Monday, January 12, 2009

Money Monday, 1/12/09

TODAY! (she declared, boldly!) Is the first day of the rest of my life!!

Which sounds sooooo much better than, “Sigh…okay, holidays are over, we’re back to work, and I’ve got to start dealing with my issues rather than continually saying, ‘Meh, I’ll deal with that after the holidays…’”

I’ll admit there’s a part of me that just doesn’t even wanna deal with it. A part of me that just wants to curl up on the couch and pretend the whole thing away. Working is overrated, why can’t he just work and I’ll just sit here, besides, as long as we’re not actually in foreclosure, we’re doing pretty good all things considered…right?

You can imagine the blistering retorts I come with up when I start pulling that kind of baloney on myself.

For right now, my focus is all about the emergency fund. Even paying down debts comes second to that, because we are now operating on highly unstable income. Could be nothing, could thousands – we just don’t know.

So whenever I’ve got a dime to spare, I’m tucking it into the old emergency fund account like a squirrel gathering nuts for the winter. Once I’ve got a full three months of average household spending in there, I’ll start turning my attention to the debts – because frankly, each of those I get paid off reduces how much I need to get through a month. Paying off all of them would turn what was a three month supply into almost five month’s worth…and save me interest payments, and improve our FICO score.

It truly is the gift to yourself that keeps on giving, debt reduction.

So, where am I getting all these thousands and thousands of dollars needed to beef up the emergency fund, pay off the debts and perhaps even (dare I say it?) continue to grow our business from something which merely gets us along to something that helps us not merely weather this storm, but the inevitable storms yet to come?

First, we’re hoping that we’ll be having a few of those awesome! months. A couple windfalls would go a long way toward repairing our scuttled e-fund…and if my calculations are correct (and they usually are, uh, well, give or take a grand or two) the IRS will be sending us back a fair chunk of change this year. Instant e-fund, just add screwed up payroll calculations!

And second, obviously, here’s a shocker: I’ll be applying the LBYMs thumbscrews to our household spending. I foresee a lot of Goodwill shopping and “creative” meal plans in our near future…

I started this week by inventorying the freezer and pantry, to make sure I had a good idea what I already had. That way, as I’m making menu plans I can design meals around what I’ve already got instead of buying all new stuff; I also reduce waste by getting things used up before they turn into science experiments.

Below is what’s on the menu for the week. You know, because I’m sure everybody is just dying to know what we’re serving up around here “on the cheap.” Which is really only “cheap” in the sense that it was a sunk cost, being as how all the meat and a lot of the sides were already on hand and therefore cost nothing new out of pocket…never mind! Here it is! I’m going to go cook something, now…

Monday: Winter Chicken Bake. All in one dish, with winter vegetables my mutant alien children will undoubtedly squeal, “I DON”T LIKE THAT!” about but oh well, more for me, you little runts.

Tuesday: Barbequed Beef Steak with Orange Marinade, mashed potatoes, fresh steamed broccoli.

Wednesday: Spaghetti. (Fast, easy and cheap. Also gets a full servings of vegetables into the kids without their knowledge, since for some reason spaghetti sauce is as acceptable as ketchup, while tomato sauce in about any other form other than pizza topping is “gross.”)

Thursday: Diced Lamb with Roasted Vegetables and Couscous . Another all-in-one dish. I still have about four pounds of lamb left from the locker lamb I got from Meridian Jacob’s farm last year…it’s rapidly getting to the ‘use it or lose it’ state.

Friday: Quick pockets: assorted cooked meats and veggies wrapped in Pillsbury crescent roll dough, brushed with butter and baked. This is junk food at its finest, kind of like American dim-sum. Examples of fillings include chopped chicken, green onion and cream cheese; crumbled up meatloaf with cheddar cheese; just cheese; lunchmeat. It’s not exactly healthy but it is fast and delicious.

Saturday: Roasted chicken, rice, frozen peas and carrots (steamed, though…still-frozen ones can be hard on your teeth.)

Sunday: Individual chicken pot pies. Uses up leftover chicken, padded out with more peas and carrots and a lovely creamy white sauce. The “individual” part makes it more entertaining for the children, although even this is not enough to make them eat the carrots and peas. Their ability to eat everything but those items is astounding.


Firegarnet said...

That reminds me . . . I totally need to inventory the freezer too. Before Saturday which is the dreaded Costco run. Thanks for the kick in the behind/reminder.

We're going to further knuckle down on our LBYM this year. Sigh.

You're a grand inspiration, you know-it really helps. Thanks.

Trina said...

I thought I was the only one who did the crescent pocket thing! I'm a big fan of tomato sauce, cheese, and green onion myself. :)

RobinH said...

Wow, sounds delicious!

I sometimes repackage leftover stew in biscuit dough brushed with a little egg to jazz it up (the faux-Cornish pasty implementation). The bread dough sounds even better- I'll have to try it.

Kris said...

I like the crescent pockets. A great way to use up leftovers!

I also like to take the leftovers from roasted chicken, white sauce, 8 oz pasta, mix it all up and top with parm cheese. Bake until yummy. Easy peasy and delish

Unknown said...

We used to eat everything but the veggies too! My mom really complained when she noticed that when the dog got the leftover chicken potpie, he left a bowl of cleanly licked peas for her to throw out. Never ate a single one (my dad actually checked once - counted them before and after)!

Thanks for the dinner ideas. I just finished going through what we spent on food so far this month... Our grocery shopping definitely needs some serious scrutinizing! We didn't think we'd splurged at all, either.

Nicole said...

i love reading peoples weekly meal plan. i still live at home, and my mom doesn't plan out meals, and what she ends up making is a surprise to everyone. (not that i eat most of the stuff she makes, i'm vegetarian)
also, those individual pot pies? my DAD (who is nearly a half century old) picks out the peas and carrots.

Hu said...

You got a wonderful meals for the week. Beef, lambs...all things I like!