Tag Archives: New Year

Plan: Balance Transfer That Debt and Get Through Winter

First, I want to congratulate Mr. Brickie on becoming an 80% apprentice! He had to take a test that consisted of building a wall and he failed it twice (once he was sick and once he was overconfident) but the third time was truly the charm! That’s the last test he will have to take before becoming a journeyman. Now it’s just a matter of working the hours and taking the training classes. (If all that is gibberish you can see more about how his bricklayer apprenticeship works at this link.)

So it’s great he got a raise and is now making a serious hourly rate that makes me blush to say out loud. Still, though, regardless of hourly rate a bricklayer has to work to get paid and now is the time of year where I try really hard not to whine about winter and the totally predictable lack of work Mr. Brickie is experiencing.

But wait! It’s different this year!

How, you may ask?

He’s working just enough that we don’t get unemployment.

Now, this is great on one hand because our tax return is hit hard when we use unemployment benefits (even though we have taxes taken out of his unemployment check it seems that 10% fed and 3.25% state isn’t enough) so getting through with a $200(ish) check every week is super unfun but I’m trying to think of how great it will be at the end of the beginning of 2018 when I file taxes and don’t have to put in unemployment benefits.

Does it sound like I’m grasping a little for a silver lining? I am, a little. Winter is always tough because we want to save and we want to have a savings account for this time of year. We do. January is when I sit down and make a plan for the year. As you know I’m a firm believer in spending the tax return before we ever see it so there is no temptation to spend that big check on something fun when we have responsibilities that need to be taken care of like rent and several small but annoying medical bills that have popped up on Mr. Brickie’s credit report.

This year’s big success is that we used ZERO credit cards for Christmas. I’ve been trying to achieve this goal for a couple years and this year we did it. Hooray!

This means every extra penny we make this year goes toward those darn credit cards. It’s time to pay them all off and get right with the balance sheet. If you like my page on Facebook you may have seen me talk about shifting 11k in debt from the Discover card to three other cards to take advantage of 0% offers and buy time to pay them off interest-free.

So, without further ado, here is the list of my credit card balances as of right now (balances include 3% transfer fees):

  • Chase Freedom $33.35 (This is the 5% gas rewards card. I pay it off weekly with the gas budget money.)
  • Costco Visa $2,220.16 (0% until Sep 2017 – This is the first one to be paid off.)
  • Citi Diamond $3,620.64 (0% until Dec 2017 – this card was only used for dental work.)
  • Chase Amazon $2,395.70 (This is one of the Discover xfer cards 0% until Feb 2018)
  • My Quicksilver $4,999.62 (Discover xfer 0% until June 2018)
  • Mr. B Quicksilver $3,999.49 (Discover xfer 0% until June 2018)

Don’t cringe. Don’t be sad. Don’t get mad. I didn’t use the cards to take vacations or buy drugs. We have a frugal lifestyle and I truly think I can get rid of this debt by – at the very latest – February of 2018.

I’ve even talked to the kids about it and they’re on board with a razor thin lifestyle to pay the cards off, too. They know the more we sacrifice now the better things will be in two years. Last time I asked them to tough it out for two years we moved and they are so much happier here, so this time it was easier for them to trust me.

I don’t want to let them down. I don’t want to let us down. I wish I could feel more secure in when things will be paid off but it’s almost impossible to do a proper financial forecast. The winter weather makes the paycheck lower and although he will start working full time again once the weather is getting nice he could get another promotion as early as June but maybe later, so there is no way to reliably have an idea when milestones will be hit in terms of paying down debt.

Last fall I was toying with the idea of sending the older two girls to fancy summer camps this year that teach things like electrical engineering and mobile app development. We’ve tabled that idea and they’re only going to go to the local nature camp. I refuse to increase our standard of living to match his paycheck or we’ll never get ahead.

Sometimes I think about how much farther along we would be if Mr. Brickie hadn’t broken his wrist. I’m sure he does, too. Five months out of work…who would have guessed that was in the cards? But the thought quickly passes because I felt about his injury the same way I feel about winter. Yes, it’s tough, and yes, it’s mentally exhausting but I love spending time with him.

What’s that people say about time or money? You have to spend one or the other? In our case it’s either we have time together or we have money and both are important to our long-term survival/success as a couple and as a family.

2014 – A Blog Year In Review

Oh my gosh! This seemed like such a cute idea when I first saw it on a few blogger’s sites. Collect a few posts from a few months and viola! You have this great little year in review, some links to posts people may have missed, and a review post all in one!

Then I started going through my blog.

You guys, it’s a MESS.

So many pictures didn’t come over when I switched hosting companies. There are blank boxes with names of pictures and no pictures. Things are messy. I don’t like my own writing half the time. It was a humbling (LONG) experience.

I did my best to keep it as un-snoozy as possible.


At the beginning of this year I cooked crock pot ground beef stew and chicken nuggets as I worried my way through my first winter as a bricklayer’s wife.


I calculated our -$96,985 net worth and figured out we had more bills than income. I also started working out with a kettlebell. Then I bit all my nails off waiting for Mr. Brickie to go back to work “any minute now” (which turned out to be June 27th!)


I got the bills and the budget sorted a bit. There was a really good, old-fashioned rant about people who get angry at people for buying junk food with food stamps, and I got misty eyed as I realized one of the most popular posts on my blog was about our date night.


We got chickens! We built an almost servicable coop before deciding to leave them indoors. I loved those chickens like you would not believe.


I shared the story about how I dropped the ball and did not follow through with my responsibilities on a board of trustees I was elected to.


I finally stopped overexplaining! It was one of the best decisions I ever made even if it occasionally makes others a bit uncomfortable. Mr. Brickie finally went from no work to oodles of poodles of overtime.


I bought all the girls’ school supplies online and my friend loaned us a car!


We started planning the move we thought would be taking place in July, 2015. Mr. Brickie’s work schedule went a little crazy–from overtime to no overtime to overtime to no gig. I try to practice some mindfulness and take time to be thankful for the amazing things I have in my life.


In an effort to be move-ready, we play The Minimalist Game. I start an emergency/moving fund.


First, we bought a really, really used car with the emergency fund and then we get awful professional budgeting advice while we are trying to keep the house from being foreclosed on and then we find out we have to move way, WAY sooner than expected and I start a fundraiser, because my sad little emergency/moving fund isn’t going to cut it.


I will never doubt the goodness of people again because we raised enough money from the fundraiser to move. Also the goodness of our landlord who found the fundraiser on the Internet and still let us move in even though he knew our rent and security deposit were paid by the kindness of others.


The girls both tested into gifted classrooms, they love their new school, 4th graders all learn to play the recorder and 3rd grade learns to read music, the school lost one of my daughters, and I opine on the difference between buying something (like beer) because it’s in your budget vs. buying something because it’s part of a costume.

I hope you all have a really stellar 2015! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your visits, your emails, your phone calls, and your support. I really think this is one of the most supportive corners of the Internet and I would like to figure out a way to make it even more inviting next year but for now I’m spending my time just thanking each and every one of you in my head for showing up and reading.

You are the best.

For real.

Also…I want to let you in on a secret…I think 2015 in the Decki houshold is going to be way, way better than last year.

I can’t wait to share it with you!

Promotion Update

Mr. Brickie Promotion Tracker
Hours to 60%: 147
Days: 19
Estimated Date: 2/2/2015

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