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No Internet and Over Budget

January 19th, 2012 at 10:05 pm

The internet out here has been in and out. It's so aggravating sometimes I could just scream. It connects for a few seconds and then goes right back out again. When you rely on the internet to keep up with everything (as I'm sure everyone here knows) it gets to be super frustrating.

It's only the nineteenth of the month but I'm already over budget. My daughter called and asked to borrow $300.00 because a relative wrote her a bad check and caused her account to be overdrawn. She needed the loan to pay her car payment. Instead of driving 140 miles to come and pick up a check she asked if I was able to just pay the car payment online. (It took about 2 hours, I'm not kidding!!) When I finally got into the website she wasn't $300.00 behind but $575.00 behind instead. She only has about five more months until her car is paid off. I just paid the whole amount that was in arrears, I didn't want her to chance getting her car taken away. I looked at her payment history and she has never been late on her payment until July of last year when the certain "relative" started having financial issues. So obviously she is lending her car payment out and not getting the money back in time to pay the payment. I called and had a talk with her, she was upset about the mess she was in but told me that she had made a budget the night before and wouldn't lend out money that was earmarked for her own bills again. She is so kind hearted and I know she has a problem saying no but she will be REALLY upset if she were to lose her car. That puts me way over budget for the month but I will get the money back eventually, I didn't give her any time frame and she didn't ask to be loaned the additional $275.00. I just want her to be able to get herself straightened out and back on track like she usually is. She pays for all her schooling and works all of the time and rarely asks for anything.

I still have tons of food so I'm thinking I won't have to buy much on the 1st of February when I'm able to go to town, we'll see. The freezer is still over flowing, it doesn't take much to feed me and even though I've cut down buying produce I had to throw out a lemon and a couple of tomatoes. For awhile there I ate so much bread and cabbage trying not to let it go to waste I was afraid I might turn into one or the other!! It also feels like I've gained 10 pounds.

Fast Food Blech!

January 8th, 2012 at 07:01 pm

A week or so before Christmas one of the rig hands brought me a hamburger from Sonic. Even before I opened the bag I could smell the burger. It was a very nice gesture and I didn't want to waste the food. I could only eat a couple of bites before I started to feel ill. I guess I'm so used to only eating home cooked meals that the smell and the taste just turned my stomach. I ended up giving the burger and tater tots to my dogs.

I used to love to eat fast food and spent quite a bit of money doing so. Maybe it's something you get used to and don't even realize how disgusting it really is, or maybe I've changed over time. (I do still like the fast food chain Chick Fil A) I don't crave it and it's not something I think about when I leave the gate. Even if I'm starving I don't have thoughts of stopping and picking up a burger or any fast food. I have thoughts of getting home and eating something, thinking of what I can make myself in a hurry.

I'm sure financially it has saved me a fortune not including health costs and benefits.

I do enjoy eating at some restaurants ocassionally but I much prefer to eat at home where I know what is in the food and how it was prepared as far as cleaniless etc.

Shopping Therapy of Sorts

January 8th, 2012 at 02:45 am

For the most part I'm not really a shopper anymore. I don't look forward to fighting the crowds and standing in line to check out. I guess my favorite shopping is probably grocery shopping, most likely because I like to cook.

I do have times though when I think I'd like to buy new clothes or a new gadget etc. I will go to the store, get a basket and walk through the store looking and placing items in my basket keeping a running total in my head. (This is how I grocery shop also). By the time I get to the other side or end of the store I've talked myself out of buying whatever it is that is in my basket so I will walk back placing items back where I got them. Sometimes I have many things in my basket and this shopping trip takes awhile. By the time I'm finished I might buy a thing or two but there are times I'll leave empty handed. I've only started doing this the last three years or so, it's odd I know but it satisfies the occasional need to shop even though I might not buy anything.

Gas Prices

January 7th, 2012 at 05:20 pm

Are just all over the place here within 90 miles of my home and San Antonio Texas. Even in San Antonio you could go from $3.09 all the way to $3.25 a gallon for regular unleaded. When I pulled into my home town the other day regular unleaded was $3.17 so I filled up then. On my way back out it had already risen to $3.25! I'm hoping to only have to use gas once or twice a month. I spend an outrageous amount on fuel some months, depending on whether I can get out of here or not and I drive a gas guzzling truck. This is an area I really need to concentrate on.

$5.74 to $20 Challenge

January 7th, 2012 at 04:31 pm

I found $5 in the pocket of a pair of jeans and .74 in the bottom of my purse. I have tons of change in the console of my truck, when I clean that out I will add that too.

Picking Up Produce on Side of the Road

January 7th, 2012 at 11:57 am

When I returned to my gate from my home town on Jan 2 I stopped to pick up three heads of cabbage along the side of the road. In my younger days I would have found this to be rather embarrassing. Now it doesn't bother me in the least. Right now it's cabbage season and the trucks frequently hit bumps in the road and lose their cabbage. I'm not the only one around those parts who pick it up. In late summer it's onions, I'm often on the side of the road picking those up too. Hey, it's free food!

5 No Spend Days

January 7th, 2012 at 11:52 am

For the first week of January I have had five no spend days. I was able to take off yesterday to San Antonio, it was great to get away to a big city for a change. I did buy a late Christmas gift, it was new but I'm not counting it in this years budget or buy only used category because the funds were actually out of my 2011 budget but I was not able to get to San Antonio to buy it.

So far this year I have had five no spend days.

Home Made Bread Success

January 4th, 2012 at 06:12 pm

I made a loaf of wheat bread yesterday and it came out pretty good. I added 3/4 cups of oatmeal which wasn't called for. The bread is nice and moist and not too dense as in the past. I'll make it again without the oatmeal and see what it is like. It made excellent toast.

I'm not sure if there is any savings in making your own bread but I'm sure it has to be better for you than all the preservatives that are in the store bought.

I found a recipe for bread bowls which sounds good, you can put anything from pasta to soups in them, I might try that one of these days.

NSD and Groceries

January 3rd, 2012 at 01:49 pm

Jan 1st was a no spend day, even though I was not working the gate.

Yesterday I went grocery shopping and spent $96.00. That total includes a tube of super glue for my son which cost right at 3.00. When I got to the gate I realized that I forgot to get vegetable oil. Hopefully I can make it without it. I don't see being able to leave the gate for another month or so and if I ask someone to bring it they won't accept the money for it. I do have some left, I'll have to use it sparingly.

I bought the larger packs of meat and seperated them into smaller 1 to 2 portion sizes. I used to this when my children were at home. I think it saves money. I even used to make my own laundry soap back then.

I plan to make a loaf of bread in a bit and maybe even some yeast rolls. I hope they turn out well if I watch the temp on the milk.

Have a great day everyone!

New Grocery Challenge/No Convenience Foods

January 1st, 2012 at 10:08 pm

I set my monthly grocery budget at $100.00 per month, I normally spend twice that if not more.

I know I will have to cut out soda and I'm thinking that will count for alot of other things too. I have a bread machine which I use for tortilla dough and I have made yeast roll dough and cooked the bread in the oven of my camper/trailer. Sometimes it comes out pretty good and sometimes not. It's probably something I'm doing, I never was good at baking, especially bread. Even in my bread machine the bread doesn't come out quite right. I'm hoping that I can start making my own again and I'd be interested in any recipes that have been successful for any of you SA members.

I do have a SO that eats over so this challenge will be....challenging! Hope he won't mind lots of beans this year! j/k I think I can find low cost and interesting meals, we'll see!

New Year Traditions Black Eyed Peas

January 1st, 2012 at 08:56 pm

We always have black eyed peas for New Years lunch, supposedly it brings good luck in the new year. Are there any traditions or superstitions where you live?

Here's to a GREAT 2012!

January 1st, 2012 at 07:35 pm

Bills for January paid already, now just to get the rest where it's budgeted to, so far off to a great start. I'm off for a couple of more days and then will have to get back to the gate.

Got great news that so far it looks like the gate I'm on will stay active into the summer months.

Hope everyone has gotten off to a great start this year! Happy New Year!

2012 Budget $1000 per Month

December 28th, 2011 at 08:26 pm

If I can manage to keep a gate all year this coming year I'll bring in $42,000. That is with no taxes with-held. I'm hoping this gate won't end until at least April when it's peak season and there are many other gates available. I've based my 2012 budget on $37,000 just in case I'm out of work for a month and half or so.

Monthly Expenses:
Phone: 150.00
Satellite: 65.00
Groceries: 100.00
Toiletries: 5.00
Gas: 75.00
Auto: 70.00
Pets: 50.00
Medical: 60.00
Son/College: 100.00
Gifts: 25.00
Misc. 50.00
Gate Help: 250.00

My phone bill is high as I pay my son's phone bill of $50.00 per month as long as he stays in school and I pay $20.00 a month to have internet/personal hot spot on my iphone through ATT so I can connect my laptop to it. I just got sattelite television a couple of months ago and will keep it as it's not nice to be totally disconnected from the outside world when you are in the middle of nowhere for days on end.

Auto, pets, and medical are based on my expenses for 2011, hopefully the dogs will only have to go to the vet for their yearly shots and checkup but I've added some extra as you never know when something like a snake bite etc. could happen especially being out in the country like we are 90% of the time.
Auto counts yearly tags/inspection, oil changes and some for just in case. In 2011 the mice/rats chewed the wiring in my truck and I had to pay for that and the brakes needed a bit of work. This amount also includes yearly registration/tags on my travel trailer.
Medical includes quarterly checkup, prescriptions and testing. I have no insurance, thankfully I've had no major medical problems and hopefully this continues.

I have cut my grocery budget in half for 2012. I tend to over buy and waste things especially produce. I have cut out soda and junk food, I don't eat it much anyway and end up throwing chips, cookies etc out after only eating a few.

I've alloted $250 for someone to come sit at my gate two times a month. I don't know how this will work out, I might need more than that or I might not, we'll see.

Gifts I plan on buying and giving used this year, I think that amount should be plenty, I will adjust it or pull from Misc if not.

Misc is for any entertainment, eating out, clothing, books dvd's and everything else.

Now the question is whether I can do this or not. I think I can if the Good Lord's willing and the creek don't rise!!

One Of The Best Christmases Ever

December 27th, 2011 at 08:15 pm

Was when my youngest child was 12 years old. He is 20 now so that was about eight years ago.

I'm not very good at telling stories, I'll do the best I can.

It started the week before Thanksgiving that year when I'd locked the keys inside my truck and didn't have a spare set. My purse was locked inside the truck. I called the locksmith and was waiting for him to show up and told my son "this is going to cost $35 dollars and that's exactly the amount of money I have in my wallet!". The locksmith came, unlocked the truck and I payed him. I didn't think anything else of it.

A few days later, around six oclock or so while my son and I were having dinner the doorbell rang. It was the mother and father of my daughters best friend. The mother was a teacher at the school that my son attended and the father is a pastor at a charismatic church. They had a HUGE box of food. We are talking like over a weeks worth of food. Apparently the teacher had asked at school if there were any families that didn't have money for Thanksgiving dinner. My son raised his hand and told them that we didn't because we had spent it on the locksmith. When I told him that the 35 dollars I had was all that was in my wallet he thought that I had NO other money. After trying to get them to take the food back and trying to explain that there had been a misunderstanding and after alot of embarassment they persuaded me to keep the box of food. Just to name a few items that were in the box was a turkey, boxed stuffing, bottled juice, rice, canned goods, beans and lots of other stuff. We always went to my folks house for Thanksgiving and Christmas so we didn't even cook. Our cupboards were overflowing after putting the groceries away. My son couldn't apologize enough, he really thought we had no money for anything.

In December I found out that a young girl that worked at one of my stores had been living in her car with her three year old as she could not afford to rent a place on her own only making minimum wage. To make a long story short I found someone at one of the stores who agreed to take them in as room mates. I would pick up my son everyday from school and take him back to the stores with me until I got off work. He overheard us talking about Christmas and how she did not have money for Christmas dinner or presents for her daughter. On the way home that evening he suggested that we use the money that we would have spent on each other for gifts to buy the young girl and her daughter presents. (I'd already thought of this but didn't quite know how to approach him about it) It ended up that we did exactly that and gave her all of the food that we'd recieved at Thanksgiving also. My son had such fun picking out gifts for the little girl and he ended up buying her a 3 foot stocking and stuffing it full of coloring books, socks, crayons and many other items. I've never seen anyone as grateful as the young girl was and my son and even myself learned a great lesson that year. As it turned out with the other gifts we received you really couldn't even tell that we did not buy each other anything. We recieved many gifts from everyone else.

My son still is a very generous and loving person. I'm very proud of him.

I did learn one other watch what I say around kids!

Merry Christmas Friends!!

December 25th, 2011 at 04:01 pm

Merry Christmas may you all have a blessed day!!

Drab and Dreary South Texas Christmas

December 25th, 2011 at 12:06 am

It's been raining still and it sure makes it drab and dreary. Not much traffic in today and very little going out. The oil rig is three miles into the ranch and the road gets very bad when it rains. It's nothing for eighteen wheelers to get stuck sideways across the road and then they have to call another company to come pull them out. I've wondered just how much it costs each company when that happens, not even counting every company who has an employee sitting waiting to get out behind them. Sometimes it takes hours to get them out and alot of times there are two stuck in the mud at a time. I imagine the costs are astronomical. Nothing that has to do with the oilfield is cheap.

I bought some chocolate and I thought I'd make chocolate covered oranges and orange peels to give to the rig hands and vendors next week as they come in and out. The oranges were free and I will never eat them all and don't want to waste them. If anyone has suggestions on what else I can do let me know because there is no way I can use them all for this.

I did get to the grocery yesterday but I bought very little, just eggs, milk and bread because I still have food left and I'd like to use it up. I have relief coming on Thursday and I'm going on a mini vacation.

I hope everyone is having a great holiday!!

Pros and Cons of Being A Gate Guard

December 23rd, 2011 at 04:33 am

I have been working on this lease/gate since April of this year. There are pros and cons to doing this and this job is definitely not for everyone, especially if you work by yourself such as I do most of the time, as you can end up seeing very few people for days on end. You can get cabin fever very quickly when living in a 20 ft camper trailer! However, when there is activity such as now, (I currently have a drilling rig in) you can literally see hundreds of people a day. Most people that I see are very friendly and upbeat and it's amazing how generous they are. One day I had a man take out his lunch and give me a mango and an apple. I don't know if I just looked hungry or he just felt like sharing with me, I'm definitely not underweight by any means! I accepted and thanked him and he went on his merry way. I used to always turn down any gifts offered but now I accept because it really seems to make the gift giver feel good and everyone ends up happy in the end. I worked at one gate last year that the gauger brought me breakfast every single day until the job ended. He would not accept a penny ever no matter how much I insisted. Just today I recieved a donut for breakfast from the gauger, 10 pounds of oranges from the land owners cousin, a Sonic burger, tater tots and a medium drink, and a case of Dr. Pepper from the directional driller and two Reeses peanut butter cups from one of the rig hands. One of the guys had a blow out on his truck while going to town and asked if he could borrow my truck and ended up completely filling it with fuel after only driving it thirty miles or so. That means I don't have to fill up when I go to the grocery store now as I had planned. That was a savings of $50.00, I thought that was really nice and only expected that he would pay the actual gas that he used.

Another pro, which can also at times, can be a con, is that if you work alone as I do, is that you must be at the gate 24/7 so it's possible to have many no spend days a month. Any money I spend has to be done on planned days when I can get a certified security guard to sit at the gate while I'm away. I must get everything I need in that shopping trip and pay my bills on those days. Internet is hit and miss out here in the boonies and I've never been able to pay bills online while here. Usually I have two money spending days a month, I go grocery shopping one day every two weeks or so. Every now and then I will spend a few dollars when I ask someone to bring me a soda or newspaper from town but that's pretty rare. Usually even if I do they refuse the money.
Some other pros would be that the company that I'm contracted through provides a generator and water so I never have an electric or water bill and pay no lot rent.

Some of the cons would be spending alot of time alone, being in a fairly dangerous job, (many drug runners and illegals come across these ranches) getting stuck out here with no help for days on end as is the situation I'm in now. It's been raining and the roads are really bad so my help has not been able to make it out. I've not been grocery shopping in about a month and not been to the laundry in about that long as well. I had to wash a few clothes in the bath tub and it took three days for them to dry. I had clothes hanging everywhere in this small trailer. Hopefully my help will be able to get in tomorrow and I will get to town and get my errands and laundry done.

All in all I would say there are more pros than cons but I guess it really is all in the way a person looks at it. Alot of retirees do this during the winter months and seem to enjoy it and there are people my age that enjoy it also. I wouldn't trade this job for another job in retail for anything!

Glad To See This Year End!

December 23rd, 2011 at 12:51 am

I'm glad this year is ending and I'm looking forward to the coming year being much better all around.
This year has been both a financial disaster and a personal disaster. I was married and divorced, my shortest marriage yet the most costly and dragged out divorce I've ever experienced, never want to go through all that mess again!!

I'm still working as a gate-guard in the oil fileds and all is going very well as far as that is concerned. I've been on this gate since April and it looks like I'll be here a couple/few more months at least. I always worry that there won't be another gate for me when this job ends but there doesn't seem to be a shortage of jobs in this field. It's just first come first serve and until the snow birds (out of state retirees) leave around April the openings for gates get filled extremely fast. After that they are begging for help and can hardly keep the gates manned. So hopefully this gate can last that long, they have several jobs and wells still to be drilled so as long as they don't decide to delay them all will be good and I will have a steady income for awhile.

I'm hoping I can stick to my goals and budget this coming year and I don't make any more stupid decisions or mistakes. If I can do that I should be just fine!

New Job, Much Better Life

February 8th, 2011 at 10:05 pm

It's been a year since I've blogged, much has happened in that time, all for the better and best. Sometimes bad things that seem to happen are blessings in disguise.
I'm now out of the retail business, I've not been working in convenience stores for four months now. After nine years and working 70 hour weeks or more, the job finally took a toll on my health. I was literally working myself to death. I have unbelievably high blood pressure, and apparently at sometime prior to seeing the doctor had a mild heart attack. Sooo time to slow way down and re-assess my life.

I quit the job and took a job with my parents as a gate-guard for the oilfield. At times you might get 100-200 trucks coming in and out and you simply sign them in and sign them out when they leave the lease you are working on. Gate Guards are in demand here in South Texas and you can make anywhere from $125.00-$300.00 a day. I work for a company that pays $125.00 a day (250 a day if there is more than one rig at any given time) and they supply the generator, water and sewage tank. I only work two weeks of the month and my parents work the other two weeks. I make $1750 for the month.

The job we are on now is very slow and I probably open the gate 1-12 times a day. So I have all day to read books, work on rag rugs and surf the internet and of course take my daily walks.

One thing about doing this is you must be prepared for the time you are working because you can never leave the gate, you must be organized and plan well. If you run out of something that's tough and you try to make do.

So this is my home for two weeks of the month, it can be very cramped and is easy to get cabin fever at times, it's great when the two weeks are over and you get to go home! Of course I live in a fifth wheel anyway so am used to the tight spaces.