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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!

Hello, Credit Cards, Goals

September 26th, 2013 at 05:53 pm

Hello! It's been awhile. I've learned that having a baby sure takes up a lot of time. We had our baby boy a few months back. I was back to work within a month and my husband has joined the stay-at-home dad club. I managed not to go crazy on spending for baby. Well I did have some clothes shopping sprees, but even those were on deeply discounted items and I think I only spent $100 max over a few months. I did end up having to buy formula, but not without a lot of work trying to get my supply up (grumbles). It just wasn't meant to be. DS is such a big boy (in the 97percentile for height!) and is already trying out solids. So far we're making all his food at home. It is so easy to mush bananas or pears or...

Anyway, I came on here for some advice. We're going to be spending $3k to $4k in the next month or so, and I was wondering if anyone has advice for a credit card we could put it on to get rewards or cash back? We have a flight next year for a wedding, so we could use travel rewards, but cash back is always nice too. No worries, I do have the money to pay it in full, but I thought I'd make this unavoidable expense into a plus. Any thoughts?

I have been thinking about new goals for awhile as I actually wanted to do September goals, but I never got around to it. I think October's goals will be as follows:

1) Eat out only twice this month as a family - Eating out is such an escape for us. But lately it seems like prices at restaurants just keep sneaking up. Not worth it, especially with a little one in tow.

2) Pack all lunches - This one is getting easier now that I have a stash of noodle bowls at work for when I forget my lunch.

3) Don't spend on non-essentials - This one is hard. Shopping has become a stress reliever. I need to find a new activity. I've been reading, walking, and playing with the baby, but shopping involves going out, browsing, daydreaming. I will have to think on this. It's not that I spend a lot when I do this, but I always come home with something we don't -really- need.

4) Work out what I want as a career - I've been thinking about this for several months. I'm under-utilized in my current job and am getting bored. I'm busy, but bored. I hear squeaking of changes in the company, so I think a good time to switch might be coming. I'm not sure if it's switching companies or getting more/new education to switch jobs... sky's the limit, really.

Lunches, Baby Stuff

March 17th, 2013 at 02:23 pm

Sorry, itís been quite awhile (again) since I last wrote. Pregnancy sure takes a lot of energy. I did make my short term goal in January (eating out less than 25% of the time for lunch). I also kept up at the 75% mark of packing lunches for February.

Right now in March, Iím at 70% packed, 30% eat out. This last week was what brought me down as I ate out all week. I didnít want to be in the office and the time shift was killing me. We will be going grocery shopping here in a few hours so I can get some simple, grab-and-go meals for the next week or two.

In other news, we sold the junker in prep for my husband to be the stay-at-home dad. It just needed too many fixes that would add up fast. Weíve also refilled the emergency fund (partially depleted from junker purchase last year), puppy fund (wiped out from puppyís surgery), and the car fund (wiped out from junker). Woot!

We also have quite a bit saved up for baby stuff. We have a few of the basic things. I will just need to get the first-aid and grooming kit, plain/neutral clothing for the first month or so, the stroller that weíve drooling over, and I think that is all we -need- pre-baby still. Iím sure there will be other stuff we will need or want to buy, but as of the moment, Iím not too worried about it. And even if we bought everything on the baby registries, we have enough cash. But some of that stuff we put on as a mild-want, even though we donít need it.

Been easy to not eat out

January 19th, 2013 at 01:14 pm

I have found itís been really easy to not go out to eat for lunch, since Iíve been home sick for several days. Unfortunately, that means Iím using up all my sick/vacation time that Iíve been stockpiling for maternity leave. My work does allow us to borrow vacation time, and of course I can always take unpaid time. In my case, Iíll probably borrow some, and depending how much I have left, Iíll start easing back in earlier than later.

Thereís only 9 more work days left in the month. I wonder if I can get by with eating out for lunch only once in those 9 days. Thatíd be pretty awesome.

Short Term Goal

January 9th, 2013 at 06:09 pm

Iíve decided that I wonít be able to eat out during lunch as much once the baby comes. Weíll have a decrease in amounts for our personal allowances, so I wonít have that much to spend (like $10/week little). I figured I should get used to it now. No reason to be shell shocked when it needs to happen. Plus then I can save some of my allowance now for future use.

There are 22 work days in January for me. I want to start packing at least 75% of the time. That means I have to pack 17 lunches and only go out 5 times. So far Iím doing well. I only have eaten out once, on Monday. I was so tired from last weekend that I forgot to pack or grab anything as I ran out of the door.

Iím also going to try to track my grocery expenses for the lunches to see how much it really costs compared to some of my $2 or $3 eating out options (bagel sandwich or salad bar)

2013 Check In

January 5th, 2013 at 10:01 am

I have paid off the second of the two student loans I wanted to get paid off before baby came! Woot! My EF is a little smaller than Iíd like, but it will pop back up here in the next month or two. And itís still a very comfortable amount, even if it doesnít grow. Its funny how thereís an arbitrary dollar amount that makes me feel really safe, but if I drop below a bit, I start to get antsy.

After this last payment clears, I will set up auto pay on Student Loan A. Itís only going to be $175/month instead of $400 to begin with because I had increased my HSA contribution to cover the baby health expenses and with the SS tax break disappearing, I have no clue what my new paycheck amount will look like. Iíd rather be safe than sorry. Iíll adjust later.

Iíve also managed to only buy a $3 cute onesie so far for the babe-to-be. Iíd say Iím doing really well not buying things yet. Iíll get there eventually.

Iím starting to get things ready for maternity leave at work. I know Iím going to struggle with wanting to be home, but also with wanting to go back to work. I admit, I like working, a lot. I donít like doing nothing. But I also really like kids and babies. Hopefully, it wonít be that much of an internal struggle. My husband is staying at home with the baby, so if I do start sneaking back into work early part time, it wonít be that big of a deal, and might be an easier transition for him.

Catching Up

November 4th, 2012 at 05:00 pm

Hello all! Thought Iíd pop on and give an update. Itís been a long time since Iíve updated my numbers and a lot has happened (and yet, not happened).

We are still living at home with my family. We looked at houses this summer and fell in love with one in our price range (foreclosed ranch), got pre-approved, put in an offer, was told there were multiple offers, went up to our maximum amount that I decided we could afford and that we thought the house was worth, and still didnít get it. If the internets is right, the house sold for less than our original bid which makes me wonder what kind of schemes these banks of foreclosed houses do. All I can think of is perhaps the purchasers had cash to pay for it.

We were bummed, but then we decided maybe we should start aggressively paying down debt and saving up money so that we can bump up into the next price range where instead of 7 houses (4 of which ought to be torn down) in the town we like, weíd have 25+ to look at. We calculated that we could be in a new house by early 2014, debt (except mortgage) free.

So we used our vacation fund, part of our emergency fund, and some cash we had on hand to purchase a $2,000 ďjunkerĒ car so my husband would have transportation to a part-time job. We didnít know what kind of job he was going to get, and while I said I wanted him to have a job before we got the car, he thought he needed a car to get to the interviews/jobs.

Well, the car came first and he got a delivery driving job, which meant he took the good gas mileage, reliable car since his entire job is based on the transportation. I got to drive the junker, well, that is until I began having problems with the junker. It would work for about two and a half weeks with no problem, and then it refused to back out of the parking spot or died at a stop sign. My brother always came to the rescue, but it looks to be a computer problem.

In the end, my husband and my immediate family donít want me driving the junker because Iím expecting our first child. (Yes, Iím pregnant! Iím due in spring. Iím so exhausted and queasy still, but weíre so excited!) So now our plan is to have my husband drive the junker until it dies, and once it dies, heíll be done working. Heíll be the stay-at-home dad, so in the end, it should work out. I just hope it lasts to February.

And now, onto my goals: I think Iím going to ďabandonĒ my 2012 goals that I hit earlier in the year and then backtracked on to get the junker. Iím not going to do 2013 goals because in all honesty, I can only guess what the baby expenses are going to be and my guessing will be rather off until I get a few months under my belt, I think.

So my new ďBefore Baby GoalsĒ are as follows:
1) Pay off Student Loan 1 Ė We actually paid it off this week!

2) Pay off Student Loan D Ė This should be done by March at the latest if we go at the same speed as Student Loan 1 (providing the junker keeps on driving).

3) Setup auto-payment of $400/month for Student Loan A Ė This will make the payoff on our LAST student loan (ever, if I have a say in it) December 2014, which is just 6 months after our (good) car loan payoff (0% loan, not going to pay off early). Then, 2015 can be the time to build up savings for a down payment, and voila! House by time the baby is 2. A year+ later than expected, but that is ok.

4) Buy minimal items for the newborn Ė I have been purging since the house we had liked was rather small and cozy. I like not having so much stuff. They seem to market so much junk for babies/toddlers these days that it is pretty crazy the amount of things people have for such a little being. It really just needs a safe place to sleep, diapers, clothes, and food in the beginning. Iím sure my thoughts will change on this as my pregnancy progresses and marketing gets even deeper engrained in me, but I can still hope.

5) Survive baby money chaos Ė I have no clue how to begin to even estimate what our new expenses will be. Iím good on the medical front (fully funded HSA for our deductible), but diapers? Clothing? Formula (if breast feeding doesnít work for me)? So yes, Iím just hoping to survive it.

Well, thatís it. Iíve been trying to keep up reading everyoneís blogs, but it seems like the last several months just flew by in a flash. I hope I can start popping on here more frequently now.

Job Update, Autopay, Summer Spending

July 1st, 2012 at 03:31 pm

Itís been awhile! I donít think Iíve blogged since February, and honestly, Iíve barely noticed the time fly by, Iíve been so busy. My new job is going well, but it takes a lot of energy. Most nights I come home exhausted and ready to space out.

Iím still struggling with stocking my closet with clothes for work, but itís slowly getting there. The problem isnít wanting to spend money on it, its finding clothes that actually fit well, and look professional. Itís hard to find shirts that fit, arenít sleeveless or tank tops, and arenít three-quarter sleeves. Three-quarter sleeves make me want to yank it down to my wrists or push it up above my arms. I canít wait until winter when long sleeves will be acceptable again.

After sorting out how much Iíd been getting per pay period, I set up my accounts on autopay. Everything is automated now from monthly expenses, health savings account, retirement, other savings, and debt payment. It kind of sucks. Itís so simple and seemless, but I loved looking at it and calculating and making a decision where the leftover should go. I wonít change it because I think we do have the right portion going to savings and a right portion going to debt payment. If everything goes as smoothly as it is, weíll be debt free sometime mid to late 2015. That is kind of exciting.

I have yet to figure out why summers are so expensive in our house. We donít do anything different in summer, but our groceries, eating out, movie going, and random splurges always goes up May, June, and July. We always stick within our budgeted expenses the rest of the year, just not those months. Iím looking forward to August when it will slow down again.

Well, I donít have much more to report. I feel quite boring. Perhaps next time I'll have sometime more exciting to report.

First Payday

February 5th, 2012 at 04:51 pm

I had my first payday of my new job this week. It was enough to cover the clothing expenses for the professional clothes I had to buy before I started. AND enough to payoff Student Loan B! with some leftover to pay some towards Student Loan C!

I am excited to not have to worry about incoming money lasting as is forever. It is such a relief to have leftover money to apply towards our debt payoff and savings goals.

I still need to get used to the hours I put in a week, but it got easier this last week. Hopefully itíll be just as smooth this week.

New Changes

January 29th, 2012 at 06:48 pm

In the past two weeks I have started a new job which increased my income, decreased my medical costs while adding in dental and vision, and set up an HSA for the deductible. Thatís three of my temporary goals in one shot. I finished my second job since it was seasonal, and my old job is now becoming a night job which, hopefully, once things get settled, it will be just one night a week.

It was a hard decision - hard to make, hard to implement, and hard to let go. I basically have been working three weeks straight with this last week being all three jobs. Iím tired, but excited about the change.

Happily, I finally get to make concrete goals! Here are my 2012 Goals:

1) Complete a checking cushion of $500. This will help with small unexpected expenses and cash flow.

2) Complete a Puppy Fund of $750. This will help save up for her one year shots coming up, and any unexpected expenses that have a habit of popping up.

3) Payoff Student Loan B. Iíve renumbered the Student Loans from last year. The lettered ones are the direct loan ones that were broken out into subsidized/unsubsidized groups. Student Loan B only had $500 when I listed my dream goals in January. Now itís down to $250. Since weíre still in grace/deferment, Iíve taken the amount weíd pay monthly, applied it to the outstanding interest, and the remainder to the principle. Iíll be excited to see this little one gone.

4) Payoff Student Loan C. There is $1750 left on it right now, and itís the second smallest we have.

5) Complete the emergency fund. There is $1500 in it right now, but as Iíve said before, Iíd like this to be $3000 where Iíll feel more comfortable. This is already set up on auto save and should be done by the end of the year.

6) I want to have a fully furnished HSA by the end of the year. In order to this, I set it up with my job to withdraw more than the deductible by the end of the year so Iíll have some extra for next year, even if I have to use the full deductible.

7) Save for a real live vacation where we travel somewhere that we havenít been. This might be funded by the extra income we might find this year, and not by any auto savings. Iím not sure yet.

As usual, I have some dream world goals. We might get to parts of these, but probably not. They will be in my mind as the year goes by.

1) Payoff Student Loan D, $3100 left.
2) Payoff Student Loan 1, $3600 left.
3) Payoff Car Loan 1, $7200 left.
4) Payoff Student Loan A, $8525 left.
5) Complete Car Fund to $2000.
6) Complete Moving Fund to $1500.

Oh, and my February Goals are:
1) Get a handle on my new job.
2) Kill Student Loan B.
3) Pack lunches at least 15 days.

Still Catching Up

January 13th, 2012 at 08:50 am

I havenít written much (despite my love for setting goals (New Yearís requires new goals!)), because, oie, the last 4 or 5 weeks have been a little chaotic:

There was the second job (finally!).
Followed by the two weeks of sickness hell (I have blocked out the memory).
Followed by the week of exhaustion from recovery and year end work (not sure how I did it).
Followed by the week of chaos with changes at work and a major family holiday (thank goodness I wasnít sick this week).
Followed by catchup in every aspect of life (still catching up).

Throw in some interesting possible changes (that I canít go into yet) with a dash of everyone else getting sick and a sprinkle of taking over another personís job temporarily, andÖ

*whew*

I have not been able to sit down and figure out my goals very clearly yet. And the interesting possible changes will throw the goals out the window and require a new set.

On a side note: I could use some good mojo the next few days to swing the changes in my favor. I really hope the changes will come through, but if they donít, whatís meant to be, is meant to be.


I can tell you my vague 2012 goals thoughÖ

1) Iíd like to increase our family income somehow. My second job has allowed us to purchase a few things we really need, but were pretending we didnít, but it hasnít really allowed us to save. They didnít give me enough hours like they said they would.

2) Iíd like to decrease the amount we pay for our health. I pay way too much monthly for a high deductible plan. Our medical right now is between a third and a half of my gross income. I need to find some way to decrease it.

3) Iíd like to put some more into our EF. I found that I am more comfortable with $3000 in our EF than I am with only $1500.

4) Iíd like to constantly put some money into our health deductible fund. Right now weíre putting in $75/month, which is a start, but not nearly enough.


Of course, I have other goals floating around in my head that Iíd like to accomplish, but without any concrete way to tackle them, I think Iíll let them float temporarily.

Wait, what day is it?

December 18th, 2011 at 11:59 am

Wow, itís been awhile. Time has flown by without me really noticing. Lots of little random things happened, and Iím not sure where the time has gone.

I started my part-time job (finally!) two weeks ago. Iíve had an orientation, training, and a shift. And then I got sick for the last six days straight. I canít even function to do my day job, so I had to call in my last two shifts sick. I feel like a dweeb. Here I fought so hard for this job, and then I get really sick. Iím still not healthy enough to make it to my desk job, much less stand and talk to customers as a cashier. Luckily, my voice sounds absolutely terrible, so theyíve believed me so far.

Hopefully, I will be healthier by Wed when my next shift is. Theyíre only scheduling me for 9 hours/week despite my preference/their offer of 15-20. Iíll take it, as I honestly enjoy the job despite the money. I doubt that theyíll be keeping me on after the season ends in two and a half weeks. Theyíll have only seen me for 8 to 10 shifts max. How can anyone honestly say how well I did if I worked so little?

In other news, we have received two more bills for the kidney stone that happened back in Sept. There went our cash cushion. Hopefully thatís it, or weíll have to start touching the emergency fund again.

Weíre dropping our dental insurance. We pay $100/month, and itís not worth it. There is no way we spend $1200 for two of us a year in dental cleanings/fillings. This will allow my paycheck to increase a little despite the health insurance increase.

After long and lengthy discussions, my husband is not going to continue schooling. The field wasnít for him and Iíd rather not have more student loans. Now to figure out whatís nextÖ

Oh, I failed NaNoWriMo which is very unlike me, but itís been a stressful couple of months, so Iím giving me some slack. I have no December goals, as I just need to get through this sickness and then catch up at work. I am working on coming up with 2012 goals, but things are soÖ topsy turvey, I have no clue what to do besides ďstay in budgetĒ.

Sold. And What?!? Continued.

November 20th, 2011 at 11:48 am

First off, the good news: We sold Car #2. Yay! But we sold it to a dealership for the same amount that we owe. Boo. It was either wait and wait and wait, pay for the oil change, new tires, insurance, extra gas, etc. Or sell it for way less. We took the sell it for less (obviously). It is making such a difference in the budget.

And nowÖ the What?!? News: Like I said in my last post, I was told I failed the drug test, but I donít do drugs (or prescription drugs, or eat poppy seeds). When I called the HR guy back, he said he sent an email that ď[I] passed so they should pass [me]Ē (whatever that means) and that heíd call me back when he got approval. He also mentioned that orientation was 10 to 2 on Friday. I rearranged my schedule so I could do the orientation, but it kind of suck that it was during my normal work hours.

Next day, he called me back and said I was approved, and that there were two orientations, the second at 5 to 9. I practically jumped in joy and said I would do the later one so I could keep working. He said ok and had me wait for a second so he could write it down before he told me the details of what to wear and bring to orientation.

I show up at ten to 5 and wait where I was supposed to wait. At 5, when no one else was there, I went up to customer service who told me that orientation was to wait where I was supposed to wait, someone was supposed to come get me.

I waited 20 minutes before going back up to customer service. They called the HR guy to the desk. The customer service people (one a manger) werenít happy to hear my story. I made sure to tell them about the drug test part, too. The HR guy arrived and said that he had just canceled the orientation. He thought that he had called the only person who was doing the orientation. As we talked, me a little upset and confused, him saying that he was going to be in so much trouble.

So as it stands, supposedly theyíre having another orientation this week. If I donít hear from him, I am supposed to call him on Monday by 9. Of course, Iím guessing the orientation will be on Wednesday, when Iím out of town and had asked off as a condition of hiring.

On top of that, when I got home after the major mess up, I had a letter from the corporate office. It said that I never took the drug test. What?!? I canít imagine what is next. I donít know what to think about this other than the HR guy doesnít want to hire me.

Iím half tempted to call on Monday and tell him (or his supervisor) all my complaints, including that I turned down another job for this, and then tell him no thanks.

What?!?

November 16th, 2011 at 12:30 pm

As I had mentioned, I was offered conditional employment for a seasonal part-time job two weeks ago, went and took the drug test, and was waiting to hear back about orientation. I called late last week, wondering if I could make other plans for last weekend, and they said that they hadnít gotten the results yet. So I made plans and enjoyed what I thought would be my last free weekend in forever.

When I didnít hear anything this week, I called this afternoon asking about it. I was on hold for a while, and when he got back on, he said something that made me just about fall out of my chair - I failed my drug test.

WTF?! I donít do drugs. I donít smoke. I drink maybe once a year. I am a goody-to-shoes. Itís insulting to even off-handidly impy that I have done drugs.

The HR guy said that I need to call the drug testing center if I thought they were wrong, and that they have been wrong before. I called, and all the drug testing center could tell me was that they had no problems processing the test and that if the employer wanted to confirm or ask a question, they could call them. The drug testing center could not tell me if passed or not.

I called back, stating such, and I am waiting for a phone call back from the HR guy. If he doesnít call me back in an hour, I plan to call him... again.

Seriously. How frustrating. All I want is a few hours a week for a month and a half. Iíve put my life on hold, not scheduling things, because I thought I would have orientation with little warning and get put on the schedule so that I would have a few practice runs before the busy Black Friday.

I canít help but to think that theyíre trying not to hire me. If they wanted to rescind their offer, rescind the offer! Say we hired too many people; say that I have the wrong hours that they need, something. Iíd get it! Donít insult me by saying I do drugs.

I canít believe I turned down another (seasonal part-time) job for this one.

I am flabbergasted.

***

In other news, income isnít increasing (the above job fiasco, hubby not getting interviews, and in 2012, losing $35/paycheck for insurances), monthly costs arenít decreasing (still no bites on Car 2), and unexpected expenses are coming thru the woodwork.

No wonder Iím so pessimistic lately.

Part Time Job!

November 3rd, 2011 at 02:58 pm

I had applied Sunday to two part time jobs. They both called, they both interviewed me, and they both wanted to hire me! I was able to pick the one I really wanted (which also has the higher rate) and did the drug screen today.

It is seasonal, and will last through the first week of January, with an option for them to hire me on permanently. I think itís a perfect fit as I can see if I can handle it with my current full time job without having to commit long-term. Iím hoping to take home an extra $800 before the end of season. We shall see.

Now I just have to wait to hear about training and when my schedule starts. A few people are worried about me burning out. I am cautious, but I think I can handle it. If I canít, I can always find someone to cover some of my shifts or quit.

Now to just figure out what I want to apply it toÖ hmmÖ

A Bit of This and That

October 30th, 2011 at 01:14 pm

October is pretty much over. We still have not sold the car despite dropping the price even more. No one has even inquired. There have only been two scams: ďpay me x and weíll sell itĒ and ďmy agent will pick it up, give me your paypal infoĒ. Ah, no thanks. Itís been suggested to post it on some craigslists that are a bit farther away. Maybe weíll get a real bite, but Iím skeptical.

I paid the ER bill, and am waiting on the follow up appointment bills. It only halved our savings account, which isnít too bad. Way better than I expected.

I applied to two part-time jobs today. My husband is talking of applying, but I canít sit around and wait for him. Most tell me that Iím crazy to apply for a part-time job on top of my full time job because my full time job is so ďmuchĒ of a job. Weíll see. Even if I do it only seasonally, every penny will help. I might apply to two more tonight.

I am going to do NaNoWriMo again this year. Iím not sure if Iím going to finish so I think my monthly goal will be to write a bit every week. My story idea isnít fleshed out at all, but I have kind of a premise. As long as it provides words and constant movement in the story, Iím ok with that.

Iím honestly not looking forward to November. Itís going to be a long tiring month with many trials. I wish I would have been able to go on that vacation so I could go into this relaxed and ready to get stuff done. I just hope it speeds by.

Smashing good times

October 19th, 2011 at 06:31 pm

Itís been awhile. Between 2 week long colds, that kidney stone, a computer going on the fritz, partially taking over a coworkerís position, and switching rooms, weíve been pretty much ďrecoveringĒ all month so far. This post will probably be random.

It looks like we wonít be hitting our deductible this year (yay), but it looks like weíll probably wipe out most of our savings (boo). Thatís what itís for, but I just wish I had the opportunity to save back up.

Weíve posted Car 2, at a price under KBB. No calls. I think there are 3 factors: 1) itís too high of a price if we want to sell it quickly. 2) itís rear wheel drive with a mid-west winter coming on. And 3) itís a pricey used car with everyone in this area freaking out about jobs/income. Weíre dropping the price slowly every few weeks hoping weíll get a nibble, but short of begging a dealership of buying it (at an insanely low price and trying to be talked into trading in) thereís not much we can do yet.

Weíve flip flopped rooms with my brother. Iíve spent most of this month slowly cleaning, priming, priming, painting, painting, painting, Öand finally moving. Still need to do a lot of staining/polying of windows/doors/decorative wooden ledges, but itís getting there. Itís a nice change of scenery and doesnít feel as temporary as my previous set of rooms. Plus weíve spent very little on it as most of the supplies had already been purchased or found around the house.

Instead of writing 5 cards and meeting up with a friend, Iíll have reconnected with 5 friends, and send one card. Funny how life switched that up on me. Iím counting it as a successful month, even though it was reversed.

It seems like the federal direct loans really restructured their website. Iím loving it so far as I can finally apply payments the way Iíve always wanted to, but I havenít used it yet since weíre in deferment. I will probably re-number all the student loans in January because it isnít even grouped the same anymore. This will help with my snowball method and to target those that have a higher interest. (Whenever I have money towards debt repayment, that is.)

Weíre still debating our options for our future, and weíre not sure if heís going to continue schooling. Honestly, itís feeling like a gamble. A lot of money/time/debt for a potential for a payoff. Will it actually payoff? We donít know; a lot can change in 4 years. Will it be worth it? Thatís debatable. Weíll see. He has until December to pick a route as the University application is due then or shortly thereafter.

My next yearís dental insurance numbers came in today. I love dental insurance. Itís simple, easy to manage (from the HR perspective since I run it at work), and it rarely goes up much. This time it is only a $3.56 per month increase. I can handle that. Iím just terrified of the health insurance number for which Iím still waiting. That one Iím expecting $50 to $100/month increase.

I shocked the coworkers in the weekly meeting today. I just happened to remind them that, hey, itís the end of the year, and guess what, that means all the end of the year stuff. I hope theyíre ready for a long sprint. Iím not procrastinating until December. I have enough that they arenít involved in that goes into work in December/January. Iíd like to reach February without keeling over.

Since my yearís goals have been shot, Iím going to make a few mini-end-of-year goals:
1) Sell Car 2 or get Car Loan 2 under 11k. Very doable if I can swing the January payment before the end of the year.
2) Finish staining and/or polying our room
3) Declutter/sell/toss books and craft supplies
4) Finish a craft for a Christmas gift

That should be easy enough and costs very little. :-) Speaking of Christmas gifts, Iím thinking I can stick to my $50 budget I weaseled in for this year. I can make or use some of the stuff Iíve been stocking up earlier this year for gifts.

Ok, time to end this long rambling post.

Selling a car

October 2nd, 2011 at 09:30 am

Well, weíre selling car 2. We posted it on craigslist last night, and once we take it through the car wash today, weíll take a picture and post it on carsoup. It was easier to convince the husband than I expected. Although, it kind of makes sense, weíve been thinking/talking about it since July.

Iím happy with the decision because Iíve never been really thrilled about the purchase of car 2. It was impulsive and so not like me. At the time we could afford the car (since husband was working two part-time jobs) and have plenty to save/payoff debt, but not anymore. I can say that I wonít ever buy a used car ever again as a family/until it dies car. I would, however, be ok buying a used car as a short-term (read: year or two) clunker. And I donít want to buy a car with a car loan EVER AGAIN. Oie the headaches this car has given me.

Unfortunately, it looks like weíll only get a little over $2500 back after we pay off the car loan (depending on the negotiations when they happen). That will go straight to the rest of our deductible for the year and re-building up the EF.

Car 1 has under $8000 on the loan and is zero percent finance. Good gas mileage, good for long trips to visit his family, and good for fitting the nieces in (and their car seats, toys, and groceries). At the moment, weíre not going to sell it, but itís not off the table. We need to sell car 2 first and foremost.

Weíve also been talking about my husbandís future. His schooling is really taking a toll on us and maybe itís not the best time to do this. Weíre not sure what his other career options are though. Right now, his recent experience puts him at low-wage/minimum-wage, part-time, no ladder to climb jobs. While doable (heís done that for quite some time when he was trying to get into his dream job), heís a college graduate and can do so much more.

I recently read something that says our generation is the ďlost generationĒ. I am beginning to think that is so true. I canít tell you the number of my friends who are living with parents and are taking whatever jobs they can get. Itís sad. Iím jealous of 30-something year olds who have relevant experience in their field and have roots/place of their own, and those who are just entering college now who will be the pick of employers when they graduate. We donít have relevant experience, and by time there are jobs open, our degrees and knowledge will be outdated.

Owie Budget

October 1st, 2011 at 10:49 am

Well, Iím posting my budget. I havenít done this in forever, but itís to the point of Iím going crazy trying to make it work and its unsustainable. I need someone else to agree with me on my thoughts or give me other ideas.


Monthly Take-Home Income: $1220
Total Monthly Expenses: $1220


Monthly Car Expenses Total: $930
Car Loan 1: $248 (0%)
Car Loan 2: $305 (~5%)
Gas: $277
Insurance Savings: $100

Monthly Allowance* Expenses Total: $280
My weekly allowance: $40
Husbandís weekly allowance: $40
Joint allowance: $100
Puppy allowance: $100

Other Monthly Expenses Total: $10
Netflix: $10
Student Loans: deferred

*About allowances-
~Weekly Allowances: the $10/week/each goes towards things we want for ourselves that isnít for a joint reason. For example, lunch out for work functions, needing new socks or clothes, getting a new CD/game, buying a grocery craving.
~Monthly Joint Allowance: it is for groceries, dining out, entertainment/dates, cold medicine, items that are used jointly. $100 is really small, $200 is where we function the best without wasting money or scaling too far back. Thank goodness my parents feed us a lot.
~Puppy allowance: This is for her food, frontline/heartguard, and vet visits. Iím crossing fingers that our expenses for this goes down now that sheís spayed and rid of giardia.


*****
My first thought is we need to increase income. Period.

My second thought is that we are now really, really, really car heavy. We werenít while he was working two part-time jobs which brought in way more than my salaried job due to health insurances coming out of my pay (~$700/mo), but now that he doesnít have either one, it is a heavy burden. Iíd like to sell car 2 because it isnít a car I can comfortably drive. Or we could easily sell my car since itís a used Toyota. Or we could sell both and fix the windshield on my parentís old í94 beater-no suspension left, rusted van. Itís an awful situation and Iím also selfish in the thoughts that I will be the one that has to carpool and be carless all the time. Been there, done that, it sucks. But Iíll suck it up thoughÖ

BecauseÖ If you notice, there is no monthly savings in there for emergencies. My income never fluctuates up. Our EF fund will be gone with the recent trip to ER. If the car gets a flat, itís going to have to go on the credit card, and not be paid offÖ for who knows how long. There is no way to even start paying back the EF, so next year, weíll have nothing if either of us needs to go to the doctor. There is no savings for Christmas. We usually have extra expenses around that time for traveling (ie: driving/gas/food) to visit his family more than presents. We donít do presents in my family or to each other, but I do typically get something for his nieces and nephews. Plus, insurances go up at the end of the year which means my paycheck goes down fast.

SoÖWe need to increase income and decrease car. Am I right? There's not much else to it that I can see...

ER visit

September 29th, 2011 at 01:13 pm

Lucky us, we got to visit the ER today. My poor husband woke me up at 5am because he was in pain and couldnít take it anymore. Heís the kind of guy that never needs to go to the doctor, and will never want to unless itís bad. The on call doc said to go in and not wait.

I was really impressed with the ER service, and we got in right away (which totally dispelled my wait forever belief). After an IV, blood tests, urine test, shot of pain meds, and a CT scan, we found out he has a kidney stone. Poor fellow.

Now that Iíve had a nap and time to process what happened (Iím not a morning person), Iím starting to think about what this is going to cost me. We have a high deductible plan ($5400), and I only have $3000 in my EF. Iíve read that an ER visit for a kidney stone can cost from $500 to $10,000. Anyone have a better estimate for me so I donít go into sticker shock when I finally get the bills?

Oh, and is September over yet?

EoM Blahs

September 28th, 2011 at 04:57 pm

The second half of the month wasnít any better. One failed goal. I didnít increase income. One succeeded goal. I didnít go over our strict budget

I donít have any good to say about anyone or anything right now, so I think Iíll just keep this short.

My October goals:
1) Send handwritten cards to five people
2) Connect in person with a friend and do something fun

Dark Mood

September 16th, 2011 at 05:52 pm

Iím in a bad, icky, dark moodÖ

Iíve tried to increase our income twice so far this month, and both failed miserably.

Itís the last weekend of my husbandís remaining part time job. I think he thinks he wonít be able to handle another part time job with his ďheavyĒ schooling. Not sure how far I can push the issue without causing a huge fight/lasting resentment since we can and are living on what I do bring home. Thereís just not enough to save, pay for unexpected expenses, or pay for his schooling if we donít get financial aid.

I shocked my husband when I proved to him that when he graduates, weíll have $60,000 in student loans to cover only tuition, fees, and books. $12,000 from the past, plus $9,000 this year, and about $13,000 each the next three. I sure as hell hope he graduates early and is able to work part time through school. Funny thing is, weíve talked about the number before and itís just now clicking in his mind.

Then I realized, while proving the numbers to him, that since we got married 3.5 years ago, we paid down $21,000 in credit card debts (from moving cross country twice), bank of moms loans (wedding lending), and student loans. (Well and added two car loans, but I donít really count those since I can sell both easily for more than I owe. Net-wise, theyíre positive). Which, now that I think about it, wasnít too bad for progress. But now weíll have it back up to that insane number in no time.

Plus, that number makes me wonder if I shouldnít have paid down debts and instead I should have saved for a down payment on a house. Which is a whole stupid thought cycle in itself. I wouldnít have been able to pay house payment and all those minimum balances. But, gah, I want my own place!

And then my relationships with friends/family arenít going too well. But thatís a whole book in itself.

So yeah, dark mood. Chocolate isnít working. Catching up on sleep might. Hopefully Iíll wake up tomorrow feeling less moody.

Needy Pennies, Needy Me

September 3rd, 2011 at 08:49 pm

I really hate how every penny now has a need. I loved having ďleftoverĒ money each month to put towards savings, debt repayment, or random expenses that came up. Now, even the auto-savings has a need. Every six months, the exact amount we put in will come out to pay for the car insurances.

I was just thinking that by time my husbandís schooling is over, weíll have lived with my parents for 7ish years. Never in a million years did I think this would happen. How depressing.

So yeah, Iím not sure if Iím going to survive the next 4 years of scrimping by and additional debt. I really hope this proves to be worth it.

Septemberís goals:
[ ] Stick to tight budget
[ ] Increase income

Many Things

August 26th, 2011 at 06:44 pm

There have been a lot of things to talk about financially, but Iíve been too tired to write about them the past several days. So here we goÖ

Iím not sure what Iím going to use the book income for. This round I just let it go into the joint fund so we could get school supplies. Weíll see when/if I sell the rest.

I asked for and got a credit limit increase on my credit card. Not as much as I wanted, but something is better than nothing. I wonít need it, but itís good to have. They will be mailing me the reason why I canít get the full increase I want.

I still havenít moved my personal account yet. I havenít had time yet and still arenít sure where to put it. I like Wells online checking best out of the three Iíve had in the past. I need to check out the local credit union in town.

Husbandís last day of his part-time job was yesterday. Heís happy. And school starts Monday for him. Heís excited. Iím excited too, actually. Not as much as he, though.

We have financial aid worked out. Subsidized and unsubsidized loans cover tuition, fees, books, supplies, car loan for 4 months, and gas. It is more than we technically ďneedĒ, but this way we can have some wiggle room each month until we officially decide to sell car 2 or husband gets a part time job (we will decide on that in a few weeks). We can always pay it back if we donít use it.

Iíve been asked by a state to file 2007 taxesÖ uh, I donít owe that state taxes and I did file my 2007 taxes for the correct state. And even then I made around $10,000 that yearÖ why would they come after me? Itís more annoying than anything.

We paid for what we hope will be the last of the vet bills this week. She was spayed and still seems like the giardia is gone. Weíve said that before, but Iím hoping itís finally gone this time. I donít want to add up how much weíve spent at the vet since weíve gotten her.

Iíve been asked a few times these last few weeks what my dream job would be or what I would go back to school if we could afford it. I donít have an answer. Weíve been so focused on helping the family and my husband going for his dream job(s). Weíve been surviving and Iíve been taking it one day at a time. Itís hard to dream when my first priority is to get rid of debt and my second priority is to get our own place. I need to work on that.

I think thatís all. Iíve been anxiously waiting for more news from Scottishgirl all day: how her appt went and if her move to her momís went smoothly. :-)

Two sold and fees

August 16th, 2011 at 05:42 pm

I posted four books on half.com and have sold two! I have mailed them and have $5.94 profit off the two despite they sold for $4 a piece. The $2.64/each shipping allowance covers the $2.41/each postage, But it doesnít really cover the bubble envelope that I found at dollar general for $0.66/each. I need to find an envelope for 23 cents or less. Any ideas? The only thing Iíve found close was 35 cents but I had to buy 100 from uline.

I wouldnít worry much if I had pricey books, but the out 41 books I looked at, only 4 of them could be sold for $1 or more. The rest were all $0.75 so far. If I canít find packaging that would be less than 23 cents, I would really only get 21 cents profit. And whatís the point of that?

I got an email today from Wells Fargo. My personal checking that holds my weekly allowance is no longer going to be free. There will be a $7/month fee starting mid-September. Well, that is unless I direct deposit $500/month or keep $1500 in itÖ which is hard when I only have a $10/week allowance. Hah. So time to get a new checking account.

Although Iím half tempted to just make a ďsub-accountĒ in my joint checking instead and just use that to make my purchases. I donít really want to open another account at this moment. Whatís funny is my husbandís personal account isnít changing, but itís probably because he had gotten it as a student account initially. I used to like Wells, but Iím beginning to change my mind.

Also, it seems like Netflix has raised its prices, but is removing watch instantly shows Ė no more Up, District 9, Babylon 5Ö We were just going to downgrade to watch instantly only, but now weíre more than half-tempted to drop it all together. It was the one frivolous thing we were going to allow, but maybe not.

Selling Books

August 11th, 2011 at 06:21 pm

I have a lot of books. Young Adult, Children, Adult, Classics College booksÖ all sorts of books. When I unpacked them this year for the first time in a few years, I was so happy to have them. But now that Iíve looked at them for several weeks, I realized that I have favorites that I read on a yearly basis, but I have a lot of other ones that are just ok. I had kept them because at one point I had wanted to have a HUGE library where the room was 360 degrees of bookshelves overflowing with books. I donít see that in my future anymore, so I think itís time to part with some. Plus, I could use the extra personal funds.

I found that when I took them to half-priced books, I would get what seemed like pennies per book. I would like to try to sell them online, but I donít know the best place to sell books. Is half.com decent? Do you have any suggestions on places or suggestions on how to sell them? Iím not interested in paperback swap, because I donít read much these days nor do I typically find new stuff I like when I do borrow books.

Speaking of sellingÖ I have some pretty nice dolls and Barbies that Iíve been thinking about selling. Where/how should I go about selling those?

Decision (long)

August 6th, 2011 at 06:57 pm

Weíve finally made our decision.

It started with getting letters from the places that my husband interviewed at containing the multiple variations of ďnoĒ. Those were the last ones we were waiting on. His eligibility to get this type of job is up soon and since each application process takes 4 to 5 months, weíre pretty much to the limit of his ability to be hired. A year and a half heís been applying, interviewing, getting to the top of the interview process, and then not getting hired.

So, heís going to go back to school to get a second degree. His first degree is a liberal arts one that has no real job attached to it. It could be applied to many things, but it doesnít help him with any specialized skills or job experience. So this one is more Ö specific, for a lack of better term, and has real job applications with potential for a nice salary.

It is a 4 year degree though, and the only thing his previous degree will help with is that he will most likely not have to do any gen eds or liberal arts electives. He is starting this fall with some of the basic classes at the local tech and will transfer into the university next fall. This will help keep the cost down.

He will be leaving the part-time job that he has the most hours with because they are not flexible with schedule at all. Unfortunately, that knocks our take-home pay in little more than half. He will be keeping his other part-time job, but thatís only one weekend per month without ability to pick up extra hours or shifts. He is planning on getting a student job or other part-time job in-between/after classes, but we donít know when that will happen.

I have rearranged our budget to survive on my paycheck alone. We have already started this new tight budget for August even though heís working through the end of it. I want to bank every penny we can before it actually happens. Once his current student loans go into deferment, we will have a little wiggle room, but not much. We will also need to take out more student loans since we donít have anything saved up for it.

Also, we had the really tough conversation about selling Car 2. Itís his dream car and I love the freedom of having my own car. Yet, we could use the monthly payment for other things and the extra money from selling it could really be used in the EF. I donít see us being able to put much into savings for the next 4 years. So we will be selling it. He sees the sale as an investment into his future. I see it as a necessity, even though I will end up being the one without a car again.

I have canceled my fall trip, because we no longer have much of a personal allowance or even much of a joint allowance. I know I will need clothes here for winter soon, so my money will be saved for when I feel like I can no longer stretch what little I have. My husband offered to help pay for it out of his personal, but he doesnít have much saved up and he could use any cushion he has too. It was very sweet of him to offer to help, though.

Letís see, what else is there to tell.

My husband is really excited about going back to school and the subject matter. Itís not his ďdream jobĒ anymore, but itíll be interesting. Plus, he will have internships that could become a job once he graduates. He also is very happy he wonít have to stay at the part-time job as it can go nowhere promotion-wise, time-wise, benefit-wise, or even raise-wise.

I am growing a little excited. Itís change, even though itís not much change for me. Plus, I tend to learn things when heís learning. He loves coming home and telling me about class or what he read.

What I am not excited about is that we will be taking out more student loans. And there is no guarantee for a job at the end of this. And there is no chance for moving out; we wonít be able to afford it for the next four years or even for probably a year or two after that as we dig ourselves out of student loan debt. And we wonít be able to go to Russia for the Olympics; heíll be full time at school then.

It seems kind of counter-intuitive to go into more debt in order to make money, but we donít have many other options. Hereís to hoping that the economy gets better in the next 4 years so that when he completes the degree, there will be plenty jobs.

Not much positive

July 30th, 2011 at 07:15 pm

This month started with so much promise and excitement, and has ended in BLEH. Bad month for goals. Bad month for anything planned. It all went wrong on so many levels.

I didnít succeed at any of my goals for July:

[/] Save $100 of personal Ė Managed to save $75, forgot I needed a few things, so I didnít manage to squeak out those last $25, but it might not matter anyways as the trip may be canceled.
[-] Teach puppy 4 tricks Ė Didnít happen. It was an odd month. Nothing got done. And surprise! She is still sick. Puppy is back on medicine. Iím beginning to think the Giardia will never go away. :-(
[-] Plot lunches and buy groceries Ė I seriously only needed this to happen once to consider it a success, so of course it didnít happen. I did try, though.
[/] Cook one family meal Ė Well, I didnít, but my husband did and I kind of helped. Does that count as a partial?
[-] Eat breakfast 20 out of 31 days Ė Only ate breakfast 5 times. Pathetic.

Now onto August, I donít have any goals for this month because weíre in the process of making a decision that will affect the next few years of our life and a lot of our money. My husband is optimistic, and frankly excited. I, on the other hand, am not excited, but I donít see many other options. Iím sorry Iím being vague. I just donít want to jinx it either way. Iíll go more into it once we finalize.

Car Deal?

July 13th, 2011 at 04:32 pm

So, a few days ago I received an email from my car dealership. They would like me to trade in my 2009 Yaris for a 2011 Yaris. Traded in, including all the taxes and registration and fees, they would come back with a monthly payment of $5 less per month.

I havenít asked for more specific details yet, but is this even something to think about? My current loan is 0% and I think if this new loan has interest, I would balk, but if itís also 0%... Well hmmm. A car two years newer is always nice, even if I have car payments for a few years more, but at theoretical 0%, it would hard to say no. Right?

What else would I have to ask besides interest rate? The Yaris's (Yari?) are pretty bare/standard, so itís not like I would be trading down in featuresÖ What a sales pitch. I can't think of the downside, and there's got to be one.

What do you think? Iím not sure what I think. My husband isnít sure what he thinks either.

One of those weeks

July 8th, 2011 at 08:49 am

Itís been a bad week from the get-go for me. Ran out of stain for doors I wanted to get done before guests came (they didnít get done Ė not even close), got a flat tire, bank messed up Ėthree times, clients asking for payment plans on pre-paid discounts, lots of things going wrongÖ Actually, just about everything I touched this week went wrong.

Iím tired, cranky, and stressed to the max. This weekend the house is full of family guests. Iím really looking forward to visiting with them, but hopefully I can shake this bad mojo so it doesnít rub off on them.

The only plus is in our finances. I managed to send $20 to my personal savings and an extra $100 to Car Loan 2 this week.


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