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Just in Time

As in just in time for me to make my 4th payment on the ever-dwindling car debt, careening past the 50% paid off mark (!!!!), The Husband drives over a HUGE pothole. Let me repeat: A HUGE pothole. A freaking sinkhole, which pops my virtually brand new tire, requiring a replacement.

A $197 replacement.

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Meet the new tire. Same as the old tire.

Boo.

Question: What do you do?

Well, first you change your tire, before you drive on the rim and cause further damage. Directly after that, you start the intricate dance of repairing/mitigating costs of this unexpected necessity.

Can the tire be repaired? Answer: No! As confirmed by 2 separate tire retailers.

Is the tire under warranty? Because this is a brand. new. car. for crying out loud. Answer: Also No! Warranties do not cover “road damage”. Zoinkers.

Where can I get it replaced in a jiffy? Answer: Choose the cheaper of the above 2 options, because they both have appointments available at the exact same time.

Is this the end of it? I’ve got a new tire. I can move on with life. $200 poorer. Answer: FALSE!

Instead, I exercised a little persistence via Google, and submitted a damage claim to the City of Seattle, the party responsible for this massive crater in the middle of the street. The damage claim includes my statement, location of the pothole corroborated by their own city map, contact info for witness in the car with us at the time, and the receipt for the replacement tire.

Will this get me anywhere? Answer: Unknown.

Am I being a total cheapskate jerk about this? Answer: Mixed. That pothole was really big, on a narrow surface street, with a low speed limit, which we were obeying. Not easily avoidable, and intense enough to destroy a brand new tire.

I know people sue for pothole damage in NYC, but I’ve no idea if Seattle will pay up. What do you think? What are my odds?

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What I’ve Learned From Dogs.

Doubtless the title of innumerable sappy coffee table books on the subject of love triumphing over all, and the unique value of canine relationships. While I’m sure that’s true and do not question the importance of Marley & Me as social commentary, I will endeavor not to write a condensed version of those books.

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Instead, as I sit here next to a mess of an ancient Maltese with exactly 3 green teeth in his head, short about a third of his body weight, dropped off at a shelter with black matts (he’s a white dog), I will write a different post. This is not my first rodeo. I am no longer all that appalled by his condition. I’ve taken dogs with grapefruit sized tumors. Dogs with chronic untreated allergies so bad they experienced permanent hair loss. Dogs treated so poorly for so long they no longer have any real interest in human contact. It’s unfortunate, but it happens. More than we’d all care to admit.

Sure, my experience with dogs has taught me important life lessons. Things like patience, humility, forgiveness and perseverance.

They’ve also taught me that people suck. I know, that’s pessimistic. However, we all have failings. Lots of them. How is it, we all ‘ooooh’ and ‘awe’ over puppies and kittens and Animal Planet anything, and somehow there is an unlimited supply of people in this country who will routinely mistreat an animal. Who will let it go un-fed, un-brushed, and un-vetted. Then they will make the results of that someone else’s problem. Sure, “stuff happens”, doo-doo occurs. Call it life, whatever.

Luckily, there is a whole network of people who clean up those messes. The unfortunate fact of the matter is though, we are out numbered. The supply of not just homeless dogs, but grossly mistreated and neglected dogs, it is endless. If you talked to anyone on the street, they would be outraged by the condition of my new little foster buddy here. They would express disgust and probably proclaim “Who could do that!?!” Because we all think this is unusual. I’m here to tell you, it’s really not. This happens every day. I could fill my house and yours with only extreme hard luck cases. It would be super easy. When you hear about the next mistreated animal, don’t be shocked. This is just the one you’ve heard about. The transcendent message here: People will mess up. They will crash cars. They will misplace paperwork. They will let dogs go hungry. You can focus on raging against that reality, or you can be the one to pick up the pieces. Bringing us to…

Almost everything can be fixed. Almost. The elderly little canine now known as Ford feels much better already. In a few weeks, after regular meals, he will be a new man. Maybe then we can see about fixing those last few teeth. Or maybe not because the damage to his bone structure is so severe that dental surgery could very likely break his jaw. I can’t fix that. I can not imagine what he went through to get to the condition he was in. He obsessively examines every little speck of anything on the floor to determine whether or not its food. He will eat it even if it’s not food. Given his body condition, I can only theorize how he came up with that habit. There is nothing I can do about that either, except give it time. I don’t know how long it took him to get this way. Even if I did, again, can’t do a thing about it. Focus on what you can control and remedy; meals on the regular, baths, vets, cleanliness. Pick your battles, and in the course of doing so, hope that other issues correct themselves. I’ve found they usually do in so many situations.

You can pick your family. Contrary to the old adage, we are so very fortunate in that we can choose who we spend our time with, how we spend it, and how we define family. Clearly dogs don’t have this choice, and often they suffer for it. Yet, they were my first example of the principle. For us, time spent on a couch full of dogs reading or watching TV, that is family time. There is no fighting or carrying on (we won’t have it). Only long contented sighs, and the enjoyment of being together. I model many of the relationships I choose after similar activities. Who’s presence am I comfortable in? Who do I just enjoy spending time with? Even teeny-tiny Ford is tickled to be part of the group, as most of our foster dogs have been. Cultivate your life around the relationships you find most fulfilling, even (or perhaps especially) if they seem simple and uncomplicated.

It’s not world peace. These are not groundbreaking. I haven’t received any Hollywood inquiries about the rights to our story. Some people would say time spent on damaged dogs is a waste of money, resources, time. As you might imagine, I’d disagree. On many levels. Even if it’s not all unconditional love and roll-y pole-y puppies, there are applicable lessons nonetheless.

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Money Saving Monday: Amazon

With all my anti-Big Box talk and having finally completed my breakup with a certain purveyor of bulk, there is one relationship based on corporate consumption I maintain: Amazon.

I don't remember doing that...

It is one of my original Big Box exceptions, and it’s the one I’m sticking with. Why? Well, it’s complicated. Let’s try to do this without making me seem like a total hypocrite. If that’s possible. In my mind, my pro-Amazon argument goes something like this…

Local-ish. I’m in the PNW. Seattle even. Hey, so’s Amazon. How bout that? Around here, Amazon’s a good employer. An employer that provides jobs very much like the one in which I’m currently indentured employed. That means good paying jobs. Jobs with benefits, and paid holidays. Jobs that keep my little region robust economically. They certainly aren’t the only “local” corporation, and Dog knows I’ve severed all ties for less. Still, its something. A contributing factor, if you will.

Money Saving. Oh yeah. That. See, I am the not-so-proud holder of an Amazon Visa. I use this Visa for all my regular spending, paying it off in full every month. I am one of “those” people. Amazon bucks are also my requested gift card of choice, a fact everyone knows by now. I’ve recently learned the beauty of exchanging not-so choice gift cards for Amazon dollars via Gift Card Granny. Between all these avenues, I have a considerable stash of Amazon monies at any given point in time. I use these for everything from washing soda (for laundry soap) and lye (for regular soap) to chick feeders (for my impending arrivals) and Buffy comics (occasionally!) You know, the necessities of life (Buffy counts!). Here’s the thing, even though I shop at Amazon regularly, I spend very little money with them. A quick check of my spending for the last year, reveals less than $200 spent at Amazon. Yet, I have 4 pages of purchases under My Account.

Convenience. This is really where they win out over miserable visits to brick and mortar stores. There are no crowds. No lines. No obnoxious music driving me to make impulse purchases. Not only that, but if I want random things like reusable drink straws or glass lunch containers I don’t have to go running all over town to find them. This has been particularly helpful when embarking on a new project, like cheese making or chicken raising. Activities where I haven’t yet figured out “the place” to procure my supplies, nor had a chance to shop around. Amazon gets me started, and gives me a baseline for future cost comparisons.

How about that. Amazon saves me money. They save me time. They fuel my frugal exploits, and they create real non-retail jobs in community. After I shop with them, I don’t feel like I’ve just been through war.

Big Box exception, they shall remain.

Sure, my preference is to shop local. Purist that I am, I’d prefer to do that 100% of the time. Amazon has pissed me off once or twice. I’ll always have to keep tabs on them as Corporate Citizens. But, with two working adults and a house full of dogs, reality gets in the way. Compromises must be made as a Conscientious Consumer. Amazon is one I can live with.

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Sunday Spending: Costco

We did it. We braved the rude crowds, the ridiculous parking lot, and the hard to find items to bid Costco adieu. Here’s the haul, accompanied by the “new” thrifted owl napkin holder I failed to remove pre-photoshoot. Isn’t it cute though? Thanks KTB.

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Focusing…Ok. Groceries. Not owls. Right.

Back to the nightmare that is Costco on a weekend. Not everything pictured is a “grocery” item. There is a big bag of grass seed there, because reseeding the lawn every spring is an absolute necessity when it endures 6 dog traffic, and a gallon jug of Sluggo in preparation for the war I will be waging against all things slimy in my raised beds. Those two garden items were $45 including tax, making my Costco grand total $82. It’s only that low because of the reward check we spent. I’m still pretty proud of the haul. In case you can’t tell we got… 40lbs of organic sugar (I’ll be making a lot of jam this summer), tomato products (diced and paste), the all important TP, tuna, olive oil (for soap making), raisins, cheese, smoked salmon, baking soda, vinegar, nuts, and antacids. That’s a fine farewell. Should keep us going for a while.

After much ado about nothing, fare thee well Costco. You are dead to me.

The purchase at the retailer-who-shall-not-be-named obviously puts me over the $50 per week budget. I’m good with it. That was a planned overage, I knew would be happening. Beyond that though, we stuck to our $50. On the way back from an aborted farm trip (do to entirely too much snow in the pass) we swung by my frenemy Whole Foods spending $47 on eggs (free with coupon), bananas (fair trade), lemons (for the curd…yumm), PB, cabbage and coffee. What a line up there!

I had planned to pick up chickens and eggs at aforementioned farm. Obviously it was not to be. We will try again soon. Speaking of farms, I’m still waiting on my 1/2 hog purchase. It’s been almost a month. I was originally quoted two weeks. That’s thrown our game plan off a bit.

And with that February is ova, folks. At least from a grocery shopping perspective. Our “warehouse store” trip will keep us thick in the all important snacks this week (and then some), and if the pig actually shows up we might not even have to go whole hog into March. *snerk* Get it?

I know. I know. Stopping now. Sorry.

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Today

I am…
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Thrilled with the first pop of Spring in my yard, as evidenced by my blueberry bushes.

Concerned that rumors of snow this weekend will turn out to be true, and inflict harm on said blueberries.

Now enjoying Donna Freedman on the daily at Frugal Cool. I’m a particular fan of her initial manifesto, which is all about personal definitions of frugality. That’s something I can get behind.

Completely spent (in a good way) after one hell of an hour long early morning spin class, on the heels of a middle of the night work-related wake up. Nothing like vigorous exercise to counteract the negative side effects of Corporate Servitude.

Forgoing much of my Friday night cookies-takeout-and-television ritual in order to take a new foster dog to the vet. That’s the thing with these dogs, as soon as you start talking or even thinking about fostering, the Universe provides, six dogs or no.

Enhancing what’s left of my Friday night by purchasing Game of Thrones, Season 1 for my Apple TV. I’m already waiting for Big Love<, which The Husband isn't interested in. Game of Thrones though, that's something we've both been anticipating.

Still on the fence about refinancing, STILL. Can I have the loan officer I want with the Credit Union I'd rather work with? The details of managing my biggest debt are seemingly endless. A decision will be made. By Monday.

Amused (and slightly concerned?), that I've been compared to Rain Man 3 times in the last 24 hours. Not sure how I should take that.

Happy that the plans for providing my would be chickens with solar power for their coop are coming together. They will have a light in the winter and fan in the summer courtesy of our Seattle overcast skies.

Ready for a weekend of outside work, visits with friends, and hopefully a super good latte to begin already.

Sure that you are too! See you Sunday!

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Weekly Goals: Short Week

I had Monday off. A rare banker’s holiday observed by Corporate America. So rare, in fact, that’s it’s usually forgotten about. Then it comes as a 3 day weekend surprise, when someone in the office inevitably realizes it on Thursday or Friday.

I love 4 day work weeks. I prefer 4 day work weeks. I dream of 4 day work weeks. Doesn’t 4 days on to 3 day off seem like a much more reasonable work/life ratio? Someday when I exit my Corporate Servitude stage left (again), as God is my witness, I will never work 5 days again. That was meant to be a melodramatic declaration a la Scarlett O’Hara.

However, 3 days off combined with my late goals from last week, has left me feeling a little crunched. `The good news?

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My tomatoes are not dead. I’m a bit obsessed with their progress and care. Mesmerized by their growing and changes. It’s my own science experiment with a pretty steep learning curve. For whatever reason, the 8 or 9 in this tray are doing better than the other 20 something. I’ve no idea why, but I’ll take it. They have one set of “true” leaves, with another well on the way. My plan is to up pot them this weekend, as I’m starting to see roots poke out the bottom of their little pots.

Before we get too far into my plans, what about last week? The goals were..

Arrange Mattress Removal. Arranged, yes. Actually removed, no. My dance card is full this weekend, so I scheduled it for next. The mattress will be hauled away by Bed Be Gone, who promises to recycle up to 90% of the materials. Costs twice as much as taking it to the dump. I couldn’t get a charity to touch it with a 10 foot pole. This is my best/only Conscientious Consumerism option. I’ll pay up.

Long(er) Term Budget. Necessary as a result of our super high tax bill. Mostly done. I’m expecting tweaking as we go along, because who really know whats going to come up between now and April 17th. Regardless, with this plan I should be able to take a big bite out of the bill.

Garden Spreadsheet. Done, and I feel better. This can be added to if I get starts or additional seeds, will certainly help document my successes and failures in the coming growing season, and provides me a quick to-do list for each month. It might seem a little anal, I realize. There is so much to keep track of already though, and we’ve only just begun. More organization = better, at this point.

Even with the short week, I did pretty good. You know why? Because I had an extra day off. What will I do in the coming, very sad, 5 day work week?

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Go to Costco. Also sad. Not because it’s my last trip. Oh no. It is sad because, I do not like going to Costco. The reward check is here. It must be used. I’ll use it to my advantage to stockpile organic sugar, vinegar, baking soda, and other staples of my life. A full pantry will soften the blow of having to endure the trials and tribulations of the trip itself.

Refinance. This will not be finished within a week. Further sadness, in that my beloved credit union is failing me. I’ve been dancing with them about this issue for months. Literally, months. First they were backlogged. Then when I finally did get a loan officer to contact me, the closing costs they were quoting were significantly higher than industry average. About 4K higher. I love my CU, and I’d like to keep my business with them. However, a few phone calls revealed much better options. Options, which won’t require months to get someone to talk to me. Project Lower Big Fat Mortgage Payment is a go.

Working 5 days, going to Costco, and abandoning my credit union is about all the sadness I can handle. I will be buoyed by the arrival of my 1/2 pig, a farm visit, tomato fussing, time with The Best Friend, and yummy local cheese. There. That lists makes me feel better.

What are you looking forward to in your week? What are you dreading?

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Fostering.

Much like Pet Insurance, fostering is something we have done in the past, but don’t currently.

Unlike insurance though, we have a much more extensive history when it comes to hosting foster dogs. The portly little lady pictured above was our most recent temporary resident. Elsie (aka Elsanor), a malti-shi-something mix, twice surrendered, 10 years old, deaf as a post, with a penchant for demand barking. Oh, she was a charmer that one. The Elsinator stayed with us for a little over a month before finding her perfect home. She has her own serving staff of cats and retirees to see to her needs.

Other than her highness there, I can count 10 other dogs who’ve stayed with us for any length of time since 2002. That number doesn’t include dogs picked up from shelters and transported to other foster homes or dogs taken on early morning adventures to the mobile spay/neuter clinic. There have been a number of other short-term stays.

I often get asked about fostering. It goes something like this: “How do you do it? I couldn’t do it! I’d keep them all.” or “Isnt it hard not to get attached?”.

The truth of the matter is you do get attached and it is very hard. I’ve blubbered over every single goodbye I’ve ever said to a foster dog, regardless of how confident I was about their placement. You are supposed to love them and be their advocate. That’s in the job description. Fostering is like getting tattoos. If it didn’t hurt, everyone would do it. Also, its a little stupid. You are signing up for pain, and will undoutedly be left with a permanent mark.

It’s not for the feint of heart, and it’s not for the weak of will. In my world, it is not ‘test-driving’ a dog. For me the point of fostering has always been to find the dog a home better than my own. I will admit, that perhaps has not always happened. That aside, it’s about the dog. It’s not about you. There is always a need for more foster homes. Fostering is so much better for the dog and the potential adoptee than the shelter environment. If we could handle the bulk of our homeless pet problem this way, countless situations would be improved. It’s my favorite kind of volunteer work. The kind that happens in your house. If fostering is something you’ve given some thought to, here’s what I would encourage you to think about before you commit.

Who To Foster For? The most important question. All rescues have pretty much one thing in common: They need foster homes. Beyond that though, it’s a world of difference. Familiarize yourself with their adoption and fostering procedures before you even enquire. Personally, I won’t foster for an organization that doesn’t do home checks. I refuse to send a dog in my care to a new home sight unseen. I also want ultimate veto power in saying no to a potential adopter. That pretty much disqualifies most shelters and there aren’t many rescues who support those policies. Those issues are more important to me than getting the dog placed quickly. Other people might want to know the dog could go somewhere else if it’s not working out in their home or that the dog will only be with them for X amount of time. Whatever it is that’s most important to you, discuss it with the organization before hand.

Money Concerns. Foster dogs are another mouth to feed. Organizations will generally cover vet care and medications. In some cases, rescues who really have it together will also provide flea meds, id tags, and some supplements. Those are few and far between in my experience. I insist on buying all my fosters a new collar and tag. It’s standard equipment upon admittance. After what they’ve been through, its the least I can do. In most cases, I feed them the same diet as my own dogs, unless dietary restrictions have been noted. I’ve bought jackets, beds, and tempting treats all for dogs who were not my own, which were mostly sent with them to their new homes. Some of this is optional. Grooming I paid for was not. The point is do you have the money to feed and care for another dog? How comfortable are you waiting for reimbursement? How does the rescue handle that? More questions to ask the rescue and yourself.

Time Suck. It’s not just money. Foster dogs require vet trips. You may have to go pick them up from faraway shelters or homes. If you insist on home visits, those can eat up entire evenings or even days with no guarantee it will work out. There will be lots of email correspondence, phone calls, picture taking, and soul searching. They need to be worked into your day to day dog routine. How long will this go on? Who knows! I’ve had foster dogs for 2 weeks or 2 months. Our longest term “foster” dog was with us for 18 months, until he passed. The rescue and I determined he was too old to be adoptable, after he was already here.

Pack Dynamics. What about your own dogs? Are they going to take kindly to an interloper? Adding a new dog to the mix always causes a shift in the group, no matter how slight. Do you have your dogs under control enough to handle that? Do you know what kind of dog would fit well with your pack? I know better than to foster female dogs, since I already have 3 divas. Elsie was the exception to that. Being old and mostly lazy she wasn’t much of a threat. Around here, small dogs fit in better than big dogs. Certain breeds better than others. What is your criteria? My dogs are very used to transient residents. We have a whole introduction routine that we’ve perfected over the years. Still I make sure to tighten up the ship behaviorally if a new dog arrives or leave.

Giving Them Up. You’ve taken this dog that someone threw away, and loved it and cared for it and bathed it and walked it and generally completed your fixer upper project. Now give it away. Go ahead. The reality is you can not keep them all. Even if you could, that is not the point of this mission. The point was to save this dog from an unfortunate fate. You did that. Good work. Someone is going to appreciate this dog, hopefully for the rest of it’s life and beyond (*fingers crossed*). They will appreciate the dog though. Probably not you. That’s just as it should be. Your emotion is secondary, so don’t let it keep you from doing what you set out to do. Find the dog the best home you can, a home better than your own, and then let it go. Go home and lick your wounds and cry for your lost love. Remember that dog forever and always, and think fondly of it. Even if that is the only or the last foster you ever have, that’s fine. Know that in a long line of failures, you were the person who changed their luck.

So much to think about! And it’s always going to end in (your) heartbreak. Why would anyone ever do this? My answer is Buster, Cassidy, Tucker, Tiffany, Miles, Billy, Cooper, Hershey (especially Hershey), Kirby, Chloe, Texas, and Elsanor.

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Good dogs with happy endings. I am very proud of the role we played in making that possible. Completely worth the tears and the time and the money, because that’s not really what I remember. I remember picking up mostly raggety, sick, scared, dogs from nefarious circumstances and slowly watching them heal and bloom. I remember when I saw the application for just the right home for them. I save the emails I’ve gotten from happy families, with pictures attached. If it’s about the dog, then it’s totally worth it.

If it’s so wonderful, why dont we do it now? Hello!?! Six dogs, people! 6!

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Taxes.

Or perhaps more appropriately in this case…

Taxes - Illustration

What’s the saying? Only two things in life are certain; death and taxes.

Not exactly uplifting. This will probably not be an inspirational post. I am not currently feeling inspired. It should come as no surprise though. I’ve alluded to this topic here, here and even just yesterday, in a round about way.

What happens when you work your tail feathers off at 2 jobs for half of the year, then relent and pay homage to the Corporate Overlords who have previously treated you so poorly?

You end up with a blurry 2011 and a large tax bill. How large you ask?
$3600 and change.
After mortgage interest, and charitable donations, and 401(k) contributions, and car sales tax. Still, $3600. Wheeee!

As a non-small business owner with relatively uncomplicated taxes this certainly seems huge to me.
Prior to this, I’ve always been firmly in the tax return camp. As in, I receive them, add them to my Emergency Fund, and move on with life. Tax season comes and goes with minimal fanfare. This is certainly more money than I’ve ever owed in taxes. In fact, it’s more money than I’ve ever received as a refund. I’m really trying not to be pissed off about it. Really. However, don’t begrudge me a little rant.

When our going got tough, I didn’t default on my Big Fat Mortgage. I didn’t fall behind on any bills. We didn’t apply for financial assistance (other than The Husband’s unemployment). When our income took a 60% decrease, I went and got myself another job. I worked 50-60 hours a week, 6 days a week, with two 12 hour days for over a year. I cut expenses. I delayed purchases and maintenance. The Husband worked odd jobs for friends and family. We hung on tightly to the Emergency Fund, just in case things got worse. We freaking hustled.

For all that trouble, I get the distinct privilege of paying back $3,600 that shouldn’t have been in my pocket to begin with. That in and of itself is kind of hard to imagine.

I keep trying to comfort myself by saying it’s an interest free loan from the government. Since we were in such dire straights it’s better we had the extra money then, and can pay it back now, when our circumstances are improved.

It still stings.

In my layman’s understanding (confirmed by my new friend The Accountant), what happened is this: Payroll taxes are calculated based on how much you make. When you aren’t making much, they don’t take much. Obviously, employers can’t take into account income earned at other jobs. So, if as in my case, you have 2 low earning jobs, neither employer will deduct very much in taxes. Collectively though, you will earn more at both jobs than you have paid taxes for. Then its really bad, when you return to your previously higher earning ways mid-year, bumping up your total income and tax bracket. Add to that, The Husband’s intermittent employment, which leaves him with lower projected earnings at his employer than they usually draw taxes for.

We should have had additional withholdings.

This is not something I ever, in a million years would have thought of when every penny mattered so much. Yes, please take more of my money. Where do I sign up for that?

Pushing aside my outrage with the system and with myself for not knowing better, what the heck am I going to do about this rather large, unexpected bill? Just because I hate it doesn’t mean I don’t have to pay it. In short order too. April 17th isn’t that far away (56 days if one were counting). I would rather not tap savings for this bill. At least not The Emergency Fund. Some of our slush money may be another story. That would reduce necessary cash to a little less than 2K. Even then, there are competing priorities; car debt, on-going garden projects, and other recent purchases, which have sucked up a fair bit of our ‘disposable’ income. What’s a taxpayer to do?

Budget. I’m working out a spending plan for a those next 56 days. Rather, a lack of spending plan. Like everyone else in the world, we mostly budget for a month at a time. I’m going to make some assumptions and lock in our spending for a bit longer than usual. Even if I throw all our discretionary dollars at this, it may not be enough. The best laid plans and all that.

The Back Burner. As in, what can go there? What am I willing to de-prioritize to protect The Emergency Fund? Certainly there are lots of wants that will fall by the wayside. What else? Car Debt repayment? The Garden? Pork purchases? Vet Funds? I haven’t quite worked that out yet.

Windfalls. Is it still a windfall if you know it’s coming? There is a work bonus looming on the horizon. Another reason to appreciate Corporate Servitude. I have no idea how much it will be, if anything at all. I’m reluctant to count chickens before they are hatched. Even though, it may save my bacon. I could mean both of those things literally, by the way. The only thing certain about this is that I will know sooner than 56 days. That’s something.

The Usual Suspects. Sell stuff, do odd jobs, market research, roll change, et cetera. A general tightening of the belt. A belt that is already rather tight, I might add. We’ve know about this for a little while now, so that process has already begun. Valentines day chocolates and fancy dinners were foregone. I personally, don’t think there is a lot of wiggle room here, but I’m willing to reevaluate as part of the budget creation process.

Will it be enough? I hoping against hope that some combination of the above will scrape together enough to keep me from having do what I’ve so far been able to avoid in any number of circumstances: raiding The Emergency Fund. This isn’t a house on fire emergency, after all. With everything thing we’ve been through – 9 months of unemployment for him, a years worth of 2 jobs for me, burglaries, sick dogs, broken cars, and lots and lots of bad timing – it would seem anti-climactic now to touch that money. Especially when,…however, reluctantly…I have to admit…this might just be… my own damn fault.

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Money Saving Monday: Wants

Lately, my list of wants grows long.

Hunter Boots.  13/365
Photo credit goes to PV KS because you can’t photograph what you ain’t got.

I want a pair of

for the working of my Urban Homestead.

I’ve been dreaming of Adirondack Chairs made from recycled milk jugs ever since The Garden Show.

The unfortunate spots in my hardwood floor seem particularly prominent lately. This reignites dreams of Flor Carpet Tiles which can be recycled when dog paws render them ugly.

Everyone loves the

for weeding and digging and looking menacing.

I’d like to try just one

for my own jam making purposes. Just one.

Must keep thrifting for all things owl and pyrex.

Have you heard about Taproot? As a rule, I don’t subscribe to magazines, but I’d be willing to make an exception.

The Library waiting list for

remains frustratingly long and unmoving. The same holds true for a number of other gardening and fiction books I am not-so-patiently waiting on.

NW Edible’s garden journal seems a significant improvement over my current multi-venue, entirely too verbose recording method. I’d love to benefit from her template, and it’s on-sale (!!!) through the end of today.

None of these things are required for my survival.

Sure, Rubber Boots would be an improvement over all the dirt in my dog chewed crocks. There is probably a non-$120 alternative.

My particle board adirondack chairs might survive another season. The jurys still out.

We’ve been looking at those same spots on the hardwood floor for a long time, without the benefit of coverings, recyclable or otherwise.

Atlas gloved hands also seem to be quite effective for weeding, particularly in soft February dirt. They aren’t quite as menacing though.

My stock pile of regular old mason jars grows large, and I have no problem giving them away to friends, even with the BPA.

There is no shortage of vintage pyrex or cute owls in my house. I will not die without the addition of more.

Taproot will still be there after the first reviews have rolled in.

Breaking Bad is free on Netflix, even if Big Love is not. My bedside table runeth over with books. Maybe not all the books I want. Nonetheless there are books in spades.

I’ve got nothing to improve upon the garden journal, other than my own discombobulated note taking, which will likely have to make do for now. Although, if there were an exception to be made…

On a related note, we are still without iPad.

When I get a serious case of the consumerism gimmies, it helps to identify these things for what they are: Wants. Optional. Not required. I am not entitled to have these things “just because”. Just because I work hard (don’t we all?). Just because I’m working in the yard all the time does not mean I need every available tool and accessory known to man. Just because it’s new. Just because it’s available. Just because it’s recycled or recyclable or it’s cheaper than buying new.

I read a fabulous blog post recently titled “Immediate Gratification is for Sissies”. The content itself is lovely and completely worthwhile. However, its that title that’s sticking with me.

We’ve got some big bills coming up. Dealing with them is going to require some focus and buckling down, even more so than usual. I need to be really clear about identifying those wants, and not being a sissy.

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Sunday Spending: Columnar

There will be no grocery picture today, in favor of my new friend now in residence on my patio, the Columnar Apple Tree.

IMG_4827

Really I just like saying columnar. Columnar. Ok, I’m done. He may not look like much now, but this vertical fellow will (hopefully) produce 50 apples a year (eventually). Even better, he was on sale. Bare root and on sale is better still. $21 compared to the price check I did of his root balled friend at another nursery for $50. That should lessen the sting, if I accidentally kill him.

Columnar.

Seriously. Over it now.

Since we won’t be surviving on apples any time soon, groceries still had to be had. We are actively engaged in a repeat of the $50/per week challenge. Last week, was a success with a $39 grand total. A less than $50 total, I will remind you of here before stating my over $50 total for this week.

Farmer’s Market. $38 Eggs, sausage, bacon, spinach. I bought an extra carton of eggs because we were out on Sunday morning, due to The Husband’s makings of a large amount of Lemon Curd (Thanks Donna Freedman for the recommendation. He’s in yogurt heaven). Being out of eggs causes major disruption in my daily eating, inspiring a sense of panic when I am in front of my local egg purveyor. Also, portions of my 1/2 pig bulk buy are still being smoked, and therefore are not residing happily in my freezer or my belly just yet. I had to buy more pork than I thought I would earlier in the month.

Local Market. $18. Chips, celery, onions, almonds and mayo. It was the mayonaise that put us over the top. This market already has the best price in town on our light canola mayo, and it was on-sale for .80 off. I could not resist the call of having an extra jar in the hopper.

Grand Total: $56. Over $50, but well within the $11 surplus from last week. However, we are getting to that portion of the month in which snacks are getting scarce. Much like my egg panic, this causes some level of discomfort. The Husband recommended that next month’s meal plan be accompanied by a list of ‘must-have-on-hand-at-all-time’ snack foods for lunches and post-gym pre-dinner eat NOW snacks. It hasn’t gotten to the point of eating shrimp for breakfast yet. Although, I did munch on a jar of sweet pickles yesterday afternoon because I’d already has two nut/PB based snacks that day. Sweet pickles seemed like a good change. Much debate about whether or not having snack prerequisites should necessitate an increase of the weekly budget. Increasing the budget seems ridiculous, but clearly $50 a week + a stocking up trip leaves us = spending the last half of the month scavenging.

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