Good Doggy, Expensive Doggy

16 week old Golden Retriever puppy scratching fleas with leg in motion on a white background "Missy"

My doggy hasn’t been doing so well.  And we are both paying for it.

Last year, I decided to opt out of the Banfield Care Plan (The veterinary practice that is set up in PetSmart stores) because I found it expensive and inefficient.

What I loved about it was that from a scheduling perspective, I was always on top of teeth cleaning, regular exams and shots.  What I didn’t like was that I could never make the numbers match in my favor.  I was paying around $30 per month (young healthy dog plan) and even with the built-in discounts, I was still paying too much for teeth cleanings and the like.  So, I decided to just put a little aside each month to account for the teeth cleanings (around $200+), along with the exam costs (around $40) and save a little cash.

And then along came a case of the cooties.  Ewww.

The poor pooch was diagnosed with a yeast infection that stretched from her ears to her bottom.  Between the exam, tests and prescriptions, her tab came to about $500.  Ouch.

The good news is that she seems to be getting better. A lot less itching, that is for sure.

So here are some takeaways from the pet adventure that never should have been:

  • When the dog is scratching incessantly, do not wait any longer than you have to, to arrange a vet visit.  We may have been able to keep this at a more manageable allergic reaction rather than the yeast infection from hell if I had recognized her issues earlier
  • Some prescriptions for dogs can be filled by pharmacies that cater to humans.  The anti-fungal medication the Vet prescribed would have cost $143 at Banfield.  It cost $88 at Sam’s Club.
  • I am my pet’s advocate.  I have to learn to listen to what she cannot say.
  • YouTube has a video on everything!  I had never heard of this yeast infection condition before known as malassezia.  Yet, lo and behold, I looked it up and there were many peeping-Tom videos of owners helping their dogs, inexpensively, through the recuperation.  Their secret to success?  Selsun Blue. I grabbed a coupon off coupons.com and bought a bottle from Target.  After she finishes her medication at the end of the week, I am taking her to a Dog wash and treating her to a bath.
  • Dog washes are only $10 at PetValue!  Not chasing the dog around the backyard to bathe?  Priceless!!!

Here is to wishing all of our pets a happy and healthy holiday season!

Mirror

 

 

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Eating Green This Summer

Funny Vegetables

I won’t try to fool anyone.  I love myself some cookies.  And donuts.  And pie.  And fajitas and fried chicken.  Love, love, love.

But in the summer time, I get giddy for garden vegetables.  The fresh from the garden taste of tomatoes and cantaloupe is a joy to behold and I am all in.  This year, I planted several tomato plants, eggplant and green pepper.

In addition to doing this out of a desire to have another dimension to my life.  I also look forward to the monetary savings of growing my own food.  Truly, I experienced physical pain earlier this Spring when I had to hand over $2.49 per 2-pack at Aldi for green peppers.

Except for a handful of cherry tomatoes, nothing major has come from my garden, yet.  In fact, the beetles are eating my eggplant and a rabbit has laid claim to the green pepper plant.  But, I am not discouraged!  That is because so many others are doing quite well on their gardens and guess who gets to benefit?  Me!!!!

So far, I have saved by not having to buy zucchini or squash or celery because other gardens surplus has provided for me.  In fact, my mom went so far as to not only give me a load of squash and cucumbers, she took some of the squash, turned it into an amazingly delicious casserole, let herself into my house and left us dinner for the evening.  THANK YOU, MOM!

I am looking forward to when my little patch of gardening earth starts throwing up the goods.  I will eat those veggies and share them, too.

Saving money by gardening is delicious!

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What we Should All Know

Lisa Simpson Basics

Mirror Image is 11 years old.  As young as she is, it still feels like she has been around a lot longer than she has.  So sometimes I am surprised by the questions she asks me.  Questions that have answers that seem obvious to me but apparently, haven’t brushed up against her world yet.

That got me thinking about how many people, myself included, often miss or just don’t know some obvious basic things. No matter how loudly our parents, our church leaders or Suze Orman yells them from the rooftops.  So below are some Wednesday morning thoughts or some basics to live (better) by:

Money

  • Work for it
  • Save more of it
  • Invest It
  • Respect it
  • Talk about it
  • Learn more about it
  • Manage it
  • Don’t let it determine self-worth

Home

  • Research it
  • Clean it
  • Protect it
  • Maintain it regularly

Health & Hygiene

  • Wash hands
  • Cover mouth when coughing/sneezing
  • Stay home when sick with the flu
  • Clean – tone- moisturize
  • Brush 2x/day
  • Self examine
  • Have medical insurance
  • Exercise daily
  • Eat more vegetables
  • Drink more water

Relationships

  • Be respectful
  • Say please
  • Say thank you
  • Flirt
  • Be honest
  • Be enthusiastic
  • Give hugs
  • Accept hugs
  • Genuinely listen
  • Apologize
  • Accept apologies
  • Refuse abuse

Joy & Happiness

  • Pursue it
  • Be responsible for your own
  • Look up
  • Share it
  • Give to others
  • Read EVERYTHING
  • Dance whenever you hear your favorite song
  • Have many favorite songs

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What are some other basics I may have missed?

Weekend Money #3

Girl Sitting on Money

This morning, as I was leaving the house to take my daughter to school when she pipes up “it’s Friday!  What fun thing are we going to do this weekend?”

That means the weekend is here and it is time to plan the money!

I am going to pre-spend here on this post, then reconcile on Monday.  I plan for this to be another avenue of accountability and budgeting.  So here we go:

  • Church (tithes/offering) = $28
  • Gas = $20
  • Personal Care (haircut, mani/pedi, etc.) = $0
  • Groceries = $45
  • Dollar Tree = $10
  • Vehicle Service/Repair = $0
  • Clothes Shopping = $0
  • Gifts = $0
  • Restaurant = $0
  • Zips Dry Cleaning = $0
  • Prescriptions = $35
  • Fun Outing = $0
  • Total = $138

Groceries – I don’t need too much in terms of groceries this weekend – fruit, fresh veggies and milk from Aldi. My freezer is already stuffed with ground turkey and lobster tails – the ingredients for some of Mirror Image’s favorite recipes.  I will be using those lobster tails for Valentine’s dinner on Sunday.

Gas – I read that gas got down to $27 per barrel on Thursday.  The lowest it has been since 2003. I am looking forward to feeling that relief at the gas station.

Dollar Tree – Mirror Image has been watching me tackle organization projects throughout the house all week.  Last night, with the help of these awesome spice jars from IKEA, we almost completely organized our kitchen spice situation.  That is until I accidentally knocked by brand new label maker into the sink.  I tried drying it out in rice overnight but I think it is dead and I will have to replace it. She was very helpful and so impressed, she asked if we could do the same in her room – “but make it look cool” .  I think we will start with some of these organization tools from the Dollar Tree.

Restaurant – Not this weekend.  We will be enjoying these restaurant worthy recipes at home however – The 10 Minute Perfect Broiled Lobster Tail and  Stuffed Peppers with Cheese.

Prescriptions – This week I need to pick up Mirror Image’s back up inhaler for school.  Schools in our County do not allow the students to carry medicine of any kind so she must register her medications with the Nurse and there it stays in case of emergency.  Expensive but necessary.

Fun – As for fun stuff.  It is going to be COLD here this weekend.  I would would like to stay in with cozy slippers and house cleaning projects and watching movies rented from the library this weekend but Mirror Image might rebel.  Maybe we will take advantage of one of the Groupons I have tucked away.  If we do, there will be no additional costs except the medical attention I will late need for frostbite.

I will be back on Monday to tally up my successes (or fails).

Thrifty Image  Mirror

The Water Challenge

River Aare, Interlaken, Berner Oberland, Switzerland
That’s a lot of water!

In early December, I read an article about a woman who drank 3 liters of water everyday for 30 days.  She reported being aches and pains free, disappearing under eye circles, clear skin and uninterrupted sleep.

It sounded like she had found the fountain of youth.  And I wanted in.

For years I have bemoaned the lack of sleep and aches and pains.  (Nothing wrong with my skin, though.  Smoother than a babies butt thank you very much. Seriously, I glow).

So I decided to go for it. No more coffee filled with 5-6 flavored creamers.  No more fruity drinks or wine with dinner.  Just water. A LOT of water.  For 30 days.  I happened to mention this challenge to some folks at work at our holiday luncheon.  For some reason, some of them were really interested although not everyone was super excited.  In fact, they were confused.  I heard feedback like:

Ok, I can do it as long as I can have a cup of coffee…Uh, no

I will do it as long as I can have my Super Big Gulp of Diet Mountain Dew in the morning….Really?  No.

What?  No wine? No…no wine

Can I have Vodka since it looks like water?  NO!

Anyway, after somewhat agreeing to the rules, our merry band started drinking 1 gallon of water January 1st and the results, experience and conversations were pretty amazing:

First, I cheated on January 1 — How embarrassing since I was the one to start this thing. I had been diagnosed with a sinus infection at the Minute Clinic on New Year’s Eve eve that then blossomed into an upper respiratory infection and I was sick, sick, sick.  I broke down and had hot drink of apple cider vinegar in hot water with honey the first 2 days along with my water.  I don’t regret it. I was seeking relief anywhere I could get it.

Second, my merry band had cheaters, too — tea, coffee, accidental orange juice, vodka, wine and orange juice made its way into some cups.

Three, I lost seven pounds in one week — I think it was a combination of cut calories from not drinking so much sugar laden drinks, being sick and my body no longer having to starve for water.

Four, the body rewards you for taking care of it — members of the merry band reported more hydrated skin and less achy muscles.

Five, my mom is a rock star– She drank 3 liters of water and nothing else for 30 days.  And thanked me for including her in the merry band.

Six,  I can do anything — I have a pretty aggressive sweet tooth and somewhat stressful life.  It is easy to comfort myself with food and drink.  Taking this Challenge showed me I can control myself and reset my habits and patterns.

Seven, good habits spill into other areas of life — Without the daily  start of sugary flavored coffees in the morning, I no longer pined for cinnamon buns and Swiss Rolls and cookies throughout the day.  I either went without or reached for my bananas and oranges.

Eight, humor goes a long way when dealing with change — One of our merry band really wanted a diet coke and was close to giving in.  I sent her this picture I found on clip art:

Diet Coke Addict

Nine, children are always watching/children don’t allow for nuances — Mirror Image was always quick to point out my “cheats”.  She disapproved of my Green Smoothies, hot Theraflu and probiotic drinks.  She did not agree with my explanations that a green smoothie was basically a salad and the others were medicine.  To her, I committed to water only and those were the only liquids allowed.

Ten, there are budgetary benefits to the challenge — I did not eat fast food, restaurant food or purchase any wine or cocktails during the Challenge.  My Mint budgets allow for $150 each month for those 3 categories combined.  That is now $150 saved.

Eleven, challenges are challenging — when working with a group on a shared goal, listening and adjusting are hugely important . There was a minor rebellion early in the Challenge and I was asked to give feedback since I was in charge (wait, how did THAT happen?!?!?).  The issue?  Hot tea. They wanted it and would drop out of the merry band without it.  Personally, I didn’t see this as defeat but as a compromise to reach the overall goal of drinking more water. So let them drink tea! I did put the kibosh on coffee, however.

Twelve, role models make me better — there were 2 members of the merry band that drank all the water and only water for all 30 days. No cheating! Their enthusiasm and commitment really motivated me.

Thirteen, it is OK to be different– According to one member of the merry band, when she chose not to drink wine with her wine drinking friends at a lunch/brunch, they were really shocked and a bit wary.  She was strangely happy.  Like she had won a contest (she did!)

This has been a great experience and I have decided to continue in February.  From a self control perspective, this has been the best experience I have had since the Whole 30 Challenge in 2014 which  I used to help reset my sugar addiction.  And I am convinced challenges come to make me strong.

I will go into how this challenge compares to money management and budgeting in a future post.  For now, here is how much a 30 day water challenge could cost:

Great Value Water
Walmart Brand
Nursery Water
Nursery Water
Crystal Geyser
Dollar Tree Brand
Poland Spring
Poland Spring

Aldi — 30 gallons of filtered water @ .79 each = $23.70

Walmart — 30 gallons of distilled water @ .78 each = $23.40

Walmart — 30 gallons of Nursery Water @ $1.00 each = $30

Dollar Tree — 30 gallons of Spring water @$1.00 each = $30

Poland Spring — 30 gallon of Spring Water @ $2.83 each = $84.90

Home/Office — 30 gallons of tap or fountain water = FREE

I chose FREE, of course but did buy a gallon of the Aldi water for my neti pot that I was prescribed to use during my sinus infection.

Thrifty Image Mirror