Category: Hodgepodge

Well That Was Short Lived

Oh that beautiful paycheck. The one that will live in my brain(heart?) forever.

It probably won’t happen again.

It could, but why be optimistic when we can all nod our heads and be realistic.

Yesterday and today Mr. Brickie worked a totally legit 8-hour day. It also looks like he won’t be working Saturday. That means he will still (hallelujah) get a check this Wednesday with overtime on it (8 beautiful hours of overtime) but unless something crazy happens he will go back to a solid, respectable 40 hour week. Which I am fine with. I mean, do I want to hurry along his next promotion? YES. Do I love when he makes a bunch of money? YES. Do I like that he’s really crabby when he’s home after working all those hours? NO.

I’m willing to put up with the less-than-stellar attitude but man, I also won’t miss it when it’s gone.

This non-overtime period is also great for his poor body that he’s been using to work like a dog for weeks now, but it’s less awesome for our bank account. I’m okay with that because, man, you just can’t count on overtime and that’s okay.

I still have our original budget for the month based on $750/wk. (I ultimately felt like doing one with herds and piles of overtime would jinx everything so I just did that one quick one to share the best case scenario and then chucked it in the bin.) I’m not sure if his check will even be $750 but, again, that’s why I’m using a priority-based budget instead of a zero-based budget.

The only real difference is that the last line says “Everything else goes toward the credit card” at the end instead of having a pre-filled amount.

If the hours shoot back up I will let you know but right now we paid what we were supposed to pay on the 30th (past due electric & gas, Net10 cell phones, and extra on the CapOne CC) and are up for paying the credit card minimums and the extra to the CapOne CC on the 6th.

Once you have your budget for the month all written out, you just have to glance at it and remind yourself what’s coming next. There is a comfort in knowing what you are doing with your money in between now and the end of the month.

I know there are a lot of people who know budgeting is good but think doing it in the brain is good enough. It’s really not. I can track an investment account to within a dollar with my brain but the budget being written down is what changed my life and my finances for the good.

I will never be an inspiring success story because I haven’t done anything amazing. I will not have been fast about changing my life and my finances. I am the turtle. Sure, in the children’s book the turtle wins but that’s because it makes a better story. Hares win all the time in the real world. My job is not to compare myself to the hares. Or the turtles. I am running a one-family race and our finish line is different than everyone else’s. It’s ours.

Every week we get a little closer. It’s a good feeling.

July Net Worth & Budget Update

jennydecki-net-worth-july-14

Okay, so first I have a question.

If you’re in foreclosure how do you calculate your net worth? Do you get to cross of that line item entirely?

Did my debt just go down astronomically? Did my net worth increase? Did my paper net worth increase but my personal net worth go straight into the toilet?

Before I just keep rambling, I’m going to Google it. Let’s see what “How does foreclosure affect your net worth” turns up!

foreclosure-net-worth-venn-diagram

So that was disappointing.

Now I feel like the only person who tracks their net worth who is in foreclosure.

Oh well. Let’s update the budget. Guess what? I have another graphic. We’re picture heavy today because pictures are fun.

priority-budget-list-July-2014

I pulled this from my post on priority budgeting with irregular income (if you haven’t read it yet you might want to, it was really helpful for me) and we almost had a roadbump in the path today. When I finally got Mr. Brickie’s check this morning I threw some math together and looked at my sheet and almost decided to change how the list was prioritized.

As I put in the numbers from #3 up there into the bill pay on my bank website I had a passing thought, “I should just pay the whole thing. It’s not that much.” Less than $100 on the Electric and less than $30 on the gas bill. What kind of a difference can $130 really make?”

I have finally learned that when I have thoughts like that I need to step away from the computer (and risk everything logging me out due to inactivity) and try to figure out why I’ve changed my mind. After thinking about it quietly for a few minutes I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a combination of trying to use the snowball mentality to catch up on bills, but also these thoughts I have like, “It’s only a little bit of money. We’ll have more in a week. If it’s not in the account, we can’t spend it.”

It’s also the reason I make my lists in advance before I have the money. When I have the money I get scared and want to get rid of it and pay something so it doesn’t slip through my fingers and not go toward our debt snowball. Then I have forgotten something.

My husband and I are are different people than we used to be. 

We used to be the couple that would actually be able to say (at least once in a while) we have 24 cents in the checking account, I hope nothing goes through before we get paid again! It was pretty much always under $100. If we had money, we spent the money. We hardly ever did anything fun and lived almost as frugally as we do now. We had a serious income problem.

We learned how to save when we owned a business and had irregular income.

Now we have BOTH of these amazing tools. We know how to live frugally and understand the difference between a want and a need. We are in the process of fixing the income problem right now and Mr. Brickie should see his first raise/promotion go into effect next week, to be realized on the paycheck the week after (the check on the 30th, what a great way to close out the month, right?)

Maybe it seems like we must be irresponsible or have priority issues since our house is in the process of a foreclosure. I understand that. I wish more than anything we had found the Bricklayer’s Union years sooner than we did. Or that I had noticed how happy doing DIY projects around the house made Mr. Brickie and translated that into the potential for a satisfying, well-paying blue collar job.

I wish we had thought outside the white collar box so much sooner.

We both feel okay about what’s happening but trip and fall into a puddle of feeling like a failure a few times a day. Last night, we spent a few minutes with our heads on our pillows before we fell asleep listing the things we are grateful for. Things we never thought we would have in life. Amazing things close to our hearts. It reduced our anxiety and helped us sleep.

Mr. Brickie originally went through the training to be a bricklayer at the beginning of 2013 and it was a rocky year last year. Now he’s working overtime and the check we got today for $740 means I get to put money away for Christmas <– yes, I actually really did this today! I think I’m going to be able to do cash for Christmas! If we are able to do cash for Christmas, we can then use the entire tax return next year for moving expenses. I know the decisions I make today – sticking with the priority budget – are going to determine what our lives will look like at this time next year…wherever we live.

So, here is what our net worth looks like today:

Liability Asset
House 0 0
Car 10172 9000
Student Loans 61275 0
Credit Cards 1890  Total Debt
73337 9000 $64,337
How much less in debt we are in since the April update: $45,176

So even though we woke up yesterday morning before the mail came and had a house, now today we don’t. Everything I’ve researched on our loan says the mortgage company doesn’t come after us for the balance so we should be able to walk away free and clear. Sure, our credit will take a hit but I’m not going near credit again. Other than the cards we have and the car we have I want to save up and buy the next car with cash.

Honestly, I’m pretty sure I never, ever, ever want to own a home again. I read about Kelly and her decision to never own a home again and it spoke to my heart in a way that made me realize that if people who have money and aren’t in a tenuous situation are choosing to rent then maybe I can trust my own logic and not doubt myself just because of my bank account balance.

I guess my net worth change is good. It’s better than it was when it was over a hundred thousand. It’s all on paper, though. We won’t know if this was the best or worst thing to ever happen until it’s ten years from now and we can look back with the beauty of hindsight.

I think we’re going to be okay, but maybe that’s just my optimism showing. I’m not usually an optimist, though, so maybe the odds are in my favor.

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Praise the Lord and Pass the Wine. (Priority Budget for Unpredictable Income)

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Months.

I’ve been telling everyone and their dog for months that Mr. Brickie would be working any month week day now.

“Soon,” was a constant refrain.

Hope a word used so much it became meaningless.

Faith like a childhood stuffed bunny’s ear rubbed through with worry.

But…it paid off. It happened. He went back to work Friday before last (right before my birthday – happy birthday to me!) and is doing great. Actually, truth be told it’s more than great. He starts working 10 hour days today and the idea of working Saturdays has been broached. So he might work 56 hours this week. Overtime would be a game-changer in terms of financial security. So much of a game-changer I’m willing to use that term which is so not one I would normally use. 

I’ll stop doing my “I wasn’t proven wrong by the universe” dance soon and get to the nitty-gritty of dealing with actual income in a hot minute. In the meantime, thank you for your patience with my outbursts and my joy and my palpable relief at things finally turning around. I’m not a person who is ever truly sure about anything (because I’m a realist) and so this happening was something I honestly almost didn’t expect because I might tell you I’m a realist but really I’m a bit of an Eyeore now and then.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst is a DEPRESSING, HORRIBLE WAY TO LIVE. I wish someone had told me that before I jumped into that rabbit-hole headfirst, for sure. The preparation takes over everything and the hope becomes this small light across the lake on a dock trying to convince you of something that isn’t even real.

Now, on to some budgeting specifics!

We ended the off season with credit card debt, student loan debt, and car debt. The credit card debt is new. I’m not proud of it but I don’t regret it, either. I’m basically credit card neutral at this point. Yes, we could fall into a hole and be stuck there forever and I could also get abducted by aliens and butt probed. We just have to pick our worry battles, now, don’t we?

Irregular Budgeting for Large Bills and Small Income

There is a snazzy blog post on how to budget with irregular income over here. I plan on using a variation on this budget to pay down/off the bills that we accumulated over the winter.

It’s going to go a little something like this. Since I know what bills are due when I can kind of make a list of what to pay off based on priority as well as amount plus a little bit of foreknowledge. For example, I’d love to be able to pay the car insurance in one chunk instead of splitting it into payments. That means trying to free up about $500 on the credit card by August 10th-ish. So, when you see the line item down there about throwing money onto the Credit Card.

Here is what my payoff list looks like:

  1. Pay $120 on CC to cover automatic payment of tolls. (Already done.)
  2. Pay minimums on Macy’s, Kohl’s, and Walmart ($75 total) & Pay off Target card ($18.29) (Did it today aka Payday Wednesday.)
  3. Pay past-due amounts on Electric and Gas bill. Pay current garbage bill. ($240) (I want to do this today but am afraid with overtime we might need more-than-normal amount of gas cash on hand so waiting until next Wednesday.) 
  4. Pay the car payment. ($496)
  5. Pay the CRAP out of the CC to get down the balance. (Car insurance auto bills to this card on August 15th for around $461.)

The incoming for the rest of the month including what’s in the bank right now is going to be around

Of course, Mr. Brickie’s first raise is going to go through this month so there could be more money. *shrug* I’m not counting on it because this whole journey has been about baby steps and not jumping the gun.

The best-case “I don’t know how to calculate taxes and union dues on overtime money” incoming cash scenario this month is probably $3400. I’m 100% sure this is wrong. I calculated the base pay and then multiplied the projected overtime and subtracted $100 for tax off the overtime of this week since he just started working overtime today (Wednesday) and for the projected two weeks I took off $200 from the projected 20 hours of overtime per week because why not?

So, obviously, when you have hinky numbers you don’t rely on them. This is why I’m doing payments the way I am instead of breaking out the traditional by-due-date spreadsheet. Hinky numbers can spell disaster and overdraft fees if you trust them!

If I subtract 40% off the overtime- which may or may not be accurate – we get a more reasonable $2250.

Ultimately we won’t know until we see it in the bank account. I’ve tried to crack the math on his checks for the last year. I just haven’t been able to figure it out yet. Enough paychecks and I’ll get there but by that time he could get a raise and it changes. *shrug* I’m not sure it’s even worth the effort anymore.

Rain days could also change the bottom line drastically. Monday night there was a storm or rain or something overnight and I woke up in a cold sweat like I was having a night terror – sitting straight up in bed with my eyes wide open – and couldn’t fall back to sleep until I checked the weather in the area where Mr. Brickie is working. Maybe more chamomile tea before bed and less coffee would help with that. I creeped myself out.

You probably noticed the house payment isn’t on there. Yeah. We’re in the middle of court stuff. Payments wouldn’t be accepted at this time and we’re not in a position to put that money into an escrow account or something because we are just not there yet. Things are really dicey with the house situation and it’s being handled by not-for-profit groups, the court, lawyers (not us, them, we can’t afford a lawyer nor do I think we want one), and the mediation department at the mortgage company. Pretty much the very definition of too many cooks spoiling the broth. I’ve mostly resigned myself to moving at this point.

The list above will allow me to make decisions based on the amount of money coming in at any given time. Since Mr. Brickie could not work if it’s raining or work overtime it is more important to have a list like this than pay things based solely on due date. While a bill-priority list might not work for everyone, I have found it to be a life saver. I don’t have to constantly recalculate what is owed where and how much to pay what. It’s done once, and when the paycheck goes in I check the total, subtract $150 for gas and living expenses, and the rest goes to bills.

If I get through number 5. on the list (which might be possible with overtime, a raise, and weekend work) the plan is to go back to the store cards and knock those off the list for good.

For now? I’ll be thankful and thrilled he’s working a 10 hour day today. It’s great news and gives me the hope I so desperately needed for the rest of the season.

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Why I Stopped Overexplaining and Why You Should Too

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I have several interesting personality quirks. Most of them were created years ago because I felt I was being misunderstood. (Only Trent knows how I feel!)

Now that I am all grown up and making my way through the world at a far slower and quieter pace than I was in my 20’s there are a few things I found were not serving me anymore. Plus I have a friend who kept telling me I needed to stop this one thing and then that therapist I fired mentioned the same thing in the first ten minutes of that first session and I realized they were right. I can be a little slow sometimes.

I finally agreed with my friends and family. I needed to ditch my constant overexplaining.

If you explain things more than is necessary you should drop the habit too. Here’s why.

People Wonder What You Are Trying To Tell Them

If you’re anything like me you overexplain because you want to make sure the other person knows your position and doesn’t accidentally give it a tone or underlying meaning you were not trying to put there. The problem is, the more things you exclude, the more the other person is wondering what you’re really trying to say. Instead of making your point clear, you’re basically convincing the other person you have a hidden meaning they just haven’t figured out yet. It turns a simple statement into a treasure hunt for the other person.

I think this will be the only blog post ever where a Shakespeare quote is appropriate. “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” The more you say, the more people start to wonder if they should be taking any of it seriously. It’s not a good scene for you or the person you are talking to.

Using more words should not be a go-to for clarity. I have chosen to try and use the right words the first time instead of all the words in stream-of-consciousness style.

It’s Annoying

My great grandmother used to say, “It is easier to be good than to be simple.” If you have to use four paragraphs to explain why you don’t like cats, you are being good at explaining but you are not being simple. It’s okay to not like cats (or dogs, or gerbils, or badgers, or serial killers) and to just say so. Everyone has preferences and yours are probably valid ones. Just go with it.

You Seem Really Stressed

Another side effect of overexplaining is the person you’re doing this to starts to wonder if you think they’re stupid. They may even wonder what you think is wrong with them that you keep going. Worst case they start to think you think they are stupid and can’t understand simple statements without pages of backup explaining. There are no positive side effects to overexplaining. You seem like you can’t find your point and are really stressed about it. You make other people feel stressed. It’s bad news for everyone.

Also, the confused looks you get from people as you are overexplaining may lead you to actually be more stressed because you don’t know if they’re really getting what you’re trying to say. This may lead to further explaining and even more confused looks until you just stop mid sentence and give up. I’ve done this more times than I can count. I felt like I was just talking until there was nothing more to say about my feelings on the subject and then I would just … stop. It was a conversation killer like no other.

I am not a fan of uncomfortable silences I create with my word babble. Sure there are still occasional uncomfortable silences in conversations now – they’re just a natural part of conversation – but knowing I did not cause it to happen makes it much more bearable to smile through those moments.

It’s Not Necessary

My favorite reason to stop explaining everything to death is the sheer pointlessness of the whole mess. At the end of the day, “I don’t like dogs.” and, “I don’t like dogs because one bit me when I was six but I’m sure your dog isn’t like that and honestly maybe I would like dogs and I’m not saying anything about people who do like dogs it’s just not for me but someday maybe because I do love animals and I’d never be against dogs I just am not in a place right now where I would want a dog in my house but I’m sure if it was a dog like yours I might feel differently about it.” are the same thing.

If you say you don’t like dogs and someone assumes you are a dog hating animal abuser? That’s not on you. That’s on them. In fact, I would go so far as to say you will learn more about other people when you stop filling in the silence for them. You will also discover that if you had people in your life that told you to stop overexplaining things that you will be dying inside when they do the same thing. You will want to call them out for it so bad because you will realize that everyone does this a little bit, you were just doing it a little more.

It becomes the word you see for the first time and then see ten times in the next week. It becomes a phenomenon you are above.

You will feel like a communication rock star.

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Raw – Come Play In May

raw-pictureI was hoping for something a little more upbeat for today’s prompt – aka the prompt I participate in again after a couple days off for life updates – but you know what, I think I can do this while not being entirely downbeat about the whole thing. Let’s see…

My Emotions

I’ve never experienced feelings in shades of gray. I can think all in the gray areas and see lots of points of view but my heart? My heart has always been raw. I have boundaries, sure, but they are very different than most people and so some people think my blog is an overshare while others understand the things I do not share exist and are important to me. There aren’t many, but the things I hold behind my boundaries are absolutely sacred.

My Life

I don’t lead a “sweater sets and ice cream social” kind of life. Sometimes I want one very, very badly. I want to be a mom who gets up, makes sure her lipstick is on, and goes out to do the things that normal moms do. If there was ever such a thing as a normal mom. I think it’s just a grown-up version of hoping I would grow up to be a princess. I keep hoping I’ll grow up to be a real-life, normal mom.

My Blog

My blog is pretty raw. Especially since it’s not anonymous. It allows people to read and make impressions and assumptions about my life that may or may not be accurate. No matter how detailed I am, I will never be able to give someone a true impression of what my life looks like. But I try. For my children to read someday, for their children to read someday, for you to read and hopefully enjoy or learn from or feel your own raw emotion while you read.

My Love

My love is raw because I do not pretend. Not with my children, not with my husband, not with my friends, not with my family. I saw some Tedx talk about a marriage/relationship hack. The graph that took my breath away was the slow, downward spiral of marriage satisfaction. He only studied 50 years but wow, that graph.

I have never been more satisfied in my marriage than I am today. I credit being happier now than the day I got married with being raw. Also, maybe, not expecting my husband to be my everything, every day, all the time. So I guess it’s more of a combo platter.

My Self-Care

Therapy is going to be a way to stay raw but with less poky edges and brittle bits. Maybe a little less intense. That being said, if someone didn’t like me before therapy they sure aren’t going to like me after. I hold my tongue a lot and if I am more at peace with myself that could change. Maybe not. We won’t know until we know, will we? I’ve never been the person who says mean things and then uses the “I’m just being honest” excuse to try and justify my words. So I probably won’t suddenly turn into that person during this journey.

But hey, I keep hearing “It’s a process.” So maybe part of that process is where I get to just say what I’m really thinking and feeling without cushioning it at all. Letting people know where they fit into my life and what I’m willing to be in theirs. You know, boundaries. So I don’t just run again.

I’m tired of running. If I move it’s because I’ve chosen to. I’ve planned it. I will be prepared for it. I will stand strong and raise my kids and hug my husband and treat my friends well and have a life well-lived. 

Wait. I did that already. Huh. Maybe I’m farther in this process than I thought. *grin*

Stay Raw, my friends…

Axis of Ineptitude

Looking for the whole list of prompts? They are in text form and image so you can Come Play In May!

The Price of Insurance & Saying Goodbye to Savings

money-drugs-medical

This post is not about the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare).

My husband’s job provides this magical pony of a Blue Cross/Blue Shield PPO that gives us access to pretty much all the care in the world. All he has to do is work 350 hours a quarter.

Unfortunately, winter was winter and this has been quite a slow start to the season in terms of bricklaying, so he’s not working yet. He’s doing odd jobs and whatnot, but no real income right now. So when we got the insurance bill we were expecting it to be painful but we did not, in our wildest nightmares, expect it to be $1866.37 painful.

But it was.

When we started having problems with the mortgage company I set aside part of our tax return in case we had to move quickly. A moving fund. We have just recently had to tap into that moving fund to keep the bills paid and ourselves afloat. There was still money left, though, more than enough to get through this. More than enough to keep the car paid until Mr. Brickie went back to work.

There was just about $1800 in that box buried in the backyard. Just about the exact amount we need to pay for our next three months of amazing insurance.

I seriously just want to hit my head against a wall until it all makes sense.

Thankful. I’m supposed to be thankful. I keep reminding myself if I hadn’t made the right decision when I did, if I had gone to Disneyland with that savings money instead of squirreling it away, if I had taken the kids on any kind of a vacation we wouldn’t be able to pay it.

We might have had to borrow money or beg on the Internet with our little virtual tin cups.

We might have had to try and navigate the Affordable Health Care website, which has been nothing but trouble when I’ve done it for friends and family.

Even if I might personally feel this is a horrible, painful money setback I am still thrilled with the care our insurance provides. The huge network, the low deductibles, the minimal copays and the amazing vision insurance just cannot be undersold.

So goodbye savings account. I will miss you with all my heart and you can be sure I will have twice as much saved this time next year. Because emergencies that clear me out only happen once. I learn from my mistakes and soldier through.

The Initial Plan

First, we were going to save $100 a week from Mr. Brickie’s paychecks. He will get about 32 paychecks before the season ends. That plus the tax return and we have a pretty good winter slush fund. Then, three weeks after he starts working he gets an approx. $4/hr. raise because he will be a 50% apprentice (he’s so close). So whatever that ends up being after taxes and dues will also be added on to the savings.

I’m going to be a hoarder when it comes to cash this year.

The irony is that because of our income (or lack thereof depending on the time of year) we currently qualify for Medicaid as secondary insurance. Of course, no one accepts it and if you tell the hospital about it they talk about you being a “partial write off” because they won’t even bother.

It might just kick in as primary, but I don’t want to take the risk. My kids have dentist appointments scheduled, I have new glasses to get a hold of this calendar year, and I’ve already been in the ER twice this year so….it’s important to me to have good insurance.

Am I just being stubborn? Or is this exactly what an emergency fund is for? I know it should be seen as an expense and we will absolutely look at it that way next year, but for this year…this is what it’s been sitting there waiting for. We can’t possibly get foreclosed on and evicted in less than about a year from right now, so a moving fund is nice but totally unnecessary right now.

So let there be insurance.

I guess.

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Mr. Brickie Goes to Chancery Court (May 2014)

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Part 1 – The Pre-Court Portion of the Blog Post

The saga of our maybe-foreclosure continues….

Yesterday, Mr. Brickie went downtown and basically dropped in on the legal aid department from Partners In Community Building (they also have a Facebook Page). Luckily, the receptionist was out and the door was answered by the amazing lady-lawyer we talked to the first time we had to file something with the court. (You can read about our first encounter with the young, smart lady lawyer on this post down to the section that says the Helper and the Lawyer.)

She told us we were on the right track and that the thing to do today was to ask for more time to file a response. I thought – all this time – we were filing an answer to the motion they filed last time. I was dead wrong. Even with Google and the plethora of law resources all over the Internet, I was wrong. Thankfully, we asked the lady lawyer and she told us we were going to ask for time to file a response. Considering the lady lawyer remembered our situation exactly when Mr. Brickie saw her again, I am holding out hope the judge recognizes Mr. Brickie as well. Considering the judge thought Mr. Brickie was a lawyer last time he was there (because he’s the only one who bothered to wear a suit and call the judge Your Honor) I think the judge will remember him and that will work in our favor, because the judge knows we are doing our best to follow the process exactly how it is supposed to go.

It helps that we have a new specialist at Citimortgage and they are starting the hardship program all over again. So we have a bunch of documents that need to get into their system by June 4th so they can process everything and decide if they are going to give us a refinance or whatever they call it when they just redo your mortgage. Of course, when they redo it they’re going to add in about $40k in lawyer expenses (the last time I checked) so we would essentially be paying a lot more for the privilege of staying in the same home. It’s a bit confusing. It would be a lot more confusing if I was emotionally invested in this house and was completely blinded to the raw numbers and how that looks.

All this would have such a different look about it if Mr. Brickie were, you know, working. The season starting late is driving us both a little batty. It’s scary and difficult to have faith no matter how much we know there is no reason to despair. It would even look better at court if he just had a few paycheck stubs to throw out there instead of a record of odd jobs and unemployment.

I’ll know later what the overall outcome was at court. His appointment is for 8:45am so he will probably get an early start and be out pretty quickly. Last time he had an 11am court time and he was out pretty quick, too. They schedule people as best they can at Chancery Court, but there are so many foreclosures happening that when we come up with our files and proper etiquette and a plan for what we are doing next, it’s just easier for the judge to give us another court date in 30 days (which, inevitably turns into 90 days because the court is so backed up). That extra three months will give us time to have an appointment with legal aid and have them look over the affidavit I’m sure is a lie from the Citimortgage side. It will give us time to find the proof that they blocked our chance for getting an FHA streamline loan before we ever missed our first payment. It will give us time to print all the emails and show the deceit and lies that were told to us over and over.

We may subpoena the Citimortgage phone records for gems like the call where the guy told me the wrong numbers and then told me he was reading someone else’s numbers and then gave me my numbers which were way more awful. Then I asked him if I could get that in writing to look it over and he promised I would get everything in writing. Of course I did not and when I asked him about it he said we got in writing what we were supposed to get and would not be getting anything else.

I’m not sure how these things help. I really don’t. The only two options I know of are:

  1. Keep the home after getting a loan modification.
  2. Leave the home and start fresh with none of this monkey on our back.

In the beginning I really wanted to just get a loan payment we could afford (we could afford the original loan amount of $975 but over the course of 10 years with a fixed rate loan we were paying $1275 a month. I could never figure out how that happened even calculating escrow. There was also this $75 fee we had every single month. They never explained what it was for and told me it would never go away. I’ve been frustrated for a long time but you just put that to the back of your mind and pay the bill. It’s our house. We paid the bill.

Until we couldn’t.

Now I just have to wait until he gets back from court so I can finish this post with what happened. This is like the pre-court think-aloud portion of the post. There is still a whole post-court part of this I’ll update when he gets home. In the meantime I’m going to go work on another post. The Insurance Bill That Ate My Family. Feel free to read that one when you’re done here if you haven’t.

Part 2 – The Post-Court Portion of the Blog Post

Ooooh…well first of all the big bad lawyer from last time wasn’t there. We were up against the guy with his name on the door the last two court dates and today there was some Junior Attorney instead who didn’t seem to know what was going on.

His 8:45am appointment got him in fourth or fifth to see the judge. First off the judge noticed we didn’t have the head of the legal firm anymore. He totally noticed we were now dealing with a Junior Associate or whatever.

I wish I knew what that meant. It seems like it has to mean something, but maybe it just means the big guy was busy with some other case. *shrug*

They accepted our request for more time to file a response!

The judge wanted to do a straight 30-days until the next court date but Junior Attorney was all, “Your Honor, I can only come in on Fridays.” LOL! So it got pushed out. But the last two times it was supposed to be 30 days exactly it wasn’t so who knows how long it will be until our next “has to be on a Friday” court date happens!

Now the more sketchy not-quite-good but absolutely-not-bad news. We have to file our response by June 10th. If they have a brief reply the mortgage company has until June 24th. Our next court date is 7/11 (Feeling lucky? LOL) The thing is, the last time we were given 30 days, it turned into 90 for the next court date. So that July date might turn into August, September, or October. I’m not sure. We never know the actual next court date until we receive notice in the mail. So we are kind of back to being in limbo like before we got the court date for this meeting.

I know. I repeated myself there. I’m trying to let it all sink into my brain so I can understand what our next best steps are.

So now we have to get the stuff Citimortgage wants to them by June 4th and the stuff has to be filed downtown at the courthouse by June 10th. Plus Mr. Brickie is expecting a call to go in to work any day now.

Things are about to get hectic around here.

The last mortgage payment we made was in August of 2013. We were told to skip three payments so we could apply for the loan modification. It was the worst advice we ever took. So in three months we will have our year-long anniversary of no mortgage payments. It’s still possible to stay here, we just have to file all that paperwork we filed before all over again so they have up to date records of everything.

Mr. Brickie ran into the opposing council in the case and they talked for a bit. The opposing council Jr. Lawyer said to Mr. Brickie that the mortgage company doesn’t tell them anything so they keep showing up and just finding out as they go along. He told Mr. Brickie to email over what we email to the mortgage company because if we are in the middle of negotiations for a modification they aren’t able to proceed with the foreclosure stuff because of that dual-tracking law. So we might be able to go to court less as this goes along.

That would be nice.

Of course as it is right now, we don’t qualify under that dual-tracking law because it’s taken so long to get to this point. But the fact that they started sooner than 120 days might cause some problems. I mean, I don’t know what the outcome of all these problems is…do we just get more time? Is it more court dates? Is it more delays?

It’s confusing.

Unfortunately, if we don’t have paychecks from Mr. Brickie working, the only modification they’re going to offer us is the one where we modify our living arrangements and get out of this house because they don’t care about our savings account. They only care about the income. Not that we would have any savings to show after the next couple days. We have to completely drain it.

So we are still on a tightrope and the best thing I can say about it is either way we have a plan.

You know how I am about planning, though, did you expect I wouldn’t have plans? LOL

But my drained savings account (or, technically, my about-to-be-drained savings account) is for tomorrow’s blog post. Something came up and while we have the money for it, it’s a huge gouge in our finances. (Oh, hey, if you don’t want to miss that story you can put in your email address and hit submit over there on the right and you’ll get my posts right in your email so the next chapter of the story comes right to you!)

Other bad news. My computer totally died yesterday but turning on the air conditioning saved her. I guess she just needs perfect weather conditions to work. I’ve crashed a few times today already but as long as the air is cool she starts back up eventually.

I really need a new computer. Someone needs to set up a GoFundMe for my birthday or something so everyone I know can kick in a few bucks and I can have a computer that works and is reliable. I know it’s a pipe dream – especially because there are so many people with those GoFundMe accounts that are homeless or hungry or doing so much worse than I am – but you know the pipe dreams keep me entertained, and that’s something. 🙂

chicken-border-bottom

Why My Family is Like A Poorly Run Small Business

I was talking with Mr. Brickie this morning and we were going over our normal morning stuff. What we’re doing this weekend, where we are going, vague plans for next week that will be firmed up by Sunday night.

All over morning coffee.

Then I looked at him and said, “I wish we could have less meetings. They’re so unproductive.”

We both laughed because anyone who’s been in meetings knows exactly what this conversation sounded like now. Going over things we both already knew, making vague plans that could change at a moment’s notice, and the knowledge that all we really need to be doing today is cleaning because our house is messy.

Everything else was just filler.

Filler that was wasting our beautiful morning with each other while the kids played Portal 2 happily in the TV room. We had this amazing, rare time alone with no one asking us for anything and we wasted it with a work meeting!

He said, “Yeah, I’d like more happy hour and less nine to five when we chill out.” (He’s a poet, that one.)

I agree. I want more happy hour moments with my husband. The after work hang-outs where we aren’t going over profit and loss statements and business plans for where our family will be in five years. I have a thing for five and ten year plans that would make a lesser man cry.

So here’s the big list of how my family is like a bad small business:

  1. Too many meetings.
  2. Too much micromanaging.
  3. Too many plans.
  4. Not enough delegation.
  5. Too many unspoken expectations.
  6. Too many direct orders, not enough freedom to get to set goals.
  7. Not enough positive feedback.

I’m a natural micro-manager. I manage my family like a well-oiled department in a Fortune 500 company. Sure, we are constantly improving and the kids are still young-ish so nothing is perfect every time (like chores) but hey, if they were perfect now that would not bode well for later, right?

I started talking about starting a micro-farm recently. I know we’ve only had the chickens for 18 days now (almost three weeks!) but taking care of them has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I love them so much. They are so sweet and they communicate well and I find them beyond adorable.

But you know what? I also have always wanted a goat. A fainting goat would be my preference, but a goat that could be milked so I could make my own goat cheese? NOW we’re talking! If I could have one of each so I could have my entertainment with one goat and my cheese with the other? Holy crap, I’d be in heaven!

Of course, I don’t know if I’m allergic to goats, so I’ll have to figure that out, first. A micro-farm might not be in the cards if we can only have animals I’m highly allergic to. That being said, I’m also pretty sure I’m not allergic to pigs.

My point is: Find a project. Find a dream. Make a plan you can work on so that you can use that extra energy ON something instead of just spinning your wheels with your significant other or friends. Spinning your brain-wheels doesn’t do you any good and is just wasted energy. You deserve better.

Advance Planning is Good but You Have to Allow for Spontaneity

I use my plans to make sure everyone is on track to what they need to do.

In the mornings before school? Exactly the same routine every day.

  1. Wake up.
  2. Get dressed.
  3. Have breakfast.
  4. Brush teeth.
  5. Brush hair.
  6. Put a snack in your backpack.
  7. Go to bus stop.

When they get home from school? Same routine every day. Again.

  1. Unpack backpack.
  2. Give assignment book and folder to mom or dad.
  3. Grab a snack.
  4. Sit at dining room table and do homework.
  5. Have mom/dad check homework and sign assignment book.
  6. 20 minutes of reading.
  7. Have dinner.
  8. Play.
  9. Shower.
  10. Go to bed.

Weekends we get all crazy. (Ha Ha Not Really)

Saturdays tend to be a free day where the kids can decompress doing whatever they want as long as they’re not fighting. Scooter riding, bike riding, playing in the yard, occasionally going to the park (not very occasionally) and a whole lot of video game time because my kids love Minecraft. They also love watching YouTube videos about Minecraft. I check my account often to make sure they’re watching approved non-cussing-filled sources.

Sunday might involve a trip to Michigan or a craft or more free time. I cut off screens at about 5pm and they have to switch to drawing, books, or imagination play. Sunday nights each child picks out their five outfits for the week. (I used to just do one outfit the night before, but Mr. Brickie felt it would be more expeditious to have them pick out five until such time as they decide what to wear based on “how they’re feeling that day” if that ever happens.)

This summer we would like to visit more parks and do other fun stuff. I have the tourist guides for both Illinois and Michigan (and have Liked both Facebook pages) in order to have clear choices I can look into.

I can only imagine how our weekdays would look if the kids were in extra-curricular activities. I mean, where does the time come from?

While I try to be spontaneous and will occasionally put on music in the morning there’s not a whole lot of spontaneous activities happening. I don’t know if that’s because we’re poor, I’m tired, or some other reason I’m not entirely sure of.

It just seems like everything is on auto pilot right now and I’d like my kids to have memories that are a little more interesting than the assembly line I currently have them on. Maybe it’s just that I can’t wait for the fun that Summer brings. The fruit picking and pie making and running through orchards that I miss so much from last year.

So we need less meetings and more fun. Less micromanaging and more freedom. Less planning and more doing. Maybe I’ll start reading some books on running a small business and see how I can integrate those into my family routines. Of course, maybe that will backfire horribly. What do you think?

Does your family work like a clunky small business? How do you keep the fun in your day? How on earth do you keep a normal schedule when your kids are in activities? 

bird-end-fin

 

 

Art & Creating Beauty – Come Play In May

Uh….I suck at art.

Except picmonkey. Well, I have photoshop but I’m lazy and PicMonkey gives me the ability to be lazy and still make fun memes because dude a picture and a one liner never goes out of style.

Today I created:

coffee-chick

Because I gotta tell you I was tired this morning. Bone-weary tired. But then I got it together and started my morning and had a shower and had buckets of coffee and uploaded chicken videos to YouTube and they will be on the ChickenCam page in about ten minutes and I felt like this:

flowing-hair-horse-mane-coffee-shower

Isn’t it fun to create simple art that communicates easily to others exactly how you are feeling?

It’s not going to end up in the Met but whatever, I was never going to end up in the Met for anything so it’s not like I’m missing out on my dreams.

 

Axis of Ineptitude

Looking for the whole list of prompts? They are in text form and image so you can Come Play In May!

Coop Dreams Update, Aquaponics, and Keeping Up the Hustle

I’m taking a break from the May posts thing. We’ll resume the fun posts tomorrow.

With nine days left until our next court appearance about the house, I’m a bit nervous. Luckily Mr. Brickie had a side job with his cousin and a couple other leads and he’s selling some stuff on Craigslist and we have our emergency moving fund we set aside when we got our tax return so we are still just plugging away toward whatever comes next.

The chicks and the coop plans have kept us from going crazy with worry over work and the house. It’s a great hobby.

brooder-collage

First, we moved the little ones out of the rubbermaid bin because one flew out. So we needed one that will keep the chicks safe until they can move into their coop at 10 weeks of age. they’re about two weeks now, so Mr. Brickie thought it would be a great idea to make something that will just last for the next couple months. It was also good practice for the real coop he is going to build in the backyard.

Here is all the stuff he’s gotten from Craigslist from the “free” section.

wood-annotated

As you can see, one is even a duck house there against the garage! So all this wood is going to turn into a wonderful coop. We’ve been looking at plans so much that Mr. Brickie finally went ahead and drew up his own. The only things we are missing from being able to totally complete the coop are roofing shingles (may be optional) and construction cloth which is a very fine, strong mesh designed to keep things out of the coop. Chicken Wire is designed more to keep chickens in. It’s not good to use when building a coop if you want to make sure your chickens don’t all get eaten by a hungry coyote.

I can’t wait until their home is up and painted and ready to rock!

Work Update

We are staggering along nicely with our savings from the tax return (aka the just in case emergency moving fund) and the this-and-that of our everyday hustle.

As soon as there is a project to be worked on, Mr. Brickie will be on the team. That’s all we have from the bricklaying front. It’s enough. Like I told my mom, last year he didn’t start working until June 5th, so to panic before that is just silly.

The chicks keep us occupied and sane. The aquaponics plans keep me interested in the future. Aquaponics is where you use fish and plants and have some symbiotic relationship where you can reuse the same water and things grow like crazy.

Want to know more about aquaponics?

I’ll keep you posted.

Also, I’ll do more chickencam as soon as we figure out where to put the webcam in the new brooder. It’s not nearly as convenient as it was pointing it into the rubbermaid container.

bird-end-fin