Tag: budget

How We Spent It 5/13/2015

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A late payment from a winter sidejob came through and cleared at the same time as a four-day paycheck today.

Which means, how we spent it today is going to involve MAGIC.

Behold! Imagine in your mind four credit cards.

You look away from the table – only for a moment – and when you look back there are only three!

We were going to do the Amazon.com card first because it has the lowest balance but my husband asked if I could do the Walmart card so we could never use it again and I said, “Sounds good.”

Because it doesn’t matter.

The level of debt we have and the number of cards we have means that picking between the interest rate first method or the lowest to highest balance method don’t matter. All that matters is paying them off so if he wants to do Walmart? Fine by me.

I worry, of course, that what I really should do is just hoard the money just in case.

But we all know that won’t help.

So today is payoff day for a credit card.

I’ll be over here celebrating with a cup of black instant coffee made with my trusty teapot.

The one thing I hate about checks is when the person you give them to (I’m looking at you, school) doesn’t cash them for weeks. Like, seriously, you’re just being mean. I’m lucky I have a bank where I can enter those checks in and be regularly reminded of them.

Sure, I could balance and track my checkbook on paper but let’s be honest, who does that anymore? Anyone? I never did. I used to track my checkbook in my head and now I track it online and with the bank’s app.

I don’t know if it’s anyone else’s but between this and the Costco meat in my freezer I really feel like I’m starting to live the life I’ve always imagined.

A life where I’m not afraid all the time.

So we paid:

  • $779.11 to payoff the Walmart card and now it’s in the safe.
  • $32 Capital One minimum payment.
  • $151 to the Chase Visa for the automatic bills that go on the card. (Ins, Internet, Cell Phones)
  • That leaves $28.99, so I put that on the Chase Visa, too, because why not.
  • As always, $200 for gas and iPass and toilet paper for the week. Mostly gas and iPass. We don’t use THAT much toilet paper!

I reversed the plan for sure, but it’s all the same money going toward the same debts.

I know I seem a little flighty with the money right now but…well…no but, really. I’m feeling flighty and kind of devil-may-care. Next week will be boring. Just the car payment and living expenses. On the bright side I’ll be able to pay both and still be on track to paying the car off in November. (It’s a long shot, but hey, let’s have a stretch goal for once, right?)

Dreaming big. Hoping for a pre-Christmas car payoff. It would be a great way to start the new year for sure.

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Happiness is a Ruined Budget

Today I posted on Facebook, “Mother’s Day lunch at Costco. I wrecked my budget. LOL”

I wonder if my friends thought my LOL was the kind where you’re laughing sadly at yourself because you messed up. It was actually an honest out-loud laugh somewhere between not-giving-a-damn and knowing it was a mistake I could afford to make.

We spent $338.34 in food that went on the EBT card. (Balance is $66.66 until the 9th of next month.)
We spent $94.81 on non-food items (including allergy pills and batteries) that came straight from the emergency fund.

It had to be the emergency fund because his work check doesn’t clear and become available until May 13th (Wednesday!) and this was the day we had available to shop. I am all about sticking to the budget but seriously, I know I have to be flexible sometimes and I figured Costco wouldn’t be too crowded early on Mother’s Day (I was right!) and we went aisle-by-aisle through the entire store!! I haven’t been in one since I went that one time with my friend Becca back in Illinois so I had no idea what the layout was.

Mr. Brickie usually does 100% of the shopping so he knows the prices of everything. He was pleased enough that I can really just shop at Costco and he won’t cringe or complain about the grocery bill.

For a family of five there are some things you just need to get from Costco. Like croissants. Everywhere else they top out at a 6 pack. Five people and one six pack lasts zero. That’s math. A cool dozen of those lovely bakery croissants will last three days out of the week and my kids absolutely love them.

It seems like a whole lot of money but, in all honesty, we filled and stacked in the hatchback, the folded down back seat, and still needed to put things in between the girls and under the little one’s feet to get everything in the car.

I’m stocked on so many things for the month. Most important one? Meat. I have meat for the whole month. We got fruit. We got greens. We got 10 pounds of carrots that I’ll be shredding and separating into ziplock bags to add into pretty much everything from now until the end of time. Yes, I will freeze the shredded carrots. They were a great deal and go with almost everything.

My Mother’s Day treat? A case of San Pellegrino mineral water. (a 12pk of 750mL bottles was $14.49)

Team Mom F*** Yeah.

I’ll be over here having a wine spritzer (SO fancy!) and recalculating the budget because this trip was totally worth it. Plus we fed everyone and shared sodas at that weird food court for under ten bucks.

I have seen the Costco light.

We probably won’t get SNAP benefits beyond this month because Mr. Brickie is working and making enough money I think they’ll get cancelled (I’m not sure, but I think, you know what I mean?) so we need to start budgeting for food which is a huge expense.

I have, historically, been awful about budgeting enough for food. I need to just suck it up and give us a $600/month budget for the five of us and let everything else fall where it will. It might slow down the get-out-of-debt plan, but it will keep us off ramen noodles, too. (Yes, I know you can make amazing things out of ramen noodles, but if I underbudget us, we won’t be able to afford any of those cool ingredients to add and I’ll only have the packet to season it with.)

I also bought a couple of laundry baskets. I felt very fancy getting new ones to replace the ones we have that are half broken and pinch your arms all the time!

Being able to buy something frivolous that I love (like mineral water) without guilt? Wow. I wish I could bottle the feeling and send it to everyone so we could all share the feeling together. It’s like a hint of what’s to come.

This may have been the best Mother’s Day ever.

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I Am Bad At Planning the Expected Unexpected

  • I somehow totally didn’t factor in Mr. Brickie’s $20 union dues payment.
  • I need to go to the mall this weekend and pick up a graduation gift for a friend.
  • I paid for school pictures last month and will pay for softball pictures this month.
  • At the end of May, Mr. Brickie will need to pay another $20 union dues payment.

There are probably other expenses I haven’t put into the budget. Small things. A once a year $50 hosting payment for this blog. Domain names (I don’t have many).

I always wonder if there’s another thing I’m forgetting. There probably is.

Oh! I should probably let my children buy me something for Mother’s Day. Mr. Brickie and I don’t usually exchange gifts for Christmas and birthdays and Father’s/Mother’s Days. It saves money. The kids, however, want to buy gifts for us and I haven’t been able to figure out a good way to say no. This Christmas my daughters gave me: A pair of slippers, a wall calendar, and a box of Turtles with the turtle on the front that reminds me of Mr. Peanut. I was happy because they were all very thoughtful without being expensive.

I just think if we can keep our extraneous expenses locked down I can pay off $1000 in credit cards by the end of May. Sure, something could come up and Mr. Brickie could make less money or something, but if he does work 40 hour weeks in May, I can do that. If that continued we could actually have our credit card debt paid off by (or during) August. That would put us in a great position for back-to-school shopping. Yes, that’s a best-case scenario but there’s nothing wrong with having a hopeful goal.

Sometimes the hope is all I have to get through the day.

I know $1000/mo. toward debt is really ambitious. But think of it this way…if we’re credit card debt free in August, the car could be paid off by the end of November. (For those of you who might not remember, I have a really high car payment – almost $500/mo. Right now my balance on the loan is $5962(ish) so the normal payment plus $1000/mo. would be enough to pay it off by the end of November.)

To get rid of that car payment would be amazing!

I could open a new savings account and put $500/mo. into that (since I’m used to paying that much a month anyway) into a New Car Fund and just save until we need another car.

Wow. No credit card debt & no car payment?

Our bill list would look like this:

  • Gas/Electric
  • Internet
  • Auto/Renters Insurance
  • Cell Phones
  • Rent

That’s it.

I’m so close. SO close.

The kids were happy with a budget christmas last year. They really were.

It’s official! My goal is to pay off the car by the end of November.

Let’s see if I can rock this out. I’m going to put it on my debt paydown spreadsheet so I won’t forget about my “amazing idea” I just had. Sometimes the ideas run away as fast as I can catch them!

So if you ever wonder why I keep $200/wk. in the checking even though I don’t actually remember a week in which we needed that much money…it’s these unexpected expenses I just don’t think about. I build a little slush into the fund.

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How We Spent It (5/30/2015)

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I f#%^ed up!

After the babysitter (so I could take my oldest to the doctor without the youngest), gas in the cars, and an iPass toll payment the total dollar amount we had to work with was $1119.

$260 went to the emergency fund (bringing it back to $1000.)
$195 – gas/electric.
$25 – Amazon.com card minimum payment
$120 – I sent in a check for Abby’s summer camp.
$440 – to the Chase Visa. It was calculated as $240 for the shed / $151 for May auto-payments / $49 for uh…I’m not even sure…I had a list and followed it and usually after ten sets of calculations leaves me with a list I just execute when the time comes.
$35 at the store (toilet paper, etc.)
A list I executed and just realized left us with $44.

That’s a lot less than the $200 I try to keep for a week of living expenses. Sure, Mr. Brickie will get paid next Tuesday, but that won’t go through on the account as new money until Friday. So that $44 is our target spend for today (Thursday) through NEXT Friday.

I have obviously mathed very poorly.

DO NOT PANIC FOR ME!!

I have room on the credit card and a thousand dollar emergency fund and a rent savings account I try to pretend doesn’t exist but, let’s be honest, it does.

Five years ago this would have been a HUGE DEAL and I probably would have CRIED and overdrawn my account and tried to sell my blood. Overpaying or mispaying bills was the #1 reason we ended up overdrafting back in the day. Every once in a while I just bork the math.

I blame this on feeling unsure of my overall plan. I lost sight of my goal and without that focus? The outcome suffered.

This is the first time I’ve ever had a thousand dollars to spend and felt like I didn’t really get anything DONE with it.

I need to do a projection for May so I know what to aim for when Mr. Brickie gets paid. It looks like he will be working the entire month of May so I can start projecting with a full 40hr/wk. income and then write up what to pay down in order of priorities and then if there isn’t quite that much money we will just ignore the last item on the priority list.

A great reason to have a budget … when you lose your focus and screw it up? You’ll know really quickly and it will be the kick in the butt you need to get back on track.

Here is my May projection.

may-budget

I can’t wait to see how different this is vs. the end of the month next month. What’s most important is having the plan and then I have a path to follow and don’t end up wandering lost in the woods and falling into a ravine. I love putting these projections in excel because changing the paycheck amount updates everything exactly how I need without more thought or calculation by hand that lead to human error.

My fingers are crossed I am able to get the Amazon and Walmart cards paid off by the end of May! (The Chase Visa payments of $40/wk. are for the iPass (tolls) to cover tolls and maybe a little buffer toward June.)

I used this hourly paycheck calcultor to get the numbers. They err on the side of being low from what I can tell when I calculted the paycheck I have in my posession to compare against. (Thre is also a salary calculator link at the top of that page.)

The current most-favorable projected date for the next promotion to 70% apprentice is 9/2/2015. I’m sure that will change based on weather or lags between jobs. But it’s a starting number and you know I love to have those!

Decision Fatigue and the Sundress

There’s a thing called decision fatigue (pdf download of an interesting journal article on self-control and decision making). Basically, after you make a bunch of decisions, the quality of your decisions decreases until, eventually, you’re making full-on stupid decisions.

Decision fatigue is one of the things that keeps poor people poor. You’re under this pile of bricks and each one has something written on it. This one over here says, “food” and this one over here says, “feed the kids” and this one says, “Gas bill” and this one over here says, “do something to maintain your marriage” and that one over there says, “save money” and there’s one right next to my face that says, “buy a sundress for your friend’s graduation party” or “just get fast food for dinner” or “spend time with the kids” or “check the homework and sign the homework planner” and “go to the gym” and “make a salad” and it’s like all the decisions forever are all etched into these bricks and it’s YOUR responsibility to lift every one and put it in order. Sure, the first bricks are easy to put where they need to be. “Get the kids to school” and “feed them a healthy breakfast” make the cut. “Do the dishes” happens but it’s a little tougher and by the time  you’ve gotten to “make a healthy dinner for the family” your  muscles are downright shaky any you’re starting to question if you can, in fact, keep this wall from toppling down on you. No matter how you feel the bricks – and the choices – keep piling up.

Decision fatigue changes that from, “stack all the bricks in order of what is most important and do it every day and don’t veer from it” to, “oh look a sundress wouldn’t it be nice to have something cute for a change”

Moving the bricks is drudgery. It’s the same thing, every day. Check the bank account. Make sure there are no surprises. (move the brick, move the brick) and it’s true that forming habits of checking the accounts and making sure things are paid and knowing my bills by heart is all helpful with not using so much thought on these things but it’s not a perfect system.

I dream of having enough money to just let everything auto-draft right out of my checking account. To just know there’s enough in there and we can cover it all. It would be like having a magical brick machine that moved the bricks off of me and put them … somewhere else where I don’t see them and only have to check in once a month to make sure everything has happened as planned.

I’ve spent so many years with “No” as my default answer. years NOT spending money and NOT shopping and NOT getting nice things for myself, my husband, and my children. Sometimes I berate myself for it because how silly to be tired from NOT doing things. Instead of the store I can hang out at home. Instead of the movies we can just play a game at the kitchen table. Instead of a museum you guys can just go to the park. How can I complain when I have all thse other alternate choices, I should consider myself lucky!

When they are things you really want to do (or normal things only you and the other poors can’t do) they wear down your decision fatigue. Not doing something is as much a decision as doing something when it’s an active choice.

Let’s be honest with one another. I’m totally buying a sundress. Decision fatigue is like an old volcano and it needs a sacrifice in order to stay quiet. I’ll do my best to not completely kill the budget by amiing for an at/under pricepoint of $35.00 so, obviously, it’s not going to be a fancy, designer sundress but if I seriously have to go to the thrift store one more time? Just…no. (I don’t know what your thrift store looks like but the plus section in my thrift store is like the eighth circle of hell.) I consider it a compromise even as part of my brain will – I’m sure – consider it a failure and lack of willpower.

So this is how it is. I stack the bricks and I move the bricks and I keep track of them as I build a wall every month and make sure the whole thing doesn’t topple on me and crush me and, every once in a while, I say fuck it and buy a sundress.

When was the last time  you gave in to decision fatigue and just bought something that wasn’t in your budget?

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How We Spent It! (4/15/15)

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I’m so excited Mr. Brickie is back at work. It’s day two and we heard that he is going to be working another day or two and then they’ll be off until the stone gets in. It’s been ordered but, well, shit happens.

I have this tagged with the unemployment graphic because he’s only been at work one day (not including today) so he’s technically not working even though…well…you’ll see in a minute. Next week I’ll use the regular graphic again. (Like you care. This is a classic case of overexplaining. Don’t do that.)

Here’s a weird thing about being a union bricklayer. When they tell him he’s off and they’ll call him when the stone is in we are not sure if he is supposed to take another job if they call. We are still waiting on the call from the foreman from last season who wrote a recommendation letter for Mr. Brickie and wants him on his job. When this job called Mr. Brickie hesitated for a split second but he knows that the goal is to get working and keep working so he (almost) immediately said yes to this job. There is no waiting for the other company.

But…if they call during the time that he is off….I’m not sure what protocol is. I’ll let you know when we find out. Maybe that’s only curious and interesting to me. If it is, my apologies.

The last two weeks instead of unemployment Mr. Brickie was working on a side job. So we actually have a grip of cash to spend on this fabulous How We Spent It Wednesday!

$1,612.42 Total In The Bank Account
– $495.12 Car Payment (total owed $5,907)
– $100.00 Capital One CC
– $440.00 Geico (6 month auto payment)
– $117.30 Amazon Visa
– $200.00 Living Expenses
– $260.00 Rent Savings Account
————
= $0.00 ←- boom! zero based budget success!

If there is money left from the $200 by next week (sometimes there is) I just put it toward a bill and then leave $200 for the next week. If he only works two or three days this week he won’t make but a few hundred dollars next Wednesday when he gets the check. I may put that back into the emergency fund instead of paying more things down. It depends.

At this point it feels like it doesn’t matter how the money is allocated, as long as our focus does not falter and things get paid off. Once he starts working on the regular, however, I think this is all going to get cleaned up so fast and then I can dump money into savings for back-to-school and Christmas and Birthdays and Car Insurance and Renters Insurance and *gasp* maybe even a Vacation Fund (get the fainting chair!)

But mostly a good emergency fund. That’s always the first priority. Well, mostly. I probably should have done more replenishing of the emergency fund today because, as you can see, I replenished zero of the emergency fund.

He still has about another week of work left on the side job (I know, since I’m doing budget/finance blogging I’m supposed to call it a “hustle” but hustle is what gets you a gig, it’s not the gig itself so it kind of drives me nuts in a “words mean things” way.) so when he’s off waiting for the stone to come in for the next part of the job he will have something to do to keep generating income. Since he is union and an apprentice his side gigs are not bricklaying gigs. Just general labor.

Things are looking pretty stable. I hope it continues in this vein. (I almost said vain just to mess with people right after saying “words mean things” like I’m totally pedantic.)

Scentsy MLM Update (longer than usual – you have been warned)

I’m breaking even! It’s all I really wanted so I’m happy. I even achieved some kind of award level. It’s the lowest one possible because believe-you-me I’m not talking incessantly about this on facebook and I’m not hitting people up in the grocery store. NOPE^100

Super Winning MLM Moment: This week, I told someone, “I’m sorry, I won’t be able to take care of your Scentsy needs anymore. I hope you have a great week!” I’m not nearly desperate enough to put up with people’s mess. My not-messy people know who they are because they get good samples and no pressure. <3

I’m not trying to grow this into anything other than a self-sustaining habit. Also, my house smells freaking amazing. I tossed a scent pak in each of our cars and they smell good now, too. (My kids picked Paradise Punch for their room and it smells exactly like tropical punch kool aid and they love it. I just stuffed the scent pak in the back of a stuffed animal with a zipper. I’m not going to have liquid wax in a kid’s room. Sure it’s non-toxic, but who wants to clean that if it spills??)

If you have questions about scents or warmers or whatever you know you can always ask me. If you don’t? Let’s pretend this part of the post never happened. As usual.

Want to make your house smell awesome? Yeah. That’s a link. Don’t get mad, there was a whole header warning you this was about to happen.

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Our Very First Super Simple Budget

The first time we made a budget it didn’t look anything like the one we have today. It was a list of all our bills, expenses, and income on a piece of paper I tore out of a spiral notebook.

==================================================================

Our Budget (Month) (Year)

Name of bill $xx.xx (Date Due)
Name of bill $xx.xx (Date Due)
Name of bill $xx.xx (Date Due)
————————-
Total bills $xxx.xx

How much do I think we spend on gas? $xxx.xx
How much do I think we spend on food? $xxx.xx
How much do I think we spend on eating out? $xx.xx
—————————–
Total Expenses $xxx.xx

Income $xxxx.xx

Income
– Expenses
– Bills
————-
= $xxx.xx ← amount to put toward debt. (If this number is negative you have to reduce an expense, double-check your bills to see if you can cancel something like cable, or look at making some extra cash on the side to make up the difference.)

===================================================================

That’s it. That was the whole budget. When we first wrote it out it was dark, because it was the first day we realized we didn’t make enough money to pay our bills. We were short about a hundred bucks but that was before we added in gas money to get to work.

My biggest problem in the early days was forgetting something was due and “overpaying” a bill because I was excited we had extra money that turned out not be extra.

No one is impressed by my very first budget and it looks so simple it never convinces anyone to just sit down and write everything on a piece of paper. So I’ll never be a guru helping others to budget because it’s too easy. Well, it looks too easy. Like “eat a little less, move a little more” is too easy for people working on nutrition. I’m guilty of that one, for sure! “There has to be more to it. There has to be.” It’s the same thing with the budget! “There has to be more to it!” people say.

There isn’t. Sure, it gets a little more complicated when you have to track how much gas you use in a month, but not that much. (I recommend looking at your debit statement or credit statement to figure this out, it’s much easier than holding on to receipts for a month. How much do we spend eating out? (That’s the royal “we” … my family eats out once a month and it always costs $35 give or take a couple dollars.) The regular monthly expenses are tough, but rounding is your friend. Once you know how much-ish you spend a month on living you can make a real budget you won’t go over.

It took me almost a year to stop making “bonus” payments into credit cards or trying to pre-pay principal on a car note. That’s how it is, though. Whatever your bad habit is? You’ll discover it by writing down your budget and following it for a few months.

I’ve tried online budgeting systems but they’re too complicated for me. I hate the idea of pretend-hiding my money and living on last month’s money. I want to know where all my pennies are. Something pretty? Don’t need it. I keep my budget on a Google Spreadsheet so I can edit it on my phone and so my husband can check it out whenever he wants.

We don’t have regular budget meetings as a couple because he would rather I take care of everything. It works because he is also NOT a spender. He doesn’t come home all, “Oh, by the way I went shopping and spent money on stuff.” Basically, he gets to ignore the budget because he doesn’t do stuff to mess up my budget.

He isn’t working yet this season but he might have a side job lined up. If he does that would cover topping up the emergency fund, topping up the rent savings, and paying our auto insurance for the next six months. We will have to see how everything shakes out. When we don’t know how things are going to shake out I make a plan for each possible outcome because it’s a simple change of the budget once you’ve got the basic habit down.

Have any questions about budgeting? Let me know. Do you remember doing your first budget?

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How We Spent It State Tax Refund Edition!

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This is a super short one because I have been stupid-crazy-sick for a week with a fever and lost time and everything.

I feel better today but still really weak and my brain is kind of hurky-jerky and it wants to keep a train of thought but before I know it I’m suddenly thinking about how awesome a slushie would be for my throat and totally forget what I was talking about before. Like now. Thank goodness I wrote in the title first to keep me on track.

$865 – Tax Return
-$503 – Pay off Amazon.com store card
-$300 – Savings earmarked for brakes & exhaust work on the 1990 Toyota so he can commute in it this spring/summer for work.
-$30 – Bought a pair of boots for my daughter because she loves boots so much she wouldn’t stop wearing her snow boots so…I bought her a pair of black, not-snow-boots from Target.

So now we are down to THREE credit cards. The wal-mart card and the two regular credit cards.

It’s so nice out today I’ve started praying like a madwoman for work to start early this year. We are on fire for 2015 so far even with my bad decisions earlier and I want to keep this amazing momentum going!

Scentsy Update

I made $135 (cash, not product credit or whatever) my first month as a Scentsy rep. That means that starter kit is paid off. I currently have a basket party out and a mini tester kit I could turn into another basket party in a minute. I’m trying to figure out the best way to mail the mini testers if someone not-local wanted to host a party so they could get free and half-priced items. I’m kind of taking a break thinking about it right now because I really overwhelmed myself and then with being sick? I just can’t even think right now.

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Bad Decisions I Have Made

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Yesterday, a reader (Hi Kay! I appreciate you!) asked me if I was overpaying my car payment because it seemed high.

It got me thinkng … I started blogging about finances after I made a pact with myself to stop doing things that were horrible, bad decisions. I’ve still made bad decisions since I’ve been blogging. The big ones were last Christmas when I got more credit cards to use for one holiday and looking for that post made me realize I glazed over the truth. I see myself saying I got an Amazon store card, but I ALSO got a Walmart credit card at the same time. I paid them back off after Christmas last year with the tax return.

This year I got all three kids a group gift for Christmas and then gave them stockings that were donated by a friend of mine. The group gift took one of my credit cards from 0 to max balance! Luckily, it was the card with the $300 balance. I got them the Skylanders game and we wrapped all the little people individually so they all had stuff to open. While $300 probably seems like a lot it is also the least I’ve ever spent on Christmas for three kids. So it’s an improvement for me.

That leads me to telling you about the most recent very bad financial decision I have made. I got the two older girls Kindle Fire tablets for their birthdays in January. I realized it was never on my radar to blog about and then I thought about it a few days ago and told myself no one would be interested. This morning I realized it would be stupid not to tell you I bought my kids VERY EXPENSIVE gifts for their birthday.

Maybe it was becuase I wanted to wait and make sure they were “worth it” before telling you about them.  Maybe telling you about the reading and spelling scores going from Fs to Cs and Bs thanks to educational apps will make it sounds like a less-awful decision. I don’t know. Every time I look at them I feel a little sick but I know that my girls have benefitted from them immeasurably and then I try to tell myself, “Hey, it wasn’t laptops, right?” So then I’m rationalizing my decision. I don’t know if the Kindles were a bad decision or not. I do know I saved $70 on them because I was like, “Sure I’ll apply for the card I won’t get since I just foreclosed on my house.”

Then I was approved. It’s a fee-free card with 3% back in Amazon credit so if I do keep a credit card this will be the one. I set up all my bills that could be put on the card onto the card (Internet, auto insurance, cell phones, renter’s insurance) and have a line item for that amount on my budget that’s {$240 – Credit Card Bills} and it’s actually scheduled for next week’s unemployment payment.

The month we didn’t have food stamps (EBT, SNAP, whatever) was a hard one. We found the local food pantry so several meals were covered that way. We had rice and pasta and ate everything in the house until all that was left was a loaf of funny wheat bread (I just had a slice for breakfast) and ramen noodles (which we will have for lunch) and then tonight I am so lucky we got the food stamp card so Mr. Brickie can go out in this weather (ugh this weather) and stock us back up on our staples. I will be so relieved when I can get back to making real food from scratch but until then we eat what we have and we are grateful for it.

All this to show you what might be my worst financial decision ever. The thing is, when I look at my credit card statements there are very few things that I don’t remember buying and usually when I don’t recognize one it’s Mr. Brickie getting gas. When I splurge I get a $19.99 Whirley Pop to make popcorn because I don’t have a microwave and pop popcorn about four times a week for the kids to take for snacks or to have when they want a snack. Or I get a $10 8″ frying pan because that way we can make five grilled cheese sandwiches at once and eat as a family. I know, it could sound like I’m explaining but it could also sound like I’m just rationalizing.

It’s a fine line I guess.

Life Expenses In No Particular Order
Payment Total Owed Estimated Payoff
Car $495.12 $6,839.49 April 2016
Utilities $195.00 n/a n/a
Rent (Savings) $260.00 $2,340.00 by November 15th
Auto Insurance $88.38 $444.74 renews May 2015
Cell Phones $88.96 n/a
Internet $37.99
$1,165.45
Credit Cards Listed In Order of Payoff
Payment Total Owed
Macy’s CC $25.00 $86.12
Target CC $25.00 $217.68
Amazon Store CC $35.00 $537.72
Walmart CC $25.00 $755.23
Capital One CC $35.00 $1,180.07
Amazon Visa CC $25.00 $2,328.11
$170.00 $5,104.93 <– embarrassingly large number
Money
Cash $81.00
Checking $262.03
Rent Savings $260.10
Emergency Fund $214.88
$737.01

So my emergency fund is looking a bit wrecked because of car problems, but also that direct sales thing where everyone gave me cash, I had to pay with a card, and that’s where the $81 in cash is coming from that’s on my desk.

The IL Tax Refund is going to pay off the lowest two credit cards and the rest will go back into the emergency fund. Then, when I get paid on the 9th from Scentsy that will also go back into the emergency fund and that will bring it back up to about$ 875.

I took my eye off the ball.

The joy of being you (the reader) instead of me (the writer) is you get to armchair quarterback what I’ve done and what I should do going forward. I wish I could go back and unpay those bills from Illinois and just let the gas and electric companies chase me and call me and have that $800 go toward the credit cards. I think, though, if I had I would wish I had done things the way I already did.

Sometimes choosing a path doesn’t mean choosing the better path it just means moving forward.

I am going to get through this. The kids are already signed up for an activity this summer and that’s paid for thanks to their amazing sponsor who I am a huge fan of. I will spend my time and energy on that with the three girls and every overtime check Mr. Brickie gets this summer is going to pound out those debts because we are THIS CLOSE to being out of debt. Overtime checks at his new 60% apprentice level will be big and I LOVE paying bills.

So stick with me through this mucky, dark, gross winter of discontent and poor decisions and you will be able to watch me make good decisions as soon as I can actually afford to.

Also, Miss Kay reminded me of something I want all of you to know….I welcome questions and don’t mind answering them. If you’d rather keep it private than put it on blast in the comments just shoot me an email at jennydecki at gmail dot com and I’ll answer it in a post.

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Working | Expenses | Winter | Where’s My Brain At?

Last Wednesday we got Mr. Brickie’s unemployment check for $752 and we spent $496 on our car payment and left $256 in the bank.

I had that Scentsy party and sold a whole bunch. Since it was my launch party, I got the hostess stuff from the party, which included 3 half-price items. I wanted to put $130 in savings toward the rent but spent it on Scentsy. Okay, I didn’t spend it all on Scentsy. The three half-price items were about $50 and I spent about $50 on chips, dip, and drinks for my friends who came over. So it’s deductible, but I still spent it on Scentsy-related stuff.

I’m really (amazingly, bafflingly, overwhelmingly) conflicted spending money on stuff when I’m still poor. It’s not a regular expense, though, and Mr. Brickie was really supportive and the conflicted feeling, I think, will keep me from going overboard.

My Illinois tax return status changed yesterday, too, and it says they’re processing my return. I can top-off my savings account once it comes in. We had to use part of it to register and get plates for the vehicles in our new state because we didn’t want to get a ticket and then we had to use part of it because the car battery died and we had to buy a new one.

It was probably not a wise choice to pay off the bills from the old house. I should have let those sit until we were in a more secure position but I got cocky and felt $1000 would take care of us, but then *poof* there goes almost $500 on license plates and a new car battery. Thank goodness for the emergency fund.

At Mr. Brickie’s union meeting Tuesday night they talked about the Jobs Report and the sheer number of jobs that are waiting for the weather to break to get started. He keeps checking in with the company he last worked for to make sure they know he’s available. It never hurts to remind people you’re around!

In the meantime, Mr. Brickie is doing little side jobs painting and I’m keeping track of those payments for next year’s taxes. Between tracking the side jobs and now tracking the Scentsy stuff (stamps, notecards, other expenses) I have more spreadsheets than ever dedicated to not screwing up my taxes!

The move from Mr. Brickie being here 24/7 to being back out of the house is always an interesting transition. Maybe it makes me a crappy wife, but I really ENJOY having the chance to miss him a little while he’s gone. I have a chance to be home, hang out with my youngest, listen to the radio, and write.

Even though he’s been home so much we have bickered so much less than we did last year. We are finally at the point where we are becoming more secure and that lack of panic means less lashing out. Less lashing out is a cycle we are both really pleased with. I mean, we didn’t fight all the time or anything but I’m a nagger and he’s a forgetter and we’ve both worked for 12 years to be where we are now and it’s a good path heading in a calmer direction that we both enjoy an awful lot.

I know this update is disjointed but my mind is kind of all over the place today. I’m trying to get my money ducks in a row and the direct sales thing has me thrown for a loop because I am so worried it’s going to turn into a money pit and I absolutely refuse to let that happen. Oh! I actually set myself up to miss the first possible “award” from the company because the “award” was being “allowed” to buy a $200 enhancement kit. I didn’t want to even have the choice because it didn’t seem like a good deal. So when I realized I couldn’t get it because the date had passed I wondered in passing if I could call and convince them to let me buy it. I looked up YouTube videos on what was in it. I worried about it.

Then I reminded myself that I made a decision from a position of mental clarity and strength because I knew I’d panic and worry I was “missing out” on something. I took a few deep breaths and thanked myself for taking care of me. (Everyone talks to themselves like that, right? It’s normal. I swear. I think…)

I just feel like in the last few weeks everything has kind of become loose. I like to keep my finances and my financial plan very, very tight and locked down so when it feels like any part of it is floating rather than being chained to the floor, I start to worry. It’s not out of control and there is still savings but things are not as clear as I would like right now.

So, basically, guess what I’m doing today? That’s right. Go over everything and make sure it’s exactly how it should be at this time and making sure I have a good handle on where the money is going and where it needs to go and how it’s going to get there.

I’ll share it in my next update, because of course I’m going to do it on a spreadsheet.

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