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.

You’re not going to believe what this post is about. Except you will because it’s about money and writing.

Socially, things are hopping here at Casa de Decki. That friend I talked about a couple weeks ago called me and we had a heart to heart so that’s an issue put to rest.

I had to distance myself from bus stop mom because she was lying about so much weird petty not-necessary stuff it seemed like she wanted to be called out on it. I’m not a fish, I don’t take bait. My neighbor took the bait and bus stop mom tried to explain away every lie one by one or call them misunderstandings until she turned it around and asked why my neighbor was focusing on such petty stuff.

Money-wise this is a blessing/curse week. It’s training for Mr. Brickie so he only gets a stipend check instead of a full paycheck. He does get paid today (or whenever his boss gets him his check) and that money goes toward next week’s budget to cover the hole not working this week will cause next Wednesday.

My abscess is still a tiny hole in my chest. I have a doctor appointment tomorrow morning and a professional will let me know it’s healing well. I think it’s healing well I wish I knew why that tiny hole won’t close. I’ll find out tomorrow.

I am going to try and do NaNoWriMo again. This time with short stories. I love writing short stories and haven’t because everyone says they’re so much more difficult to publish. Since I wasn’t getting anything published anyway I may as well write what I love and get the practice in. Maybe it comes from watching too much television. I love a succinct plot and a quick payoff. Or maybe my desire for fast outcomes is why I like watching television.

Or it could be that our current life plan is so long-term that the little fix of success I get from watching a good television show or reading a great short story fills the gap and allows me to stay strong while I’m living my real life.

Halfway through a five year plan is a boring place to be. Very little payoff and a whole lot of KEEP YOUR NOSE TO THE GRINDSTONE like we have for years now. I swear at the end of all this we are going to take a vacation. A good one, too. That day might never come but I dream about it. It’s one of the things that keeps me going.

Even though we aren’t where I want us to be financially there is a lot of comfort in having a life I like to wake up in. I get out of bed, take a half hour to make coffee and write up a blog post while the kids are sleeping and the house is quiet. I wake the girls up for school and continue writing. Once they are on the bus? I try to clean a thing, read a thing, and write a thing.

Mostly I enjoy the silence. This is the first time in so very long that I’ve been alone at all during the day I do not see a need to fill that space with something right away. I may not have a car but I still feel free. It’s pretty amazing.


You know, it dawns on me I haven’t told you I started drinking my Soylent again. I thought I smelled funny but it turns out that if you bathe regularly with CARDAMOM soap for a month you smell really …. weird. So I stopped the soap, forgot about the Soylent and started craving it about a week after my cipro wore off (anthrax-level antibiotic for the abscess which in some rare cases can cause death, AW YEAH)

I love the Soylent. It’s easy. I’m not hungry. It’s like baby formula for adults. You CAN eat it exclusively. You CAN eat meals. You CAN skip a day. Whatever. But it’s grown up nutrition from chemistry and I like it. I still eat dinner because it would be weird to bring a blender bottle to the dinner table. I’m not trying to give my daughters a complex, you know?

I also walked to my friend’s house a mile away. So I’m not totally sedentary yet. Good to know, right?

My husband has come home to me a glass of wine into life the last three days and hasn’t complained. I married well. He is tolerant and enjoys the extra attention.

What am I supposed to blog about when my finances are boring and predictable? I mean if you wanted to know about the blood in my stool from the antibiotic and how I had to spend $40 on probiotics because I don’t want to die I could tell you that but it’s a bit gross, right? Or how I had to google probiotics and wine to make sure I wasn’t going to kill the flora and fauna as soon as I took them…

Or I could tell you I’m going to write short stories for National Novel Writing Month.

They will be horror but not gory-horror.

I want to make people not be able to stop thinking.

Let’s see if I can do it!

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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