Category: Budget & Finance

How Money Makes Life Easier

I know you know this but I wanted to share a few ways money is making my life easier. Not loads of money, just a little bit of money, makes a big difference. I will say that my community makes a lot of these things possible as well. If we didn’t have inexpensive camps or an awesome school supply place money wouldn’t matter.

  1. School Supplies. Our local school supply place? You pay them and they do the shopping for you. Not, “Pick the seventeen things you need out of a catalog” or “Grab a buggy and go aisle by aisle in our store” but where you call or email and say, “Hello, I have a 4th grader starting in August and I’d love supplies.” They grab the list, fill the order, and you go pick it up. It’s already all packed together for you. It’s not one-cent crayon boxes but all the lists say Crayola and you know you’re not supposed to bring Rose Art crayons anyway.
  2. Summer Camps. The volleyball camp is $40. For five days, an hour and a half of solid practice. Also, a t-shirt. Also, lunch afterward.  That’s $5.33 an hour … PLUS LUNCH. The basketball camp? $20 for the first kid and $15 for additional kids. I can’t even with the overabundance of feelings. That’s $8/hr. FOR ALL THREE KIDS.
  3. Writing checks. Sure, it’s annoying when you wait six weeks for someone to actually cash a check. Absolutely. But being able to keep the money in the checking account for six weeks? That felt good.
  4. Guilt free lunch. There’s a food truck that feeds all the kids in my town lunch. I could probably feed my kids lunch without too much problem this summer but why would I do that when they can have free lunch? It’s a smart choice, now, instead of a necessity. The same damn lunch makes me feel good about myself instead of making me feel inadequate. Messed up, right?
  5. Only worrying about the schedule. I don’t have to worry about the MOST important or MOST helpful camp. I can do both camps. If I can find an art camp that fits the bill? I can add that on, too. As much as I want to be nose to the grindstone about money if I don’t spend some of it on my kids, what is the point of even having it? I’m not buying new stuff for me but I’ll flip you off if you try and tell me I could have spent that $50 more wisely than basketball camp.
  6. Bonus: Doctor Appointments. I generally don’t worry about a copay. If there is one, someone will tell me and I’ll pay it. No big deal.
  7. Extra Bonus: Not pining over stuff I didn’t really want that bad. There is a pair of glasses at Costco I really like. They’re going to be stylish in a minute and I could hop on that trend early and they’re really nice. They’re also a hundred bucks because Costco is out of my network. My glasses? I may not like them but they work and they’re the right prescription. So I’ll get the new glasses when I’m a little flush and not because I feel I need them. If they’re gone by then? There will be other glasses. Before? I would have been freaking out thinking about how I would get them if only I could afford them. It’s a big perspective change. I’m allowed to just not want something because I don’t want it that bad instead of constantly being convinced I was just talking myself out of stuff because I couldn’t afford it anyway.

The weird part? It doesn’t take thousands of dollars to make all that possible. Three hundred extra in the bank. Now, that’s a LOT LOT LOT of money for me, I’m not trying to throw around “a few hundred” like I’ve suddenly become landed gentry or anything, but I know in the grand scheme of things it’s a less than half a month’s rent, too.

Fortunes are fickle like the weather, so I know I could go back to food pantryland any minute, but we’re doing our best to keep that from happening. In the meantime I’m talking about the financial positives I’m finally experiencing.

It feels strange but kind of nice. It’s less stressful, for sure.

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How We Spent It 06/08/2015

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A rare sighting of the husbandus conversationist happened yesterday. It’s like sighting something in the wild that you almost missed but looked in the right place at the right time and saw a peek through some tall grass. You crouch to try and be unobtrusive and then, without a care in the world and no help from you, that damn lion in all it’s giant-maned glory steps toward you and you as if to say, “Drink it in. We have all the time in the world.”

Translation: My husband is a practical dude and getting him to talk about theoretical stuff – espcially economic stuff – is really rare. I’m hoping he will have more time for chit-chatting the less poor we are. But sometimes amid all the stuff he’s doing he stops and really talks to me. It really takes my breath away and I’m reminded of how SMART my husband is.

Last night Mr. Brickie and I talked about the stock market. We want to invest eventually and I want to make sure it’s not a last-minute decision. I’ve already decided that we are going to go into Admiral Shares of the Vanguard Total Index Fund to start with. It’s a “set it and forget it” approach that I think will work well for a Roth IRA. But investing is not going to happen soon (three years if we’re lucky) and we are trying to time the next bust cycle of the economy so we can get in while the market is low. It doesn’t have to be the lowEST and it doesn’t have to be a historic low, just lowER than the highEST and we should be good.

Like Junk Bonds, the savings and loan thing, dot com, and real estate the key is to figure out what the next big investment mistake will be. I think it’s going to be Big Organic, Mr. Brickie thinks it’s going to be farmland real estate. Don’t tell him I said it but I think he might be right because farmland prices are out of control and organic food has just become widely available, the market isn’t saturated with it. I don’t think we are going to be investing this bust cycle so we are honing our skills this time to identify for next time. If we can go in this bust cycle, well, we’ll know it if we see it because some talking head will be freaking out and screaming how we should all go into precious metals…because those have inherent value, see, not just assigned value. (That’s a joke. My finance jokes aren’t that funny.)

Work Updates!

Mr. Brickie thought he might be on side-jobs again this week but it’s back to the job he thought was finished. At least today and tomorrow. That’s good because every hour he works is an hour toward his next apprentice promotion. Also, he got a raise on June 1st with the rest of the union, so this week he is making more than he did pre-training. It will make a difference of about $25 per paycheck.

A hundred bucks a month is a big deal.

The next job is supposed to start no later than the 22nd and it’s going to be the juicy, good summer job that puts us in that sweet spot of having more money than we know what to do with for a couple two-three months. A school job. Where everything you do you have to get done before the first day of school because you can’t be laying brick with little kids running around. That means there will probably be overtime, but I’ll be happy with forty hour weeks.

With forty-hour weeks from this point forward (so the very best case scenario which, let’s be honest, probably isn’t what I should be looking at right now but why not let’s live dangerously) his next promotion is going to be on September 14th-ish. So still within THIS season. I’m kinda desperate for this promotion because it will mean we can afford everything we need.

Also, forty hour work weeks could get another credit card paid off and out of my life for good. The one with the annual fee. Banish that bad boy from my life! Then I can start hacking away at the one we use for recurring bills, gas, and tolls.

As for the potential September promotion to the fabled 70% Apprentice – I don’t remember the last time we could afford everything we needed without a food pantry, government program, or help from friends and family on the Internet. I mean everything. Including food. September seems so close and a million years away at the same time. I just have to orient myself, stifle the carsick feeling, and wait patiently through summer and through the budget and through paying things off and through everything else.

Even keeping myself as calm as possible I don’t think this is the last day I’ll be up thinking about it at 5:40am.

The paychecks right now are backward and mixed up. The stipend check for training (the 1st – 4th) cleared today ($250) but we’re still waiting for his check in the mail from the week before training (the last week of May for approximately $400.) So I had projected this week spending the end of May check and the stipend check and being kind of out of luck next week but it’s not going to work out that way.

Blessing and a curse, I guess.

How We Spent It

Stipend – $250

Living Expenses – $250

$150 stays in the checking account for groceries and $87.41 tops the emergency fund back up to $1000 and then I’m putting what’s left ($22.59 ) in the emergency fund as well because I have a car payment to pay that may or may not need to be partially covered out of the emergency fund.

Next week is going to be as exciting as this week. Watch with amazement as I take a $400 check and put $250 toward living expenses and $150 in the emergency fund to continue to save up for the car payment!!

The weeks right before we get full-time traction are really frustrating.

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How We Spent It 06/01/2015

It’s a weird week.

The bank randomly decided the check would clear today instead of tomorrow so we’re just getting earlier and earlier on the How We Spent It.

For fear of not having any continuity I’m just going with the bank balance and deducting from there. There are still two checks that have not been cashed by the school and one was written on April 28th for $120 so I keep having to subtract this big check off my bank balance. I think holding onto checks is super rude because what if I forget to keep factoring that in? It would be easy to forget if I didn’t log onto my bank every few days because I’m a budget junkie.

Ah well, the important thing is I’m keeping track. I can only control me, not the check-cashing behavior of others.

So here it is. What we did with our money this week.

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I called the school about getting the form home for the volleyball camp. The office lady said it was already sent home but I’m seriously all over the folders when the kids come home so I should have seen it and volleyball has been on my radar for a while now.

I have a feeling Middle Sister will love volleyball and I want to give her the opportunity to try it out early. I keep hoping they find something they absolutely love so I can be like, “That’s the months that are the season.” and the rest of the year can be stuff other than sports. She is also attending the Camp Invention day camp this summer where they (you guessed it!) invent something.

I’m always sure I’m missing something and just can’t seem to keep up on all the camps and activities and balancing art and music and science and sports and probably other stuff I’m not even thinking about. I will just keep on keepin’ on and have faith I’ll get the hang of all of it eventually.

If I don’t? Well I only have to do it for 12 more years. I can do anything for 12 years. I’ve been married that long and no one thought that was going to work out and he’s even still alive, so let’s all have faith I can trudge through this mostly sort of maybe unscathed.

tis but a scratch

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Bricklayer Competition Part 3 – Outcome

The competition was so, so long. I’m glad I brought every single electronic from the house because even with an “hour on, hour paying attention to daddy making a wall” approach, they killed every one of them.

I couldn’t blame them. I had no idea watching someone build a wall was so … boring.

We were there from 7:30am to 3:30pm. The drive was over an hour. There was a storm on the way home so visibility was crap and we ended up driving pretty slow making the ride home even longer.

He didn’t place, so he’s not going to nationals in Maryland in September.

I am sad for him but happy I won’t have to miss him for a weekend in September. He felt he could have done better, too, and is disappointed in his performance but he wasn’t the worst by far, I think he just came in somewhere in the middle.

It was a lot more fun than I’m making it sound. I’m just road/storm weary and a bit nauseous from waking up after sleeping in the car.

We went to Costco yesterday and ended up spending $334 on groceries. Yikes. I have our food budget at $150/wk. and I hadn’t spent any last week so I’m only over $34 taking last week and this week into account. I just can’t go shopping again until he gets paid again and the check clears. I think we have enough. Since the kids are going to be fresh out of school halfway through next week we will see if I can accommodate lunches with the grocery budget. I think we can.

I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and sluggish lately. With Mr. Brickie only working 18 hours last week because of the holiday and rain, I’m nervous. The week after he’s just getting a $250 stipend for training.

Even with June being a five-week month it’s going to be tight and I’m putting every penny extra into the emergency fund because we will probably end up needing to use it for the car payment. Unless he can work a side job next weekend but we have a graduation party to attend so I’m not sure if that’s going to be possible. Normally it would be no problem because we have two cars but …

In other “not fantastic but not life shattering” news, Mr. Brickie’s car has been acting a little funky. I’m hoping it keeps chugging along a bit longer because I would rather not have it die the same month we’re coming up short on two checks and I don’t have food stamps and I would really rather not drain my emergency fund in a minute!

Things are going fine, though, really. I’m complaining and worrying and whining but sometimes I do that. I can’t be puppies and baskets of flowers all the time. Sometimes my hope and optimism slip and I’m sure everything is going to go wrong and the sky is falling.

It will pass.

It just might take all my money with it!

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Great News That’s Not Set In Stone Because What Is?

That union meeting on Tuesday was fantastic.

I wasn’t there and I didn’t even hear all the stories because Mr. B was so tired when he got home. I heard the most important thing – well, two things – I needed to hear.

  1. That BA was dead serious (his words) about making Mr. B a BA.
  2. There is no residency requirement.

So, excuse me while I do the cha cha slide all over my living room.

Of course, things change and we can’t know the future, but for today my fears are calmed…okay, for a few days because why not feel good as long as you can squeeze the feeling out of a hope-spike?

He’s finally someplace (besides our bedroom OH YEAH) where he’s being noticed for his talent and hustle. He’s finally not being underestimated and – even better – he’s being appreciated and everyone knows his name. He’s the up and comer.

I don’t even know how to express how it’s all making him feel.

The most important part of how it’s making him feel is probably the doing of everything. He’s become more confident in all areas and he works even harder on job sites because he wants to get to that journeyman level and see what shakes out more than anyone, including me.

Which I can’t even comprehend because I want him to get there (understatement of the year coming up!) pretty badly.

To know we won’t be forced to move into a community where rentals are $1400/mo. for a tiny condo and $2,200 for a little house? We can stay here in our awesome three bedroom with a basement for $775/mo.? That is going to be a huge help toward getting us to our financial finish line.

Oh, you guys, the next two years are going to be SO fun!

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How We Spent It 5/26/2015

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Added 5/28: I’m running a bit late on this because I’ve been tired. It takes a couple days to remember to go back and spell check a post from a union meeting day. Or I was just being hella lazy and have found a convenient excuse. Either one feels the same to me.

Today is the longest day of the month. Union meeting day. I love his union and I love that he participates and isn’t just on the sidelines but it’s still hard to have him gone from 5am – 9pm. Especially now that we’re doing softball because I’ve got to wrastle (yes, I spelled it that way on purpose) one of the kids to a game and keep the other ones interested and watched over by myself.

I’ll do what needs to get done. Even if it drives me half anxiety-crazy to get it done. My kids are more important than my comfort. (Don’t tell anyone I said that though, okay? I’d hate for people to think I put effort into this parenting thing. It would totally ruin my reputation.)

Today is a very boring edition of How We Spent It because nothing is really getting paid. Well, one payment to Amazon.com of $25 but other than that it’s all going to savings accounts. Here we go!

How We Spent It!

May 26th $689.06 35 hours
Living Expenses $250.00
Rent Savings $260.00
AmzDotCom $25.00
Leave in CKG $22.67
$131.39 E-FUND!!!

Last week I got something for one of the kids and I can’t for the life of me remember what it was but it dropped the checking below the $100 safety net goal and that’s why there’s a $22 line item to leave in checking. That’s the amount it needs to bring it back up to $100.

The living expenses are split between the checking account for groceries ($150) and a payment to the chase visa for gas and tolls ($100)

The Rent Savings is a separate savings account that holds nothing but (you guessed it!) rent savings. That way I know where we stand and I’m never confused. Rent savings is on track and as of today we have $1,040 of our $2,250 November 15th goal.

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As a reminder that $495 includes a $120 outstanding check for a day camp for Middle Sister this summer in addition to the $100 for gas and tolls to the chase visa and the $25 payment to Amazon.com … what remains is $250. $100 buffer and $150 grocery money. Whew! This is why I have so many savings accounts, there are too many darn numbers to remember in the weekly checking account alone.

I need to get my emergency fund right. I managed to drain it for Costco and it needs to be brought back to its $1000 level as well. That will happen next week. I started to wonder if I should leave it at $900 because of the $100 in the checking and then realized that it was splitting hairs and I should worry about something worth worrying about.

The bills have become very regular.

Week 1: Car Payment
Week 2: AutoPay Bill Payment & car insurance
Week 3: Rent Savings
Week 4: Gas/Electric & Amazon.com

I don’t have the car insurance taken into account. I should have a separate little savings account to put aside $74/mo. for that as well. The nice thing about Capital One 360 is that you can open up to 25 savings accounts and name them whatever you want. Mine are named with what the savings is for AND the target amount so I don’t have to look it back up. (I added the picture above to clarify this bit.)

I’ll tack on the $74 to the $151 AutoPay Bills week because it is currently the “low” week…I figure it’s better to balance out the bills and have the same-ish amount due every week instead of loading up on bills one week and then having none at the end of the month.

There was one time I tried to pay my bills early in the month but then I would just use the later paychecks to pre-pay the next month’s bills, so it all ends up going to stuff regardless. .

I have a low payment coming up next week for the Gas/Electric because I was on a budget plan and consistently overpaying so they dropped my autobill by $11 and gave me a refund so instead of $195 next week it will be $85. I know it’s silly to give them my money but I love that same amount every month. It makes budgeting so easy. I’ll wean myself off eventually.

So, that’s it for now!

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Apprentice Update – 60%

Mr. Brickie is a 60% apprentice right now. That means he makes 60% of what a journeyman makes. Every 750 hours of work (plus two training classes, plus going to union meetings monthly) gives you a 10% bump. There is also a test at the 80% level, I think.

Each bump is a raise of about $4/hr. It is a big deal amount of money.

Right now we are at what I call the “bridge” between the apprentice level when we can no longer qualify for SNAP benefits and the level where we can afford food. We are 99.9% sure we are not receiving any more SNAP benefits (food stamps) because I did the math and we dropped off paystubs yesterday. We are nervous but the paystub drop-off was 100% voluntary because I don’t want to be caught up in fraud, even if it’s by accident or ignorance or “hoping for the best.”

In addition, Mr. Brickie’s next job location will involve a lot more tolls and gas. So we may be stretched razor thin this summer. I just don’t know yet.

Back to the apprenticeship.

This 60% – 70% bridge (in real numbers that are only accurate for this day and our situation are $25.55/hr. vs. $29.81/hr.)

60% → $764.43/week → $3057.72/month (assuming a 40 hour week)
70% → $889.84/week → $3559.36/month (assuming a 40 hour week)

In the example above I calculated taxes using the hourly paycheck calculator (it’s usually right to within about ten dollars) and then took off union benefit payments which for this union on this day are $2.20/hour.

The difference is a jaw-dropping $501.64 per month. Each subsequent raise looks the same. The only way you go above 100% of scale is if you are a foreman or something else within the union. Raises are negotiated by the union and go into effect in June of any given year.

Awwww, remember back when he started and he made $16.27 an hour? When the best we could do was a full time check of $478.52? Trying to figure out how to keep a house with a $1200 mortgage on an income of $1600/month that he only made during perfect weather when there was a job? …awwwww so cute!

Or….aww, remember when he really first started and took an 8 week unpaid apprentice course that paid a  $50/wk. stipend? AWWWWWWW….

Me too.

There has been a lot of scratching and crawling from there to here.

But when your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is an actual pot of gold, well, like my friend once heard a garbageman say, “You have to dig through a lot of trash to get the fur coat.”

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I’m Feeling A Little Lost

It’s been a bumpy friend road these last few weeks.

I’m confused and kind of sad and so I am choosing to just be in limbo for a minute because it feels like there is too much stuff in my brain to make sense of it all. I’m overwhelmed.

By now, I figure you know I’m not normal. My biggest accomplishment of the past ten years happened this week. I went shopping alone with the 5yo. I haven’t gone shopping like the normals in ten years. I did have a panic attack in the store but ignored it while saying to myself over and over, “If it is a heart attack at least I’m not going to die at home.” It was not a heart attack (which I knew already in the back of my mind) and I got home safely.

The other thing I have is a shitton of empathy. I’m the person someone calls if they’re in a bad place because I’ll let them talk it out. I’m the person someone calls if they have an unexpected windfall because I can enjoy their success without wondering what it means for me in my life.

I’m straightforward, have great boundaries, and won’t do things I’m not comfortable with. Trust me, this is great because the flip side is someone you ask a favor and they do it but then they kind of hang it over your head or bring it up as a big deal or even just feel resentful. I’ve spent a lot of time making sure I’m not that friend.

When I was discussing this new phase of the blog (I call it the “not poor” phase) she said I needed to be careful or I would be seen as a “Mark” and first I was like “10 points for awesome slang use” but I’ve been thinking about it a bit more and feel a bit odd that anyone would see me as a mark.

That being said, doesn’t it seem weird that I’m totally fine sharing about food pantry hauls and looking for a new place before I become homeless or an Internet fundraiser but I can’t find the words to talk about the raise Mr. Brickie’s getting June 1st? I can’t find the words to tell you the story about his possible post-apprentice career path.

The good things sound like bragging.

I don’t mind being schadenfreude fodder but I don’t know if I can handle being a success story.

Which makes me wonder if I ever thought this plan was going to work or if I was just convincing myself to keep moving forward so I didn’t just give up.

I’m in a really murky place. It’s not dark, I’m not sad…It’s just hard to see what’s what. I am so confused.

Maybe I’m just turning into a butterfly and this is the part where I have to squeeze out of the cocoon of poverty and damn if it isn’t a painful transition.

I really thought this blog would get easier to write as I had good things to shout from the rooftops.

Maybe I’m just a jerk and want to keep my good things a secret! LOL

For now I’m still blogging and you know what? I went through hell – I get to blog about heaven, too.

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How We Spent It 5/13/2015

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A late payment from a winter sidejob came through and cleared at the same time as a four-day paycheck today.

Which means, how we spent it today is going to involve MAGIC.

Behold! Imagine in your mind four credit cards.

You look away from the table – only for a moment – and when you look back there are only three!

We were going to do the Amazon.com card first because it has the lowest balance but my husband asked if I could do the Walmart card so we could never use it again and I said, “Sounds good.”

Because it doesn’t matter.

The level of debt we have and the number of cards we have means that picking between the interest rate first method or the lowest to highest balance method don’t matter. All that matters is paying them off so if he wants to do Walmart? Fine by me.

I worry, of course, that what I really should do is just hoard the money just in case.

But we all know that won’t help.

So today is payoff day for a credit card.

I’ll be over here celebrating with a cup of black instant coffee made with my trusty teapot.

The one thing I hate about checks is when the person you give them to (I’m looking at you, school) doesn’t cash them for weeks. Like, seriously, you’re just being mean. I’m lucky I have a bank where I can enter those checks in and be regularly reminded of them.

Sure, I could balance and track my checkbook on paper but let’s be honest, who does that anymore? Anyone? I never did. I used to track my checkbook in my head and now I track it online and with the bank’s app.

I don’t know if it’s anyone else’s but between this and the Costco meat in my freezer I really feel like I’m starting to live the life I’ve always imagined.

A life where I’m not afraid all the time.

So we paid:

  • $779.11 to payoff the Walmart card and now it’s in the safe.
  • $32 Capital One minimum payment.
  • $151 to the Chase Visa for the automatic bills that go on the card. (Ins, Internet, Cell Phones)
  • That leaves $28.99, so I put that on the Chase Visa, too, because why not.
  • As always, $200 for gas and iPass and toilet paper for the week. Mostly gas and iPass. We don’t use THAT much toilet paper!

I reversed the plan for sure, but it’s all the same money going toward the same debts.

I know I seem a little flighty with the money right now but…well…no but, really. I’m feeling flighty and kind of devil-may-care. Next week will be boring. Just the car payment and living expenses. On the bright side I’ll be able to pay both and still be on track to paying the car off in November. (It’s a long shot, but hey, let’s have a stretch goal for once, right?)

Dreaming big. Hoping for a pre-Christmas car payoff. It would be a great way to start the new year for sure.

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Happiness is a Ruined Budget

Today I posted on Facebook, “Mother’s Day lunch at Costco. I wrecked my budget. LOL”

I wonder if my friends thought my LOL was the kind where you’re laughing sadly at yourself because you messed up. It was actually an honest out-loud laugh somewhere between not-giving-a-damn and knowing it was a mistake I could afford to make.

We spent $338.34 in food that went on the EBT card. (Balance is $66.66 until the 9th of next month.)
We spent $94.81 on non-food items (including allergy pills and batteries) that came straight from the emergency fund.

It had to be the emergency fund because his work check doesn’t clear and become available until May 13th (Wednesday!) and this was the day we had available to shop. I am all about sticking to the budget but seriously, I know I have to be flexible sometimes and I figured Costco wouldn’t be too crowded early on Mother’s Day (I was right!) and we went aisle-by-aisle through the entire store!! I haven’t been in one since I went that one time with my friend Becca back in Illinois so I had no idea what the layout was.

Mr. Brickie usually does 100% of the shopping so he knows the prices of everything. He was pleased enough that I can really just shop at Costco and he won’t cringe or complain about the grocery bill.

For a family of five there are some things you just need to get from Costco. Like croissants. Everywhere else they top out at a 6 pack. Five people and one six pack lasts zero. That’s math. A cool dozen of those lovely bakery croissants will last three days out of the week and my kids absolutely love them.

It seems like a whole lot of money but, in all honesty, we filled and stacked in the hatchback, the folded down back seat, and still needed to put things in between the girls and under the little one’s feet to get everything in the car.

I’m stocked on so many things for the month. Most important one? Meat. I have meat for the whole month. We got fruit. We got greens. We got 10 pounds of carrots that I’ll be shredding and separating into ziplock bags to add into pretty much everything from now until the end of time. Yes, I will freeze the shredded carrots. They were a great deal and go with almost everything.

My Mother’s Day treat? A case of San Pellegrino mineral water. (a 12pk of 750mL bottles was $14.49)

Team Mom F*** Yeah.

I’ll be over here having a wine spritzer (SO fancy!) and recalculating the budget because this trip was totally worth it. Plus we fed everyone and shared sodas at that weird food court for under ten bucks.

I have seen the Costco light.

We probably won’t get SNAP benefits beyond this month because Mr. Brickie is working and making enough money I think they’ll get cancelled (I’m not sure, but I think, you know what I mean?) so we need to start budgeting for food which is a huge expense.

I have, historically, been awful about budgeting enough for food. I need to just suck it up and give us a $600/month budget for the five of us and let everything else fall where it will. It might slow down the get-out-of-debt plan, but it will keep us off ramen noodles, too. (Yes, I know you can make amazing things out of ramen noodles, but if I underbudget us, we won’t be able to afford any of those cool ingredients to add and I’ll only have the packet to season it with.)

I also bought a couple of laundry baskets. I felt very fancy getting new ones to replace the ones we have that are half broken and pinch your arms all the time!

Being able to buy something frivolous that I love (like mineral water) without guilt? Wow. I wish I could bottle the feeling and send it to everyone so we could all share the feeling together. It’s like a hint of what’s to come.

This may have been the best Mother’s Day ever.

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