Tag Archives: Life

Paying Ourselves Back and Injury Progress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is it any wonder I’m having trouble sleeping?

The Day I Changed Personal Finance Religions

There are several religions within personal finance.

  • You can’t take it with you when you go!
  • Build wealth, leave a legacy!
  • Think and Grow Rich!
  • Build a Business!
  • Leave Below Your Means!

There are different ways to get where you’re going and each way has rabid fans that will tell you their way is the only way.

  • Snowball Method
  • Avalanche Method
  • Invest single stocks / Invest in index funds / InvestInvestInvest
  • I’m sure there are a lot more I don’t know the name of!

When I started on my personal finance journey, all I did was write down our bills on a piece of paper and show it to my husband. “No wonder we’re constantly behind,” I said, “we don’t make enough to pay our bills.”

It was a light bulb moment in our lives. When I look back I think to myself, “How could we not know our bills? How could we not know our monthly income?” It seems so easy and elementary now, over ten years later.

I’ll never forget the shock of that moment, though.

Back then I was always anxious. Not “I feel a little nervous” anxious, but “long-tailed-cat in a room full of rocking chairs” anxious. I have prescribed medication for my anxiety disorder, but rarely use it. I find that my learned coping mechanisms work better and better the more money we have in the bank. (Shocker, right?)

Sometimes when things got really bad I would turn on Christian radio and listen to the way they talked. The lilt of the preaching was calming. (There has to be some kind of study on that. They all talk the same way, it has to be for a reason.) There was this guy talking on the radio about his book Financial Peace and I was like, “Woah. Those two words together are an oxymoron!” Yes, I literally said that in my car. I was parked in front of a friend’s house waiting for her to come downstairs so we could go to lunch together or something. I called the number and donated $10 to some clean water mission in some other country place and for my donation they sent me the book.

I still have the book. It changed everything.

I am not proud to admit this but I laughed most of the time while reading the book. Live on less than you make? Easy for this guy to say. What if I make no money? How do I live below zero? I kept the book and didn’t really commit to it for years but kept going back and reading it because I knew there was something to it, even if I couldn’t tell exactly what the something was.

I didn’t have Dave Ramsey on the radio yet and had never heard him say, “You don’t have a budget problem, you have an income problem!” which is absolutely what we had.

It took us a long time to figure out our income problem. When we did figure it out the solution was horrible. We would lose our house, have to move, uproot our children. We did all those things. We were so broke we had to be those people that had an online fundraiser.

I laugh when people say online friends aren’t real. My online friends saved my family. I’m not overstating it at all. They saved us.

We all sacrificed. We all sold things we would have rather kept (yes, including the children) and even though the kids were scared they kept a brave front because even though they trusted me, they also knew I couldn’t stay strong if they showed weakness. They comforted one another at night when they couldn’t sleep. They talked through the stress of moving with each other.

I feel both pride and shame when I think about that.

Since we have moved here we haven’t eaten out a lot, we haven’t done but a couple things that cost a dime. Most of our summer was spent at free events.

I don’t want a pat on the back or comfort, this is just how things have been. It’s how they had to be. We were in scorched earth survival mode. It was necessary. Now that Mr. Brickie is a 70% apprentice we have passed the magic invisible line between surviving and starting to thrive,

It leaves us at a crossroads.

We could continue on at this scorched earth level that has become our normal or we could start to incorporate some balance in our lives. I don’t want to be old, broke, and afraid but I also don’t want to be that old lady that has a bunch of money in the bank but never spends it on anything fun.

Balance. I’m not good at it by nature. I would, however, really like to try it on for a little while and see how it feels.

So we are turning away from scorched earth and the snowball method and the baby steps and blazing our own trail. One that includes investing in an index fund in a Roth IRA as well as going on vacation. One that allows for a second car, but one that gets paid off in two years or less.

Let’s see if I can do it. A new financial religion. One I haven’t read about online or seen talked about in a blog. Something new.

The only way to know if it works is to try it out.

I’m very nervous.

A Rambling, Random Update

There’s the woman at the bus stop who accused one of us moms of calling child services on her. She promised if her kids were taken she would take us all down with her. Dun Dun DUNNNNN! (She cold-clocked her kid upside her head in front of the mandatory reporter school bus driver and four neighbors … I don’t know why she thinks one of us moms called but she seems pretty sure.)

There’s the cyst I had that turned out to be a raging staph infection requiring serious antibiotics that made me feel worse than the stupid abscess did. No, I didn’t record it. Yes, it was glorious if you’re into that kind of grossness. The doctor who had to clean it out with an assistant was horrified. My friend who took me to the ER was in heaven. Everyone digs different stuff. I don’t judge. Mr. Brickie had to stuff this sterile string in the hole every other day for a week. He was a trooper.

There’s the weird tantrum a friend had before storming out of my house to go stay in her bosses guest room. So if you need to live with someone for a week, I recommend not my house. It seems to be an inhospitable environment where I will make you feel bad. Consider yourself warned.

There’s the homecoming parade that was really blissful and my kids were part of this huge group of – I don’t even know – 13 other kids? A super cute moment in time I enjoyed a lot. Mr. Brickie wasn’t even home from work so I went with my kids, the kid of my friend who hadn’t stormed out yet, and the neighbors and their children. Everyone got candy and was happy. I managed to not have a full-scale social anxiety meltdown. Hooray!

There’s the bonfire we had at our friend’s house a block over where they rent a place on the lake. It’s really amazing to be a block away from a backyard with a fire pit and a view of the sunset over water. It was pretty much perfect.

There’s today’s apple picking and donut buying with family. Lots of fun. .

Things are really, really interesting around here these days.

The budget is not only doing great, I went over my bus stop mom’s budgets and they’re following the budget now, too. It’s given both of them a real sense of relief because they know how much “extra” they have and when things are due. I literally just set them up with four weeks in excel and tried to place bills in such a way that they’d have the same amount left over every week.

It was a deep relief to be able to share this with people who wanted to know about it, took it to heart, and followed directions. The men in my mom friend’s lives are also happy about the budgets. It’s removed money pressure off both relationships (not entirely, but a good chunk!) and that’s what budgeting is all about. More freedom.

Mr. Brickie didn’t work this past week because they’re waiting on permits downtown to put up one of those things they put over the sidewalk so if a brick falls it won’t hit someone on the head and kill them. There is a special company that puts those up so they have to wait on that company to do their thing. In the meantime he has been splitting his time between two other side jobs.

We got a payment from one side job that is designated as “Next Week’s Paycheck” and won’t be touched until Friday. We did a much better job this week of not spending ALL THE MONIES over the weekend and did a pretty good job!

I don’t like knowing where my husband is going to be working tomorrow. Or when he’s getting paid next. His driveway side job he’s been working on for a year now on and off pays at the end of the week. The new side job is painting a house before it gets sold and even though Mr. Brickie has an idea of how much the overall job will pay but there are some things he may or may not be working on that could change that number. So he’s not sure how or when they’re paying him. I know it sounds like a stupid plan to not know those things but these are really, really trustworthy people so I’m not worried about it at all.

Sometimes it’s okay to not know everything all at once. It’s a lesson I would not have been able to learn if our finances weren’t in order.

I’m excited to find out what other lessons I’ll learn now that I’m not terrified about finances all the time every day.

But hey, I still have sixty-five thousand dollars in student loan payments to worry about once I get our car and credit cards paid off. I’m still not sure what the right way to go about paying those is. I might wait to pay them off until he makes journeyman. In the meantime we can build a 3-6 month emergency fund.

Student loans can’t take our home or our cars, but not having a solid emergency fund can put us in a world of hurt really fast, you know? So I’m thinking I’ll stick to the income based repayment minimum payments on those until we fund the emergency fund and then attack them with a vengeance once we have that fund set up.

Also? We really need a second car. Getting the kids home from stuff happening at the school is no big deal, we can walk the five blocks or whatever to pick them up even in winter, but when sports happen farther away? I’m not so sure. It also totally messes up that grand plan I had for getting a doctor and a dentist and getting myself some regular checkups. I can’t go see a doctor or dentist until winter puts him out of work. So if I’m going to see a doctor I have to hope my husband is laid off due to weather. That seems silly, doesn’t it?

Maybe I could rent a car. Do people rent cars so they can go to doctor appointments? I wonder if that would be more or less expensive than a cab, but cabs can be really unreliable and if the cab shows up late I’m stuck with a no-show fee from the doctor.

I’m getting nervous just thinking about it.

So the big goal is to pay off the car and the credit cards then somehow figure out if we make the emergency fund next or get a car then an emergency fund.

Hopefully nothing happens in the interim because the emergency fund is at $150 right now. The rent fund is fully funded and the car insurance is on track to be funded by renewal, but that actual emergency fund? It’s struggling. I would like to fix that.

Don’t even get me started on Christmas.

Overall, I’m in a really good place and surrounded by really good people. I don’t know if the issue with my friend who was staying here will right itself but I’m going to give that one to the universe for now.

Tomorrow morning I’ll get up before the kids, have a cup of coffee, and meet my mom posse at the bus stop.

It’s going to be a good week.

If this were a parenting blog I would be gushing about my daughter’s fifth grade teacher and the wonderful human being she is. It’s a personal finance blog so I don’t write about that kind of thing but I can’t really communicate strongly enough how good it feels to have a teacher that genuinely likes your child. I want to buy her a pony and fulfill all her childhood dreams.

The Balancing Act We All Act

The most difficult part of my whole marriage is when both my husband and I are working. The schedule balance is filled with potential emotional landmines of “who has the more important project” and feeling stifled because we can’t do exactly what we want when we want.

Add to this already potentially bad power-struggle the belief my husband has – that I can somehow get copious, high-quality amounts of work done when the kids are home. He has every right to think so because for most of my working-from-a-home-office career, I have been doing just that. Most of you know the story about having a crawling baby grabbing my leg while feeding the other baby in one arm and typing with one hand on the computer keyboard to get a project done. (and crying, because that was the worst day of my career)

I’m a little bit older now, and I just don’t have that kind of energy anymore. You just cannot tune out kids the way you tune out babies when they babble. But basically, I do a lot more strategy now and it requires my train of thought not be interrupted by random kiddie catfights.

The thing is, my husband has never been able to concentrate with the girls in the house. It’s one of the main reasons we have a brick and mortar location. It allows him to work in peace and silence.

So, the fact that he thinks I don’t rate the same peace and silence just because I’ve done it the other way in the past is entirely unacceptable to me. But it’s tough to show that I need the peace and silence to concentrate when he has seen me, for years, accomplish so much with the kids under my feet. It almost sounds, to him, like I’m just being a spoil-sport and wanting what he has just because he has it.

It’s not about deserving an office or deserving peace and quiet. It’s about efficiency and good parenting. I would like to be a parent to my children when I’m home, and working on work when I’m not. I would like a more “normal” working environment because I could get things done twice as fast and maybe, just maybe, leave work at work once in a while instead of having to think about it 24/7 because the office is right there waiting for me to be productive and impressive and amazing.

So it’s a little rough right now trying to get schedules in place. Especially this time, because my husband has been doing his thing and I’ve been a stay-at-home-and-hating-it mommy for almost a year now. Maybe a little over a year. It’s kind of a blur because of the total dislike I have for the whole thing. I have the utmost respect for SAHMs who love it, but man, this is just SO not my bag. My sense of self is tied up heavily in my own accomplishments, and as much as I love my kids and spend time with them and talk to them and teach them, it just does not trip my trigger the way having a Fortune 500 company on my resume does.

I don’t know why.

I do know if I devoted myself entirely to my kids and not my own growth that I feel I would be a stagnant mother and would run out of stories and interests pretty quickly. I do think I’m showing my children that life is about learning no matter how old you are and life is about having personal freedom as well as choosing your responsibilities and excelling at what you choose to do. I do not want to raise daughters who think their sole purpose in life is to be mothers. I don’t have a problem with anyone else choosing that life path, it’s just not my choice of life path.

So I have to figure out how this all balances and then present my husband with a solution that will work for both of us. I’m not sure why this can’t happen as a conversation and why we can’t schedule a meeting and set things up in a way that will be a process, followed by both of us. Maybe it can be done that way and I just haven’t found the correct way to broach the subject.

We shall see.

I swear, if nothing else my life is always interesting. Thank goodness I dig interesting.

Any suggestions? We already use Google Calendar to keep our meetings, etc. separate as well as having the calendar for the kids’ activities and school stuff. (Oh, that reminds me, I have to put all the days off for the school year into the Google Calendar. Kill me now. It would be a kindness.) So it’s all in there, I just need to figure out how we can play fair when someone adds something to the calendar and the other person doesn’t see it right away and then schedules something verbally and a disagreement ensues.

Because if I don’t see the entries and ask a question, I assume he remembers his calendar enough that he can tell me. Maybe it’s me who needs to be more cognizant of the calendar rather than verbal communication when it comes to the schedule.

Huh.

I Just Keep Getting Sucked Back In!

So I decide to go to school and completely change my direction.

But there’s just this one company I decide to work for. The one run by a friend of mine. The one I’d pretty much do anything for because I trust her business sense like I trust a bloodhound to find stuff. She’s amazing.

Then there’s this other company I loved working for. They were amazing and cutting-edge and fun and all the things you want from a social media company. I worked for them for a year and then budgets dried up and while I wouldn’t say I was no longer needed, I would definitely say I was no longer budget-friendly.

So I’m taking care of three kids ranging in age from five years old to ten months old, I’m going to be working with my friend’s company, I’m going back to school, I’m trying to keep my house from looking like an episode of Hoarders, plus keep a semblance of a social life and finish the Mamavation campaign August 27th with really strong numbers so Leah can use my success – as well as the success of the other Mamavation Moms – to help boost the image of her company.

Then my favorite social media company shoots me an email telling me I’m needed again!

So we have a 50 hour a month commitment through November 1st.

Can I really do it all?

Hell yes I can. Because every single one of those things is something I consider important and wonderful.

Most importantly, every one of those things is something I consider fun.

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Books In T-Minus 7 Days!

The books for my classes are going to be available on Monday.

Yes, next Monday!

I can’t tell you how excited I am. But not excited in a “heart level shoots to the moon” way. It’s more of a feeling like you see in movies with the people relaxing the night before they leave for some kind of quest. That anticipatory hum accompanied by an unnatural calm. Like my destiny is sitting around the corner and I’m on a timetable to find it but won’t be able to see it a moment sooner than I’m supposed to.

It’s interesting, because a sense of inevitability lies at the bottom of the destiny ocean. I mean, destiny means you can’t escape it. So maybe destiny is the wrong word. I just know that this is the right thing at the right time. The fitness regime is the right thing at the right time too. I don’t know why, I just know.

So here I am, at the gates of predetermination or fate or what-have-you and I have nothing I can do today but take care of myself the ways I know are important:

  1. Physically. Keep my nutrition sound, get my fitness in.
  2. Emotionally. Keep my emotions in check, don’t talk to people that don’t understand my goals.
  3. Also, making sure my kids get physical with me today and do a workout and making sure they, and my husband, feel taken care of.

These are my responsibilities, my jobs, and for now, they are enough.

Ok, they totally aren’t, but they are in the sense that they are temporary and I have to learn these small habits before building on them with S in Kindergarten, A in five-day-a-week preschool, D still teething and extra-curricular activities and the hubby getting more and more clients and we’re going to have to hire someone soon and I’m probably going to be part of that process, and the other stuff life throws in. You know, just for fun. LOL

But all that aside, I can’t wait to start. It feels like I’m picking up where I left off after a very, very long haitus.