I Could Use A Little Luck

I mentioned I have a friend who loaned me a car.

I need brakes for that car.

My husband is buying brake pads today and they’ll probably cost about $20. No problem.

He thought he was going to have a friend change them Sunday but turns out he had something going on, so he was unable to. He told Mr. Brickie to give him a call back today (Tuesday) a little before 6pm and they’d do the brakes. I hope it goes through because Big Sister is signing up for choir today and the first after school meeting is tomorrow after school so this is the last day I can get the car fixed in order to pick her up from practice tomorrow.

Everything should be fine.

My kids not being in extra curricular activities has been a thorn in my side for years. Signing kids up outside of the school system is so much more expensive. This way I can have them in the activities and my inner-hateful-teenager can stop stomping around my brain yelling at me that I don’t ever let my kids do anything cool.

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I totally nailed it with today’s Minimalist Challenge. I picked two items that really take up space. One is an all-in-one printer where only the scanner works. Great, except I have an iPhone with Genius Scan (Link goes to a review. If you want the app search the name in your app store.) so…. it’s gone. The other thing I’m getting rid of is a storage container that the seal has broken off of and the latch is broken. It was the best size for our chili dry bean mix but it needs to be sealed. So I need a new container. This one is going to Goodwill for someone to use for something that doesn’t need a seal.

Oh, I also got rid of an umbrella push stroller. It was a last minute decision.

Mr. Brickie isn’t working today because the Iron is going in at the job site. He goes back to work tomorrow. So he got a four day weekend and I get to be a little more nervous about next week’s paycheck. But I’m not borrowing trouble and I have my baby ($100) savings account that I might be able to build on come tomorrow. We’ll see!

I’m also excited to know what a straight 40-hour paycheck looks like for my 50% apprentice.

I really, really love numbers.

The Minimalist Game

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So there’s this cool new thing.

Okay, it’s probably not new. I’m sure some of you have probably known about this forever and a day. I don’t know how new/old it is because it’s one of those blogs that doesn’t have dates on the posts. I guess they’re just too minimal for that. (It’s my blogging pet peeve. I’m not saying they can’t/shouldn’t do it but I don’t have to like it, either.) It has been brought to my attention this article originally appeared September 26, 2013. Thank you Wendy. It was driving me crazy like a tiny hangnail. 

Enough whining. Visit this post about The Minimalists getting rid of stuff game and check out how cool it’s going to be. You will get rid of 465 pieces of stuff during a 30-day month. If you are like me and Mr. Brickie, you have decided to both do this and the last day of the month will see your donations add up to a whopping 930 pieces of stuff. I love that this challenge works for almost anyone who isn’t already totally minimalist. If you don’t have a lot of stuff, you can count each piece of junk mail. If you’re like me, you count the whole stack of junk mail as one thing. If you’re in a very cluttered place, you start big. If you’re already pretty put together you start small.

Ways to Participate

Instagram & Twitter: #septmingame
Facebook: If Facebook groups are more your thing you can either PM me and let me know you want to be added to the group or you can stick with using the hashtag above or just do it on your own and tell everyone it’s your idea and that you’re a total minimalist thought leader. I won’t judge. (I do not run this FB group. I’m just happy to add you.)
Privately: I know, this is a crazy concept but you can just do this yourself without having to be part of a group.

Here is my first post for the challenge.

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I’m excited about having a good way to track this. Whatever day of the month it is? That’s how many things to get rid of.

Easy is fantastic.

If This Sounds Overwhelming

If it sounds like too much, don’t fret. The goal is to get something done, not to get it done exactly the way the game says to. Not even the way someone else is doing it. Even if you get rid of one thing a day, you’re thirty things less cluttered at the end of the month. Doing something is far better than doing nothing. You don’t get a cookie or a trophy or a badge for being perfect so get rid of one thing today and tell yourself, “I did more than I was going to. I’ve gone above and beyond.”

Doing one thing every day or a few things for a few days is better than giving up without starting because you couldn’t do everything the right way. There is no right way.

Credit Where Credit Is Due

Many thanks to Michelle Pendergrass &  Dianne at Pop Rocks & Eye Drops (If you’re participating on Instagram you can follow Dianne at @bunnytrails and use the hashtag #septmingame) for bringing this game to my attention and being an inspiration to join in!

How We Spent It Paycheck Update

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I’m getting an almost embarrassing amount of use from this one simple graphic.

When I first started writing about our personal finances I was scared. I tried to do a high level vague kind of thing where I shared a life list and only circled specifics from very high up. The thought of anyone knowing how poor we were felt like needles piercing my heart. I assumed – like most people do – there was something wrong with me and everyone else had their finances on lock.

I learn everyday how untrue that is.

Even though I know so much more about how to set up and follow a budget now, I still worry I am not good enough to keep this train on the tracks. I still wake up in the middle of the night sometimes with a half-completed calculation on the tip of my tongue. Sometimes I feel like a human calculator. Sometimes I feel like a broken calculator! 

But, really, I have no choice. I could stop blogging about it but there’s no need for that. It wouldn’t make my day-to-day life any less real. I am writing the truth and while I may leave some things out there is nothing hidden. I am focused on finances here because that is what I think about most of my day and desperately need an outlet to talk about. The people in my life will listen to me talk but since I know most of their financial situations I have to tread lightly so they do not think I am trying to give advice. You know I don’t mean you specifically in most cases. You don’t judge.

I love you guys!!

Speaking of not judging let me tell you what I did yesterday. I went out with my friend to Starbucks and I bought. Yes, I did. I know I’m in a tight spot but she buys more often than not and it’s important to give back. No, we can’t do something that’s not Starbucks.

Okay, on to how the check is getting spent.

$421.35 In Bank
- $200.00 Living & Tolls
- $95.00 Net10 (cell phones)
- $100.00 Emergency Fund
= $26.35 Leftover

The Starbucks purchase and another grocery purchase have already happened (and are not reflected in the above numbers) totaling just a smidge above $31.50 so there is less in the living fund but that’s okay because that’s why we call it a living fund and not just “gas and tolls”. I have found that actually allowing ourselves a little big of money to spend during the week makes it much easier to stick to the budget overall.

This week’s bottom line: Hooray and hallelujah we have a little bitty start to an emergency fund.

Budgeting money and paying bills is so much more fun when you have more money. (Also in breaking news, the sky is blue.)

Mr. Brickie Promotion Tracker

Hours Left to 60% Days
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I have this really great spreadsheet that tracks Mr. Brickie’s promotions, insurance benefit hours, locations he has worked, hours he has worked, the foreman he works with at each job, and training information. Not only is it a work of art, it lets me know at a glance where he stands and how many work days are left until his next promotion. He just flipped to 50% on July 21st so the numbers don’t look super great yet, but they’re going a lot faster than they did last year.

If I’m not back before Tuesday, Happy Labor Day!

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Unexpected | Thankful Thursday

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I saw this side by side video on Facebook yesterday. It was something about how a rich kid gets ready for school vs. a poor kid. I found it on YouTube if you want to watch it.

While I know you’ve heard me go on about how I love my friends and family and I have the things money can’t buy today I was reminded in a very unexpected way that on the big bell curve of poverty I am rich.

So today, in a very real way, I am thankful for being rich.

This isn’t about love. This isn’t about how great my family is. (Even though they are.) This is about honest-to-goodness worldly goods and that damn hierarchy of needs. Seriously, check out just some of the stuff I’ve got:

  • I have clean drinking water.
  • I have fresh food, fruit, and vegetables in addition to other food.
  • Some of my food gets kept in a refrigerator.
  • I have a roof over my head.
  • I have shoes.
  • My daughters have thrift store clothing that’s Tommy Hilfiger and GAP.
  • One of my girls got a cavity filled at a high quality, much beloved dentist last week.
  • After my kids’ shoes wear down they get new pairs.
  • My glasses are the correct prescription.
  • Mr. Brickie goes to his job in new work boots.
  • I have a hundred dollar emergency fund. (WooHoo! I’m on my way to 1k!)
  • I have an iPhone, a desktop computer, a Kindle, a laptop, and an XBox.
  • I have Internet access in my house.
  • I live in a town with a fully stocked library.
  • I have underwear.

It doesn’t matter if some of those were gifts and some are on credit cards and some were bought by us. They’re the things we have. Things that are part of our everyday lives. I will make pasta salad tonight thanks to the government and the tax dollars you, me, and everyone else pays in. (Did you know just last week

Really, I’m not being crazy. I’m not even comparing myself to a third-world country (which I could do but feels a little “put them down to bring me up”) but here, in my country, there are homeless people without shoes and children without clean drinking water. There are children (and adults) who go hungry. Sure I may have had to put some of my food safety concerns on the shelf, but I would much rather make an intellectual sacrifice than watch my children suffer and become unable to learn because of chronic headaches due to near-constant gnawing hunger.

My perspective on being rich is not  something I’m doing to make myself feel better.

It’s a reminder that I am, in fact, doing so well compared to so many and that to deny or ignore that in order to cry into my coffee would be horrible.

It doesn’t take away my fear, but it puts it in perspective.

I just tried to do a Google search for links to maybe some hunger stats or the headaches kids get that keep them from learning in case you wanted to know more. I remember reading the article but I don’t remember where. It was a legit news source though, I almost always remember when my source for hard hitting news is TMZ or something that should never be admitted much less shared.

That also brings me to why I am afraid to do the things that would increase readership to this blog. I feel like the way we are now I’m inviting some people over to my house every day for a little brunch and talking. We have coffee and laugh and nod sagely and all have a good time. If I start doing things to bring traffic then suddenly it’s you, me, and the guy who wants to tell me I’m a wack-a-doo in the comments section.

A concern for another day, surely.

Today’s agenda is to clean the kitchen (again because it’s never ending), make BBQ chicken sandwiches and pasta salad for dinner, and maybe clean the bathroom. Before all that happens, however, it’s going to be time to get the kids out of bed and out the door to school.

I got up early today because the hour between when Mr. Brickie needs to get up (I set my alarm as his backup alarm) and when I need to get up is always plagued by the snooze button for him multiple times and then him coming in to kiss me goodbye at quarter till 6 and then just when I fall back to sleep my alarm goes off. So, today, I decided I would just get up at 5am with him. Maybe being up this early will yield better long-term blogging results. It’s certainly easier to write with no kid noises or husband noises. I know I need to get back to exercising in the morning and I’m going to see if maybe I can get both in during that hour and a half all to myself.

Right now, though, if I had to decide I would prioritize writing. I think it is important to make sure I”m not just recording the numbers and the increases we experience on this personal financial journey, but also the stress and the fear that will one day be a memory of the constant passengers during this part of the journey.

I feel better today than I did yesterday and the day before, so I think I’m coming out of all that mess. It felt like a thousand birds were flying into a thousand windows in my brain. But here on the other side of that it looks like Mr. Brickie will work a full week, which will make reaching our emergency fund goal a much faster process.

Have a great day and feel free to check out other posts from the Axis of Ineptitude blogging challenge.

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How We Spent It!

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This is probably going to be a short entry.

It will take much longer to write because I’m actively avoiding checking the bank balance.

I’m scared.

There is nothing more I can do. I have a long term plan and am sticking to it, I didn’t waste money or spend it frivolously. My decision to change from paying down debt to having an emergency fund was basically a perspective shift, nothing more.

Mr. Brickie’s union meeting went really, really well. All indications are that people think he’s going to go places. His foreman on the job is teaching him about bidding and estimations because, “When you’re a foreman, you’ll need to know this stuff.”

Everyone assumes he has a bright future. I know he does.

I just wish the future paycheck could come a little bit faster. I always knew this was going to be a “down to the wire” situation and like I said yesterday, most days I just stay in the now and think about today because we chose this path two years ago and it has gone as planned (a little slower than planned, but you can’t predict things like Mr. Brickie’s first year with the union being “the slowest year in bricklayer history” for all the members.)

So I need to reel in my perspective from here, there, everywhere, future, past, alternate futures 1-458, and get back to focusing on today. Doing the actions I can today to move closer toward my goal.

I am nervous but it’s not like my bank account is Schrodinger’s Cat. What’s in there is in there whether I look or not.

Mr. Brickie’s current company doesn’t have direct deposit. He’s getting a paper check today and if the bank is close he may be able to cash it but otherwise we’re going to have to wait days for it to clear in the bank account.

So I guess looking did make it not be there.

I texted him to let me know the amount of the check and the bank it’s drawn on so we can plan our next steps.

$377.00 Check
+ $42.00 Already in Bank
- $200.00 Living & Tolls
- $95.00 Net10 (cell phones)
- $100.00 Emergency Fund
= $24.00 Leftover (To Credit)

I probably need to put the lines in the spreadsheet differently so the $40 in tolls per week is on a separate line because that gets paid to the credit card. Since the other auto-billed things on the credit card are the Internet, hosting, and domains I do need a little extra per check to go on the card and so even if Mr. Brickie has not used $40 a week in tolls that money still comes off the top and goes toward the credit card so there aren’t any accidents or “oops” moments that put us over limit or cost us a late fee.

Also, it turns out the bank is less than a mile from the job site he is currently on, but because we have Capital One 360 checking there is no way for us (in this area) to deposit cash into our account. Doing the “snap a picture of the check” method can result in days of the check being held.

I hate when he works for companies that don’t use direct deposit.

Is it worse to wait a few days for the check to clear through the online deposit system or is it worse to get the check cashed and use the cash to pay the Net10 (you can buy a refill card at Walmart) and pay the Tolls + Leftover money to the credit card ($1 fee to do at Walmart).

I get how people go through life without a bank account. It used to seem like a mind blowing concept and I couldn’t imagine. Now? I don’t have to imagine. It’s a legitimate choice. (I would consider getting a local bank but without direct deposit or a minimum balance I’m poop out of luck for an account that won’t charge me more in fees than Walmart does to pay my bills.)

We should really consider signing up with the credit union. I think we can join the AFL-CIO credit union which has sister branches everywhere but I’m not sure what’s involved in that and if the online banking is up to snuff since the website for the credit union looks circa 2003. Really, what’s the difference between taking a picture of the check and depositing the check in a local brick and mortar bank? Both are going to make me wait for the check to clear.

But if the bank of the company is local it can be cashed there and then the cash deposited into our local bank.

This whole thing is making me tired. Today’s batch of banana bread is out of the oven and I promised Little Sister – who is really sick right now – we would make cookies together today. You know, so we can get the rest of the family horribly sick. (Even though we will wash our hands she’s still gonna breathe.)

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Breathing In A Paper Bag

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I’m trying so hard not to hyperventilate.

Tomorrow is payday and it’s going to be a 21 hour check. If I was going to judge prior decisions I would say my decision to build an emergency fund is one I should have come up with a hell of a lot sooner.

Because I’m going to have flexible extra income tomorrow of about $20.

Even though there have been crazy, sky-opening torrential downpours the last two days, somehow Mr. Brickie has managed to get a full day in yesterday and today. Hopefully the trend keeps up, because the check after this one needs to pay utility bills and minimum credit card payments.

The threat of Christmas is starting to loom.

I’m having a bit of a fear-based week. As much as I want to be optimistic, as much as I want to have hope that from now until Christmas Mr. Brickie will work full time and we will be able to keep up with bills and save money and pay off all the credit cards, well, I’m just having  a week where that’s a little too much effort to keep up with.

But in times of crisis I try to look on the bright side no matter how dim it might be.

My numbers might be wrong.

I used an online calculator to project what tomorrow’s paycheck will be. Maybe I guessed low!

Maybe since I was sick over the weekend and am still feeling the trailing effects, I have somehow made a grave error and my math is wrong, leaving us with more money to spare and start our emergency fund with!

Positive solutions for other money issues.

The birthday cake Little Sister wants would cost over a hundred dollars if I get it done professionally, so I’m going to buy some colored fondant and squeeze tubes of colored buttercream and make her dream cake myself. I’m not sure exactly how but it’s a cat face on top of a round cake so I’m just going to figure it the heck out.

I’m exhausted and I need to go back to exercising in the morning. When I do, I don’t feel this pit of exhaustion in the core of my soul. I wish I didn’t forget that’s the solution so often.

Part of me wants to be proud of how we have come and how stable our situation is considering how bad it could be by now. Most of me just wants to hide in my bed, deep under the comforter for about two years until we are in twice the financial position we are today.

See you for the regular budget update tomorrow.

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When Is It Time To Stop Paying Off Debt?

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We are big fans of the Dave Ramsey seven simple steps to financial freedom. We have been in:

Baby Step 2: Pay off Debt

But, you see, we aren’t actually there yet. We think we are, we pretend we are, but I had a total crisis last night about Mr. Brickie’s next paycheck (it will be about $340 because he only worked 21 hours this week. Maybe less, I used a calculator again.) and how we were only going to have $20 to put toward the snowball.

Unless…

I could use the $100 we put aside this week in case of emergency plus the $20 on Wednesday and pay off the Old Navy card.

Leaving us with no buffer. No emergency fund.

Which reminded me of something really important.

Baby Step 1: Save $1000 in an emergency fund.

“$1000 will change your life. 90% of life’s emergencies will be covered by having a $1000 emergency fund.” – Andres Guiterrez

Whoops. I’m trying to decide between a $100 emergency fund or $0 and it’s no wonder I’m so damn stressed all the time.

I keep thinking that if we could just pay off debt and get to tax return time, but I tried that last year and ended up with no cash and put Christmas on credit cards and started the whole damn cycle over again. I paid it off with the tax return but then we had to replace the tires on the car ($800) and pay for health insurance ($2k) and paying off the credit cards, and finally paying off a debt I owed to the government from a long time ago we were cleaned out.

That is not going to happen again this year. It can’t. We need that tax return money for moving expenses and possibly rent depending on how the season goes and how work goes.

I will not – under any circumstances – allow my family to end up homeless. (Which I’m sure has been said  by many a homeless family’s head of household. Don’t remind me.)

A 21 hour work week is a setback, for sure. But last year he didn’t work from 7/26 – 9/23 so this year is already far better at this stage than it was last year. I could decide to freak out or I could look at the information I have in addition to hearing what the industry is saying which is, “Last year was the worst year in the history of bricklaying. This year had a freakishly late start. Things are getting better and in about ten years it’s going to be boom times again.”

Why would I believe the fears in my own head over people who have been in this industry 20+ years other than a horrible anxiety problem there is just no logical reason so I’m going to try and knock it off and focus on reliable opinions.

In the meantime I’m going back to the budget drawing board for real and getting a legit emergency fund of $1000 in place.

Which feels entirely impossible.

Of course.

So, the answer to the question in the title of this blog post? Stop paying off debt when you don’t have an emergency fund. Pay minimums until you are in a position where paying off a consumer credit card won’t put you in a dangerous position if an emergency comes up. Old Navy doesn’t sell milk.

Get an emergency fund first.

It’s almost like someone already knew that. Oh well, better to get back on track all the way at some point rather than keep stressing myself half to death overpaying bills without a safety net.

If you don’t know all the baby steps you can check them out here. 

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How We Spent It

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Thank you for your feedback on yesterday’s How Should I Spend It? post.

I obviously love Wendi most for giving her advice publicly. People are going to think only, like, two people read this blog when I think it’s obvious I have at least ten readers.

Consider your minds blown. That’s right. Double. Digits.

Okay, I’m done mocking myself. Let’s get to the money stuff.

Thank you all for your advice, however you chose to give it. This includes Mr. Brickie. I know, it seems like I never bring him in on anything but I assure you that’s just because the conversations would be excruciatingly boring. They all go a little something like this…

“Hey Mr. Brickie! How do you want to allocate this money?”

“What are my options?”

“You can choose Option A or Option B or maybe there’s another Option I haven’t thought of.”

“Either one sounds fine.”

End financial conversation.

This might be a problem but he hasn’t been a jerk the few times I’ve made a mistake and chosen the wrong option. I wouldn’t let him get away with it if he just did it to try and abdicate responsibility for fear of being wrong. He just trusts me. It’s a lot of pressure, but we all have our row to hoe.

I just want you to know I did talk to him in addition to asking everyone else.

We decided to pay off the Target card and the Macy’s card, put aside $100 in savings, and put the rest toward the big credit card.

We picked $100 as the savings amount because he’s missed two days of work this week already and the next bill that needs to be paid is our cell phones which is about $90 for the two phones. The buffer means if we don’t make enough or if there is a rain day we already have the money set aside for the next bill.

The house won’t go to auction for the next 60 to 90 days. Then the mortgage company will regain possession of the title and it usually takes about three months for them to start eviction proceedings which take another three months.

Our 9 month plan is still (mostly, sort of, hopefully) in play.

I just want to get the kids through this school year and deal with moving in the summer. That’s it. Okay, wait, I’m lying. I also want to get the tax return so we can easily afford to move. That’s a big deal and I really shouldn’t be forgetting it.

After Bills and Coffee Update: Well, it looks like setting aside that $100 was a great idea. It turns out today is a rain day and a rain day = no pay. It does look like he will be working on Saturday, as long as the weather passes. Stay tuned…

 

What Should I Spend The Money On?

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When you have some money but not enough to make a dent you end up, well, where I am right now.

The car payment is paid, next weeks check will be short two days from Mr. Brickie not working Monday/Tuesday, and I have $444.00 after the car payment is paid.

$160 has to go for gas and living expenses.

$40 has to go toward the credit card for tolls.

That leaves me $244 (I know, not a King’s Ransom or anything) and I don’t know where I should put it.

I could pay off a credit card or two.

I could put it into savings.

I could put it all toward the big credit card (we had paid this down a lot but the balance went back up when the six month auto insurance payment went through).

$16.13 is the Target payoff balance.

$56.98 is the Macy’s payoff balance.

If I pay off those two cards then I would be left with $170.89

I could put that all toward the big credit card or I could put part of it into savings and part of it toward the big credit card, leaving me a mini emergency fund.

What do you think?

How should I allocate my small but important pile of dollars?

Need a cheat sheet for the credit card balances to help you decide? No problem!

Walmart $584.63
Amazon $533.00
Capone $1,128.70
Kohls $157.97
Old Navy $150.35
Macys $56.98
Target $16.13

If you want to keep up with the dramatic work changes as they happen, make sure to click that link to the right and “Like” the jennydecki page on Facebook. Sometimes things just aren’t long enough for a whole post and when they aren’t, I put them over there.

To see how we spent this week’s flexible cash, click here!

The First Foreclosure Moving List

We risked everything on the potential that our foreclosure would drag out and there would be an auction and the house would be bought back by the mortgage company.

That might still be happening, but I don’t think so.

We received paperwork in the mail today from the attorney’s office of our mortgage company. It says

Within 60 to 90 days title to the property is expected to be transferred to citimortgage. Sometime thereafter, ownership of the property will probably be transferred to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

HUD generally require that there be no one living in properties conveyed to the Secretary as a result of a foreclosure.

If you are not entitled to remain in the property pursuant to the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009 (we are not because we are the former owners, not tenants) or state or local law, you may nevertheless be eligible to remain in the property upon conveyance to HUD, if certain conditions are met, as described in Attachment 3, Conditions for Continued Occupancy.

Attachment 3 has a list of things like avoidance of vandalism and how much inventory HUD has. You also have to agree to one month’s advance rent as well as signing a month-to-month lease with “fair market rent.” Now that you have rented your former home you have to be willing to allow access to the property during normal business hours to HUD representatives, HUD contractors, and real estate brokers and their clients (all with two days’ advance notice).

Not to sound petulant, but if I’m going to live in a house getting electrical and other work done to bring it to code and let everyone who wants to be in my house into my house I’m renting with two days’ notice I certainly don’t think that warrants fair market value when I’m not actually going to be living in a house where I can expect relative privacy.

At first, we hyperventilated thinking something had changed, that having an FHA mortgage meant there would not be an auction and our timeline was wrong. It still might be. The one thing I am pretty sure of is that if we are receiving mail from the mortgage company’s law firm it’s something we want to be very wary of filling out because it may not be in our best interest.

After much Google searching without much actual result we think the bolded sections in the quote up there are the important bits. Lawyers do not use words for no reason, right? When do you see lawyers throw around b.s. words like expected and probably? I’ve seen other letters from this company and they’re no joke.

It reads to me like, “Since we know no one will buy your house at auction it’s expected to go back to the mortgage company because duh!” If you fill out this paperwork to bring your foreclosed home under some HUD arrangement and pay them (which why wouldn’t you we sent you the paperwork, amirite?) it will probably be transferred to HUD.”

The same way the mortgage company keeps sending us these packets talking about going and finding out about our options which mean Cash for Keys or a Short Sale. The letters always imply we could stay here but in no way does it actually mean we have that option.

Understanding Came Later – First We Panic

Reading the paperwork we started really freaking out like maybe we weren’t going through the same process we thought we were and everything we thought we knew was nothing and we were about to be evicted and homeless in a minute. (Don’t get me wrong, we’re not paying money to live here right now. I’m not saying we feel entitled to live here. We do not. We are so lucky every month we are able to rebuild a little bit more.)

So I called my cousin to make sure we could stay with her if it was a true emergency. Of course she said yes because she’s pretty much the nicest person on the planet. I just needed to hear it and I think Mr. Brickie did too because the #1 thing you want to make sure of is that you won’t be taking your kids to a homeless shelter if you can possibly avoid it.

So the worst case scenario phone call was made and our worst case scenario is one rung up from there.

Mr. Brickie Was Surprised

You guys know it. He knows it. I’m sure my mailman knows it. I’ve been saying it for a while. Things are going to get worse before they get better.

One moment while I quote myself from a previous post:

There is a little secret I want to share with you about my life. It’s going to get worse before it gets better. There is going to be a gap between where we are now and being “okay” and that gap is steep and dark and it has spikes and water on the bottom. Don’t get me wrong, it’s going to look like it’s getting better and that won’t be fake at all. But then… well, we’ll get back to that. <– This is the “BUT THEN” I was referring to! Right now!

We are not going to be “okay” in any kind of a baseline traditional sense until Mr. Brickie’s next raise that puts him at a 60% level apprentice. It’s just not going to happen. The money won’t be there. He has been nodding and telling me he understands for a year now, but I think this letter just hit him in the brain and cracked it wide open and understanding just poured in and it was almost too much for him to take for a minute there.

He looked – for just a moment – like he might crumble.

But he didn’t!

We Assessed the Situation

I showed him that, if we needed to, we could become Fast Move Ready without sacrificing a whole lot of our daily living. We have two crockpots, a toaster oven, and a little George Foreman Grill. All we would need to be able to sell our refrigerator, oven/stove, and standing freezer is a mini fridge for milk. That pretty much takes care of the big things to worry about in the kitchen.

I would also want to bring with pots, pans, baking sheets, dishes, and cooking gear. Maybe the shelves we have on the wall. Probably the bars with the hooks that I keep all my hanging spoons and things on. Of course all my spices.

The Living Room

The desktop would be a problem if we had to move fast and did not have a place to move to.  We have a chair that won’t be moving with us and some TV trays that need to be replaced. Really, the only things coming with us from the living room are the kitchen table, turtle tank and stand, desktop computer and a little IKEA laptop desk. Everything else can get tossed into a bonfire.

The Office

Only things we need are the TV, the xBox, and maybe the filing cabinet because it’s all tall and useful and we use it as the gift cabinet.

The Playroom

One bookcase filled with books, two chickens, and his grandmother’s china.

Our Bedroom

Pictures, the bed, clothing.

Their Bedroom

The beds, clothing, assorted toys and electronics. We have gone through their toys once this year already and weeded out broken toys for the trash and toys they do not play with anymore for donation. We could use to go through the clothing again for things that do not fit or do not get worn for donation.

Other Stuff

Blankets, sheets, towels, the contents of the one closet outside of my bathroom. We would take a bike for little sister but the other two sisters have outgrown their very small bikes and need new ones. We would take everyone’s scooter, of course. Mr. Brickie’s tools and beer making equipment, too.

School Worries

The biggest problem we would face if we have to move before next year would be school. Potential residency checks aside, we would have to be able to get Mr. Brickie to work (assuming he’s working which is a valid assumption) and the girls to school from wherever we were. That would mean two cars. Even though we have two cars now one of those is only on loan until the kids are back in school, which means it has to be returned soon and we will be back to a one-car family.

We Continue to be Vigilant

We will continue to monitor all incoming mail like hawks to try and keep from being blindsided. Mr. Brickie finally having the full soul-deep knowledge that this is really happening means he’s going to step up his game and start getting rid of things we don’t need and selling things to pile up cash for a security deposit and first month’s rent somewhere new. Maybe we could sell enough big stuff we could even buy a beater car for him to commute to work with.

Mr. Brickie started talking about the shelving units we have in the garage and how he wants to use them for a “Staging Area” and I had to shoot it down. I told him that we are beyond quaint, long-term ideas like staging areas and system creation. We are now in the land of chaos and that is where I do my best work. His job is to follow orders and get rid of everything we don’t need.

As you can see, I have a very short list of what we are keeping. Things like the china are going to live in a storage unit until we are sure we have found a place we are staying a while.

I’m glad he is on board. Now we can really start clearing out, cleaning up, and getting ready to streamline our lives and keep forging forward.

Days like yesterday, though, are the ones where you really question if you made the right decisions. If you did the right thing. The days where you know you will only know if you made the right choice years later when you look back and assess the situation with the benefit of hindsight.

Either way, I hope you’ll stick around to see how it unfolds.

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