Un%*!#ing the Budget

So if you read The Great Save 2017 you will know what I’m talking about here. If you didn’t you can read all about how I realized while writing my actual blog post I hadn’t accounted correctly for my rent payment which needs to be over double what I’ve been putting away. I’ve been diligently saving toward half my goal for the last four months. Uh oh.

This is mostly because federal income tax doesn’t get processed until February these days (thanks fraudulent small businesses!) and even though he knows he’s getting nine months of rent in one payment, my landlord will text us …often… if we haven’t made our nine month payment by February 15th EVEN THOUGH he owns multiple tax company franchises and KNOWS exactly when we get our refund because we generally get it the first day EITC returns go through.

Like, why are you hassling me when you know no one’s taxes have come in yet? It doesn’t even make sense.

Also our rent was raised this past November. Well it wasn’t raised so much as he “removed the pay in advance discount he didn’t have to give in the first place” to the tune of $25/mo. which, whatever, it’s fine, the discount was an unexpected boon when we moved in and I was thankful for it. But somewhere in between deciding to pay four months when our lease renews so he can maybe not forget we pay in a chunk with our tax refund and that extra $25/mo. I messed up the payment amount to put into savings the last four months and now I have to make up for that in a big way.

All while saving for a destination wedding in Disneyland.

And paying down debt.

I know these are first world problems but they’re MY first world problems and I still have to solve them.

First, we figure out our actual monthly expenses based on the new numbers:

Then we calculate Mr. Brickie’s take home pay and keep in mind that the entirety of last year he didn’t work a 40 hour week so we can’t actually RELY on the income numbers. A four week month of forty hour weeks right now is a beautiful $4,130/month … if he could really make that every month I’d have everything on autodraft and not even think about bills. It would be lovely. Back to reality! If everything goes perfectly we have a surplus of $680 to save or pay down debt or bathe in or make mixed media art with. Except not the last two because that would not help me reach my goals.

I’m not sure what the order of operations should be here. Save money, use it for Disney, pay down debt? Why save money when I’m just going to end up putting money on a credit card at Disney. So pay down credit card knowing more debt is coming?

The Great Save 2017

This post could also be called:

  • Disneyland here we come
  • My brother’s destination wedding
  • Come for the day, stay for the week
  • Our first family vacation

Those all sound way less cool than THE GREAT SAAAAAVE … so I went with catchy and I’m hoping the bait and switch to a family wedding isn’t going to put you to sleep. I find it terribly exciting that my little brother is getting married. I’m super happy for him. He’s a great guy and his woman is top notch. Great personality, fabulous person, loves my brother. They have been together for years and get along great.

They are also huge, HUGE Disney fans.

So when they finally decided to tie the knot, they decided to do it at Disneyland. He’ll be handsome, she’ll be beautiful, there will be a carriage, and I have no doubt this couple will live Happily Ever After™

We just have to get our family of five to Disneyland, make sure everyone has a wedding-appropriate outfit, get a hotel room, grab park tickets, and ram a vacation into the same week of the wedding. All while thanking every deity we can think of none of us are IN the wedding.

Natually, I want to take the family to Disneyland since we’re already there. I want to keep it on the down low that we’re going to the park because I don’t want the happy couple to think the park is our first priority. None of my kids are “into” Disney and neither are Mr. Brickie and I. It’s cool, but it’s not where we would choose to vacay if it were up to us. We live far too close to Chicago for large crowds and overpriced food to appeal to us. We are, however, 100% down for Uncle Steven getting married! We’re all totally excited about it. If we’re going to be at the park for a wedding it would be silly to pass up the chance to show the kids the amusement park of my childhood. (Some of you might not know I spent a lot of my childhood in California.)

So we need to save.

I know I’ve only been back a week and I swear to you I really do want to pay off my debt.


My family has never been on vacation. My kids don’t know what it’s like to get on a plane where it’s cold (the wedding is mid-November) and get off the plane where it’s warm. I know that I’m supposed to be all, “Disney!” but I’m more like, “Get them out of their backyard for ten minutes!”

So this isn’t just going to be let’s see Disneyland. This is going to be let’s not worry about money too much AND go see Disneyland.

I’m going to bankrupt us, just watch. (Not really. Mr. Brickie’s income and job growth potential hasn’t maxed out yet.) But WOW Disneyland is expensive. The room alone (with the hefty wedding discount) is $402/night. YEP! I could stay offsite. YEP! I could take a shuttle to the park in the morning. YEP! There is no reason to stay in the hotel my bro is getting married in.

Don’t care. Staying there.

I am all about being debt free and maybeprobably owning a house but what I’m really all about is balance. I want my kids to have experiences today, not remember a childhood filled with nothing but delayed expectations that may never come anyway because life is funny and broken wrists happen sometimes that put you back five or six months financially.

We still haven’t decided how many days to get tickets for Disneyland. We currently plan on flying in Sunday and flying out Saturday. That means five weekdays in Anaheim. One of those weekdays is the wedding. One of those weekdays is the kids spending time with their grandmother. That leaves us three other weekdays. We might just do a two day pass and then spend one day hanging out in the hotel and swimming in the pool or something. I’m pretty open and even if we only spent one day at Disneyland it would be fine.

Now, let’s talk airplanes.

I’m fat. It’s been a few years since I’ve flown and when I did no one looked at me funny but the seats were uncomfortable. I hear they’re uncomfortable for everyone. In fact, if I just mention flying while fat the person I’m talking to will make it a point to try and make their discomfort seem so much worse in an effort to make me feel better. It’s sweet, really. But I just want to be comfortable in the plane. Four hours is a long time. Or I’m just a whiny baby. Either way is okay.

I want to figure out how to fly business class. Something solidly in between economy and first class. More comfortable seats without unlimited free booze, basically. If that’s even a thing. We’ll see.

The point is I’m going to be paying an arm and a leg for this vacation and I have to save money and somehow simultaneously pay down credit card debt.

The lotto is what I’m thinking. I’M KIDDING. Mostly.

But our budgeted expenses for a month are $3100

In case you’re new here, my rent is that low because I pay 4 months when my lease renews in November and then pay the rest of the year’s rent with my tax return. That gives me 8 months to save for 4 months of rent. Which means my numbers are off. $260×8=$2080 and 4 months of rent is $775×4=$3100 – Uh oh. I’m going to have to rewrite that whole thing. I have $835.65 in that savings account now. Assuming I can make a November payment that means I have August/September/October/November to make 3100-835 (2265) happen. 2265/4=566.25

Seriously. Why can’t I math properly?

Okay. Okay. This is just one of those little setbacks that makes you realize you can’t take months off and come back to a pristine budget. I got tired, I slacked off. This is the price I pay for that slacking.

At least during the summer here Mr. Brickie will be making close to that $1032 take home per week so I’ll be able to catch that up pretty quick. Of course that extra thousand dollars a month I thought I had to put toward credit cards or Disneyland is not as much as I thought.

I swear, every time I think I have everything together…. okay, back to the drawing board.

Side Hustle: Are we still calling it that? (Also, get off my lawn, whipper snappers!)

It makes me feel very old when I say “Side Hustle” out loud. Like I’m trying to sound hip to the jargon and falling flat. Like back when my grandmother used to use the word, “Not!” at the end of a sentence about ten years after everyone else stopped saying it.

I originally thought my side hustle would be selling lipstick. I know I don’t seem the type but honestly I bought it and I put it on in three minutes and it lasted ten hours so I was pretty much sold. Things haven’t been quite what I thought they would be but I got out of my comfort zone and did a salon after-hours and have met some really cool people and am going to do a giveaway at some point both here online and at a local coffee shop. It’s been a great conversation starter. That being said I’m close to breaking even but I’m not in “profitable” status yet. So I guess calling it a side hustle right now is premature.

I wasn’t even really looking for anything else when we passed by the local high school and I saw a sign advertising a job fair. I laughed and said to Mr. Brickie, “Me, as a teacher? Can you imagine?”

“Yes. Yes I can.” He replied.

When we got home I checked the website and lo and behold they only require a GED or High School Diploma to be a sub. Okay, okay, so I could do it…technically. I told him I’d go to the interview and see what was what.

“Be yourself.” He said, “and let them decide if you’re what they want in the school. Don’t be professional.”

I shook my head, “They’d never go for it.”

“It doesn’t hurt to try.” He said.

So I went, I interviewed, and the woman interviewing me said I’m exactly the energy the school needs. Um, okay?

Orientation/training is next week. I’m going to be a substitute teacher. I feel pretty snazzy because it’s the first time having a degree is going to benefit me in literally any way. I get paid per day and with the degree it’s $75 a day.

I’m trying to decide if that income is going to be Christmas money, THE GREAT SAVE 2017 money, or debt payoff money.

It’s going to be set to go into the emergency fund account automatically, so until I decide otherwise it will be emergency fund money. Not a bad backup plan.

I’ll keep you updated on how the substitute teaching gig goes. I hope I make it through the year without running away screaming. I think I won’t know until I dive in and give it a try!

jennydecki – a new chapter


Even when I’m not writing, this blog reminds me it is here, waiting.

It reminds me it’s waiting when Mr. Brickie deposited a $30k settlement we then used to pay off credit card debt. A settlement he received after being off work for five months this year. Five months of no work. It was devastating for our family, for his psyche, for my planning. He fell off a ladder (total freak accident) and shattered his wrist. There was surgery, physical therapy, and a whole lot of fear.

It reminds me it’s waiting while we charge up another $10k in debt while he continues to be off work for one reason or another. Plus summer camps. Plus new glasses because old ones broke. No, we didn’t need to charge summer camps, but I did because it’s important to me for my kids to have a week out of the house during the summer to figure out who they are without their loving but overbearing mother.

It tries to pull me back as I sign up for another MLM that I pretend is going to make money but I really just want to break even and walk away with a bunch of awesome product like I did last time. I joined in February because I honestly fell in love with the product. I did videos. It was awesome. I’m still technically doing it but I’m not going full-force like I was a few months ago. I discovered I absolutely LOVE doing live video. I discovered also I have no idea how to edit video.

It whispers in my ear at night while I try to figure out how we are ever, ever going to be able to afford to own a house and it comforts me when I fear we may rent this particular apartment forever. It’s not that the apartment is bad, it’s not. It is great for our finances because no matter how much I hate the kitchen I’m not going to upgrade it or do any construction on it because…it’s not mine.

I think when any financial blogger drops off the map it’s because things got out of control. They are actively engaged in not doing what they know they are supposed to and don’t want to talk about it. Okay, I’m sure that is not 100% true, someone had a real life emergency I’m sure, one that didn’t come with a bunch of new debt, I’m sure. I mean…it’s possible so I’m not going to pooh-pooh the idea. Our lives, however, were thrown into a raging garbage fire of desolation when he broke his wrist. We didn’t know if he would be able to go back to work at all.

I’ve had people tell me a family emergency like Mr. B’s broken wrist is a legitimate reason to stop writing. A time to circle the wagons and go private. While part of me knows I should believe that, I don’t. I’m terribly unforgiving when it comes to getting things done. I feel I should be able to do what needs to be done regardless of side effects. I generally look for any excuse to point at myself and say, “You could have done better.” I’m a sweetheart to myself, for sure. LOL

I was so distraught earlier this year I decided to try and get on some medication for my anxiety. It all felt like it was too darn much and I was constantly overwhelmed. The first pill was bliss but the side effects were pure hell. I still can’t sleep through the night and I’ve been OFF the pill for almost four months. The second pill I tried made my feet and calves swell up so much I thought I was going to burst. I stopped taking that one and the swelling went down but the texture of the skin on my feet is still strange. I’m not sure if I’m going to try anything else. I have an appointment with my doctor next week. I’ll ask her what I should do.

I wonder how much of my anxiety would go away if I treated myself like I do my kids when they get anxious. “It’s okay to have the feelings,” I say, “But you are so amazing and you’ve done so much already if you need to rest you should walk away.”

I tried to take a break and walk away from finances but that doesn’t really work. Bills don’t care you’re tired. Due dates don’t have a snooze button. The complete lack of money to budget and plan with won’t make the kids stop being hungry or wanting dinner.

As of two days ago Monday, however, Mr. Brickie is back on a job that should last a couple of years. This means somewhat predictable paychecks. That means I can make plans and those plans are based mostly in reality and not my imagination. This means I feel like I have something to write about besides “I used the credit card to buy groceries again!”

I’m back and I’m going to blog for better or for worse and not feel one bit bad about the better because it’s silly to only feel comfortable sharing your worst and not your best. Especially since I thought we were going gangbusters and then he breaks a wrist. Like, wow, that will teach me not to get too cocky about our life circumstances, right?

A small warning, however. Things are going to get worse again before they get better. We have a destination wedding coming up that I wouldn’t miss for all the world. That means we are going to fly to Disneyland this November and it is not going to be budget friendly. More about that in a future post, of course, but if you’re totally anti-credit-card I’m going to make you cringe at least fifty times by the end of the year.

I’m so glad to be back. I look forward to getting to the end of this debt-free journey. Let’s get it on!

Plan: Balance Transfer That Debt and Get Through Winter

First, I want to congratulate Mr. Brickie on becoming an 80% apprentice! He had to take a test that consisted of building a wall and he failed it twice (once he was sick and once he was overconfident) but the third time was truly the charm! That’s the last test he will have to take before becoming a journeyman. Now it’s just a matter of working the hours and taking the training classes. (If all that is gibberish you can see more about how his bricklayer apprenticeship works at this link.)

So it’s great he got a raise and is now making a serious hourly rate that makes me blush to say out loud. Still, though, regardless of hourly rate a bricklayer has to work to get paid and now is the time of year where I try really hard not to whine about winter and the totally predictable lack of work Mr. Brickie is experiencing.

But wait! It’s different this year!

How, you may ask?

He’s working just enough that we don’t get unemployment.

Now, this is great on one hand because our tax return is hit hard when we use unemployment benefits (even though we have taxes taken out of his unemployment check it seems that 10% fed and 3.25% state isn’t enough) so getting through with a $200(ish) check every week is super unfun but I’m trying to think of how great it will be at the end of the beginning of 2018 when I file taxes and don’t have to put in unemployment benefits.

Does it sound like I’m grasping a little for a silver lining? I am, a little. Winter is always tough because we want to save and we want to have a savings account for this time of year. We do. January is when I sit down and make a plan for the year. As you know I’m a firm believer in spending the tax return before we ever see it so there is no temptation to spend that big check on something fun when we have responsibilities that need to be taken care of like rent and several small but annoying medical bills that have popped up on Mr. Brickie’s credit report.

This year’s big success is that we used ZERO credit cards for Christmas. I’ve been trying to achieve this goal for a couple years and this year we did it. Hooray!

This means every extra penny we make this year goes toward those darn credit cards. It’s time to pay them all off and get right with the balance sheet. If you like my page on Facebook you may have seen me talk about shifting 11k in debt from the Discover card to three other cards to take advantage of 0% offers and buy time to pay them off interest-free.

So, without further ado, here is the list of my credit card balances as of right now (balances include 3% transfer fees):

  • Chase Freedom $33.35 (This is the 5% gas rewards card. I pay it off weekly with the gas budget money.)
  • Costco Visa $2,220.16 (0% until Sep 2017 – This is the first one to be paid off.)
  • Citi Diamond $3,620.64 (0% until Dec 2017 – this card was only used for dental work.)
  • Chase Amazon $2,395.70 (This is one of the Discover xfer cards 0% until Feb 2018)
  • My Quicksilver $4,999.62 (Discover xfer 0% until June 2018)
  • Mr. B Quicksilver $3,999.49 (Discover xfer 0% until June 2018)

Don’t cringe. Don’t be sad. Don’t get mad. I didn’t use the cards to take vacations or buy drugs. We have a frugal lifestyle and I truly think I can get rid of this debt by – at the very latest – February of 2018.

I’ve even talked to the kids about it and they’re on board with a razor thin lifestyle to pay the cards off, too. They know the more we sacrifice now the better things will be in two years. Last time I asked them to tough it out for two years we moved and they are so much happier here, so this time it was easier for them to trust me.

I don’t want to let them down. I don’t want to let us down. I wish I could feel more secure in when things will be paid off but it’s almost impossible to do a proper financial forecast. The winter weather makes the paycheck lower and although he will start working full time again once the weather is getting nice he could get another promotion as early as June but maybe later, so there is no way to reliably have an idea when milestones will be hit in terms of paying down debt.

Last fall I was toying with the idea of sending the older two girls to fancy summer camps this year that teach things like electrical engineering and mobile app development. We’ve tabled that idea and they’re only going to go to the local nature camp. I refuse to increase our standard of living to match his paycheck or we’ll never get ahead.

Sometimes I think about how much farther along we would be if Mr. Brickie hadn’t broken his wrist. I’m sure he does, too. Five months out of work…who would have guessed that was in the cards? But the thought quickly passes because I felt about his injury the same way I feel about winter. Yes, it’s tough, and yes, it’s mentally exhausting but I love spending time with him.

What’s that people say about time or money? You have to spend one or the other? In our case it’s either we have time together or we have money and both are important to our long-term survival/success as a couple and as a family.

Nope Nope All The Nope

The credit cards are starting to shift from blessing to curse.

Or I’m losing my ability to say no.

Same thing, really.

That means it’s TIME TO BRING THE HAMMER DOWN on spending.

Which is an easier decision to make after making sure everyone has winter boots and coats that fit. So now is a perfect time to be in it to win it especially since I can claim Christmas is coming for anything I’m asked for.

I’m saving up for Christmas.

Mr. Brickie is still having some pretty serious pain in his wrist so is going back to the doctor at some point soon. He’s able to work but wants to make sure it’s nothing more serious. I don’t see that settlement coming for a long time at this point. I can’t find any online resources that give a general timeline so I’m just going to stick with “a long time” and not count on it for anything.

2017 is when all these cards we currently have lose their 0% APR status. So I have to figure out how to pay them off or transfer them before that happens. Pay them off is my first goal, of course but if I can move what I can’t pay that would be better financially.

I just found out our insurance is going to add a dental PPO come January so that $3500 I wasted on dental work was truly unnecessary spending. My bite is still off and I still live in fear of chipping/breaking my front tooth cap so really my whole mouth situation is a sad mess but I look good in pictures so isn’t that what really matters? (That’s me being sarcastic, it doesn’t happen often so I like to point it out!)

The kids have been a little down because they want a yard to decorate for Halloween/Christmas (not at the same time it’s just the complaints flip back and forth depending on the kid and the mood the kid is in) and I won’t let them decorate the common yard because, well, I don’t know. They’ll be happy when we put the lights in the windows and the tree up. You can see that from outside and that will make them smile.

We aren’t sure where we’re spending Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s right now. It’s the most up in the air we’ve been about holidays in years but I’m less stressed than I’ve been about it probably ever so I’m trying really hard not to look that gift horse in the mouth. If I’m not stressed, I’m good with that, and can keep on moving forward.

I wish we had a house, too. At this point I don’t even care if it’s a rental or an owned home. I don’t even have a type of house in mind … there are some in this town that are new and beautiful and look like every other suburban house … there are others that look like old farmhouses (they probably were) and have beautiful detail on the house and the yards are either tiny or stunning … there are also mid-century modern homes dying to be updated with my retro chic IKEA modern sensibility … there are also crap heaps that are $30k that could be made into something much nicer.

A whole range of home choices in one town. It’s strange. Oh, and there are also plots of land for sale and builders happy to build what you want. Some are in HOA communities and you have limited options and some are just land next to someone else’s house and you can do whatever you want on the land as long as it’s to code.

Oh, hey, did you see what I did there? I started with this whole thing about not wanting to spend any more money and getting down to brass tacks with these credit card payments and I almost seamlessly shifted into daydreaming about a house.

Yeah, I’m good at not thinking about stuff when I don’t want to. It’s a blessing and a curse, for sure.

After paying $1200 for Middle Sister to be on a travel volleyball team (maybe not my soundest decision) and a couple thousand to get the cats home and set up with vet visits and food and litter boxes and whatnot we have about $15k in credit card debt.

It’s stupid scary.

Tomorrow I’ll put the overtime money back into the emergency fund like I’ve been doing and it will be at just over $1k. Then we are going to go Dave Ramsey style and pay off the cards smallest to largest. Since workman’s comp isn’t taxable income, we should get a crazy good tax return because without that five months added to the bottom line we have a pretty low income.

It’s weird. This was supposed to be the year we didn’t qualify for earned income anymore. Ah well. One more year I guess. It’s going to be helpful, that’s for sure.

But even assuming an $8k return (which we both know I could be totally wrong about) $6,750 will immediately go toward rent and that will not leave enough to make up for the sloppy way I’ve been acting with the plastic. Even if the tax return is $10k we’re only going to be able to put $3250 toward credit cards and that will almost…ALMOST…pay off the dental work credit card.

Of course, snowballing will be much easier when Mr. Brickie gets his next raise. 70% (his apprentice level now) is enough to pay the bills but when he gets bumped up to 80% it will increase his check about $220 a week ($880/month) and every penny can go toward credit cards which would have us all paid off in 17 months. But! In that time he will get another rung up on that apprentice ladder which means another $220 a week as well as another tax return.

Also, at some point in the distant future, he will get a settlement from the insurance company. We can wait.

Nothing can be predicted at this point.

In the meantime, I’m going to stop spending money as much as possible. There are things that are going to come up. A perfect example is Big Sister being in band. She needs black shoes, black socks, and black pants for a recital she’s having this month. I picked up the black shoes last week when we went shopping for Little Sister (she had grown out of every shoe in the house!) and I used a coupon and some rewards thing from DSW to get those shoes for a few dollars instead of $25.

I’m not good at couponing, but I do what I can.

So I’m saving money when I do have to spend, spending less and aiming for $0 of spending on wasteful things.

Time to tighten up the belt if our family is going to get everything in check. I’m looking forward to it. The better the budget the more it feels like freedom!

I wanted to end on a hopeful upnote (upnote? I don’t think that’s a word…) but honestly I’m embarrassed we let this happen. It’s not a bunch of charges for stuff, it’s not a bunch of things I regret, so I don’t feel bad about the spending…I just…understand it’s time to yank the reigns and pull the spending horse to a fast and sure halt.

It’s time to get these ducks – if not in a row just yet – at least in a pen so they’re easier to chase. =)

How We Plan to Spend It, a Rain Day, and Planning

I keep a google sheet with two month’s of budget forecasting. If I go more than two months out it all gets totally messed up and I spend hours fixing months that won’t come for, well, months! Even with this month and next month being the only ones I still make a lot of changes based on things that come up in any given month.

My goal is to streamline this so I don’t have to make those changes.

This next check is the “extra check” or “fifth check” and while my true desire is to plunk it all in the emergency fund, I think a better use is pre-paying gas and tolls for next month to the tune of $150. What I really wanted to do was prepay the gas and tolls AND cat food/supplies but there was a rain day so Mr. Brickie only worked 32 hours last week, not 40. It will still be a better paycheck than if he was hanging out at home being sad and injured and receiving workman’s comp so please don’t think I’m complaining. Rain days are part of life.

Also, I don’t know if I told you but he did get a raise while he was away from work. 77 cents an hour. I’m telling you guys, if you have someone who likes working with their hands, steer them to a union. He doesn’t have to read Cosmo articles on “getting the raise you deserve” and his life isn’t in the hands of one guy who thinks himself superior because he’s middle management. I also understand that unions aren’t awesome everywhere for every trade and they might not be right for everyone but man, it’s been a life changer for our family. The kind that makes me wish we had found it when we first got married.

How different our lives would be now!

But we all know you can’t go back and we’ve learned so many lessons going the route we did, I don’t know that we would be such a solid team if we hadn’t had so much adversity.

I also have a birthday to pay for with this check. The birthday girl wants to go to a hibachi restaurant. She was fascinated the last time we went. I want to get her a cake from the local bakery. I don’t know what I’m doing about a gift but I’ll figure it out. Lucky for me it’s only a family party and I don’t have to worry about goodie bags or anything like that. Whew!

We have been really optimistic since Mr. Brickie has gone back to work. We aren’t sure how we are going to afford all these things coming up like Christmas and next year’s summer camps for the kids, but we are taking it one day at a time, one purchase at a time.

I’m glad we have the steam mop and the chest freezer and they have both come in so handy since their purchase. We are going to buy a shed for the winter to keep bikes and things in so we free up some space in the basement for other things. If we are going to stay in this apartment for a few more years, I want it to be a pleasant and organized place to live. Plus, I want to make sure there isn’t ONE thing in this house we wouldn’t move with us when we do move. I’m planning years in advance to make sure my next move is organized and uneventful. 

Until then I dream of moving and either buying or renting a nice house. I have a very boring fantasy life. I’m either daydreaming about a house or I’m daydreaming about paying off debt and what that will feel like to be stable and debt free. That’s right about when I remember we have student loans and the expansive feeling of freedom gets tamped down a little bit. We’ll get there, I know we will, it just feels like it’s taking forever.

Today I had a list of things to do – including shopping for dinner – but Little Sister has a little fever and is nauseated so she’s staying home from school today. There go my “leaving the house” errands. I hope she feels better tomorrow because I have to go to the bakery to order her a cake!

How We Spent It 9-22-2016


I cannot express properly how happy I am we are back to regular paycheck updates. No more workman’s comp! He’s back and doing really well at work. We are all much calmer now. It was getting tense around here, I tell you….TENSE.

There was some much-needed breathing room in the budget this week. Most of it went to continue to fix the overspending mistakes of week before last through part of this week. I feel like I’m back on track to stop spending money now, I hope. 

Paycheck (with raise) $939.77 (up from $920.21)

  • Gas/Electric $202 (love that budget plan!)
  • Prescriptions for October $22
  • Gas/Groceries/Cats/Tolls/Other $457.75
  • Union Dues $20
  • Insurance (auto/renters) Savings $120
  • Refill the $100 buffer from last week’s overspending $100
  • Pay for going to to lunch yesterday which was not on the budget $20

Next week is the “extra” check for the month and it gives me a chance to put away gas and toll money for next month. The eventual goal is to pay everything a month in advance … or have it in next month’s budget waiting to be paid since some bills – like the gas/electric – can’t or shouldn’t be paid in advance.

There was a rain day yesterday so Mr. Brickie only worked two hours. It was nice to have him home for a “surprise” day off. I mean, sure, I would rather he was working but my mood isn’t going to change the weather so I choose to enjoy surprise alone time.

It’s wonderful having him back to work. The days are back to their normal rhythm. The afternoons are strange with one child getting home a full hour before the other two. When the younger two get home they are both excited and get loud and talky and folder shoved in my face-y all at once and it’s a bit overwhelming, to be sure. I have to come up with some kind of system where they take turns being first to show me stuff and it will calm down. When he was home he would look at one kid’s stuff and I would look at the other. Not a big deal, but something to figure out.

I’ve been dabbling back in fiction writing. I keep startings stories that shine bright like a sparkler and for just about the same amount of time. The ideas are interesting, but I don’t think any of them are strong enough to be the backbone of a novel. They feel more like short story ideas. I will continue to work on it, though, because it’s what I want to do. You know, my passion or whatever the kids are calling it these days.

We still haven’t decided on a solution for my daughter’s trombone dilemma. She’s been lugging it home but that’s not going to work come winter. I don’t know what to do. Renting a second instrument seems both expensive and excessive. The band department said they would check if they had an extra but another person in the department said they were all being used by kids in need. She really likes playing (and is turning out to be really good at it) so I want her to have as much access as possible. I’m torn.

Today’s big chores are to pick up cat food, order a cake for Little Sister’s birthday, and shop for dinner. I’m actually skipping the shopping for dinner because we had frozen chicken in the freezer and I put that in the crockpot with some liquid and ranch seasoning and bacon crumbles. I’ll serve it over pasta with a couple sides of veggies and the girls will be thrilled. I try to cook healthy but unless it’s some kind of raw, vegan pile of veg….I’m not actually sure what’s healthy anymore.

Update on the Five Year Goal

When the five years started is up in the air. Is it when he started looking for union jobs? Is it when he got the interview? Is it when he started training? Is it when he started working? There’s almost a whole year between when he started to look and the day he started actually working. I guess that means our five year plan is more of a five-ish year plan.

It’s not about how many years the plan is. It’s having a real, long-term plan.

I thought, at first, it was all about the goal. I had this dream at the end of five years we would be in a different house, paying a mortgage, and living my vision of watching my kids play in our backyard. Mr. Brickie would be a full-fledged journeyman and in my wildest dreams he would be considered for transition into the actual union. After moving and deciding to ramp up the kids’ activities faster than originally intended and Mr. Brickie’s injury, the only part of the five year plan resembling the original is the job front. My estimate (which are always wrong) for when he will be journeyman will be around a year and a half from now. It’s definitely past the five year magic mark but stuff happens.

The point of the long term plan is to help make all the little decisions every day. Will buying this or that bring me closer or farther away from my goal?

Now that I don’t have a goal and home ownership has dropped down on the priority list like a boulder in the water things become more hazy and I think that has contributed to those less-than-ideal financial decisions (steam cleaner, chest freezer) that are really great for the now but I bought them because I don’t have a dream of having a home and I’m not thinking about my stuff in terms of moving it somewhere. We are going to buy a shed and put it up in behind our apartment so we can store bikes and other things that don’t need to be indoors. Right now our basement is jam packed and there’s just no need for that. As much as I love minimalism, I’m not getting rid of my kids’ bikes. We are in a position where minimalism is great but our problem is lack of storage space for things we really and truly use pretty darn often as well as seasonal items. I don’t have a bunch of decorations for the holidays but I have a few and I’m not getting rid of them because they make me happy.

I was hoping I would discover my new goal as I wrote this. The dream of having another house and the picture of our life I had in my head was strong and kept me going during some dark times. I don’t know what our lives will look like in five years. I don’t mean I’m not sure, I mean I honestly have NO idea.  I could be applying for my oldest to go to boarding school for her last two years of high school (A real possibility.) I could be dealing with my middle daughter being a volleyball prodigy and travelling all around the place for games. My youngest joined the swim team this year and in five years she may have five years of competitive swimming under her belt and be the best darn 11 year old swimmer on earth.

Or I might be writing posts like this wondering what happened to my life, unsure of where we are going next. That’s a dark thought, huh?

I should have titled this one, “I need a new goal. No wonder I can’t focus on anything these days. I’m like a ship without a destination just bobbing along in the sea.” But that would have been too long for a title, wouldn’t it?

Where will you be in five years?


Unpredictable Checks Make Life More Unpredictable

When Mr. Brickie was injured we had to wait a week to get a workman’s comp check. I was thrilled because I had never heard of workman’s comp and was all, “Wait, we’re not going to be destitute and homeless from this injury? Hooray!”

It came the next Thursday and we deposited it and our five month saga began.

So far the check has some on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and one time Saturday.

When we get paid, and it’s just enough to live on for a week, having the check spaced out more than a week means stuff goes on a credit card. Then you get the check and plan it out for the week and viola, you never go back and pay what you put on the week before.

I ended up using the $140 in cash back I had sitting on the Discover to help with that problem recently. I had originally planned to save it until we were closer to paying it off but that was a dream that happened before Mr. B was injured. New rules applied now and it got used early.

The last check is due this week and I’m hoping it comes today. Really I was hoping it would come yesterday because Wednesday seemed to be the 90% of the time winner, but no dice.

I hate getting checks in the mail. Don’t you? It would be so easy for someone to just take the damn thing. Or for the mailman to drop it. I have to go through every page of the fliers and furniture ads in case it slipped in there by accident. Checks in the mail give me anxiety but there wasn’t a direct deposit option to be had.

There are so many reasons I’m happy Mr. Brickie is back to work and direct deposit on the same day every week is absolutely one of them. Regular pay makes regular planning so, so much easier.