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.

GREAT NEWS ALERT!

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.

DISNEYLAND UPDATE!

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!

How We Spent It! 8/4/2017 (It’s back!)

I’m doing all the happy dances. This is the first 40 hour paycheck Mr. Brickie has gotten not just this YEAR but since he’s been an 80% apprentice. I didn’t know what a full check would look like. Normally I do projections with the Hourly Paycheck Calculator from Paycheck City and it’s pretty close. We hit a huge milestone with his last promotion to 80% … his take home pay for a week where he gets his full 40 hours is over a thousand dollars.

I damn near fainted.

We have quit using the credit cards and I’m doing balance transfers to put the debt into a “hold and pay off” status. I’ll happily pay 3% to get that 0% interest for 12 or 18 months. It buys time and means every dollar I put toward the debt is bringing down the debt and not going toward interest.

But here it is…how we spent it:

  • Groceries/Gas/iPass/Cats/Spending Money: $525
  • Credit Card minimums and one payoff: $438.12

Okay, so it wasn’t super exciting.

The $350 in cash he made for working with a buddy last Saturday went straight into our local bank. It’s separate from the money I use for budgeting (but we can still see it in YNAB). I don’t want that to go toward regular bills. It’s either going to go toward paying down/off debt or The Great Save 2017 or Christmas. It’s “over there” money.

The Ant and the Grasshopper

If you don’t know the fable off the top of your head, it goes a little something like this.

An ant spends all summer hustling for food. His friend the grasshopper chills and enjoys the nice weather. Winter comes. The ant is all good come winter. The grasshopper knocks on the ant’s door and begs for help because he’s starving.

The story ends one of two ways. The ant either sends the grasshopper away to die or the ant shares his bounty and the grasshopper learns his lesson.

Windfalls in summer make me think of this story. I never really liked the story because I don’t think anyone is just one thing. Just an ant or just a grasshopper. It’s about balance, but if I’m looking for inspiration and a metaphor, this one fits for my situation like no other.

A non-brickie buddy of Mr. Brickie got him on some Saturday side job that pays $350 a week. As much as I’d like to spend that on makeup and nice purses underwear and school registration fees what it’s going toward is the rent deficit. If he can work four Saturdays (it’s kind of a pipe dream, we don’t know how many Saturdays the side gig will last) it will fix the problem of me not saving enough for rent entirely! (Not sure what I’m talking about being short on rent? It’s in The Great Save 2017 post!)

I’m hoping for the best.

I have to come up with money for school registrations and any back to school clothing needs these little urchins have. Sure, I’d love to just take big circles of fabric, cut a neck hole in the middle, and put it over their heads. Add a belt and you can call it fashion, even! But no. Lucky for me I received a lovely box of hand me downs recently with amazing tshirts that fit ALL. THREE. KIDS. It’s bigger on one and more fitted on another but every shirt looks good on every kid. It was like some kind of hand me down miracle. So I probably don’t have a lot to worry about on the school supply front beyond the actual supplies.

I’m behind this year. My 2017 word is SNAIL because I’m usually done getting school supplies in July. We just realized yesterday¬†we don’t have a copy of our lease because we never signed one. As renters it’s super important we have a copy of that lease to prove we live here so our kids can attend school in two weeks. Registration is still today and tomorrow for one school and tomorrow for the other school so we’re not behind but we’re cutting it close.

I hate cutting it close. I like to be early and not worry about deadlines.

This all started when I tried to reduce my anxiety. I find that both funny and very, very sad. I talked to my doctor and she recommended a sleeping pill to sleep through the night but I took it and nothing happened last night. That’s not entirely true. I was awake more last night than I’ve been in a long, long time. It was awful. So tonight I’ll try one and a half pills and see if that works. If one and a half doesn’t work I have permission to try two but no more.

I think once my brain gets used to sleeping through the night I won’t need the pills anymore. The same way taking the anxiety medication made my brain forget how to sleep.

I know that doesn’t really make sense but it sounds fairly logical so I’m sticking with it.

Today should be How We Spent It but he doesn’t get paid until this afternoon. I can’t do one of the balance transfers I need to because the system is down on the back end (so weird, I’m trying really hard not to see it as a sign, omen, or warning)