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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Budget Birthday … Incoming!

Every time birthdays come up I am SO torn.

I want to rent a place and invite the class and have a huge party that my kids will remember forever and cherish.

Then I price those things and my heart nearly stops!

The next (kid) birthday in the family rotation is my youngest. We priced this option and that option and all of them are hundreds of dollars. The housepartment is a good size for us, but it doesn’t really accommodate a bunch of kids. It especially doesn’t accommodate a bunch of kindergarten kids. So I felt a bit trapped.

I realized I needed to talk to Little Sister and find out what she wanted instead of making grand assumptions. So I just asked, “I have an amount of money for your birthday. Do you want me to spend it on the party, or the present?” She said, “How about both?” I said, “Absolutely, but I can get you a bigger present if we just go out and have fun as a family – or – I can get you a smaller present and we can invite your classmates.”

“But I don’t know them mama.” She said.

“That’s true.” I said.

“I would rather just have us so we can go out and have fun together because we never get to go out and have fun together and that would be cool. Also, I want six things for my birthday so that’s going to cost a lot.”

I’m thinking I’m sunk. What six things does she want?? I ask her. Turns out she wants the light and dark expansion packs for the Skylanders game we got them at Christmas. Both sets are a grand total of $60.

Bless the innocent children. Bless them so hard. I seriously thought she was going to ask for a tablet. Bullet dodged.

So now I can do this whole shebang for right around $100 and it’s the birthday she asked for. That’s a pretty big deal for LIttle Sister. She wants what she wants and usually has to compromise.

Kids just don’t require as much as we think they do to be blissful, do they? Some presents, some cake, and some dedicated attention is all she needs to make her happy. Here I am getting all stressed and whipped into a frenzy over presents and guests and her whole classroom and, “Oh no, but these kids will be her friends for life! I can’t mess up the first round of birthdays!” which has nothing to do with her and everything to do with me.

I have that $100 set to come out of the budget on the 3rd Friday of this month. I know her birthday is in September but I’m so nervous about this job ending because what happens if there isn’t another job after this one? Yes, Mr. Brickie getting a higher pay rate hints at jobs beyond this one, but a hint isn’t a paycheck. So I’m going to try and pay September’s car payment by the end of August as well.

As for my daughter and her birthday wish…she is human and she needs to be loved…just like everybody else does. My only job – an easy one, at that – is to ask her what will make her feel loved, then do my best to provide whatever that is in whatever way I can.

Yep, I paraphrased The Smiths up there. Doesn’t everyone listen to The Smiths when they can’t fall asleep when their husband leaves for work at 4:30am? No? Just me? *sigh* I want to be asleep right now.

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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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School Fees (or I Was Not Prepared Even Though I Thought I Was)

You all saw I set aside cash money for school supplies. “I’m a bigwig now!” I thought. “I can buy them shoes whenever they need them!” I walked around the house practically looking like Mick Jagger I was chicken dance-walking so hard around my living room.

This is NOT Jimmy McNulty from The Wire

Then we registered the children for school.

$281 in fees later my school supply budget is at closer to $70. (We don’t actually pay the $31 in fees to the Kindy until next week, I think but I’ve included it in the total because it will be paid next week.)

Which makes me feel very confused and strange.

On one hand: Hooray!! We were prepared and paid school fees in a new neighborhood (in the last neighborhood being poor waived fees – here you get a $75/kid discount on textbook rental only) and have money left over!

On the other hand: Damnit!! I finally thought we were ahead and here we are, barely making it, yet again.

I’ve resigned myself to feeling a combination of both feelings, because both are true. If I hadn’t been budgeting my tail feathers off, who knows how much spare cash we would have had for registration. We might have been caught short and had to make payments. Or, worse, write checks for money not in the account and then go find money somewhere to put in the account.


At least I didn’t write the checks and then put something else on credit cards to cover the “emergency” … which is probably the most likely scenario for how this would have gone down before having my to-the-penny budget.

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Budget – WiFi Abuse – Soylent Update

Mr. Brickie says I’m spending less time looking at and talking about the budget.

I told him I take a vacation from worrying about the budget every summer when he works overtime. It’s the only time I’m able to pay the bills without thinking. I sink down into the feeling like a comfortable chair and take a few minutes to really enjoy the experience of paying bills and saving money. It’s a special feeling. It isn’t excited but it isn’t entirely calm, either. It’s like the fulfillment of anticipation. A kitten in a sunbeam kind of feeling.

A feeling I look forward to having on the regular as Mr. Brickie progresses through this apprenticeship program. The pay raise from his current employer has already done a world of good in making over a hundred dollars more per paycheck a reality, which means it is pretty solid that we are going to pay off the Capital One card before the end of the month.

Oh! The training letter came in the mail! Quick refresher: The training is a M-Th 7am-5pm once a quarter. It is a requirement to get promotions through your apprenticeship. Instead of a regular paycheck you get a stipend based on what year of training you are in. Since Mr. Brickie is in his second year (Y2Q4 to be exact) he will receive – instead of a paycheck – a $250 stipend. It’s a sacrifice and it plays havoc with our budget because, well, it’s not a lot of money. It’s part of the program, though, so he doesn’t complain and he doesn’t skip it and he takes it very seriously.

We are very lucky that he has already taken the Y3Q4 training for his OSHA30 due to a worksite he was on during his first year of the apprenticeship. That means he only has three more trainings after this. I don’t mind the ones in winter so much because he wasn’t working anyway, the summer trainings, however are a tough row to hoe.

I had pegged that last week of the month’s paycheck toward Christmas, which means I’m going to be sad and not even start to fund Christmas until September. Mostly, it means I’m going to have to shift a lot of things around because I also was going to pre-pay the iPass out of that last paycheck.

Well as soon as I know what I’m doing with it, you will too.

At least I’ll be doing it with only one credit card balance. That has to make things easier.

Story Time!

My upstairs neighbor has a couple kids. I think they’re 19 and 20 or maybe 17 and 21 … I’ve had the daughter watch my kids twice (I pay right around $10/hr.) and she did a fine job both times. The son has borrowed a can opener, random things like that. Both very polite.

Once the son asked if he could use my wifi for a school project. I had a router and created a guest network and gave him the username and password. When my Internet started crawling, I shut it off. Then I get a text asking if I can turn it back on because someone has to do something for school. I turn it back on.

Sunday night I’m streaming The Wire from Amazon Prime (season 3 – no spoilers! lol) with my husband because that’s what we do and I’m buffering. There is NO WAY I should be buffering with all the kids in bed and all their Kindles and the XBox with them. I check the wireless router and there are NINE devices hooked up to my router that aren’t mine. I pitch a mini-fit (to myself, in my living room) and turn it off again, because STFU with nine – currently connected – devices.

I receive a text at 10:22pm that (some guy’s name that isn’t my neighbor but I assume is her boyfriend) needs the Internet for a school test and she can’t find the name of my Internet on her list.

Since I am a wonderful person, I texted back to tell her my wireless router broke.

I have never even heard the name of the guy she texted me with but damn. Your dating a guy who can’t afford Internet and has to come to your crib to hang with you and your “from the neighbor” Internet?

Nine devices, y’all. Nine. My family of five with an xBox and three kindles (including my pre-backlight reader) is rocking 8 connections max.

If they were legit using it for a school test it wouldn’t have bogged my happy streaming ass down now, would it?

She texted back Ohhhhhh okay (happy face emoticon) and then she or rando guy’s name spent the next half hour stomping up and down the stairs, slamming the front door of the building right outside my front door and leaving the gate to the backyard unlatched which made for some awesome banging during the storm that night.

Which solved the problem of, “How long can we say the wireless is broken?” Because after that immature display by whoever? The answer is, “Forever.”

I think this is the first in a long line of, “Why can’t you share? Your husband has a good job and you have extra money so why not spread the wealth?” problems in our future. I get it’s not important to you to have Internet, but it’s important to me. It saved my life on one occasion and saved me from homelessness on another. It’s okay our priorities are different, I don’t judge anyone for not having Internet, but it’s also not my responsibility to provide you with something I have because you think it’s, “No big deal.”

I also have more in savings right now than most people would. That’s not extra money and it doesn’t make me feel any richer or more well-off. It makes me feel like I’ll have money for auto insurance and rent when they’re due. Just because a bill is paid to a savings account in my name rather than a company or landlord doesn’t make it any less spent.

I look forward to being in a position where I can budget for donating money to good causes and people who have fallen on hard times. It is something very dear to my heart (it was before I needed a fundraiser, too) and knowing how life-changing a few thousand dollars can be to a family in my position means that I know how much every $5/$10/$20 donation means to the family receiving that money.

That is a whole lot different than someone trying to score my Internet when there is a library three blocks away with Internet and probably access to a computer lab if they are in a local school.

I still feel like a jerk. I’m not sure why.

The Soylent Experiment

I only eat dinner now.

Some article came out that compared Soylent to “Slim Fast for bros” and I was infuriated. If Slim Fast had any nutritional value I would have already been consuming it. A reporter that can’t read a nutrition label, well, isn’t a reporter.

I drink 2 12oz. servings a day. That’s a whopping 750kCal before dinner. My TDEE is around 2,400 so that leaves me a lot of wiggle room. I messed up the MyFitnessPal numbers so even though I’ve lost about 7lbs. in the last two weeks, MFP shows I’ve lost .2 – oh well. I feel better and it’s nice to not have to think about food. I would be on this 100% (minus occasional social meals and a nighttime bowl of popcorn here or there) if I didn’t think it would risk giving my daughters a complex about food.

I’m not hungry until dinnertime, either. This stuff works to make you not hungry. The brain recognizes it as food.

Soylent is not for people who love food. It’s not for people who get a rush from crunchy or gooey or lovely textures. It’s for people who feel hungry and think, “I do not even want to deal with that.” Who have no specific food cravings and just want to not be hungry anymore.

I’ve gotten far more good-natured ribbing for this than I ever did when I told people I wanted to be debt-free. I’m amazed that when I tell people about this they take it personally. Like I care what anyone else eats? I don’t. I’m just doing a thing. No biggie.

It’s weird.

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Happy August!

I’ve used You Need A Budget for a month and it’s been wonderful. I thought I was doing fine with my spreadsheet and my forecasting and all those changes. I felt like having to track every single penny would be awful and make me feel strangled with details. On the contrary, it feels like we could do so much  more with the money we had. I can look and see exactly how much we spent on groceries in July without calculating anything.

It’s great.

There is a change I made to Wednesday’s How We Spent It. I took $40 off of the overpayment to Capital One and added it to a brand new “Other Kids’ Birthdays” category. There are two birthday parties in August and making sure we have those covered will ensure we can send the kids with a gift. We can even pay with a credit card like Target for 5% off and when it goes on the card, I pay immediately with the money in the category. No more revolving credit trap.

Mr. Brickie says there may be rain next week Wednesday which means no work for the day. He wants to maybe go do a side job after work for two hours a day to build up an extra day’s pay. I told him that as much as I would work him into the ground because I’m not him and that’s easy for me to ask for, I have a conscience and don’t think that’s a good idea while he’s working six days a week.

He’s feeling good working six day weeks, but if he passes the point where he no longer feels good he can’t scale back. So it is better to take the Wednesday off and relax during this overtime period to make sure he stays rested and healthy.

It killed me to say it. I don’t want to make him feel like getting excited about paying off debt is bad, but I can’t risk his health. He’s working 48 hours a week. Bricklayer work. Outside. In the heat.

I have to keep him healthy for the rest of summer. He has a whole month of at least 48 hour weeks coming up in August heat. There’s no way I can let him do 10 hour days on top of that because that will take away from his relaxing time, his sleep time, everything.

He’s more important to me than debt payoff. I mean, it’s a classic goose with the golden egg scenario. Appreciate the golden eggs, don’t get greedy and kill the goose.

He said he would think about it. He thought I would high-five him and holler, “Yes, please!” and I think my reaction confused him. Understandable, because it certainly confused me!

We fluctuate now. We have these moments of peace where we aren’t stressed out and worried about money and our future. They’re pretty fleeting but they exist. Those moments are also addictive. We want more of them and we want them as soon as possible. He wants to just go whole hog and I feel like I have to be responsible and keep the slow and steady wins the race perspective.

It’s going to be so nice when we are down to the one card. I told Mr. Brickie if we had eighty-three cents left over at the end of the month I would send it to the card. There wouldn’t be any question of, “Where should it go?” because there is only one option.

Oh, to be debt free. Ah, well, we’re getting there.

Last night I had a dream I ended up with an unexpected windfall of 2 million dollars. The whole dream was about trying to give away 1 million as $14,000 individual gifts (so I wouldn’t incur further taxes beyond the taxes I would have to pay from the windfall itself) and how I would get the money to people. It was a really good dream.

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Bigger and Maybe Longer Windfall & How We Will Spend It 7/31/2015


It’s Wednesday. I’m early on the How We Spent It so it’s really a How We Will Spend It. We get checks on Wednesday but they’re dated for Friday but CapitalOne360 lets me deposit on Thursday and clears the check on Friday which is fantastic, by the way. So I have the check and am posting about it today even though I’ll deposit it tomorrow and it will be technically spent on Friday.


Timing is the most difficult part of personal finance for me.

That being said, let’s begin!

Wow. Wow! WowWowWow!!!

Remember in the last post where I said that Mr. Brickie’s boss was happy with him and there was this vague, out-there possibility he could get bumped to 70% with a raise?

It was on this paycheck. It already happened, we just didn’t find out until today. That whole conversation was to prepare him so he wouldn’t be shocked when he saw his rate was ≈$4 higher per hour.

Holy Crap!

So his 48 hour check (yea! overtime!) was $1171.93 – the first time he’s made over a thousand dollars in a week since that one week he worked 60 hours last season. I’m totally blown away.


It’s only for this company. He is still a 60% apprentice officially until he has the hours to be 70% for real in about two months. Mr. Brickie thinks this is an incentive for him to stay with this company because bricklayers are becoming hard to find and when bricklayers become hard to find, good quality bricklayers get paid not to leave for another company that might be closer to home or whatever. (Lucky for me, Mr. Brickie has been going to all those union meetings since the beginning where the old timers talked about the “good old days” during those lean years when he started so he was able to remember some of those stories for me!)

It feels wonderful. I feel like we have been given such a gift. Yes, it was his hard work and positive attitude that got us here, but he had to be at the right company at the right time around people that noticed and were willing to pay him more for that hard work.

I want to climb on the roof and scream #SOBLESSED all non-ironically and then laugh at myself for doing it. Mostly because you know I would actually scream, “HashtagSoBlessed!!!” as all one word. I mean do it right or don’t do it at all. Of course if I did I would probably fall off the roof and become one of those living warnings of what not to do when something goes good in your life.

The goal with the money bump, of course, is to pay off credit card debt.

Friday when this check clears I’m paying off the amazon store card and then starting to pay off the oh-so-old capital one platinum card that’s at just under $1200. If I can get that paid off then I’ll move on to the “put my bills on it” amazon visa card.

The overtime most likely won’t last past August 19th (it’s a school gig and that’s the first day of school) so I’m trying to cram as much debt-reduction as possible into one month’s worth of supersize checks. If my (never been right before because something always comes up) Excel forecasting spreadsheet is right I should be able to get the CapOne card paid off by the third week of August.

Obviously I will have to put my awesome future food subscription on hold because I need that cash for debt payoff. I cannot justify $255 extra dollars a month no matter how much I love it. I might be able to get by with 2 weeks worth a month and if I can we might be able to squeeze that into the regular grocery budget. We’ll see. If nothing else at least I know it’s awesome and it works and in the future when we’re more financially stable, I can revisit the whole idea.

So…on to how we spent it…

July 31st $1,171.93
Groceries $150.00
Gas $80.00
Restaurants $40.00
Amazon payoff $379.80
middle sister dentist $275.00
ipass $160.00
Capital One CC $87.13

As you can see we have those Middle Sister cavities to fix in August that I need to fund with this 5th check of the month so we’re putting aside that $275 to cover those out-of-pocket costs.

If something unexpected comes up, I will steal from the restaurant category. I know we shouldn’t even have a restaurant category while we are getting out of debt but you know what? We are going to eat out once in a while so it’s better to accept it than not budget for it.

A refresher on apprenticeship: Apprenticeship starts at 40% and goes up 10% every time you
1) work 750 hours
2) Attend union meetings
3) attend training sessions

100% apprentice = Journeyman = Journeyman wages. The percentage is the percentage of the prevailing journeyman wage you make. So, if journeyman wage is $50/hr. a 40% apprentice would make $20/hr.

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Planning and Lamenting and a Mini Windfall! 7/28/2015

We received a check from our former home insurance company for overpayment. Windfall! I used it to pay off the Walmart store card. This Friday when we get a check + overtime I’m paying off the Amazon store card. That will leave us with just the two credit cards.

It looks like Mr. Brickie is working Saturdays through August 19th. If he does, I should be able to pay down the Capital One card by about $500+ because all the extra is getting thrown there. I’m excited to see what his paycheck looks like this week because it might actually be over $1k and that would be so awesome!

You Need A Budget has given the Mr. and me a way to see where every single penny was spent in July and he’s been a champ about logging transactions he makes (gas, soda) in the app so it’s categorized. Being this diligent about where our pennies are going makes it seem like we have a lot more pennies.

I still use the Excel spreadsheet for forecasting but now I can look at what I planned vs. what actually happened and make better changes in the future based on what our family actually spends.

In work news, yesterday Mr. Brickie said to me, “I’m really hesitant to tell you this…..”


He laughed and said, “No…but the supervisor says I do work better than my percentage and he’s going to talk to someone about that.”

I said, “What does that mean?”

He said, “It means that IF he remembers and IF the guy he talks to passes it up the chain they COULD decide to bump my apprentice level early. It’s a thing.” (Quick Reminder: Those apprentice bumps come with a $4/hr. raise.)

Holy crap! Of course, it might not happen so I’m not getting excited, but even just knowing that someone feels he’s doing such good work means the world to me because that makes Mr. Brickie feel so appreciated and special that he’s happy and works even harder.

If it did happen it would be a hell of a boost. Going the way we are now (without a magical, early bump) it looks like he’s going to promote to the next level (and raise) at the end of September. A couple months head start would be a really big deal for our family.

I’m not betting on it but I’m so, so proud of my husband. He works so hard and always gives his best. Sure, he forgets stuff sometimes. Sure, sometimes it’s important stuff and it drives me nuts. Even when he drives me nuts, at the end of the day I wouldn’t trade him in for anything.

Oh, the other thing that’s happening with the “bonus check” at the end of the month? Setting aside $275 for Middle Sister to get cavities filled. I’m pretty crazy about making sure we all brush and floss twice a day and Middle Sister was slacking. We had a talk and I showed her the budget and showed her what couldn’t be funded because she felt two minutes was “too boring” to brush. I told her to count dollars with every brush because this could have been prevented. The same thing happened to Big Sister last year and she hasn’t had a cavity since. My fingers are crossed. (We would all brush together but we have a very small bathroom. The three girls can’t even brush together, really, without being totally squished together.)

I’m excited to see how much the check + overtime is. I can do approximations with calculators online, sure, but when overtime is involved it gets a little funny. I do my best and try to underguess. It is always easier to find a place to put extra money. If you plan and get less it’s much more difficult to cut back.

It’s summer. Time to catch up on some things! The “wish upon a star” goal is to have the cards and car paid off before the tax return but the “might actually be able to manage it” goal is to pay off the cards before the tax return and the portion of the tax return that doesn’t go to rent will pay off the car. I’m aiming for the wish upon a star goal because better goals get better results!

A major part of how we do is going to be based on how much overtime Mr. Brickie gets, so I can’t get too attached to any goal because it’s up to the weather, the project manager, and other things that aren’t in our control.

I’m a little nervous about Christmas, but if we have to have one more low-rent Christmas like we did last year then so be it. I’d rather get the finances under control and have money for the kids when they really need it later instead of digging ourselves deeper over some toys they won’t remember.

I’m trying to let myself off the hook so I can stop worrying about Christmas in July. I realize that’s a little over-the-top, even for me!

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On Food and Fooding and Always About Money

Now that we’re off the public assistance and I’ve been tracking our spending with that You Need A Budget program (happy birthday to me!) I’m able to tell you right now we are going to spend right around $1000 for food this month. Right now we are at $713.47 for groceries and $122.05 for eating out. For our family, $122.05 represents eating out four times this month. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. When I see it as once a week it seems both good and bad depending on how you decide to argue it. I’m not sure. According to the May 2015 USDA food cost guideline numbers we are still hitting on the low end of spending for a family of five.

While we were part of the SNAP program our benefits for a family of five ranged from $426/mo. to $892/mo. the changes did not really mesh with income changes so I have no idea about all that. When we moved to our new, more conservative state we received $19/mo. more in assistance than we had been getting in our former state. I was surprised.

Also, our income would have kicked us off the program in either state. It wasn’t because of the move. I feared that might happen before we moved here but it didn’t. Also, the people in the offices here are so nice and so helpful it was downright confusing.

Back to food spending. This month I have budgeted $150/wk. toward food. At the end of the month, the budget will let me know how much I should budget for next month. There is, however, a $255 sneak attack that’s made our grocery spending as high as it is.

The groceries are what they are. I don’t buy name brands and we are about to cut down a lot on breakfast stuff because one of our big expenses this month that will roll through to next month is Soylent.

Yes, Soylent.

You might remember the Kickstarter back in 2013 (I do! I do!) or may have read the book or seen the movie (Fun Fact: Soylent is named after the book, not the movie. It actually makes a difference.)

It’s a nutritionally-complete food replacement.

NOT a diet.

A way for Mr. Brickie to have a decent breakfast. I have been researching it online (especially in the /r/Soylent forum on Reddit) to make sure we do everything we can to make it a smooth transition. Mr. Brickie has been skipping breakfast (bad for someone who has a physical job, no doubt) and, well, I’ve literally dreamed about not having to eat since watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (what? that wasn’t the message of the movie?) so it has it’s uses for both of us.

We will wean on slowly, of course. No jumping in crazy-style. Mr. Brickie will start on Saturday morning in case there are any gastro side-effects he won’t deal with them while he’s at work. I can start Friday morning because the package arrives Thursday and you have to let it sit in the fridge overnight for best results.

I’m not doing it to lose weight, I have been getting out of the house to the park and the pool and playing with the kids to try and stay active and healthy. I want to stop worrying about food. There is not one food I can look at and feel completely good about eating anymore. There’s always some flaw that makes it not a good choice. It’s really stressful. I see it the way I see getting off of Facebook. Walk away completely for a little bit and when you come back you can see things from a better perspective. Get a little distance on the issue.

Plus science is fun. I’m not going to lie. I’m so excited.

I will still eat solid food. After that month I was vegan and then couldn’t drink milk anymore? I know doing something funky can have long-term ramifications. So I will still eat food. Heck, I can even put stuff IN the Soylent if I want to make sure I get some chewing in (to release those lovely digestive enzymes) because it’s not a diet.

I see our grocery bill dropping in the areas of breakfast and lunch, but especially breakfast. I’m terribly picky about breakfast and the whole “can’t drink milk” means cereal is a distant dream of my past. I was eating Costco croissants and muffins but those are too greasy. I just want to not eat but not be hungry. So, no we will buy less of those things and the kids can have cereal and fruit and if I want fruit I can still have fruit and it might just work out.

You will be the first to know.

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