Ode To My Prius, May She R.I.P plus a little Meal Planning Magic

This week I had a quasi-near-death experience as an SUV pulled out in front of me, leaving me in a heck of a predicament as I sideswiped it. Thankfully, the only injuries were our our hurt feelings and our vehicles. I received a call today that my car- a Toyota Prius-is a total loss. We expected this as the right wheel appeared to be bent, the car is 11 years old, and has 160,000 miles.

Prius Wrecked

The whole predicament is kind of inconvenient, but I have been praying for us to get out of debt. I saw no feasible means of pushing this process along due to Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. So I have also taken an ax to the finances, whacking off everything that isn’t essential. Except cable. I haven’t gotten there yet. Since I spend a great portion of my time in bed, I want my cable. At least until we have some other feasible alternative.

My husband and I married July 31, 2014- we’re coming up on our 3 year anniversary. I brought a large amount of debt to the table. I was basically disabled, was the single parent of 3 kids, and did not have time for all that budgeting stuff as my energy level was sucked dry from working. When you are sick and you work full time, that is all you can do. That’s it. I had no energy left to worry about money. I was just surviving.

So I spent what I felt I needed to and if it didn’t fit into my budget, I figured out how I could get it. I knew what the Bible said about debt (the borrower is slave to the lender) but I didn’t have time to really care about that either.

My husband and I now are reaping the consequences of my lack of diligence in regard to money. This year I took over management of the finances. It has helped me so much to see where our money is going and to have to make decisions for the family. I sometimes can’t believe my husband entrusted this to me; but he did, and I do try to do the best I possibly can because a lot is riding on it. Our family’s future is dependent on me making good decisions and I now take that very seriously.

piggy bank

So, when I wrecked the car, I thought about things a bit. We have an old camper sitting in the yard. It has only a little over 50,000 miles on it. There are a couple of things that need to be repaired- for one, the air conditioner! But the more I thought about it, the more I thought I’d like to apply the amount of the car to our debt rather than rush out and get a new car. I don’t drive much- I just take my daughter back and forth to work and don’t even do that every day. Between the amount for the car and our tax return, we should be pretty close to being out of credit card debt. And, my friend, that is huge. Because the amount of debt I arrived with was HUGE.

The other thing I’m doing, rather than having big shopping trips, is going through daily what we have, and making a meal plan based on that. For instance, yesterday I knew we had bacon. We had eggs. I had pancake mix and potatoes. BREAKFAST for dinner! And today, I have lots of leftover pancake batter, some leftover taters, I still have some eggs – so I knew I could do it again! I just wanted a breakfast meat to go with it. I went in my daughter’s store when I went to pick her up and they have bacon on sale again. I really wanted ham, but I can deal with bacon, and the rest of the family likes it. It was 2.99 for a pound, so bacon it is. Tomorrow, I have some beans, cornmeal, cabbage that needs to be cooked, so we’ll be having a country dinner tomorrow night- with no meat. Just beans for protein! And I won’t have to buy anything for that. I have stuff to make spaghetti, minus the noodles, so for a pack of noodles (around a dollar) I have a third meal. And on and on we’ll go, until we have nothing to transform into a dinner. And we’ll be saving money that we can put toward bills and debt.

I encourage you to google “$25 meal plan for a week” and you will see several good meal plans- surely one will fit your fancy! My favorite teaching on this so far is:

http://www.houseofhermens.com/how-to-cut-your-grocery-budget-to-25-a-week/

She has many great ideas, and a list so you can list out what you do have, so that you can make a plan based on that. We rarely, and I mean rarely, have to ever throw anything out because we transform leftovers into good meals!

I do miss my Prius, and I do plan to get another car. But I won’t be rushing to do so. For now, you’ll see me swinging around town in an 86 Toyota Dolphin, living it up. I’m just praying it will continue to serve us well!

DolphinPic

 

Blessings to you and yours.

Differently-abled? or Handi-capable?

Last week, I received my handicapped tag in the mail. Very bittersweet- on one hand, I can now go shopping (MAYBE?). On the other, I had to look at my condition as it lay right in my hand. My doctor had approved me for a handicapped tag. At 43 years old. My heart broke. How did this happen? I mean, I asked for it- I wanted it, I want to be able to go to the store and other places with my kids and actually make it in the door and through the store. So we eliminated the problem of getting into the store, now I just have to get through it. But to actually hold my status in my hand- it was more than I could bear. However- I used it for church this morning and could see the benefit! After cleaning out one of my small raised garden beds yesterday (and afterward coming inside and sleeping for two hours!), I was extremely sore. Heck, I’m still sore, probably getting sorer. If that’s a word. But since I was able to park in the handicapped spot at church, I had no problem getting in and sitting down, and usually I’m in massive pain just walking through church. I may get over the heartbreak of handicapped tag, just saying.

tag

The other thing I’m dealing with -primary on my mind- is filing for disability. I am going through the process as we speak, and I should have an answer in a month or two. I had my medical evaluation over a week ago, and I have my mental evaluation this week. I would be so happy to have disability awarded. It would probably be another kick in the teeth initially, but it is sure needed. I have trouble even getting through an hour of work. The exhaustion is more than I can take sometimes. I’m also tired of trying to come up with ways to make money- things to sell, etc. People who are sick should not have to deal with things such as this. But I cannot sit by and let my husband shoulder it all. If it’s saving money somehow or making money somehow, my brain is all about it. I don’t want him to worry. And my medical status brings quite a few bills our way- it’s just the nature of chronic illness.

Couple of good websites I found:

http://www.ratracerebellion.com- if you want to find something from home full time or even just part time to add to your income.

http://www.laurengreutman.com – Kinda Dave Ramsey-ish, budgeting and financial help, menu ideas, freezer meal planning

The Abundantly Pregnant (but not) Belly

So, since I have had Fibromyalgia and EDS, progressively the old tummers has had its share of issues. The most frustrating one is – I blow up and look >9 months pregnant- more pregnant than I ever even looked pregnant I think. I just wanted to take a minute and post a little salad/salsa that I love when I am in this condition!

http://www.centercutcook.com/corn-black-bean-avocado-and-tomato-salad/

This is so yummy, I could eat it all day. I eat it with a few blue corn chips from Aldi. Pretty cheap! I also drizzled it with apple cider vinegar for additional detoxifying benefits.

 

corn black bean avocado salad

 

Just wanted to add this as a quickie post, in case it helps anyone else 🙂

 

What Happens When I Can’t Afford My Meds?

It’s been its usual challenging week at Team Presley Compound, starting with a cryfest on Sunday. Life just isn’t right when you don’t have all your kids around you. It’s just not. Not when you’re a mama, getting older, less mobile. I miss everything about life as we once knew it. Well, I don’t miss being single. Not much. I do love that hubbers.

Then, Monday first thing I get an email that my Pristiq is no longer covered at the usual 80 dollar copay. It will now be in excess of 225 bucks. Okay. Not sure what went awry there. But since I have an aversion to phones (kinda funny since my job is on phones), I shot them a message. Received a reply in the middle of the night, unable to understand it, so I had to call them. Apparently, the generic has been released (I thought that was not supposed to happen until 2020) so if I want to continue to get Pristiq, I will have to pay 225 dollars. I can get the generic for 80-both out of my budget. I was paying FOUR DOLLARS. I had my system down! Why they mess with me like this. So I pulled up my draws, and realized, we are going to have to do some work here. This may work for you too, so I wanted to share it.

First thing I did was go to www.goodrx.com  and look up the generic med in my area. The cheapest thing to pop up for Desvenlafaxine Succinate ER (aka Pristiq!) was Health Warehouse, an online pharmacy service. I could get a month there for $57 WITHOUT insurance. I didn’t even present it- in fact, they don’t even TAKE/PROCESS insurance. So- if you don’t have insurance, you can still use this place. www.healthwarehouse.com. PS- GoodRX operates from an app as well, which I have on my phone. We were without insurance for 2 months, and I had to have certain meds. They helped me find the cheapest in a 30 mile radius – however many miles I was willing to drive. I got my Imitrex prescription for $10 at Kroger in Myrtle Beach, SC – had to drive a few more miles but I was also able to fill up with that CHEAP SC gas! That’s an app you need for sure. I use it a LOT.

Second, I got on my patient portal for my doctor and messaged her and asked her to send my prescription for the generic (Desvenlafaxine Succinate ER) to Health Warehouse. If you are not signed up for your patient portal, trust me, you need to be! I used to not be signed up for any of my docs, but now I get my appointments this way, keep my labs all together, and access lots of info just at the touch of a button. I can message each of my docs and they all message me right back. It is huge. In fact, I would seriously consider changing docs if they didn’t have a portal; it’s so beneficial to me now.  So I got on my portal and messaged my doc and she messaged me back the same day that she sent the prescription.

Third, I had an appointment already scheduled that same day for another doc- my rheumatologist. I printed all the paperwork off for Pfizer’s Patient Assistance Program (I already knew about this because of (a) my job, and (b) I had already attempted to apply 2x in the past- once I was denied due to income when I was working, and once I stopped the process because I was getting my prescription for $4 a month! I was ok with that. But this is an emergency, so I am restarting the process, and just so happens that two of my other higher copay meds are Pfizer meds and I can apply for all of them- just a few to help you out- Lyrica, Caduet, Pristiq, Celebrex, and MANY more- and you can apply for them all in one shot- if you are approved for one you are approved for all. I took all of the paperwork to my Rheumy office, because they prescribed the Celebrex- trying to keep it legit. She just took the whole pack and filled it all out. I didn’t expect that. She was great. I have had another doc do that before also- and also one who didn’t- so it just depends on who you’re dealing with. They even tell you what your income limits have to be- basically for a family of four, you have to have an income under 90,000ish- 400% of FPL (federal poverty level). So I mailed all the paperwork today and should hear back within 2-3 weeks about a decision and then they tell me how to get my meds. Joy! I feel pretty good about it. I sure don’t think God just allowed all that to flow so smoothly just to drop the ball. We will problem solve it all the way through.

So- like I said- it takes some work and some research. Meds don’t fall into your lap- but there are ways to get what you need for you, your kids, family, even your animals I think….but you have to do a little work. I am glad to help with what I know if you message or comment.

Blessings! Alexandra

Blogging and Botox

Hoping this blog post finds you healthy, wealthy and wise. These are the goings on with me this past week or so… there has been a posting delay (migraine) so the timing may be off…

There has been so much going on over the last several weeks. I can’t believe my mind can be so busy when I live in a bed!

I have been working to build my eBay store. I am in the learning phase, just trying to learn what I can. I really enjoy having the store- the terrible part is shipping. UGH- shipping is a quasi-nightmare! I have added my store (which is not yet a *true* eBay store, but will be working towards that) link into my links page. There is also my Legging Army link, and my Younique makeup link. Feel free to browse if you wish!

In other news, I went to my functional med PA Terri Holler at Victory Health Consultants in Wilmington, and my newest lab work revealed a climb in my liver numbers. Disturbing, since I’ve been on medications long term that have the ability to cause liver issues. AND have been symptomatic- nausea, fatigue, bloating…the labs were not extremely high but enough to get my attention. So I’m researching and trying to detox. I’ve been looking up Dr. Axe. I think you should too. Let me just start by saying, I really don’t want anyone messing with my food. I really don’t. I have precious few enjoyable activities left and food may be #1 on my list. I made the mistake of telling my daughter- little food Nazi that she is- about my lab work and she is determined that my diet will change for the better. Bless her little heart. So she has some good recipes in mind and I will try them because I do want my kids to have their mom. I don’t have mine and no matter how aggravating an older mom or dad can be, trust me, the alternative of knowing they aren’t here and you don’t know how many years may pass before you get to talk to them again is not a pleasant option. So, as far as lies within me- I plan to stay around for my kids. Even though I’m depressed as heck sometimes and want to call in Kevorkian (did he die? I thought he did). I’m increasing the veggies- decreasing the sugars and flours and such. I’m trying really hard. Dr. Axe has a list of healing foods on his blog. A shopping list. We are getting to it and implementing one thing at a time. Hopefully health will follow. Also, I have lost about 5 lbs.! I don’t know how that happened but I am certainly ok with it!

Also, I am supposed to get my Botox injections this upcoming week! I am a little too stoked about getting shots in my head. But my goodness- the migraines- they have been unreal! Just making me so weak and tired- like I have been in match with Rousey- and lost. Of course I would lose a match with Rousey, like there would be any other option. Just the thought that I might be able to, at some point, live a normal life with my love and my sweet babes and the dogs- it just seems too much to ponder. To be able to drive up to Wilmington and go to the Costco, and drop by to see my friend Jana and her hubba hubba, Bob. A real person. I feel like Frosty the Snowman on those old Christmas cartoons. Wasn’t he the one who wanted so desperately to be a real person? REAL?

Live and love,

Andra

Adding links…..

Here are a couple of links for my friends. These are products that I have used and found to be helpful, and if you purchase from me, it benefits me and my family! There will be more links to come and I am setting up a store on ebay as well- eventually it will have only products that I love (I hope)-products that disabled as well as abled peeps can enjoy. Right now, it’s a bit of a mis-mash as I clean out due to minimalism! (See previous post!)

http://www.ebay.com/usr/alexandrn29

 

 

Less is Indeed More

One concept that I have begun to peruse this year is Minimalism. I started to feel that “stuff” was robbing me of time, joy, money- you name it. There is a documentary on Netflix- Minimalism by Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus – my new BFF’s. So after watching that, I was uber inspired and now have started listening to their podcasts as well. Before I forget to tell you- I highly recommend. Highly. Do yourself a favor and watch, even if you have no real interest in being a minimalist. The documentary is chock full of juicy info that anyone can appreciate.

I’m pretty sure that inwardly my husband has been overtaken with glee- although he has tried not to show it. He has always been a minimalist to some degree, and now that I have begun taking over the family finances, and trying to get back to my old tightwad ways, I’m sure I continually keep his head spinning. I was a free spender when we married. I was always in pain, so convenience reigned over tightwaddery. Also- I was determined that my kids were never going to do without, even if I did. Then…..I decided, I was sick. And had a relatively miserable life. So I wasn’t going to do without either by gollies, when I worked my tail off as a nurse. So I just didn’t think about money. By the time I decided to stop and think about it, which ironically was about the time Darrin and I married, my finances were a mess. All I can say, is that man loves me. I was a physical mess, a financial mess. Every area in my life was truly a mess. Truly. Well, the kids were alive and I had a dog. Darrin likes dogs. I had that going for me.

So – as far as stuff. Things may be inanimate. Stuff is not. Stuff sucks you dry of time, money, energy. It demands attention and other resources. I had to rent storage buildings to contain my stuff. And what I am talking about is not anything that is really worth anything financially. Is it just worth something to me. Drawings my kids made. Doo dads that my parents had, and they are both deceased now (even more reason to keep stuff right? Guilt?). BOOOOOOOOOOKS ….lots and lots of books of all kinds. Homeschool, fiction, non-fiction, marriage (those obviously did not work), cookbooks I mean who uses those anymore!!? And who uses a whole cookbook you could copy the few you do use and keep those out of each book. The money we spent on storage buildings could have paid for our stuff about 20 times. Maybe more.

So what do we do now? Well- I am ebaying everything, slowly but surely. And I’ve made some decent money! I have to go slow, because I’m not doing well; I’m back to daily migraines. But I try to list a few things a day. The postman at the post office always says, “I’ll see you tomorrow!” They are getting used to me now.  I am also enjoying ebaying stuff. It gives me a little something to do to occupy my mind. I was able to take Hubbalicious out for Valentines’ Day- which I was glad to do since hurt his back moving my STUFF!- Yes- really.  My goal is to have everything sold that we want to sell by the end of the year. I also have a debt payoff goal to be accomplished by the end of the year, so these may go hand-in-hand. I have also started taking some “ebay consignment”- in that, if you want to sell some things, I will sell them and you get a percentage and I get a percentage.

Some recommendations: The aforementioned Minimalists documentary with Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Milburn- they just seem like guys you need to know. Also- check out their website! www.minimalists.com. There are some Facebook groups like The Minimalist Life, and just get on YouTube and look up people like Myka Stauffer and Maggy Day. Keep in mind that Minimalism isn’t organizing your stuff, but realizing that its ok to part with your stuff. That you don’t own your stuff, at some point, your stuff begins to own you.  And sometimes, letting go of that, and the rat race that drives it, equals freedom.

Not yet arrived, but still on the journey,

Alexandra P.