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Removed Some Debt

May 31st, 2016 at 10:18 am

I love this community. I know I am not a frequent poster or commenter, but I feel like I know some of you personally. And I LOVE how supportive everyone is. As for MN State Fair, we're close enough to visit semi-frequently, but far enough away that we need a hotel or stay at a friends for a long weekend. The Twin Cities Area is one of our favorite places.

Now for the important news: We decided to cancel the siding and windows. While the windows are on the "really do need rather soon" side, we can wait. Siding, while it would have been convenient to get it done (our house is old clap board and UGLY), it isn't necessary. It was more of excitement to be done and be done. We could sell the house faster if we had the new windows and siding, but we don't need to, so we can wait. Found it was hard to talk ourselves out of the convenience. But we did it!

$96,972.85___Mortgage (29yrs left, $784.42/mo, 3.875%)
$24,569.93___Van Loan (39mo left, $641.89/mo, 0%)
$13,886.77___Home Project Loan (6.5yrs left, $220.89, 7.99%)
$_9,000.00___Student Loan (no payments while in school, $?, 6.8%)

I feel better about the numbers. I might take the extra monthly payment I was going to put towards the siding and apply it to the Home Project Loan. I thought I could handle the extra payment, so why can't I use it this way? Maybe I'll go even farther and take every spare penny that my husband's raise brings in and apply it. Hmmmm.... I might just do that.a

Debt and Denial

May 28th, 2016 at 10:24 am

I've started to write several blog posts, but I've never gotten to the point of finishing. Life and denial keep getting in my way.

I have to admit, I'm in denial. And denial. And DENIAL. I guess it would be best to start coming "clean" again. Hello, My name is Tarwalker, and I am in debt.

$96,972.85___Mortgage (29yrs left, $784.42/mo, 3.875%)
$26,243.00___Siding and Windows (10 years, ~$262/mo, 2.99%)
$24,569.93___Van Loan (39mo left, $641.89/mo, 0%)
$13,886.77___Home Project Loan (6.5yrs left, $220.89, 7.99%)
$_9,000.00___Student Loan (no payments while in school, $?, 6.8%)

We were debt free in August 2014 after paying down something like $60k. For a month or two max. Then we bought a new van because two kids in rear facing plus a Golden Retriever and a 6'something husband... Then mid-2015 we bought a house because apartment and living with parents weren't working. That needed repairs. And then husband went back to school to get in a new field. And then he took a huge paycut to get his internship requirement completed. And both my kids have health issues and are autistic.

Just a roller coaster of a few years. Time to stop. Time to get my kill the debt intensity back.

(Side note: The siding and windows were the LAST big cost project for the house. Everything else we have the materials and just need to put in the sweat equity. There might be some small costs here and there left, but that's it! I'm so excited. Beyond excited!)

Income is tight right now with husband being at such a low income for the internship. He's completed his requirements, so is job hunting for full time work. Really anything with benefits would be a HUGE bump up right now.

We have cut down on our fixed costs as much as possible. Changed phone plans to Cricket which will save us somewhere around $50 per month. We are cutting back on electricity and water consumption. We got our internet cost dropped down.

We've switched budgeting techniques again for variables. I just don't have time to do quicken anymore, despite my love for it. Putting expenses on credit card and paying it off in full ended up to be too easy to overspend a little here and there. When I watched it frequently, it was different.

So we are on a variation of the envelope system. My take-home pays for the solid costs every month: mortgage, utilities, cell phone, internet, car loan, home project loans, and personal allowances. It's all on autopay, with me checking in before and after it hits. Hubby's little pay has to cover all the discretionary items, so we calculated what he brings home weekly, and then rounded down a bit for fluctuation, and then left our weekly gas money in checking. We left the gas there because it's so much easier with two little kids to pay for gas directly at the pump with a card than to run inside to pay.

The remaining gets divided up into Groceries, Restaurants, Boys' Stuff, Dog Stuff, and Misc Who Knows. First three weeks worked ok. It's definitely making me hesitate to buy things, because A) I don't carry the cash with me everywhere and B) I don't want to use cash. It's strange because it used to be that if I had cash, it was GONE, with no clue where it went. Now I hesitate to use it. Oh, how time changes us. Trying to count dollars as I go thru the crowded grocery store to make sure we stay under is interesting, but definitely helping curb the grocery budget.

If we have leftover in our cash envelopes, we are throwing it into a jar to save for hopefully a nice long weekend trip to the MN State Fair plus at the end of August. We will see if we can swing it. It's something we look forward to every year, but don't always get to make it. It's something that brings us so much joy, and will be a much needed break from therapies. If I didn't NEED that break, I would use save or pay down debt...

BUT I REALLY NEED THAT VACATION. It shouldn't be terribly expensive and anything left over will get thrown at debt. I'm an introvert with multiple therapists coming six days a week to my house, and I am taking the kids to special therapists for two hours to four hours a week. And then working in between and then trying to cram errands and chores in the one last day of a week. I am overwhelmed by people. TOO MUCH for me. If it wasn't doing absolute wonders for my oldest, I would say no thank you just for my personal sanity.

So knowing I just have to make thru the summer months before I get a good five day break, oh, how much that has helped me breathe. If we don't get the money saved up, we'll just stay around here. But cabin fever is getting a hold of me, so we'll probably find something to do somewhere cheap.

I do really well with the snowball method. I am going to do a mix of attacking the high interest first and the lowest amount first. The kill order is van loan (by virtue of how many payments left, no extra since it's zero percent), Home Depot loan (7.99%), siding and windows loan (2.99%), Student Loans (6.8% - since we don't know exact how much or when payments will be I am leaving this on lower priority, will re-evaluate later), then the Mortgage.

If I just plan to roll over our debt payments as each gets paid off (except for car), we will be debt free in fifteen, including mortgage. Less than ten if we include the car payment. Ideally, husband should have a HUGE increase in income by next summer at the latest (please cross fingers). That means we could be completely consumer debt free in three and mortgage free within 5 or 6 years.

I feel better knowing that there is a light in a tunnel. It won't be thirty years before we climb out of this hole we have dug.

Not the best choices lead to where I am. I am not making the greatest choices in getting out. But I am going to make progress. And I am going to get out of this hole. I feel better coming clean and confronting it. Thanks for "listening". I really needed to do this.

Plugging away

April 11th, 2016 at 10:34 am

I'm still surviving day to day. I'm struggling, but getting better. There so much going on and not enough time to do everything else. I need to find a new me-time outlet. Hard when by time I get it, I need to go to sleep. I think the routine is starting to even out though.

Husband took an internship in his new degree he's working towards which took a BIG hit to finances. It'll be a low key spring and summer with using what is at home. Might help us lose weight and meal plan better. We've cut back a lot, so we are going to coast through just fine.

Taxes are done. We finally are getting a decent fridge delivered here in the next few weeks. The Craigslist purchase is on its last legs. Crossing fingers it will last until the new one arrives. It did it's job, so I'm happy. Tax returns are covering that and the cheap-o fence we put in in the backyard to keep my wandering kids in.

Found out a few weeks ago that both my kids are autistic. Youngest might not get services until 2 years old, but they are appealing. Whatever happened to "early intervention"? It's HUGE. Get to them early. They are completely opposite issues though, so I'm struggling to figure out my youngest's keys. When it clicks, it's the best feeling in the world. Patience and keep trying. There is a program that does birth to three, but they are useless in my county. Had such a bad experience with my older that it set back him getting proper help for six months. Won't go through that headache again.

I have found that people a several years younger than me don't seem to have the same imaginary play that I had. I wonder if electronics really took that away from them? When I used to babysit, I had all sorts of ideas. The kids and I were never, ever bored. And you don't need a constant supplies of new toys or craft stuff. Sticks and stones could be anything. Give me several blankets and we are going to be busy for days. These paraprofessionals don't seem to have the same imagination. Makes me feel like I need to go out and buy more and more toys/supplies. It's exhausting. I don't have the energy to take care of the kids, the appointments, work, and teach adults how to imagine things and keep the kids engaged. That's supposed to be their job. End rant. Gah, now I feel old. "Back in my day..." :-p


February 10th, 2016 at 01:08 pm

I'm juggling too much: my older son's therapy at a clinic and starting the in-home therapy, my younger son's interesting issue where he can technically "hear" but doesn't respond to noises very often, trying to fit in work which is its own whole ball of wax, my husband in night classes four times a week while still working full time, housework since I have people coming 5 to 6 days a week, finishing fixer-upper stuff, and then trying to take care of myself. Oh, and my entire family has been sick for half of 2016 already. Like stay home, away from work/school sick. Just awful.

Money-wise, we are ok. I think we're spending just within our limits or slightly above, but I'm not positive. Credit cards are paid in full. We've had student loans come through and my husband's workplace will be reimbursing us here shortly. My HSA is fully funded, and will be used up here shortly.

Goals have fallen to more of the spontaneous daily kind. Almost a "what three things can I get done today". Usually they're simple like flip laundry or take out trash, but it's about all I can do.

I do need to figure out tax stuff. I'm not sure if I need an accountant this year or not. TurboTax and the like doesn't handle my particual situation very well. I feel like I got quadruple the number of tax forms this year than any other year. I guess buying a house plus ACA will do that to you.

2016: The Year to Coast

January 4th, 2016 at 12:55 pm

After the chaos of 2015 with all the changes (job, apartment, fixer upper house, children's health, husband at school), I'm determined that my motto this year is to "coast".

I have no 2015 financial recap. My tracking was horrendous. I do know I've added a LOT more debt, and I'm just going to coast on it for awhile as I have very little brain capacity to do otherwise. As long as I keep working at least part-time, we will only be adding student loan debt (to be paid back by his work upon good grades).


So my goals for 2016 are going to be quite simple:
1) Keep under or close to last month's income
2) Keep everything on the sane side of chaos (aka do just enough chores/activities/organizing/etc)
3) No new debt


My goals for January are:
1) Stay under last month's income (minus extra paycheck) - this will be hard as somehow we spent a third of the budget in the first three days.

2) Pack lunch daily - this will be easier as I have to pack my son's lunch for his autism therapy sessions

3) Try to do something for myself at least once a week - This will be really hard as I'm not guarenteed I'll get time to myself, so it might just have to be a splurge food.


Also, a quick update on my kids: The older has done really well with speech. It's really popping now, so I'm absolutely beyond thrilled. Insurance has paid for everything, which is awesome! He's going into an intense OT/Speech therapy for a month, then we'll transition to an at home therapy with some OT/Speech sessions sprinkled throughout the week. The younger... well, he's walking and happy, but... we don't think he can hear a single thing. So yet another medical thing we are looking into for him. Until the hearing test, I'm upping my sign language skills. He's not latching onto it yet, but I can tell he's liking that I'm working on interacting more in his visual plane. I'm definitely going to be hitting my deductible early. Thankfully that's where my extra paycheck (of the month AND year) went to - the HSA. Have I mentioned that I love HSA's? Because I do. A lot. :-p

EOM coming fast

November 25th, 2015 at 11:36 am

We have spent a good chunk of this month's variable income. I only have $190 some odd dollars left. I was expecting to be higher before we go into this last weekend. We still have to pick up groceries, probably around $75, and fill up on gas on both vehicles, probably around $60 for both. Which will leave us with around $50ish. A lot less than my hope of $100 to $200. We are slightly over spending on groceries, and then I had a few unexpected things pop up that I needed to buy (snow boots for the older, plastic for the windows, etc). Tracking spending has been very useful. It's definitely kept me from spending on frivoulous stuff.

Personally, I am still soda free! It's been a month! I have been drinking coffee daily, but that's only a cup or two. Much easier to limit. Eventually I'd like to get caffeine free, but going from 5+ cans of soda down to none is really, really impressive for me. I've also been doing some sort of stretching or exercising daily, using house work as "weightlifting" or "cardio". Cleaning is coming around as my oldest is in the "make mess" stage. And the garage, due to a minor water leak (need to add more tar around a pipe on the roof), got mostly cleaned out. I think we can finish it this weekend easily.

NaNoWriMo... I'm at a few thousand words, on two different stories. I have good chunks written out in my head, just no time to sit down to type it. Even then, about 1,000 words are handwritten on random pieces of paper. I guess since my point was just to start doing it again, I'm kind of on track. The creative juices are flowing so much that I'm dreaming of my storyland.

In other news, my youngest had a follow up MRI and one of the issues has been mostly resolved! Yay for modern medicine! which he gets to taper off now. :-D His other issue got very slightly worse, but still static and not causing problems yet. There will be more follow ups later. The good thing is that this issue might never cause problems so hopefully it will just always be a watch, wait and see thing. That would be soooo nice.

As for my oldest, he finally has been diagnosed of being on the autism spectrum. It's such a relief because now I'll be getting more tools to help him. Speech has been AMAZING for him, but he still has a long way to go on many things. Luckily he's quite high-functioning, but social and transitions and certain sensory things are slowing him down. They are so optimistic that with getting help early and doing an intensive therapy, that perhaps in a few years, no one will be able to tell that he was ever on the spectrum.

But with this therapy, I might need to transition to part-time/mostly stay at home mom to juggle all the therapy appointments. It will be interesting. Health insurance is the only thing causing problems. My husband's company's health insurance SUCKS, a lot, in cost, access, and navigation. I am paying out the wazoo for mine, but it's GOOD. With GREAT doctors and easy to navigate. Worth every dang penny this year. Looking around now since going part-time would make me lose my insurance. Cobra vs individual vs exchange. If only my husband's work didn't offer, then we could pick what we would need on the exchange and get subsidies. Bleh. There's almost no winning.

As for goals, I'm going to do the same for December: Track spending, work off of last month's income, cut down eating out/vending machines. I even have most of my Christmas shopping done already (had them for a few months). I just need a few little things for stockings and something small for hubby. I might do some handmade gifts for the grandparents with stuff I already have.

Personally, I'm going to keep with no soda, stretching/exercising daily, and.... I'm not sure. Hmmm... I'll have to think about that. Actually, I think I just need to take the time to reflect on 2015 and the upcoming 2016. So many changes have happened and are going to keep happening.

Day Two

November 2nd, 2015 at 01:51 pm

Month is going really well so far! I know it's only half way through day two, but I'm feeling good.

We have our last month's salary figured out, and after all the regular bills (mortgage, phones, car, daycare, allowances, utilities, yearly savings) for the month was subtracted, it left a bit more than $900 left for us to work on variables (groceries, gas, diapers, formula, dog food, etc). Seems very, very doable! I'm hoping to hit under that and have a good $100 to $200 to put into savings. We are starting off well with packing lunch (and dinner on my husband's part) today. And I have enough for lunches all week for me. I'll have to come up with something for hubby the next two days at least. I'm setting up the whiteboard in the kitchen tonight. We spent $17.07 yesterday on door entry rugs. Our new floors were getting very dirty with leaves and rain.

I have been soda free for 9 days!!!! Pretty impressive for me. I've had a few cups of coffee to get over the hump, but even the cravings are finally dropping. Yesterday I raked part of the yard for 30 minutes, so I'm counting that as exercise. Boys and I might have a dance party tonight. I started a bit on NaNoWriMo today. A friend gave me three very random items to start off with because I was stumped, and that became 300 words during my break. It will be an interesting story. Not sure where it will go.

I have a ton of cleaning to do this week. My friend is coming to visit this weekend. I'm so excited, but man, two kids under three really make it hard to keep up with normal cleaning. Plus setting up the guest room for the first time is a lot of work. I had to ask if she gets claustrophobic. Thankfully no. There's still a good chunk of that room that has box stacked ceiling high. If only I could get my basement or garage cleaned out, but that involves some no-kid time, which is a rarity these days between my kid's therapy, work, and husband at school.

Some Goals

October 26th, 2015 at 09:45 am

We haven't slowed the money out faucet yet. So many things have been popping up - sicknesses of everyone, husband's wisdom teeth removal, potty training and a new bed for the two+ year old, a birthday and another coming up, therapy and extra doctors appointments, very little time to grocery shop or meal plan properly... It's all added up again, and I had to pull money from savings. I HATE pulling money from savings.

So hubby and I are going to try to do a few things in November:
1) Live on last month's income
2) Cut down, if not stop, eating out lunches and using vending machines at work
3) Track every penny on a large whiteboard in the kitchen

We are aiming for a very low spending month. I might even leave all my money at home, except a $20 you-forgot-gas-again!? bill for me in the car. I've been on 'E' more than I'd like to admit lately from not paying attention. Hoping to have some leftover to bump up savings.

Personally, I'm going to aim high in November:
1) Quit Soda - I'm almost there already, so it won't be cold turkey this time. What an addiction. Ugh.
2) NaNoWriMo - I'll be happy if I write even a quarter of the requirement though. I have missed writing.
3) Exercise or Stretch (almost) daily - My body needs to regain it's strength. It's still wiped from pregnancy, even though it's been a year-ish already.
4) Chores - I need to start a simple cleaning routine so it won't be so overwhelming come weekend.
5) Clean out garage - We had to scrape the cars' windows this morning. We have a perfectly useable garage, I just need to remove/pick up a LOT of construction stuff.

We'll see. I'm optimistic though. I like cooler weather and no humidity, so I'm feeling energy again! Now if only the day light hours weren't so short!

CC debt gone

September 28th, 2015 at 10:38 am

Seemingly out of no where (or so it felt like), we had enough to pay off both credit cards before interest accrued! Yay for no credit card debt!

Now to make sure we don't put too much on it so we can continue paying in full every month! Tempted to "lock" them up, but we use them for rewards on gas and online shopping. It shouldn't be too hard. We don't eat out much any more now that we have a stove, and that was our biggest variable expense (meaning anywhere from $30 to $toomuch). I did close one of my store cards I never use last week. So nice to have one less thing to manage. We are down to three credit cards (one personal each, and one joint) and two store cards (can't beat Target and Kohls for their card deals). I've always paid in full since something like 2009 when we finally got all our moving/wedding expenses paid off. It was causing me stress to think we weren't going to be able to do that this time.

This next weekend is the last push to get things done on the house before winter - roof, gutters, soffit, fix siding, caulk around windows, etc. All hands on deck style. Crossing fingers, toes, arms, and knees that it doesn't rain this weekend!


September 24th, 2015 at 02:14 pm

I've gone from having paid off a lot of debt (wedding, credit card from cross country moves, school loans, car loans) to being debt free for a few months to having lots of debt again.

I've been in a little bit of denial about it all. But it's been slowly coming to the forefront of my mind. Car loan, Mortgage, Student Loans, Home Improvement Loan, and carrying a credit card balance for the first time this month in YEARS. We are probably at $150k, including mortgage. OUCH. shivers. OUCH.

The house purchase and improvements were so worth it (I can't stress how worth it was for sanity and enjoyment of life), and I think we're almost done. I have to buy roofing materials, but that will be only around $3k (going on home improvement loan). Then we are done with purchases. !celebrate!

Overall plans for each of debts:
Car loan: at 0%, so this is lowest on priority. Around $30k.
Mortgage: already throwing an extra $40 some odd dollars at it a month on autopilot. Around $98k at 3.875%.
Student Loans: husband took out whatever he was offered just to ensure we had enough cash flow for the moment. He should get reimbursed around 75% (up to something) at end of the semester thru his work. I don't remember how much this will end up being. This will hopefully be the only semester we have to take a loan out for, depending on how quick his company is on turn around time.
Home Improvement Loan: This will end up being around $15k at 7.99% for 7 years. I plan to accelerate the pace only after my credit cards are paid in full and we have enough to pay for the rest of the tuition up front each semester. We ended up spending more than expected, but we did some major things that I wasn't thinking we were going to do right away. Good to get it done with now, I guess.
Credit Cards: Still juggling to see if I can pay off the one totally before due date and interest hits. The other will be carrying probably around $3k and we will "slowly" chip at it the next three months. In reality, we'll be throwing whatever we have at it.

Savings wise, we're still good. $3k EF, $1,200 Car fund (insurance, tires, oil changes, etc), plus another $1k in other various cash funds. HSA is starting to be replenished (will have next year's deductible by end of February already in it which is about when I expect to hit the deductible). I'm contributing $125/paycheck to my 401k and husband is contributing somewhere between 6 and 10% to his Roth 401k.

So really, we're actually doing ok. Not stellar, but ok. Just need to get through these next few months and then it'll start going down fast. Or at least it will in my dreams. But I've done it before (gotten out of debt that is), and I can do it again! Takes a few years, but it's totally doable!

Other random news: Speech is going so very well! It's so nice to find something that is finally clicking with him. Here to find out he has trouble blowing out and thrusting out his tongue. Lots to work on. Hopefully insurance will keep upping his speech therapy allotment, and I won't have to pay out of pocket. I'd go gladdy deep into debt for this therapy though because it's making him into a whole different child with being able to communicate better. It might even make our other developmental concerns mute, which would be phenomenal.

Vacation Splurge

August 31st, 2015 at 11:15 am

We went on a long weekend vacation. It was totally worth it, as we visited Ceejay's neck of the woods. I love the state fair, MOA, and the renaissance festival. It was the best time I've had in a long time, coupled with really good friendship and food. Spent a good chunk, but not as bad as our normal trip to the cities. I found an awesome deal on a kitchenette hotel room which was perfect for nap times and picky eaters. Then got the tickets on discount thanks to friends purchasing them in advance for us. I'm hoping to make this vacation a yearly trip.

We are moving officially this weekend. Need to finish a few things in the bathroom, and we are good to go. It'll be nice to live in the house as we put on the finishing touches at our own pace.

Hoping to put the new roof on in the next several weeks. I'll need to call in the relative reinforcements, so I better get that planning going.

I finally have my monthly "set" expenses figured out. Now to figure out my variables. Those will adjust once we actually move. Tomorrow is my first day of tracking, as if we live in the house already. September will hopefully be a frugal month.

Messy Car

August 24th, 2015 at 08:20 am

Came across some forum posting here that said something along the lines of "messy car, messy finance habits". A few people said something along the lines of "so true!" I had never heard that saying before. Then I got in my car, and hmmm.... about that.

Messy car here. And while I'm probably better than quite a few Americans, yup, my finances are feeling really messy these days. Once I can settle (within the next two weeks, pretty please?), there's quite a few "messy" things I need to do. Hoping I can get them done before year end (in no particular order):

- Finalize new budget
- List, prioritize, and budget final house fixes
- Unpack, Declutter*, Organize
- Set up will (and such)
- Check up on retirement
- Set new saving goals
- Winterize the house
- Clean cars

So much to do, so little time these days.

*We moved all of our storage stuff to the house this weekend. Since I couldn't store anything in basement (still needs to be majorly cleaned) or garage (filled with tools and materials), we took up a whole bedroom with boxes and boxes and boxes. I need to do some purging. MAJOR purging.

Short Update

August 11th, 2015 at 01:21 pm

First water/sewer/trash bill arrived. $54.xx. Signed up for auto payments for both that and the electric/gas.

Speech will be starting soon on my oldest. 2 to 3 60-minute sessions a week, at $95/session. Wonder if I can pay with HSA dollars. I'll have to ask, then up my contribution amount. Insurance won't cover anymore sessions. Only got three total covered - pretty sure the evaluations took them.

Husband starts school in a few weeks. Really need to get moved into new house before then.

Lots of money out and debt being taken on, but it feels like everything is clicking into place.

Sarah - Saw your deleted post, but didn't get a chance to respond. Two little kids is HARD on relationships. Look into love languages. It was useful for us to open up meaningful conversation. And be nice to yourself.

House Update

August 5th, 2015 at 02:19 pm

We have officially paid our first mortgage payment. Here is the breakdown of the $850 that went to the bank:

$145.55 Principal
$276.02 Interest
$249.68 Escrow - Taxes
$ 54.84 Escrow - Homeowner's Insurance
$ 37.87 PMI
$ 43.02 Extra to Principal

If we only pay the extra $43/month for the rest of the mortgage and then take what we're paying towards PMI and apply it to the principal when it's done, we'll pay off our mortgage in summer 2039, in 24 years. Ideally, I'd like to up our extra monthly payments by $150 when my husband gets done with school, which would put us at a 17year pay off. Hmm... wonder if I should make it a goal to figure out how to get it gone by year 15. I'll be in my mid-forties then and my kids would be approaching the end of high school. It'd be really neat to be able to head into their college years with a fully paid off house. Provided that we don't move in that time. Food for thought, yes, lots of food for thought...

First electric and gas bill came in at $95.xx. Includes a partial month of A/C, a lot of power tools, work lights, and other big electric pull things along with holes in the structure letting the A/C out (we did keep it off when we could or weren't home). Hoping it won't bump up too high when we move in now that everything is closed up/insulated properly.

Speaking of moving in, I think that we might be able to move in two to three weekends. If not fully move in, at least all our stored stuff moved. We're getting so close!

I haven't had time to do a run down of how much we've spent so far. The spending has definitely slowed down and I'm finally returning the items we don't need, so that's helping. Still have to get a cheap stove, cheap washer and dryer, and trim (eventually). Then we'll do the roof this fall. I've only had $35.xx paid towards interest so far for all our expenses. Hoping that we can make a strong pay off plan at the end of this month. Husband's school bills aren't going to be as large as I expected either. Crossing my fingers that we'll be able to coast easily through the rest of the year!

Money, Honey. Lots 'o Money.

July 22nd, 2015 at 07:07 am

The theme for July: spend, spend, spend.

We are about $11k into our remodel, and I expect to hit $15k to finish the interior. This number doesn't include the roof/gutters/soffit (to be completed this fall). The reason the budget number sky rocketed is that 1) we ended up installing AC which costs about $3k to do it all with parts, labor, and electrician work (which was needed for other things as well), and then 2) we decided instead of salvaging the bathroom, we gutted and are putting in our final bathroom. There was an issue with mold (mild, but enough that I didn't want to risk it with my little ones), really bad plumbing, really strange electrical, and just bad design. Whoomp, up goes the costs by $5k. It'll probably add another four weeks on before we can move in - it's looking like mid-to-late august.

On the kids front, we finally got into a new speech therapy program, but it doesn't start until next week. I got a tour of the facility and I think it will be great. It's so different. Not sure if insurance will cover it, but I think it still will be worth it, even if I have to pay out of pocket. Figuring out speech is so frustrating. Thankfully his comprehension is really good. He understands us and follows directions, but when he tries to convey what he wants... sigh.

I started tracking his words, and at a few months over 2yrs, he has only about 25 words that are correct, 4 "phrases" (they are all combos that he hears all the time, ie: thank you, which could be one word in his head), about 10 more words that aren't pronounced correctly (missing syllables/wrong consonants) or his definition is wrong (ie: says three, means flowers.). I haven't had a new word in awhile, but he has been combining a few words this last week (bye truck, see truck) which is so very NICE, but his vocabulary is still way behind. Looking over my notes for the last six months, while he's slowly gaining, he's lost quite a few words that he doesn't say any more. so it's like add 5, forget 2 each month.

As for my littlest, I think we're done with medical issues until mid-to-late fall when he'll have the follow up visits. It's nice that we have finally slowed down on that front. Hoping that the follow up tests confirm that we did the right treatment and we can go from following up every 6mo to 1+ years.

Oh, and in other news, husband is going back to school this fall. We've been going around and around, but we think this is best for his career path. He's going to keep working and do it at night. He will get partial reimbursement through his work, so I'm hoping it won't hit the budget too hard.

2015 is proving to be a very interesting, spendy year between medical, house, and schooling.

PS: Sara - I just noticed your really long note about speech ideas! Thank you!

Ah, Homeownership

July 1st, 2015 at 01:55 pm

Water in the basement. Stinky subflooring. Trim that shatters.

Luckily though, the water was just from a toilet in the basement (not in a bathroom, just plumbed and put in under the steps). $20 plus my dad to fix. Then tear out all the horribly built paneling, walls, and drop ceiling to get the moldy things out. Yay for a clean unfinished basement! It's so pretty.

The subflooring will be sealed, hoping that gets rid of the poopy smell. Didn't smell it until the carpet was removed, so hoping it disappear with sealing. Trim, we had decided to replace it, albeit was going to do it one room at a time... now it is all at once. Shingles are in bad shape, but not leaking, so we're going to wait for a bit cooler weather this fall and then finish it. Getting estimates for A/C, which means we have to get estimates for electrical (box is full+).

We had upped our fix-it up costs before we signed, so thankfully I'm not thinking about how in the world we are going to pay for all this. I gave myself an ideal budget of $10,000, knowing that $15,000 will be more like it. We also have figured out how we're going to pay it over the next year and some odd months, hopefully keeping overall interest costs to a minimum.

My goal is to get it move-in-able by the end of July. If we make enough progress this long holiday weekend, I'm thinking we'll hit it. If I could spend more than one hour a night at the house (two kids 2yo and under 1yo), that date could be moved up, but family time is so important.

Now that we know our monthly principle, interest, PMI, taxes and house insurance ($806.xx rounded up to $850/mo for automatic extra principle every month), we know that we will be "saving" probably just under $400 a month once we figure out how much water/sewer/trash will be (it was free in apartment). Of course, for the first few years, we'll be turning that extra into fixing the house and yard.

I'm already day dreaming about future projects. Things to do in the next five to ten years - new windows, new siding, maybe bump out this wall, put in a path that way, fence, flowers over here, veggie garden over there...

Total Down Payment plus Closing costs: $8320
Total spent on supplies so far: $504


June 25th, 2015 at 07:56 am

We close on our house today. I am finally starting to feel excited, but I've just been tired and meh about it the last few weeks.

I did a double take on Laura's post about NE's aunt. My aunt, who suffered from early onset of Alzheimer's, passed away that day. Not a pretty end, but at least the actual end was peaceful. It's sad, but I'm so very glad she's finally at peace.

And another family member got admitted to a hospital for some nerve issue two weeks ago. That's been an interesting roller-coaster too, but recovery will be complete shortly.

And my speech therapist was useless for my son (what do you mean I should repeat words multiple times?!? You mean like this, like I've been doing for the last YEAR). She said I was doing everything correctly. (BUT THEN WHY ISNT IT WORKING????) The therapist didn't really try to interact, just sat on the floor and kind of observed. I'm ok with that for the first visit, but subsequent ones, no. I'm trying to get into a different program, but they're full for the summer, and I'm not sure insurance will cover it. But being able to communicate is SO IMPORTANT.

Then there is the standard, teething baby, waking up multiple times a night again.

And work issues popping up.

And. And. And.

My personal money stash has diminished from Starbucks runs. Yes, yes, I know. I could be frugal and make it at home (although, not sure I'd know how to do the frappaccinos). Ain't happening. I'm totally ok with paying for the convenience of having someone else make it, make it pretty, clean up after making it, and give me 5 minutes to relax. I can pay my $4.xx each time for that. It's my blow money anyway, and when it's gone, it's gone. Just makes me thankful that I've been saving it up for awhile and not spending my whole allowance. Gives me breather during times like this.

Oh, and you guys were right. I really, really miscalculated paint costs. I don't need tools of any kind (we have them ALL, sprayer included - Dad used to paint houses to pay his way through college), but primer for interior alone will be about $200. Exterior will have to wait. And I'm not sure that I'll do all the final paint colors before moving in. And appliances, I'm going cheap, "get us by" ones for now, I'll sell them and get the ones I like that fit the space later on after saving.

Sorry. I guess I'm kind of whiny today. Maybe after it's all signed, I'll be in a better mood.

No More Rent

June 5th, 2015 at 07:21 am

Turned in my final rent check this week. It felt great. They managed to find a renter starting mid-June, so I only had to pay a portion. We saved over $1k by moving out to my parents early! I'm sure it will help with the unknown house purchase costs that are bound to pop up.

We've also adjusted our paychecks so our take-home is about $500/month higher. I'm hoarding cash until I get the final numbers. The change in paychecks does mean we aren't putting much into HSA right now or as much into retirement as normal, but the plan is we will only do this for a few months. I'm ok on the HSA as we've hit our deductible for the year already (actually, we've hit three different deductibles in the last 6 months). After we get the initial new house costs figured out, we'll go back and revise. Ideally, I'd like to get my next year's deductible saved before December. And retirement - always a good thing to do.

Speaking of retirement, it's been quite a hassle to get my old 401k rolled over into my new one. HR, when bad, is bad. They had my wrong social. I always thought that that was one thing NOT to mess up. Sigh. And THEN, spouse has to sign a form, with a notary present. It makes sense, but what a headache.

We are in the three week window until closing. I both want it to crawl and to speed up. I think buying your first house is kind of life changing. In a good way for me- I feel like I'm coming out of a fog, but it might just be that it has been long enough since giving birth, too. Plus sun. Sun always helps.

Paid New House Expenses:
$ 1,000 Earnest Money (goes towards eventual down payment)
$ 300 Lease Break
$ 80 Moving boxes and extra gas
$ 325 Inspection Fee
$ 425 Mortgage Application Fee (goes towards eventual closing costs)
=$ 2,130

Money saved:
$ 26 May internet
$ 43 June internet
$ 47 May utilities
$ xx June utilities (up to $115/mo)
$ 25 June pet fee
$ 667 June rent
$ 60 May/June gas from carpooling savings
$ 164 Renters insurance refund
=$1032 to $1147 Saved!

Anticipated expenses (approximate numbers):
$ 4,200 Down payment (in addition to earnest)
$ 2,900 Closing Costs (in addition to mortgage app. fee)

Potential fixer upper costs
$ 3,000 Roofing materials (simple small single story roof and gutters, work done by selves)
$ 800 Appliances (used stove, fridge, washer and dryer)
$ 500 Doors and locks (exterior doors need to be replaced, not just re-locked)
$ 300 Window AC units (craigslist)
$ 200 Bathroom repairs (grout, tub replacement, shower head, caulk)
$ 200 Paint (walls, ceilings, trim, cabinets, potentially exterior)
$ 500 Misc other updates, move in expenses

Lots Going On

June 1st, 2015 at 07:51 am

I realized that I had written an April update, but forgot to post it. The short of April was:

Medical stuff for both of my kids got busy, then quieted down, then got busy again. I am tired of navigating the medical world. Jump through this hoop, to land in a mud pile, now wait until the bus passes, then oh, here's another hoop and wait, your shoe's untied. It feels like Frogger. Fly eating, crocodiles, and all.

I tried Mint.com, but hated it. Absolutely hated it. I didn't like that it dealt with posted date instead of the date I actually spent the money. And categorizing things was cumbersome for me. I have a very different idea of how I budget things. I'm going back to my manual entry into Quicken.

As for my April goals - Didn't stay in budget (ate out more than I should have and spent a LOT on gas), went back up to 4 a day on soda (major fail!), made my weight goal (barely), de-cluttering was so-so.


Now onto a not-so-quick for May:

Well.... we're buying a house. A fixer upper, of sorts. Kind of ugly, needs a lot of paint and a new roof within a year. But other than that, it's liveable right now. Eventually the bathroom needs to be redone as the mid-century pink tiles isn't really fashionable, but it functions!

Taking into account the extra utilities we don't currently pay (trash, water), PMI (which would be about $4,000 over the life of it if I don't prepay), house insurance, and escrow - we still will save over $300/month compared to renting. Fixing the roof, paint, and fixing a few odds and ends will give us instant equity (by a lot!).


In preparation of all these initial costs, we've moved out of the apartment back to the parent's house for about two months. "Broke" our lease for $300 which they are actively re-renting and it is looking like we won't have to pay most of June's rent (crossing fingers that the application goes through)! We are saving already by dropping internet and utilities will decrease/go away shortly. Husband and I are carpooling and curtailing eating out and other expenses. I'm pinching money like crazy to pay for all the initial fixes we will do before moving in.


After reading about My English Castle organizing, I'm reading up about Marie Kondo and am half way through her book. It's really interesting. I'm going to make my husband read it, as I think he will dig it even more than me. While I can't do much about my stuff right now as it is all stored in a one car garage, I can deal with my clothes I have out and try out her folding. Ideally, when we move stuff to the new house, I'm going to "does it bring joy" test before bringing anything into the house. There is so much stuff!

Plus, I'll finally be in neighbourhood where we can finally have a garage sale!


Oh, I just remembered - I want to document all the money I'm spending on purchasing and fixing up the current house.
Paid New House Expenses:
$ 1,000 Earnest Money (part of down payment)
$ 300 Lease Break
$ 80 Moving boxes and extra gas
$ 325 Inspection Fee
$ 425 Mortgage Application Fee (part of closing costs)
=$ 2,130

Money saved:
$ 26 May internet
$ 43 June internet
$ 47 May utilities (usually around $115/mo)
$ xx June utilities (usually around $115/mo)
$ 25 June pet fee
$ xx June rent (major cross fingers!)
$ 60 May/June gas from carpooling savings
$ 164 Renters insurance refund
=$365 to $1730

Anticipated expenses (approximate numbers):
$ 4,200 Down payment (additional to earnest)
$ 2,900 Closing Costs (additional to mortgage fee)

Potential fixer upper costs
$ 3,000 Roofing materials (simple small single story roof and gutters, work done by selves)
$ 800 Appliances (used stove, fridge, washer and dryer)
$ 500 Doors and locks (exterior doors need to be replaced, not just re-locked)
$ 300 Window AC units (craigslist)
$ 200 Bathroom repairs (grout, tub replacement/fixing, shower head, caulk)
$ 200 Paint (walls, ceilings, trim, cabinets, potentially exterior)
$ 500 Misc other updates, move in expenses

Quick Update

April 15th, 2015 at 07:22 am

A coworker shocked me when she said we are four months into the year already. I know April = fourth month. Not surprising, to most. Seriously though, where did this year go??? It's hard to keep up with all the appointments for my littlest (his medical issue checkups) and now appointments for my oldest (speech delay). I've been on this roller coaster of medical appointments for four straight months. No wonder I'm tired. Hoping after this round, the appointments will take a break for my littlest. And hoping they can help with my oldest, but I'm not impressed by the evaluators, so I'm sceptical. I've had such good luck with doctors of my littlest, it's just weird that I'm having such bad luck with my oldest.

On the goals front:
1) In budget, so far. We've been too tired to do much, even thinking about ordering food takes too much energy. Lots of cereal and butter noodles in our house.
2) I hate soda. I lasted two full weeks, and then stress took over. It tastes awful, but it's a simple stress reliever and a little energy boost. I'm trying to cut back down (did two cans today, goal is one today) Hoping to be soda free again in a day or two. So this might be a half-win by the end of the month.
3) I'm not sure where I'm at with my weight. I think I'm maintaining, but I'm bloating with the soda. I'll jump back on the weight watchers wagon today. Tracking makes a big difference.
4) Well, despite my exhaustion, I've started a few parts of a few decluttering goals as I get a second or two. 4-1: I've started a pile of the maternity clothes. I need to go through one more drawer, and then box them up. 4-4: the floating paper pile is a LOT smaller. 4-11: hoping to get to good will/half price this weekend.

Echoing New Mom Yucks

March 26th, 2015 at 12:21 pm

There is so much I should be doing, but I just do not have the energy. I don't remember being quite like this for my first born, but I think that maybe that was because he was born in the late spring and I had the summer to recoup. My second, being born in the late fall, coupled with the winter weather and dark... maybe that's what is causing the "hardship" I'm having lately. And, sleep, like Chloe said in her post. Sleep is always lacking (those 4 month sleep regressions hit the hardest!). And no time, like Sarah has said, to really conquer anything without having a demanding little one take over.

Those few days this month where we could get out in the sun made such a difference, but then, typical for the Midwest, it was just a tease. Back to COLD and GREY. I cannot wait for summer! But then comes the humid heat and mosquitoes...


After my last post, and a comment by snafu, it got me thinking of trying to find the real reason my motivation is lacking on saving for a larger down payment. Logically, I really get it, but I cannot get my emotions behind it.

I think part of it is that I am still coming to terms of "failing". I was unable to secure a house in our budget in our area in our time frame. Then with my littlest's medical issues, well, we settled for a nicer apartment instead. Now we are under contract for a year, but realistically I see us staying in the apartment for two+ years (NEVER moving in February again). We will move before my older hits school. I do not like this school district.

I've always wanted to own my own home. A tiny starter home with a little yard would be perfect. A live-in-able fixer-upper ideal. I love houses and I love seeing the bones behind the ugly shag carpet and strange layout. There's so much you can do to fix up a house, that can turn it from a "shack" into a decent home that can be sold later for a profit.

Timing just wasn't right. I know that, and in a way I'm glad that we didn't get a house. I just have to come to terms with it. I changed jobs, my littlest has some medical issues, and now my older has some milestone issues. I would not have had the time or energy to deal with a new house. Maybe in a few years...

But I was dreaming for so long (8+ years), and I came thisclose to making it happen at the end of last year... bleh. Just BLEH.


Anyway, onto something concrete - GOALS. I know there is a bit left in March, but I'm logging my April goals early, while they are in my head. If I can complete two of these, I'll feel happy. Any more than that, I'll be beyond thrilled.

Goal 1: STAY IN BUDGET. I will do this in April. Period. The end. I have calculated out that we will have $945 to spend on our variable expenses (groceries, gas, dog food, diapers, formula, dining out, household supplies). Goal is to hit. Extra bonus if we can put any of that to savings. Side note: hoping our electric will be less too since March was warmer than February, and if so, leftover will also go to savings. I love when there are "leftovers".

Goal 2: NO SODA. I haven't had a soda for 48 hours. Holy cow is it tough. But I can do it! It will save the wallet, my health, and my teeth.

Goal 3: LOSE FOUR POUNDS. I'm no longer breastfeeding, so my weight has stabilized. Thankfully it hasn't gone back up since my initial baby weight drop. I've joined weight watchers again. It worked last time to lose those last ten pounds. Makes me cranky (diets suck), but I only need to do it for the three month introductory period, and then I get fully reimbursed by my health insurance. I need to lose about 14 pounds to be within my 10-pound window where my body looks and feels good.

Goal 4: DECLUTTER. Hit 3 out of 11 (!) subgoals listed below. I figure one every week and a half will be more than enough work.
~Subgoal 4-1: Pack away maternity clothes. They don't fit. They don't flatter. But I do not want to pay for maternity clothes if we decide we want number three in a few years.
~Subgoal 4-2: Hang pictures in living and dining room. Decide what I like, hang it, or get rid of it.
~Subgoal 4-3: Get rid of the extra electronics. I have three printers (1.5of which work), two dead laptops, and other random electronic stuff - including a lot of cords. Then there is our current computer that I'm replacing. I need to figure out what is what and get rid of it!
~Subgoal 4-4: Sort paper that is floating around. I started to deal with it, but then we moved. And holy cow, paper stack monsters are eating everything in our office. I had just shoved in random boxes just to pack in the short time we had. Then I just pulled out and stacked when I unpacked. I'm limiting this to the paper that isn't currently in boxes, because...
~Subgoal 4-5: Sort boxed paper. I have one large file box, three normal file boxes, two small file boxes, and two small tubs. Maybe more. (shivers.) I'm not moving it all again. Time to PURGE.
~Subgoal 4-6: Sell dishes. I need to finish unpacking, take pictures, and sell the dishes that I don't want and will never use. They are heavy, so it will have to be either local craigslist/facebook or consignment. Packing costs would be crazy. I also don't want to move these ever again.
~Subgoal 4-7: Organize craft drawers. This is limited to the 8 rubbermaid craft drawers I have. I need to sort them and clean them out so that I can...
~Subgoal 4-8: Organize craft tubs. I have 8, yes, EIGHT large rubbermaid tubs full of craft supplies. I don't even know what is in there. Some I'll want to stash for future kid projects, but most can be TOSSED.
~Subgoal 4-9: Unpack the last three cardboard boxes. I have no clue what's in them. Hoping they can be tossed.
~Subgoal 4-10: Sort other tubs. I have something like 7 rubbermaid tubs of misc randomness. I have no clue what I will find in there. I think a few hold smaller boxes within the box just to make moving easier.
~Subgoal 4-11: Goodwill and Half-Price Books. Take the two large garbage bags to Goodwill. Sell the box of books at Half-Price Books.

Bit the Bullet

March 24th, 2015 at 09:31 am

Well, we ended up buying a computer. We got a cheap (but rather decent) desktop for $300 total. I won't have to pay for anything else, transferring over the anti-virus, using one of my Office365 downloads, and re-downloading Quicken. All I think I will move over will be pictures and a few word/excel documents. I want to keep this computer clean.

This expense and an unexpected weekend travel (gas and a little eating out) puts me over our goal of keeping our discretionary costs under $1,000 for the month. We have the room from tax refunds to go over, but we won't have that extra padding for long. I vow in April to keep it in line.

By the way, I'm finding the motivation to save is a LOT harder than the motivation to get out of debt. We have decent emergency funds that I'm comfortable with (a human one, a small pet one, and an ok vehicle one), we have enough for a small down payment on a cheap house. But really, we should strive to hit the 20% down mark. It's easier to spend to "refuel" the things we've put off for so long than to save more, especially since we don't have the flexibility to save at our previous level. Which I'm finding is a motivation buster in itself.

Or maybe it would be better to throw money at our 0% van loan? Trick me into paying off "debt". Although that makes me cringe, because my Capital One 360 accounts make me money. Actually, I don't think I could stomach that idea. Weird... And in all honesty, we're talking about maybe $125/month in the end - significant, but really not life changing at this point.

So, how do you get motivated to save more?

Ouch. Spent.

March 13th, 2015 at 09:34 am

Well, I thought February was going to end on a nice, quiet spending note, and that I was going to start March off right. BUT...

Everyone in the house, plus the kids' daycare provider, was sick. There was two weeks of sickness in my house. It was awful. Just awful.

So, money was spent on medicine, humidifier, caffeine (so I could keep going to take care of everyone else), fast food since we couldn't grocery shop or cook. It was... just OUCH.

And then I had a planned trip to IKEA to get the last few things we needed for the apartment. I think I'm finally done with that task. WHEW.

But ouch. Spent money. GONE.

This weekend we'll go grocery shopping to replenish our empty cupboards and I'm going to a local consignment sale. Not to purchase ANYTHING, but to see how it is laid out/works. The group has a few different arenas - baby, craft, household. And I was thinking about putting some of my stuff up for sale. Seems easier, even if I only get a percentage, than trying to list things one-by-one on facebook/craigslist. They have a choice to donate or pick-up when it's done. I'd donate just to be done. I have soooo much clutter. It needs to go.

So, for the rest of the month, it's tightening up the wallet. Groceries, Diapers, and Gas. That's it. (Really, Tarwalker, THAT IS IT.)

A kink into this idea - our home computer is dying, fast. It's a bad computer to begin with and is band-aided already. I mean, it's so bad, it runs Vista. Yes, VISTA. *shivers*. Plus the fan is dying, the hard drive makes feints as if it won't work much longer, among other things. We're in discussions on what we need for home. It's hard as we both work in the IT arena and are spoiled at work. But we don't use the computer much at home. Not sure if it is because it is so bad, or if it is because we really don't need it at home. So the argument back and forward between a cheapy to do basic browsing and banking or a higher end one to someday be able to work from home and use those heavy programs. Ah, the pros and cons for both.

I'd like to see how much longer we can inch by on it, but we are both yelling at it whenever we have to go on it. Most of the time one or two restarts are needed. That is, if it even decides to start up again. Thank goodness we have everything backed up. It's just not going to wake up one day.

Getting Easier

February 20th, 2015 at 08:35 am

Strangely enough, once I wrote about my mini-goal lesson mid-week, I haven't made nearly as many excuses. I think actually only one since the last post.

And that was for going out and buying a new high chair/booster seat. My littlest is approaching solid foods fast. Plus, he doesn't like sitting in his bouncy while we eat (wants to sit on one of our laps), so I was thinking we need to include him at the table. Luckily I stopped myself before running out to the nearest store and picking something up. He's really not ready, and won't be for a few weeks.

Small win, but very satisfying. I think this mini-goal was one of the best things I could have done in order to stop the out-pour of money. I'm proud of myself, a feeling I haven't had in awhile. No money out since I started the mini-goal besides that tank of gas I knew I needed. :-)

Partway Mini-Goal Lesson

February 18th, 2015 at 12:24 pm

I'm not even quite halfway through my mini-goal time period, but I've definitely learned something over the last two+ days. I make up a lot of excuses:
-I got up four times in the night, I deserve Starbucks.
-Kids had a bad morning so I didn't get breakfast, got to run through McDonalds.
-I solved a tricky work problem, a sub doesn't sound bad.
-Running late and husband didn't follow meal plan, so I should just pick up fast food on way home.
...And so forth.

Luckily, every time I mentally made an excuse, I recognized it and squashed it. I haven't spent a dime yet. I really don't spend that much normally, but depriving (using term loosely) seems to amplify it. Really showing that I was actually having an issue with it. I think the toughest part is realizing how often I do it and recognizing WHY.

It's almost as if I make myself out entitled to get these "little" things. Tired, buy something. Stressed, buy something. Need a victory, buy something. Usually fast-food related. Not healthy mentally or physically.

At the very least, it is something to ponder. I'll need to come up with a new stress/celebratory thing. That in itself is hard. Food has always been a comfort, convenience, and a reward thing.


February 16th, 2015 at 02:06 pm

First off, thank you for all your help on my last post. At this point, I'm leaning towards the donate "just to get it gone now" route. I haven't gotten through much of my unpacking, just kid stuff (most of it I still need since they are so close in age) and kitchen. Although, I do have an extra set of dishes and some once-a-year fancy dish displays that I might Craigslist or Facebook (if I can figure out my city selling page). Let me just say: you got to love wedding registries for making you think you need things you don't.

My mini-goal for this week is going to be really simple: Not to spend a dime other than those bills already paid and gas. I'm hoping it will help slow the out-pour of money associated with the costs of moving. Although, some purchase have been simply because of convenience and some because we are finally actually spending. It was like a flood-gate opened. I don't think we went too overboard (still under my original estimate), but if we don't slow down now, it won't take much more to surpass the budget.

I alternate between thinking that this mini-goal will be really easy or really hard. Easy because I really don't have anything I need or even really want to get. We have all the apartment stuff we need. We did a diaper/formula run this weekend. And we have a meal plan through Sunday and groceries are stocked.

Yet, it will be hard because I got so used to in the last three weeks going out at lunch to pick up these few things, or those few things, or fast food because the kitchen wasn't put together enough to pack lunch, or Starbucks because, well- two under two, enough said.

So, that's my mini-goal. No spending (except that tank of gas I will need mid-week) until Sunday when we will grocery shop again.

Full disclosure: I'm not including my $25 Whole Foods run this morning as it was the only time I would be on that side of town in the next several weeks and I needed to get some things I can't get at our normal grocery store and some of the items were ones I picked up for my parents. So it's just "not there" for these purposes. Plus, I came up with my mini-goal idea on the way back. (Excuses, excuses, I know...) Maybe a better way to define this mini-goal time frame would be starting at 10am Monday until grocery shopping Sunday.


February 6th, 2015 at 08:17 am

I have way too much stuff in my new apartment. There's not room and we don't need a lot of it. A bunch was stored from my move from high school to college, and more was stored after we moved back into my parents, so I really didn't know what or how much I had.

I won't have a problem letting go of items this time, I just don't have space and don't want to move it all again. My piles are going to be shrunk and fast. When I get rid of things, I'm typically am a toss or donate type of person, but we have some items that we could probably make a little money on and use it towards the down payment.

My problem is really summed up in: How do you decide whether to donate or sell? I am very good at knowing what to toss and what to donate, but the donate vs sell is difficult to me.

Do you use the time-factor to decide? With two little-little ones and full time jobs, I really don't have a whole lot of time to spare for researching best prices and post and re-post. It almost seems counter-productive to me for what cash we could get. It's not like selling a big-ticket item like a car. It seems easier to just pile it up and donate it all. Not that easier is better, or is it at this stage of my life?

Then, if you do decide to sell, how do you decide where to sell it (Craigslist, EBay, elsewhere)? Do you have any tips on how to sell effectively? Or even find the best prices to list it at? And how do you deal with bartering? I'm a "get rid of it now" kind of person so tend to not push for a higher price, but I know bartering is a big thing. I would just save it all to garage sale it come summer, but I'm in a large apartment complex so that's out of the question and don't have any local family/friends that live in a town to hold a garage sale.

It's so confusing to me, even though it should be a simple concept.


As a side note- I know I'm horrible at not commenting or even replying on comments, but I really enjoy everyone's input and blog posts. I do try to keep up with reading everyone's posts and really enjoy hearing everyone's stories.

So, here's a quick blanket "Thank You" to the SA community. You all rock!

This, That, and The Other Thing

February 5th, 2015 at 07:21 am

Well, I officially ended one job and went onto another. It was a bitter sweet several days. I'm still trying to work through the guilt of leaving behind some really awesome people and some tasks undone, but I'm so much happier with my new job, my tasks, my coworkers, and the flexibility it's giving me.

In fact, I'm so glad about the flexibility because I've had to take off so much work these last few weeks. My littlest had a few follow up appointments and an unexpected appointment because I don't think the medicine is working as well on one part of his issue. They're not concerned quite yet, but we need to keep an eye on it, so more appointments. Still so grateful for a fully funded HSA.

The Other Thing:
We found an apartment that allows large dogs (so rare!), toured it, applied, got it, and moved within a week. Well, it actually was more like a week and a half because we got hit with a really bad snow storm on our moving day, so we had to do several mini-van loads over several days and one U-Haul of furniture the day after.

We've only stayed there two nights so far, but the little ones and dog are adjusting surprisingly well. It's making that part much easier on me. I made sure to set up their bedroom first, with all the decorations and toys almost in the same spots as their old bedroom. The dog, she's a little clingy and a bit nervous when it looks like we are leaving, so we haven't left her alone by herself yet. We have been taking her back with us to my parents when I drop the kids off there for "daycare" with their grandmother. I'm hoping to ease her into it over the weekend.

I'm not sure how much we've spent getting set up so far. That's a project for this weekend, once we can dig out of the insane amount of boxes we have in a little space. I did pick up some cleaning supplies and other misc things before the move since we have had a joint household with my parents for a loooooong time. Then paid for the U-Haul, and some misc things since. I have a feeling we'll have a list of things to get this weekend.

And then we still have to do a major grocery shopping spree. I'm not looking forward to that part. I might have to do that without kids so I can take the time to get it done right and really think about what we need/use instead of what is standard to have in a pantry.

I'm hoping by the end, we won't have spent more than $1,000 for moving, setting up stuff, and groceries. I have budgeted twice that much, since I really don't remember everything we had and put in storage these last several years. It would be nice to stock that extra away into savings for a someday down payment on a house. I don't think I would want to live in an apartment long-term, or at least not in the school district it's in once they hit school age.

I think that's it for now. I will have to come up with some new goals once I get more settled and figure out what our new utilities will cost.

About those changes...

January 12th, 2015 at 05:54 pm

Hello 2015! I'm joining those here who are so very happy 2014 is over.

In the past three weeks, we've had quite a few changes.

There were some medical issues found in my littlest. Thankfully, the issues are not life threatening, and won't be since we caught it so early. In fact, my littlest will probably only have to deal with this for a few years, at most. It was a test heavy few weeks though to make sure all bases were covered, including two where he was put under anesthesia. Considering he's only a few months old, it was kind of scary from a mom's standpoint. Unfortunately, there will be several of those tests that will have to be repeated to make sure treatment is working.

I've never been more thankful for my health insurance and my stubbornness to have a fully funded HSA a year in advanced. Due to giving birth on the fall, we wiped out 2014 deductible, and now since my deductible restarted in December, we've probably hit it within two days of my pediatrician thinking something was off.

The other big change was that I quit my job. While I have lots to say about it, I think for internet purposes, this quote serves best: "There comes a time where you have to stop crossing oceans for people who wouldn't jump a puddle for you." The next two weeks are going to be really tough as I wrap it up.

Thankfully, I have a very flexible job doing something I like lined up already, and my husband just gained stability in his job, so this won't be too rough of a transition.

I'm counting my blessing every day, that's for sure.

Here comes 2015!

December 21st, 2014 at 11:10 am

Hello all! It's been a crazy year+ since I last posted. In that time...

We had another child! We're now a family of four plus a golden retriever. My little boys are already great friends, and my mom is their "daycare provider", which is working out really well for everyone. Pregnancy was really rough, so I feel like I lost most of 2014. Let's just say pregnancy and I are NOT friends. Not planning on doing that anytime soon, if ever again. Finances this past year took a back seat, but...

We paid off our first car! And all of our student loans (no debt!)! And then bought a new van (more debt! at 0% though)! And have a house down payment (soon to have way more debt!)! Not bad for pretty much ignoring life while either working or being miserable on the couch.

We've been house hunting for a few months, but in our price range in our area, there aren't a whole lot of choices besides small and fixer upper. Both of which I'm looking forward to having. Small will keep the clutter down (I hope), and I love fixing up houses/doing construction (I have lots of experience, except in electrical, which my brother/dad have). We've bid on a few different houses, but each one has had a weird fluke happen and we didn't get them. C'est la vie.

So, I have some simple goals for 2015:

1) Continue to save until we have a house. I have enough for down payment and closing costs, but I would love to have a larger cushion for the fixing up so that some of it won't have to go on a credit card temporarily.

2) Once we have a house, I want to at least round up our payment to the nearest $50 increment. Maybe more depending on what the actual payment ends up being, and how much we need in order to fix the house.

3) I also would like to increase our emergency fund from $3,000 to $5,000 this next year. Maybe even get it to my ideal of $6,000, but we'll see how many fixes our new house will end up needing.

They seem to be pretty simple goals, but I have a hunch that 2015 is going to be a year of changes for us, so I'm going to be pretty flexible. I've learned that one has to be with a toddler and an infant in the house. Once we get our living situation figured out, I'm going to have other goals to add in, but it really depends on what the future brings. No use setting up goals that won’t work with our "new" life.

Hope all is well and that everyone has a great holiday season and a wonderful New Year!

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