Monthly Archives: November 2013

Things I’ve learned so far: The financial margin, Part V – Childcare, pets & living it up

This post is part of a series called “The margin”.  If you missed the introduction, you can go back and read it here.  In this part of the series, I’m talking about building in a financial margin when you consider your budget for expenses.  This is the fifth installment on the financial margin.  If you missed the first four you can read them here, here, here, and here

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Part V: Childcare, pets & living it up

Childcare

If you get sick, have to work late or travel for your job, you may need to increase the amount of help you get with childcare.  If that help is paid, it’s going to cost extra.  Add a margin for childcare on top of what you budget for your regular coverage needs to prepare for overages like these.  (If only we could expense them!)

Pets

As I said in the intro post, unless your pet dies young, it’s probably going to cost more than you anticipate.  Consider the cost of occasional pet sitters for when you’re away, vet bills when Sparky’s ill, and special care and food when he’s old (or ill).  Then build a margin on top of your regular budget for food, annual vet visits, toys, treats, pedicures, and outfits (if you’re one of those people).

Living it up

In the midst of all this talk of doom and gloom, it may seem odd to suggest building in a margin for living it up.  However, during a week when your dishwasher breaks and your car gets dinged in the parking lot, you’re really gonna want to be able to say yes when a friend invites you for a spontaneous night out.  Things come up.  Even good things. Continue reading Things I’ve learned so far: The financial margin, Part V – Childcare, pets & living it up

Mashed-potato topped chicken pot pie

Have you got any leftover chicken?  Maybe you roasted a whole bird in your slow cooker or bought a rotisserie chicken at the store? Pot pie is a great way to use up any meat that remains after a big chicken dinner.  If you really deepen the flavors in the sauce and replace that bland (and non-nutritious) pastry on top with delicious mashed potatoes, you can’t lose.

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I love to make a version of this after Thanksgiving, incorporating leftover turkey, gravy, peas and mashed potatoes.  But even without all the leftovers from the holiday, this still comes together in about an hour.  Probably not a great option for a busy weeknight, but perfect for a Saturday or Sunday dinner.  In fact, you can even cook the filling and topping separately in advance, and bring it all together just before dinner.

One trick that really takes chicken pot pie over the top (besides the upgrade from crust to potatoes) is the addition of Continue reading Mashed-potato topped chicken pot pie

Rustic pumpkin custard

I’m a simple girl.  I love desserts as much as the next person, probably more, but I prefer to focus my culinary energy on getting the family fed.  If I have time and energy left over after ensuring our three squares are taken care of, I might consider making a dessert, but not often.  When I do go the extra mile, it’s usually in fall or winter, as the siren call of pumpkins and apples beckons me.

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Sure, I love to peruse beautiful recipes as much as the next foodie.  The gorgeous photography, sumptuous description of the flavors…  but they lose me after that.  I rarely have the heart to make a dessert that requires copious amount of rich ingredients.  I think my limit is about a half a stick of butter.

And while I don’t have an objection to a little cream, I don’t routinely buy it, so I rarely have some on hand.  Probably my number one (scrooge-like) rule about making desserts is that I won’t shop expressly for their ingredients.  I’m only willing to consider a recipe if I already have all of the components (or reasonable substitutes) at my fingertips.

And don’t get me started on the directions for fancy recipes.  I read one the other day that was as long as a chapter of my dissertation.  I’m tired from just reading the thing.  No longer interested in making it.  Moving on… Continue reading Rustic pumpkin custard

Things I’ve learned so far: The financial margin, Part IV – Medical expenses

This post is part of a series called “The margin”.  If you missed the introduction, you can go back and read it here.  In this part of the series, I’m talking about building in a financial margin when you consider your budget for expenses.  This is the fourth installment on the financial margin.  If you missed the first three you can read them here, here, and here

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Part IV: Medical expenses

This is another big (and unpleasant) one.  If you don’t have health insurance, look into getting it.  With the Affordable Care Act it is more accessible than ever.  Get acquainted with the options (and potential subsidies) available you at www.healthcare.gov.  There is information on calculating the cost of insurance, determining eligibility for public insurance and subsidies, and applying for insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace.  Enrollment began October 1st and if you enroll by December 15th you can be covered as early as January 1, 2014.

Even if you do have insurance, illness, injury or pregnancy and childbirth can drive up your spending on medical care.  If you’re subject to a deductible, it’s a really good idea to open a Health Savings Account (HSA) to set aside pre-tax dollars to cover the expenses you incur before the deductible is reached. Continue reading Things I’ve learned so far: The financial margin, Part IV – Medical expenses

Things I’ve learned so far: The financial margin, Part III – Auto expenses

This post is part of a series called “The margin”.  If you missed the introduction, you can go back and read it here.  In this part of the series, I’m talking about building in a financial margin when you consider your budget for expenses.  This is the third installment on the financial margin.  If you missed the first two you can read them here and here

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Part III: Automobile-related expenses

Let’s be honest.  Car ownership rarely costs less than we expect.  Consider the following ways in which you might incur overages in this area of your budget.

1. Auto maintenance, repair and insurance

It’s very hard to estimate how much money your car will need to keep running.  I think that’s part of the reason maintenance plans are such popular up-sells with new car sales.  Repair bills are one thing, but never knowing when they’re coming or how bad they’re going to be really makes them sting.  There are some rules of thumb about this. Continue reading Things I’ve learned so far: The financial margin, Part III – Auto expenses

It’s Friday! Fancy a little shopping?

Here are a few deals I found on Amazon that I thought you might like.  There are also some links to free stuff at the bottom.

As always, these are affiliated links.  If you purchase through them, Amazon will divert a small percentage to me.  Thanks for supporting this blog, and happy Friday! 


The latest Bridget Jones book!  I haven’t read it yet, but am looking forward to it.  I loved this series, way back when.  Right now the hardcover is $15.16. Continue reading It’s Friday! Fancy a little shopping?