Tag: blogging

Happy New Year! 2018 is going to be a blast!

Really, how is it going to be March tomorrow? I didn’t even manage a single post in January but at least I’m squeaking in before March officially hits. That makes me feel better about neglecting basically everything in my life including the blog. The problem is I’m very boring in the winter and I stop blogging because every other week would be a post along the lines of, “Hey, we got unemployment, tried to find temp work, paid minimums on credit cards, and are still making bad life decisions.” It would get tiring. I’m still here and the winter is almost over which always leads me to think about writing, planning posts, and tending to the word garden that is this blog.

Work Update (More like a participation update)

Mr. Brickie is at a protest today (I know, right? A protest!) and hopefully that will keep his reliability/visibility indicators high for his future job potential. Tomorrow he goes to a class on organizing. I’m not sure if it teaches him how to be the big bad wolf Walmart and Amazon warn against during job training, but I’m curious to know more.

Money Update

We did get our tax return and I’m not surprised to report it was down 2k from last year. It’s not because of anything political, Mr. Brickie made about 4k more during the year and, as such, our earned income credit was 2k less. I like that it scales down slowly like that so we don’t go from having a huge tax return to nothing in one year.

We racked up a lot of debt during the winter and paying it down will be our single-minded money focus once Mr. Brickie goes back to work. Every extra penny is going to go toward debt because it won’t take much to give our credit scores a healthy boost. We need them looking good within the next few months. As a secondary measure toward 2018 success, we set a little over half of our tax return into a savings account. I honestly waver on whether we should throw every penny toward debt or save some and put the rest toward debt. I’ll have to Google it and see what the Internet thinks.

I’ve already informed the girls they won’t be doing extended summer camps this year. One week each and that’s it. We need to scale back and use that money for debt. I’m lucky my kids still trust me (the oldest is thirteen, I was worried she was going to give me pushback but she still trusts me as of the moment I’m typing this, goodness knows things can still change but I remain hopeful) and understand we have a bigger plan for all of us that is worth sacrificing a couple extra weeks of summer camp

Health Update

My doctor and I spent most of last year cycling through medications for anxiety and they either didn’t work or the side effects made them not worth the trouble. We found a new dentist that didn’t do a hatchet job like the last one and I no longer have a giant chip in my front tooth. Hooray! Plus, they’re being super-cool about paying the balance we owe them in payments. We have wonderful insurance but we still have to pay 20% of services. I have a year-long payment plan for the vein surgeries I got in my legs last year before we went to Disneyland. Luckily, they’re being super cool as well. They’re cashing the checks, anyway, so even if they’re not being super cool, I don’t have to hear about it.

Budget Update

In order to track all the doctor bills we have payment plans on (vein doctor, dentist, hospital, physicians, and the opthamologist I saw recently for a giant floater in my right eye that obscures my vision) I started a Google Spreadsheet. It took me two weeks to decide how to set it up for easy access. I settled on using a tab (separate worksheet) for each place we owed money to and then did a column for each family member within that tab. It’s been working out really well so far. For convenience, I also added the girls’ school bills as a tab because I’m making payments on that as well. School is expensive here. Two kids in middle school and one in elementary cost me over $500 out of pocket and that’s WITH a discount off fees for the kids qualifying for free lunch last year. (Next year we might only qualify for reduced lunch, which is fine since my kitchen is in far less disarray than it was last year! Thank you IKEA and a Billy bookcase we use for storage in the kitchen and two Walmart bookcases we use in the back room as pantry space, we can finally not be entirely cramped.

We also bought a quarter cow! We have so much beef! I should take something out of the freezer now to thaw before dinnertime tonight. I totally slacked on making a meal plan this week. I’ve been slacking at most everything for the last month. I don’t want to do anything and feel totally lethargic. I even went to my doctor and got diet pills, but I found out they’re not basically speed anymore so they’re not even giving me a boost. This morning I started doing bed exercises to get myself more awake in the morning and it seemed to help a little but I have this fantasy where I’m a person who cleans and enjoys cleaning and I feel like I’m failing myself every day I’m not that person. I do like to keep things organized and somewhat tidy and just this morning I spilled a little coffee on the kitchen floor and wiped it up with a rag and followed that up with a Lysol wipe (not the actual brand but you know, that type of wipe) and ended up wiping down about 4 square feet of floor just to keep it clean so I’m not living in squalor or anything….I just…have this picture in my head and I don’t match it and I don’t like it one bit. Where is my cute apron and adorable attitude? Why am I not cleaning baseboards? Why am I such a human and not a cool robot person?

On the Horizon

Last but not least, I want to start incorporating video into this blog. I love doing videos, especially live FB videos because they’re fun! I’m guessing I just pop them on the FB page and then link them inside the blog. I’ll research that a bit more.

I hope your winter has been going well. I look forward to us talking more soon. Otherwise the next you’ll hear from me it will be that I’ve snapped and scattered Mr. Brickie’s body parts across fourteen states under the guise of a road trip. Closeness is wonderful but closeness with the anxiety of impending work that hasn’t materialized quite yet is suffocating for both of us.

Chicken Update & Check Anticipation

Okay, I promise I won’t write about this again until Wednesday when I have the actual, real number on the actual, real check. I just need to put out there that when your primary household breadwinner gets a raise but you haven’t been able to figure out the “check math” that you pretty much obsess over what the magic number could be while trying to be patient and wait to find out what the number actually is.

I’m cycling through anxiety, fear, joy, and a desire to just do math all day with different percentages.

The reason I can’t figure it out (even though I’m really quite awesome at math) is because here are the things that come out of the check. Not the Federal taxes, state taxes, FICA, and medicare. Those are well within my wheelhouse and there are even websites that help you calculate those things. No problem, right?

It’s the overtime that gets me. Well, the overtime and the union dues. I can’t seem to figure out the formula for those.

So even though he just got a $4/hr. raise I have no idea how different his check will look because part of it will be normal hours and then there will be 18 overtime hours on top of it.

Which means I can only speculate and wait. I think I already mentioned his check last week was about $740 and that was the last check before eh check with the raise on it.

But you know what, let’s do some math and we can all check back on Wednesday to see how close I got. Feel free – if you’re bored – to try and solve the problem with me. We can sit around a campfire and drink wine and mock me for finally being so excited to have a different kind of money problem!

I found a cool website article called How to Calculate The Taxes on Overtime. Sounds perfect! If only I could figure out how to calculate union dues! I’m pretty sure there’s some easy calculation I just haven’t found.

After some searching online it looks like the union dues are a flat per-hour rate. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to say what they are but it doesn’t seem like I would be breaking the rules since you don’t know his local or whatever. I checked two checks with different hours and it looks like he pays a flat $2.20/hr. in dues. (If that seems high please remember he pays to the local and International funds and there are multiple pensions he’s paying into along with other fringe benefits. Two pensions. Be still my heart, right?)

So let’s figure this out.

58 hours.

40 at his new rate of $21.29 = $851.60 ($604.14 after deductions)
18 hours at OT rate of $31.935 (Yes it goes out three decimal places, I checked a previous check.) = $574.83 (No idea after taxes I just cut it in half. So $287.45)

I have to go with my best guess because that link to the overtime pay kind of broke my brain because the layout on the IRS circular E did not allow me to understand what I was supposed to choose in terms of the rate scale for income tax. For real. It was confusing, feel free to click the link and check it out. I think it’s going to be right around $891.59 but if you look at my math I didn’t do a good job.

I only added in the union dues for the first 40 hours but after taking out 50% from the overtime it’s not going to be that extreme. Even now he makes $250 a week in overtime above and beyond his base and I can’t imagine only getting $37 more. I should probably just delete all this stuff because it’s just admitting my calculations are awful and I’m not smart enough or patient enough to figure something very important out.

Because we’ll find out on Wednesday, anyway, so I should just post about being patient and waiting with the calmness of someone totally into Zen and cleanses and green smothies and yoga. You know, pretend I’m the person I want to be instead of being all honest and showing you what a hot mess I actually am.


Also, I’m not sure if union dues are a pre-tax or post-tax deduction. I think they’re post tax because you can claim a credit for them on taxes. I think.

I’m done talking about money for the day. I’m going to move on to chickens and then make a sidebar graphic showing credit card debt so I can show it getting crossed off as time goes by. I hope.

Chicken Update

Gertie’s feet aren’t messed up. It just looks that way in the picture.

Another one bites the dust. Except this time in a good way. Well a far better way than when Penelope passed away after those horrible seizures. We realized a few weeks ago that our beautiful longhorn Gertie was not a hen but a rooster. My detective skills, as well as the crowing very early every morning which I would only wish upon my worst enemy, led me to this conclusion. I’m a genius, right? I mean, look at her (him) you’d never guess that was a rooster, would you? (Laugh. It’s okay. I did.) Besides wanting to sleep in the morning we realized we had to get rid of him because roosters are illegal in my town.

The last thing I want is a ticket for harboring a rooster. No matter how funny the story would be.

Mr. Brickie turned to craigslist I said, “No way.” because my deepest fear is that this sweet, loving animal that had never hurt any of us would end up being used in cockfighting. I will always remember the chicken I saw on the side of the road ten years ago that was so beat up and his legs were so messed up and later I found out that he had probably been used in cockfighting based on his injuries. So, knowing I’m in/near an area where that happens, I insisted on not using Craigslist.

I’m really happy a friend of mine recently took her kid horseback riding and there was a petting zoo there and she talked to the lady who said she takes in animals and Mr. Brickie called and she said she would be happy to take Gertie and make her (him) part of the family. The relief I felt at getting our mornings back as well as a safe home for Gertie was incredible.

We will miss Gertie but can go visit him at the petting zoo we gave him to. I’m really pleased because he’s used to being around people and being touched and held. He’s a great animal and deserves a good life.

Plus I’m super happy we can tell the kids, “He went to a farm.” then take the kids TO THE FARM so they know I’m not a liar that killed the rooster.

Three chickens. Was it an omen all along?