Category: Budget & Finance

Forced Spending Reduction

I’m an awful person.

I figure if I start out with the obvious, it won’t seem like I’m trying to sound like a good person with what I’m about to share.

We have been trying and doing a really half-assed job of not spending beyond our means.

It’s been so much more difficult than it’s ever been before. There has to be something in my brain (and in Mr. Brickie’s brain) that has changed or something. I know I’m not being super clear and it is almost more of a feeling than a fact but…not spending money used to be a lot easier.

It could also be that my children are older and things they need are either more expensive (new bike helmet) or they make better arguments that I give in to (more capri leggings to go under dresses) … I’m not 100% sure. This Thursday when Mr. Brickie went back to work I was pleased we only had to spend $44 out of the current check to catch up on spending from the last check.

Not going to lie, it’s embarrassing that we lived beyond our means by $44. I would be embarrassed to live beyond our means by $1. It goes against everything I believe.

So this week we are determined – as a family – to stay under the paycheck. Mr. Brickie worked today but because he only worked two days last week, we’re are not going to be able to use that sweet Saturday money for the savings account and will have to use it to live on.

Labor Day & Long Weekends

Mr. Brickie is going to be off on Labor Day this Monday and because NO ONE is allowed to be on school property the first two days of school he will also be off on Tuesday and Wednesday.

We don’t think he’s working this Saturday. That would mean a 5 day weekend. Whew! He could use it with all the overtime he’s been working but man, that paycheck is going to be a sad state of affairs.

Also, for those of you following Mr. Brickie’s journey to journeyman (hahahaha I’m SO WITTY) he is 12 work days away from his next promotion to a 90% apprentice. He’s getting so close! Of the original 13 people that were in his apprentice class, three of them are working bricklayers today.

When everyone talks about rebuilding after natural disasters, I think about tradespeople. A shortage is about to happen. I hope people find jobs they can love for life in the midst of the chaos and sadness.

We have been a little out of control on spending lately. I had to pay $150 toward Middle Sister’s annual appointment for her Ortho-K lens measurement. I had to go to urgent care for an abscess and that was $77 out of pocket. Then we went to Target and bought a new bike helmet for Middle Sister (she did not have one that fit and rides her bike every day) and some socks for Little Sister. It ended up being $100 trip. This is why I don’t go out shopping with the kids, like, ever. I’m much better at sticking to a budget when I shop online!

We are trying to build our savings for a potential house down payment. We have to go to Disneyland and I need to give in and buy the plane tickets already before the flights I want are sold out.

Medical Budgeting (How not to do important things series.)

I do not have any amazing solutions for medical budgeting. If someone asked me I would tell them to save a hundred dollars a minute until they saved everything and that would be good. I mean, I still don’t even understand how my insurance works with an 80/20 split on payments but then also a deductible but no copays. I haven’t googled it in a couple years. I should try again – the Internet is always coming up with answers for things I couldn’t find even a few months ago.

The thing is, there’s never a way to know how much money you or your family will need for medical expenses because we never know what’s going to happen. The abscess in my chest probably wouldn’t have come back again if I hadn’t started working out in earnest. But maybe it would have. My doctor ordered an ultrasound, but the ultrasound tech today made it seem like a procedure that shouldn’t happen at all and I shouldn’t have gotten one. So no way I could have prepared for a maybe-but-is-it-really necessary procedure.

I have a consultation with a surgeon for a recurring abscess on my chest wall that hurts in ways I can barely describe. I have no idea how much a consult costs. I especially have no idea how much removal will cost. Can I offer to let them put it on YouTube for a discount? If they offered would I actually agree to that? (Honestly, I don’t think so but – bottom line – it would depend on how much money we’re talking about.)

I have already had a consultation with a vein doctor about getting my leg veins worked on over the next two months. Did you know vein surgery stuff was done by a cardiologist? I had no idea. I also have no clue what that costs. After all the vein clinic commercials on the radio I kind of wonder if it’s a necessary procedure. I don’t hear commercials for heart surgery because if you need it you get it, you don’t pick a thing based on a commercial, right? (I’m not saying this as a fact. I have no idea about anything, ever.)

While I am beyond (BEYOND) thankful for our insurance, I’m more than a little scared what 20% of the costs of these procedures are going to be.

There was no way I would think to save for abscess surgery or vein surgery. Those aren’t normal maintenance visits.

It also throws a damper on substitute teaching for at least a few months, too. Which…I’m not sure if I’m happy or sad about because I hate going into situations feeling completely unprepared and they still haven’t provided anything stating the absolute basics of what I think someone should know going into a new school environment. Or, heck, any new environment for that matter.

Finally, the real heartbreaker…it puts a damper on the gym membership I JUST GOT to do aqua aerobics. Like, are you kidding me right now life? Maybe I can duct tape some saran wrap to my chest to keep the water out of the hole.

It sounds silly and reckless, I’m sure, but if you experienced the stress reduction I had over the last two weeks? You would be thinking about saran wrap, too. I promise.

The worst part is that since all my upcoming procedures only need local anesthetic and are outpatient I keep downplaying it like I’m just being a weenie for not going ahead and living life to the fullest every day. I’m so mad at myself for the lack of energy I have and my inability to be the person I really want to be right now.

Always Hitting A Wall

I, like almost everyone (I think), spend all the money when the paycheck comes in.

No matter how much I expect a raise to give us some breathing room, there never seems to be any. The big hit this time around is the miscalculation of the rent. To have the three months we need I need to save $467/mo for the next three months. Less than most mortgages, for sure, but when it’s unexpected…it’s a big bill.
I’m not complaining, though, because Mr. Brickie is still working that (non-bricklaying) side job with his buddy and while I know it seems obvious to put that extra cash toward the credit card debt that’s been consolidated on two cards and is begging to be paid off ASAP, I keep putting it in our other bank just to keep track of it.
I don’t know how long that second gig is going to last. Last week he worked on it two hours a day for four days of the week and again for eight hours on Saturday. That’s going to be a $700 check.
Which is so. much. money. Holy crow!
After last week’s $350 that other account is up to $2,127.05 … a pebble in the ocean of the $17k of credit card debt to be paid off but a hell of a start.
The thing is, we have a possible opportunity coming down the line in the next couple months and I have to basically hoard cash in case we need it.
For all we know he might be working this extra gig through December. Or it might stop next week. It’s very up in the air and I don’t want to make the mistake of spending the money in the wrong way based on an incorrect assumption of how much there will be.
I feel like I’m in the middle of a crossroads surrounded by paths and I’m not sure where they lead beyond the first few feet and I’m stuck in place here in the middle and can’t move forward without more information.
On the bright side where I don’t feel all trapped, Mr. Brickie should be getting his next promotion (to a 90% apprentice) in mid-September. *throws brick shaped confetti which is basically regular confetti because bricks are rectangles* and will be one step closer to – and one step away from – becoming a journeyman. Once he gets that promotion, only 750 work hours will separate him from his final goal. Not his final LIFE goal but this goal, the one we started in another state, years ago.
It’s been a long journey and being on this side of the hump is absolutely easier on the heart, the mind, and the soul than being on the front end. Back when we tried to survive on him going through weeks of unpaid training (he got a $125/wk stipend for gas, I think) to starting at $17ish an hour, losing our house, moving, relying on the kindness of my online friends to afford first month’s rent and deposit so we wouldn’t be homeless.
To now.
We are mostly a regular family living a regular (albeit highly budgeted) life. He makes $36/hr. (a pittance in some areas of the country, a king’s ransom in others) and we are able to buy groceries and pay the bills.
It’s enough that I am able to sleep at night.

How We Spent It! 8/4/2017 (It’s back!)

I’m doing all the happy dances. This is the first 40 hour paycheck Mr. Brickie has gotten not just this YEAR but since he’s been an 80% apprentice. I didn’t know what a full check would look like. Normally I do projections with the Hourly Paycheck Calculator from Paycheck City and it’s pretty close. We hit a huge milestone with his last promotion to 80% … his take home pay for a week where he gets his full 40 hours is over a thousand dollars.

I damn near fainted.

We have quit using the credit cards and I’m doing balance transfers to put the debt into a “hold and pay off” status. I’ll happily pay 3% to get that 0% interest for 12 or 18 months. It buys time and means every dollar I put toward the debt is bringing down the debt and not going toward interest.

But here it is…how we spent it:

  • Groceries/Gas/iPass/Cats/Spending Money: $525
  • Credit Card minimums and one payoff: $438.12

Okay, so it wasn’t super exciting.

The $350 in cash he made for working with a buddy last Saturday went straight into our local bank. It’s separate from the money I use for budgeting (but we can still see it in YNAB). I don’t want that to go toward regular bills. It’s either going to go toward paying down/off debt or The Great Save 2017 or Christmas. It’s “over there” money.

The Ant and the Grasshopper

If you don’t know the fable off the top of your head, it goes a little something like this.

An ant spends all summer hustling for food. His friend the grasshopper chills and enjoys the nice weather. Winter comes. The ant is all good come winter. The grasshopper knocks on the ant’s door and begs for help because he’s starving.

The story ends one of two ways. The ant either sends the grasshopper away to die or the ant shares his bounty and the grasshopper learns his lesson.

Windfalls in summer make me think of this story. I never really liked the story because I don’t think anyone is just one thing. Just an ant or just a grasshopper. It’s about balance, but if I’m looking for inspiration and a metaphor, this one fits for my situation like no other.

A non-brickie buddy of Mr. Brickie got him on some Saturday side job that pays $350 a week. As much as I’d like to spend that on makeup and nice purses underwear and school registration fees what it’s going toward is the rent deficit. If he can work four Saturdays (it’s kind of a pipe dream, we don’t know how many Saturdays the side gig will last) it will fix the problem of me not saving enough for rent entirely! (Not sure what I’m talking about being short on rent? It’s in The Great Save 2017 post!)

I’m hoping for the best.

I have to come up with money for school registrations and any back to school clothing needs these little urchins have. Sure, I’d love to just take big circles of fabric, cut a neck hole in the middle, and put it over their heads. Add a belt and you can call it fashion, even! But no. Lucky for me I received a lovely box of hand me downs recently with amazing tshirts that fit ALL. THREE. KIDS. It’s bigger on one and more fitted on another but every shirt looks good on every kid. It was like some kind of hand me down miracle. So I probably don’t have a lot to worry about on the school supply front beyond the actual supplies.

I’m behind this year. My 2017 word is SNAIL because I’m usually done getting school supplies in July. We just realized yesterday we don’t have a copy of our lease because we never signed one. As renters it’s super important we have a copy of that lease to prove we live here so our kids can attend school in two weeks. Registration is still today and tomorrow for one school and tomorrow for the other school so we’re not behind but we’re cutting it close.

I hate cutting it close. I like to be early and not worry about deadlines.

This all started when I tried to reduce my anxiety. I find that both funny and very, very sad. I talked to my doctor and she recommended a sleeping pill to sleep through the night but I took it and nothing happened last night. That’s not entirely true. I was awake more last night than I’ve been in a long, long time. It was awful. So tonight I’ll try one and a half pills and see if that works. If one and a half doesn’t work I have permission to try two but no more.

I think once my brain gets used to sleeping through the night I won’t need the pills anymore. The same way taking the anxiety medication made my brain forget how to sleep.

I know that doesn’t really make sense but it sounds fairly logical so I’m sticking with it.

Today should be How We Spent It but he doesn’t get paid until this afternoon. I can’t do one of the balance transfers I need to because the system is down on the back end (so weird, I’m trying really hard not to see it as a sign, omen, or warning)

The Great Save 2017

This post could also be called:

  • Disneyland here we come
  • My brother’s destination wedding
  • Come for the day, stay for the week
  • Our first family vacation

Those all sound way less cool than THE GREAT SAAAAAVE … so I went with catchy and I’m hoping the bait and switch to a family wedding isn’t going to put you to sleep. I find it terribly exciting that my little brother is getting married. I’m super happy for him. He’s a great guy and his woman is top notch. Great personality, fabulous person, loves my brother. They have been together for years and get along great.

They are also huge, HUGE Disney fans.

So when they finally decided to tie the knot, they decided to do it at Disneyland. He’ll be handsome, she’ll be beautiful, there will be a carriage, and I have no doubt this couple will live Happily Ever After™

We just have to get our family of five to Disneyland, make sure everyone has a wedding-appropriate outfit, get a hotel room, grab park tickets, and ram a vacation into the same week of the wedding. All while thanking every deity we can think of none of us are IN the wedding.

Natually, I want to take the family to Disneyland since we’re already there. I want to keep it on the down low that we’re going to the park because I don’t want the happy couple to think the park is our first priority. None of my kids are “into” Disney and neither are Mr. Brickie and I. It’s cool, but it’s not where we would choose to vacay if it were up to us. We live far too close to Chicago for large crowds and overpriced food to appeal to us. We are, however, 100% down for Uncle Steven getting married! We’re all totally excited about it. If we’re going to be at the park for a wedding it would be silly to pass up the chance to show the kids the amusement park of my childhood. (Some of you might not know I spent a lot of my childhood in California.)

So we need to save.

I know I’ve only been back a week and I swear to you I really do want to pay off my debt.

BUT

My family has never been on vacation. My kids don’t know what it’s like to get on a plane where it’s cold (the wedding is mid-November) and get off the plane where it’s warm. I know that I’m supposed to be all, “Disney!” but I’m more like, “Get them out of their backyard for ten minutes!”

So this isn’t just going to be let’s see Disneyland. This is going to be let’s not worry about money too much AND go see Disneyland.

I’m going to bankrupt us, just watch. (Not really. Mr. Brickie’s income and job growth potential hasn’t maxed out yet.) But WOW Disneyland is expensive. The room alone (with the hefty wedding discount) is $402/night. YEP! I could stay offsite. YEP! I could take a shuttle to the park in the morning. YEP! There is no reason to stay in the hotel my bro is getting married in.

Don’t care. Staying there.

I am all about being debt free and maybeprobably owning a house but what I’m really all about is balance. I want my kids to have experiences today, not remember a childhood filled with nothing but delayed expectations that may never come anyway because life is funny and broken wrists happen sometimes that put you back five or six months financially.

We still haven’t decided how many days to get tickets for Disneyland. We currently plan on flying in Sunday and flying out Saturday. That means five weekdays in Anaheim. One of those weekdays is the wedding. One of those weekdays is the kids spending time with their grandmother. That leaves us three other weekdays. We might just do a two day pass and then spend one day hanging out in the hotel and swimming in the pool or something. I’m pretty open and even if we only spent one day at Disneyland it would be fine.

Now, let’s talk airplanes.

I’m fat. It’s been a few years since I’ve flown and when I did no one looked at me funny but the seats were uncomfortable. I hear they’re uncomfortable for everyone. In fact, if I just mention flying while fat the person I’m talking to will make it a point to try and make their discomfort seem so much worse in an effort to make me feel better. It’s sweet, really. But I just want to be comfortable in the plane. Four hours is a long time. Or I’m just a whiny baby. Either way is okay.

I want to figure out how to fly business class. Something solidly in between economy and first class. More comfortable seats without unlimited free booze, basically. If that’s even a thing. We’ll see.

The point is I’m going to be paying an arm and a leg for this vacation and I have to save money and somehow simultaneously pay down credit card debt.

The lotto is what I’m thinking. I’M KIDDING. Mostly.

But our budgeted expenses for a month are $3100

In case you’re new here, my rent is that low because I pay 4 months when my lease renews in November and then pay the rest of the year’s rent with my tax return. That gives me 8 months to save for 4 months of rent. Which means my numbers are off. $260×8=$2080 and 4 months of rent is $775×4=$3100 – Uh oh. I’m going to have to rewrite that whole thing. I have $835.65 in that savings account now. Assuming I can make a November payment that means I have August/September/October/November to make 3100-835 (2265) happen. 2265/4=566.25

Seriously. Why can’t I math properly?

Okay. Okay. This is just one of those little setbacks that makes you realize you can’t take months off and come back to a pristine budget. I got tired, I slacked off. This is the price I pay for that slacking.

At least during the summer here Mr. Brickie will be making close to that $1032 take home per week so I’ll be able to catch that up pretty quick. Of course that extra thousand dollars a month I thought I had to put toward credit cards or Disneyland is not as much as I thought.

I swear, every time I think I have everything together…. okay, back to the drawing board.

Side Hustle: Are we still calling it that? (Also, get off my lawn, whipper snappers!)

It makes me feel very old when I say “Side Hustle” out loud. Like I’m trying to sound hip to the jargon and falling flat. Like back when my grandmother used to use the word, “Not!” at the end of a sentence about ten years after everyone else stopped saying it.

I originally thought my side hustle would be selling lipstick. I know I don’t seem the type but honestly I bought it and I put it on in three minutes and it lasted ten hours so I was pretty much sold. Things haven’t been quite what I thought they would be but I got out of my comfort zone and did a salon after-hours and have met some really cool people and am going to do a giveaway at some point both here online and at a local coffee shop. It’s been a great conversation starter. That being said I’m close to breaking even but I’m not in “profitable” status yet. So I guess calling it a side hustle right now is premature.

I wasn’t even really looking for anything else when we passed by the local high school and I saw a sign advertising a job fair. I laughed and said to Mr. Brickie, “Me, as a teacher? Can you imagine?”

“Yes. Yes I can.” He replied.

When we got home I checked the website and lo and behold they only require a GED or High School Diploma to be a sub. Okay, okay, so I could do it…technically. I told him I’d go to the interview and see what was what.

“Be yourself.” He said, “and let them decide if you’re what they want in the school. Don’t be professional.”

I shook my head, “They’d never go for it.”

“It doesn’t hurt to try.” He said.

So I went, I interviewed, and the woman interviewing me said I’m exactly the energy the school needs. Um, okay?

Orientation/training is next week. I’m going to be a substitute teacher. I feel pretty snazzy because it’s the first time having a degree is going to benefit me in literally any way. I get paid per day and with the degree it’s $75 a day.

I’m trying to decide if that income is going to be Christmas money, THE GREAT SAVE 2017 money, or debt payoff money.

It’s going to be set to go into the emergency fund account automatically, so until I decide otherwise it will be emergency fund money. Not a bad backup plan.

I’ll keep you updated on how the substitute teaching gig goes. I hope I make it through the year without running away screaming. I think I won’t know until I dive in and give it a try!

Plan: Balance Transfer That Debt and Get Through Winter

First, I want to congratulate Mr. Brickie on becoming an 80% apprentice! He had to take a test that consisted of building a wall and he failed it twice (once he was sick and once he was overconfident) but the third time was truly the charm! That’s the last test he will have to take before becoming a journeyman. Now it’s just a matter of working the hours and taking the training classes. (If all that is gibberish you can see more about how his bricklayer apprenticeship works at this link.)

So it’s great he got a raise and is now making a serious hourly rate that makes me blush to say out loud. Still, though, regardless of hourly rate a bricklayer has to work to get paid and now is the time of year where I try really hard not to whine about winter and the totally predictable lack of work Mr. Brickie is experiencing.

But wait! It’s different this year!

How, you may ask?

He’s working just enough that we don’t get unemployment.

Now, this is great on one hand because our tax return is hit hard when we use unemployment benefits (even though we have taxes taken out of his unemployment check it seems that 10% fed and 3.25% state isn’t enough) so getting through with a $200(ish) check every week is super unfun but I’m trying to think of how great it will be at the end of the beginning of 2018 when I file taxes and don’t have to put in unemployment benefits.

Does it sound like I’m grasping a little for a silver lining? I am, a little. Winter is always tough because we want to save and we want to have a savings account for this time of year. We do. January is when I sit down and make a plan for the year. As you know I’m a firm believer in spending the tax return before we ever see it so there is no temptation to spend that big check on something fun when we have responsibilities that need to be taken care of like rent and several small but annoying medical bills that have popped up on Mr. Brickie’s credit report.

This year’s big success is that we used ZERO credit cards for Christmas. I’ve been trying to achieve this goal for a couple years and this year we did it. Hooray!

This means every extra penny we make this year goes toward those darn credit cards. It’s time to pay them all off and get right with the balance sheet. If you like my page on Facebook you may have seen me talk about shifting 11k in debt from the Discover card to three other cards to take advantage of 0% offers and buy time to pay them off interest-free.

So, without further ado, here is the list of my credit card balances as of right now (balances include 3% transfer fees):

  • Chase Freedom $33.35 (This is the 5% gas rewards card. I pay it off weekly with the gas budget money.)
  • Costco Visa $2,220.16 (0% until Sep 2017 – This is the first one to be paid off.)
  • Citi Diamond $3,620.64 (0% until Dec 2017 – this card was only used for dental work.)
  • Chase Amazon $2,395.70 (This is one of the Discover xfer cards 0% until Feb 2018)
  • My Quicksilver $4,999.62 (Discover xfer 0% until June 2018)
  • Mr. B Quicksilver $3,999.49 (Discover xfer 0% until June 2018)

Don’t cringe. Don’t be sad. Don’t get mad. I didn’t use the cards to take vacations or buy drugs. We have a frugal lifestyle and I truly think I can get rid of this debt by – at the very latest – February of 2018.

I’ve even talked to the kids about it and they’re on board with a razor thin lifestyle to pay the cards off, too. They know the more we sacrifice now the better things will be in two years. Last time I asked them to tough it out for two years we moved and they are so much happier here, so this time it was easier for them to trust me.

I don’t want to let them down. I don’t want to let us down. I wish I could feel more secure in when things will be paid off but it’s almost impossible to do a proper financial forecast. The winter weather makes the paycheck lower and although he will start working full time again once the weather is getting nice he could get another promotion as early as June but maybe later, so there is no way to reliably have an idea when milestones will be hit in terms of paying down debt.

Last fall I was toying with the idea of sending the older two girls to fancy summer camps this year that teach things like electrical engineering and mobile app development. We’ve tabled that idea and they’re only going to go to the local nature camp. I refuse to increase our standard of living to match his paycheck or we’ll never get ahead.

Sometimes I think about how much farther along we would be if Mr. Brickie hadn’t broken his wrist. I’m sure he does, too. Five months out of work…who would have guessed that was in the cards? But the thought quickly passes because I felt about his injury the same way I feel about winter. Yes, it’s tough, and yes, it’s mentally exhausting but I love spending time with him.

What’s that people say about time or money? You have to spend one or the other? In our case it’s either we have time together or we have money and both are important to our long-term survival/success as a couple and as a family.

Nope Nope All The Nope

The credit cards are starting to shift from blessing to curse.

Or I’m losing my ability to say no.

Same thing, really.

That means it’s TIME TO BRING THE HAMMER DOWN on spending.

Which is an easier decision to make after making sure everyone has winter boots and coats that fit. So now is a perfect time to be in it to win it especially since I can claim Christmas is coming for anything I’m asked for.

I’m saving up for Christmas.

Mr. Brickie is still having some pretty serious pain in his wrist so is going back to the doctor at some point soon. He’s able to work but wants to make sure it’s nothing more serious. I don’t see that settlement coming for a long time at this point. I can’t find any online resources that give a general timeline so I’m just going to stick with “a long time” and not count on it for anything.

2017 is when all these cards we currently have lose their 0% APR status. So I have to figure out how to pay them off or transfer them before that happens. Pay them off is my first goal, of course but if I can move what I can’t pay that would be better financially.

I just found out our insurance is going to add a dental PPO come January so that $3500 I wasted on dental work was truly unnecessary spending. My bite is still off and I still live in fear of chipping/breaking my front tooth cap so really my whole mouth situation is a sad mess but I look good in pictures so isn’t that what really matters? (That’s me being sarcastic, it doesn’t happen often so I like to point it out!)

The kids have been a little down because they want a yard to decorate for Halloween/Christmas (not at the same time it’s just the complaints flip back and forth depending on the kid and the mood the kid is in) and I won’t let them decorate the common yard because, well, I don’t know. They’ll be happy when we put the lights in the windows and the tree up. You can see that from outside and that will make them smile.

We aren’t sure where we’re spending Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s right now. It’s the most up in the air we’ve been about holidays in years but I’m less stressed than I’ve been about it probably ever so I’m trying really hard not to look that gift horse in the mouth. If I’m not stressed, I’m good with that, and can keep on moving forward.

I wish we had a house, too. At this point I don’t even care if it’s a rental or an owned home. I don’t even have a type of house in mind … there are some in this town that are new and beautiful and look like every other suburban house … there are others that look like old farmhouses (they probably were) and have beautiful detail on the house and the yards are either tiny or stunning … there are also mid-century modern homes dying to be updated with my retro chic IKEA modern sensibility … there are also crap heaps that are $30k that could be made into something much nicer.

A whole range of home choices in one town. It’s strange. Oh, and there are also plots of land for sale and builders happy to build what you want. Some are in HOA communities and you have limited options and some are just land next to someone else’s house and you can do whatever you want on the land as long as it’s to code.

Oh, hey, did you see what I did there? I started with this whole thing about not wanting to spend any more money and getting down to brass tacks with these credit card payments and I almost seamlessly shifted into daydreaming about a house.

Yeah, I’m good at not thinking about stuff when I don’t want to. It’s a blessing and a curse, for sure.

After paying $1200 for Middle Sister to be on a travel volleyball team (maybe not my soundest decision) and a couple thousand to get the cats home and set up with vet visits and food and litter boxes and whatnot we have about $15k in credit card debt.

It’s stupid scary.

Tomorrow I’ll put the overtime money back into the emergency fund like I’ve been doing and it will be at just over $1k. Then we are going to go Dave Ramsey style and pay off the cards smallest to largest. Since workman’s comp isn’t taxable income, we should get a crazy good tax return because without that five months added to the bottom line we have a pretty low income.

It’s weird. This was supposed to be the year we didn’t qualify for earned income anymore. Ah well. One more year I guess. It’s going to be helpful, that’s for sure.

But even assuming an $8k return (which we both know I could be totally wrong about) $6,750 will immediately go toward rent and that will not leave enough to make up for the sloppy way I’ve been acting with the plastic. Even if the tax return is $10k we’re only going to be able to put $3250 toward credit cards and that will almost…ALMOST…pay off the dental work credit card.

Of course, snowballing will be much easier when Mr. Brickie gets his next raise. 70% (his apprentice level now) is enough to pay the bills but when he gets bumped up to 80% it will increase his check about $220 a week ($880/month) and every penny can go toward credit cards which would have us all paid off in 17 months. But! In that time he will get another rung up on that apprentice ladder which means another $220 a week as well as another tax return.

Also, at some point in the distant future, he will get a settlement from the insurance company. We can wait.

Nothing can be predicted at this point.

In the meantime, I’m going to stop spending money as much as possible. There are things that are going to come up. A perfect example is Big Sister being in band. She needs black shoes, black socks, and black pants for a recital she’s having this month. I picked up the black shoes last week when we went shopping for Little Sister (she had grown out of every shoe in the house!) and I used a coupon and some rewards thing from DSW to get those shoes for a few dollars instead of $25.

I’m not good at couponing, but I do what I can.

So I’m saving money when I do have to spend, spending less and aiming for $0 of spending on wasteful things.

Time to tighten up the belt if our family is going to get everything in check. I’m looking forward to it. The better the budget the more it feels like freedom!

I wanted to end on a hopeful upnote (upnote? I don’t think that’s a word…) but honestly I’m embarrassed we let this happen. It’s not a bunch of charges for stuff, it’s not a bunch of things I regret, so I don’t feel bad about the spending…I just…understand it’s time to yank the reigns and pull the spending horse to a fast and sure halt.

It’s time to get these ducks – if not in a row just yet – at least in a pen so they’re easier to chase. =)