost $5000. Me? For a few hundred dollars I'm set (well, except for business suits... the most affordable I can find are still around $100-$200 per suit)

The sad part of that is this is probably why you see people go into a store and say "Well, its ONLY $30." I'm hesitant to spent that amount on one item of clothing unless there is a buy one get one off or half off special. Crazy. DH can buy an ENTIRE OUTFIT for $30 or less.

DD #2 listened to my rant as I told her $136 for ONE outfit is certainly NOT affordable. Most people probably make around $10/hr give or take, so they would have to work two days or so just to pay for the outfit... maybe more if you factor in taxes.

Told her it didn't make sense to me, you have ONE outfit you have to work two days for when you can buy FIVE outfits for approximately the same price, work two days to pay for it, and put the other money in savings or use it to enjoy your life when you aren't at work.

Toddlers, Homework, and Ambition

April 22nd, 2010 at 07:06 pm

My youngest daughter wouldn't leave my oldest alone while she was doing her homework.



I wonder if more kids had to deal with toddlers and homework if the teen pregnancy rate would go down. At least one can hope.

By the way, I wasn't doing this to punish her. DD #3 just loves her sister so much & I was actually really impressed with how nice, gentle, and understanding DD #1 was about a 2 year old DEMANDING that she be on DD #1's lap.

But if any of my kids understand what I juggle, my oldest daughter probably gets it more than anyone. Ironically, as she's trying to do her homework with a 2 year old on her lap... I struggle to find time to study as I try to make sure the kids understand their schoolwork.

I'm still struggling with DD on her math homework. That paper you see her working on took 3 hours for her to complete & I was sitting beside her the entire time. Each time I'd spend a few minutes showing her how to work the problem, she'd try, make a mistake, I'd show her again, she'd make another mistake, and the process continued... over and over.

They are working on multiplication and long division. However, I can no longer keep up with how teachers teach kids math these days. I told her to multiply 40 by 150 and she proceeds to draw a box. A box? She got the right answer but I had no clue how that box gave her the right answer.

But anyhow... kids are finally in bed, DH is not home (which I'm somewhat grateful for since I obviously didn't get much time to study for my exam since I was helping DD with her math homework), and I just finished R6's lectures. Have some multiple choice questions to do and I plan to start R7 tomorrow.

Not much longer and I can put this CPA exam behind me... which I'm sure all that "free" time will be replaced with finding other ways to encourage my kids academically. DD #1 now wants to be a Marine Biologist in lieu of Earth Day, DD #2 wants to be a vet, and DS wants to be a police officer. So I'm using their ambitions as a way to drive their interests in the fields of math & science.

We watched Oprah's discussion on Earth Day and the documentary "The Cove" which inspired DD #1 to learn more about science.

But while we were watching segments of "The Cove" & talking about Marine Biology, I realized there are some conversations you NEVER forget as a parent.

5 years ago, on a trip to Sea world, DD #2 saw a trainer kiss a dolphin. In her 3 y/o words "Dolphin kisses" so I remember asking "So what do sharks give?"

"Shark kisses"

So now whenever I see a shark, I always remember DD #2's "Shark Kisses" Thanks, DD #2

Mistakes on my part

April 22nd, 2010 at 05:44 am

I made the mistake of counting my eggs before they hatched. DH got his travel money today. He told me he should be getting around $750, what was deposited $463. But he is still saying that we should be getting another $300... yet we'll have to wait awhile for that because the military overpaid on his government CC so he has to call Citi to have them send him a check.

We were supposed to buy his dress blues, but we also had to spend $100 fixing up the yard to get the house ready to be shown. On top of that we'll need to spend money on the following items in May/June:

Paint supplies to touch up paint the house (probably around $50 or less)
Landscaping repair to the side yard of the other house (need estimate)
Attic & GFCI repair to the other house (need estimate)
Property taxes (around $600)
Dog and cat's yearly appointment & flea stuff (around $400)
Flood insurance premiums ($675)
Termite protection/inspection renewal ($130)

I thought we'd be okay cause the trips would help offset these costs. But I guess not, we'd need to start dipping into savings to avoid using the CC's.

This was poor planning on my part. Now debating the trip to South Carolina. The hotel is free, so the only costs would be boarding the dog (3 nights at $20/night), gas, and we could offset the cost of food since the room has a kitchen and offers free breakfast.

The reason we wanted to go was because this is probably the cheapest time we'd ever be able to go since the hotel is covered & its within driving distance. I don't anticipate the trip costing more than $500 and even that is pushing it. Which, a trip for 6 people, once we move out to the West Coast will cost much more. We also haven't taken a weekend getaway in over 4 years. This would also free up the house that weekend for showings.

I think it'll be more like $300 at most. Even if I still did go, we wouldn't use the CCs, we'd pay for it with savings.

So I don't know. I wish I had done better in planning all this. Sometimes I think I can be too optimistic about a few things.

10 hours and 28 minutes

April 16th, 2010 at 08:28 am

Thats exactly how much more of the Regulation lectures I need to listen to (along wiht 662 Multiple Choice Questions). Not counting the 145 I plan to do today (or the 128 I've already done today alone)

I decided I REALLY want this done & over with. I'm getting bored and burnt out. I'd rather be spending my time doing other things. Did I mention I'm so over this?

So I'm going to do my best to take Regulation either 4/30, 5/3, or 5/4

Then I'll start studying for BEC. I've already done the first module for BEC and aced it at 90%, but I want to take that just prior to or just after Memorial Day weekend.

I MAY try to fit in a trip then though. DH is going to a conference and is going to get a "day off" on the 16th of May so I'm thinking about driving the 7 hours to go see him, sight-see, etc. He has a ton of Marriott reward points racked up so hopefully we can get the hotel for the two nights for free. There was no point in me trying to stay the entire time he'd be there, I have things I need to do and he's there for work... but this will probably be the last opportunity in a long time we'll be able to go and if I can get the hotel for free & a friend to watch the dog for two nights... aside from gas & food - the trip should be relatively inexpensive.

So we'll see. But I do know one thing... and its that I am READY to put the CPA exam behind me.

Think I can do a module for every 2 days? (That should have me done studying for REG by next Friday) I don't know if I can do it but I'm certainly going to try.

$140 Spent Today

April 15th, 2010 at 05:29 pm

And I didn't even get anything for myself.

The plan was for me to go out and buy a new mouse & keyboard for the iMac which together cost $140.

But DD #1 came home and her shoes were falling apart. I couldn't even fathom the idea of sending her to school in them one more day in that condition.

DS also needed new cleats since the ones I bought were too small and hurting his feet. I know in many households the moms are VERY aware of what size clothes and shoes the kids wear... not me, that is my DH's realm apparently. So in the clothing and shoe store I leave all the fitting and adjustments to him.

So we get to the Navy Exchange with the plan to buy the keyboard, mouse, and DD #1 new shoes.

While there, I pay attention to the other kids' shoes. They all really needed new shoes. So all four kids got new shoes, and then we went over to a Sports store to buy DS some cleats for his games on Saturday.

So long story short, a trip out for a want turned into a trip for a need. And anytime I considered getting the keyboard and mouse, I kept thinking "I could buy all four kids shoes for less than the price of a keyboard and mouse... and they'd get more use out of it."

Not fun... but I think in the long term, it will lead to the greatest happiness. Besides, I can always get a new mouse & keyboard later when the newest technological advance comes out and the current ones become discounted.

Warranties... on shoes? And Moving Update

April 15th, 2010 at 05:40 am

Yesterday DH told me the Navy Exchange offers warranties on their shoes. For $10, if they wear out sooner than expected, you can ship them back and they'll give you the money you paid for them.

Really?

Am I the only person that thinks thats a little crazy? Shoes are clothing, I don't get warranties on my clothing - if they break, I either return it & complain to the store or I make a mental note of the brand and never buy it again.

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On another note, I realize DH and I still have not come to a decision about our trip to Missouri in the midst of our move. I've made three concessions but he's not pleased with them. Here is my offer...

3 days in Missouri
Not buying a laptop, but sometimes plugging in the iMac from the hotel so I can work

His offer

Stay in Missouri for a week @ $200/night
Not buying a laptop

So my counter offer was to stay a week, but we'd have to buy a laptop so I could work. He thinks that is just an excuse to get a laptop but here are some of the problems with this trip:

1) The Navy is only giving us 9 travel days (I think our full allowance is $6700) between per diem, travel, lodging, and DLA.

2) Because we have four kids and TWO pets (one being a large golden retriever), we have to get two hotel rooms wherever we go. I estimate this to be around $200/night

3) We don't even have a tenant for our current place yet (although to be fair we haven't listed it yet) and every month we don't, that is $2000 in the red. I'm hoping we can find a tenant by July 1 when we leave here

4) We don't even have a place set up at the new place. I'm estimating it'll take a week to get utilities and everything set up with the movers... let alone FINDING a place to live if we haven't found one by the time we leave here

5) The Navy only gives you about 80-90% of the moving allowance upfront. So some of the money we have to front.

I'm anticipating already having to come up with $1000-$2000 (since we won't get all of the $6700 upfront) out of pocket based on the below costs:



This is assuming a 3 day stay in Missouri (that is not including the travel day there and the travel day leaving)

So I don't know. I told him I'm trying to be reasonable, I understand he wants to see his family but I also harbor some feelings of resentment because back in January of last year he was SOOO pressed to see his family because his Dad was having heart problems. Being a good wife I supported that and pushed my family off.

Then guess what happens? MY Dad dies and the only memory I have of seeing him healthy is 2 1/2 years before his death. So I'm fully aware that I harbor feelings of resentment about this.

He got mad and said "So now I can't see my family?" And I told him it wasn't that... but these are feelings that come to me, because had I known then what I known now - I wouldn't have been agreeable to see his family then and instead saw my family.

But there is no crystal ball to say his Dad will be just fine in a year from now. I know that. If I had that ability to see a year from now, and if his Dad was okay I'd say "Lets go next year", but if he wasn't then I'd say "Let's go see them"

I really don't want to see them cause there is just so much going on and I can't take more than 2 weeks off of work. But he doesn't understand cause not everyone has 3 MONTHS of PTO they can take.

Happiness and Finances

April 14th, 2010 at 06:33 am

I truly believe that if you're happy in life - TRULY happy - your finances will take care of themselves because who we are as people, have no need to consume or spend more than we need. If we are truly happy, we already have what we want and need.

Of course this doesn't relate to certain emergencies. Like $5K to travel back home to Hawaii to see my Dad's funeral, etc. But I'm talking about the types of finances that we are in control of. Its those behaviors that really determine our true financial picture and whether we are headed towards success of failure.

I thought more about my last post. I know how I say I take better care of myself when DH is gone, but there is another part in there that I sort of eluded to: I also spend more frivolously when he's gone.

Even though I may be handling a situation well on the surface, my finances show the true picture. $30 on shampoo & conditioner? Considering the purchase of a waving iron and spending hours on my hair.

Bottom line is... I spend more when he's gone because I'm not happy. I go through the motions, I do what needs to be done and I don't dwell on it on the surface - but I know a huge part of me misses him and although I can ignore those feelings to get what I need done, they still surface in other ways.

He came back yesterday and it was like an instant thought... I no longer needed all the extra stuff to make me happy (or to get my hair the way I wanted it). It was like instant happiness. I stopped thinking about all the things I wanted to do to make myself happier... I just was happy in that moment and didn't feel the need to buy anything or do anything else but be with him.

Overall, regardless of how mathematical and scientific I want to be about my finances - the bottom line is that a level of psychology is involved because of the human element.

He did get me a necklace and bracelet while he was away in Panama. It was his last trip there and he wanted to get me something. I thought it was sweet. I'm not really one who wants a souvenir because it just takes up space... but he knows that jewelry is one area that I'll always appreciate.

I know he didn't spend much on it, but that doesn't matter. It could have cost him a penny and I'd still love it. Its like my earrings from Dubai, I can look back on them/wear them and know there is a story behind it. And if I ever pass (I make it sound like death is optional LOL) then its something the kids can have and know the story too.

My mom STILL tells the story about how my grandfather came back from a deployment and gave my grandmother a diamond (now worth $10K), but my grandmother was disappointed because it wasn't a pearl. But still... 30-40 years later, my mom remembers it and still wants that diamond one day because she can remember where she was & that moment in time he gave it to her.

But anyhow, aside from that we went out to eat yesterday cause we got back so late from the airport. However, again - we paid with cash so it was nice to do.

Overall though, I'm just glad my hubby is back. I missed him and its amazing how happiness can affect your spirit... cause to tie into all this, I also have a renewed vigor for studying for Regulation. I finished 70 of the 195 multiple choice questions yesterday and plan to get through the rest today and start module 4 tomorrow.

So long story short, I may look better and be more productive when he's gone - but my finances are better when we're together and I'm happier.