No Money = No Posts

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While things have been happening here at the Decki Ranch, no money has been coming in beyond waiting for next week’s next unemployment payment.

That means posts start to get spaced a bit because I have, like, nothing ot talk about in terms of finance.

I did transfer over $300 from the emergency fund to put toward the credit card so our auto-payments won’t run the card over limit.

I will be breaking out the just-paid-off Amazon.com card to buy softball equipment for the girls. (pants, backpacks, sliding shorts, face masks, etc.) because as much as I would love to have faith that Mr. Brickie will start work next week I thought he was going to start this week and now I’m a little gun-shy and being super-cautious. We even have a location (if not an exact address) of where he will be working. It’s really going to happen, I just don’t want to bet my emergency fund on “any day now” because that seems less-than-smart.

Today is the girls’ last day of school before Spring Break.

Softball starts somewhere near the first week of April. I am scared to look at the practice roster. Three girls on three teams is starting to seem like a huge mistake, but like I teach my kids…you signed up for it, you finish it. So no matter how wonky it is, I’m doing it.

I’m having trouble keeping my mind right. There are one too many things in my brain trying to vie for attention.

I hope you are all had a great week. I’ll try to think of something cool and interesting to post about this weekend.

Next Wednesday is April Fool’s Day. I totally got the kids last year with the “Have a glass of kool aid oh wait that’s jello with a straw in it!” gag. I’m planning what to do this year. I like pranks that are funny and lighthearted. If you have a favorite, let me know. I’m totally going to go to Pinterest, too, because I remember they had a wealth of info about April Fool’s tricks and pranks.

Scentsy Stuff Update Part

I’m making samples to send out today for those of you that requested. Making samples is fun. I just need a better way to mail them. Like, a tiny box instead of a big envelope. On the bright side, with snow on the ground today I’m pretty confident I don’t have to switch to felt just yet. I hope my samples don’t melt all over someone’s mail. I also have a catalog request so I’m mailing that out today, too. The usual getting things done admin stuff. :) (Scentsy Website Link)

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May the Luck of the Irish be with…who?

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So. The Luck of the Irish isn’t a compliment. Now you know. It means something in between a, “That guy is so dumb only luck keeps him alive.” and “If it wasn’t for bad luck, he’d have no luck at all.” Depending on your context. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when it’s a good time to use it but if you keep those two goalpost definitions in mind, trust me, you’ll know the next time a situation comes up that it’s good for. (It happens more often than you’d think.)

I’m here for you guys. Really, I am. If nothing else now you can use it as a sneaky insult like the southern ladies do with, “Bless her heart…”

I’m a very lucky person. Sure, I’ve had a few things happen along the way that weren’t bad luck, but let’s look at the good luck that’s happened over the years.

Three gifted children with remarkable social skills? Luck. You cannot plan that. People can try and be all, “Genetics, consistent parenting, blah blah…” but nope, you don’t’ know what’s going to work and even if you interview the whole family back to the grandparents you can’t know how those genes are going to mix with yours. Plus environmental factors. You just can’t factor everything in. You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.

My husband finding a job with a pension and excellent health insurance? Luck. Sure, I asked every human being I met for years what they did for a living, what requirements were needed to get the job and if the person loved their job. I did. Sure, Mr. Brickie met a millwright and after the application and testing he thought, “Hey, I should apply to all the union jobs in cook county!” But the bricklaying training course opening when it did, him finding jobs….all luck.

Finding our current apartment. You guys….seriously…..this apartment is amazing. It has felt like home since the first night I slept here. Plus it has a basement with a washer/dryer. I have a three-bedroom apartment with a basement. I … I’ve never felt more lucky than when I take a moment and think about where I live. It’s seriously got to be at least a thousand square feet not including the basement. We get a $25/mo. discount if we pay three months or more in advance and when I paid the nine months with our tax return? He knocked an extra $25 off. So I’m paying $747.22 a month through November.

This TOWN. Okay, last night was kind of stressful because I was going to the YMCA (in town!) and since it was Dairy Queen free small cone night traffic was blocked between where I was and where I needed to be. I had to detour around and backtrack and I was ten minutes late to class (which you know had me just wanting to go home because being late makes me panic) but I pushed through and this morning I have aching muscles and a good feeling to show for it. The people here are, on the whole, very kind and open. We meet with the girls softball coaches this week and I couldn’t be more excited! Then we will attend SpringFest on Friday where the kids will enjoy bounce houses and all kinds of stuff. There is so much going on in this town that it’s easy to keep the kids doing stuff.

Sure, I could choose to nitpick everything but today I’m talking about luck so nitpicking isn’t what I’m about. I’m not going to tone down these lucky good things and I’m not going to put any disclaimers on them. They are what they are and we are, truly, very lucky.

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Financially Fit by Forty?

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I was doing a bit of navel gazing today.

First we had pie for breakfast (a Pi Day tradition) and went to a maple sugar festival and tromped all over hell’s half acre learning about sap and checking out tapped trees and learning how the native americans tapped the trees before the pioneers got all high-tech with their big metal pots and ball jars.

It was mostly on the drive home I was thinking. Probably because we had just gone to a fabulous, free event and then scooted in and out of the gift shop without buying anything and were on our way to have lunch out as a family. I was considering how much we (a family of five) were about to drop on lunch and thinking about the other things we could do with that money.

Ultimately I decided I didn’t care what else we could do with the money because having lunch out with my family is a special experience that does not happen often. It gives me great joy to hear them treat the staff at the restaurant with appreciation and respect. I smile and think maybe I did something right when they are able to order on their own and get exactly what they want.

Some of the money we set aside in savings was to get the brakes on the Toyota worked on and it cost less than we estimated. So the money to pay for lunch wasn’t being taken away from anything else.

Yes, I started my financial journey with Dave and the belief that to be debt-free you have to put your nose to the grindstone. I’m still excessively frugal if you popped me on a bell curve. But I will not deny my children everything on the way to my own financial freedom.

Most things? Yes. Just not everything. I found the line in the sand I will not cross, I guess.

This summer they will get new (Flea Market/Craigslist) bikes because they outgrew their old (Craigslist) bikes. Between lunch today and the bikes I could probably make a dent in another credit card.

Or could I?

If they don’t have bikes am I going to be more likely to take them somewhere to have fun that costs money? I don’t know. The world is a complex place and just because in my head I think things are going to work out a certain way that does not mean it’s written in stone. I make the best choices I can with the information I have at the time.

I had an amazing benefactor pay for my girls to attend softball this year. So you bet your sweet butt I’m going to make sure they all have helmets and bats and mitts in order to play. (I’ve already procured bats and helmets for two out of three kids. One more trip to Walmart and I’m good.) My nose may be grindstone-adjacent, but it’s certainly not ON THERE the way it would be if I were dutifully following a “beans and rice” plan.

All that to say…. I turn 40 in a few short months. I’m not looking at it as a milestone because my goals are not based on the calendar but on things happening in my home and with my family. But hey, it’s a handy little mile-marker and if Mr. Brickie goes back to work early enough it’s entirely possible I could put such a dent in the three cards left to pay off that I could actually call myself Financially Fit by Forty. I would like to, but only because I adore alliteration. The best part? If I miss my birthday and we get Financially Fit by August I can just change it to Financially fit AT Forty and still have all the alliteration I could want in the world.

I guess what I’m trying to say is I think we did it.

It is actually possible that we could be in a position to take a family vacation next February.

If nothing else, we are in a position where dreaming about taking a vacation doesn’t feel fake and pathetic.

Sometimes I still don’t believe it. How close we are to being normal people instead of food pantry people. A family that can go out to lunch once in a while and it’s not going to keep us from sleeping tonight because we are afraid it was a life-sinking bad idea.

Maybe….just maybe….I can get a new cell phone this Black Friday. My iPhone 4s (from back when I had the AT&T subsidy and a job that allowed me to afford an iPhone) is acting sketchy as hell. But since I’m with Net10 (prepaid, awesome) I have to bring a paid-in-full phone to the table. Last year they had an iPhone 5c half price for Black Friday.

I kind of want a Windows phone but hey, I’ll probably take what I can get as long as it has updated specs and a decent camera.

See? I can actually dream about saving for big purchases in the future and it doesn’t sound like a total pipe dream!!

That feeling of surprise that it’s me thinking such positive thoughts just does not get old.
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How We Spent It State Tax Refund Edition!

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This is a super short one because I have been stupid-crazy-sick for a week with a fever and lost time and everything.

I feel better today but still really weak and my brain is kind of hurky-jerky and it wants to keep a train of thought but before I know it I’m suddenly thinking about how awesome a slushie would be for my throat and totally forget what I was talking about before. Like now. Thank goodness I wrote in the title first to keep me on track.

$865 – Tax Return
-$503 – Pay off Amazon.com store card
-$300 – Savings earmarked for brakes & exhaust work on the 1990 Toyota so he can commute in it this spring/summer for work.
-$30 – Bought a pair of boots for my daughter because she loves boots so much she wouldn’t stop wearing her snow boots so…I bought her a pair of black, not-snow-boots from Target.

So now we are down to THREE credit cards. The wal-mart card and the two regular credit cards.

It’s so nice out today I’ve started praying like a madwoman for work to start early this year. We are on fire for 2015 so far even with my bad decisions earlier and I want to keep this amazing momentum going!

Scentsy Update

I made $135 (cash, not product credit or whatever) my first month as a Scentsy rep. That means that starter kit is paid off. I currently have a basket party out and a mini tester kit I could turn into another basket party in a minute. I’m trying to figure out the best way to mail the mini testers if someone not-local wanted to host a party so they could get free and half-priced items. I’m kind of taking a break thinking about it right now because I really overwhelmed myself and then with being sick? I just can’t even think right now.

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Better Decisions I Made Today

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Windfall Y’All!

Oh. My. Gosh.

Mr. Brickie has had hundreds of listings on Criagslist for the past few years. A few of the things we have sold are action figures, comic books, painting supplies, power tools, hand tools, and even things like those Muppets glasses from Burger King from back in the day.

We aren’t good at Craigslist and it was difficult to get things sold but he kept pounding away at it and I kept reading up and rewriting product descriptions and titles to try and make things seem as awesome as we thought they were.

Friday, we fiiiinally sold a huge lot of comics from Mr. Brickie’s childhood. When we first tried to sell them, I think he was hesitant. Years later? He was as relieved as I was when they sold.

We sold them to a private party last week for $800!!! You might remember I researched the tax implications of Craigslist sales last March and a quick search doesn’t yeild any updates in the law I can find, so I feel pretty confident that it’s a great windfall with no hidden implications. Of course, I’m not a tax professional and this is not professional advice. In fact, never take advice from me. It’s safer that way.

We also got the unemployment check today, so we’re working with an unusually large amount in our checking account right now. That means we have an unusually large amount of bills about to get paid!

…. here is how the expected and unexpected money got spent!

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I considered just topping up the emergency fund. I also considered using all the extra money toward credit cards.

For perhaps the first time ever, I decided to compromise and pay off some credit cards and replenish some emergency fund. So mature, right? There are also a couple other lots of comics that this party might purchase in the next few weeks!

I’m really excited that we’ve been able to get things done before the bricklaying season even starts. I have decided to be superstitious today and consider this a great omen for the year. As you know, the goal is to knock out the credit cards and the car by the end of summer (leaving only the giant, gross student loans which is a whole other thing I’ll have to reserach. Gross.)

A Note About The Direct Sales Thing

I’m going to start sticking the Scentsy updates at the end of the post and putting a header on them. That way if you don’t want to read about it you can be like, “Oh, it’s that part of the post, I’ll skip this.” and if you want to read it you can. I want to chronicle this part because I’m a person that SWORE she would never do something like this.

If I don’t do well I can use it to show my kids someday how it went. If I do okay and break even I can show them that there is a moderate road you can walk without going nuts.

It’s a financial thing that’s happening so, basically, it would be total b.s. not to write about it but I never want you to think I’m trying to use this blog to actively sell. Mostly because I always want this blog to be about the financial journey and the emotional stuff that happens because of that journey. So please know when I write about it, I am doing so in the context of the blog’s mission, not changing the focus of the blog on a sweet-smelling whim.

Direct Sales Update

I sent out thank you notes this week, put together and gave a friend a basket party this week, and realized I don’t want business cards. Everything I watch on YouTube is about how to do this or that and it’s like people are just dumping money on everything and hoping for the best. I’m trying to spend less money but put in more effort. That magic place in the middle where I’m creating value with the experience as well as the product.

I’m going to end up ordering something from my friend’s party. Not because she needs the help, but because there is one with an Edison Bulb called the Parlor Lampshade Warmer. I know Edison Bulbs were cool years ago (and really expensive) and I don’t mind that the trend is going mainstream, now. It’s kind of weird and maybe it’s because I’m old but I like what I like and it’s okay if it’s “over” or “so last year” because whatever makes me smile is right on trend for me. It’s just an exposed Edison Bulb in a round glass case. I think it’s going to be really beaufiful and I hope it throws off enough light to use as a little desk lamp.

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Bad Decisions I Have Made

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Yesterday, a reader (Hi Kay! I appreciate you!) asked me if I was overpaying my car payment because it seemed high.

It got me thinkng … I started blogging about finances after I made a pact with myself to stop doing things that were horrible, bad decisions. I’ve still made bad decisions since I’ve been blogging. The big ones were last Christmas when I got more credit cards to use for one holiday and looking for that post made me realize I glazed over the truth. I see myself saying I got an Amazon store card, but I ALSO got a Walmart credit card at the same time. I paid them back off after Christmas last year with the tax return.

This year I got all three kids a group gift for Christmas and then gave them stockings that were donated by a friend of mine. The group gift took one of my credit cards from 0 to max balance! Luckily, it was the card with the $300 balance. I got them the Skylanders game and we wrapped all the little people individually so they all had stuff to open. While $300 probably seems like a lot it is also the least I’ve ever spent on Christmas for three kids. So it’s an improvement for me.

That leads me to telling you about the most recent very bad financial decision I have made. I got the two older girls Kindle Fire tablets for their birthdays in January. I realized it was never on my radar to blog about and then I thought about it a few days ago and told myself no one would be interested. This morning I realized it would be stupid not to tell you I bought my kids VERY EXPENSIVE gifts for their birthday.

Maybe it was becuase I wanted to wait and make sure they were “worth it” before telling you about them.  Maybe telling you about the reading and spelling scores going from Fs to Cs and Bs thanks to educational apps will make it sounds like a less-awful decision. I don’t know. Every time I look at them I feel a little sick but I know that my girls have benefitted from them immeasurably and then I try to tell myself, “Hey, it wasn’t laptops, right?” So then I’m rationalizing my decision. I don’t know if the Kindles were a bad decision or not. I do know I saved $70 on them because I was like, “Sure I’ll apply for the card I won’t get since I just foreclosed on my house.”

Then I was approved. It’s a fee-free card with 3% back in Amazon credit so if I do keep a credit card this will be the one. I set up all my bills that could be put on the card onto the card (Internet, auto insurance, cell phones, renter’s insurance) and have a line item for that amount on my budget that’s {$240 – Credit Card Bills} and it’s actually scheduled for next week’s unemployment payment.

The month we didn’t have food stamps (EBT, SNAP, whatever) was a hard one. We found the local food pantry so several meals were covered that way. We had rice and pasta and ate everything in the house until all that was left was a loaf of funny wheat bread (I just had a slice for breakfast) and ramen noodles (which we will have for lunch) and then tonight I am so lucky we got the food stamp card so Mr. Brickie can go out in this weather (ugh this weather) and stock us back up on our staples. I will be so relieved when I can get back to making real food from scratch but until then we eat what we have and we are grateful for it.

All this to show you what might be my worst financial decision ever. The thing is, when I look at my credit card statements there are very few things that I don’t remember buying and usually when I don’t recognize one it’s Mr. Brickie getting gas. When I splurge I get a $19.99 Whirley Pop to make popcorn because I don’t have a microwave and pop popcorn about four times a week for the kids to take for snacks or to have when they want a snack. Or I get a $10 8″ frying pan because that way we can make five grilled cheese sandwiches at once and eat as a family. I know, it could sound like I’m explaining but it could also sound like I’m just rationalizing.

It’s a fine line I guess.

Life Expenses In No Particular Order
Payment Total Owed Estimated Payoff
Car $495.12 $6,839.49 April 2016
Utilities $195.00 n/a n/a
Rent (Savings) $260.00 $2,340.00 by November 15th
Auto Insurance $88.38 $444.74 renews May 2015
Cell Phones $88.96 n/a
Internet $37.99
$1,165.45
Credit Cards Listed In Order of Payoff
Payment Total Owed
Macy’s CC $25.00 $86.12
Target CC $25.00 $217.68
Amazon Store CC $35.00 $537.72
Walmart CC $25.00 $755.23
Capital One CC $35.00 $1,180.07
Amazon Visa CC $25.00 $2,328.11
$170.00 $5,104.93 <– embarrassingly large number
Money
Cash $81.00
Checking $262.03
Rent Savings $260.10
Emergency Fund $214.88
$737.01

So my emergency fund is looking a bit wrecked because of car problems, but also that direct sales thing where everyone gave me cash, I had to pay with a card, and that’s where the $81 in cash is coming from that’s on my desk.

The IL Tax Refund is going to pay off the lowest two credit cards and the rest will go back into the emergency fund. Then, when I get paid on the 9th from Scentsy that will also go back into the emergency fund and that will bring it back up to about$ 875.

I took my eye off the ball.

The joy of being you (the reader) instead of me (the writer) is you get to armchair quarterback what I’ve done and what I should do going forward. I wish I could go back and unpay those bills from Illinois and just let the gas and electric companies chase me and call me and have that $800 go toward the credit cards. I think, though, if I had I would wish I had done things the way I already did.

Sometimes choosing a path doesn’t mean choosing the better path it just means moving forward.

I am going to get through this. The kids are already signed up for an activity this summer and that’s paid for thanks to their amazing sponsor who I am a huge fan of. I will spend my time and energy on that with the three girls and every overtime check Mr. Brickie gets this summer is going to pound out those debts because we are THIS CLOSE to being out of debt. Overtime checks at his new 60% apprentice level will be big and I LOVE paying bills.

So stick with me through this mucky, dark, gross winter of discontent and poor decisions and you will be able to watch me make good decisions as soon as I can actually afford to.

Also, Miss Kay reminded me of something I want all of you to know….I welcome questions and don’t mind answering them. If you’d rather keep it private than put it on blast in the comments just shoot me an email at jennydecki at gmail dot com and I’ll answer it in a post.

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Working | Expenses | Winter | Where’s My Brain At?

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Last Wednesday we got Mr. Brickie’s unemployment check for $752 and we spent $496 on our car payment and left $256 in the bank.

I had that Scentsy party and sold a whole bunch. Since it was my launch party, I got the hostess stuff from the party, which included 3 half-price items. I wanted to put $130 in savings toward the rent but spent it on Scentsy. Okay, I didn’t spend it all on Scentsy. The three half-price items were about $50 and I spent about $50 on chips, dip, and drinks for my friends who came over. So it’s deductible, but I still spent it on Scentsy-related stuff.

I’m really (amazingly, bafflingly, overwhelmingly) conflicted spending money on stuff when I’m still poor. It’s not a regular expense, though, and Mr. Brickie was really supportive and the conflicted feeling, I think, will keep me from going overboard.

My Illinois tax return status changed yesterday, too, and it says they’re processing my return. I can top-off my savings account once it comes in. We had to use part of it to register and get plates for the vehicles in our new state because we didn’t want to get a ticket and then we had to use part of it because the car battery died and we had to buy a new one.

It was probably not a wise choice to pay off the bills from the old house. I should have let those sit until we were in a more secure position but I got cocky and felt $1000 would take care of us, but then *poof* there goes almost $500 on license plates and a new car battery. Thank goodness for the emergency fund.

At Mr. Brickie’s union meeting Tuesday night they talked about the Jobs Report and the sheer number of jobs that are waiting for the weather to break to get started. He keeps checking in with the company he last worked for to make sure they know he’s available. It never hurts to remind people you’re around!

In the meantime, Mr. Brickie is doing little side jobs painting and I’m keeping track of those payments for next year’s taxes. Between tracking the side jobs and now tracking the Scentsy stuff (stamps, notecards, other expenses) I have more spreadsheets than ever dedicated to not screwing up my taxes!

The move from Mr. Brickie being here 24/7 to being back out of the house is always an interesting transition. Maybe it makes me a crappy wife, but I really ENJOY having the chance to miss him a little while he’s gone. I have a chance to be home, hang out with my youngest, listen to the radio, and write.

Even though he’s been home so much we have bickered so much less than we did last year. We are finally at the point where we are becoming more secure and that lack of panic means less lashing out. Less lashing out is a cycle we are both really pleased with. I mean, we didn’t fight all the time or anything but I’m a nagger and he’s a forgetter and we’ve both worked for 12 years to be where we are now and it’s a good path heading in a calmer direction that we both enjoy an awful lot.

I know this update is disjointed but my mind is kind of all over the place today. I’m trying to get my money ducks in a row and the direct sales thing has me thrown for a loop because I am so worried it’s going to turn into a money pit and I absolutely refuse to let that happen. Oh! I actually set myself up to miss the first possible “award” from the company because the “award” was being “allowed” to buy a $200 enhancement kit. I didn’t want to even have the choice because it didn’t seem like a good deal. So when I realized I couldn’t get it because the date had passed I wondered in passing if I could call and convince them to let me buy it. I looked up YouTube videos on what was in it. I worried about it.

Then I reminded myself that I made a decision from a position of mental clarity and strength because I knew I’d panic and worry I was “missing out” on something. I took a few deep breaths and thanked myself for taking care of me. (Everyone talks to themselves like that, right? It’s normal. I swear. I think…)

I just feel like in the last few weeks everything has kind of become loose. I like to keep my finances and my financial plan very, very tight and locked down so when it feels like any part of it is floating rather than being chained to the floor, I start to worry. It’s not out of control and there is still savings but things are not as clear as I would like right now.

So, basically, guess what I’m doing today? That’s right. Go over everything and make sure it’s exactly how it should be at this time and making sure I have a good handle on where the money is going and where it needs to go and how it’s going to get there.

I’ll share it in my next update, because of course I’m going to do it on a spreadsheet.

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That Rollercoaster Feeling

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When you check the bank first thing Wednesday morning to check and make sure unemployment was direct deposited.

It wasn’t.

Cue my stomach falling to the center of the earth.

As panic rises, I log into the online system and see that – according to unemployment – the desposit is complete and went to the correct bank account.

Not entirely trusting myself, I check the bank account again both on my computer and on my phone. Just in case.

It’s still not there.

I realize there is nothing I can do until tomorrow because it could still go in at any time today and calling a representative from the bank will yield standard timeframes because I don’t think any bank’s customer service is trained to say, “Government payments go through at 9:15am, ma’am.” Even though that would be bliss.

Yes, we have an emergency fund. It’s why I’m able to form words in my brain and send them through my fingers to the keyboard. It’s the only balm that is keeping me from a full on panic because if you have the right mindset for your emergency fund you still feel like you have $42 in your checking account and a long way to go until spring.

On a personal and petty note, I was really looking forward to doing a “How We Spent It” post today.

I will update this post when unemployment goes through. I hate being left hanging, too.

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Budgeting – The Pouty Phase

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After the phase where you write down all your expenses and income and write up your first budget there is a period of a few months I like to call the Pouty Phase.

It’s the adjustment period between knowing where your money is going and learning not to make impulsive purchases you may have made in the past.

No line item in the budget for Starubcks? You might find yourself pouting when you drive by you local coffee shop as you have to make the conscious choice to not buy your favorite snotty coffee beverage.

No line item for clothing? You might find yourself pouting when your friend posts an amazing deal she found online for something just PERFECT for you or one of your kids or someone you would like to buy a gift.

When you realize you can’t afford things, it can hurt a little (sometimes a lot!) when those things come on your radar and you have to tell yourself, “No.”

I can tell you from personal experience this feeling passes. There will come a time you can maybe smile a little passing Starbucks because you are proud of yourself for choosing YOU over coffee. It’s a subtle shift because many people think they’re doing something special for themselves when they buy that yummy tasty treat.

But there are many ways to show yourself kindness and love. You can find a way that doesn’t cost money. You can enjoy things that don’t cost money. It just takes a few months after you follow the budget to really believe that in your heart.

Breaking up with excess expenses is like a relationship breakup (but a lot less painful, thank goodness) it takes time and understanding to get past the really rough parts and even more time and understanding to realize you’re better off without those expenses.

Because if it isn’t in the budget? It isn’t meant to be.

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Public Aid, Preschool, and Money Planning

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Of all the things we spent tax return money on its the final bills from the old house that feel the best. Traditionally, those are things that we poors tend to just leave out in the real life cloud to gather dust and generate collection calls in a year or so. Knowing that everything I owe is in this one nice, neat little pile here (credit cards, normal bills, student loans) is really comforting. I’m sure if I pull my credit report (we will all do that together after everything else is paid off) there will be medical bills on there because providers really disliked using medicaid as secondary insurance after the BCBS policy that is our primary through Mr. Brickie’s work.

Today is the day we go to public aid and finish applying for SNAP in this state. We’ve been without for a month and that’s okay because we’ve been frugal and also visiting the local food pantry every other month (it’s a great food pantry – milk and eggs and bread and veggies – I’m really thrilled with the selection) but once we get back on the SNAP, we can also go to the local trustees office and see what else the town has to offer.One of the reasons we had to wait was we needed letters from Illinois stating we were no longer getting services in that state. I totally get it, I’m grateful the program is in place so I’m not mad about having to wait.

We are THIS CLOSE to not needing any of these services. My prediction is that this time next year we won’t qualify for any kind of public aid and let me tell you – we will celebrate that day. I will never, ever complain about my taxes going to welfare people or people “living off the teat of government” because I know too many of them and most of them work and are doing their best and are very good people. I don’t care if you know that one person who loves being on public aid and doesn’t care. I think part of being a grown up with critical thinking skills is being able to understand that one bad apple does NOT spoil the barrel when the apples are actually human beings.

Our cars are both registered in this state now and the other appointment Mr. Brickie is going to today is for this preschool grant program we qualified for. There was a lottery and Little Sister didn’t make it but she was waitlisted and her name came up as next on the list. So she may very well be going to preschool soon! I was hoping for preschool at the Y so I could swim laps while she did what kids do at preschool but it’s more important for her to stop feeling the constant jealousy at being the only kid in the house not in school.

Yes, I’m willing to sacrifice personal wants for my child. Please, don’t tell anyone. I have a reputation to uphold here. Sheesh, next people will say I’m nice or kind or something. Seriously, I’ll lose all my cloud-street cred.

The final thing we have going on this evening is a parent meeting at the school for the 4th grade overnight trip. I’m so excited my daughter is going on an overnight trip. There is a thing that came home in the mail from her school last week about a week long summer camp (did I already tell you about that?) for $80. Shocking, right? It’s federally funded by the Indiana Dunes something-or-other and it’s for all kids, not just the poor ones, to try and increase awareness of the natural landscape and conservation. I’ve also heard it’s an absolute blast for the girls.

So today we are taking care of getting the second car registered, SNAP (food stamps), an interview for a  preschool voucher, and a meeting for an overnight trip for one of the kids. Only half the errands for the day have anything to do with our still-low-but-getting-better income!

Oh! Also, I don’t know if I told you but we got the letter in the mail that Mr. Brickie was promoted to a 60% apprentice! I was super-confused because I keep a spreadsheet of every hour he works and, well, it’s close but my calculations still had him 13 work days away but honestly there is some leeway in the program and for whatever reason he was moved up! That means when he does start working he’s not making $21/hr. anymore, he’s making $25/hr.

It’s going to make a huge difference and, I think, will really give me the opportunity to hack away at debt (especially if he has as much overtime this summer as the Union is predicting) which leads me to a question I need to kind of crowdsource an answer to.

Once we pay off our debt (credit card and car) should I focus on building a 3-6 month emergency fund or should I pay off the student loans? Right now we are on the Income Based Repayment plan and our payment is $0. Mr. Brickie feels we should pay off the loans first but I feel like we could pay off the loans with every single penny if we had a decent emergency fund backing us up. Let me know your thoughts!!

Random thing: Illinois accepted our tax return today so in three weeks or less we will have that refund. I’ll have to decide if it’s going straight onto a credit card or straight into the savings account. Decisions, decisions. (No, we’re not going to do anything fun with it. We’re not quite there yet and I want to keep up the “good decision” momentum!)

Last but not least I’m hosting an online Scentsy party this weekend. So if you’re inclined to enjoy products to make your house smell nice (or in my case mask the scent of a neighbor’s habit) please order through my launch party. Tell your Scentsy loving friends. I signed up to try and basically make enough to fund my own use of the bars since they are the only thing that cover the scent without giving us all headaches the way sprays do or dealing with forgetting to blow out a candle before we leave the house. If you want to participate in the Facebook party you can click here to join the group (I won’t post anything in the group after Monday so it’s not a long term comittment.) If you’re reading this after the 16th and this paragraph is still up, please let me know so I can delete it.

Thanks for your help. I’m really curious to hear what you think about the emergency fund vs. student loan payments.

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