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Random updates

April 13th, 2011 at 12:29 pm

We already got AS's state tax refund (28 whole dollars!) so I put that aside for our various tax bills. I will mail out all our payments either Friday or Monday, to give as much time as possible to receive the CJ/NT federal refund and AS freelance check that will help pay for them. (If those don't arrive, I have tons of float money because I won't need the lawyer fund for a long time.)

Thanks to MonkeyMama's helpful advice on the forums, I decided I will save up gradually to pay our back taxes for 2008 and 2009, and will let the IRS and MN's revenue service figure out interest and penalties. I'm going to wait until after this tax season so as not to confuse matters. I'll pay the 2009 ones first because the bill is bigger, thus fees will be bigger.

***

I don't want to jinx it, but I think we're going to take a step in our estate planning tomorrow. We have a conference call at 10 a.m. to discuss the packet we sent in months ago. Our lawyer has rescheduled on us about three times. I believe it's because they're mainly on surrogacy cases, so they must rush to court as soon as a baby is born.

We've been talking more and more about AS trying to get pregnant. So hopefully I'll have news in a few months!

***

I've been thinking about AA's first real Easter (last year she was just a dour little lump on the day; I barely remember last April/May). My family always celebrated in a secular fashion; our big traditions were A) the Easter Bunny would leave a basket for each kid that had little candy and toys and a big chocolate bunny and largish stuffed animal and B) an Easter egg hunt (outdoors if it was nice; indoors if raining). I loved both those traditions. One thing we didn't do that I always envied other kids for was dressing up in fancy clothes and a hat.

AA is too young for the egg hunt, so I'm going to skip that. For her basket, we might give her a bit of candy, but she's too young to have much, so we bought AS a mini-muffin pan that she's going to use to make blueberry muffins. As for the toys and such, my mom usually sends a package with plastic eggs and other cheap little toys, so I'm going to see if we receive that in time. (If not, I'll buy a couple things the Saturday before Easter.) And if she doesn't send stuffed animals, AA has tons of stuffed animals in her room that have never even been brought out, so I'll just repurpose one of those and it'll be just as new to her as a new animal. The only thing we'll likely need to buy is a basket, and those are really cheap at Target (I could probably get one even cheaper at the thrift store).

AA has tons of cute dresses in the next size up, so I'll break out the 12-24-mos. bag soon and pick something out. And someone gave us a little white straw hat, so that will be her Easter bonnet!

I'm kind of excited. I think she's old enough that she'll notice a basket full of neat stuff sitting out when she gets up in the morning. She's been developing so fast lately--she just got a lot better at walking, and I think she's started saying words (they might be her own language, but she's definitely assigning sounds to things, so that counts!).

***

We had a constructive conversation about our grocery budget the other night. I guess I had not really conveyed my frustration that we kept going over into the next two weeks' -- or next month's -- line item. So we sat down and came up with some ideas to better control our spending.

Basically, we have $700 per month for all grocery/household spending, which includes baby expenses such as diapers and wipes, cat stuff like litter and food, and household items such as toilet paper and cleaning supplies. We also set aside $54 per month, which goes toward an annual $640 payment for a CSA share of vegetables and fruits which they deliver June through October. So our grocery/household budget is $754 per month, though we can only use $700.

First of all, there are certain expenses we discussed and decided we didn't want to cut back on just yet; we'll see if we can control our budget in other ways first. NT is very attached to getting eco-friendly toilet paper, paper towels, foil, cellophane and ziploc bags. As a vegan, I don't want us to skimp when it comes to humanely obtained animal products, especially now that AA is drinking cow's milk daily. However, we were all willing to limit use of fake-meat products, which we love, to about once a week, and only buying them when they're on special.

Second, we're going to look for coupons before shopping, and if there are any good ones, we'll structure meals around those ingredients. I don't expect this will help much because of our specialized diets, but it may do a little bit of good.

Third, we're going to keep our receipts for a week or two and make a spreadsheet to try and figure out where our funds get allocated. NT thinks about half our money goes to fresh fruit and vegetables; if this is the case, it should be pretty easy to catch up in the summer, when our CSA box starts coming every week. But I'd like to get the budget caught up before then.

Lastly, we're going to pay attention to how much money each meal costs that we put on the menu. Then we can start a list of cheap meals that we can throw into rotation whenever we need to scale back, and have a list of splurgy meals that we should only have when there's wiggle room in the grocery budget.

I think with all three of us working with a common understanding of what we're trying to accomplish, we'll be able to get back on track. It'll even be kind of fun, I think. (Except the no-fake-meats part.)

***

I think that's it! No progress on goals in the past couple days, but I do hope to report some progress very soon.

4 Responses to “Random updates”

  1. Looking Forward Says:

    We did the same Easter celebrations in our family, plus the dress and bonnet. My mom usually made matching dresses for me and my sister. That seems pretty cool now that I think about it.

    I think AA might surprise you and like an egg hunt. I wouldn't hide them completly, but just tuck them where they (the eggs) peek out a bit. Show her what to do and see how she does. I plan to do this with DS. Smile

  2. ceejay74 Says:

    Good point, LF. I may as well put some around, sort of hidden but poking out. She might catch on if I get a few out with her watching! Certainly won't hurt to try, and it'll only take about 2 minutes to hide them.

  3. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    The fake meat is SO expensive! About a year and a half ago I bought a can of Worthington Big Franks (my fave!) and it was $5.29 for ONE can. I just about croaked. I'd been planning on buying 6. One of my splurges during Capstone week was to buy a package of Morningstar Corn Dogs (which miraculously are now back in production!) Other than that, it is very rare anymore that I get any fake meat. Even when there are the $1 coupons, it still is dang expensive.

  4. ceejay74 Says:

    I know, I know! It is really expensive. It's just so tempting because it's something we all three like (we have very diverging tastes and different dietary restrictions), and it's easy to form a meal around them. We've resolved to get rid of them before, but they always start to sneak back into the rotation. Smile
    Luckily we all love tofu and mock duck (seitan) as well, and those are much cheaper. I think tofu is $1.50 per pack, cheaper if we go to the Vietnamese grocery store. And mock duck is $3 or $4 for a can, but NT can stretch one can over three meals, so it's cheaper than, say, a pack of Morningstar chik'n strips.

    Hopefully we can stick to our guns this time and at least reduce our consumption to when it's on sale!

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