Tag Archives: Budget

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!

Paying Ourselves Back and Injury Progress

My tooth is fixed. It chipped again four hours after the repair appointment but it’s a small chip so I’m leaving it be until my follow up in two weeks. I think my bite is back to where it was before I started this whole extensive dental process so leaving it alone is the extent of what I’m comfortable doing right now. She asks me at the end of every appointment if everything is okay and I don’t understand how she doesn’t understand that it takes a few days for the jaw to realign and settle to see if it’s really working out. Plus she always has me check my bite while I’m laying back in the chair…when my jaw is settled back…so every time I bite myself because no one chews while they’re laying on their back.

I’ll have her maybe buff the sharp corner the tiny chip made. That’s it.

I think it’s time to find a new dentist. *sigh*

Tennis has been straightened out but the coach keeps forgetting to show up with the rackets we said we would buy for the girls. As long as they have loaner rackets, I don’t care, but it would be nice for them to practice with one another at the local tennis courts this weekend and that’s going to be impossible without rackets. They’re cheaper through the coaches vs. anywhere else, which is why I’m even bothering to wait.

In money news last week was stressful because we got the check a day late and my budget is basically done to the minute. I did have some leftover money that was supposed to go back into the rent savings to replenish what I took when I paid off the Macy’s card. It’s hiding in an “Other” category in the budget just in case. Hopefully his check comes in the mail today so it will be available tomorrow and I can deposit that “Other” money into savings and then put this week’s money that’s to go back into savings in that “Other” category.

I know it’s silly to have (basically) two buffers in the budget but things keep creeping up on me and I’ll be damned if I count wrong and have all my savings accounts shut down for doing 6 withdrawals in one month. I’ve been too addle-brained from stress to count on my memory or any other system that will keep track of the number of withdrawals. I think I’m at 3 right now. I figure there’s no need to push it when a bridge buffer is easy to handle with the budget program.

I’m still a little unsure how to handle five week months. The last day of the week is the first day of next month. If the check comes late and it clears on the 1st should I be using that for July expenses? If I do that turns July into the five week month so it doesn’t really matter either way, I don’t think.

We both know it’s best to wait until the mail comes to make that decision. The extra check is going toward rent savings anyway.

Next month we are back to being able to live off of three out of four checks. Summer activities killed me this year. At the end of summer I’m going to add up everything we spent and when I’m done crying over my bad money choices that made me feel like a good mother I’ll put that as a goal for next summer so it’s not a scramble.

Mr. Brickie has to go back to work sometime. He has an appointment today with his orthopedic surgeon. His surgery cut is healing beautifully and he doesn’t really wear the cast that often except when he drives or sleeps. He is hopeful the doctor will tell him he doesn’t have to wear it anymore after they do the x-ray in the office today.

I’m thrilled because his healing means he’ll be back to work soon. It will make everything normal again. Plus that healing means we are that much closer to finding out what the settlement is going to be. I’m thrilled the insurance paid him enough to live on. I didn’t know a settlement was even a thing until someone told him about it at his union meeting. I didn’t know until then there was such a thing! Now I know it’s based on how much use he’s lost permanently in his wrist and that means the settlement can fluctuate between, “Oh, hey, let’s take a weekend vacation to a local hotel with an indoor pool and order room service.” to, “Oh hey, let’s pay off all the debt except the student loans and have a fully funded 6 month emergency fund, too.” So here’s me, basically using the emergency brake in my brain to keep myself from counting different amounts of chickens before they’re hatched. It’s difficult because trying not to think about things is darn near impossible.

Is it any wonder I’m having trouble sleeping?

Tennis Kerfuffle and Tooth Update

Okay. So I wrote an insane $410 check (on 5/23) to the tennis people because Big Sister really wants to be on the tennis team in middle school so I put her in for two hours of lessons a day for two sessions of two-week sessions. The other two kids were in for an hour for two sessions at a 10% discount. Sessions were $54 each.

When people tell me they hate word problems I honestly wonder how they get through life at all because my life is one big math word problem.

That means Big Sister was $54 x 2 hours x 2 sessions = $216
Middle/Little Sisters were $54 x 1 hour x 2 sessions x  = $216 – 10% ($21.60) = $194.40
A check was written for $410.40

Last night I got a call from the coach asking if we could move Big Sister from her second hour time to her first hour time not realizing she was in both. So we cancelled the second hour and I said refund and he said credit but we still needed to buy rackets so I figured we would talk to him about our credit covering some rackets.

This morning they had practice and the coach of the older kids wants Big Sister in the class for younger kids because she has no experience. I’m fine with that, but now she’s in the same class as her sisters and there isn’t a second hour option so it looks like this.

Big Sister is $54 x 1 hour x 2 sessions = $108
Middle/Little are $54 x 1 hour x 2 sessions – 10% discount = 194.40
New amount owed is $302.40

That’s a big $108 difference. So I had Mr. Brickie call him and leave a voicemail stating we would come by with a new check tonight. I don’t want to hear a damn thing about getting a “credit” because I don’t trust these organizations to remember I have a credit of over a hundred dollars next summer and if they don’t  guess who will be out of luck because how do you prove someone owes you money when they cashed one check? You have to hope someone remembers the scheduling changes and I don’t hold a lot of hope because these coaches work with kids and here I am with three kids and I can barely keep a train of thought from derailing. If I had to coach large groups of children I’d be perpetually confused.

I wrote the numbers up on a post-it note to give to Mr. Brickie when he goes with the new check tonight. The coach told me last night he hadn’t cashed the checks yet so we are hoping he gets Mr. Brickie’s message he left on his voicemail before he cashes them. otherwise I’ll be expecting a $108 check written out to me before this two week session is over.

This isn’t the longest someone from one of the school districts has held a check before cashing it, but it’s close. I’m not sure why you would leave a stack of checks on your desk for weeks (or, in the case of volleyball camp last year, months) and then think everything is going to be okay when you cash them. I am fine because I keep a budget but can you imagine if you forgot you wrote a check a month or more ago and then it got cashed all of a sudden? It could cause someone serious financial stress. Not cool.

Last but not least, this coach better not tell me they don’t do refunds because that’s not even going to fly. When I signed them up I specifically asked at the athletic department if I was supposed to put my child with zero experience in that middle school time slot and the woman at the desk called the coach and he said yes, so this is officially and 100% not my problem and not my mistake.

I’ll put the refund money back in the rent savings I took from when I paid off the Macy’s card. (The final payment cleared! The Macy’s card is officially out of the rotation! I’m so happy!)

Now I’m waiting for the phone call from the optometrist telling me my glasses are in. It’s coming sometime this week.

 

Is Summer Going Great for Everyone but Me?

how-we-spent-it-workmans-comp

If I don’t get a good night’s sleep soon I may go completely mad.

I don’t know if that will look any different than I do on a day-to-day basis. For all I know I’ve always been mad.

The budget this week is both good and bad. I finally paid off the Macy’s card! I did it by dipping into the rent savings account.. So not my most mature move but I’m hoping it helps me sleep tonight.

I also have this amazing plan where all of the charges from the dentist and optometrist I put on that 21 months no interest card would be paid off if I just need $170 payment every month. I messed that up by making the minimum payment of $40 and putting the rest of the money from the paycheck after groceries, gas, etc. into a hidden category just in case other expenses for the girls come up before the next paycheck comes in.

I know the reason I can’t sleep is because I’m overwhelmed with stress over money. I know I’m spending too much but I don’t know if that’s a bad thing I don’t know if I’m spending money in the right ways but I don’t know what the right ways are. Everyone says I’m supposed to be finding balance, but what does balance even mean?

Tomorrow we’re going to a free event at the park district because I’m also trying to do things with the kids that don’t cost any money. I guess my biggest problem is I never thought summer was going to be an issue financially. It sounds stupid even writing that. Of course summer was going to be more financially draining! The kids are here! They want things like breakfast and lunch.

I did send them out once to the park a quarter block away for the town’s “free lunch for all the kids” program. They loved it. I need to set a weekday alarm to remind myself to send them more often.

Mr. Brickie supported my decisions with regard to paying off the Macy’s card with rent savings. I want to be happy but I think he would support anything if it would stop my hollow-eyed muttering during the day. Not sleeping makes me mutter. I’m not sure why. I think it’s because I’m trying not to forget anything but I’m not going to lie, it’s a little creepy.

Here are the current numbers. No Macy’s (hooray!) but still some big balances on the remaining two cards.

I’m not sure if I feel better or not but I don’t cringe as hard when I look at the budget. I feel confident I can refill that savings category. The Macy’s slog felt way more long-lasting.

How We Spent It:
$721.30 incoming from workman’s comp
$82.94 Net10 (2 cell phones)
$40.00 Citi payment
$95.84 Buffer refill because I spent a lot last week on athletic shorts for volleyball and volleyball camp.
$270.00 Groceries ($150), Gas ($20), Tolls ($40), Stuff I forgot but oh I need cash for ($60)
$232.52 Officially stashed in a way-down-in-the-budget category in case I need it but most likely it’s going right back into rent savings. I would put it there now but I’ve withdrawn three times from savings this month and I hate even getting close to 6 withdrawals because I don’t want all my savings accounts shut down.

The numbers look like this: 2016-6-10 ynab

The Emergency fund needs to be at $1000 and the $2250 Rent Savings should (by the end of this month) be at $790.86. I think I can get the Rent Savings back to its former glory by the end of the month. I’m certainly going to try.

Summer is killing me financially. I have to get it under control.

How We Spent It 4-14-2016

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I am totally late posting this.

We spent this week’s check on bills. Except for the buffer refill which was money we spent the week before on going out as a family to a wrestling event. As you can see with the haircut line item, I’m trying to predict expenses better so I don’t have to keep refilling the buffer. (If I haven’t mentioned it lately the $100 buffer is money that sits in the checking account making sure we don’t overdraft. It was a Mr. Brickie request.) I am running out of ways to make bills interesting because they’re totally not. They’re a slow, steady drip of water from a midnight faucet in the back of the brain that never stops.

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I mean, we do the same thing every week. Pay bills, pay down debt. I did charge $555 to a credit card so now I have a new bill. $125/month toward the Citi card to get it paid off in 20 months. I wish I had the money in the savings account to not put it on a credit card, but I needed to get the work done before we got into root canal territory so I charged it.

Since dental isn’t something frivolous or fun I was torn if I should wait or get my mouth fixed.

I was so confused until I thought to myself, “What would I do if it were one of my children or my husband who needed this work done?” If it were one of them I would not hesitate to say, “I don’t care if we’re charging it – it’s your MOUTH.” So I’m trying to do unto myself what I would do for anyone else in my family.

Hopefully I will be able to pay it off sooner than 20 months from now but it’s the plan and the plan can be changed if something else gets paid off sooner.

The charge on the amazon visa is a book I pre-ordered. The money is in the category to pay it off but it hasn’t actually charged to the card yet because the book isn’t being released until May. As soon as it hits the card, I’ll pay that off.

2016-4-14 ynab

I also screwed up the Insurance Savings account and missed a month. I put aside $120/mo. and after six months it’s enough to cover the full policy premium payment and renter’s insurance annually. It used to be less but we bought a car last month and while I did calculate how much to save to cover six months, I did not take into consideration the policy would go up $240 for this upcoming six-month period. The insurance savings account only had $252 in it and the payment of $611 is going to autocharge on the discover card 5/18 so I needed to come up with a fix. I took that $252, paid it to Discover and I will make another $420 in payments over the next two weeks. (Next Thursday is a $240 payment, the week after $120.) That will mean I’ve paid down the card enough that when the charge goes through it will be a net-zero balance.

It stinks because the money next week was originally budgeted to pay down the Macy’s card, but insurance is always a priority. I will have to be content with a $15 extra payment to Macy’s next week and I’m trying to feel good because it’s a number bigger than zero. Every little bit helps, right?

It feels like I’m just about to make progress every week and then something trips me up. I know that Mr. Brickie getting a raise in June will make a difference and his promotion in July will make a massive, giant, huge difference. By the end of July he should be making over $5 more an hour than he does right now and that’s all going to go toward credit card debt.

I feel like everything is always on the wire still but we haven’t increased our casual spending at all. We eat out less now than when we had less money and no budget. I put aside $40 a week so we eat out nice once or crappy twice.

I do have about $200 in that amazing Digit account that steals money from you and saves it behind your back. I love the app and was trying to leave that there for Christmas but why am I saving for Christmas if what I really want is to pay off credit card debt?

The answer is probably, “Because you have kids, dummy.” I’m not sure which is the best answer.

If I were really committed, I would have a $0 eating out budget. I know. I get tired, I forget to thaw a thing, I have a million excuses for why I can’t commit at that level. Bottom line is I don’t want to commit at that level. I’m okay with that because $40 a week isn’t the problem.

The fact that I can realize I’m $240 short for next month’s insurance bill and can just reallocate money that was going to go to paying down debt and make a decision to put it on the insurance instead? That’s a huge win. I wasn’t filled with panic and dread, I was mildly annoyed.

If this were last year a mistake that big would mean not being able to pay the insurance all at once. It would be a lot of me crying and hating myself for being such a giant failure. It’s funny, the absence of self-abuse doesn’t really feel like a win because I never really notice I’ve stopped being such a total asshole to myself all the time. “Stupid. Not good enough. Loser.” the chant isn’t there anymore and what’s left isn’t a cheerleader telling me I’m awesome, it’s just silence. Fear, for me, is a loud, mean thing. Confusion is downright cruel in terms of self-talk.

Now there is space in my brain where those hateful voices used to be.

I’m doing my best not to fill the silence with anything new. I want to let the dust settle before I reevaluate my budget position and mental priorities.

In the meantime I’m not going to be angry at myself for buying my daughter a cookbook at the book fair yesterday because she wanted it and I want to start teaching her how to cook. Staying balanced without going overboard in either direction (being too loose or tight with finances) is not healthy. We went’ “scorched earth” when we had to and now we are very careful but eat out once a week and go to book fairs once a year. It’s not a crazy amount of money or change but it’s a little more than what it was.

I want just a few of the trappings that I consider part of the “normal life” I have dreamed of since forever. Nothing too fancy, just an occasional new color of nail polish or night out with my family to the local Elks club to watch wrestling instead of constantly dealing with the grind of barely surviving. It’s one thing to grind when you have to, I lived there for years and we all do what we have to do and I’m proud of myself for getting through it. Living that kind of grind by choice? That’s some monk-level hair shirt action I want no part of.

How We Spent It 3-31-2016

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Sometimes it makes me really sad that my plans get derailed by doing normal people things like taking my kids to the dentist.

We used to go to this amazing dentist with a circus atmosphere (yes, even balloon animals) but once we moved it took an hour to get there one way. Too much travel for three little kids. We found a local dentist through a referral who is also a unicorn (small hands with long, thin fingers) and we couldn’t be happier with the office.

X-rays, sealants, fluoride, and cleanings for all the kids (plus x-rays for me) – even with insurance – cost us $198 today. Well worth it, sure, but still painful. My mouth is going to be a years long process because of the deductible + coverage limit per year. I’m fine with that but pretty soon we’re going to have to take Mr. Brickie and his trench mouth in there and then all bets are off and we might look into getting care credit because once you go in there you need to just get it done because his teeth have this tendency to dissolve when things are put on them.

But he’s the one from the middle class family. He got braces and everything. Seriously, don’t judge people by their teeth. You can only control that stuff so much.

Maybe I’ll get veneers so I can have a perfect smile. I could do it. Be amazing in all my pictures from now on. Sounds right up my alley, doesn’t it? (If you ever want to see how *not* into selfies I am you can check me out on instagram. Surprise, my username is jennydecki.) Sadly, veneers aren’t even an option for Mr. Brickie. Ah well, I always tell him, “If they don’t hurt you’re doing better than you could be.” We do need to get him in that dentist’s office, though, and I know he’s scared even though he would refuse to the moon and back that he even cares.

When I was younger and rebellious and conservative and thought everyone could succeed if they just tried hard enough and weren’t lazy (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA) I swore I’d never marry someone who had less-than-awesome teeth because I had great teeth and had a good dental routine and the ONLY way you would have janky teeth was OF COURSE if you were too lazy to brush.

I truly hope it does not surprise you to know I’m deeply ashamed I held those beliefs. I’ve talked to enough people living enough lives from top to bottom to know how wrong I was. I do, however, understand the thought process that leads someone to hold on to those beliefs. I’m not a “my way or the highway” woman when it comes to personal beliefs because there is value in understanding. I’m not sure exactly what the value is, sometimes, but maybe someday I’ll understand why I crave to know others and how they got where they are and why they believe the way they do.

This week was the “extra” check. I set aside $350 for groceries, gas, tolls, and one night of take out food. With the one day of no work last week his check was $758.19

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Walmart is work jeans for Mr. Brickie (4 pairs) because he doesn’t have a pair without holes in them and I was like, “What the what?? No. You do not wait until the last minute to tell me you need work clothing. That is a priority!!” I put it on the credit card so when it shows up on the card (it takes a few days) I can pay it off immediately.

The emergency fund was half drained to pay off a credit card so I’m trying to put a little back in there. I really was most comfortable when that was at $1000 but every time we have a dime I’m torn between the emergency fund and paying down Macy’s.

That dentist bill is a biggie, though, but I have to prioritize the kids health. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night otherwise.

So at this point I consider myself very, very lucky I was able to pull out a credit card this morning, have her charge $194 on the card, and then I was able to come home and set aside the same amount of cash from today’s paycheck so as soon as it goes on the card I can pay it right off.

It’s a whole new world, really.

Plus the hygienist told me I was awesome and my family was awesome which is always a great thing to hear first thing in the morning. It’s kept me smiling since she said it. A great bonus in addition to good dental care, for sure!

Here is where our credit card balances stand:

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It’s a lot but we’ll get there. Tomorrow I’m going to pull down the Chase Freedom $187.28 cash back into my checking account. ($150 for spending $500 in three months, $25 for adding an additional user, 5% cash back on gas.) We used this as our gas card until today because of the 5% back and we put this month’s bills that could be paid on a credit card on this card to hit that $500 limit. Tomorrow the Chase Freedom card will be back in the safe until the next time the 5% bonus category is one we want to participate in because it’s something we would have spent on anyway.

I’ll pull out the Chase Visa next (2% cash back on gas and groceries) and put a little post-it note on it that says “gas/groceries” so Mr. Brickie knows what the card is for and doesn’t have to think about it.

Can you believe tomorrow is already April??