Why I Gave Up on the Budget

Man. It’s been rough. Sure, it’s minor surgery but we’re on week six and today is my last procedure and I could not be more excited and tired and over this whole wellness process.

I remind myself it’s voluntary so I can’t complain. I’m lucky to have insurance that covers this now so I don’t have varicose veins in 10 years or ulcers in my legs in 20 years.

Getting older is a trip.

Mr. Brickie was off work sick Thursday & Friday and then he was rained out of work Monday & Tuesday so we are going to have two not so great 24hour checks. This is the time of year the weather starts to turn on us like if you keep a wild animal as a pet and you think it’s all cool until the tiger is 200lbs. and gnawing a little too hard on your arm. That’s what October usually feels like.

My habit of paying all the bills as soon as possible instead of spreading them over 4 weeks helped, however. One of the three-day checks only has to cover groceries, etc. this week so the bit of additional money can go toward bills with next week’s three-day check.

I certainly hope it’s a three-day check. Mr. Brickie says the weather looks great for the rest of the week so here’s hoping.

This weekend we got a hotel room to celebrate my daughter’s friend’s birthday. This is absolutely not in the budget.

I’m going to call this the Disneyland Effect. Since there is no way to budget for Disney (and I’m in pain all the time right now) there is a “put it in the chuck-it bucket” effect where all expenses that aren’t budgeted start to look like less of a, “when we can afford it” and more like a, “whatever, I don’t care.”

I recognize this is a dangerous attitude and am trying to get the reins on that horse before it runs right out of the barn doors.

I wish I could hand off the budget to someone else for a little bit. It’s exhausting. I know it will probably go back to being my favorite thing in the world eventually but right now I just want to go back to bed.

Mr. Brickie is on track to become a journeyman in March. I wonder if it will feel different when he isn’t an apprentice anymore… (I’m trying to end on a positive note.)

Why I’m Done with MLMs for Good

Short Answer: People who fail aren’t just full of sour grapes. These businesses only work for people who are full-on extroverts with the kind of energy only found in toddlers and me when I’m having an manic episode.

Long Answer: I’ve tried two MLM companies (Scentsy and LipSense) and I joined BOTH in February (of different years). I wonder what it is about February that makes me make particularly bad business decisions.

The products from both companies are great and I still use products from both companies. It’s just the way the system is set up you have to game it to win. Or, like I said before, have eternal energy.

I should have seen the warning signs from LipSense. I didn’t get orders for a month before I signed up. When I did sign up there was nothing available to sell. I got sucked up in the whole “buying inventory” mistake. I walked away almost breaking even, so I’m not mad and I didn’t lose a bunch of money like some people do in these businesses but I won’t ever do it again.

It’s just not my nature.

That being said if I ever have an original idea I’ll sell my own thing for sure. Just…not other people’s things via a multi-level marketing company. Sure they like to post things about the pyramid scheme of the “cubicle life” but the analogy doesn’t hold water. When my leadership has a worse grasp of logic than I do? It’s not a good sign.

So I’m out. If you want LipSense, I still recommend it. It’s good stuff. I hated the skincare stuff. Well…not hated…I just felt there were a hundred better options for less money at Ulta, you know? Plus it wasn’t until after I signed up they told me I couldn’t talk about anything that was a competing brand. Which is all the skincare stuff I actually use. (I have a friend who sells Perfectly Posh and I love their stuff…no…I’m not going to sell it. I’ve learned my lesson, I swear! If you need a recommendation for a person though, let me know and I’ll send you her way.)

I’m done having people tell me what I can and can’t talk about on my own Facebook page or in my own blog. I don’t hate the company or anything, I’m just done with it. My freedom is too important to give it away for a little lipstick money.

How to Stay Healthy

Short Answer: Dumb Luck

Long Answer: Follow doctor’s orders. If the doctor says, “Stay still. Don’t lift things.” Do that. Otherwise you’ll find your incision is trying to open itself and you’ll become really paranoid.

Also, I got my first medical bill from the first leg procedure. It’s just over $250 and I called to set up a payment plan. As the next four bills come in (presumably for a similar amount?) I call and they will add them to the payment plan in some kind of rotation so I’m not overwhelmed. I’m not sure what the damage on the chest wall surgery will be.


I totally buried the lead here. I didn’t do it on purpose, though, I just got distracted. Mr. Brickie is a 90% apprentice starting Monday. As of monday he is 750 work hours away from being a journeyman and no longer will be an apprentice! *gasp* It’s taken a long time to get here and sometimes I wondered if we ever would.

It comes with a raise and we will find out Wednesday after next how that will look on a paycheck. I’m excited because we need to get moving on that rent savings. It’s looking a little sparse.


We booked our tickets! I booked them on Southwest for $142/person. ROUND TRIP. I caught one of those $47 fare specials and decided to fly into LAX instead of John Wayne (we’ll just take a shuttle for 45 minutes to Disneyland from the airport) and the price went from $1800 for all of us to fly down to $710 … That’s a heck of a difference.

How to Make Your Own Anything

Short Answer: YouTube

Long Answer: About ten YouTube videos, because someone is giving bad information and you have to make sure the “amazing” recipe you find is actually going to work so you need to find multiple people using the recipe and at least one review of the recipe and if you’re really lucky a before and after video using the recipe.

Back in the day, there weren’t 75 videos on how to make your own dish soap. In fact, back in the day I couldn’t find ONE video on how to make dish soap for hand washing. Okay, the exception was people saying to wash your dishes in Castille soap and I had many, many cuss words for those people when I tried it. Turns out that’s a super-gross way to try and do dishes.

This time? I went to find out how to make dishwasher soap and there was a whole section of videos on how to make regular hand-washing dish soap. YouTube becomes more magical by the day.

We used to buy Charlie’s Soap. A giant bucket of the stuff. We spent in between $90-$120 depending on where I bought it and what kind of coupon code I could scrounge up. Do you want to know when I last bought laundry detergent? July 20, 2013. It was $90.69. That’s a grand total of $1.81/month on laundry detergent. I had found the promised land and it was GOOD, I tell you. SO GOOD.

Now we are running low and I checked the price and – lo and behold – the first thing I found is they no longer make the bucket. So sad. Now there are bags. You have to buy four of the big bags to equal a bucket. Four bags will cost you $173.82 on Amazon.

That’s a hell of an increase from last time! I mean, sure if it lasts the same amount of time we’re looking at $3.47/month on laundry detergent which still seems a great deal compared to your name brand soaps at the store but it’s serious sticker shock and I’m not sure it’s the best deal anymore.

So now I’m considering making my own laundry soap. Has anyone I know actually done this? It seems like a good idea but I’m still wary. Let me know your experience if you have one!

Pouring > Raining

Sorry about this in advance but I’m going to whine about my health one more time.

I was supposed to have surgery tomorrow but I got a respiratory infection! I had a regular doctor appointment scheduled Wednesday and when she saw me she told me having surgery would be begging for complications and she texted the surgeon and they called me to reschedule.

I’ve been downright miserable, but let’s talk money.

We found out we can’t buy a place until February and it has really bummed both of us out because you’ll remember we signed our first apartment lease November 15th and the lady foreclosure court date was in December… but the deed change wasn’t recorded until Feb 15th, 2015.

We can’t apply for a mortgage until Feb 16th, 2018.

A bit of a setback, but I guess it could be way worse. We have spent those 3 years improving our credit scores and cleaning up our credit reports.

We will be ready come February.

In the meantime we are treading water, paying bills, and I’m on the couch whining and being sick. (Unless it’s time to drop off or pick up a kid, then I’m moving!)

Forced Spending Reduction

I’m an awful person.

I figure if I start out with the obvious, it won’t seem like I’m trying to sound like a good person with what I’m about to share.

We have been trying and doing a really half-assed job of not spending beyond our means.

It’s been so much more difficult than it’s ever been before. There has to be something in my brain (and in Mr. Brickie’s brain) that has changed or something. I know I’m not being super clear and it is almost more of a feeling than a fact but…not spending money used to be a lot easier.

It could also be that my children are older and things they need are either more expensive (new bike helmet) or they make better arguments that I give in to (more capri leggings to go under dresses) … I’m not 100% sure. This Thursday when Mr. Brickie went back to work I was pleased we only had to spend $44 out of the current check to catch up on spending from the last check.

Not going to lie, it’s embarrassing that we lived beyond our means by $44. I would be embarrassed to live beyond our means by $1. It goes against everything I believe.

So this week we are determined – as a family – to stay under the paycheck. Mr. Brickie worked today but because he only worked two days last week, we’re are not going to be able to use that sweet Saturday money for the savings account and will have to use it to live on.

Labor Day & Long Weekends

Mr. Brickie is going to be off on Labor Day this Monday and because NO ONE is allowed to be on school property the first two days of school he will also be off on Tuesday and Wednesday.

We don’t think he’s working this Saturday. That would mean a 5 day weekend. Whew! He could use it with all the overtime he’s been working but man, that paycheck is going to be a sad state of affairs.

Also, for those of you following Mr. Brickie’s journey to journeyman (hahahaha I’m SO WITTY) he is 12 work days away from his next promotion to a 90% apprentice. He’s getting so close! Of the original 13 people that were in his apprentice class, three of them are working bricklayers today.

When everyone talks about rebuilding after natural disasters, I think about tradespeople. A shortage is about to happen. I hope people find jobs they can love for life in the midst of the chaos and sadness.

We have been a little out of control on spending lately. I had to pay $150 toward Middle Sister’s annual appointment for her Ortho-K lens measurement. I had to go to urgent care for an abscess and that was $77 out of pocket. Then we went to Target and bought a new bike helmet for Middle Sister (she did not have one that fit and rides her bike every day) and some socks for Little Sister. It ended up being $100 trip. This is why I don’t go out shopping with the kids, like, ever. I’m much better at sticking to a budget when I shop online!

We are trying to build our savings for a potential house down payment. We have to go to Disneyland and I need to give in and buy the plane tickets already before the flights I want are sold out.

Medical Budgeting (How not to do important things series.)

I do not have any amazing solutions for medical budgeting. If someone asked me I would tell them to save a hundred dollars a minute until they saved everything and that would be good. I mean, I still don’t even understand how my insurance works with an 80/20 split on payments but then also a deductible but no copays. I haven’t googled it in a couple years. I should try again – the Internet is always coming up with answers for things I couldn’t find even a few months ago.

The thing is, there’s never a way to know how much money you or your family will need for medical expenses because we never know what’s going to happen. The abscess in my chest probably wouldn’t have come back again if I hadn’t started working out in earnest. But maybe it would have. My doctor ordered an ultrasound, but the ultrasound tech today made it seem like a procedure that shouldn’t happen at all and I shouldn’t have gotten one. So no way I could have prepared for a maybe-but-is-it-really necessary procedure.

I have a consultation with a surgeon for a recurring abscess on my chest wall that hurts in ways I can barely describe. I have no idea how much a consult costs. I especially have no idea how much removal will cost. Can I offer to let them put it on YouTube for a discount? If they offered would I actually agree to that? (Honestly, I don’t think so but – bottom line – it would depend on how much money we’re talking about.)

I have already had a consultation with a vein doctor about getting my leg veins worked on over the next two months. Did you know vein surgery stuff was done by a cardiologist? I had no idea. I also have no clue what that costs. After all the vein clinic commercials on the radio I kind of wonder if it’s a necessary procedure. I don’t hear commercials for heart surgery because if you need it you get it, you don’t pick a thing based on a commercial, right? (I’m not saying this as a fact. I have no idea about anything, ever.)

While I am beyond (BEYOND) thankful for our insurance, I’m more than a little scared what 20% of the costs of these procedures are going to be.

There was no way I would think to save for abscess surgery or vein surgery. Those aren’t normal maintenance visits.

It also throws a damper on substitute teaching for at least a few months, too. Which…I’m not sure if I’m happy or sad about because I hate going into situations feeling completely unprepared and they still haven’t provided anything stating the absolute basics of what I think someone should know going into a new school environment. Or, heck, any new environment for that matter.

Finally, the real heartbreaker…it puts a damper on the gym membership I JUST GOT to do aqua aerobics. Like, are you kidding me right now life? Maybe I can duct tape some saran wrap to my chest to keep the water out of the hole.

It sounds silly and reckless, I’m sure, but if you experienced the stress reduction I had over the last two weeks? You would be thinking about saran wrap, too. I promise.

The worst part is that since all my upcoming procedures only need local anesthetic and are outpatient I keep downplaying it like I’m just being a weenie for not going ahead and living life to the fullest every day. I’m so mad at myself for the lack of energy I have and my inability to be the person I really want to be right now.

Always Hitting A Wall

I, like almost everyone (I think), spend all the money when the paycheck comes in.

No matter how much I expect a raise to give us some breathing room, there never seems to be any. The big hit this time around is the miscalculation of the rent. To have the three months we need I need to save $467/mo for the next three months. Less than most mortgages, for sure, but when it’s unexpected…it’s a big bill.
I’m not complaining, though, because Mr. Brickie is still working that (non-bricklaying) side job with his buddy and while I know it seems obvious to put that extra cash toward the credit card debt that’s been consolidated on two cards and is begging to be paid off ASAP, I keep putting it in our other bank just to keep track of it.
I don’t know how long that second gig is going to last. Last week he worked on it two hours a day for four days of the week and again for eight hours on Saturday. That’s going to be a $700 check.
Which is so. much. money. Holy crow!
After last week’s $350 that other account is up to $2,127.05 … a pebble in the ocean of the $17k of credit card debt to be paid off but a hell of a start.
The thing is, we have a possible opportunity coming down the line in the next couple months and I have to basically hoard cash in case we need it.
For all we know he might be working this extra gig through December. Or it might stop next week. It’s very up in the air and I don’t want to make the mistake of spending the money in the wrong way based on an incorrect assumption of how much there will be.
I feel like I’m in the middle of a crossroads surrounded by paths and I’m not sure where they lead beyond the first few feet and I’m stuck in place here in the middle and can’t move forward without more information.
On the bright side where I don’t feel all trapped, Mr. Brickie should be getting his next promotion (to a 90% apprentice) in mid-September. *throws brick shaped confetti which is basically regular confetti because bricks are rectangles* and will be one step closer to – and one step away from – becoming a journeyman. Once he gets that promotion, only 750 work hours will separate him from his final goal. Not his final LIFE goal but this goal, the one we started in another state, years ago.
It’s been a long journey and being on this side of the hump is absolutely easier on the heart, the mind, and the soul than being on the front end. Back when we tried to survive on him going through weeks of unpaid training (he got a $125/wk stipend for gas, I think) to starting at $17ish an hour, losing our house, moving, relying on the kindness of my online friends to afford first month’s rent and deposit so we wouldn’t be homeless.
To now.
We are mostly a regular family living a regular (albeit highly budgeted) life. He makes $36/hr. (a pittance in some areas of the country, a king’s ransom in others) and we are able to buy groceries and pay the bills.
It’s enough that I am able to sleep at night.

The Sunday Night Panic

Honestly, I don’t know what causes it.

The overwhelming sense of dread that creeps in on Sunday night before bed. The feeling that makes me afraid to turn off the light and snuggle under the covers alone with my thoughts.

No matter how many lists I write, alarms I set, or reminders in my phone…I never feel prepared.

There is too much to do and not enough time and energy to get it done.

Maybe it’s nerves because I had to schedule appointments with specialists last week. Maybe it’s because the wind is coming in from the Northwest. Maybe it’s the bariatric pressure.

Or it’s just my mind turning on me for no good reason.

No matter what the reason, the Sunday night panic is my least favorite feeling in the world. No cause, no solution. Only raw nerves and fear.

On the bright side, I’ll feel a heck of a lot better tomorrow.

Maybe I’ll even have a minute to give you an update on the budget. It’s not exciting but I’ve got a new list of expenses and a pretty good idea of incoming funds and it’s looking okay for the rest of August and maybe even though September!