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Archive for August, 2016

One Big Chunk

August 22nd, 2016 at 07:46 pm

To deal with DH's upcoming pay cut, I have been nosing around for more bargains. Here's what I've done, starting with the minor.
A large pot of soup for lunches and tonight's dinner successfully using some wilting veggies.
Less expensive back-to-school shopping than anticipated. DD is fine with much of what she has. We can buy more to supplement as the school year progresses.
A Costco trip that filled in some gaps
A cheap Hotwire motel for next week's Minneapolis trip.
and my large triumph--a truly bargain flight for DH's trip to his nephew's wedding in October. He's going alone as mid-semester trips are impossible for DD and me. I'd been looking for weeks for a good fare between Chicago and Heathrow and struggling to find anything in the strict timeframe under $1000. We'd used consolidators before without any problems, and since he's flying alone, I thought, "why not?" The ticket has gone through, he's flying AA for under $600. I can't tell you how happy that makes me. If you have a consolidator horror story, please don't tell me. Crossing my fingers and hoping for the best.

And on the income side, my grades are in for my summer class, learning platform and assignments ready for tonight's new eight-week class, freelance project bill ready to be submitted. I still have loads of freelance work, but it can wait a few days.

DD and I are off to visit my brother and fam in MN tomorrow. Hanging out at the lake seems like a good way to wind up the summer.


Challenges and Successes

August 19th, 2016 at 06:40 pm

My DH's employer called yesterday and asked for a meeting. He's an IT contractor, so meetings are rarely good as they know he'll be off the clock to meet. The company where he's been working is facing their usual sporadic financial challenges, and they want him to take a $1/hr pay cut. There is really no choice, and frankly, the $1 didn't sound awful--but it does add up to almost $2000 a year.

At the dog's physical therapy appt this morning, I realized again how much we pay for her anti-inflamatory. I did a quick check and found I can buy it online for $55 cheaper.

Now for a place to find that other $1945! I don't think I can work more. My full time 4/4 teaching load is plenty, and I'll have an adjunct class until mid-December. I'll try to crunch the grocery budget a bit.

The CSA really keeps us fed through the summer. We had the most brilliant panzanella salad last night using some drying up Italian bread and a load of veggies. Maybe we'll try a credit card offer or two?

Study Abroad Changes

August 18th, 2016 at 05:37 pm

I spent yesterday with our Center for Intl Education. They've received the bad news that our academic department is no longer willing to pay faculty salaries when they teach studies abroad. This comes from all the budget cuts we've been faced with at the university. So, they'll need to raise costs to students, even though we teach courses in our subject area abroad, just as we would at home.

I spent some time brainstorming with them about how to cut costs. The drop in the exchange rate will help for now. But mostly I came away sad--sad that I can't go again for another fours years, sad that fewer students will be able to afford this, sad at the devaluing of university education into some sort of trade school.

I also came away determined to really stockpile cash and cut back--smarter spending on everything. My overflowing closets and cupboards are testimony to impulse buying. I've become so much better, but we still have so much excess.

My Friends and Money

August 12th, 2016 at 07:23 pm

I was having lunch with some friends last week. They're all hard-working teachers, all married with kids. One of the usual moans from all of us is our broke summers. As you may recall, I'm teaching one class, doing some freelance editing, and trying to recover from spending on funeral airfare, my summer trip to Canada, Tree removal, and dog surgery and PT.

The hoarder of the bunch has had major surgery this summer which has brought her issues again to everyone's attention. You might also remember that friends raised (gulp) over 5K for her. Then it came to light that an employee was embezzling from her husband's business to the tune of $25,000. Now the money from the fundraising is gone to help the husband's business, and she is swamped by medical bills.

In the midst of this lunch, another friend--who rolls her eyes at my carefulness with money-- said they we should all go to the hoarder's and help--me especially--because I'm "good with money." Happily for me, I was busy the day they went to her house to help. Two of them spent four hours there. Two hours of it was opening unopened mail. They had to argue about throwing out all the return envelopes since so many of the bills were second and third notices for the same procedures. There were two giant garbage bags full of mail and one room they weren't allowed in. People brought them gifts when she was in the hospital and they're all piled in the entry way.

Is there a point here? I'm not sure, but I needed to vent to someone who is not my child or husband. I have plenty of chaos in my life--not everything is always under control, but I really can't understand how people can live like that. It makes my head want to explode, and perhaps the Swedish work ethic part of me finds their constant (years' worth) need of all sorts of help really trying.