Tag: work

It’s Dark and Everyone is Sleeping #NaBloPoMo

I considered doing National Novel Writing Month this year but then decided against it because I’m in a place where I’m saying, “No” to everything. Okay, not everything. I’m saying, “No” to everything that isn’t “Yes” to me for the rest of the year.

The kids and husband are part of me, so they don’t have to worry.

I’ve been hesitant to mention this but Mr. Brickie is out of town. He went out of town on Sunday and will be gone until next Friday. A full 12 days gone.

Up until this point in our fifteen year marriage we’ve been apart for two nights, tops. Part of that is because we had nowhere to go separately but another part is absolutely by design.

He’s in Maryland for a couple of certifications. Originally he was going to be back next Wednesday but then it was recommended by someone he knows at the Union to do a two day add-on class so they switched his plane ticket to Friday and he’ll be getting two certifications while he’s gone.

From the sound of it he’ll go straight back to work once he’s home. I’m not 100% sure on that but the signs are good.

I thought I’d be a wreck without him here. So far, I’ve been okay. He calls and we talk for an hour in the evening before he goes to bed (thank goodness for video calling) and says goodnight to the kids and then I put the kids to bed.

Then I have an hour or so to myself and I have to tell you, it’s really peaceful. Like, really really peaceful. I plan what I’m going to do the next day and have a cup of tea and decide to participate in National Blog Post Month (or NaBloPoMo) because no matter what else happens I can’t seem to stop writing.

The biggest fear I had with Mr. Brickie being gone was Halloween. I have the anxiety thing and Halloween is the hardest day of the year. So many strangers. My older two ended up taking the youngest trick or treating without me. I stayed home with my phone ringer up as loud as it could go (in case they called for a ride or needed something) and read a book.

We still haven’t closed on the property and can’t until Mr. Brickie is back in town so that’s still hanging in the air being mildly annoying.

I’m really excited about these certifications. There’s a lot of money in this skill set and a lot of places in the Midwest that need people. It’s all indoor work (as far as I understand) so it’s not affected by the weather. That means we may not suffer through winter waiting for the weather to break this year! (He couldn’t get these certifications or do this work as an apprentice.) The thought of being able to really have a quality shovel to dig out of debt is absolutely thrilling.

A great side-effect is knowing the house and family don’t fall apart if he travels. He knows of someone who plans to go to South Korea for a fifteen month gig and it’s a serious payday but Mr. Brickie just laughed when I asked if he would consider it and told me there was no way he’d stay away from his family that long. I couldn’t argue or complain with that. I did semi-jokingly float the idea that we could retract our offer on the duplex, all move to SK for fifteen months with him, and call it an adventure! He considered it for a little bit with me but ultimately decided we love our current plan and want to stick with it.

The last hurdle for me as “person who does all the grown things” while he’s gone is getting the older two to the SAT on Saturday. No, they’re not in high school yet…It’s to see if they qualify for opportunities with the Northwestern Talent Search. A nice bonus is taking the SAT a few times before they’re in high school will make them more comfortable when they take it for college application purposes. This all started because the youngest scored high on a couple of standardized tests so I got her checked out by an individual who specializes in tests and lo and behold now she’s taking the PSAT because she’s going to get noticed by the Northwestern Talent Search and once she was in I thought I might as well have the other two test as well since they are also gifted.

It’s not something I think about a lot or dwell on, but it is part of the parenting duties, so I do the research and make the best choices I can.

The budget is still a wreck because we are only spending the bare minimum to get by in order to keep the closing money in the checking account free and clear. According to the mortgage guy, even though we only need X amount of cash for closing, in order to get the green light from underwriting we need about 3k more than that in our checking account. I don’t understand why and the way he explained it I don’t think he understands why, either.

So money that could pay off/down credit cards has to sit in the checking account. I try not to think about it but I’m not good at not thinking about things. I want to be done with the closing so I can do a normal budget and get to tax season so I can go back to pre-paying the mortgage with the tax return. Since we won’t have a November lease I can use the entire tax return toward the mortgage and see how far that gets us. I’ve gotten spoiled not having to worry about a monthly housing bill and I’d like to get back to it as soon as possible.

For now, though, it’s time to go to bed. Happy All Saint’s Day, whatever that means to you. Tomorrow is All Soul’s Day so we will put out an extra plate for the souls who are not with us anymore. Next year I think I’m going to let my spirituality freak flag fly a little more, too.

Happy New Year! 2018 is going to be a blast!

Really, how is it going to be March tomorrow? I didn’t even manage a single post in January but at least I’m squeaking in before March officially hits. That makes me feel better about neglecting basically everything in my life including the blog. The problem is I’m very boring in the winter and I stop blogging because every other week would be a post along the lines of, “Hey, we got unemployment, tried to find temp work, paid minimums on credit cards, and are still making bad life decisions.” It would get tiring. I’m still here and the winter is almost over which always leads me to think about writing, planning posts, and tending to the word garden that is this blog.

Work Update (More like a participation update)

Mr. Brickie is at a protest today (I know, right? A protest!) and hopefully that will keep his reliability/visibility indicators high for his future job potential. Tomorrow he goes to a class on organizing. I’m not sure if it teaches him how to be the big bad wolf Walmart and Amazon warn against during job training, but I’m curious to know more.

Money Update

We did get our tax return and I’m not surprised to report it was down 2k from last year. It’s not because of anything political, Mr. Brickie made about 4k more during the year and, as such, our earned income credit was 2k less. I like that it scales down slowly like that so we don’t go from having a huge tax return to nothing in one year.

We racked up a lot of debt during the winter and paying it down will be our single-minded money focus once Mr. Brickie goes back to work. Every extra penny is going to go toward debt because it won’t take much to give our credit scores a healthy boost. We need them looking good within the next few months. As a secondary measure toward 2018 success, we set a little over half of our tax return into a savings account. I honestly waver on whether we should throw every penny toward debt or save some and put the rest toward debt. I’ll have to Google it and see what the Internet thinks.

I’ve already informed the girls they won’t be doing extended summer camps this year. One week each and that’s it. We need to scale back and use that money for debt. I’m lucky my kids still trust me (the oldest is thirteen, I was worried she was going to give me pushback but she still trusts me as of the moment I’m typing this, goodness knows things can still change but I remain hopeful) and understand we have a bigger plan for all of us that is worth sacrificing a couple extra weeks of summer camp

Health Update

My doctor and I spent most of last year cycling through medications for anxiety and they either didn’t work or the side effects made them not worth the trouble. We found a new dentist that didn’t do a hatchet job like the last one and I no longer have a giant chip in my front tooth. Hooray! Plus, they’re being super-cool about paying the balance we owe them in payments. We have wonderful insurance but we still have to pay 20% of services. I have a year-long payment plan for the vein surgeries I got in my legs last year before we went to Disneyland. Luckily, they’re being super cool as well. They’re cashing the checks, anyway, so even if they’re not being super cool, I don’t have to hear about it.

Budget Update

In order to track all the doctor bills we have payment plans on (vein doctor, dentist, hospital, physicians, and the opthamologist I saw recently for a giant floater in my right eye that obscures my vision) I started a Google Spreadsheet. It took me two weeks to decide how to set it up for easy access. I settled on using a tab (separate worksheet) for each place we owed money to and then did a column for each family member within that tab. It’s been working out really well so far. For convenience, I also added the girls’ school bills as a tab because I’m making payments on that as well. School is expensive here. Two kids in middle school and one in elementary cost me over $500 out of pocket and that’s WITH a discount off fees for the kids qualifying for free lunch last year. (Next year we might only qualify for reduced lunch, which is fine since my kitchen is in far less disarray than it was last year! Thank you IKEA and a Billy bookcase we use for storage in the kitchen and two Walmart bookcases we use in the back room as pantry space, we can finally not be entirely cramped.

We also bought a quarter cow! We have so much beef! I should take something out of the freezer now to thaw before dinnertime tonight. I totally slacked on making a meal plan this week. I’ve been slacking at most everything for the last month. I don’t want to do anything and feel totally lethargic. I even went to my doctor and got diet pills, but I found out they’re not basically speed anymore so they’re not even giving me a boost. This morning I started doing bed exercises to get myself more awake in the morning and it seemed to help a little but I have this fantasy where I’m a person who cleans and enjoys cleaning and I feel like I’m failing myself every day I’m not that person. I do like to keep things organized and somewhat tidy and just this morning I spilled a little coffee on the kitchen floor and wiped it up with a rag and followed that up with a Lysol wipe (not the actual brand but you know, that type of wipe) and ended up wiping down about 4 square feet of floor just to keep it clean so I’m not living in squalor or anything….I just…have this picture in my head and I don’t match it and I don’t like it one bit. Where is my cute apron and adorable attitude? Why am I not cleaning baseboards? Why am I such a human and not a cool robot person?

On the Horizon

Last but not least, I want to start incorporating video into this blog. I love doing videos, especially live FB videos because they’re fun! I’m guessing I just pop them on the FB page and then link them inside the blog. I’ll research that a bit more.

I hope your winter has been going well. I look forward to us talking more soon. Otherwise the next you’ll hear from me it will be that I’ve snapped and scattered Mr. Brickie’s body parts across fourteen states under the guise of a road trip. Closeness is wonderful but closeness with the anxiety of impending work that hasn’t materialized quite yet is suffocating for both of us.

Back to Work 2016!

Great News!!!!!!!!

Mr. Brickie just texted me from training – he starts work Friday!! (Training is M-Th)

This is, by far, the earliest he’s started working. Last year he started in April. The year before he started in late June. The earlier he starts, the more hours he works. The more hours he works the more he vests into his benefits and health insurance. The more hours he works, the sooner he will get to the next apprentice level and closer to the goal of being a Journeyman!

Also, the sooner he begins working the more money we make through the year and the more likely it is I will be able to pay off that credit card debt and start on a proper winter emergency fund for next year!

Due to the weather he may not be working 40 hour weeks but if he did he would make $919. So we are absolutely in a position now where 40-hour checks are a lot of income for us. I will lose SNAP benefits pretty much immediately when he begins working (as it should be…I would much rather be able to afford to buy groceries) so we will have to budget $600/mo. for groceries. There will be higher gas costs and there will be toll costs to take into consideration as well. I need one day to figure out how much to budget for tolls and one week to figure out how much to budget for gas.

I don’t even start hoping to budget for job income until March – I couldn’t be happier for the surprise.

Our monthly bills and expenses add up to approximately $2300. So if he DID work full time that would free up $1300/month to pay toward debt.

I like to calculate the best possible month (The Model Month) first. Then I calculate the bare minimum and have a sliding scale in my head of what gets paid and how much goes to groceries based on what those two months look like. I also prioritize how I pay things so if something is going to go unpaid it’s going to be a savings account I’m putting money in for insurance, not the grocery budget. (I can always pay insurance monthly if I have to.)

The Model Month is a super-rosy view on the situation considering the view out my window is fairly heavy, thick snowfall. It’s going to be a while before full weeks will be worked, I think. The job should go through fall and that’s always the best news because we won’t have to worry about him finding a new job until probably the end of August. Since he hasn’t been to the job site yet we don’t know if it’s indoors, outdoors, block, brick, or stone. So maybe it’s a situation where he can work when it’s snowing. We’ll see.

Even though I hate the waiting, I’m getting better at it. Funny, having to learn to be calm waiting for him to work has reduced my anxiety around a lot of other things in life, too. It’s like an exercise in how to remain calm in the face of the unknown.

Back to him being an apprentice and working partial weeks….now that he is at the 70% apprentice level, even partial paychecks are better than unemployment for living on. We might not have to go to the food pantry anymore *knock on wood* (I only care because I have never been able to shake the feeling that when my family uses the food pantry we are taking from other families who might need it more) but at this point I just got the good news so I’m letting myself dream big before I pull myself back down to earth to make real plans and start plotting out possible financial futures so I use our resources as wisely as possible.

We might be able to pay cash for Christmas this year. (I said this last year and the year before, too, so I know I’ve hit fantasy football levels of optimism but whatever, I don’t care, I’m happy.) Sometimes even I am an optimist.

I can tell you we are better off than we were this time last year but in some ways maybe we aren’t. I do have more credit card debt overall, not less. That’s negative for sure. I do have a paid off car, though, and that is so important for having traction paying off everything else!

A lot rides on the weather, on materials, on deliveries, and on other factors that go into the logistics of making a building. The longer he works as a bricklayer, however, the more I realize that everyone is really pretty darn honorable. Mr. Brickie hasn’t had anything really shady happen at any of his job sites, no one has asked him to do things that were unsafe or illegal, everything has been on the up and up for years now.

He’s at his required training this week (only two more to go, ever!) and he’s working with stone and kicking butt. He has a natural gift for working with stone safely and quickly…weird how people find hidden talents, isn’t it? You wouldn’t know you were gifted with stone any other way than to become a bricklayer and lay some, would you? (Unless maybe you became an artist that chose to use stone? It’s possible…)

As always, I’ll keep you updated!

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.

Happy August!

I’ve used You Need A Budget for a month and it’s been wonderful. I thought I was doing fine with my spreadsheet and my forecasting and all those changes. I felt like having to track every single penny would be awful and make me feel strangled with details. On the contrary, it feels like we could do so much  more with the money we had. I can look and see exactly how much we spent on groceries in July without calculating anything.

It’s great.

There is a change I made to Wednesday’s How We Spent It. I took $40 off of the overpayment to Capital One and added it to a brand new “Other Kids’ Birthdays” category. There are two birthday parties in August and making sure we have those covered will ensure we can send the kids with a gift. We can even pay with a credit card like Target for 5% off and when it goes on the card, I pay immediately with the money in the category. No more revolving credit trap.

Mr. Brickie says there may be rain next week Wednesday which means no work for the day. He wants to maybe go do a side job after work for two hours a day to build up an extra day’s pay. I told him that as much as I would work him into the ground because I’m not him and that’s easy for me to ask for, I have a conscience and don’t think that’s a good idea while he’s working six days a week.

He’s feeling good working six day weeks, but if he passes the point where he no longer feels good he can’t scale back. So it is better to take the Wednesday off and relax during this overtime period to make sure he stays rested and healthy.

It killed me to say it. I don’t want to make him feel like getting excited about paying off debt is bad, but I can’t risk his health. He’s working 48 hours a week. Bricklayer work. Outside. In the heat.

I have to keep him healthy for the rest of summer. He has a whole month of at least 48 hour weeks coming up in August heat. There’s no way I can let him do 10 hour days on top of that because that will take away from his relaxing time, his sleep time, everything.

He’s more important to me than debt payoff. I mean, it’s a classic goose with the golden egg scenario. Appreciate the golden eggs, don’t get greedy and kill the goose.

He said he would think about it. He thought I would high-five him and holler, “Yes, please!” and I think my reaction confused him. Understandable, because it certainly confused me!

We fluctuate now. We have these moments of peace where we aren’t stressed out and worried about money and our future. They’re pretty fleeting but they exist. Those moments are also addictive. We want more of them and we want them as soon as possible. He wants to just go whole hog and I feel like I have to be responsible and keep the slow and steady wins the race perspective.

It’s going to be so nice when we are down to the one card. I told Mr. Brickie if we had eighty-three cents left over at the end of the month I would send it to the card. There wouldn’t be any question of, “Where should it go?” because there is only one option.

Oh, to be debt free. Ah, well, we’re getting there.

Last night I had a dream I ended up with an unexpected windfall of 2 million dollars. The whole dream was about trying to give away 1 million as $14,000 individual gifts (so I wouldn’t incur further taxes beyond the taxes I would have to pay from the windfall itself) and how I would get the money to people. It was a really good dream.

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How We Spent It 06/08/2015


A rare sighting of the husbandus conversationist happened yesterday. It’s like sighting something in the wild that you almost missed but looked in the right place at the right time and saw a peek through some tall grass. You crouch to try and be unobtrusive and then, without a care in the world and no help from you, that damn lion in all it’s giant-maned glory steps toward you and you as if to say, “Drink it in. We have all the time in the world.”

Translation: My husband is a practical dude and getting him to talk about theoretical stuff – espcially economic stuff – is really rare. I’m hoping he will have more time for chit-chatting the less poor we are. But sometimes amid all the stuff he’s doing he stops and really talks to me. It really takes my breath away and I’m reminded of how SMART my husband is.

Last night Mr. Brickie and I talked about the stock market. We want to invest eventually and I want to make sure it’s not a last-minute decision. I’ve already decided that we are going to go into Admiral Shares of the Vanguard Total Index Fund to start with. It’s a “set it and forget it” approach that I think will work well for a Roth IRA. But investing is not going to happen soon (three years if we’re lucky) and we are trying to time the next bust cycle of the economy so we can get in while the market is low. It doesn’t have to be the lowEST and it doesn’t have to be a historic low, just lowER than the highEST and we should be good.

Like Junk Bonds, the savings and loan thing, dot com, and real estate the key is to figure out what the next big investment mistake will be. I think it’s going to be Big Organic, Mr. Brickie thinks it’s going to be farmland real estate. Don’t tell him I said it but I think he might be right because farmland prices are out of control and organic food has just become widely available, the market isn’t saturated with it. I don’t think we are going to be investing this bust cycle so we are honing our skills this time to identify for next time. If we can go in this bust cycle, well, we’ll know it if we see it because some talking head will be freaking out and screaming how we should all go into precious metals…because those have inherent value, see, not just assigned value. (That’s a joke. My finance jokes aren’t that funny.)

Work Updates!

Mr. Brickie thought he might be on side-jobs again this week but it’s back to the job he thought was finished. At least today and tomorrow. That’s good because every hour he works is an hour toward his next apprentice promotion. Also, he got a raise on June 1st with the rest of the union, so this week he is making more than he did pre-training. It will make a difference of about $25 per paycheck.

A hundred bucks a month is a big deal.

The next job is supposed to start no later than the 22nd and it’s going to be the juicy, good summer job that puts us in that sweet spot of having more money than we know what to do with for a couple two-three months. A school job. Where everything you do you have to get done before the first day of school because you can’t be laying brick with little kids running around. That means there will probably be overtime, but I’ll be happy with forty hour weeks.

With forty-hour weeks from this point forward (so the very best case scenario which, let’s be honest, probably isn’t what I should be looking at right now but why not let’s live dangerously) his next promotion is going to be on September 14th-ish. So still within THIS season. I’m kinda desperate for this promotion because it will mean we can afford everything we need.

Also, forty hour work weeks could get another credit card paid off and out of my life for good. The one with the annual fee. Banish that bad boy from my life! Then I can start hacking away at the one we use for recurring bills, gas, and tolls.

As for the potential September promotion to the fabled 70% Apprentice – I don’t remember the last time we could afford everything we needed without a food pantry, government program, or help from friends and family on the Internet. I mean everything. Including food. September seems so close and a million years away at the same time. I just have to orient myself, stifle the carsick feeling, and wait patiently through summer and through the budget and through paying things off and through everything else.

Even keeping myself as calm as possible I don’t think this is the last day I’ll be up thinking about it at 5:40am.

The paychecks right now are backward and mixed up. The stipend check for training (the 1st – 4th) cleared today ($250) but we’re still waiting for his check in the mail from the week before training (the last week of May for approximately $400.) So I had projected this week spending the end of May check and the stipend check and being kind of out of luck next week but it’s not going to work out that way.

Blessing and a curse, I guess.

How We Spent It

Stipend – $250

Living Expenses – $250

$150 stays in the checking account for groceries and $87.41 tops the emergency fund back up to $1000 and then I’m putting what’s left ($22.59 ) in the emergency fund as well because I have a car payment to pay that may or may not need to be partially covered out of the emergency fund.

Next week is going to be as exciting as this week. Watch with amazement as I take a $400 check and put $250 toward living expenses and $150 in the emergency fund to continue to save up for the car payment!!

The weeks right before we get full-time traction are really frustrating.

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So Much Work for a Lateral Move!

My friend Carla is a very smart woman.

But you know what? The Next Level? It doesn’t mean anything at all.

Taking something to the next level is a concept that can mean whatever you want it to be. It’s a new-fangled way of telling people not to stray off the path if they want to get to a goal.

Paths, levels, blah blah blah it’s all the same smoke and mirrors.

I spend time working on my budget every single day. I don’t honestly know why the budget is the thing that stuck but it happened the way every single, “I finally decided enough was enough and I lost a bunch of weight” story starts.

Sometimes we don’t know exactly why we start doing a thing but once it’s our thing? It’s what we focus on more than other things.

Now that my budget is going more auto-pilot, I keep thinking there has to be a way to move that daily dedication to physical activity.

The thing is, it took me years and years to become the person who checks the budget and works on financial stuff for at least a half hour up to hours a day. I think it was easier because I wasn’t surrounded by people doing their own budgets and telling people how this thing or that thing would work for them or how to take their budgets to the next level.

So what I’m trying to do is shimmy sideways and use the same, unidentified THING I have for my budget and for doing financial projections and calculating future income and making plans and all that madness and….move it to another arena in my life.

I’ve never seen a TED talk on this, I’ve never heard of someone else taking a well formed, lovely habit and trying to stick that on a different behavior.

I’m not even sure it’s possible.

A simple, lateral move. Not farther down the path, not on the next level…just a jump to the left (yes, that was intentional)  and it’s going to take more effort and work than I have ever remotely experienced before.

Because I think you only get one obsession in this life and so far, mine has been personal finance.


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The I in Team

I poke my arm out from the comforter, reach behind me, and tap-and-feel the top of the nightstand until I feel the familiar shape of my phone. My fingers curl around the familiar rectangle and I bring it close to my face, squinting, and tap the little part of the screen that quiets the alarm for a few sweet, silent minutes. I should know it by feel but I don’t want to accidentally turn the alarm off so every morning starts with me squinting into a screen.

All set for a few more minutes of solid rest, I snuggle a little deeper under into my comforter. My eyes fly open when I hear a phone ringing like the one from my childhood (or any episode of Mad Men) and scan the room for what caused the noise. It’s not my phone’s ringtone, which means Mr. Brickie is getting a call at 7am. I make a mental note I know I will forget to have him stop changing the rintone because unidentified noises freak me out…especially first thing in the morning.

My eyes find him – a blur pulling on a shirt – and I croak through half-awake lips, “Just answer.” I rub my eyes and make a first-thing-in-the-morning effort to quash the hate I feel toward his habit of trying to figure out who is calling before answering the phone. It’s not a bill collector. Those calls are years in our past but he still acts like the ringing phone holds something awful. He answers in time (thank goodness) and it is work. He starts again tomorrow (Tue. April 28th) at 7am.

Tomorrow is Tuesday and that’s fantastic. The day after is Wednesday, which is my daughter’s doctor appointment he really wanted to be at. We have waited over a month for this appointment and I want him to be there, too. I want the doctor to see the adult version of my daughter. I feel it would inform her decision. Of course I don’t know that for sure because I am not a doctor.

Work means he can’t be there with me. I will have to go alone with my daughter and be her rock with no rock of my own. I am disappointed, sure, but understand this is just the way things are and I am going to have to go through this by myself. It’s okay. He will be there after work to tell what happened. That will have to be enough.

It doesn’t stop my mind feeling tight as a tourniquet.

Everything is going to be alright, sacrifice along the way was always part of the bargain. He doesn’t have a job he can “call off” from. We do not see that as a negative because he gets a giant chunk of winter off to be with us. When the kids have snow days, they spend the day with the whole family.

These are the memories I hold on to when I have to do Very Important Things™ alone.

The big picture is worth it but the fear of the unknown with my daughter is something that scares me deeply. I feel like the teammate making the free throw shot. Sure, I have a team and they have my back but this shot I have to take and make by myself.

Let’s hope it’s nothing but net.

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How We Spent It! (4/15/15)


I’m so excited Mr. Brickie is back at work. It’s day two and we heard that he is going to be working another day or two and then they’ll be off until the stone gets in. It’s been ordered but, well, shit happens.

I have this tagged with the unemployment graphic because he’s only been at work one day (not including today) so he’s technically not working even though…well…you’ll see in a minute. Next week I’ll use the regular graphic again. (Like you care. This is a classic case of overexplaining. Don’t do that.)

Here’s a weird thing about being a union bricklayer. When they tell him he’s off and they’ll call him when the stone is in we are not sure if he is supposed to take another job if they call. We are still waiting on the call from the foreman from last season who wrote a recommendation letter for Mr. Brickie and wants him on his job. When this job called Mr. Brickie hesitated for a split second but he knows that the goal is to get working and keep working so he (almost) immediately said yes to this job. There is no waiting for the other company.

But…if they call during the time that he is off….I’m not sure what protocol is. I’ll let you know when we find out. Maybe that’s only curious and interesting to me. If it is, my apologies.

The last two weeks instead of unemployment Mr. Brickie was working on a side job. So we actually have a grip of cash to spend on this fabulous How We Spent It Wednesday!

$1,612.42 Total In The Bank Account
– $495.12 Car Payment (total owed $5,907)
– $100.00 Capital One CC
– $440.00 Geico (6 month auto payment)
– $117.30 Amazon Visa
– $200.00 Living Expenses
– $260.00 Rent Savings Account
= $0.00 ←- boom! zero based budget success!

If there is money left from the $200 by next week (sometimes there is) I just put it toward a bill and then leave $200 for the next week. If he only works two or three days this week he won’t make but a few hundred dollars next Wednesday when he gets the check. I may put that back into the emergency fund instead of paying more things down. It depends.

At this point it feels like it doesn’t matter how the money is allocated, as long as our focus does not falter and things get paid off. Once he starts working on the regular, however, I think this is all going to get cleaned up so fast and then I can dump money into savings for back-to-school and Christmas and Birthdays and Car Insurance and Renters Insurance and *gasp* maybe even a Vacation Fund (get the fainting chair!)

But mostly a good emergency fund. That’s always the first priority. Well, mostly. I probably should have done more replenishing of the emergency fund today because, as you can see, I replenished zero of the emergency fund.

He still has about another week of work left on the side job (I know, since I’m doing budget/finance blogging I’m supposed to call it a “hustle” but hustle is what gets you a gig, it’s not the gig itself so it kind of drives me nuts in a “words mean things” way.) so when he’s off waiting for the stone to come in for the next part of the job he will have something to do to keep generating income. Since he is union and an apprentice his side gigs are not bricklaying gigs. Just general labor.

Things are looking pretty stable. I hope it continues in this vein. (I almost said vain just to mess with people right after saying “words mean things” like I’m totally pedantic.)

Scentsy MLM Update (longer than usual – you have been warned)

I’m breaking even! It’s all I really wanted so I’m happy. I even achieved some kind of award level. It’s the lowest one possible because believe-you-me I’m not talking incessantly about this on facebook and I’m not hitting people up in the grocery store. NOPE^100

Super Winning MLM Moment: This week, I told someone, “I’m sorry, I won’t be able to take care of your Scentsy needs anymore. I hope you have a great week!” I’m not nearly desperate enough to put up with people’s mess. My not-messy people know who they are because they get good samples and no pressure. <3

I’m not trying to grow this into anything other than a self-sustaining habit. Also, my house smells freaking amazing. I tossed a scent pak in each of our cars and they smell good now, too. (My kids picked Paradise Punch for their room and it smells exactly like tropical punch kool aid and they love it. I just stuffed the scent pak in the back of a stuffed animal with a zipper. I’m not going to have liquid wax in a kid’s room. Sure it’s non-toxic, but who wants to clean that if it spills??)

If you have questions about scents or warmers or whatever you know you can always ask me. If you don’t? Let’s pretend this part of the post never happened. As usual.

Want to make your house smell awesome? Yeah. That’s a link. Don’t get mad, there was a whole header warning you this was about to happen.

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Guess Where Mr. Brickie Is?


Where’s Mr. Brickie?

He’s not here…..is he there?

He’s not over in a chair. He’s not still asleep in bed with a pillow on his head.

Where could he be? What could he be doing? Is he hiding in the hall?


Not, “At a side job.” Not, “Doing a family member a favor.” Not, “Painting something.”

At a bricklayer work site doing bricklayer things. WITH BRICKS. (…and maybe stone)

We found out yesterday, including the all-important address, but I still didn’t want to say anything because I get tired of saying THIS IS IT and it turns out the “this” is, in fact, “not it” and I slink back to my hole where the lying liars go after they’ve lied. Plus, after last year saying, “any week now” lasted through the end of June and I felt like it was a record player skipping back over and over.

But he’s THERE at the SITE right NOW so NO TAKESIE BACKSIES they have to keep him. He’s like a stray puppy and they are kind hearted children. I also filed unemployment certification Monday for the two prior weeks so we are about to have a serious influx of cash by the end of the month. Tomorrow unemployment goes through and then next Wednesday the new job paychecks start and there is still time to get two more before the end of the month.

I have a list here somwhere of target savings goals for birthdays, Christmas, back to school (FOR THREE KIDS OH YEAH) and insurance. Basically I need to save $200 from each paycheck in addition to replenishing the emergency fund and the $260/mo. I put into the rent fund. I’m not sure if it will be enough but starting so early in the season, we COULD – if things go well – have an extra $2200 for those categories before June 28 when he started work last season.

The only weird thing? He’s working with a different company than he did last season. We were so sure he’d go back to that company – and I’m sure they’re still going to call him – but you have to go with the job that’s offered to you. This is a company he hasn’t worked for before but one of the BAs at the union called him for the gig. If you know anyone that’s going to become part of a union, please tell them how important the meetings are. Mr. Brickie never sees anyone from his class at the meetings and rarely sees early-on apprentices. They don’t see the value, because they don’t understand networking. People want Mr. Brickie to succeed because they know him and showing up to the meetings and talking to people is how he got to know them.

Sure he lerned it from watching me back in the business ownership days where I would go to networking events all the time and meet new people, but he is taking it to a whole new level.

The season has started!! Let’s see how much different things are at the end of this season, shall we? I can’t wait to get started!

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