Tag: budget

The Neverending Closing #NaBloPoMo

I have the theme song for The Neverending Story stuck in my head now.

Mortgage Guy™ emailed today and those two pesky accounts are still listing Mr. Brickie as an authorized user even though I took him off those accounts at the end of August.

In case I haven’t said, Mortgage Guy™ said that the letters the companies gave me stating he had been removed were not good enough because “things can be altered” so we had to wait for them to not show up on the credit report anymore.

Now I’m over here and I know beyond knowing that I was removed as someone’s authorized user when I was 15 and that card STILL showed on my credit report when I was 21 and so I never thought it was possible all these cards would somehow magically disappear from his report.

I have probably also mentioned that the amount it would cost to pay off the two cards in question is the same amount we have in the bank right now set aside for closing. We only have enough to close or pay off the cards, not both.

Today, though, he’s saying we just have to pay off the smaller of the two cards and now my ears perk up because yes that sounds like something we might be able to do. I email back and verify we might be able to do that fairly soon because he’s coming back into town and it sounds like he’s going to start working right away as long as it’s really just the one card we need to pay off.

He says it will take too long to pay it off and wait for the credit report to update so we can pay it off at closing and now I’m like WHAT?! we never knew that was an option or this could have been done a month ago. Now I email him back and I’m like, “Hey there, so we just need to have $9700 in cash for closing then or whatever $8k + that one card’s balance equal? Okay then, I’ll talk to Mr. Brickie when he gets out of meetings tonight and we will see if we can find a way to make that happen and I’ll let you know how soon it will be.”

He just emailed back that my math is correct and now I have to somehow come up with $9700 to close on this place.

Right now, in all accounts including THE CHILDREN’S accounts because I’m trash and will borrow money from my children. (Hey, they live here too and I will pay them back. You haven’t seen a refractory paycheck yet I don’t think. Yeah, we can pay them back right quick.)

Checking: $6795.94
Kids’ Savings: $1142.35

So we’ve been floating with $7938.29 (I just paid the NIPSCO bill so that’s why there’s a hair less than $8k) and now we have to make $9700 happen. (Technically that card has a balance of $1871.56 so we actually have to prove we have $9871.56 to close.)

I may tear all the hairs out of my head in ten seconds.

If we can get him back on a night shift he’ll make a hair more than that in a week for take home but that doesn’t include paying bills.

I really want to walk away but I don’t think that’s the right choice. If we couldn’t afford the place I would walk away and not feel an ounce of pain over it, really, I am over having some deep desire to own a house and I am totally over giving a shit what anyone thinks of my rent/own situation in life. I don’t need to own a house to feel fulfilled or secure.

But we’re here and the price is right and we can afford it fairly easily once we get past the closing stuff and I have given it to the universe and the mortgage company haven’t pulled out of the deal so I guess we’re staying. We just have to find two thousand dollars. Or conjure it. Or borrow it.

I’ll talk to Mr. Brickie once he’s done today and figure out our next steps.

My hair tearing moment has passed. It’s only a house. This is only a process. None of it means anything in the long run. We will either close or we won’t. We will come up with the money or we won’t. Either way is fine and in ten years we’ll look back and know in our hearts whichever way it went was really for the best because that’s what humans do and I am deeply and totally human.

No matter what my kids might tell you.

Money and Budgeting and Opportunities for My Kids #NaBloPoMo

I got the kids to testing on time!

I was sure I was going to mess it up. I even managed to make scrambled eggs and toast for them for breakfast before they went. I packed snacks and water bottles. They had sharpened pencils and calculators. I WAS ON FIRE!

I got a few odd looks taking my 12 and 13 year old kids in among the hundred plus high school kids in line but no one said anything and no one questioned it. I’m guessing they were all too nervous. The ladies checking my girls in didn’t look at them twice. I saw one lady look at them then walk back to someone else, say something, and come back but I’m going to choose to believe that was coincidence.

Generally, I keep what I’m doing with my kids close to the vest. I was always an awful “mom blogger” because I hated violating their privacy or telling stories I felt were theirs and not mine. I’m doing what all parents do. Looking at what I’ve been given to work with and figuring out how to best turn it from a lump of kid-clay into a grown-folk who can go out and have a life of their own. I don’t know loads of important people, so I need to get them into environments where they can be seen. I don’t know, really, how smart or talented or funny my kids are. I think they’re great people but I’m not an objective judge of what they really bring to the table. So I research and choose to have them tested to see if they qualify for things like the Northwestern Center for Talent Development. If they don’t, that’s fine. If only one does, that’s fine. (DukeJohns Hopkins, and the Western Academic Talent Search have similar programs.)

I don’t mind if my kids turn down any opportunity, but I would be heartbroken if they didn’t have the option simply because I didn’t do enough research. Of course, the programs they may qualify for will cost money. A lot of money. The summer program is thousands of dollars. It’s the reason Mr. Brickie and I are so happy about the opportunity he has been given through going to this training in Maryland. Our family sacrificing him for two weeks is truly for the whole family. If we can get him in there making money as soon as possible and pay down debt, we’ll be able to use the freed up money to send the kids to camps that will allow them to learn new things and meet new people. People from different places and cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Every day I look at my children and feel this crushing pressure. I have to be good enough for them. I have to do the research and read the reviews and figure out how to help them find what they truly desire in this life. To guide without pushing. To ask without expectation. To help them learn to make decisions and choices on their own. In the meantime, I want them to try as many things as possible so they don’t miss the thing that could have been THEIR thing.

The way I’ve always felt like somehow I missed what my thing was supposed to be. I’m fairly good at a large number of things but there’s no one thing that really defines who I am. I have always wished there was. Like an anchor. Hello, my name is jennydecki and I’m an accountant. Hello, my name is jennydecki and I’m a spree killer. You know, whatever, something that makes me….me. Beyond just my name.

I don’t want my children to spend their lives feeling this constant sense of being adrift.

Mortgage Update and Figuring Out the Future #TooLongTitle #NightShiftChronicles

Sometimes I wish I could start blogging over from the beginning and do it all right from the start.

It would be so much easier than figuring out how to go back and fix things. The questions I find myself wondering on are beginner level. I mean…should I even still be using WordPress?

For whatever reason, I cannot get to a place of being rested. It doesn’t matter how much sleep I get, I can’t get to a good place. Last night Mr. Brickie only worked 2.5 hours because a furnace wasn’t cool enough and even with him being home puttering around all night my sleep was fragmented and of poor quality.

I wonder how long he’ll be working nights. I don’t like it at all. I am, however, willing to put up with it. As long as he’s working, that’s what matters. He just texted and is back to 12-hour shifts at least until the end of this week. Great for the bank account, less so for our emotional well-being. But you do what you have to do, right? I’m grateful he was given this opportunity and I’m grateful I am in a position where I can pick up the slack for the rest of the family.

Mortgage Update

I cannot tell you how happy I am not emotionally connected to this place. If I was, this would be an emotional roller coaster. We’re down to one thing needing to happen (a thing Mr. Brickie & I have no control over) and I think my mortgage guy asked me for fraudulent documents today. He was low key about it so I’m not super offended or anything but yeah, no thank you. If I don’t qualify for a mortgage then …. don’t give me one. I mean, I know the problem is our debt to income ratio because they’re going back far enough his five months off work with a busted wrist are included so his income is skewing low. If they deny us, I can pay off credit card debt and apply again in six months.

Part of me thinks he doesn’t like that we aren’t panting and huffing and freaking out about the whole thing. Maybe if we were puffing and hanting it would make the process go more quickly. I don’t know how mortgages and underwriting works so everything I have is a guess. I wonder what credentials you need to be a mortgage underwriter. It feels like something I’d be good at. I wonder how awful it would be to do the job for a couple years to gain an understanding of how it works. (Yes, I hate not knowing how things work enough I’d consider doing a job to learn.) Maybe there’s an online class at one of the free sites online where I could get the basics down. I’ll have to check later.

The seller isn’t going out of town after all, so whenever the information goes through electronically that will trigger the closing and we’ll have keys in three days.

Emotional and Spiritual Well-Being

A few months ago I came across a lovely group online that was doing this cool journaling exercise. For forty days the leader of the group would ask questions and the participants would write their daily affirmations and then answer the question of the day. I found it very helpful. I did two of these forty day rounds. The first one we had to pick something we wanted more of in life and I chose peace. My head felt like static all the time and I needed some clarity and quiet.

Forty days later my mind is so much more quiet. It worked beautifully. I still find myself doodling, “I create peace” when I’m writing to do lists or taking down notes. That’s my little affirmation. I came up with another one when we were focusing on intuition. I really hope the person who ran these goes back to running them. I think she should charge for them because she did more for me in 80 days (two rounds of the session) than I’ve gotten from years of on and off therapy. It won’t cure you if you have something real ailing you, but I’ve learned some great coping mechanisms that I’d never found in self-improvement books or textbooks. (It’s possible I was reading all the wrong stuff, though, who knows!)

I’ve decided to pick a word for 2019 to help focus. The beginning of a five-year plan has the least amount of stuff to do and tends to be a little….boring. A lot of doing the right thing, paying down the credit cards, paying ahead on the mortgage. Lots of not super fun things that take discipline but not a lot of time. In between budgeting and paying those things down and parenting and wifing I’ll have some time on my hands. If I have a focus word, I am more likely to think of it in those moments where I have a few moments and keep myself on the track I’d like to be on instead of spending too much time on social media!

It could take a year to fix up and focus all my social media as well as re-categorize and clean up the design of the blog but I’m not sure I want to devote a whole year to that.

Baby Steps Toward A Hobby

I’m going to sign up for Life Book 2019 through Willowing Arts and get my artistic groove on a bit next year.  (That is not an affiliate link.)

It seems to me I’ve spent a long time now fighting and clawing and scraping and saving the family from emergency after emergency. I’ve come up with so many solutions to so many problems. Now that we are in a more stable place I have to learn how to live without the constant fight or flight input. Calming my mind was a great start but I need something a little more active and meditative and art seems like a good place to start. Plus it’s just a little over a hundred dollars (after the 20% off discount for buying before December) for the WHOLE YEAR of lessons. Most art classes online are way more expensive and I’m nowhere near being able to spend a whole bunch of money on a hobby for myself. This class is a lovely baby step.

I’m grateful to even be able to consider a baby step like this Life Book course. Very grateful.

Back to the Word of the Year

I’m a little nervous about picking a word for the whole year, because I always have terrible luck with things like this. The first song I hear after the new year ball drops is always awful. It’s been Love Shack for two out of the last five years. Ugh.

Maybe I’m afraid to commit to a word or focus at all. I’m scared that committing to a word that isn’t budget or finance based will somehow jinx me back into a place full of stress and financial emergencies one after another.

To heck with it. My word for 2019 is CREATE

Even if it’s doodles. Even if it’s not pretty. Even if it’s black and white without a lick of color. Even if it’s embarrassing. Even if it looks nothing like what I hoped it would.

Budgeting Update

I have used YNAB (You Need A Budget) for about three years, now. It’s really helpful for knowing where your money is going. I was never great at coming up with categories, though. (Sidenote: I seem to have a problem with categorizing things in general. The blog. The budget. Huh. I should meditate on that or something.) Since we started the application process, however, everything has been on hold and I’ve avoided the budget like the plague. There is money in the checking account and I can’t spend it just in case we get the notice closing is in three days.

So I’m over here paying the minimums on all the credit cards and paying the bills the day before they’re due just to keep the daily balance as high as possible.

The mortgage guy is after us because although I’ve removed Mr. Brickie as an authorized user off all the credit cards, there are two still reporting to the credit bureaus. I could almost pay those cards off with the money in the checking account, but then I won’t have the money for closing. It’s a Catch-22 that only time will fix. Either the credit card companies will report that Mr. Brickie is off the cards and we can close or we will manage to save enough money I can pay off those two cards and we can close. Or it takes too long and they cancel the application. Or it takes too long and the seller pulls out. Or it takes too long and the interest rate skyrockets and WE walk away from the deal.

There are many possible outcomes but none of them involve action or planning by us.

So we wait.

I remember when I decided I’d never get emotional about a dwelling again. We were in Chicago visiting the pro bono lawyers that could possibly help us keep the house in Illinois we ended up foreclosing on. A lovely, young lawyer explained what we would have to do and how much money it would cost to fight to keep the house. It was an extensive amount of both time and money. I asked the lawyer, “Why would anyone do all that instead of just walking away?” The lawyer replied, “People have generations of memories in these houses. They’ll do anything to keep it.”

I had this moment where I was reminded I’m not like other people. I don’t get attached to things the way other people do. I mean, there are a few things I haven’t thrown away but I keep them in a bin on a shelf in the basement. Things are things. A house is sticks and bricks and nothing I ever want to be in love with. A house cannot love you back. I’m not giving one ounce of my energy or worry to the process of buying another one.

The only reason I was emotional at all about moving out of the house in Illinois it was worry for the children. Then I realized I didn’t want them to be attached to a pile of sticks and bricks, either, and the best way to do that was to find joy in moving. It was creative re-framing, for sure, but it is not wrong. I want my kids to prioritize people over things. Experiences over stuff. Not to the extreme that I do, but enough to get weird looks from people now and then would be a good gauge they’re doing it right.

Positive things, a few worries, and the placebo effect

Max - One of my two tabby cats. The bitey one.

I’m trying to update but Max keeps biting my ankles and shins. I played fetch with him today for almost an hour with that yellow pineapple there and he was fed not ten minutes ago so there’s no reason for this. He wants attention. I love giving him attention but sometimes I would like to sit down and write without the fear of being bitten hovering in the back of my mind. We had a heart to heart about it and I’m pretty sure his meow meant, “I don’t care what you want.” Such is life with cats.

Finances

I paid the minimums on the first half of the credit cards for the month today. I should have done it on Wednesday when he got paid but I’m moving in slow-motion lately. The second half of the minimums plus the car and gas/electric will get paid in two weeks.

This is the part where I pause to pray to the universe and the heads of all the religions I learned about in theology class that he has a job by then. He did get a stipend for going to a protest last week so that will be helpful, for sure. I don’t want to dip into the savings if I can avoid it. We need that money for other things.

A Nice Dent

Any day now, we’ll get the check from Costco with our cash back. It will go right back on the card as a payment, but it will be nice to see the balance drop. It’s over $600 and we maxed out the gas benefit so at the very end it went down from 4% to 1%. That was good to know. Gas is the one thing you know you didn’t buy extra that you used credit card reward points to justify. You get gas when you need gas and goodness knows I didn’t get out of the house more because I knew we’d get cash back. It would take a lot more than that to make me a person who likes leaving the house.

The Kids

I’m still stalling on signing them up for camp. We got our IL tax return (even though we live in IN since he works in IL we file taxes in both states. I had to write a check to IN for just under $300, but we got a little over $600 back from IL so it was a net positive. That means it’s not all going on a credit card. Heck, I think I can do it without touching a credit card. Mostly I’m trying to avoid paying for summer camp this year but I know how much they love it and they’re both Junior counselors this year and that leads to experience that darn near guarantees a fun – room and board included – repeat summer job down the road located 20 minutes from home. I don’t want to mess that up.

Hopes

I’m truly hopeful we will be able to pay off our credit cards by the time he’s laid off again in winter. If not, I am hoping to make a substantial enough dent I can complete the payoff process with our 2019 tax return. I haven’t planned out anything specifically, I’m in the “big picture” portion of planning. We are coming to the end of the five-year plan and I don’t know what the next five years is going to entail so I can’t really make a new plan. We should have a much better handle on that by the end of this year. Probably by June of this year. As soon as I have something solid I’ll let you know but for now I have to keep so many things vague and it makes me feel bad. I’m not withholding information because I’m ashamed or unhappy. I can’t risk anyone finding out who shouldn’t know because there are seventy things that could happen and seventy ways it could get all mucked up and I’m keeping my mouth shut so there are only 69 things that can muck it up and I’m not one of them!

Fears

Of course I’m worried that our hopes are going to get dashed. I’m trying not to worry and I signed up to take this 40 day “raise your vibration” course. After learning that the placebo effect has extremely powerful benefits even if you know it’s a placebo I decided that what I needed a placebo most for was positive energy and chakra alignment. Doing a thing makes you feel like you’ve done a thing and it can make a difference. The worst that happens is I look silly in a room by myself and that’s not really anything to be afraid of even if I am when I think about sharing that I’m doing it. But between being loud and a goof, I’m used to looking silly in front of other people and not caring one bit so even though I’m my harshest critic I’ve decided to let it go and feel at peace and become one with the universe. Ohm…..volt….resistance…. (that’s an electrical joke in case you were wondering)

Good News

Middle Sister is going to state for chess. I’m pretty excited about it. She isn’t a prodigy or anything, it’s her first year playing and I’d only shown her some basic moves, but she gets to go and that’s amazing. She’s really excited. It felt wonderful to sign her up for the US Chess Federation.

Big Sister is back on meds for her ADD and I feel much more comfortable now that she’s old enough to make sure she pays attention to how it makes her feel and I don’t have to give her multiple choice questions that feel leading and disingenuous. Her grades have improved and she has no failing grades right now. I’m happy that the improvement in her grades is making her happy.

Little Sister is a handful who is happy with school and goes to Karate once a week. She loves it. The teacher gave her a pair of nunchucks (nunchaku?) and she practices katas with them at home. I’m a little nervous about my 8 year old learning how to attack with a weapon (Karate doesn’t have that “don’t start fights” part drilled into them like Taekwondo does.

Mr. Brickie has another protest to attend Monday. I’ll be here hoping he gets a call to start work since we know of three companies starting jobs as soon as the foundation is poured and set. If I get too stressed about it, I’ll meditate. Meditation has a scientific basis so I feel really good about doing it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Research_on_meditation (I’m not linking to Wikipedia as a one-and-done source, I’m linking to it as a location for the 113 sources cited at the bottom of the article. They’re not all rock star citations but some seem legit.)

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.

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!

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?

 

And That’s Why We Will Always Live in an Apartment

We were in Michigan visiting family this past weekend and talking about all the little expenses that come up throughout the school year. I mentioned school pictures being $62 for two kids for just the CD with the digital image and the class picture, paused, and said, “…and that’s why we’ll always live in an apartment.”

It became a running joke through the afternoon. I talked about sending them to an additional camp next summer but worried the price is so much more than the regular camp they attend during the summer now….and that’s why we’ll always live in an apartment.

The expenses of having children are going to increase at a rate that feels like it will outpace Mr. Brickie’s earning potential during those same years. If it were a graph you’d look at it, nod your head, and say, “…and that’s why they’ll always live in an apartment.”

If we were to consider getting a house we would have to save up a down payment. We would have to pay earnest money and (possible) closing costs. We would have to decorate the place or at the very least paint the bedroom and kitchen. All of that costs money and if that money is going toward a house it’s certainly not going toward our kids. Plus, we would have to save for things like a broken water heater or replacement lawn mower. Even if we used the emergency fund you still have to pay yourself back for the next emergency.

These are the years. The important ones where the tweens start to make real decisions that have a lasting effect. I want to make these years the ones that matter in terms of extracurricular activities. They should be exposed to a whole bunch of amazing people doing really cool stuff. Summer camps where they learn to code mobile apps and take courses in electrical engineering. Where they learn that tech and science are fun and full of wonder and imagination. I want to send them to art camps and writing camps, too, so they can harness their fears and feelings into stories and colors.

The only priority I have outside of the kids is paying off credit cards and having a six-month emergency fund. I can pay off the student loans after they’re out of college if I have to. If I can swing it sooner, great, but I’m not feeling any pressure because I’m fine having them as a pet until my hair is gray and stairs become a challenge as long as it doesn’t get in the way of my parenting.

Oh, there is one other priority that is kid-adjacent.  We are going to save up so for the experience that will be my brother’s Disneyland wedding in November of 2017. We want to stay for longer than just the wedding so the kids can have some fun. I want to do the VIP tour guide thing so I don’t have to wait in lines or figure anything out. Of course it’s crazy expensive but I figure it will be our one and only Disney trip so might as well make it an affair to remember.

….and that’s why we’ll always live in an apartment.

How We Spent It 9-8-2016

how-we-spent-it-workmans-comp

First, I would like to apologize for the twenty half-written pieces of crap I have not finished and posted.

Second, you’re welcome because I didn’t post twenty half-written pieces of crap.

MR. BRICKIE GOES BACK TO WORK MONDAY!

It deserves all caps, I promise.

Here are the bad decisions and good decisions I’ve made this month that cost tons of money:

  • OrthoK lenses for Middle Sister $1100
  • Chest freezer $140
  • 2 Tires $165
  • 2 Cats $700 (this includes two vet visits with a range of shots and a year of revolution) the cats also have a lovely godmother who donated $100 to cover the adoption fee because they are shelter kitties and she wanted to support that. (It happened after the fact and had nothing to do with the decision.) I am very appreciative!
  • Steam Cleaner $60 (on sale – $20 off!)
  • OIl Change $33 (was a special)
  • Shed ($250)
  • Volleyball for Middle Sister $300
  • Swim Team for Little Sister $400
  • Paint for living room $70
  • 2 of those 9 square storage cube things for the living room and bedroom and six cubes to go into the cube things $90
  • 5 clearance T-shirts from Old Navy $30
  • Probably more things I’m forgetting right now.

As much as I could I covered within the budget and the rest is new credit card debt.

This is why Dave recommends cutting up all your cards so you can’t go back to using them again. He knows you’re going to get tired of not being able to buy a box of waffles, a package of ground beef, and a package of chicken from Costco and not have them all fit in my freezer (I have a basic apartment-level freezer because I live in an apartment. It’s very nice and I’m not complaining, but it’s an apartment with an apartment refrigerator.

I don’t regret any of the purchases. The cats and the paint have made my anxiety plummet. More than anything I was freaking out because I did all this spending BEFORE the doctor appointment where we knew Mr. Brickie was going back to work on Monday. It was a gamble and I hate gambling but I did it because I just got so tired of being so careful all the time.

Not, like, normal “I’m so tired of this crap” but this ground-down boot-heel-on-my-neck tired. I was over everything and didn’t care anymore. I had run out of steam to keep my husband and kids not worried and feeling like everything was normal for the last almost five months while he healed. Tired of pretending I wasn’t scared and making sure I only cried in the shower. Tired of not knowing what the next year would look like. Tired of berating myself for putting all our eggs into one bricklaying basket and not knowing if that was going to work out after all.

So tired.

The thing is, I don’t regret the purchases and I don’t think paying for them is going to cause a problem. I sacrificed our future earnings for present comfort … while he was injured. It’s not like I decided we were going to live beyond our means. I might be rationalizing but come try and get me to return something and I assure you rationalization or not I’m perfectly content with the level of spending and all the decisions. Nothing was an impulse buy.

It’s Thursday and how we spent it for Check 2 of the month is easy because it’s household stuff and a car payment. That’s it. We are budgeting $87.75/wk toward cat care. It should cover food, litter, and savings for their annual vet visit plus annual revolution when they need that next year.

But this morning I had $177  in spending money. Usually it’s $200 but we were a little short this week because of the cats being an extra expense. So I thought to myself, “This should be easy. Kids are in school. Mr. Brickie is going to start work, I don’t leave the house…I won’t spend it all!”

Hello Thursday at 9:25am…

  • A new cooler (his was ruined on the job site after his injury) for Mr. Brickie ($20)
  • Two kids have school pictures today ($64) ← cheapest package for each
  • Celebration lunch with margaritas Wednesday! ($30) ← including tip!
  • Oil Change yesterday for Mr. Brickie ($33)
  • Swim Cap for Little Sister ($10)

So I’m at $20 in spending money until next week. Yeah…that might work but it might not. I’m not sure. It depends on Mr. Brickie’s lunch needs and if some other random thing comes up for one or more of the three kids I have in school. I’m not complaining, we got to celebrate and it felt great.

Now I have to spend some time on financial projections and figuring out how to fix all the credit damage I’ve done to us over the last month. I also have to figure out exactly how the transition from workman’s comp checks to work checks is going to happen. I have to look up when he was getting paid before his injury.

Okay. It looks like he will get his last workman’s comp check Thursday, September 15th and the first direct deposit from going back to work will be Thursday, September 22nd. I am guessing the direct deposit will be smooth because it’s the same company as before and so he already did the “waiting thing” where you get a check first and then you get direct deposit after that. It could actually be a seamless transition. Fingers crossed.

These are the things I worry about at 5am.

Plus the fan that brings the air conditioning from the bedroom window unit to the living room just broke. So…that’s another unexpected expense. I’m so tired.

I know we are doing great because even though there is $7 in my emergency fund I have three months of rent in a savings account. Things aren’t bleak or even dark. I should even be able to replenish the emergency fund back to $1000 by around the end of October (okay, Little Sister’s Birthday is coming up so maybe that might put us back a little but not much) so I know this bone-tired feeling is temporary.

It might be the memory of this feeling – a feeling that was constant and unrelenting for a decade – is too easy to conjure. Emotional muscle memory of a sort. We had just gotten out of this scary place and found ourselves back in a version of it that was different but looked awfully similar.

I really look forward to getting back on the five year plan track we were on. This has set us back more than I would like but it didn’t derail us, and that’s what matters.

How We Spent It – Windfall Edition!

how-we-spent-it-windfallI have a whole post about opening my 11 year old a limited checking account with a debit card but it’s so dry and boring I can’t bring myself to hit publish. Maybe I’m being too critical but I am a funny, interesting person and when I can’t bring that out in my writing it makes me sad.

We had a really unexpected windfall this week. I sold a domain name. The parenting blog I wrote for years before I decided writing about my kids without their consent didn’t feel right (you do you, no judgement). It was sort of, mostly easy to change over to finance blogging and viola, I let the domain name hang out and not go anywhere because there were articles and things with the byline and I didn’t want someone scammy to come along, scoop it up, and pretend my prior work was theirs.

Long story short I’m in the middle of a legit transaction that will be complete in about a week and someone else will be the official owner forevermore.

Here’s how I spent the first half of the payment for the domain:

$2,500 paid

  • $777 went to fill the emergency fund back up to $1k
  • $215 went to purchasing three cell phones and cases for the kids so we can all play Pokemon Go together (this is the splurge purchase, in case you couldn’t tell) I got the BLU R1 on Amazon Prime day so their phones have 16GB of storage and 2GB of RAM and were $60/ea. I think they were an amazing deal. We did not put sim cards in them or put them on a phone plan. When we all go out we tether them to our phones. (Our $44/mo plans from Net10 have 5GB of data per line so that’s more than enough for the whole family.)
  • $1500 to fill the rent savings buffer so it’s ready to pay the 3 month payment come November. (I raided it last month to pay off the Macy’s card so it would stop bothering me at 3am.)

$2500 (second and final installment)

  • $1100 for special contact lenses to help slow Middle Sister’s myopia progression. OrthoK are gas permeable hard contacts that you wear while you sleep and your vision is perfect during the day with no glasses and no contacts. It sounds like magic, doesn’t it?
  • $500 Back to school shopping (I don’t think we will spend nearly this much but after spending over $500 in registration fees for the three girls when I did the online registration for next year I kind of wonder if maybe I really will spend this much. They do get reduced lunch this year but it will be the last year, which I see as a blessing because if we make too much for reduced or free lunch we should have enough to send them with lunch or buy it.)
  • $200 for a chest freezer (I regret selling the one we had when we moved. We can’t fit Costco sized Eggo waffles and meat in the freezer at the same time even after we break it all up and put it into little ziplock bags.)
  • $400 for a doctor appointment for Mr. Brickie in a couple weeks. (Elective surgery)

The leftover ($300ish) is in the emergency fund account because there is nowhere it needs to go that will give me any more benefit than anywhere else so it will sit until it becomes the *oomph* we need later on. (Update) Whoops! When I first wrote this it was in the emergency fund. Then I spent some money on a giant bottle of Crown Royal for my friend’s birthday, took the kids out to eat at a “better than bargain but not elite eating” restaurant and that brought my extra down more than I even want to admit. Yikes.

This is why I spend money BEFORE I get it. If it’s spent in my mind, it’s spent. If it’s hanging out being extra…I’ll spend it. I also bought a really cute shirt. I blew the $300. I’m not quite ashamed but it definitely wasn’t the plan. Ah well, my spending all included the kids so it’s not like I had fun without them. Heck, if I had gone without them it wouldn’t have been so expensive! LOL Everything else is still the same as listed above. (End of Update)

Nothing exciting or sexy, no cool vacations or amazing stories are going to be created with this. We are using it to keep moving forward so when Mr. Brickie goes back to work we can use extra income to pay down credit cards and get rid of those before the interest-free period runs out.

Of course, if you ask me what the sexiest thing you can buy with money is I’ll tell you every time it’s a secure, non-stressed night of sleep.

The paycheck this week went toward the car payment ($286) and the leftover got split between putting $50 into our local account (we keep a little money in here because it’s the closest ATM and lets you take out as little as $5 from the ATM) and $20 toward Mr. Brickie’s union dues.

Doctor Appointment Update!

Mr. Brickie saw the doctor this week and is healing nicely. The doctor told him at least another month but his doctor’s note finally changed from no lifting activity at all to “lift to tolerance.” It’s a small but important step that reminds us this isn’t forever and he will be back to work eventually!