I think I hit “send” too soon!

I meant to add that some days we just go and go and go and when we slow down, realize that we’re starved and go to the first place that we find. No time to run home or even grocery shop.

It doesn’t even have to be “hot” food, or something we sit down to eat. Just something that fills us up fast. We don’t treat the meals as a treat; we’re just trying to “fill the hump”!

If your budget allows you

to consider buying gift cards now for those Saturdays in the future. I know right now many restaurants are running specials that if you purchase a gift card of a certain amount you get a smaller gift card for free. If you are a member of mypoints get your gift cards through them and get bonus points for doing so. Sign up for emails from your favorite restaurants and you will get a wealth of coupons—I have a separate email address for just such things. I also get the free restaurant loyalty cards that net you free food.
Also as others have mentioned cigarette lighter devices. I have a small “ice” chest that is either hot or cold that plugs into a cigarette lighter (aka: hot spot) that I have kept many a meal warm in. Also you can use “solar” to heat things up. I’ve heated up many an item in the past in foodsaver bags on the dash of a vehicle. Park the car so the sun shines in on the pre-cooked food packet through the windshield all day and you will find you have a hot meal waiting for you.
My mil had an electric coffee carafe that never saw coffee. When dfil was a traveling salesman she would pack it full of soups, stews, chili etc and he’d plug it into his cigarette lighter as he traveled. Visit any major truck stop and you will see a wealth of cigarette lighter gadgets. WORD OF WARNING these do draw on your vehicle battery when the car is not running, so be aware of this. If you have a weak battery you might not want to use such items without periodically visiting your car and running the motor for awhile. If your drive home is long then you could “heat” the foods with these devices as you drive home and the meal would be hot when you got there.

Does your oven have a timed bake feature?

I use mine very often on days I will be gone all day. I can leave casseroles, meats to roast etc in the oven with the timer set. It comes on at the time I want it to and cooks the food. Then shuts off at the time I tell it to so nothing burns if I am late getting home. I also use this in conjunction with my crockpot and bread machine.
In the crockpot or oven I will put a brisket to “smoke” (brisket, sprinkled generously with meat tenderizer, ¼ c liquid smoke poured over it. Wrapped up in foil and in a pan to catch the juices if I am doing it in the oven)

In the oven I put cheesey potatoes (layers of potatoes, onions, shredded cheddar cheese and a cream of soup thinned with milk baked in a foil covered pan at 350 for an hour or so if cooking alone, if cooking with a slow cook meat I cook both at 275 for the length of time the meat needs)
The bread machine has a timed feature and I use that to have bread hot from the machine with the meal.

Green beans or other veggie are put in a covered sauce pan on the burner where the exhaust from the oven comes out.—they are generally warm by the time we eat. If not it’s a quick heat up.

I make a dessert the day before.

No timed bake feature? Turkey roasters with timers on them are always on sale this time of year. You could justify the purchase with the money you would save by not eating out. Some crockpots have timers as well and you can use a crockpot like an oven for “dry” cooking. Just follow the manufacturers instructions. I’ve cooked many a meatloaf in a crockpot. They even have three unit crockpots out now that you can cook three things at once with one base.

If you really feel the need to eat out do so at lunch instead of dinner. The meals will be cheaper and the crowds are generally lower. Then eat what you would normally have for lunch for dinner. Many restaurants have the exact same menu at lunch as dinner but for a lesser price to try and get people in there during the “slow” time of day. I know when we go to some place like Golden Corral we get there just before 4 and then we get to eat at lunch price and the dinner foods are put out. This might not work if you are involved in some activities that are heavily scheduled during daylight hours.

Now that’s a neat idea

I was sorta joking but sorta not when I wrote that. Our main place is of course immediately next to the house, but we rent land 10 miles away and I try to pack a full day’s worth of meals when I’m down there working. Nothing saps the willpower and enthusiasm for a job, when we’re cold and hungry and food is back home. Tell your dad thank you, and I might just go get one of those prior to next spring’s planting season!

In the meantime, I was given a big antique thermos (something like corning-ware with a metal carrying case, and a cork cap), which I fill with something hot in the morning. It won’t do things like casseroles or burritos, but it does a great job with soups and stews. Nothing like climbing into the cab of the truck to warm up on some cold blustery spring day, and opening that cap to see steam come out. Aaaahhhhh, life is worth living again. And a modern big thermos with my day’s choice of tea, and lots of it, hot enough that I have to wait for it to cool down before drinking. Don’t know if the family that spends Saturday out and about ever gets cold and chilled and cranky and discouraged, but a pair of thermoses full of hot goodness can restore one’s faith in the general benevolent order of things.

Come to think of it, those might both be a good idea for the next few days. I’m at home working on stuff here, but it would be nice to have a thermos of goodness outside with me today and tomorrow. God bless whoever invented the thermos.

Do you have a way to reheat things when you are at the park?

Do you have time there to grill something simply like burgers or dogs, is that allowed there? Is there a place to plug a crockpot in at the park?
What about packing a to go breakfast? We do this if we need to be out of the house early for some reason & have no time for breakfast. Basically it can be anything, we usually do a peeled hard boiled egg (easy to peel at home), a muffin, a baggie of dry cereal, an apple or grapes or an orange (can peel the orange at home), yogurt or go gurt, and then something to drink, a thermos of water, milk, fruit juice, whatever. I’ve always premade breakfast burritos and put in the fridge or freezer to microwave right before we leave before.

What time are you eating supper? Sometimes grocery stores will mark down their roasted chickens after 7… you could eat it as is or slice/ shredded right in the little pan they come in.

If you pack breakfast and lunch to take with you, make something Friday maybe then you just have to grab and go… even if you end up getting supper out or at the grocery store deli or whatever, its still cheaper than eating all 3 meals out or from the grocery store.

It’s worth it!

I’m often eating meals out in the field, so we make stuff the day before, then package it up that night and just grab it on our way out the door that next morning. I tend to like big lunches, stuff like pasta, casseroles, burritos, etc, which doesn’t tend to travel well. But a little bit of experimentation and a little bit of practice, and you can get pretty good at figuring out how big a portion to take, how to package it up so it stays warm, and how to eat it outside without wearing most of it. Burritos are the toughest; I have a pack the toppings in a separate ziploc bag or two, and apply right there. They are also impossible to warm up; I haven’t figured out yet how to plug a microwave into my cigarette lighter (I’m not really joking about that; if anyone knows how, let me know!) Those meals might be bigger and/or heavier than what you’re wanting, granted. But if there are ways to pack those bigger meals, there’s ways to pack the smaller ones too.

One thing you might want to do, at least to get some ideas, is to get some backpacking cookbooks and see what all those options are. Not all of them will sound good and you won’t necessarily be carrying a stove with you (although I might start doing that, and depending on your activities, a family member could easily carry a backpack with a little portable camp stove). But those meals tend to be very efficient, very light-weight, carefully considered to be easy to make while outside, and best of all, have good calorie density for when you’re on the go from sunup to sundown. My husband has several from when he was a hunter in AK. I’ll see what books he recommends and let you know.

Another thing to do is just consider what foods you like to eat, as if you were home, then figure out how to make them in advance and take them with you when you go. There’s ways and means; you just need to get creative. But kudo’s on making the attempt.

We spend Saturdays outside mostly

We find ourselves eating out for lunch and breakfast and/or dinner too. A fair amount of the day is spent at the park, so we do have picnic tables, etc. We’ve been trying to get food at a grocery store and eat it for breakfast and lunch but by dinner time, we’re starving and a cheese sandwich just isn’t going to “cut it”. We do drink water all day long and refill our water bottles for free.

Any cheap, (mostly) healthy suggestions on how to avoid eating out when you’re out all day long?

We considered motels for a long weekend.

Two words kept popping into my head as we discussed it “bed bugs”. I know they aren’t in every motel, but they are in some including some of the nicer ones. One word popped into dh’s head “expensive”. So he decided to spend the weekend trying to find the chewed wire. As he took out paneling at the rear of the trailer I had visions of him not being able to get it back together where it looked right. Piece after piece he took off and no chew wires revealed themselves. Well at least none chewed through. He wrapped a few that showed signs of chewing and destroyed a rodents nest. Just as he was about to give up he took one last piece off. There was a single chewed completely in two wire. Ds went out to help him with it and a couple of other things, and then the they tested the lights again. Nada, zip, zero. GRRRRR.

While I prepared Saturday’s dinner ds suggested they look around the tail light itself. EVERY single wire at that driver side taillight was chewed through! Dadburn rodents!. After dinner dh went back out and fixed all those wires with first my then ds’ help. Then we tested the lights. Yep they came on, but when you put the right blinker on every light on the trailer blinked! UH, OH. By then the temperatures had dropped into the 40’s and dh was exhausted, after all he had totally dismantled the rear of the trailer by this time. He temporarily put things back to keep the predicted rain out of the electrical system and went to bed early.

Yesterday, for various reasons, was our family Thanksgiving. As I cooked the big meal dh went back to the trailer. After a bit he found a connector he hadn’t got exactly attached secure and that fixed the blinking problem.—Whew! He spent the rest of the day, when we weren’t eating, putting my trailer back together in perfect shape and then looking for the chewed wire for the control panel. Oh and as he put the trailer back together he put “Just one bite” mouse and rat poison in every spot he could find! This poison will not hurt my mousers unless they eat a huge amount of the poisoned rodents at one time, as long as the pet doesn’t eat the actual poison, andit mummifies the rodent. Take that you dadburn rodent!
He still hasn’t found the control panel problem, but like I said we can work around that if we get the chance to get away. In the meantime, everything else is working great and we figure he saved a minimum of $700 doing the work himself, and probably closer to $1,000. So that was our biggie for the week.

As I have mentioned before dh and I would love to take a fall getaway.

We look at doing it each weekend, and for one reason or another put it off. This last week dh decided that just in case we did get an opportunity he’d make sure the trailer would be ready to go. Boy am I glad he did.
We knew for winter camping we would need our second battery so he purchased a new one on sale and installed it. Then he went in the camper to check to see what the power looked like on it. Only that control panel wouldn’t work. Now this panel has the read out for everything on it, black water, grey water, water tank heaters (not hot water tank), battery life, holding tank levels everything.

Anyone who lives in the country will tell you rodents are the bane of their existence. It doesn’t matter how many mouse consuming critters you own, how many traps you set or how many poisons you put out sooner or later you WILL have something chewed up. Unfortunately one of their favorite “foods” are electrical wires. So dh went on the hunt for a chewed wire.

Anyone who owns a rv of any type will also tell you there is no set wiring diagram for campers. It depends on what was the most convenient route for the wires to go for the workman installing the wiring. So locating the wires that may or may not have been chewed is a real adventure. To date dh has not found the wire chewed for that control panel. He’s still looking.

However, I suggested that since we had a wiring problem he might better check the trailer outside lights, because we can travel without that control panel, but not without tail and running lights. So he backed up the truck and plugged that puppy in Friday night. Nada, zip, zero lights!
I won’t repeat what dh said, this is a family group after all, but let’s just say he was NOT amused. The last time—pre DR– this happened I followed him closely to the dealership with my hazard lights on and we left with a repaired wiring harness and $700 on the charge card. At that time the labor at the shop was $69 an hour, it is now $99 per hour. Since we don’t use credit any more and if we paid to have it done with our cash it would be our trip money so we looked at alternatives.

It’s a little imperfect, given the way I do things.

for example, I take out cash for groceries and gas/fuel in 1 transaction, but there is no way to separate it into 2 transactions….so next month I guess I will be taking out 2 transactions.

I hate seeing how much money we are still wasting. I have GOT to get rid of that debit card.

one trick i’ve figured out is to set a budget to 0 (zero) for things that I really shouldn’t be spending money on (like fast food) or anything else where I really want to track my spending. It then preassigns things based on key words, so for example, I set a budget of 0 for fast food, and voila, I am showing up ‘in the red’ to the tune of (grouse grouse grouse) $173 “over budget.”

Takes a little manipulating, but i need the sticker shock. Oh, and i created a category called ‘wasted expense’ for stuff I have no clue what i bought but clearly (a la debit card) spent money on. that’s an ugly dollar amount…

When ds was working at restaurants,

Toys R us and movie theaters we stressed this to him as well. We also stressed he should know where to “exit stage left” so to speak if things ever got hinky. As we told him there was not a thing in those locations worth him getting hurt. He laughed then, but with all that is going on in the nation now I’d stress having a quick exit to safety strategy to her as well.

Already happened here in NC.

we are textile and tobacco territory. textiles have long since moved to Mexico and the county where we have our business there are 65% receiving some type of government assistance.. The tobacco industry is only staying alive because Japan has developed a smoking craz… I am not a smoker but I do see generations of farmers having to scramble to grow some type of crop to feed their families…. Why don’t they grow something useful? Because our soil really only supports perhaps 3 good basic crops… possibly 4 since the largest grower a mile up the road from us went to chili peppers last year.

These types of things trickle down to our business.. and then affects the local businesses we support ….

Within two days of the election

the employees at a family member’s office were called in to a meeting with several of their clients (oil, natural gas, refinery type companies—notice natural gas is in there). The clients—whom I’m not allowed to name—told the company that they were sorry, but due to Obama being re-elected, Obamacare, the fiscal cliff AND the out of control EPA they will NOT be building any new pipelines or refineries any time soon, so there would be no work from them for any firm that they normally hire for these type jobs and they thought it only fair to let the people they normally hire know before they make plans for their companies for 2013 and beyond. The hiring companies even stated that some of them are closing their doors rather than mess with the hassle they see before them. Some of these companies have been the bread and butter of the family member’s employer and this combined with the financial hit the company is about to take itself may be the death of that company as well.

Furthermore, the domino falls further, the oil/gas companies will also be capping a lot of their existing wells instead of continuing to pump them due to the EPA. So those of us with little mineral interest checks will cease to receive those checks. (This is part of the reason we were told about this) Three of the companies in that meeting were three of the checks I get on a monthly basis. Luckily I do not include them in my budget because they are so variable in size and have been using them for gazelle feed, but it will slow down my gazelle considerably if my wells are the ones they cap.

The domino of this will also affect all our fuel and heating costs, because of the US companies are forced to cap wells and not do any more exploration…nuff said.

We received this news about 2 days before db’s company gave him his pink slip. The life blood of Oklahoma is the oil and gas industry.
Oh db has a question and I wasn’t sure of the answer. We know that companies pay in so much unemployment tax as a matter on monthly business, but what if the company leaves the US, will there be money for db and the other 499 employees to draw?
Many of the big restaurant chain owners (Darden comes to mind) have already said they will not be hiring anyone new and that everyone will be forced into “part time status” because of Obamacare.

I have business owning family members.

They have over 30 employees (mostly min. wage or there abouts) – if they take the fine hit of a mere $2K per employee per year for Obamacare it will be very close, if not over, total of their take home pay for the two families. I do not know what they will do. They can’t pass the cost to customer – it will be too high and everyone will freak out w/ cost increases. It’s to the point of why bother. BUT, they have millions in their business and how can they even sell it now?

They are going to have to consider cutting their employee hours to 28 per week to stay under the 30 hr. “full time” mark. People will have to get two ½ time jobs instead of one. This next year sets a “benchmark” for the 2014 year, so employers have to be VERY careful or they will set themselves up for having to pay the $2k fine per employee which will sink many of them.

I just called Wells Fargo to get the payoff amount for our second mortgage

We are paying it off Christmas Eve, how cool is that?
Even neater, when the gentleman on the other end asked if I would like to consider a line of credit and I told him know that this would make us debt free he responded “Dave Ramsey would be proud!”
How great is that? I was stunned he brought DR up and told him so, he said he and his wife were trying to walk the walk but her employer had just shut down and they weren’t certain they could do it now. So I told him I need a loan and our story about how much we owed, dh being unemployed for 18 months, our age and how long it took us.
He responded that I was exactly what he needed to hear today because they were really struggling right now and I had inspired him to carry on.
He has urged me to call DR and shout. Not quite ready for that, but it felt good to encourage him and his wife to hang in there.

One of the things I’d add to this conversation

is to use the letter format which Bobby has already provided, rather than talking to them on the phone. When you submit written notification, it goes into your permanent record with that particular entity. Anyone who wants to see what your most recent statements have been, will refer to that letter. On the other hand, any phone calls you make may or may not be logged, and your statements/intentions will be transcribed by whoever takes the call. That transcription can be inaccurate at best, and twisted beyond recognition at worst. More than one person on this list (us included) have had conversations which we thought went really well, but which were transcribed in a way which made us sound like selfish, ungrateful, dishonest deadbeats who have no intention of paying anyone back.

Another suggestion is to NOT answer the phone if they call you. Get caller ID if you don’t already have it, and let any unknown calls go to voicemail. The employees who call are TRAINED in ways to intimidate, threaten, dominate and otherwise control the conversation. They’ll have you thinking you’re going to have to sell your favorite family member (or pet, whichever is higher in your priorities) before you’ll be able to make things right. By working with them in writing, all that pressure goes away. We didn’t answer the phone for three years because of that; we had our bill repayment on schedule and under control, and we didn’t need any additional pressure or stress in our lives.

I wholeheartedly second Bobby’s statement that you have more power in these conversations than you realize. Use that to your advantage, by leveraging that power with methods which guarantee your intentions and statements are preserved and honored. Don’t play in their preferred sandbox. Demand that they deal with you in ways and forms which accurately record and preserve your statements.

Finally, hang in there. Many (most?) of us have been where you are. Right now it looks like you’ll never dig out; stick with the DR program and you’ll get there. We did, and so did a lot of other folks here. You’re in a lot of good company.


You do NOT need to work with any external credit counseling entity. In fact, some of them can screw you up pretty badly. You can do the same thing by talking to your creditors directly. If they won’t work with you, they move to the bottom of the list. Remember, you have what they want – money. That means you have more power in this negotiation than you realize…

Wait – just your debt payments ALONE are more than your income?!?

Not even counting food, housing, transportation? As you’ve likely already figured out, you’ll NEVER get out of debt that way… So, stop paying them. Yeah, they’ll yell, foam at the mouth, and flop on the floor like a 2-year old. But all that won’t get you to give them money you DON’T HAVE…

Send this letter(customized for your situation, of course) to all your creditors. It basically says that you’re in financial straits(true), your expenses are more than your income(true), ans asks if they have any hardship programs that can help you avoid bankruptcy. The ones who are smart and work with you will eventually get their money. The ones who are stupid get put to the bottom of the list.

Do you have a written budget? If not, do that TODAY. List all your incom on one side of the page, and your expenses on the other side of the page. Food should be top of the expense list – if you don’t eat, you won’t live long enough to pay off your debt. 🙂 You need to pay your ‘4 walls’ first – food, shelter, transportation, utilities. If you can cover THOSE with your income, you can work on the rest. If you canNOT cover those, you’ll need to make serious changes so you can. You may have to get a second job, or move to a cheaper place to live, or downsize your transportation. If you’re making payments on an SUV, sell it!
If you feel comfortable posting your income and expenses, someone here should be able to give more concrete suggestions.

That is how my insurance is

They pay nothing until the deductible. Even better is that it is a family deductible so we have to reach $6,000 before they pay anything. That $6,000 can be from just one person, or the total medical bills for the family. My copays don’t kick in until we reach the deductible. So if I go to the dr for a sick visit then I pay the whole dr bill myself (well visits like yearly checkups and the kids vaccinations are covered 100% by insurance). We then have an Out of Pocket Max of like $7,000. The copays that we pay after reaching the deductible count toward that $7,000. The copays apply to ER visits, dr visits, and medication, But not to tests, or hospital stays, ect. So we pay the first $6,000 of medical bills, then we pay and additional $1,000 in copays to reach the $7,000 out of pocket max. So that is not a strange or crazy insurance. On the “plus” side – with a deductible like that, you should be eligible to open an HSA (Health Savings Account). The money you put into an HSA is pre-tax and then you can use the HSA funds for medical bills including dental and vision.