Category: Budget & Finance

One Car Family Problems (The New Brakes Edition)

I only have one car and I need new brake pads or rotors or something.

…and the dealership/mechanic isn’t open on weekends.

…and Mr. Brickie is working.

Grinding brakes are no one’s friend. I hear that sound and panic shoots through me. Your husband (if you’re me) will say, “It’s just the warning track the put on the pads” and when you remind him the warning track should be squeaking not grinding he kind of shakes his head and says, “They’re all different.”

If you’re tired enough, you will believe him. You shouldn’t, though, because later you’ll realize your mistake was trusting your husband and then you’ll have to deal with that pile of WTFery until hours later you stop yelling at him for being untrustworthy and remember he used to be like this all the time and you’re just in the middle of his twice yearly “let’s fuck things up by speaking before thinking” week and things will be okay again.

Where is MY vacation from being on the ball? I only get medical leave. I’m jealous.

I called the dealership and (prepare to be shocked) the service manager said warning tracks on brake pads don’t grind and we proceeded into the bonus round of the phone call I like to refer to as, “Scheduling Bingo!” until I realized nothing would work. I can’t drive my husband to work because he works an hour and a half away and getting the kids up at 4am is cruel. I mean maybe I should have just put everyone in the car and done that. I’m a little confused now that I’m typing it all out.

While I was on the phone, however, I asked if they had loaners (of course not) and if they were near a rental car place (they were!) and the service manager said, “But you have to pay for that.” I smiled into the phone with my best nice smile and said, “That’s why it’s a rental not a loaner, huh?” I laughed and he laughed and the tension was gone. Except the tension in my jaw. That’s still there today.

You know I wanted to be sarcastic and say something nasty. I truly did. Pay for a rental? YOU’RE KIDDING ME? IS THAT HOW THEY STAY IN BUSINESS? But I’m old. Old people know being nice to get what you want is more important than saying what you really feel. Plus I know no one is going to make a bolt just a little loose because the mean lady had it coming. Yes, I live in fear. It works for me.

I call my husband to tell him all this information and to give him directions on what to do after work and I am greeted by Bob Villa (except cars) who immediately dives into this long and strong diatribe about his total 100% ability to change the brake pads on his own. This is partially if not entirely my fault because I found a YouTube video that did, in fact, make changing the brake pads look really easy. But after talking to the car guy and looking up some stuff about grinding in the Mazda forums, well… let’s just say I’m pretty sure I know what’s up. So I wait for him to finish beating his chest and doing the big strong man bit and try to ignore the ever-worsening clenching in my jaw from holding back my smart-ass comments and say,.“I truly, 100% believe you could change the heck out of those brake pads, honey” because now I’m totally in I don’t care if I throw myself under the bus all day I’m getting this shit taken care of mode “but the service manager doesn’t think it’s just the pads and if you take everything apart at home tonight and find out the rotors need scraping or changing it will be eight at night and that will leave us without a car until Monday. I’m very scared and that puts too much pressure on you can we please just have a professional do them this time?”

He sighed and said, “Well if it will make you feel less scared that would be okay I guess.”

I think I heard my jaw crack.

I said, “Thank you” and proceeded to give him directions on where the car rental place was and who to talk to at the dealership when he got there.

So we are spending an extra $30 for Mr. Brickie to drive a rental to work today. I’m not sure it’s a great idea. Hell, I’m not even sure if it’s a good idea. I’m not sure if we can really even afford it. I mean we can but what is that doing to the Christmas fund? The grocery fund? The “pay off the mattress we bought” fund? I’m not sure until we know the final price for the brake job from the dealer.

I don’t find out about the $300 hold on my debit card until this morning at 6:15am when I’m going over yesterday’s purchases. I call Mr. Brickie and he said, “The service manager told me it would only be $50.” Which means he didn’t verify with Enterprise. I am guessing it’s a $50 hold on a credit card and a $300 hold on a debit card but it wasn’t worth mentioning because at this point my jaw was just in crumbles in my face.

It’s 7:50am and I seriously think I might just go back to bed and give up on today because I’ve used up all my niceness in the last 16 hours and I don’t have any more to give.

Once he was accepting the dealership would be working on our (one and only) car he decided this morning that If the only thing the car needs (let us bow our heads to pray) is brake pads, I should tell them to go ahead and change out the wiper blades too.

Don’t you love how someone can go from being all hands on do-it-yourself to the Prince of Persia in ten seconds flat? Yeah, me too. It’s hilarious.

Does someone have a broom and dustpan for my powdered jaw?

Finally, my apologies for the several instances where this started to sound like a version of If You Give A Mouse A Cookie or If You Give A Moose A Muffin. We are doing Book It! with the six year old and I have a severe children’s literature infection.

My Problem with NO Credit Card Debt

My goal is to be debt free including credit cards.

When we first decided to be debt free we were going to cut our credit cards up and do all that jazz but over time those credit cards have – I don’t know – it’s more than “come in handy” but less than “saved our lives” so I’m not sure what the word for it is.

Last night we bought a bed.

Our bed is 13 years old and I’m all about saving for a bed and our couch is in disrepair too but I didn’t buy a couch last night. Why?

Because we can’t SLEEP on our bed anymore. The sides and top have duct tape in spots to keep the wires from poking out. There are dents on both sides of the bed for his hips, my hips, his shoulders, and my shoulders. Our bed is one you can flip and turn so that means four sets of dents.

You guys…seriously…you guys…we could only have sex on the bed sideways.because the dips were so deep it messed up our angles.

It was bad.

So hallelujah Macy’s Columbus Day Mattress Sale where we went to find out if we could qualify for the 12-month interest free financing. You may remember interest free financing from when I bought christmas five years ago from Guitar center interest free. I consider it a challenge and I will be paying that bed off before the 12 months are up.

The card is added to my budget program and split into 12 payments. Sure I’ll probably pay it off in February at tax time but $1469.11 divided by 12 is $122.43 and that’s what I’ll pay otherwise. Also, based on how I have the budget set up we don’t have a rent payment Nov-Feb (I have three months saved to pay when we renew our lease. That’s what the $260 rent line item has been.

You guys remember I pay 9 months of my mortgage with the tax return and then save up the other three months over the course of the year, right? I forget if I told you that. It’s been working really well and keeping our expenses down. Sure we don’t get to have a tax party or buy fancy stuff but you know that’s not where we’re at right now.

Yes, doing this at the beginning of winter was….I mean….let’s be frank this was a bad decision. It’s a bad decision I should have made a lot sooner. I’m not sleeping, he’s not sleeping, we’re a mess. He needs to get good rest to get good work done and stay safe.

I don’t care if it’s a rationalization. I sleep like the dead and I refuse to have that taken away from me because I’m pretty sure it’s the one thing that allows me to keep my mental illness in check.

What I’m trying to say is I guess my line in the sand for when to use credit is, “Would I have sex with an unwashed stranger I consider gross for this item?” If the answer is yes, use the credit card.

It’s not a philosophy that’s going to end up in my awesome book on personal finance that doesn’t exist and isn’t even in the planning stages, but maybe it should be? Maybe that’s how you gauge a legit emergency.

Because it’s all fine and good to say never use credit cards but if you don’t use one to repair a car or don’t use one to buy a good night’s sleep or don’t use one for Christmas (like basic, hundred dollar christmas, not iPad christmas) ….. you’re in a really shit situation that could cause you to lose a job or hurt yourself or … I guess if you’re as anti-debt as I’ve tried to be none of those are legitimate excuses. You just can if you can or can’t if you can’t.

I’m not good at being that black and white in my thinking.

I believe in the emergency fund.

I believe in having controlled debt.

I believe in making sure you really can pay things off when you buy them.

If I don’t sleep I literally start to lose control because my coping mechanisms for my mental illness are like an awful game of Jenga in a big windstorm and I’m barely keeping it together with a solid ten hours of sleep.

So I justified it. I did it. I’m not proud.

Let’s see how fast we can pay it off.

I saved $2250 for three months’ rent. I saved $440 so I can pay six months’ of insurance in one bulk payment for the discount. I’m not being irresponsible, I just…I need a damn bed.

New Gig Okay | Healing Slowly But Surely

I should have a subtitle on this one that I’m a crappy mom but I only address that for a sentence or so down below so I should really just skip that part. Just know that even though I do personal finance on this blog I do have other things going on and some of them are hard and some of them make me cry and some of them make me smile. You know, a life and the stuff that goes with it.

Things are chugging along but with the chill in the air I am reminded it is time to get ready for winter budgeting which is about 100% less fun than summer overtime money budgeting. It’s going to be a bummer because yesterday I went to breakfast with three girlfriends and I’m telling you it was worth the $13 ($3 was tip because yeah, I tip well no matter how poor I am) and we had fun. Winter means no more breakfast out with the girls. It’s okay, we aren’t in that place yet.

In a couple years we will be.

A couple years ago I wouldn’t have been able to do it even once.

Perspective is so weird because depending on the direction you look from I’m struggling or succeeding or both.

Things have changed for the better but we were in such a bad place we’ve just barely gotten to the place where we are living paycheck to paycheck. Where it’s a RELIEF to be ABLE to live paycheck to paycheck.

I was responsible. After the cash for the budgeted week I put the rest toward the next week to try and keep the two weeks of side jobs only from affecting us too much. I did a pretty good job keeping money aside. My budget is short $178 for Friday. It makes me feel itchy but it could have been 100x worse if I hadn’t set anything forward.

I might have bought a mattress to replace ours that’s held together by duct tape.

To be honest, I’m not sure if I would rather have grocery money or a good night’s sleep this early in the morning. Probably grocery money. I guess. If I have to make a choice. I still want to pout a little bit but then I’ll suck it up and keep moving forward. .

I can reduce the grocery budget and we can eat what we have in the house, in the pantry, in the cans and make up the difference. I can get through the week with a bread and milk budget if we have to.

The chill in the air also reminds me it is time to transition back to the winter budget. It gets more and more difficult to become so careful out of a sense of fear and lack. I want to look at it as moving toward savings and investing and the kids’ futures. I want to be careful with our dollars and cents because I’m happy to save not because I’m afraid to run out.

I’m just not sure exactly how to make that mental shift.

It might be difficult because I’m still not totally healed from my scary staph infection abscess. It’s looking good but it’s still a little angry bean-shaped hole in my chest. It has been a really scary experience and balancing keeping it clean without getting it wet has been the opposite of fun, but I am doing my best and it seems to be working.

Parenting while having a month-plus long health issue does have consequences. My oldest is failing social studies. I’m so proud. That’s sarcasm. I’m actually devastated. I’m not sure how much of this is my fault. I don’t know if I’m supposed to be that involved with fifth grade social studies.

I don’t have a parenting blog because I do not know how to parent. I would never try and tell anyone else how to do this because it’s madness.

Let’s end on a positive note! Mr. Brickie’s new company and location seem to be going well (it’s only day 2 but he has good gut instincts) and the commute isn’t too bad and thank goodness it doesn’t have tolls! I wish he could just ask how long the job will be but for some reason it is looked at as tacky to ask the foreman on your first day how long you’ll be working so he just feels the job out and keeps his ears open for information. He thinks it will last a few months.

I really hope so!

Nosedive, Life Change, Worrying Less

We thought we were waiting a couple days for Mr. Brickie to go back to work.

We thought he would be working until the snow started.

We were wrong.

He got official word of his layoff yesterday. His mistake was telling me in front of his friend instead of telling me before his friend came over. Like, give me a minute to process, you know? But I didn’t yell and I basically made raspberry noises with my tongue for ten minutes to get through the desire to yell and stomp and make faces.

I’m super mature.

He’s at a side job today and has called a higher-up to figure out what to do now. There is a little confusion on my part because Mr. Brickie has a week of training this month and his dude told him to talk to the coordinator and tell them how highly this company praised him and how they want him back come spring.

The fear place in my heart tells me this means they’ll keep him off jobs until spring so he can go back with this same company.

The logic place in my brain thinks that’s stupid because why would they purposefully have him not work when not working leads to finding other jobs. I mean, Mr. Brickie wouldn’t find a new permanent job but… why would they risk it if they love him as much as I’ve heard them say they do?

The intuition place in my gut says there’s something going on and I’ll never know what it is but I need to just chill because everything is going to be okay and even if it wasn’t, I have no control over it.

He is 9 working days away from his next apprentice promotion. He was getting paid as if he had already been promoted at the company he was working at, but getting the actual percentage jump means he gets the higher rate no matter where he works. Also, it’s a milestone. I like milestones. (Who doesn’t like milestones?)

Money from side jobs is still in the works so we aren’t going to be immediately destitute or anything and I already had money set aside to be our paycheck for this Friday from a side job last week and he should be getting a partial payment from his other side job on Saturday so I’ll set that aside toward the paycheck after this Friday so we stay on track.

I’m not as worried as I have been in prior years. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing. I finished antibiotics yesterday but my stomach is still a hot mess and I’m not leaving my house anytime soon because being near a bathroom is a necessity of my life until further notice. I don’t have any of the four “you might be dying if…” side effects of the antibiotics I’m taking so I’ll take the tummyache I have and be thankful.

I really thought this job was going to go until January. I’m a little bummed out because I am so tired of being optimistic and “we’ll get through this” all the time. What choice do I have, though? If I decide to be a grump and unhappy about it all the time it doesn’t change the situation and I just bring the whole family down with me.

So I’ll be optimistic. It’s the only option that keeps my quality of life intact.

I’ll update you as the situation unfolds.

A Rambling, Random Update

There’s the woman at the bus stop who accused one of us moms of calling child services on her. She promised if her kids were taken she would take us all down with her. Dun Dun DUNNNNN! (She cold-clocked her kid upside her head in front of the mandatory reporter school bus driver and four neighbors … I don’t know why she thinks one of us moms called but she seems pretty sure.)

There’s the cyst I had that turned out to be a raging staph infection requiring serious antibiotics that made me feel worse than the stupid abscess did. No, I didn’t record it. Yes, it was glorious if you’re into that kind of grossness. The doctor who had to clean it out with an assistant was horrified. My friend who took me to the ER was in heaven. Everyone digs different stuff. I don’t judge. Mr. Brickie had to stuff this sterile string in the hole every other day for a week. He was a trooper.

There’s the weird tantrum a friend had before storming out of my house to go stay in her bosses guest room. So if you need to live with someone for a week, I recommend not my house. It seems to be an inhospitable environment where I will make you feel bad. Consider yourself warned.

There’s the homecoming parade that was really blissful and my kids were part of this huge group of – I don’t even know – 13 other kids? A super cute moment in time I enjoyed a lot. Mr. Brickie wasn’t even home from work so I went with my kids, the kid of my friend who hadn’t stormed out yet, and the neighbors and their children. Everyone got candy and was happy. I managed to not have a full-scale social anxiety meltdown. Hooray!

There’s the bonfire we had at our friend’s house a block over where they rent a place on the lake. It’s really amazing to be a block away from a backyard with a fire pit and a view of the sunset over water. It was pretty much perfect.

There’s today’s apple picking and donut buying with family. Lots of fun. .

Things are really, really interesting around here these days.

The budget is not only doing great, I went over my bus stop mom’s budgets and they’re following the budget now, too. It’s given both of them a real sense of relief because they know how much “extra” they have and when things are due. I literally just set them up with four weeks in excel and tried to place bills in such a way that they’d have the same amount left over every week.

It was a deep relief to be able to share this with people who wanted to know about it, took it to heart, and followed directions. The men in my mom friend’s lives are also happy about the budgets. It’s removed money pressure off both relationships (not entirely, but a good chunk!) and that’s what budgeting is all about. More freedom.

Mr. Brickie didn’t work this past week because they’re waiting on permits downtown to put up one of those things they put over the sidewalk so if a brick falls it won’t hit someone on the head and kill them. There is a special company that puts those up so they have to wait on that company to do their thing. In the meantime he has been splitting his time between two other side jobs.

We got a payment from one side job that is designated as “Next Week’s Paycheck” and won’t be touched until Friday. We did a much better job this week of not spending ALL THE MONIES over the weekend and did a pretty good job!

I don’t like knowing where my husband is going to be working tomorrow. Or when he’s getting paid next. His driveway side job he’s been working on for a year now on and off pays at the end of the week. The new side job is painting a house before it gets sold and even though Mr. Brickie has an idea of how much the overall job will pay but there are some things he may or may not be working on that could change that number. So he’s not sure how or when they’re paying him. I know it sounds like a stupid plan to not know those things but these are really, really trustworthy people so I’m not worried about it at all.

Sometimes it’s okay to not know everything all at once. It’s a lesson I would not have been able to learn if our finances weren’t in order.

I’m excited to find out what other lessons I’ll learn now that I’m not terrified about finances all the time every day.

But hey, I still have sixty-five thousand dollars in student loan payments to worry about once I get our car and credit cards paid off. I’m still not sure what the right way to go about paying those is. I might wait to pay them off until he makes journeyman. In the meantime we can build a 3-6 month emergency fund.

Student loans can’t take our home or our cars, but not having a solid emergency fund can put us in a world of hurt really fast, you know? So I’m thinking I’ll stick to the income based repayment minimum payments on those until we fund the emergency fund and then attack them with a vengeance once we have that fund set up.

Also? We really need a second car. Getting the kids home from stuff happening at the school is no big deal, we can walk the five blocks or whatever to pick them up even in winter, but when sports happen farther away? I’m not so sure. It also totally messes up that grand plan I had for getting a doctor and a dentist and getting myself some regular checkups. I can’t go see a doctor or dentist until winter puts him out of work. So if I’m going to see a doctor I have to hope my husband is laid off due to weather. That seems silly, doesn’t it?

Maybe I could rent a car. Do people rent cars so they can go to doctor appointments? I wonder if that would be more or less expensive than a cab, but cabs can be really unreliable and if the cab shows up late I’m stuck with a no-show fee from the doctor.

I’m getting nervous just thinking about it.

So the big goal is to pay off the car and the credit cards then somehow figure out if we make the emergency fund next or get a car then an emergency fund.

Hopefully nothing happens in the interim because the emergency fund is at $150 right now. The rent fund is fully funded and the car insurance is on track to be funded by renewal, but that actual emergency fund? It’s struggling. I would like to fix that.

Don’t even get me started on Christmas.

Overall, I’m in a really good place and surrounded by really good people. I don’t know if the issue with my friend who was staying here will right itself but I’m going to give that one to the universe for now.

Tomorrow morning I’ll get up before the kids, have a cup of coffee, and meet my mom posse at the bus stop.

It’s going to be a good week.

If this were a parenting blog I would be gushing about my daughter’s fifth grade teacher and the wonderful human being she is. It’s a personal finance blog so I don’t write about that kind of thing but I can’t really communicate strongly enough how good it feels to have a teacher that genuinely likes your child. I want to buy her a pony and fulfill all her childhood dreams.

Another One Bites the Dust (One Car Family Again)

After two weeks of blissful two car family life with all the kids in school and all the freedom in the world….

….. the engine seized up on the 1990 Toyota Corolla

We switched to Plan B Thursday evening when the car overheated and stalled out. He put some oil in the engine and called a friend to take a look at it with him. Friday morning Little Sister hopped on the bus in the morning and that was that. Plan B in effect!

It turns out the car is dead wheels rolling and today he is calling junkyards to come get the car and we will officially be a one car family again.

I’m a little worried because there might be after school activities or a kid could get sick in the middle of the day and I’m not sure what I’m going to do about it. Walk until winter, I guess. I mean we did it for a long time before we got the Toyota and now we’ll do it again.

We all do what we have to.

I’m doing my best to stay positive and upbeat because – well, let’s be honest – all I can control in the situation right now is my attitude. We can’t replace the car until, um, I don’t know when.

I spent the paycheck yesterday on bills like I always do. My budget is predictable and boring which is awesome in its own way.

  • First Week – Pay the Car Payment
  • Second Week – Pay the credit card for auto payment bills
  • Third Week – Union Dues and Gas/Electric
  • Fourth Week – Savings Account payments for rent and auto insurance

It’s down to a science.

Now our focus is on how we spend money on a daily basis. It’s much more difficult to not make those in-the-moment purchases but that’s going to take some time. Even though we don’t spend a lot on those purchases we need to figure out a good amount that we can afford but that also makes us feel not totally deprived.

I still have moments where I see other people doing cool things or buying cool stuff and wonder how they do it, but I don’t have any emotion besides wondering. It used to frustrate me but now I look at it like a puzzle and if I can’t solve it, well, that’s okay, too.

If all else fails I just make up a whole scenario in my mind about how they’re selling exotic, black-market birds and their attic is filled with all these majestic birds that are really angry all the time. Or whatever. Stories are fun and imagination keeps us young, right? LOL

A Financial Conversation With Middle Sister

My middle child is a math whiz. I’ve always been more afraid of her than the others when it comes to handing out the raw numbers of our budget because I don’t want her to worry. (She’s a worrier.) Lately, I have noticed she has been asking more and more questions about money and I think she wants to figure out where we are and what things cost and …. I think she’s planning her adulthood in advance.

Yesterday Middle Sister asked how much her father was going to make this week.

Me: “A little over $800.”

Her: “But a couple weeks ago it was a thousand?!”

Me: “He had overtime that week.”

Her: “How much does daddy make?”

Me: “An hour?”

Her: “No, like in a year.”

Me: “Well it’s different every year, I don’t know how much he’s going to make this year.”

Her: “Do you know how much he made last year?”

Me: “Yes”

Her: “Can you tell me?”

Me: “He made a little over $20,000 last year.”

Her: “Is that a lot?”

Me: “It depends on who you compare it with.”

Her: “Well we have shoes and food and do fun things, so it’s enough. That’s what matters, right mommy?”

Me: “Yep, that’s what matters.”

I’m torn. It makes me happy she has good priorities, but makes me sad she even has to think about what really matters at nine years old. They are starting to make connections and while I think we all know that one day they will realize $20,000 for a family of five was not quite what most people would call “enough” they will be amazed (the way all poor children grow up to be amazed) at what their parents could do for them with so little to work with.

Later That Day….

Her: “Mom, remember when my glasses broke the first time and we had to wait almost two months to get them replaced?”

Me: “Yes.”

Her: “This time you ordered new ones and paid for them the same day they broke.”

Me: “Yes….?”

Her: “We make more money now, don’t we?”

Me: “Yes.”

Her: “I think I’m getting the hang of it.”

Me: “You most certainly are.”

I’m not worried about Middle Sister because her plan for life is to work as a bricklayer during the summer and teach elementary school during the rest of the year. It’s actually a genius plan because she will make a lot of money as a summer-only bricklayer that would allow her to boost that schoolteacher salary to something liveable.

What? All the things a teacher has to buy for the classroom every year? I fully intend on paying for every. single. one. She wants cutouts? I’ll buy them. She wants an extra bulletin board? Okay, no problem.

They have been the best kids a poor parent could ask for. Not greedy, not demanding, and so full of love and understanding. When we have money? I will be happy to give them whatever makes them happy. (As long as my retirement is funded first. I’m loving, not dumb.)

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A Reliable Indicator of Financial Stability and How We Spent It 8/21/2015


I’m not great with writing headlines. I know the “rules” (I have for years) but just can’t make myself write, “This Mom Has Medical Bills…You’ll be Amazed How They Make Her Feel!”

Technically the medical bills are for the children. There are the two dentist appointments that were over $350 this month, the bill from the pediatric neurologist for our percentage after insurance, and money we still owe the pediatrician because the billing department lied when they told me how much I owed and, WHOOPS, we really owe more.

Then, Friday afternoon, Middle Sister’s glasses fall off her face, broken. They just gave up on life. So I had to run out and order a new pair for her and that was another $83. Medical has been out-friggin-rageous this month.

Add that to the almost $500 we spent on school supplies (over $250 on fees) and it’s been one hell of a money-drain of a month.

Here’s how we spent it for this week.

We have the usual Gas, Groceries, Restaurants (of course restaurants doesn’t mean an actual restaurant since I only put 40$/wk. in there, but if Mr. Brickie wants to stop at 7-11 for a pop on his way home that needs to be accounted for in advance.)

Set aside are also $20 for Mr. Brickie’s Union Dues and the $184 for the NIPSCO bill. I love having gas & electric on one bill. So much easier.

Mr. Brickie’s birthday present (a beer tasting and babysitting money so we can both go) was $150. His birthday isn’t until September 20th but I’m trying to be prepared in advance. You know, keep the budget right and not do last minute spending. I also put $100 back into the emergency fund. I drained it before and am trying to build it back up. It’s only at a little over $200 now but that’s better than the little over $100 it was last month.

Since there will always be ways (like broken glasses!) to spend money last-minute no matter how well we have budgeted, I consider buying Mr. Brickie his birthday present a month in advance normal life planning. I have no comparison so if it’s not normal then so be it.

There was no overtime this week and we thought Mr. Brickie was going to training next week but it turns out they need him on the job site and the guy in charge of the training is fine with him skipping this one one and coming in for a week of training in October instead. So we won’t be missing a paycheck the first month of September AND October is a five paycheck month so we won’t even be missing a paycheck when all is said and done!

It feels good to have the budget under control to the point where a bad thing happens and I can fix it. When Middle Sister’s glasses broke last year it took us two months to replace them. It felt awful. Terrible, terrible awful.

Feeling moderately annoyed and a little nervous about having to buy glasses OMG RIGHT NOW THIS MINUTE because school just started and Middle Sister needs to see the far-away things in the classroom is not only a relief it is a joy. I would choose being inconvenienced every day of the week over not knowing where the money is coming from for this, that, or the other thing.

For those of you who supported us when we had a fundraiser last year to move? I paid it forward a little this week. I sent in a box of fruit snacks and a box of Goldfish crackers (Costco sized boxes) in to the kindergarten and told the teacher that people helped us when we didn’t have a way to give our kids school snacks and I wanted her to have the snacks for kids in the class that didn’t bring one. She was really happy.

Thank you for helping my family get to a place where we can give snacks to children who don’t have any. Giving feels amazing.

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How We Spent It 8/14/2015


Today is a bittersweet day.

We are spending the last overtime check. It was so nice while it lasted.

This one was super easy and quick because none of it left the house. We had to refill the buffer because we went over budget on school fees and I put $10 in each of the kids’ lunch accounts online just in case.


GGR is Gas/Groceries/Restaurants and the defaults on those numbers are still $150/$80/$40 but I’ve been known to steal from the gas and restaurant budgets for other things if we need cash. For example, Mr. Brickie’s current job has him way closer to home. So after adding this week’s $80 to the budget the total we have in that section of the budget is $151.04 which means we have been rolling over money for a couple weeks now. We’re leaving it and calling it a car repair budget because he’s going to need an exhaust system on his old beater soon and my nice car is going to need new windshield wiper blades.

I might move some of it to a Car Care category I already have set up but haven’t used yet. Having it all sitting in gas when we know we don’t need it? That kind of seems like it’s going to go horribly wrong.

We have only spent $102.34 on gas since August 1st. Huh. That’s not much at all. I mean I don’t drive a lot except to go downtown for the dentist so my car doesn’t get filled up on the regular. It will go a little faster once school starts and I’m driving Little Sister to kindergarten. Mr. Brickie needs to keep gas in his car on the regular because he commutes. Maybe it’s those Indiana gas prices? I’m honestly not sure but I’m shocked at how low the number is. (We have every transaction entered into the budget program so with one click on the $102.34 number it pops up the dates and amounts and location of each specific purchase in the category.)

You Need a Budget was really difficult for me to get the hang of the first month but I’m so glad I kept on with it because it’s really great. Knowing exactly what we really spent and when and where is valuable information.

Soylent/Health Issues Update

I told my friend Dawn in the comments on the last post that I stopped with the Soylent because it made my pits smell funny. Last night I had a gallbladder attack. So now I’m wanting to go back on immediately and for all my meals so I can avoid having that happen again. I mean, we had tacos. Made at home, from scratch. Beef isn’t fat free but damn, I really drained it good and didn’t eat but a half cup of the stuff in two tacos. I … I just don’t know what to do to keep it at bay. I’m so scared because I don’t want surgery. (Even though I know how lucky I am to have the option of getting surgery.)

In the meantime, I’m going extremely low fat in terms of food to give my gallbladder a break.

Scentsy Update

I’m considering pulling down the website as it costs $10 a month. The new setup they are launching next month is just too much hassle and I don’t like the increase in a minimum party order and some other things. Yes I’m impressed they got rid of the logo written in the Harry Potter font and everything but…I don’t know. I’d kind of rather buy what I want and just pay for shipping. I’m on the fence. (Please note, I’m still planning on using the product. I love the stuff. I’m just not sure the discount is worth it. We’ll see. You know I won’t make any final decisions until I do a cost/benefit analysis.)

Shopping Desires and Chomping at the Bit

I want a new mop. I want a dustbuster (do the young’uns call them hand vacuums nowadays?) and I want an $80 lunchbox for my kid. I’m feeling a bit…..shoppy. I’m going to figure out how to get past this feeling without giving in. Or maybe I will give in but just for a new mop that I can buy on the cheap somewhere. There are a lot of things I want and bargaining myself down to one thing that’s not expensive is usually the best way to keep the shopping under control. Of course, what I consider out of control most people consider a normal trip to Target so I guess maybe what I’m trying to say is sometimes I just want to be normal.

I hope you have a great weekend!

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How We Spent It! 8/7/2015

I hate waking up early and getting crazy hungry at 6am. I don’t feel like I’m qualified to breathe yet, much less consume nutrients. Gah. I’m on some kind of crazy roll getting up way before my normal get-up time of 7:30am. I’ll just thank my lucky stars and consider it training for when school starts and we all have to get our happy butts out of bed earlier than we’d like.

As scared as I am (there is one Kindy for the whole town – a town big enough for three elementary schools) it looks like I’ll be driving Little Sister to Kindy for the first however long it’s going to take. The bus ride will be damn near an hour each way. That’s too much for a little kid with diesel fumes and a propensity for carsickness.

It’s a 5-7 minute drive to the Kindergarten so it shouldn’t be too hard on my gas budget. We’ll see.

Now it’s time for another exciting segment of How…We….Spent It!!!! It was another overtime week (hooray!) so there’s a lot of money to work with. I love having a lot of money to work with. It’s not a long list (that’s next week) but it’s important stuff.


I set aside $15 for the prescription last month but they switched medications so the new copay is $20.53 – I’m just making up the difference.

The Capital One payment is 100% debt reduction. As long as overtime continues, there is a much bigger payment scheduled next week, and the week after that the debt should be gone. So every little bit really helps, even if it’s only $26!

We are both really hoping he works this Saturday and next. It’s critical to paying off that credit card and we both want that a lot. So much so he was thinking about working on top of his overtime hours to get more side job cash. We both decided that was not a great idea for his long term well-being. The overtime should set us up really well for the week of training where he will only get $250 for those four 10 hour days of training.

I want to tell them, “We get it, you want him to be dedicated!” Even though I know they really do teach them stuff and really train them while they’re there. Also, it seems like they get out earlier and earlier with every one of these simply because they know these are the dedicated workers that are willing to give up four days of pay to do what’s necessary to get promoted.

Like most people going through this, I just want to skip to the fun part where we’re saving our emergency fund and planning a family vacation. I’m done with the paydowns and the not-enough-money and the Oh! Wasn’t that a Close Call! moments that – at this point – feel neverending.

The closer we get the harder it is to wait. We’re so close.

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