Tag: budget

Public Aid, Preschool, and Money Planning

Of all the things we spent tax return money on its the final bills from the old house that feel the best. Traditionally, those are things that we poors tend to just leave out in the real life cloud to gather dust and generate collection calls in a year or so. Knowing that everything I owe is in this one nice, neat little pile here (credit cards, normal bills, student loans) is really comforting. I’m sure if I pull my credit report (we will all do that together after everything else is paid off) there will be medical bills on there because providers really disliked using medicaid as secondary insurance after the BCBS policy that is our primary through Mr. Brickie’s work.

Today is the day we go to public aid and finish applying for SNAP in this state. We’ve been without for a month and that’s okay because we’ve been frugal and also visiting the local food pantry every other month (it’s a great food pantry – milk and eggs and bread and veggies – I’m really thrilled with the selection) but once we get back on the SNAP, we can also go to the local trustees office and see what else the town has to offer.One of the reasons we had to wait was we needed letters from Illinois stating we were no longer getting services in that state. I totally get it, I’m grateful the program is in place so I’m not mad about having to wait.

We are THIS CLOSE to not needing any of these services. My prediction is that this time next year we won’t qualify for any kind of public aid and let me tell you – we will celebrate that day. I will never, ever complain about my taxes going to welfare people or people “living off the teat of government” because I know too many of them and most of them work and are doing their best and are very good people. I don’t care if you know that one person who loves being on public aid and doesn’t care. I think part of being a grown up with critical thinking skills is being able to understand that one bad apple does NOT spoil the barrel when the apples are actually human beings.

Our cars are both registered in this state now and the other appointment Mr. Brickie is going to today is for this preschool grant program we qualified for. There was a lottery and Little Sister didn’t make it but she was waitlisted and her name came up as next on the list. So she may very well be going to preschool soon! I was hoping for preschool at the Y so I could swim laps while she did what kids do at preschool but it’s more important for her to stop feeling the constant jealousy at being the only kid in the house not in school.

Yes, I’m willing to sacrifice personal wants for my child. Please, don’t tell anyone. I have a reputation to uphold here. Sheesh, next people will say I’m nice or kind or something. Seriously, I’ll lose all my cloud-street cred.

The final thing we have going on this evening is a parent meeting at the school for the 4th grade overnight trip. I’m so excited my daughter is going on an overnight trip. There is a thing that came home in the mail from her school last week about a week long summer camp (did I already tell you about that?) for $80. Shocking, right? It’s federally funded by the Indiana Dunes something-or-other and it’s for all kids, not just the poor ones, to try and increase awareness of the natural landscape and conservation. I’ve also heard it’s an absolute blast for the girls.

So today we are taking care of getting the second car registered, SNAP (food stamps), an interview for a  preschool voucher, and a meeting for an overnight trip for one of the kids. Only half the errands for the day have anything to do with our still-low-but-getting-better income!

Oh! Also, I don’t know if I told you but we got the letter in the mail that Mr. Brickie was promoted to a 60% apprentice! I was super-confused because I keep a spreadsheet of every hour he works and, well, it’s close but my calculations still had him 13 work days away but honestly there is some leeway in the program and for whatever reason he was moved up! That means when he does start working he’s not making $21/hr. anymore, he’s making $25/hr.

It’s going to make a huge difference and, I think, will really give me the opportunity to hack away at debt (especially if he has as much overtime this summer as the Union is predicting) which leads me to a question I need to kind of crowdsource an answer to.

Once we pay off our debt (credit card and car) should I focus on building a 3-6 month emergency fund or should I pay off the student loans? Right now we are on the Income Based Repayment plan and our payment is $0. Mr. Brickie feels we should pay off the loans first but I feel like we could pay off the loans with every single penny if we had a decent emergency fund backing us up. Let me know your thoughts!!

Random thing: Illinois accepted our tax return today so in three weeks or less we will have that refund. I’ll have to decide if it’s going straight onto a credit card or straight into the savings account. Decisions, decisions. (No, we’re not going to do anything fun with it. We’re not quite there yet and I want to keep up the “good decision” momentum!)

Last but not least I’m hosting an online Scentsy party this weekend. So if you’re inclined to enjoy products to make your house smell nice (or in my case mask the scent of a neighbor’s habit) please order through my launch party. Tell your Scentsy loving friends. I signed up to try and basically make enough to fund my own use of the bars since they are the only thing that cover the scent without giving us all headaches the way sprays do or dealing with forgetting to blow out a candle before we leave the house. If you want to participate in the Facebook party you can click here to join the group (I won’t post anything in the group after Monday so it’s not a long term comittment.) If you’re reading this after the 16th and this paragraph is still up, please let me know so I can delete it.

Thanks for your help. I’m really curious to hear what you think about the emergency fund vs. student loan payments.

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How We Spent It! (10/5/2014)


This is how we spent it – partial paycheck edition.

Mr. Brickie has gotten paid (first check direct deposited!) and so it becomes time for my favorite time of the week which is the How We Spent It! post. For his 29 hours of service he was paid $420.13 (personally I think something is wrong with that number. I projected $467 and my numbers tend to be low but okay, alright, we’ll figure that part out later and for now let’s deal with the monster in front of us. The bills.

November’s List of (not gas/not tolls/not toilet paper) Bills


Two Hours Later….There was already a hundred dollars in the account that had not already been spent because we just leave money alone for the most part. Right now we’re starting with $550.43 in the account. Here is how we are going to spend it.

Okay, I’m having trouble deciding. I could either pay off the two credit cards with sub-$100 balances or I could pay minimums and pay right down to the water bill. Mr. B has worked solid since Monday and weather doesn’t look like it’s going to get ugly (he can’t work if it’s below 32 degrees) so he should have a full paycheck next Wednesday ($680) which would allow for the water bill, the Internet bill (it’s an autopay bill so that money would actually be paid to the credit card) and most of the car payment would be set aside.

I think it doesn’t matter. If it doesn’t matter than paying off credit cards to get rid of them is going to be the smart play. Right?

So, the How We Spent It will look like this:


The Internet bill is an autopay that goes on the main Capital One CC so I will pay that 75.00 to the card even though it is listed as Internet because that’s just how I do the accounting for now. My goal is to have my gas/electric/internet and whatever else I can be billed automatically to a credit card so I only have to look one place and make payments one place. Since I will never, ever feel comfortable having money directly removed from my debit card for the iPass (for tolls) there will always be one credit card out there to be paid and I’m okay with that. The goal – of course – is to make it a bill-collection card and not something we use to buy stuff we don’t have money for.

So that’s how we spent it! Or how I will spend it by the end of the day. I still need to sit with it for a few minutes to make sure I”m not forgetting anything or making a mistake doing it this way. I always try and sit with my decision for a little bit to make sure I haven’t forgotten something important. There is one $20 check out in limbo for the dentist and we do owe some money for a couple of medical bills that Mr. B incurred when he was really sick and we didn’t understand how a PPO worked yet. (You pay 20% so when hundred dollar bills come in the mail – not the green kind, lol – you have to pay them and you don’t resubmit them to insurance.)

But other than that there are no hidden costs or expenses.

I think I’m going to just pay off those two cards. It’s all going somewhere and as long as it’s not being wasted or going toward something frivolous, that’s all that matters.



How We Spent It! (car edition)


This has been a difficult week.

Mr. Brickie’s last day of work was last Tuesday so we are at a week of no work. I received a super helpful phone call from someone I adore alerting me to the Public Notice Illinois website to verify the 11/13/2014 auction date. Even when you’re expecting the ax to fall there is a certain horror/relief cycle that plays out once you know and that cycle is exhausting.

So our goal date for the move is six months from that November date. The six months is based on a six-and-a-half-month timeframe a friend of mine is at the end of. I have no reason to think it is inaccurate. Also, it fits with the original timeline the lawyer gave us. “You will have at least nine months from the date the judge approves the foreclosure.” Okay, that date was 7/11/2014 so there were 90 days until an auction (which is the 10/13/2014 date) and then the six months until eviction. It comforts me to have the same timeline from two places because it raises the chance of my timeline being accurate which is very important in this case.

If you read my last sad post you might remember we are looking for a car in the $500 or less price range.  Since Saturday we have been looking on Craigslist whenever we were not cleaning, planning, donating, and decluttering. We finally found the unicorn on Monday night. I shouldn’t really say finally…we weren’t looking forever and a day. We went an hour-ish away to pick it up last night. I was so scared. Craigslist can be so hit-or-miss and a great story is just as likely to be a con as a genuine kindness. I’m 98% certain the car we have now is a true diamond in the rough and the guy who sold it to us did us a true favor giving it to us for $300 less than his CL asking price.

Part of their conversation was the seller telling Mr. Brickie he could afford to drop the price and pay a kindness forward because they became debt free a few months back. They talked about Dave Ramsey. For real. When I met him he seemed very normal/regular/dude-about-town and I didn’t get any hinky feelings. That doesn’t mean much right now because at a certain stress point my hinky-meter becomes not so great. We will know for sure after we get the car checked out by Mr. Brickie’s friend who knows about cars.

This means my kids don’t have to be pulled from activities.

This means I will be able to drive them to school if we move before the academic year is over.

As long as the car checks out, this means everything is better than it was a day ago.

I did take it for a drive and it seems very, very solid. I was the one who identified the broken frame in the Ford Taurus that turned out to be a death trap. I am the one who knew there was a rotor issue beyond the brake pads in the car that we were loaned. I’m good a hearing things that are wrong in a vehicle. I’m as certain as I can be on my own without a mechanic that we did good.

I really hope it checks out with the mechanic.

The Numbers

After last week we had $626 on hold at the bank as well as $150 I transferred to savings to go toward the car payment. We used $500 of this to pay for the Craigslist car and the rest ($276) was notched out by the cell phone payments ($88.96) and putting gas in both cars ($45) and putting more money on the iPass ($20). His last check for $289 is on hold, probably until next Wednesday.  That leaves us about $120 until next Wednesday.

It’s enough money if Mr. Brickie is not working but for the love of all that is good and holy I really want him to start working ASAP!

Job Troubles

Mr. Brickie talked to the apprentice coordinator who talked to a guy who said he’d put Mr. B (I have become too lazy to type out Brickie. Consider me a winner!) on a job. He has been waiting for a callback with a start date and address for a week. I know this happens but it’s not easy and it’s very scary every time. When he is a journeyman I will be happy to save enough money for these weeks to not be the drama, but for now when every penny counts and we have to move soon it is overwhelming and scary.

The Bottom Line

I know things are going to work out okay. I have friends and family looking out and I trust them to help us get to our next place with as little drama and fear as possible. This is a hard time for my family, but we know the only way to get there is to be here and keep on keeping on.

I’ll let you know if the car tuns out to be as much of a peach as we think it is!



How We Spent It!


It has been a rough week.

I have this long winded, half written post about moths, flour, and a temporary loss of identity. Yeah, it sounds like mush in my drafts section, too, but I feel like there’s something important in there so I keep pounding the keys and trying to find the lesson in losing food and myself and how tenuous our identities are and how to find an anchor that is not external.

It will be so deep you’ll want your hip waders, for sure.

We’ve been having some issues with checks depositing in a timely manner at the bank. The bank likes to keep the photo-deposited physical checks for 5 business days if the amount on the front of that check is over $500. That means even though Mr. Brickie got paid today yesterday the funds will be available next Wednesday. This means budgeting for the week with money leftover from last week. (You can see that update here.)

Due to having a bleached all-to-hell-and-back kitchen that reduced me to tears every time I went in, Mr. Brickie took it upon himself to decide we were going to eat out for a few days. Just some local take-out. Nothing fancy. Nothing expensive.

I did forget to add in my Internet bill last week. It was being charged automatically to the credit card (because I kept forgetting to pay that one bill and got really tired of late fees, ugh) but then my credit card expired and I couldn’t find the “very super secret safe place” I put the new cards so I had to order new ones.

I recommend getting a new credit card number every few years. I might start getting one every year. It’s another layer of protection that doesn’t cost anything.

As of this morning I started with $350 in my checking account.

$350.00 In Bank
– $2.00 Macys Payoff
– $198.00 Living (&40.00 tolls)
$150.00 Savings (toward car pmt)

Living expenses is for gas, extras like toilet paper or whatever, and if there is any left over it gets rolled into next weeks living money and that’s more to go toward savings/bills.

I’ve switched into full-on Christmas paranoia mode. Even though most people know they’re getting banana bread there is no way I’m going to cancel Christmas for the kids. It’s my line in the sand. Lucky for me we have never done the, “Santa brings big gifts” thing. Santa brings the stockings and a couple little things and the big stuff is provided by the parents. I did this because I’m a selfish person who wants my kids to know I splurge on them for the holiday, but it’s coming in really handy to explain the ebb and flow of present quality based on our current financial situation.

So I’m swinging between wanting to get the brakes fixed on a borrowed car for $150 or keep hoarding money until the holidays.

When the $626 that’s currently on hold is released next Wednesday I’ll use it to pay the car payment. If that money (via some miracle) becomes available sooner, same plan applies.

Next week Mr. Brickie has training so instead of a work paycheck he will get a stipend from the training center for M-Th.

I’m still all over the place in my head. I am confused and want to bake something now that I have flour/sugar/baking powder in my house. I can’t make banana bread because I don’t have baking soda. Guess I need to add it to the list.

At least I have bananas.

That’s my bright side.





Happy September Paycheck Update


It’s been a while since my last paycheck update!

Last Wednesday (not yesterday but a week and a day ago) Mr. Brickie got his paycheck and it was for a full week and he deposited that paycheck into the bank and they decided it needed to be on hold until today.

Thank everything that is good and holy I stopped paying down debt and started an emergency fund! It was that $100 that made all the difference. We fell asleep last night with $19 in the bank and woke up today with some wiggle room.

Not for long, though, because Mr. Brickie has training coming up in a couple weeks. Training is M-F, 10 hours a day. I am not sure how to budget when a week of income is going to be gone. Well, not gone, he gets a stipend and that’s great but he gets the stipend during the week of training and if there is work he will work on that Friday and get paid for that day the next Wednesday. So I have to account for living expenses for both weeks without knowing how much he is going to work in between now and then.

I’m glad math doesn’t make me squeamish. How do people who hate math even budget? I mean, seriously, I love math and this stuff gets overwhelming sometimes. Maybe people who hate math are better at not having to make huge, giant career life changes that result in potential homelessness and a metric ton of math.

We all have our gifts and talents.

The bills that I need to pay are a couple credit card minimums, the car payment, and two utilities. I’m not sure if I should pay the car payment first and then the other bills, or the other bills and then save for the car payment. The car isn’t due until the 24th.

I guess the best thing to do is pay what’s due.

Finances This Week

$700.60 In Bank
– $200.00 Living & Tolls
– $30.78 Gas Bill
– $121.86 Electric Bill
– $50.00 2 CC Minimums
= $297.96 Leftover
+ $186.14 Still on Hold @ Bank
== $484.10 Total Leftover

As you can see, this leaves either two weeks of living expenses with $84 left over … or it puts me within ten bucks of the car payment. Really, it feels like it could go either way at this point. Oh, there is also the $150 we need to pull out of the budget for the car we have on loan. It needs new brake pads and rotors. Also, I have no idea how long the bank is going to wait to release the rest of that money since they were kind enough to wait over a week to clear the last check but release most of yesterday’s check today.

I’m going to call and find out what the difference was. I think it has to do with the check total being over/under $500 and even if I do call it will help my curiosity but it won’t change anything. Checks clear when they clear. Unless I want to start paying Walmart a dollar every time I want to pay a bill in cash, this is how it’s going to be. Sometimes Mr. Brickie works at companies that have direct deposit, sometimes he doesn’t. So we have to have a bank that does not charge more for no direct deposit. It’s best in the long run.

He missed a day of work yesterday because of the weather, but also had a chance to talk to a work buddy who thinks he has a lead on winter work with a big company. So the career giveth and the career taketh away. Sometimes on the same day.

I’m really glad I started working on living in the moment before all this. If I hadn’t I can’t imagine the fetal puddle of confusion I’d be in on a near-constant basis. Don’t get me wrong, I’m scared out of my mind some days but I would rather be scared than confused. I can put one foot in front of the other no matter how scared I am. I can breathe and keep going. When I am confused I don’t know which direction to go so I stand defeated without movement. I become stagnant and hopeless while descending into distraction and lashing out against anyone I can to try and dispel some of the pressure and pain.

Fear is a much more manageable emotion.

Mr. Brickie Promotion Tracker

Hours to 60% Days Projected Date
447.5 56 11/28/2014

Projected Date does not include holidays. It is only an estimate. 


How We Spent It!


This is probably going to be a short entry.

It will take much longer to write because I’m actively avoiding checking the bank balance.

I’m scared.

There is nothing more I can do. I have a long term plan and am sticking to it, I didn’t waste money or spend it frivolously. My decision to change from paying down debt to having an emergency fund was basically a perspective shift, nothing more.

Mr. Brickie’s union meeting went really, really well. All indications are that people think he’s going to go places. His foreman on the job is teaching him about bidding and estimations because, “When you’re a foreman, you’ll need to know this stuff.”

Everyone assumes he has a bright future. I know he does.

I just wish the future paycheck could come a little bit faster. I always knew this was going to be a “down to the wire” situation and like I said yesterday, most days I just stay in the now and think about today because we chose this path two years ago and it has gone as planned (a little slower than planned, but you can’t predict things like Mr. Brickie’s first year with the union being “the slowest year in bricklayer history” for all the members.)

So I need to reel in my perspective from here, there, everywhere, future, past, alternate futures 1-458, and get back to focusing on today. Doing the actions I can today to move closer toward my goal.

I am nervous but it’s not like my bank account is Schrodinger’s Cat. What’s in there is in there whether I look or not.

Mr. Brickie’s current company doesn’t have direct deposit. He’s getting a paper check today and if the bank is close he may be able to cash it but otherwise we’re going to have to wait days for it to clear in the bank account.

So I guess looking did make it not be there.

I texted him to let me know the amount of the check and the bank it’s drawn on so we can plan our next steps.

$377.00 Check
+ $42.00 Already in Bank
– $200.00 Living & Tolls
– $95.00 Net10 (cell phones)
– $100.00 Emergency Fund
= $24.00 Leftover (To Credit)

I probably need to put the lines in the spreadsheet differently so the $40 in tolls per week is on a separate line because that gets paid to the credit card. Since the other auto-billed things on the credit card are the Internet, hosting, and domains I do need a little extra per check to go on the card and so even if Mr. Brickie has not used $40 a week in tolls that money still comes off the top and goes toward the credit card so there aren’t any accidents or “oops” moments that put us over limit or cost us a late fee.

Also, it turns out the bank is less than a mile from the job site he is currently on, but because we have Capital One 360 checking there is no way for us (in this area) to deposit cash into our account. Doing the “snap a picture of the check” method can result in days of the check being held.

I hate when he works for companies that don’t use direct deposit.

Is it worse to wait a few days for the check to clear through the online deposit system or is it worse to get the check cashed and use the cash to pay the Net10 (you can buy a refill card at Walmart) and pay the Tolls + Leftover money to the credit card ($1 fee to do at Walmart).

I get how people go through life without a bank account. It used to seem like a mind blowing concept and I couldn’t imagine. Now? I don’t have to imagine. It’s a legitimate choice. (I would consider getting a local bank but without direct deposit or a minimum balance I’m poop out of luck for an account that won’t charge me more in fees than Walmart does to pay my bills.)

We should really consider signing up with the credit union. I think we can join the AFL-CIO credit union which has sister branches everywhere but I’m not sure what’s involved in that and if the online banking is up to snuff since the website for the credit union looks circa 2003. Really, what’s the difference between taking a picture of the check and depositing the check in a local brick and mortar bank? Both are going to make me wait for the check to clear.

But if the bank of the company is local it can be cashed there and then the cash deposited into our local bank.

This whole thing is making me tired. Today’s batch of banana bread is out of the oven and I promised Little Sister – who is really sick right now – we would make cookies together today. You know, so we can get the rest of the family horribly sick. (Even though we will wash our hands she’s still gonna breathe.)


How We Spent It


Thank you for your feedback on yesterday’s How Should I Spend It? post.

I obviously love Wendi most for giving her advice publicly. People are going to think only, like, two people read this blog when I think it’s obvious I have at least ten readers.

Consider your minds blown. That’s right. Double. Digits.

Okay, I’m done mocking myself. Let’s get to the money stuff.

Thank you all for your advice, however you chose to give it. This includes Mr. Brickie. I know, it seems like I never bring him in on anything but I assure you that’s just because the conversations would be excruciatingly boring. They all go a little something like this…

“Hey Mr. Brickie! How do you want to allocate this money?”

“What are my options?”

“You can choose Option A or Option B or maybe there’s another Option I haven’t thought of.”

“Either one sounds fine.”

End financial conversation.

This might be a problem but he hasn’t been a jerk the few times I’ve made a mistake and chosen the wrong option. I wouldn’t let him get away with it if he just did it to try and abdicate responsibility for fear of being wrong. He just trusts me. It’s a lot of pressure, but we all have our row to hoe.

I just want you to know I did talk to him in addition to asking everyone else.

We decided to pay off the Target card and the Macy’s card, put aside $100 in savings, and put the rest toward the big credit card.

We picked $100 as the savings amount because he’s missed two days of work this week already and the next bill that needs to be paid is our cell phones which is about $90 for the two phones. The buffer means if we don’t make enough or if there is a rain day we already have the money set aside for the next bill.

The house won’t go to auction for the next 60 to 90 days. Then the mortgage company will regain possession of the title and it usually takes about three months for them to start eviction proceedings which take another three months.

Our 9 month plan is still (mostly, sort of, hopefully) in play.

I just want to get the kids through this school year and deal with moving in the summer. That’s it. Okay, wait, I’m lying. I also want to get the tax return so we can easily afford to move. That’s a big deal and I really shouldn’t be forgetting it.

After Bills and Coffee Update: Well, it looks like setting aside that $100 was a great idea. It turns out today is a rain day and a rain day = no pay. It does look like he will be working on Saturday, as long as the weather passes. Stay tuned…


What Should I Spend The Money On?


When you have some money but not enough to make a dent you end up, well, where I am right now.

The car payment is paid, next weeks check will be short two days from Mr. Brickie not working Monday/Tuesday, and I have $444.00 after the car payment is paid.

$160 has to go for gas and living expenses.

$40 has to go toward the credit card for tolls.

That leaves me $244 (I know, not a King’s Ransom or anything) and I don’t know where I should put it.

I could pay off a credit card or two.

I could put it into savings.

I could put it all toward the big credit card (we had paid this down a lot but the balance went back up when the six month auto insurance payment went through).

$16.13 is the Target payoff balance.

$56.98 is the Macy’s payoff balance.

If I pay off those two cards then I would be left with $170.89

I could put that all toward the big credit card or I could put part of it into savings and part of it toward the big credit card, leaving me a mini emergency fund.

What do you think?

How should I allocate my small but important pile of dollars?

Need a cheat sheet for the credit card balances to help you decide? No problem!

Walmart $584.63
Amazon $533.00
Capone $1,128.70
Kohls $157.97
Old Navy $150.35
Macys $56.98
Target $16.13

If you want to keep up with the dramatic work changes as they happen, make sure to click that link to the right and “Like” the jennydecki page on Facebook. Sometimes things just aren’t long enough for a whole post and when they aren’t, I put them over there.

To see how we spent this week’s flexible cash, click here!

Weekly Budget Update (There Goes the Insurance)


My posting decreases dramatically when my nails get too long.

I need to clip them because they get caught in the keyboard. I’m trying not to bite my nails because it’s gross and I don’t want my kids to start doing it. Unfortunately, it seems I need to attach a clipper to my underwear at all times so I have one when I need it.

That has nothing to do with the budget. It’s not an analogy. Well, I guess we could look at it as a representation of how breaking habits can be difficult when you do not have a readily available solution for problems you are not used to having.

So. Deep.

Okay, this week in budget spending we have a regular 40-hour check at the new 50% apprentice rate and getting the past due electric and gas out of the way. There was a little bit leftover in the bank already from the copywriting gig.

How We Spent The Money This Week


We are leaving $100 in the checking account as a super-mini emergency fund. Basically it’s there in case I make a math mistake. It’s rare, but if I did make a mistake even of a few dollars and we didn’t have anything sitting in that checking account it could mean overdraft fees and credit card use that we have not planned for.

That little bit of cushion makes all the difference in the world when it comes to my mind and being able to be less afraid about paying the bills that need to be paid. I understand and empathize with people who have a tendency to hoard because I feel that way about money.

The car payment (in full) is $495.12 but I’m putting $100 aside into the savings account so that is not all coming out of one check. A regular check has $435.16 that can go toward bills at this time and that’s not enough. Rather than cutting it super-close one week we are going to split it up. My budget projection goes out to the end of December and in future months it is split a little more evenly. I also have the gas and electric being paid again in August which doesn’t make much sense so I have to go back to the drawing board and update those totals. Next week some credit card payments are on tap as I am trying to get those paid off by the end of the year.

Want to Talk About Insurance?

Remember when we used the rest of our savings account to pay for three more months of insurance? We got another bill in the mail because he didn’t have enough hours banked again (we thought he would start working sooner this year than he did) we needed to pay another almost $1900 for three more months of coverage. There were some very supportive people last time but a lot more people were very, “Oh no you didn’t.” when it came to paying that much cash for care. Not when we make so little and could easily be covered by medicaid for three months if an emergency did occur.

While I am not thrilled about the prospect, we really don’t have a choice. We don’t have the money. I cannot come up with almost $2k by the end of the month.

So we will be insurance-less for three months.

The funny part? (Oh, there IS one!) Mr. Brickie has already worked MORE than enough hours for our insurance to kick right back on come December 1st. It’s a done deal. Plus, the hours over the 350 he needed to qualify go into a bank toward the Mar/Apr/May quarter of insurance next year. I would consider doing some forecasting to see how many hours he will have by the time winter hits but I don’t have three key pieces of information:

1. How many days will it rain by the end of the year?

2. Are there enough jobs/work that they’ll tarp job sites during the cold days of fall/winter?

3. Can I believe the reports from Tom Skilling that it will be a fairly mild winter?

Pretty much none of those questions have reliable answers so doing projections will give me a best/worst case scenario to work with but I can suss those out with my brain and not have to do lengthy, complex spreadsheets to figure them out, you know?

Coming Up

The current budget spreadsheet is a thing of beauty. All those payment boxes are filtered into another set of boxes at the bottom that show the monthly credit card payoffs. It’s a bear to keep maintained because if a change happens it can affect a few months’ worth of entries. For example, if a card gets paid off sooner for whatever reason in October I’ll have to change November and December. Not a huge deal but a detail that is begging to be overlooked.

Another slight anomoly I can’t quite account for is that tolls are coming out of the $200 weekly living expense. The tolls are auto billed to the credit card. So $40 of the $200 is always a payment to the credit card but it’s not really considered a payment because it’s just a living expense. So it doesn’t matter much in terms of anything but the perspective of paying $40/wk. to the credit card vs. $160/mo. in CC payments. I have tried to account for that in the payoff plan because the Internet bill is also auto-billed to the credit card and we are moving the Net10 cell phone payment to the credit card as well. I hate things touching my checking account automatically.

Moving next year and not paying $2k for insurance for the next three months will be great in the long term. I keep trying to focus on the big picture.

Sometimes it’s difficult. I desperately want to be on the Blue Cross / Blue Shield plan. So much. But it’s just not going to happen this time around. We’ll get it back Dec 1st and I can breathe a sigh of relief. Until then we can hope no one gets sick and, if they do, that there is a social worker or some other person on duty that can take care of the medicaid information.

Because as of right now? All the progress we’ve made since he started working again June 28th? It hasn’t even been two months and he has only made, year to date, a little over $6k. I was thrilled to feel not-impoverished for a four-week stretch and maybe even for the rest of the year but we’re not even going to clear $20k this year in income.

I don’t know how we’ve done as well as we have. (It’s no wonder we’re losing the house, though. There was no way.)

A Nice Financial Surprise

You remember me trying to figure out what Mr. Brickie’s check was going to be after the raise with overtime, right? If not you can check it out but it might make you feel really confused because I was crazy confused while trying to do the math.

I won’t actually have the pay stub until the mail comes this afternoon (Oh, what’s that? You get your mail in the morning? How NICE for you. Yes, I *am* jealous.) but the check itself was direct deposited and my guess of $891.59 was wrong. The check was $1013.43.

Yes, I screeched. It was a happy screech and then I looked like a cartoon character grabbing my priority budget and scribbling changes wildly based on the new numbers. I know that maybe for some people $121.84a week extra wouldn’t make much of a difference but for us this is a life changer. That’s almost $500 extra per month which is huge. HUGE. We can use that money to pay off debt and save, save, save.

Please remember: This blog is written in real time. When I say we WILL this or we will be debt-free by THAT DATE it is accurate as of the moment it is written. If an emergency comes up or something changes, I will blog about it! 

In redoing the budget that extra money is going to see us credit card debt free by the end of August. That includes the $300 in school supplies I bought on Amazon.com and the $462 that will go onto the credit card automatically for auto insurance. Everything. It includes everything.

It will open up September to save for Christmas and my girls’ birthday parties they want this year. (One is “Turning Tween” as she calls it. The other is having her “Golden Birthday” and so they are both beyond jazzed and asked if they could just this once have a big party.)

As much as I want to push all extra money after those credit cards toward the car or buying a second car (because y’all the freedom having a second car has given me is beyond amazing and I don’t know if I can go back to not having access to a second car) it’s important to me that the girls have something very nice now and then to keep in the memory bank. They don’t really know how much they are sacrificing compared to other kids. In fact, they have cell phones (because of our Freedom Pop debacle) and electronics and books. Really, I’m not sure if they know we are poor.

It is a real bummer that the foreclosure went through when it did. The way we save and the money he’s making right now? We could more than pay the mortgage. Timing just isn’t going to work the way we hoped and we will have to move next year (hopefully next summer) and we will probably move to Indiana because the cost of living is lower and it won’t add but fifteen minutes to Mr. Brickie’s commute. We know people who are renting now and they are happy and have a guy who rents houses so we are going to go through a friend of a friend (which always makes me feel special because, “I know a guy…” is awesome lol)

Now it’s time for the grind. No more surprises until the next raise. If he keeps working overtime, will happen 10/23/2014 and that is the absolute soonest it can happen so don’t write that date down in pen because I have it written in the lightest pencil possible … things happen and clinging to a hope as if it were a fact is a recipe for despair.

So today with the magic-big check we have to take out $150 for Mr. Brickie to buy a new pair of boots. He’s been dealing with $20 Walmart boots that last 2-3 weeks because we didn’t have a chunk for a better pair. He tried last week to get a $42 pair at Payless he thought were stitched instead of glued. That would make them last longer and be a better long-term value. Unfortunately those stitches weren’t real and the boots fell apart in four days. So he needs good boots.

Here is how we spent this week’s check (we are switching back to a zero-based budget):

$1,013.00 Check
$200.00 Living Expenses
$150.00 Work Boots
$161.00 Utilities (past due)
$95.00 Net10 (cell phones)
$407.00 CapOne CC Pmt
$0.00 Leftover

After so many bummer surprises and so many weeks of not having enough money today I feel really good.

I feel lighter.

Of course my good mood might also be attributed to the mile walk I took this morning. I know, I said I was going to yesterday and I did it today. I did it before I had coffee to make sure it was going to get done. It didn’t take long but I am doing my best to commit to #wycwyc (What You Can When You Can) and getting in more hugs, more dishes, more walking, and more smiles whenever I can.

I’m doing kind of a Baby Step approach to the money that’s coming in. Pay off debt first, then save 3-6 months of expenses. I’m a little nervous because when winter comes … I’ve heard it’s going to be a crazy-mild winter which means Mr. Brickie will be working but it’s possible he won’t work during the winter again which means a combination of unemployment and working where and when he can get it.

I hate to always be looking toward the next possible problem, but I want to have a plan and be prepared.

I’m so bad at balance.