Tag Archives: Injury

Middle Class Monday: Mr. Brickie’s First Day Back

middle-class-monday-header

Today’s Middle Class Monday is really special. We were in the middle class and then, five months ago, Mr. Brickie fell off a ladder and shattered his wrist and *poof* we were out of the middle class just like that. Today marks the day we’re back!

When a poor person gets injured they may have been working for cash or under the table. They may not get workman’s comp. They may not have a way to support themselves when they are hurt. Even if they do, they may not have a way to get to physical therapy and post-op surgery appointments. There are so many ways a situation can go wrong.

Because we are (barely? almost?) middle class we have a reliable car that got Mr. Brickie to all his appointments. Because we have a phone plan we were able to put all those appointments into Google Calendar and get reminders. Because he is part of a union he knew he would have a job to go back to. So much support was in place for him it felt like Disney’s version of a work injury. I fully expected bluebirds at some point.

Last but certainly not least his workman’s comp payment (70% of gross earnings) was enough to live on because he made a living wage to begin with. If he was making minimum wage those payments would have been about $185/wk. Certainly not enough to live on even considering our rent is paid through November.

It’s just another way being poor is so much more difficult. I wish people would see other people and think, “Wow, you’ve done a lot to get where you are.” Even if where they are isn’t someplace the looker would choose to be, you know?

Now it’s time to change the subject to Mr. Brickie’s first day!

Last night was awful for both of us. We didn’t sleep well, the cats were anxious, the kids even had trouble falling asleep. Everyone was so nervous about his first day back to work.

He went to practice at the training center last week, so he knows he can still rock it out. His trainers were really happy with his performance.

It’s like the first day of school. You know the place, you’ve been there before, you know the people, but you’re still nervous. He’s very lucky to be going back to the same company (the same job, even!) because they are looking forward to having him back and will understand if he has to ice his wrist on lunch or whatever.

Also, he’s already set up with direct deposit so I hope that sails smoothly next week.

I’m not sure there is a way to adequately express how relieved I am we are back on track with the five-year plan. I mean, it’s altered and set back five months but it’s still the same plan since we made the decision to stop fighting the losing battle to keep the house in Illinois.

Overall, it’s been better than I could have imagined. The school district is better for my kids here, I’m closer to people I know and trust here, I’ve made and lost friends here but I’m still coming out at a net positive so I’m doing great there, too. As soon as he gets that first paycheck from working next week, I’ll be able to replenish the emergency fund and then start paying down credit cards.

We have about $1,000 more in credit card debt now than we did when he got injured five months ago. It could be worse. It could be better. I did get that $5,000 windfall but spent it mostly on my daughter’s contact lenses and the rent savings account.

September is an “extra check” month, too. Not having any bills to spend the check on will give us about $462 and that is almost halfway toward filling the emergency fund back up.

I hope he’s having a good first day back. I’ll be home and worried, waiting for him. I mean, I have errands to run today but I’m going to spend a couple hours after the kids leave for school sitting silently on the couch contemplating my life changing back into something I am familiar with.

How We Spent It 9-8-2016

how-we-spent-it-workmans-comp

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

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

MR. BRICKIE GOES BACK TO WORK MONDAY!

It deserves all caps, I promise.

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

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

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

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

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

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

So tired.

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

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

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

Hello Thursday at 9:25am…

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

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

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

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

These are the things I worry about at 5am.

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

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

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

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

How We Spent It 5/26/2016

how-we-spent-it-workmans-comp

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

how-we-spent-it-workmans-comp

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!

Surgery Looms and Workman’s Comp Update

Mr. Brickie is going to need surgery. He will get a plate and pins in his wrist. I have no idea how long recovery time is for something like this. Google (so reliable!) tells me it will be anywhere from two to six months.

So there’s that.

The insurance adjuster called yesterday and let Mr. Brickie know that his first worker’s comp check had been cut and sent. She told him the amount but he worked on Monday so I don’t know if that’s a four day payment or a five day payment. He forgot to ask and doesn’t want to call back. Who am I to argue with a guy with a broken wrist?

So the payment she says is in the mail is $721.30. It’s enough to pay the bills, so I’m not complaining, but it does put us in a tight spot for the savings accounts. For example, the check that’s in the mail needs to go toward the car registration and to pay for both kids to go to summer camp. It was also supposed to have enough left over to pay into the rent savings $240/mo. but with groceries and stuff I’m not sure if that’s possible. We’ll see.

I’ve had to redo the budget for May entirely because the difference between his normal take home (barring rain days – which he had more than a few of in April) and this new reality is a drop of about $800/month.

Just when you think you’re going to start really getting ahead, right? It’s tough not to be angry and bitter about this. I’m trying to focus on the good things like the not dead part of the whole injury thing. I’m happy it’s just a wrist. I’m happy the surgeon feels good about Mr. Brickie getting back to work and how he feels the plate and pins will give him the strength he needs to do his job again. Everyone is very hopeful.

I just want to take a time-out from being responsible and thoughtful and punch a pillow and scream and just be scared for a minute. I can’t because the either the kids are around or Mr. Brickie is around. He feels so bad this happened (even though accidents happen to everyone and he honest to goodness didn’t do anything wrong) if I were to just let go and feel the scary feelings it would make him feel beyond awful. He doesn’t deserve that.

Yesterday on our way home from the doctor I started to cry in the car. He just looked all forlorn and started at his lap. That made me feel even worse so i started crying harder and he got a tissue out of my purse for me and just looked so damn sad I wanted to never cry again in my whole life because now my crying was making him feel like that. It’s just a mess.

So I’m forecasting the budget with the new weekly number (I hope it’s weekly. If it’s bi-weekly we are about to be in a world of hurt. I’m sure he said weekly.) and the one thought that keeps going through my head is, “Thank goodness we were living below his paycheck.” All the extra money from his promotion was going toward credit card debt payments. It’s a shame we bought a car, though, isn’t it? Ah well, at least the payment is only $285 and not the previous payment we had on the Mazda of $495.

I’ve been doing a pretty good job of not going back and judging past decisions. It wouldn’t do any good. It was an accident that could not be predicted by any budget.

Right now we are in stasis. I only called one family member about this yesterday. I only posted about it on FB because he did and I didn’t want to seem weird by not saying anything.

When faced with a real crisis I tend to go into hiding. I don’t want to talk about it until I have a plan for it. I want to curl up by myself in a dark room and figure out the puzzle so when I do talk to people it’s not just, “A bad thing happened.” I want the conversation to be, “A bad thing happened and here is how we are dealing with that bad thing.”

Lucky for me a friend offered to come with me on Thursday to wait while Mr. Brickie is in surgery. Until she offered I assumed I would be there alone with a book. I was so happy she offered to be there and bring coffee but still I almost said no because I didn’t want to be a bother.

I told that voice in my head to shut up and I said, “That would be great, thank you so much.”

I need to say yes more often.

On Broken Bones and Broken Finances

Finance-Small-CircleOh my friends. We have come so far. Financially we have struggled. Lately I’ve been feeling a little weird because all this normalcy and regular bill and debt payment made me feel shy and like maybe it was only interesting to write about things being bad. I was assured by many kind and loving folks that it’s okay to celebrate stability when you finally have it.

Well, I guess when I had stability would be the appropriate tense. I did enjoy those two months in the sun, though, I really did.

On Monday, Mr. Brickie fell off a ladder and broke his wrist. He was being super safe, the ladder was not rickety, and he was almost at the bottom after taking care of some bolt thing. The ladder kicked out from under him and he fell on his right side. He texted me before driving home, “Hurt my wrist at work, should be okay. On my way home.” I figured he sprained or tweaked it a little and made sure we had enough ice in the freezer to make an ice pack of some kind. No problem.

When he got home his arm was hanging by his side, he couldn’t move it, and it was very swollen. I told him he needed to go to the ER and he said, “Yes, I would at least like to get it checked out.” Neither of us thought it was broken. Him because he didn’t think it hurt enough to be broken and I was just wishing the break away with all my might because you can’t lay brick with a broken wrist and we just got to this place where we’re stable and boring and were even doing better than we have in years and it couldn’t be broken it would be too awful.

The x-ray confirmed it, however, and he got his temporary splint cast until we can get to the orthopedic surgeon for a full diagnosis and permanent cast.

First off, I’m thankful for worker’s compensation and knowing we don’t have to pay for his treatment. I’m less thankful for all the hoops I feel we’ve had to jump through the last couple days to get a claim filed. The company he is with is new and I think this might be their first worker’s comp claim and, as such, they aren’t a whole lot more sure of the procedure than I am after a Google information binge. We should have what we need this morning, I hope. Then we can get him a cast and on the road to mending for good.

As for the finances, I have a little over $200 in my Digit account I can withdraw if I have to. I have the $555 in the emergency fund (yes, I do wish I had prioritized the emergency fund over debt payoff right about now) and I have no idea what his worker’s comp payment will be or when it starts. I assume we will find that out when the adjuster calls today. From what I’ve read it’s 2/3 of your after tax income based on the last 52 weeks of work. With rain days and winter off and a couple pay raises there is no reliable way to calculate that number. I mean, I do have all the paystubs but that seems like some serious overkill. I took the number from our tax return ($33k) and did the calculation with that. It’s not after tax but it’s also not accounting for a raise so maybe it’s close? I don’t know.

I’m working with the assumption that it will be eight weeks before he’s back to work. I will update my assumption when more facts come in. Eight weeks seems like a safe, middle-of-the-road starter assumption so I can at least start making a plan. Having your bills written down or in a spreadsheet really helps when you need to know the bare-bones of what you have to have to survive. (Bare bones? Really? Now is so not the time for awful puns…and yet…here we are.)

Tomorrow he will receive a full paycheck and the rest of this month’s bills will be paid. The last check of the month (next Thursday) will only have one day of work on it, but the whole thing was slated to go into savings accounts (rent savings and insurance savings) so I can make those up with the emergency fund or by not paying into them until he’s back to work.

I hate to put off rent savings, but I know myself well enough to know we can prioritize it once he’s back at work. We have until November 15th to come up with that money so it’s not an immediate priority. Right now there’s $485 in that savings account so I’ll try and avoid using it but at the same time I’m not going to feel bad if I have to use it to keep the lights on.

I thank everything good and holy that this happened:

  1. In spring.
  2. On a job that’s going to be years long so he has something to go back to when he heals.
  3. On a crew that considers him a real part of the team.
  4. On a crew where several guys he works with have called to ask how he is and making him feel better with their own broken bone stories.
  5. On a crew where everyone tells him they look forward to having him back.
  6. With a company that has changed when and how ladders are used so this doesn’t happen to someone else. It’s a small thing but very telling because it shows they view this as something that can happen to anyone and aren’t “blaming” him for the accident.

I’m trying to find my comfort in knowing this is temporary and I’m trying very hard to be thankful it’s only his wrist. It could have been so much worse but it wasn’t because he prioritizes safety and always faces his ladder so if he does fall he doesn’t fall off the edge of a building…because this happened on the second story and if his ladder was positioned the other direction he would have fallen two stories instead of three feet. He could be dead.

So….yeah…I’m kind of a messy jumble of emotions and emergency planning.