Category: Budget & Finance

Unexpected Windfall (Tiny but Mighty!)

Yesterday I practically jumped out of my chair when I heard the creak of metal the mailbox makes when the postman comes round. I’m waiting on that one. last. W2 and yesterday was the first day you can file taxes and let me tell you I am on pins and needles. PINS AND NEEDLES – GAAAAH!

The sooner I file the sooner we get the refund and the sooner I can pay off the car and have that albatross off my neck. I can have that mistake in my rearview. I can have that money to put toward debt and finally kick this whole being poor thing in the ass. (Not being poor won’t happen overnight but this is it, my friends, this is the tipping point where it’s going to get so much EASIER and It’s going to feel like the things we do MATTER and it will finally stop feeling like peeing in the ocean! I mean, not that I’ve ever peed in the ocean. Who does that? Weird, right.

Moving on.

There was not a W2 in the mail, but there was a check for $92 from our former dentist. We went there right about six months ago (I’m a fanatic about getting my kids into the dentist twice a year like clockwork) and since we’ve moved it’s a 34 mile drive that costs $12 in tolls to get to the dentist but I kept going because the whole setup was cool and kid-friendly and my kids love the dentist and that’s worth a lot of time and effort in my book. But the last time we went they charged me for fluoride on all three kids and it came out to $92. They knew it was only covered by insurance once a year and we’ve been going there YEARS and this is the first time they did it and when I told the woman behind the desk she was so mean and was all, “Oh, well, you have to pay.” I was all, “You do this and we won’t be back.” She was all, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” (Said in that way that is clear she is saying don’t let the door hit you where the good Lord split you, not in a really sorry way at all.) So I left and searched high and low and found a local dentist who has the same kid-friendly philosophy and wrote them off mentally. I got a reminder phone call and explained why I wouldn’t be coming back and like mana from heaven I got a refund check for the fluoride.

Part of me wishes they just hadn’t charged me in the first place. Scratch that. I really wish they had asked me about the fluoride so I could refuse the treatment since it was in my file what the coverages were for my kids and it hasn’t changed. I really wasn’t trying to get anything for free. It’s not even the money, really, it was that awful woman’s attitude toward me when it was HER mistake she was covering up.

Oh well. Now I don’t have to spend four hours getting three kids’ teeth cleaned and find parking downtown in Chicago for the privilege.

I’m not sure why I felt guilty when I opened the mail and the check was there. I wanted to pick up the phone and say I was sorry but for the life of me I don’t know why. I didn’t yell or cuss at anyone during this whole process on any of the phone calls. Why would I feel bad or guilty or icky because they made things right?

It doesn’t make sense.

I deposited the check and for now it’s in my “Buffer” category in my budget because I don’t know exactly what I should do with it. I could pay off the Target credit card (I bought the three girls comforters on sale because the ones they had before literally fell apart during the move and our afghans weren’t enough when it turned really, really cold. I had them in bed with me until the comforters came in the mail and we were all just bundled all up under there and I was getting kicked in the face like you wouldn’t believe.

Man, I need my space when I sleep.

So I could just pay that off and have a little less that the refund needs to go to.

I could also get the reduced-price YMCA membership which is $87 for six months. We live a block away from a lake and I really want them to take swim lessons and that would give me a way to do that.

Maybe it’s all just stupid to worry about because once the taxes are in I could do any of these things. I don’t know. There’s not going to be a lot left after the rent gets paid and the car gets paid off so maybe it is worth worrying about.

My brain is a mess.

I’m still sick but less sick than I was. Now I just feel like crap first thing in the morning (until my sudafed and ibuprofin kick in) then I’m good until about 7:30pm when I crash and feel the hot pressure in my ears again. It is, however, a little better every day so I’m on the right road to recovery.

I just don’t know what to do with the windfall. Keeping it in the buffer makes YNAB (not an affiliate link) show $0.00 in my Available to Budget … that way I’m not tempted to spend it somewhere I shouldn’t. Oh who am I kidding? I’m tempted as all get out but I’m still not going to spend it on crap.

Post Party Practical Planning

The Birthday Party was cheaper than planned!

Sometimes the stars align, amirite?

When we walked in there was no private room available and we were sad. That being said our four lanes were open at 3pm sharp and we had to pay for all the pitchers of soda pop the kids consumed. We did NOT have to pay the other half of the deposit which saved us $66!

The party cost a total of $156 for TWENTY kids and EIGHT adults!

    Bowling deposit $66
    Beverages $50
    Cake $20 (from Costco)
    Plates, forks, napkins, balloons, invitations, misc. $20 (Dollar Store)

Some kids brought cash for snacks and the arcade, some kids didn’t, some kids bowled the whole time, some kids didn’t. They basically ran free for a couple hours, had fun, and ate some cake. I think everyone had a really good time.

This could have been a lot more expensive if I had provided money for the arcade (one kid asked me if he could have a dollar or two and I responded with my standard, “Sorry, I only have a debit card.” When I told him to ask one of his friends for money he said, “I’m not a swindler.”

Uh…okay.

I was also corrected by another kid that there is no such thing as a pterodactyl and it’s actually a pterodon. So now you know. My response at the time was, “You are correct, sir.” because I’m not going to be a jerk to a kid…especially when he’s right.

So the season of gifts is finally over for a while. Thank goodness.

I’m going to put the leftover money back into the emergency fund where it belongs. I really hope I’m able to budget fully for a party next year. This would have been a lot less stressful if I wasn’t so worried about money the entire time.

I may have it at the bowling alley again. It was a really good location.

Pre-Party Penny Pondering

Taxmas Update: We have received 2 of 3 W2 forms. I can file our taxes as soon as we receive the third. I’m waiting on pins and needles.

Today I’m wondering if we are on some kind of prank show. Mr. Brickie is at basketball today with the girls (not all at once – they have games at 10am, noon, and 2pm today) and received a call from the bowling alley. Looks like they have a tournament tomorrow and they’re not sure if they can do the birthday party because they may still have bowlers bowling.

I know we called weeks ago but they called the day before the party to do this. I don’t even know why. I mean, I don’t know what to do. The bowling alley wants us to reschedule and comp the whole party.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to reschedule because I want this to be OVER. I don’t like scheduling, preparing for, receiving RSVPs for or doing any other damn thing that could be considered party planning. It’s not my jam.

Worse problem (aka The Dealbreaker) … I can only tell the people who have RSVPed the time and place of the party have changed. Last year we had twice as many guests show up as we had RSVPs … so people are going to show up tomorrow even if we reschedule to a different day. Yes, I know it’s their problem for not doing their part but around here a lot of people think RSVP automatically means “regrets only” and some people just ignore that part and only use the number if they need directions or are having trouble finding the place. (The call for directions happened last year. Not gonna lie I was a little shocked but rolled with it.)

I don’t know what to do … maybe I’ll see if they can open lanes as they become available, go later than 5pm if we need to, and let the kids play on the lanes as they open up for a discounted price. I’ll try it and see what the lady says.

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Okay. It’s a kids’ tournament so the bar won’t be open and the place won’t be filled with smoke. We get a private room (the bar) and they’re going to leave the pool table and dart boards on the whole time of the party so we can use them. Bowling will start no later than 3:30 and they’ll let us stay until 5:30.

So we do cake first, then darts, pool, and bowling till 5:30.

It’s a winner.

Plus, for our inconvenience they’re throwing in some free pop. The place is really doing right by us. I appreciate it. Plus it will be less expensive which makes my budget do a little happy dance.

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So now we don’t have to worry about kids wandering the bowling alley aimlessly while we try to regroup a birthday party somewhere else or sometime else. I seriously don’t need this kind of stress right now. I’m trying to heal physically, stay upbeat mentally, and more than anything I’m trying to keep my anxiety under control.

It’s not going well. My zen chakra center place of yellow sun and white crown is failing me, man. I’ve tried meditating but my shoulders are so tight they’re twitching. I’m rocking a heating pad old-lady style (no offense to old ladies, I’m on my way) and taking ibuprofin every four hours to try and keep the muscles from totally seizing up.

I’m pretty sure typing is not helping, but it’s helping my brain so I’m not stopping.

That’s what the experts mean by balance, right? My other option is to eat thin mints and drink copious amounts of black coffee which, to be honest, is not off the table as an option for later. I know you might be thinking, “But Jen, you don’t even like mint!” I’m all, “Oh yeah, about that, I make an exception for the frankencookies because they just taste divine with black coffee.” Flavor combinations can sometimes outshine individual tastes. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts, I guess.

After this party tomorrow we will not have to worry about any extreme financial outlays for a good, long while. The party is a little up in the air because I don’t know how much pop/soda the kids are going to consume so that’s a variable cost.

Taxes and Yearbooks and Honesty and Audits

I was able to get better antibiotics from my doctor called in and I’m on day 3 ~ I was having some heart trouble-ish the first two days that I would have called the doc about had it gotten worse but last night the weirdest thing happened. The chest tightness and almost-fluttery feeling went away and was replaced with a strange pain in my shoulder, back, and upper arm. It’s like muscle or joint pain but it’s a pain the way an ache is a pain. It doesn’t feel like it’s real but it’s very, very annoying. Ibuprofen and a heating pad on high keep it in check enough I can distract myself from the feeling.

It’s not fun, but my ears finally feel a little better so the trade off is worth it.

We receive $720 in unemployment every two weeks. In conjunction with the SNAP it’s close-enough-to-enough to live on. This payment we paid the car payment. I’m hoping it’s the last car payment we have to pay and that we can pay the remainder off as soon as I file taxes. We are still waiting on 2 out of 3 W2 forms but since I can’t even file until the 19th I haven’t started actively fretting about it yet. .

We did receive a 1099-C for the house foreclosure but the sale was finalized on December 30 of 2014 (as per the court) so I can’t imagine why they would send me a 1099-C dated 3/2015. It seems awfully shady if you ask me. We won’t be liable for the “income” of the written off debt and the Mortage Debt Relief Act form will pop up and negate the 1099-C but if I file it with my taxes we don’t qualify for the free federal/state (we file state taxes in both the state we live and the state he works) so we are no longer able to file our taxes free because of the more complex paperwork.

Not reporting is not legal, but damn do I hate to pay TurboTax $74.97 that I very much need in my household to file one paper that says I should owe money and a second paper that says the first paper should be disregarded.

Welcome to my moral quandary. I don’t want to be a liar but I am pretty much willing to risk an audit for $75 bucks. Of course since the paperwork for our taxes consists of three W2 forms and that one piece of paper it wouldn’t be much of an audit. I guess it’s not much of a quandary after all. I’m a greedy person that is going to lie to the IRS by omission so she can save some money.

I’m not proud of my solution nor do I feel entitled to the money. I’m just a woman faced with a decision. It’s not a smart decision, I’ll give you that. If I change my mind before filing I’ll let you know.

The kids brought home yearbook forms in the mail. $16 for a Kindergarten yearbook and $14 for each of the older girls. I feel like I’m a crap mom if I don’t buy them yearbooks but you and I both know they’re not going to give a rat’s hiney about them except once every ten years or so when they look someone up they used to go to school with. This one isn’t even a money issue so much as a “wasting money” issue. Am I spending $30 for more Hoarders material? Remember when they only had High School yearbooks?

This has to be the tipping point year. I’m so tired of being so strapped for cash all the time. I’m exhausted by calculating and recalculating the budget. I’m completely done with financial projections that are always a joke that never work out the way I’d like them to. I want to be inflexible for once instead of always bending and planning and making due.

It’s food pantry day. I forgot. Damn. They’re open from 8:30am-10am and I have to tell you, remembering in the afternoon is a bummer. I’m blaming it on having a foggy brain from being sick. Not because I need an excuse – it’s just what actually happened. Mr. Brickie got his upgraded more powerful antibiotics yesterday and looks a little less gray today, as well.

I’m drinking tea. It’s comforting, even if it’s not actually making anything better I’m going to pretend it’s magical and let the magic of the placebo effect help speed my recovery.

The Hopeless, Dark Part of Winter

Winter becomes a bit hopeless around now. In between the Christmas lull where I have to scrape together even more money for two January birthdays and knowing that tax refund time is still at least a month away starts to get really dark.

Side jobs stop. Everything is cold and quiet. I start to wonder if they’ll call him back this year. Maybe this is it, he’s done being a bricklayer and there won’t be any jobs. Maybe the economy isn’t doing better even though everyone says building rates are up and more jobs are scheduled every year. Maybe the Bureau of Labor Statistics is lying about the jobs increase in his field. I start to forget he has a job that pays the bills when he’s working and start to feel my mindset shift back into that weird place where unemployment is all we have and the first thing I notice is I start to have a desire to spend money on things that are, frankly, a little weird.

Yesterday I told Mr. Brickie I absolutely needed to replace the scrub brush I use inside the water bottles. I argued for this five dollar purchase for an hour before he finally got a word in and said, “Ours is fine.” I probably looked like someone who had just seen a kitten thrown off a roof. I was shocked. How could he tell me I couldn’t have it?

Then I remembered we have a half-falling-off windshield wiper on the car and focused on that instead. I found the absolute cheapest one online and told Mr. Brickie I was going to get it. He asked me the price and when I told him said, “Oh, it’s cheaper to get that done at the dealership.”

Okay then. That’s two things I can’t take care of. I’ll be over here chewing my hair. (Not really. I haven’t done that in years and years.)

These are sure signs the low grade panic of seasonal unemployment is setting in … hard.

Even though we have a little bit of emergency fund left our one car needs a CV joint thing replaced so I know that’s going to go on the list of things that have to happen. Mr. Brickie says we can hold out for Taxmas (not that there is going to be a bunch of money left over after the rent and the car but hopefully that $750 emergency room bill for my stupid giant abscess is taken care of by the hospital’s charity program. We gave them two inches of paper proving we are poor so I like to think it will work out for the best.) Yes, we have insurance. It’s an 80/20 PPO so that was our portion. I didn’t realize you could apply for medicaid as a secondary insurance. We are in the process of doing that now.

I feel dumb I didn’t know sooner. I’m thankful to the friend who asked me why I hadn’t done it already.

Yesterday’s entry was a little skewed because my youngest daughter did get $100 for her birthday in September and wanted a Kindle. She wouldn’t let me buy it before Christmas unless Santa got it for her even though I explained a billion times Santa doesn’t leave high end electronics. I ordered it a few days ago and used the accumulated credit on my Amazon Rewards Visa to pay for the Kindle, the case, and get her a gift card to pick out some books and games. Then I took the $100 and put it toward the party for the other kids.

If money finagling were exercise I would be the fittest bird in the world.

I just want Mr. Brickie to go back to work. That’s all. He wants to as well. It’s the only thing that eases the panic. If I’m not able to pay off the car with the tax return because I have to pay for an emergency room bill, well, it’s not the end of the world.

I’ve been looking at the car payoff as the “tipping point” of our five year plan for a long time now.

I’ll be so disappointed.

I’m trying not to borrow trouble. I’m telling myself not to worry yet. I second guess every financial decision I made in 2015 and then I stop myself and remember I can’t change it so I try to stop thinking about it.

Tomorrow will be a brighter day.

Tomorrow is the food pantry, so that’s something to look forward to. Really I’m working on being positive. There is so much to be grateful for but I’m on antibiotics and my ears hurt and I don’t have the energy to be upbeat today so the best I think we can both hope for is a solid neutral. Neutral is better than negative. See, that almost sounds optimistic.

Emergency Fund Birthday Party

I have to tell you, being sick for an extended period of time is so hard on the brain! I remember things only to forget them before I get to the notepad to write them down. Ideas and reminders are swirling in my brain and I can’t catch any of them. It’s like Pokemon except I am really bad at it and can’t catch any of them.

The birthday season is something I start thinking about before Thanksgiving but this year I ended up in a very last minute place with everything. Part of it is my kids really wanting parties. Part of it is winter birthdays are tougher because you can’t set some balloons up in a park and serve cake and let all the kids go play. Another part is I want grownups to feel comfortable staying. It’s a bunch of requirements that all add up to money, money, money. So I would stop thinking about it and do something else. Something my sick, distracted brain could handle…like facebook. I’m not proud of it…I’m not…but it’s what happened and you and I have an agreement. I tell you the truth or what’s the point of writing at all?

We decided to use the emergency fund to pay for a double birthday party for my girls born this month. We considered having it at home but that would be in between two and four parties. My housepartment isn’t tiny but it’s not a place where I can host more than 10 kids and that’s REALLY STRETCHING THE SPACE where you’re kind of hoping someone is in the bathroom at all times because that’s a lot of people between the living room (with a couch, a chair and a half, and a kitchen table with five chairs), and the playroom (a loveseat and three bean bag chairs). As much as I will try there will be kids who end up in the bedroom on the beds because it’s comfortable extra seating space. This doesn’t even count any school-friend adults who want to stick around to make sure their kids are safe.Then there is a friends and family list. Each party needs a cake, snacks, pop, entertainment, and clean-up.

So you know I want to have it not in my house. Last year was fine but so stressful. I did a search online to try and find a place and everything was $400 for 15-ish kids. Yikes. I need something flexible, too, because who knows how many kids out of 54 are going to show!

So we called the local bowling alley. $32 a lane (includes 4 bowlers + shoe rental) and pop is $5 a pitcher. The cake is a bring-in from Costco for $20. We decided on 4 lanes to start and think that one will be for adults and three will be for kids. This will let grownups switch in and out while others hit the snack shack or go to the bar for a drink. We put down a $66 deposit on the four lanes (50%) and pay the rest the day of the party.

It’s local, it’s indoor, and assuming we spend $50 on soda pop we are spending $200 and can accommodate a range of attendees. It’s still expensive for us but the kids have made real bonds in their classes and I want them to have a chance to host their friends.

If I could wave a wand and change things I would make the girls’ birthdays in any other season than winter, but you have to work with what you’ve got.

This is not a true emergency, but I don’t want to use a credit card to pay for something when we have cash. I’m staying away from the credit monster so we don’t have to use any of the tax return toward credit card debt.

Secrets of Small Success: What to do with 8 dollars.

It was a red letter day when we paid our first week of bills this month and there was money left over! Sure, it was only eight bucks but that’s more than zero.

We considered adding it to the grocery budget. We thought about putting it toward debt. Since I’m not sure what the right answer is at this time it’s going where all my “I don’t know” money is going .. right into the emergency fund.

One of the benefits of moving money into a savings account – even in such a tiny increment like 8 dollars – helps sustain the habit of saving during the lean winter months when money is less reliable and jobs become scarce. I have been known to transfer less than a dollar into the emergency fund (it’s a savings account linked to our checking account) in order to not have anything I would consider “extra money” lying around inside my checking account.

It’s also part of that little psychological trick where small successes help you propel toward larger success. After you’ve put <$10 into your savings account a bunch of times it becomes really gratifying when there is occasionally, finally a decent chunk of money to deposit. Even $20 feels like something to cheer about and those small amounts add up.

Another benefit? It’s easier to not take small amounts out of your savings. If you were only able to put a couple dollars into your savings you’re not going to withdraw it because you’re running low on grocery money. Two dollars isn’t the difference between Whole Foods and Aldi. Neither is $9 or even $20, really.

More than anything it’s about what works for your life. I think zero-based budgeting is great but I honestly don’t understand any other way. “You spend the money until the money is gone” is just how I remember things always existing. As long as I consider my savings account “spent” I’m fine and I consider the money gone unless a real emergency comes up.

What’s the smallest amount you’ve ever saved?

Welcome Back, Winter Uncertainty and Fear

Two steps forward, one step back is a terrible way to get someplace. It takes a long time and requires a lot of stamina.

We celebrted the payment of the rent and insurances and then Mr. Brickie was laid off. There is not enough side eye in the world to express how I feel about that one-two punch.

Here is where things get complicated.

I know from experience the first thing to do the day after Mr. Brickie is laid off is to file for unemployment. Most of the time he is not unemployed long enough to actually use the benefit but it’s a “just in case” measure that I always take.

The tricky decision is to decide whether or not to apply for SNAP. We have an emergency fund but I’m not sure if it’s enough to keep us in food and get the bills paid. It might. Also, he might be working again soon so I’m not sure. The last thing I want is to apply and receive SNAP and then he starts working and we end up owing the state money. That would be SO bad.

The uncertainty of what the “right” decision is feels overwhelming and scary.

Will he be working? Should he apply for the job in Indiana? He can’t yet because his guy from his Local is on the lookout for local work for him now but it’s almost Thanksgiving and I’m not sure how that changes what jobs look like out there.

There is too much uncertainty.

Winter patience is not something I’ve ever been good at channeling. I should meditate or something but I want to have a plan, to know what’s going on. Even if the news is bad it’s news I can base decisions on.

On the bright side Christmas is shaping up well. I love the community I live in and they have amazing services to help families that can’t make the Christmas budget happen. Even typing that I feel like I’m such a liar because it was just a couple months ago the Mr. was working overtime and we were catching up on things. But that’s just a couple months out of the year…but it feels like it was just a minute ago.

I get just a taste of what not being poor feels like before it all comes crashing back down and reality hits and we are horribly close to where we started.

Speaking of which, it’s Thursday and the Mr. is home and that means it’s Food Pantry time. Thank you for reminding me. It’s quarter to ten and the pantry closes at ten (and is only once a week) so he’s going to make it just in time. Whew! We still have a little grocery money left but it’s far better to take what you have and mix it with pantry items because if you wait until you have nothing and then go to the food pantry it’s much more difficult to get meals together. This way the grocery money lasts longer.

Overall I think we will end up using the food pantry less this way.

We Should Be ….

Working harder, doing better, trying more. I don’t remember if it felt this way last winter but really last winter we had just moved here and everything was upside down and we ended the year feeling like we were grasping for our new normal so to have come far enough that I am berating myself for needing to use the food pantry feels like maybe a positive step?

If you’ve stopped being desperate enough that you can feel like a leech that has to be a good sign. Not in a normal, good way of course but in a twisted, backward kind of way.

It’s better than nothing?

Can you feel how hard I’m trying to be positive? Perhaps I’m only feeling this bad about everything because I’ve been sick all week. It’s just a stupid cold with a sore throat and sinus shenanigans .. nothing serious … but it’s kept me mostly down for the count and I keep falling asleep all over the house. Couch? Sleeping. Computer chair? Dozing. I’m normally not even a napper so it’s a sign that my body is trying to heal despite my best attempts at ignoring the situation entirely and wishing it away.

I haven’t been able to write this week. Being sick makes my brain all cobwebby and I can’t keep a train of thought to save my life. It makes writing impossible. I wonder if this post is going to come across all thready and loose as well?

If it does I wonder if it’s different from any of my other posts. I’m kind of all over the place in terms of thought process. Maybe that’s why it’s just us here. Of course I like it being just us. I crumble under scrutiny and the thought of a wider audience scares me to bits. This with you and me feels intimate.

I feel like I can be honest with you. You’re not an audience, you’re my friend.

Even the couple people who read because they are actively hoping I fail used to be friends and that’s okay, too. Maybe I deserve to fail. Maybe I’ve done too much emotional damage to too many people on this journey to be salvageable. Perhaps I’m like Sisyphus and once I get this boulder to the top of the mountain I will not even be able to take a breath before watching it roll right back down to the bottom. Forever doomed to feel the deep sting of failure at the moment I should be reveling in the sweet release of success.

We’ll see, I guess.

Either way I’m glad you’re with me.

I really hope he starts working again soon. I don’t really care if it’s in his home district or if he takes the $10/hr. hit and works all winter in Indiana. Either way he’s getting his hours in toward becoming a journeyman as well as getting his hours in for health and retirement benefits.

I don’t want to apply for SNAP because I don’t want to need it this winter. I want that part of the journey to be behind us. I want to feel like we’re moving forward, not back.

Unfortunately that just isn’t something I can know with any certainty right now.

Such is life.

The Beginning of Financial Freedom

  • Wednesday our car insurance renewed so I had to transfer $440 from the GEICO Savings into the checking account and the autopay went through.
  • Wednesday our Lease renewed so I moved $2250 from our Rent Savings into the checking account and wrote the check.
  • Wednesday we signed up for new renter’s insurance ($200 less a year!) and I moved $137 from the emergency fund into checking to cover the payment.

All told, I spent $2,827 yesterday and other than a queasy feeling in my stomach it was fine.

I don’t think this is what financial freedom looks like, but I think it’s a strong start.

It’s someone painting a tree but they’ve only painted the trunk and when someone first looks at the painting at this stage – without knowing the plan – they will wonder why the artist just drew a thick, strong line on the page. The observer of the moment doesn’t see the plan for the tree. For the artist that first brushstroke is a rush because the trunk is the beginning. Without the base there can be no branches, no leaves, no flowers, no TREE.

My financial freedom is a tree. Paying into savings accounts monthly like a regular bill is my tree trunk. Financial advisers and experts always say, “Pay yourself first!” It’s a great concept but I’ve never been able to skim 10% off of every paycheck to put in a purposeless savings account. I find it worlds easier to put that $74 a month for auto insurance or $270 a month away for the lease renewal payment. It’s paying myself with purpose. That bill will come whether or not I’m prepared for it so I may as well pay it little by little to myself so I don’t have to pay the penalty that comes with paying auto insurance monthly!

Month End – Spending and Saving and Needs and Winter

I disliked spending $40 on probiotics but they worked so it was a worthy expense. Thank goodness because I was getting worried about my flora and fauna.

Other than the buffer for mistakes, I moved all other money to the emergency fund which is now at $707. At the same time, my checking account is getting quite low since I’m not leaving the extra money in there anymore. It’s good, because that little pinch reels me in from excess spending beyond what is absolutely necessary.

I’m glad Halloween is already bought and paid for so I’m just waiting my way through this weekend. A little face paint, a little door-to-door, a little party, and viola! Another holiday in the books!

It is also another transition for my budget program (YNAB – not an affiliate link) as the training check Mr. Brickie receives today will be slated as November’s Income even though we are receiving it today. It’s extremely helpful and will, hopefully, fix the problem of the $24 dollars I can’t quite get my head around in October. Probably not, but on the bright side I’m over not short so it doesn’t hurt anything to leave an extra twenty bucks in the account…just in case.

Time for a little speculation! Regardless of what happens after this job it looks like he might work through winter. There is a big winter job happening at a college in Indiana and the only downside is he would get paid what local bricklayers do, not what he gets paid as a bricklayer from our home county. It’s weird but different unions have different payscales and when we began we lived in the same county as Chicago and so we have a higher scale than here a half hour away. If a company from Indiana asked him specifically to work he would still make his regular hourly pay but if he seeks work in Indiana then he gets paid as an Indiana bricklayer.

Which is still 100% better than getting unemployment. Not just because it pays better, but also every one of those those lovely working hours count toward his promotions and retirement benefits so it’s much more than just a paycheck when he works, he is literally working toward his future. Our future. Same thing.

When Mr. Brickie came to me and told me about the Indiana job it really opened my eyes. He is really hawk-eyeing every possible opportunity for us and I felt an overwhelming sense of relief. One of the long-time tensions in our marriage is feeling like I had to tell him to do everything because I was the one with the plans and he executed the plans. Of course, when he would go “off book” and do things that weren’t part of the plan I would have a fit and a half. Back and forth we went for years. He became bolder with doing things off book and I became more trusting and had fewer fits. I told him for years, “Someday, you will do something and I’ll know that I can trust you to take the reins.”

I’m grateful I was able to see that moment clearly when it happened. Mostly so I could share it with Mr. Brickie and let him know how much that moment meant to me which, in turn, made him feel awesome.

It was a good moment.

So as we sail through fall toward winter all I know (for now) is the future looks better than last winter. My expectations are low because tiny little baby steps have brought us through the last three years of this journey and that is what will get us through the next however many years this apprenticeship takes.

Even if it means working in Indiana for the winter and a $10/hr. pay cut.

Oh, speaking of finances and things…you know our car broke down and since it was the engine that seized we had to junk the commuter car so now Mr. Brickie takes the one good car to work? Yesterday my daughter asked me if she could be in an after school club to help other people. It broke my heart to say no. The kindergarten is too far away. The only other person I know with a kid in the same school can’t be trusted and I’m not entirely sure she would be driving sober so that’s a no-go as well.

I want a second car.

Really, I thought I would get through this winter with grace and not worry about having a second car but wow did it kill me when she asked to be in a club and I had to say no.

I’m running out of patience for how many things I have to say no to around here. Not because I have to say it a lot, but because my children ask for so little. Then the one thing my daughter begs me for is to help others.

It made me feel awful. For her, for me…I had to tell her, “Honey, soon I will be able to put you in all the after school activities you want. We will be able to help in the community and volunteer at the animal shelter. For now? We have to wait and be patient. It’s not time yet.”

It was the best I could do.