Tag Archives: How We Spent It

How We Spent It 8-11-16

how-we-spent-it-workmans-comp

In this moment, I know the truth.

We are going to be apartment dwellers for at least two more years. I like being a renter in some ways, well, most ways really. I have checked calculators to see at what level owning is smarter than renting and can’t wrap my head around it. With Mr. Brickie being injured and off work for four months on the 18th everything feels unreal. Plans are nothing but dreams and we are living day to day.

We did get kittens from the County Shelter, though. Not the greatest financial decision since they cost $50 each and then we had to buy litter boxes and litter and food and take them to the vet for an initial checkup. They did already come neutered and with some initial vaccinations so the $50 was a great deal, but it was still money.

I also dropped the first $650 on Middle Sisters Orthokeratology (OrthoK) lenses. She has had them for a week and they are AMAZING. They’re hard contacts she wears overnight while she sleeps. They come out in the morning and *poof* perfect vision all day. She will never have to worry about her glasses or contacts while in a pool, while working out, while playing sports, while riding her bike. It’s probably my proudest moment as a parent to be able to give her that. Especially now that she seems to be over-the-moon in love with volleyball. No sport goggles. Hallelujah. I bought them with money I set aside from selling that domain name or I don’t know what I would have done. To be honest, I probably would have put it on a credit card. It’s my kid’s eyes and the lenses also reduce how severe her myopia will get through her life. It’s not convenience, it’s a possible life-changer. She’ll never have to worry – like I do – about retinal detachment.

Every night I put her contacts in for her. It’s awful. Tonight she will try to do it herself. I’m scared, but I know it has to be a hundred times easier to put them in your own eyes than to have your mom’s finger coming at your eye, right? I have soft contacts and can’t imagine someone else putting them in my eyes. I mean, it’s not physically awful, just uncomfortable for me knowing she’s uncomfortable with me coming at her eye with my big ol’ finger. (Tuesday update – she puts in her right lens and I put in her left. When she has the right lens mastered I’ll have her work on the left eye.)

How We Spent It!

Workman’s Comp: $721.30
Car Payment: $285.93
Subscription Savings: $50
Medical Savings: $15.37 (I went over on cat stuff last week and needed to put $15 back into this category)

That’s it.

The weekly checks get spent like clockwork these days. I still have an excel sheet (okay, a Google Doc Sheet, whatever) where I look at the current month and the next month in case something changes or comes up, but I don’t even know if that’s necessary anymore. I could just write where the bills go on an index card and tape it on the wall.

Which is pretty much my dream for how easy I want my budget to be every week. One index card. Heck, I could probably fit it all on a post it note. All leftover money goes to a credit card but right now there is no leftover money because he’s making 70% of his income home injured. (NOT that I’m complaining, thank goodness for workman’s comp or we’d be under a bridge living in a box. You think I’m exaggerating. I don’t see another outcome.)

How We Spend It Paycheck by Paycheck (after gas/groceries/tolls/spending money categories are filled which is $370/wk.)

1st Check: Credit Card AutoPayment Bills (domains, cable, cell phones), Medical credit card minimum payment, prescription payment, union dues payment

2nd Check: Car Payment, Subscriptions (amazon prime, hosting, costco membership, car registrations)

3rd Check: Nipsco, Insurance Savings

4th Check: No bills (Usually rent savings but I used the domain sale check to fill this category up)

That’s probably going to change next month when I figure out what our weekly cat expenses (food/litter/savings for vet bills) will be.

I need to fill the Christmas category and Summer 2017 category but I am pretty sure those won’t see a penny until Mr. Brickie goes back to work. I need to replenish the emergency fund because school supplies and cat stuff (neither one a real emergency) have me down to $493. September is a five check month regardless of Mr. Brickie being home or at work but I can tell you right now that if he could go back to work during a five-week month that would really go a long way to getting jump-started toward Christmas.

To mention Christmas is to summon an angry, magic blue fairy who comes down (or up) and curses me immediately. Saturday Mr. Brickie took the car in (because I was tired of him pooh-poohing the low tire pressure light every time I mentioned it) and there was a slow leak in one tire (covered by warranty) and the other tire had such low treads we needed to replace it … because it was a summer tire. No wonder I hated driving in the snow last winter. There went $169 I wasn’t planning on spending…but hooray for good tires for this winter! A good thing to come out of this is Mr. Brickie promises he’ll never doubt me again when I say something is wrong with the car. I know he meant it in a good way but my brain was like, oh, okay, it only took 13 years to convince you. Nice. (All the side eye. All of it. All for him in this moment.)

Or maybe my budget got thrown in the dumpster because I was talking about how smoothly it was going and how everything had its very own check.

But it probably happened because the tire treads wore down from use and it was just time to replace the tires.

The angry blue fairy is way more fun though, isn’t it?

On the super-bright side it’s looking like he might be cleared for work at his next appointment with the orthopedic surgeon September 7th. It’s all up to the doctor, of course, so I’m trying not to be TOO hopeful but by golly there’s a spark of happiness in my heart. He could be back to work next month. Yes, I was hoping for this month, but again, I trust the orthopedic surgeon and he’s done right by Mr. Brickie since day one. I really respect the guy.

In the meantime, Mr. Brickie is going to physical therapy and practicing laying mortar at home so his skills aren’t trashed when he goes back to work. He’s doing everything he can to get back and I’m so proud of him for working so hard to get well and go back. His work ethic is a beautiful thing.

I started writing this on Thursday and now it’s Tuesday, the day before school starts. This blog post should be amazing with all the time it’s taken to write!

So all the things I thought I had MORE time for this summer (writing, breathing, etc.) I actually had less time for with the whole family home all day. I will do my best not to forget that again.

Money is tight but not overwhelming. With Mr. Brickie on workers comp we qualify for reduced breakfast/lunch rather than free this year, which I’m cool with. My job is to provide accurate paperwork. Whatever I qualify for is based on a chart and I’m thankful for anything, really, because every little bit helps our forward momentum.

But let’s be honest…nothing is going to help like him going back to work is going to help. Now I have “It’s the Final Countdown” stuck in my head.

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!

How We Spent It 6-30-2016

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The fabled and much-awaited fifth check of the month has arrived.

It makes for a boring read but trust me the feeling of relief and the relaxation in the muscles of my shoulders and neck are very exciting for me.

Incoming

  • Workers’ Comp: $721.30

Outgoing

  • Living Expenses: $370 (Gas, Groceries, Spending)
  • Buffer Refill: $100
  • Rent Savings Refill: $251.30

Last week I blew through a lot of money. I bought hiking boots for two girls (for sleep away camp) and they were on clearance for $25/ea. They are Merrill so hopefully both pairs can be kept and reused when Little Sister grows into them. They seem very well constructed. We also spent $50 at Meijer getting odds and ends they would both need for camp. So…I spent twice as much as I needed to right now in order to not have to go shopping at all (or so it seems right now) at the end of next month when both older girls go to sleep away camp for the week.

Mr. Brickie wanted to go to Shoreline Brewery while we were shopping for kid shoes and that ended up being $90. I kind of died inside a little because we didn’t expect it to be that pricey when we went in. Lesson learned.

Last but not least last Monday we paid $90 for the two younger girls to attend another two week swimming class while the oldest is at camp. Today was the last day of this two week session and I feel a sense of relief whenever I see them in the water. They used to be petrified of the water and wouldn’t go near it but now they stay safe and close to the edge but have a level of confidence that makes me so happy.

I’m sure there were many other things because I spent a lot, but I’m going in to this new week feeling refreshed and feeling NO need to spend money outside of next Tuesday being the last two week swimming lesson session and all three girls are signed up for it. That will be $135 ($45/kid/session) and should really mark the last of the summer spending.

The sense of knowing what was going on financially this morning is probably the best thing I could ask for on a birthday. Since my oldest is away at camp until tomorrow afternoon, I won’t celebrate with a cake until Saturday so she can join in on the fun and not feel left out.

While I wish very much Mr. Brickie was back at work already he has been able to have some great experiences with the kids this summer that we will both cherish the rest of our lives. Watching our 6-year-old jump off a diving board was some majestic unicorn-level stuff since she’s always been SO SCARED OF THE WATER OH NO SOMETHING IS GOING TO KILL ME WHAT DO YOU MEAN THAT DOESN’T HAPPEN IN THE SHOWER HERE IT COMES I’M GOING TO BE KILLED BY THE GENTLE SPRAY. Now she’s a rock star. I’m really thrilled she’s come so far because I love the water and last year watching her take two hours to get into the two foot deep kiddie pool at the public pool was painful. This year she’s going at the water like a little duck.

I managed to get all my bills separated into the four weeks of paychecks, in order to even things out and have more of a flow during the month. I do wish there was a program where you could put in all your bills and then how much you make a week (approx.) and the program would separate your bills for you in the most even way possible. I love to use technology as a way to double-check my work.

I’m trying to increase Mr. Brickie’s credit score to help us qualify for a mortgage once we’ve saved 20% down (which could be forever, and we may change our minds and continue to rent, who knows…it’s early days) but no matter what good credit scores won’t hurt us, you know?

Thanks to the budget program I know what’s owed on each card and that the money is there to pay it since we don’t spend if it’s not in our budget. If I go over budget I take it from a savings category because NO NEW DEBT is where we are at right now.  I’d rather be at PAY DOWN DEBT but being able to accrue no new debt is pretty much unicorn status considering he’s injured and out of work so you won’t hear a peep from me about what I’d rather be doing if he were working because he’s not and I live in reality. Most of the time.

Also, Sam’s Club is having this thing right now where Costco members can use their cards to shop at Sam’s. We checked it out but the only thing they don’t have that I thought was kind of cool was 50 packs of Cheetos because who doesn’t love Cheetos? Mr. Brickie reminded me that we don’t send chips as snacks with the kids to school so there was really no reason to have that many bags of mini Cheetos in the house. He also said the mini bags of Frito’s could not come home even if I swore to make walking tacos once a week until they were. He said something about getting everyone sick once a week and blah blah that’s not how you show love to your family yadda yadda.

So we left with nothing but might be going back for this set of six stoneware bowls because we are desperate for bowls and Goodwill has not been terribly helpful. It was $12 for six HEAVY stoneware bowls with a nice pattern. Regular kitchen bowls, not mixing bowls. So yeah that’s probably going to happen. I like splashes of color in my kitchen and would like to have bowls that are sturdy.

I’ll be back with you sooner than next week, I have a list of topics unrelated to specific budget numbers that I’m going to work on writing in between how we spent it entries. There’s so much happening but most of it is better suited to a parenting blog or a wifing blog. I try to work it in a little so you know what’s happening but I like to keep my eyes on the financial prize.

The only part of this post that bothers me is the paragraph in the beginning about spending no money and then the later paragraph written after we went out for a few hours talking about just one bowl set. That’s how it starts. Slipping down the SPEND ALL THE MONEY rabbit hole. I have to find a way to determine what’s a want and what’s a need and if something is a need is it okay to get ….but in an objective way.

There are so many things swirling in my head right now it’s difficult to keep any one train of thought pinned down enough to progress. The issue with my dental work and messed up bite, should we buy or rent, blah blah blah it’s all too much. I want to enjoy my kids and their activities and get through having Mr. Brickie home for a few more weeks and please can someone get him back to work? I need to get my mind right and that’s going to require more of a break than the couple hours here and there I get while he’s at the park or at an activity.

I appreciate him, don’t think I don’t….I just want him back to work. Let me miss him….just a little bit.

How We Spent It 6-23-2016

Happy Friday! Yesterday I was dealing with some tooth pain and the crying that comes with trying to figure out if your mouth is going to heal more or if room temperature grapes being painful to eat is your new reality forever. I cancelled my follow-up appointment. If I need more work I’m going somewhere else. I can’t deal with a medical professional that doesn’t listen to legitimate concerns except to answer with boilerplate answers parroted by her receptionist.

I feel better today. A little, anyway. I wish there was some way to know if the dentist you are going to is poor quality or if what they did is normal. Either way I’m getting a second opinion on my mouth because this is beyond sensitivity. This is affecting my life pretty significantly.

On to the money!

Incoming

  • $721.30

Outgoing

  • Nipsco: $202 (new budget plan amount)
  • Buffer refill from last week: $100
  • Gas: $20
  • Groceries: $150
  • Spending Money: $200
  • Mr. Brickie’s Union Dues: $20
  • Big Sister’s Meds: $19.69

I need to break down fun money because it’s not what it sounds like. It should be Spending Money. Groceries are $150, Gas gets $20, and $200 goes into that Fun Money category. Yesterday I went to Target for athletic shorts for Big Sister (going to camp next week and owns ONE pair of shorts) a pair for Little Sister, a birthday present for a party Little Sister is going to this weekend, a mesh bag for Middle Sister to take to camp in a couple weeks, and some nail polish.

I just changed the category from Fun Money to Spending Money.

Oh, also a wallet for Big Sister to keep her picture ID and new debit card in. I need to post about that debit card. It’s been in the house less than a week, I want to test drive it with her before writing about it.

We spent about $100. Since I finally just put $200 in spending money I will pay that as soon as it pops in the Target credit card system and I’ll make the payment. I put it in the budget immediately (like you do) so that money is already earmarked to be a payment.

It’s a category that doesn’t build. If there is $20 or $5 left at the end of the week, I’ll only top off the category to $200. This way I don’t keep stealing from the $100 buffer category that’s supposed to sit there and make sure I don’t ever overdraft because of a silly mistake. I keep pulling from there when we go over on something else and that’s not a smart way to do things.

Here’s the way it was planned out from the beginning of the month with only some minor changes.

2016-6-23

Next week every penny that isn’t going to living expenses is going right back to the Rent Savings because I stole from that category to pay off the Macy’s card. It’s nice not having that card hanging around anymore. Even after giving it all the “extra check” next week, I’ll still owe a little under $160 to that account. I’ll figure out how to get that in there next month.

If we’re being totally honest, I won’t figure out how to get that in there next month. The budget will do that for me. (You Need A Budget) I honestly don’t know what I would do without my budget program. It took a couple months for me to really “get” how entering transactions moved money from the categories to the section for credit card payments but now it’s just another thing I check when the funds clear in the account. Bills to pay? Check the excel spreadsheet. Credit Cards to pay? Check that section in the budget. If I underpay the Rent Savings it will recalculate how much I need to save monthly to have $2250 in the account by November. (I don’t work with YNAB or get a kickback or commission if you end up using the program.) I also don’t recommend spending money on a budgeting program if you can’t pay your bills. Stick with Excel if it’s on your computer already or the library computer or go with Google Drive Sheets which is still where I keep my stuff so I can get to it easily on my Android smartphone. I’m in a free trial of the new online based version until…I don’t know when…but when it expires I fully intend to pay for this program because it’s taken a lot of the load off when it comes to day-to-day tracking of money we spend.

One of the most difficult things is the overwhelming feeling of failure we both struggle with right now. We aren’t making headway like we planned and even though there is a very legit reason it still feels like we are moving at a snail’s pace. We try to remember we are doing really well considering my husband is home with a healing broken wrist. I mean, thank all that is good and holy there are things in place – like workman’s compensation – that protect workers or that accident would have cost us so much more.

He’s working so hard in physical therapy and doing his best not to take vicodin anymore because it makes him mean and sick to his stomach. He also thinks that at this point if he doesn’t feel pain he might overexert himself now that he’s no longer in the wrist brace/cast. I think he’s right. He does take one before he leaves for physical therapy but I think that’s just smart. Poor thing gets electrodes zapped into his muscles and ultrasound therapy and comes home wrecked. He’ll be in a lot of pain tomorrow.

We’re just here doing our thing every day and while one day may bleed in to the next with the only difference being what activity the kids go to, I know in my heart this will pass and things will go back to normal.

I’m trying to cherish the time I have with Mr. Brickie while it’s here and available. You know, consider it a gift and whatnot.

How We Spent It 5/26/2016

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Today another workman’s comp check cleared ($721.30) and it went to the usual suspects:

Groceries/Gas/Tolls/Etc. $270
Insurance Savings $120
Emergency Fund Refill $240.48
Buffer Refill $90.82

First I would like to point out something I think is super positive. Our lifestyle/bills and income have done some criss-cross in the graph of personal finance where the last check of the month only goes toward a savings account (so we can pay insurance in full and avoid extra charges for making payments) and that’s it. We are aaaaaaaalmost able to live on three checks out of the month. In my fantasy life, I pay all the bills with one check because it’s okay to have dreams. In reality, if I could pay the bills with two checks I’d be over-the-moon excited. Hell, I’m excited now. Celebrate the small things because they add up to the big things.

I tapped into the emergency fund last week for the girls to have tennis lessons and volleyball lessons over the summer. It was $490.40 and it hurt to take that out of the emergency fund. I feel really lucky we are in a position where even though my husband is injured we can pay for summer activities. Last summer the only thing we could afford was the $88 for one kid to go to a week of camp. It helps mightily not having a $500 car payment anymore (I know that was so dumb, I’m so happy it’s behind us.) There is still an outlay of $270 coming up for swimming lessons, too, which is why I’m replenishing the emergency fund instead of paying down debt.

I’m pretty sure it’s not financially smart to choose kid’s activities over paying off debt. I’m sorry. I don’t even know if I’m apologizing to you, to me, or to the universe but I feel like an apology is somehow in order. An apology for not being committed enough, for not being “nose to the grindstone” enough. For feeling like it’s not the smart decision but still going ahead and doing it because it’s what I want for the kids.

It feels like a very selfish decision.

I also had to spend $90.82 to refill the buffer we keep in the checking account to bring it back up to $100. I took out $10 for one field trip, $10 for another field trip, $20 for the 5th grader to take with her on the field trip so she can play games, eat awful snack bar food, and ride go karts. There were also two birthday parties so the gifts for those added up to another $50. (We normally don’t spend that much on presents. One was a Nerf gun party so we had to buy a Nerf gun for our daughter to take with as well. Well, we didn’t HAVE to, we chose to because we WANTED to let her participate fully in the party.) See, again, selfish in the moment but not really best for the long-term.

Finances were so cut-and-dry when there wasn’t enough. Decisions were easier because there were way less options. Now everything feels like a big ol’ grey area. I’m not good with gray areas because I don’t have a lot of practice dealing with them.

Ugh.

My “perfect budget” for June has the emergency fund filled and the Macy’s card $100 away from being paid off. I am going to do my best to stick to the damn script and follow the budget! I would love to know the first week of July I could really, finally get rid of the Macy’s card balance. I didn’t expect it to take so long to pay off (do we ever?) but I can’t say I’ve regretted the new bed once. I’ll still be paying it off way before the 12-month no-interest financing ends (November) so at least I’ll pay it off fast enough I won’t be punished with interest charges.

I figure if I have trouble sleeping at night because I wasted money, at least I’ll feel like I did right by the kids and wasted money. Or something. That rings kind of hollow.

Really, I swore to myself I wouldn’t expand my lifestyle to match his income in order to be in a good position later in life. I don’t know, though, because his worker’s comp is 66% of his actual pay and I should still have some left to pay down debt so we are technically still living below our means. How much lower below your means are you supposed to live to be doing it right?

I’m going to spend the whole darn day half confused. Probably the next few months, if we’re being honest, because budgeting when you’re not talking about bare bones survival is not something I’m good at.

2016-5-26 ynab

Here are the raw numbers in the accounts. The Citi Diamond card is the dentist bill. I have it set up on a $140/mo. payment plan to pay off before the 21-month interest free offer expires. I’m sure between paying down debt and tax returns it will be paid off before then but I’m a very “hope for the best, plan for the worst” kind of person so even if I can’t pay it off in bulk, at least I won’t pay interest!

How We Spent It 5/16/2016

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I meant to post this sooner. How can time move so slow AND so fast?

I went to see a long-time family friend graduate college and Mr. Brickie forgot to check the mail. That means his check didn’t get deposited until after 8pm on Thursday so it wasn’t available until today. Monday. Sometimes I wonder if he isn’t trying to kill me.

Paying bills is pretty much the only self-care we can afford right now. It keeps me calm, makes me feel like I’m on track, and no matter how bad he feels for not depositing the check on time it doesn’t take away that I had to resort to plan B to get that taken care of.

Like, just do your very, very small part. I swear it only entails getting off the couch, like, once.

So, today is Monday and the check is cleared. What I did last week so I could pay bills and not freak out was move the amount of his check ($721.30) from the Emergency Fund to the checking account and then today when it cleared I just moved that amount back into the emergency fund.

Thank goodness I had the emergency fund back up to $1000 or it wouldn’t have been nearly as easy. Also, there is a part of me that thinks with such an easy fix maybe I shouldn’t be frustrated at my (BROKEN) husband. Then I think no, because if I was fine with that mistake I’m sure he’d find a way to double down and make more interesting mistakes.

I could see him eventually being that guy who comes home out of the blue with a boat and a giant grin and yells, “Surprise!” like a boat is a thing that you do that with.

Violence would ensue.

I paid the car payment ($285.93) and the first installment of my 21-month dental bill ($125). The rest went to fill the buffer (aka overspending fund) from last week and grocery money and some of it was wasted gloriously when we took the whole family to local amateur wrestling. At $10 a head, local wrestling is expensive to take a family of five to go see. It is, however, worth every penny in entertainment value and we all needed a night out where we could hoot and holler with reckless abandon.

So here is where we stand on all the accounts. The Citi Diamond Preferred is nothing but dental work, which will have one more charge added tomorrow when I have my final appointment for the right hand side of my face. The reason the Discover

2016-5-16 ynab
The Mr. has his next follow up appointment this Wednesday and I’ll let you know how it goes. I’m hoping they take the stitches from surgery out because he’s being all crabby due to itching and general discomfort of the stitches, which usually means it’s time for them to come out. I am not a medical expert so whatever I say about anything remotely medical, disregard it outright. Thank you.
I’m also hoping his check comes on Wednesday like it did the first two times instead of Thursday like it did last time. It seems like it’s not a big difference (and really, I know it’s not) but I like paying bills on a Thursday because that’s when he got paid when he was working and it’s soothing because it reminds me he’s going to go back to work and this isn’t my “forever life” right now.

Ugh. After going to the dentist on Tuesday, the final bill came out to a bajillion dollars and my new 20-month payment to pay it off before the interest-free thing expires is $140. After $2500 in insurance coverage. My mouth was a mess. (On the bright side, from everything I’ve read online and asked my friends offline I got a good price for all I had done!) Now I just get quarterly cleanings so this was a one-off expense.

I’m also considering selling plasma to reduce debt and/or pay for summer activities. I’ll let you know how that goes.

I’m seriously trying to look on the bright side. See you Thursday (or Friday) with another How We Spent It!

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.

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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??

Taxmas 2016

I’ve had this list made for a few days but this is the beautiful morning that my bank balance showed almost five figures.

I’m not gonna lie, I’m giddy.

Here’s how we spent it:
Rent until lease renews in November: $6725
Car Payoff: $1871
Emergency Fund: $625 (to get it back near $1000)

Have you ever seen $9221 spent so fast? Yeah, me neither.

I guess I could have spent it on clothes, jewelry, and video games but where’s the fun in that?

We owe the state of Indiana $101 so I’ll pay that off with the next side job payment.

There were so many other things I could have spent it on but paying the rent in a chunk is the most stress-reducing decision I’ve ever made. Getting rid of that car payment will free up $500 a month to go toward debt and rent savings (for the other three months of rent I pay in November!)

In case you were wondering Chase QuickPay™ will only let you send payments of up to $2,000. I just tried to use it to pay my rent and Chase was all, “No, thank you.” I guess it makes sense but I was hoping to get this money out of my account ASAP.

Looking at such a big number makes me fidgety. Not because I’m going to spend it and really, now that I’m using the budget program (I use YNAB) I only really look at the bank account to reconcile so it’s not a big deal. I still want that check cashed, though.

Happy Taxmas. I hope your tax season is wonderful and that you don’t owe. If you do owe, I hope it’s because you made enough money you can afford your rent or mortgage on a monthly basis!

Now it’s time to tackle the Macy’s credit card (interest-free mattress purchase … life changing) and then the two regular credit cards. With no car payment we are going to push to see how fast we can make them disappear!

I try not to get jealous when I see people getting big refunds and spending them on cool stuff. I want cool stuff just like anyone else…I don’t fault people for choosing cool stuff over boring bill paying, either. It’s not easy to always stay on the straight and narrow budgeting path. In fact, it’s really difficult and I have mad respect for people who even try to budget and keep their finances under control.

Have a great rest of the week!

A Reliable Indicator of Financial Stability and How We Spent It 8/21/2015

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I’m not great with writing headlines. I know the “rules” (I have for years) but just can’t make myself write, “This Mom Has Medical Bills…You’ll be Amazed How They Make Her Feel!”

Technically the medical bills are for the children. There are the two dentist appointments that were over $350 this month, the bill from the pediatric neurologist for our percentage after insurance, and money we still owe the pediatrician because the billing department lied when they told me how much I owed and, WHOOPS, we really owe more.

Then, Friday afternoon, Middle Sister’s glasses fall off her face, broken. They just gave up on life. So I had to run out and order a new pair for her and that was another $83. Medical has been out-friggin-rageous this month.

Add that to the almost $500 we spent on school supplies (over $250 on fees) and it’s been one hell of a money-drain of a month.

Here’s how we spent it for this week.

We have the usual Gas, Groceries, Restaurants (of course restaurants doesn’t mean an actual restaurant since I only put 40$/wk. in there, but if Mr. Brickie wants to stop at 7-11 for a pop on his way home that needs to be accounted for in advance.)

Set aside are also $20 for Mr. Brickie’s Union Dues and the $184 for the NIPSCO bill. I love having gas & electric on one bill. So much easier.

Mr. Brickie’s birthday present (a beer tasting and babysitting money so we can both go) was $150. His birthday isn’t until September 20th but I’m trying to be prepared in advance. You know, keep the budget right and not do last minute spending. I also put $100 back into the emergency fund. I drained it before and am trying to build it back up. It’s only at a little over $200 now but that’s better than the little over $100 it was last month.

Since there will always be ways (like broken glasses!) to spend money last-minute no matter how well we have budgeted, I consider buying Mr. Brickie his birthday present a month in advance normal life planning. I have no comparison so if it’s not normal then so be it.

There was no overtime this week and we thought Mr. Brickie was going to training next week but it turns out they need him on the job site and the guy in charge of the training is fine with him skipping this one one and coming in for a week of training in October instead. So we won’t be missing a paycheck the first month of September AND October is a five paycheck month so we won’t even be missing a paycheck when all is said and done!

It feels good to have the budget under control to the point where a bad thing happens and I can fix it. When Middle Sister’s glasses broke last year it took us two months to replace them. It felt awful. Terrible, terrible awful.

Feeling moderately annoyed and a little nervous about having to buy glasses OMG RIGHT NOW THIS MINUTE because school just started and Middle Sister needs to see the far-away things in the classroom is not only a relief it is a joy. I would choose being inconvenienced every day of the week over not knowing where the money is coming from for this, that, or the other thing.

For those of you who supported us when we had a fundraiser last year to move? I paid it forward a little this week. I sent in a box of fruit snacks and a box of Goldfish crackers (Costco sized boxes) in to the kindergarten and told the teacher that people helped us when we didn’t have a way to give our kids school snacks and I wanted her to have the snacks for kids in the class that didn’t bring one. She was really happy.

Thank you for helping my family get to a place where we can give snacks to children who don’t have any. Giving feels amazing.

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