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Six month balance sheet review & Remembering Henry

May 31st, 2015 at 07:23 pm

Just looking at my balance sheet today compared to six months ago (11/30/2014). Overall I have a nearly 25K net increase, of which half is in retirement savings (and that increase is pretty evenly divided between new contributions and capital appreciation).

Of the other half, 5,000 is a net decrease in debt (which has been transferred from credit card balance transfers to a personal consolidation loan) and the rest is an increase in savings (some ready cash and the rest in my HSA).

Nice to see progress and especially to feel like it is progress that will continue, rather than a few steps forward and a few steps back. Of course, we'll see if there is any big market correction this year, but at least for the factors under my control, I am feeling positive.

Also, for those of you who have seen me on here for a long time, yesterday was the five year anniversary of Henry's passing. Hard to believe it has been five years. I always told him his middle name was "Retirement," since during the 4 years I had him I ended up putting the amount that I otherwise would have put towards retirement towards medical expenses for him--but he was well worth it for the love and purpose he gave me during some pretty tough years.

Catch-Up Post

July 28th, 2010 at 03:51 am

I haven't blogged here in ages, but I thought I'd update.

Those of you who know me from my earlier posts (most active about 3 years ago) know that I have spent a lot of time and money on behalf of my beloved basset hound, Henry. Henry developed cancer just about a year ago, and during the past year I got myself back into debt trying to save him. It didn't work--I had to have my beloved baby put to sleep on May 30--but I bought him about six months, during four of which he felt really good, acting years younger. I have no regrets about the debt. But it will be a while before I adopt another dog. I'll do some fostering and other work for basset hound rescue in the meantime, though.

My mother has also been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness this year. She spent five months in a nursing home and only just returned home, where she needs a home health aide much of the time. I've had two visits out to see her and that has also cost some money, time and grief.

On the positive front, I'm making good progress on my career goals. I've now passed all four CPA exams and have completed about 20% of the experience requirement (one year of full-time work) working at a CPA firm. I still need a full-time permanent job, but I'm happy with where I am. Good thing, too--I turn 50 in a month, and making the career change successfully was a goal I set for myself when I turned 40. I'm not 100% to where I wanted to be, but I'm 90% there and feel fairly confident that I'll be where I wanted to be (full-time regular staff accountant position) during the year that I am 50.

I had also set some health goals this year, and could make better progress on those. The triple whammy stress of two family illnesses and being unemployed for much of the year definitely worked against me here! But I've lost a couple of pounds and maintained my walking schedule up until the last month of Henry's life, and am getting ready to get back to more of a focus on fitness now.

Every "decade" year of my adult life (20, 30, 40, 50) has had a major life crisis, but in each case, the crisis has been over by my actual birthday. I'm hoping that I'm done with crises for the year and can go back to focusing on more ordinary life goals--getting the full-time job I want, keeping fit and happy, and getting out of debt yet again.

Crossing the Line into Debt

October 21st, 2009 at 07:45 pm

Around 20 years ago, I got myself seriously in debt--about $13,000 worth. To some, that may not sound like much, but my income at the time was about $16,000 and my assets were nonexistent, so percentage-wise, it was serious. It took a few years to get myself out of that debt--about 4 years to wake up to my poor money-management habits and about 3 years after that to nix the debt. Since that time, I have remained debt-free--other than acquiring a mortgage, which at least comes along with a substantial asset.

I'm getting dangerously close to crossing the line right now, however. The amount of my total cash balance is close to the amount of my credit card bills, and for the first time in years, I will be carrying a balance on a credit card that isn't paid off within a month or so.

I hate that I've had to put so much on credit cards, but $3500 worth of car repairs on a car that is generally in good shape and $5000 worth of vet bills for the hound who gives me a reason to wake up in the morning were non-negotiable expenses. (I'm afraid Henry will be my last dog for a while, though--this is his second costly medical crisis in the 3.5 years I've had him, and odds being what they are, he'll have at least one more costly crisis before he goes.) I paid much of that out of savings, but now I am getting to the point where I am reluctant to completely empty the coffers in order to pay the bills.

At least at this point, I am much more financially aware, and I have a positive net worth. But I am unemployed, the job market is tight; I am looking for entry-level work in a career field new to me that will mean that my first year's income will be relatively low (although the potential for growth in income is
much greater once I am established).

This is a real tipping point, and it scares me.

Home Repair Decision

June 5th, 2008 at 02:00 pm

Now that I've been a homeowner for 2.5 years, I have my first major home repair to make--the gutters on my front and back porches have rusted through (they're old steel half-rounds).

So I've been getting estimates--I contacted 5 contractors; 4 have been by so far, and I have 3 estimates in hand.

In any case, I'm going to get seamless aluminum "K" gutters--no need to worry about rust again.

The choice seems to come down to either spending about $600 for .027 gauge "industry standard" gutters, or spending about $1200 for .032 gauge gutters--he showed me a piece of one and it really does look much more sturdy than the typical gutter. The .032 gutters come with a 10 year warranty on workmanship and 20 years on the parts.
I need to call back the contractors for the .027 gauge gutters and ask about a warranty, since neither contractor whose estimate was in this range spontaneously mentioned one.

As I'm writing this, I'm convincing myself to go for the $1200 gauge gutters, at least in the front. The front porch has a roof that still is under warranty for another 10 years and is in good condition. I'm not sure about the condition of the "soffit" or section underneath. The back porch has a stationary aluminum awning which the gutter hangs off of--it's attached to wood strips that are screwed to the awning supports. The awning supports are beginning to rust a bit, and one contractor (the one who hasn't gotten back to me yet) said that he recommended replacing the awning instead, and said he'd give me the name of the contractor. He tried to scare me that during an ice storm it could collapse on my dog. While it might need some new supports on the far side of the porch, the awning itself is perfectly good, and it is firmly attached to the house, so I just vowed for the moment to get a roof rake before next winter. I'm hoping to have that awning last another 10 or so years--if I'm still in this house (and the only reason I wouldn't be is if DBF & I get married), I'm hoping to renovate the kitchen and expand the house by about 3 feet into the patio, which would entail redoing the concrete patio as well.

Also this summer I need to have the roof silvercoated, the furnace serviced, and I desperately need new glasses (it's been 4 years and I'm reading thru scratches). That's at least $1000 in additional expenses there--and, to be prepared, I should probably expect about another $500 in unexpected expenses, either a big car repair or a big vet bill. Praying neither comes to pass, but I can't ignore history, and I haven't had either of those since a $500 vet bill in February, and I usually experience about 3 major "unanticipated expense" events a year. (Hopefully the laws of probability will work in my favor--if things work out to average, I'm still way ahead in expenses paid on based on the $8000 I spent on Henry the year I adopted him!)

Also I really should travel to L.A. and visit my mother this summer--another $500 expense.

Summers always end up being pricey, and this summer my income is low, which means that some of these expenses will get paid for out of savings. I have one more year on my job and then need to make the big career change, so I hate going into savings to do this--which is the one temptation to go for the $600 gutters. They might not last as long or look as pretty, but that's about what I had originally planned to spend (based on the first estimate that I got way back in March when a contractor was working on a neighbor's roof).

March roundup

March 29th, 2008 at 09:08 pm

Well, March was a spendy month; I spent about double what I spent in February (gulp). Much of the addtional spending was justified but still I hate to see so much variability--and I *really* hate it when my spending for the month surpasses my income for the month, even with the tax refund.

Extra spending was as follows:

$600 another expensive vet trip for Henry and his allergies
$165 getting a broken tooth fixed at the dentist
$500 buying the beginnings of a new professional wardrobe as I prepare to transition from academia into the corporate world
$200 in professional expenses (books, software)
$100 stocking up on wine, beer, sodas and extra food for a party
another $200 in extra food expenses--not that the food was wasted, but that it was eaten out or bought prepared, thus unnecessarily expensive
$82 to buy 200 "forever" stamps before the price increases on May 12
$132 prepaying an extra month early on my home gas bill--they changed the date the bill was due and refused to change it back, and I really like to pay my bill immediately after my monthly paycheck arrives and not a week before it arrives, so I decided to get a month ahead to avoid any late fees.
$90 extra prepayment on the mortgage to get it down to 89K.

As so often happens, financial and weight control go together--I slacked off a lot on exercise during March, and gained back 2 pounds. Still down about 7 from the end of last year, but I can feel those two pounds.

So the goal for April is another personal "challenge" month to see how close I can keep my monthly total spending to about $2000. No "extras" this month (unless I get a job interview, in which case I still need a professional pair of shoes), and I need to start back shopping more at Aldi's and Giant, much as I hate them, rather than at my beloved Wegmans. And I pulled out the pricebook I put together two years ago--time to update it since the last time I used it was in 2006. Should be interesting to see how food prices have changed in that time.

And it's a challenge month for health, too--I've joined an online "April Boot Camp" challenge on Leslie Sansone's walk club board, the goal of which is to lose 8 pounds during April. So I'll tighten up and refocus on fitness, too. I just started another round of "First Strides," the local women's walking/running program (that was another $40 out the door); those two workouts a week with other people (in addition to the two mornings a week I walk with my friend Anne) should help keep me from slacking off).

Grocery & other weekly spending

February 16th, 2008 at 08:01 pm

After spending $130 at the grocery store last week, I was going to try not to spend anything there this week.

No go on that. All the things that I use the most--soymilk, sliced turkey breast, cereal, fruit, salad fixings, frozen burritos--were used up, so I did replace those. That "basic grocery shop" used to cost me about $35/week if that was all I bought. Now the same basket of goods costs $40/week. Inflation.

Only 1 no-spend-day during the week, but 2 more this weekend, for 8 days out of 17 so far this month total. The kitties ran out of litter and I ran out of feminine protection. Both are items that I order in bulk online, saving money over the long term but requiring an inital outlay, so that was about $100 out the door, but now I'm stocked up on both for 6 months.

I also ordered tickets to a play on-campus for my sweetie & I to attend as a late Valentine's celebration. That wasn't too bad--community members pay $15 per ticket, but as a member of the campus community, I can go for $5/person, so that was $10 out the door.

Total spending so far this month $732, still on track to bring the month in at about $2000 total, barring any household/car repair or medical emergencies. I *thought* I was going to have a big vet bill for Henry, but we managed to avoid it. He has a wart on his nose and scratched it so that it began bleeding intensely--I look up and there's blood EVERYWHERE and it's still pouring down his face. Fortunately applying pressure (and hydrogen peroxide) to the spot managed to stem the bleed. Darn wart's still there, though.

First Month Assessment

January 28th, 2008 at 03:14 am

I'll do this now, since I get busy during the week. Also, I started my fitness and diet plan on Dec 27, so it really IS a month.

So far: 7 pounds down (about 3% of my weight). I've exercised all but 5 days since starting. Food spending was about 10% lower than last year's monthly average; I should do even better in February, when I won't have out-of-town company coming to buy for. I ended up buying food [bagels & cream cheese, tortilla chips] that the visitor didn't eat and which I just gave away to my boyfriend because it's not on my health plan right now.

In terms of savings goals, I haven't saved *anything* so far--in fact, I overspent in January--$220 on exercise DVDs and equipment and new walking shoes, an unexpeced $500 vet bill (well, not totally unexpected, as Henry ends up with about 4 of these per year; just not expected this month); over $200 in textbooks for the school term, and $116 for a new 3 handset phone system when my old cordless phone died. Some months are like that. Everything was put on the credit card, which I pay off in full each month. My goal for the next month, however, is to limit expenditures to basic bills, food, gasoline, and any emergency medical/vet bills that arise--in other words, I'll eliminate discretionary spending other than that which I routinely get billed for (the $19/month gym fee; the minimum $5.23 most basic Netflix subscription) and see if I can thereby catch up on my planned savings.

The other big goal for the month is working towards the career change. I've got a big hurdle in the next 2.5 weeks: I finished last semester with an incomplete in a critical course, and now have just 2.5 weeks left to complete two exams and the papers. I wasn't able to focus on working on this last month when I found my job unexpectedly up in the air, and the past week, I've been feeling on the verge of a cold and end up going to bed early each night rather than studying. I'm going to be pretty frantic until my Feb 16th deadline.

My, but it's been a spendy month!

January 13th, 2008 at 12:44 am

My almost month-long vacation (college school break) ends on Monday. Something I've found as I've been tracking my expenses for the past few years is that I typically end up spending a lot more on my time off. It's the only time I have to devote to thinking about household purchases, so that's always a big category when I'm on break.

Here are the "extras" I've been buying:

Replacements for broken items where the cost of replacement beats the cost of repair

-new phone system (3 handset Dect 6.0)
-new shop-vac (which I use for my general purpose vacuum cleaner)


New items to make life more organized
-shoe rack for where I end up tossing my shoes in a corner of the living room. Now they take up less space.
-kitchen trash can--old one was too small and I'd have to empty it too frequently so I converted it to hold my birdseed supply outside since the lid has a nice tight fit. For the past year & a half, I've been putting trash in a bag in half of the kitchen sink--it needs to be kept out of the dog's reach (he's a basset and can't reach that high). But I got tired of having the trash be the first thing I see walking into the kitchen. Now I have a nice shiny stainless steel can that the dog won't knock over or be able to get into.
-a few plastic storage boxes for the accumulation of books and notes from the past semester.
-breadbox--to put in bread and my dog's assortment of treats and meds which have been scattered out on top of the counter or on top of the refrigerator. Hiding the mess.

New things generally related to self-improvement or self-care
-New walking shoes. I buy expensive ones because I've had foot problems in the past and it's worth it to me to pay for the quality & support. I'm re-inaugurating my walking program that I was lax on last year.
-Two textbooks for classes I'm auditing this term.
-A portable CD-player. I've had bad luck with MP3 players and wanted something to play podcasts and audiobooks on, so I got a CD player that plays MP3 format to entertain me while I walk.
-Half a dozen fitness DVDs/videos--bought used or as overstock so I didn't pay full price.
-I also got a heart rate monitor & blood pressure measuring device but those were paid for by my credit card rewards, so didn't take any additional cash out of my wallet.

other large expense
A $140 vet bill for Henry's skin infection, and another $150 for a 6-month supply for one of his meds

On the positive side, my gas (heat) bill was actually really LOW this month because I pay on the budget plan and January is when they rebalance and set it to zero. I'd previously overpaid so this month's bill was only 20% of the usual bill. Also I've mostly been avoiding eating out and am focusing on healthy eating, so the food bill will come in (as planned) lower than it has been.

Once I go back to work, the "extras" spending will stop, and I think I'll make February a no-extras spending month and limit expenditures to food, fuel for the car, and the usually monthly mortgage and utility bills.

Birthday & a new School Year

August 27th, 2007 at 10:02 pm

Friday was my birthday. I had planned to to take myself out to breakfast, then go in to work, and in the evening, get taken out to dinner by my boyfriend, but my plans were changed when my beloved basset, Henry, started the day by throwing up and refusing his food. The food refusal was alarming, as this dog is nicknamed "Henry the Hungry" and "Henry the Ate and ate and ate." He didn't seem otherwise actively distressed (as he did during his gastric woes of last summer), but he was quieter than usual. When we were sitting on the porch and a neighbor greeted him, he just lay there--no tail wag. Then he had an episode of diarhhea. So I called the vet and they had an appointment open right away. An exam revealed that his vitals were normal, and bloodwork showed all values in normal range for blood, kidney, liver, etc (which was reassuring to know in any case since he has been on prednisone for nearly a year). No parasites, either. However, while we were there, he had another bout of diarhhea--and this one was almost pure blood and mucous. The vet suggested that his IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) had re-emerged, though this time with lower GI tract symptoms rather than upper GI tract ones. A call was made to his internal medicine specialist, who prescribed an antibiotic. I cancelled almost all my plans and (since classes hadn't started yet and I thus had the luxury to do so) stayed home with him all day. Tom picked up Chinese takeout and a video and came over for a quiet evening in. Henry was lethargic most of the day, but, after a long nap, felt well enough to take his afternoon walk, and his tail was wagging when he saw the neighbor kids. It took another 24 hours, during which he fasted without complaint, before the occasional bouts of throwing up stopped and before his appetite reemerged.

Since my attention was preoccupied with Henry all day Friday and Saturday, I had to spend Sunday frantically working on syllabi for the start of the school year--a chore which I will finish as soon as I finish this entry.

Classes started this morning and we're off on another school year. It's scary knowing that it's possible that this is my last year of full-time teaching, but who knows what the year will bring?

A present for myself (and a bath for Henry)

December 30th, 2006 at 01:46 am

My Christmas present arrived today--a (7-cup) Cuisinart, along with an extra "thick slicing" blade for soft veggies, and also an OXO salad spinner. When I first put everything in my cart, the total was about $170, but I'm actually only paying $40 for all of this!

First got free shipping--that took about $26 off.

Then used my $50 amazon.com gift certicate (which I received for being a "community leader" at a discussion board on another online website).

Then I noticed that Amazon.com was having a promotion in Kitchen & Housewares, where if you bought $125 worth of goods, you'd received $25 off. Hence the extra blade and the salad spinner--that brought the "goods total" to $145, more than the $125, but they were both goods that I truly wanted.

Finally, I gave in and opened an Amazon.com VISA for an additional $30 off. My other credit card bill is down to $355, which means that I should be able to pay it off in full in January (barring any more emergencies). The new card is a "rewards card," where I get back 1% for general purchases and 3% for purchases made on Amazon.com, payment being in the form of a $25 amazon.com gift certificate that gets issued automatically when I've spent $2500 on the credit card. I'm planning to pay this card off in full every month and will transfer money from my savings into my checking account to make sure I can do this. I won't be using it for emergencies, except maybe during the first 6 months when the card has a 0% rate.

Total bill after all the deductions: $40.06.

The Cuisinart, by the way, replaces an identical one I sold at a garage sale 10 years ago. I sold it because I was moving and didn't use it much. I've regretted the decision since. I might not use it *much* but it is indispensible for some things. I've probably bought $50 worth of cheap slicinng and chopping gadgets during the intervening 10 years which I can now purge from my kitchen because they not only take up space but never worked as well as the food processor.

******

I also splurged and paid for Henry to have a bath. He needed one and I need a pro to cut his nails. He's doing pretty well these days (and he looks quite dapper in the scarf they tied around his neck after the bath). The Prednisone is generally working, although an initial attempt to lower his dosage failed and we're back up to the inital dose. He's handling it better this time around, though--no more peeing on the rugs like he was doing the first month on the drug. The drug makes him hungry and lethargic, so he's gained 12 pounds and takes shorter walks, but the digestive woes are under control and he should be off the Prednisone by April or May and we can work thn on getting the extra pounds off and the walking mileage back up.

A couple of small victories

December 29th, 2006 at 03:25 am

Since Henry fell ill this summer, my wallet has had a hole in it that has been immune to being patched. I'd expected that a fairly young dog would cost me about $80 a month to feed, supply, and provide veterinary care for. Henry has been diagnosed with 3 chronic condittions that require 3 monthly medications for life, plus an expensive veterinary diet that I expect him to be on for life since the other conditions apparently derive from his food allergies. Even buying his medications online 6 months at a time, his monthly maintenance cost is now about $250 just for meds and food. Hopefully with the diagnosis and treatment, the outrageous vet bills will go down. Between the startup costs of getting the dog (whom I DID have checked out by a vet first...he had no problems until I'd had him for five months), the vet expenses, and the maintenance, he's cost me about 15% of my salary for the year (in other words, my retirement contribution and my emergency fund.) My baby is well worth it but it's frustrating nonetheless--and I worry terribly about what happens when the contract job I am on ends in August. My income could take a significant hit.

So any savings is good. I have two small victories to report, one pet-related, one not. The pet-related one relates to the weekly urinalysis the vet has been charging me $30/week for. I bought some pH strips (which cost about 10 cents each) and will start doing the weekly reports myself most of the time. I paid for one last urinalysis today just to calibrate my strips against their reports--mine were .25 off, which is close enough (given the scale of these measurements) to accept most of the time.

The other savings has to do with a personal purchase. I've spent a good deal of time the past couple of weeks evaluating various software packages for doing mindmapping, which I've decided will help me be more productive in my teaching and other work. The first time I'd tried to download a freeware program, I'd had no luck, and I gave up and instead became enamoured of a commercial program that would cost me about $100. But I was motivated to try and download the freeware program again, and this time I got it working and am quite happy with it, thus saving myself that $100. (Now I can buy that new pair of walking shoes--the old ones are a year old and I put about 600 miles/year on them, so they are in need of replacement. A good pair of shoes is less costly than podiatrist care!)

Weekend

November 13th, 2006 at 12:03 am

Yesterday was sunny, so I spent about 3 hours putting the garden away for the winter and lugging 8 leaf bags full of trimmings over to the local compost center. Then in the evening, my sweetie took me out to dinner--the first time we've seen each other in a month, since he's been so busy with web design jobs and I've been hovering over Henry.

Today it was gray and drizzly, so I've been doing indoor jobs--mostly preparing for the week ahead at work, plus doing a little cleaning. I'm having an overnight house guest on Tuesday, so I've got to make sure to do at least 2 more hours of cleaning before she arrives. Somehow it's easier to clean even inside when it's sunny.

I looked around online and found a place where I'll be able to get Henry's medications that he'll be on for life for $43/month (plus shipping & handling). That compares to $73 if bought at the local vet. I'll purchase a 6 month supply with my next paycheck.

Henry's also been put on prescription food, and that's expensive too. Looks like that will cost over $100/month. There aren't as many places that sell pet prescription food online as places that sell the prescription meds, and the places that I could find that carry his prescription food are out on the west coast, meaning the shipping cost will be high. So I don't think I'll be able to cut the cost below that. I spent about 10 days home-cooking for him and that was costing about $5/day, so the vet food is less expensive than that.

I'm greatly looking forward to getting Henry off of Prednisone--or at least, to decreasing the dose, since he's slated for a 6 month course to fully get the inflammation under control. But two more weeks and I get to cut his initial dose in half. Hopefully that will cut down on his incredible raging hunger. Unless he gets about 3000 calories a day (for a 72 pound dog--that's twice what he needs) right now, he starts whining and within half an hour builds up to outright howls, and when I'm not home, he starts pulling stuff off of the shelves...not at ALL his typical behavior. Mon-Wed-Fri I can limit myself to 4.5 hours away from the house at work, but Tues-Thurs are full days, so I've had to hire someone to come in and feed him and let him out mid-day.

I'm really praying that once I can cut the dose in half the 'roid-rage hunger and execessive drinking/peeing will subside to a reasonable level, since it will be another 5 months until he's off the prednisone altogether.

Geez, if not, he'll probably be a 92 pound rather than a 72 pound basset hound.

At least the $$s going in the right direction

November 7th, 2006 at 02:46 am

October was a perpetual money drain...I spent well over $6000, nearly 3 months' worth of normal expenses, in one month. That's over $4000 in veterinary expenses plus the usual household expenses.

Things are beginning to get back to normal. Henry is recovered from surgery, we have a diagnosis, and he's on meds which are beginning to help. Still awaiting the full results from his food allergy panel so I can figure out what to feed him over the long haul. It turns out that he's borderline allergic to the ingredients in the vet-prescribed food he *had* been eating, so I've been feeding him ground chicken and mashed potatoes until I get the full report from the vet. One of the meds he is on is prednisone and it is making him VERY hungry. He asks for a snack about every 90 minutes (or less) when I'm here. I give him just little bits but he's going through about 1.5 pounds of ground chicken (which cooks down to just over a pound) each day. I also decided to hire a pet sitter to come in and check on him during my two long work days each week, since he's now making mischief and getting into trouble by looking for food when I'm gone too long. The higher dose of prednisone is for a month, then we cut the dose for another 4 months and taper for the final month. I'm hoping that once we get to the lower doseage his appetite is a bit more under control! Between food and the medications he's now been put on for life, he's turning out to be an expensive pupster...but a very loved one!

I managed to pay off a big chunk of the debt that had grown on my credit card through all this...I should be out of debt by years end and then back to accumulating savings--as long as nothing else goes wrong!

No-Spend Day

October 22nd, 2006 at 10:56 pm

It's been a while since I had one of these, I think. Most expenses have been related to the dog and his surgery, but a smaller subset (eating out/buying prepared meals and renting videos) have been devoted to keeping me together and sane while being his nursemaid and working full-time-plus.

Henry is mostly feeling back to himself, though he's still having the occasional bout of the digestive problem that led him to surgery in the first place. That was diagnosed by biopsy and on Wednesday we'll get the details and get him put on the right medications to hopefully stop the episodes altogether. I'll also be looking for the right diet to keep him on now that he's been diagnosed with a chronic digestive ailment. This means additional expense because we'll end up doing some combination of an ultra-premium food and home cooking, I suspect. My buying food in 40 pound bags and stockpiling bisquits when they went on sale means only that I have about $100 worth of food to donate to the local shelter. But anything to keep my baby healthy!

Not yet ready to do the bills and face all the damages--I'll map out a plan by the end of the month for the additional $4000+ in unplanned expenses Henry's illness has cost me.

One step forward, two steps back

October 16th, 2006 at 02:55 am

After a week devoted mostly to my dog Henry and his surgery (and incidentally to work), I finally stopped and tallied the week's and the month's expenses. My usual monthly outflow is 2400, and that was the price of Henry's surgery, so I doubled expenses there. Then there have been ancillary costs--things like additional meds or things to keep Henry from scratching at his stitches, plus stuff for me--a bit of money eating out because between the dog and my cold, I've not been cooking; money renting DVDs since sleep has been erratic and sporadic, etc.

Henry is finally done with the post-surgical pain, but he is beginning to lick and scratch a bit at his stitches, which is a no-no. Still have yet to get the biopsy results but so far he's only had about one minute of one of his digestive "episodes" since the surgery. Since I've been sick, I stayed at home all weekend monitoring Hen, catching naps when I could, doing a bit of prep work for the week, and finishing going through the second season of Grey's Anatomy (a show I hadn't even heard of 10 days ago, which I've now seen two complete seasons of).

Life has been "abnormal" in many ways since Hen's illness (not least of which has been that I've been sleeping on the living room floor to keep an eye on him). Hoping things move back towards normal and the high level of spending normalize this week.

Henry's out of Surgery

October 10th, 2006 at 04:59 pm

The surgeon called himself just now to say that things went well and that Henry (basset hound) is already awake. The biopsy results will take 3-4 days. Henry will stay overnight in the hospital and I'll be calling to check on him every few hours.

I can tell I've been stressed because I'm developing a cold. My throat has been getting scratchier thoughout the day. I was going to ask my boyfriend to stay over tonight to comfort me but I don't want to make him sick too.

I'll get to bring Henry home tomorrow after work. Praying for a quick recovery, not too much discomfort, and good news from the biopsies!

Henry Basset Hound is having surgery today

October 10th, 2006 at 12:18 pm

My Henry is going in for surgery this morning. Hes going to have two large bladder stones removed, biopsies done on his G.I. tract because of repeated bouts of tummy ache/nausea, and a gastropexy (tacking the stomach to the abdominal wall so that if he starts going into bloat, he wont torsion). Hes otherwise in good health so should pull through the surgery well, but its a pretty big operation (10 incision). Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers. Hopefully the surgery will fix things but at least it will give us a better idea of what steps might be next if the initial pre-bloat symptoms continue and will prevent the symptoms from becoming life-threatening.

The surgery is costing $2400--on top of the $1300 I've already spent on diagnosis, medicines, foods and vet visits for this problem. My mom is loaning me some money (and giving me a bit) so that I don't have to put this on a credit card--which is the only real option given that I wiped out the emergency fund over the summer and have only had one paycheck from my full-time job so far, which has gone towards paying off accumulated credit card bills.

I have $3600 in debts between what remains on the credit card bills and what I'll owe to my mom that I want to wipe out by the end of the year. I was looking at a nice winter coat in the Lands End catalog, but I think that's just going to have to get put on hold. The living room rug (because the floor is cold) and a new pair of walking shoes are other expenses that I'm going to move forward with. And hopefully the surgery will mean an end to the big vet bills.

Off to go rub that wonderful belly of Henry's since he'll be too sore for belly rubs for the next couple of weeks (he's a dog who flops over for a belly rub almost as soon as he's getting attention from someone--it's funny taking a walk with a dog who spends a portion of that walk rolled over on his back on the sidewalk when he meets someone who offers a pet!)

Quick Entry: Dog Health Woes

October 6th, 2006 at 12:22 pm

My Henry (basset hound) has been sick and that's been taking most of my free time, so I haven't been here much. We have a surgical consult on Monday. The surgery should help but by itself won't stop the initial symptoms, which could be due to diet or pesticide exposure (not at MY house but while walking). Bills are adding up: so far have spent about $1300 on this illness; the surgery will probably double that. Also Henry woke up one morning with a bad limp--it's gone now but I also invested in a child's wagon so I can get him out to the car (it's a ways and I felt horrible making him walk it when he was in pain) and a set of portable carpeted dog steps so that he doesn't have to jump up onto the sofa and risk injuring his joints. This is SO like me: I'm generally conservative with my money and then my dog gets sick and all thoughts of thrift are out the window. So the credit card bill is back up again, and that's still before the surgery.

A $486 tummy ache

September 13th, 2006 at 04:25 am

Poor Henry, my basset hound, has had a tummy ache today. He was fine when he woke up, but his first taste of food this morning sent him running outside to start desperately eating grass. He was drooling copiously and the initial meds I tried giving him had no effect, so after 3 hours of periodic bouts of tummy upset, I canceled class and made a vet appointment.

The vet said his vital signs were good and offered me two options: give him a shot to calm his tummy and take him home, or do an x-ray and blood work to see if there was an underlying problem to deal with. Since Henry has had episodes of this type before (though not so badly), I opted to have the tests done so that I know what I'm dealing with.

The good news is that x-ray only showed gas in his digestive system and no problems. Blood work indicated that kidneys, pancreas, and liver are fine.

The x-rays also picked up two large bladder stones which have to be dealt with before they cause problems plus indicated that his hips are not in great condition (arthritis down the line). Plus he has an ear infection. So I left today with two tummy meds, two ear meds, and chewable glucosamine, plus a week's worth of special low-residue food.

Henry has been doing mostly ok since he's been home but has had two short bouts of his tummy bothering him. He's sleeping now. Nothing upsets me like my dog being sick (Bassets are vulnerable to Bloat, which is deadly, and he was displaying some of the symptoms). I'm exhausted but wired and hope that *I* sleep tonight--I really need it.