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Mental Health Day and Upcoming Weekend

October 28th, 2016 at 09:00 am

Yesterday, I took a mental health day. Took PTO, brought the pups over to the dog park and then spent the afternoon relaxing and watching Netflix until cheer practice. There was an altercation at practice that made my blood boil a bit, but overall, I feel much better rested and prepared to tackle the upcoming challenges.

Since posting on Zillow, we've gotten a handful more responses about the current place. We have a few showings scheduled in the next week and hoping to set up a few more in the next day or two. I haven't totally given up hope. We have until the 20th to try and find someone, so I'll keep trucking along.

I'm out of one allergy medicine. I'm going to just refill it at CVS and after the move, I'll look into transferring all my prescriptions to home delivery. I also have to schedule an appointment with my doctor to get a new prescription since the other medicine was $150 (even after insurance was applied)!

I scheduled the UHaul for next Saturday. It should run no more than $120, but I'm hoping to come in at considerably less (~$80).

The previous owners are officially out as of Wednesday. They had to give us 3 days' notice of an early vacate date, so the official house handover is tomorrow. We'll owe them prorated rent for Sat., Sun. and Mon totaling about $230.

DH put his name up for overtime this weekend, so hopefully they'll schedule him for both Saturday and Sunday. Since this job requires early hours, he should be done by 230/3 and we'll still have plenty of time together in the evening. Tomorrow morning, I'm meeting my FIL at the house. We'll go over paint samples, and he's going to give me an estimate on the painting. I'm leaning towards just doing the master bedroom for now, but we'll see what the cost estimate is. He's not working this weekend, so he wants to go to Home Depot and get started on the painting that afternoon. I'll help if he wants it, and tomorrow evening, we're going to bring the dogs over so they can start acclimating to the house. Sunday, we have a tentative 4 pm showing and I'm hoping to set up at least 1 more at 6 pm if the timing works for them.

Monday night, we'll hand out candy at our new home!

In a Funk

October 26th, 2016 at 07:06 am

Things are just getting to me. I feel so unsettled, and while I don't seem particularly stressed, I think it's definitely affecting me. I was so distracted that I missed a regular meeting yesterday morning.

In addition to the move, sorting out finances/health insurances, and DH's new job, we found out about a potential medical problem. We're getting it checked next week, but hopefully, it turns out to be nothing.

I paid my first mortgage payment this morning. Apparently, the company my mortgage was sold to isn't the best when it comes to managing things, so I'd really like to stay on top of it.

We thought we'd found a tenant for our current place last weekend, but when we sent her over to the landlord, he said her paperwork wasn't looking good. He has yet to give me an official answer, but I'm guessing it's no. I renewed the posting again, but nothing yet. It's looking like we may be on the hook for $1000 with the other $1000 being our security deposit. Fortunately, it's already funded and set aside in YNAB.

The other big thing we're currently dealing with is painting. We'd really like to get the place painted before we settle in and start moving bigger furniture over. DH's dad is going to come look at the place with us this weekend and give us an estimate. We have a bunch of paint chip samples and have already picked some color combos that we want.

I just can't wait to be in the place already...with the hot tub set up and glass of wine in hand.

Stress and other things

October 21st, 2016 at 06:05 am

DH had me measure my heartbeat to determine my stress level on his phone last night because the headache was back. It was right about to cross into the red zone, while his was only about 1/3 of the way up well in the green. I know those things aren't accurate, but wow. He suggested I get away by myself for a few days, but I don't think that will necessarily help. All the stresses will still be here when I get back. Plus, there's too much going on right now. We did agree that he would start giving me some space though. I love having him home, but I realized that when he came home late, those evenings were my recharge time. I'd watch silly television comfortably on the couch without any judgment. Now that he beats me home, I don't feel like I can just veg out on the couch, and the second TV is upstairs in the spare bedroom and just not as comfy.

I do think it'll be better in the new place as we plan to move the TV back into our bedroom. That way, I'll have my own place to retreat and recharge without hogging the TV connected to the gaming system.

For food, we're doing well. I did have to spend another $30 that I took from other categories. I got eggs, bread, strawberries, bananas, grapes, ground beef, and wonton wrappers. Of the first 5 items, we're on track to have it used up by the end of next week. We each take sandwiches every day, DH usually has an egg sandwich for breakfast, and the fruit helps round out our lunches. The ground beef and wonton wrappers are going to be used tomorrow to make lumpia (Filipino egg rolls) for a Halloween potluck we're going to. I'm debating dying the dipping sauce red, so it's like fingers and blood or something ridiculous like that.

For moving, I still need to schedule the truck (which I'll do after this entry). We're going to use our spare time this weekend to focus on packing. During the last move, we just used a lot of bags that we have to throw stuff into. I'd like to pack several of these smaller bags in boxes to minimize the back and forth. The guy who gave us a hot tub is also giving us a couch. We're picking it up tomorrow and dropping it off at the house since we have no room for it.

Lastly, just a funny story to share: My dog (DD2 - the GSD/husky rescue) decided to lock me out of the house yesterday morning. I was walking DD1 and she must have jumped up and pushed the lock down. After unsuccessfully trying to get her to jump and push it back up, I was finally able to borrow a screwdriver, pop out my front screen, and get into the house. Fortunately, the windows were unlocked from a few weeks back when I turned on the toaster oven and didn't realize it was burning some spilled leftovers on the bottom pan. That now marks 2 times that I've had to break into my own home. Luckily, we have 2 large, scary dogs to deter anyone else from trying it.

November Planning

October 20th, 2016 at 11:01 am

A few weeks ago, I had mentioned a couple of stretch goals that I wanted to try and reach: funding the back-out fund, prorated rent, and new mortgage, plus paying off one credit card at $831.

Since my budget hasn't fully been firmed up, I found out I was missing some things/some estimates were off, and it looks like I way overanticipated what we could do. Currently those funds look as follows:

Mortgage - $2400 (fully funded and then some as the actual mortgage is $2370.xx)
Prorated Rent - $1123 (fully funded and covers rent through 11/10)
Rent Back-Out Fund - $67.xx

Tomorrow, we have $1568.xx coming in. This would technically allow us to finish out the rent back-out fund and pay off the credit card if I combine it with debt funds I have in my own account.

However, after thinking it through more, I think my problem is that I'm so busy trying to throw money at debt that I'm not accounting for what I actually have to spend so I then have to use cards for those things...

So I've decided not to pay off the $831 card in full. I will throw all of my own debt funds (~290) at it to make a decent dent, but I will keep the remaining $600ish in our account to put towards next month's budget. That puts us a little short on living on last month's income, but we're almost there.

Once we move, the dust should settle and I'll have a better idea of consistent numbers moving forward.

Migraines and Medicines

October 18th, 2016 at 07:28 am

Lately, I've been having really bad migraines. They only seem to come in the evening and they feel dull/far away in the mornings. I'm not sure if it's dehydration, stress, or something else. They've been accompanied by a slightly nauseous feeling, but I find that once I eat dinner, the nauseous feeling goes away.

Starting 10/1, I switched to DH's insurance with the Army Reserves. However, I found out yesterday that my birth control isn't covered at retail facilities. One of my allergies is actually a dollar and change cheaper, but the 3-month generic birth control rang up at $150!!! Turns out, it is covered, but it's 50/mo at retail facilities. The home delivery option is 49/mo, so not any better. I'm going to call the military pharmacy tonight and see if they carry it as it is free at military pharmacies, but there was a note that the pharmacy may not carry it.

Once I get that sorted, I'm going to see about signing up for the home delivery option for all my maintenance meds except the birth control. When I visit my OBGYN early next year, I'm going to find out if there might be a better option that won't require me to drive 45 minutes to base just to get it.

Utilities, Pantry Eat-Down, and Moving Updates

October 17th, 2016 at 06:05 am

I can't believe we're down to just two weeks! The plan is to start packing nightly over the next two weeks. Almost everything is in boxes already, but we do have a little bit to do. The goal will be to have everything packed by the 30th.

I've called the water and electric and set those up to start the 1st. I haven't set up any disconnect notices yet though. I'm still hoping we can get someone in here and avoid the fee, but if not, then around 11/10, I'll call and have everything set to disconnect on the 20th (our official vacate date).

We need to figure out the move though. We can start moving things in Nov. 1st, but that's the middle of the week. I think we're going to move a few boxes/things each evening and move all the large furniture on the 5th. This way, we should only need the truck 2 hrs.

Eating down the pantry is going a little too well. I think I can get through this week with the remaining stuff in the freezer, but then we'll need food for next week. I'm going to try and stretch it though. I do know that I need eggs (and we may need bread/1 thing of milk). We've been doing very simple breakfasts/lunch, but they require a lot of bread/eggs/milk. Worst case, we do have a box of MREs, so I'm going to try and alternate those into the remaining meals I have planned, so we're not stuck eating MREs for a week straight next week. I'm also going to get a few frozen pizzas if I can find them on sale. They're not the healthiest option, but it's better than eating out. I do also have a bogo Chipotle offer if we do decide to resort to eating out.

I've been using YNAB again. I think it's helping as we've turned down several offers for activities/eating out since those categories are already filled. There's about $40 left in the stuff I forgot to budget for category. I'll have to remember to add some budget money in for moving expense in Nov.

Update on Rent Back-Out Fund and other money things

October 14th, 2016 at 09:22 am

Our rent back-out fund is at $1397 in our accounts. I'm thinking we're going to have to pay it as we haven't had anyone solid other than the first guy who had his move-out date wrong. (Side rant: Why are people so rude? If you change your mind or are no longer interested, I don't care, but at least have the courtesy to say thanks, but no thanks rather than just being completely unresponsive!) I also have to add $300 from my account and $234 from a check at home which will bring us to $1931. The last $69 will be funded with DH's last check from his old job.

That check was mailed, so I'm thinking we'll get it early next week. It should be in the $2000 range, so the remainder will jump-start November's mortgage payment.

My $800 will finish it out and start November's rent in our current place through the 20th. We'll need my first paycheck from November to finish out that fund. All other payments have already been accounted for for the remainder of October. We'll probably be a little short with living on last month's income, but I'm hoping to boost that up next month.

Halloween on a Budget

October 13th, 2016 at 01:40 pm

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Several years ago, I made a mini haunted house in my one car garage with a mad science room and a cemetery. The Halloween before last, DH (back then, he was just some guy I was seeing) and I went to a drive-in Halloween movie marathon dressed as Aladdin and Jasmine (complete with our magic car-pet) and gave out candy to kids.

This year, I can't quite go as all out as I'd like, but since the sellers will be out of our house that day, DH and I are going there for our first Halloween in our home. I figured it'd be a great chance to start getting to know our neighbors and get a good idea of what Halloween is like in our neighborhood for future years. Since it's not Halloween without costumes, I came up with a (relatively) inexpensive costume idea. We're going to be Mr. and Mrs. Pac-man. We already have a ton of boxes, so I can fasten something out of that. I bought yellow paint and candy from Amazon today to the tune of $34. I have a mixing bowl set, and my orange bowl is one of the largest, so I'm going to use that as our candy dish.

I'd also like some form of decorations, so I'll probably dig out my homemade tombstones and spiders. I do think I'll need to buy some webbing, but I can make do with what I have for the rest.

We're really excited to start creating memories in our new house!

New Job Celebration & an Interesting Errand

October 11th, 2016 at 09:07 am

Yesterday, DH and I went to one of our favorite mexican restaurants for HH to celebrate his first day on the job. The restaurant serves free nachos during happy hour, so we ate our fill and had a few drinks Total cost was $15 for 2 beers and a margarita.

On the way home, we stopped at PetSmart to get food for the dogs. This guy complimented DH's shirt and proceeded to strike up a conversation with us. He seemed perfectly nice until the conversation turned to our high cost of living area. He then proceeded to feel us out on a 'job opportunity' involving marketing to major companies which allowed his wife to retire from her job. Uh, thanks, but no thanks. It's a shame because DH and I just thought they were genuinely friendly people we happened to meet in a PetSmart.

DH is loving his new job. He's so much happier, and I already see a big boost in our home life. The puppies are calmer and happier to see him, we have plenty of time together in the evening, and DH is less stressed, so he's able to play a larger role in the household. The other small plus is that he gets paid every 2 weeks, so this is the first time that we'll have 2 months of 3-paychecks. The plan will be to send half to savings and half towards debt. DH is even getting on board with the payoff. He's agreed to download YNAB and start helping with the tracking. Just a few more weeks until the big move!

More Free Things and Utilities

October 10th, 2016 at 07:16 am

We dropped off the hot tub yesterday. I still can't believe we were able to get a free one since that was one of our 3 big improvements this first year.

While there, we got to chat with the previous owners a bit. They were very nice, giving us loads of advice. They even offered to leave us a push mower and weedeater. We were very touched as we hadn't even thought about lawn care yet.

We also found out more about utilities. There is no gas which I had budgeted for. He said that for the 2 of us, electric should run 150, 200 in the winter when the heat pump runs. Water usually runs 50-60, depending on use. Trash is 30/month, but optional. The dump is about a 5 minute drive away. I'm leaning towards dumping it ourselves for the first few months and then working the convenience in if there's room in the budget.

October Goals

October 7th, 2016 at 10:28 am

Today, I had to turn down a free piano. It would've cost almost $400 to move it to our new place, and we decided that since it wasn't an expense we'd already planned, we should forgo it.

I'm still pretty upset about it, but I told myself that if I really want our financial situation to change, then I need to stop rationalizing spending for things I didn't originally plan.

I think we're in pretty good shape to have the money we need for the lease break ($2000), prorated rent in our place ($1300), and our mortgage ($2300) by early November. I was hoping to have it all by Nov. 1, but I think we'll need some funds from my first Nov. paycheck (11/7).

The other big goal for October is to completely wipe out one of the credit cards. The Chase Slate card has about $800 on it. Since the statement just closed, we have until 11/2.

We currently have 1800 saved up, so that means, we'll need 4600 in October. I know we have $3500 coming from paychecks, so we'll need another $1100. I think DH will make that in this month at his new job, but we'll see. Challenge accepted.

Property Taxes

October 4th, 2016 at 11:00 am

Several people mentioned property taxes on here when I had posted my budget. They are due this month. Mine are reasonable and can be cash-flowed. However, DH's are in the $800-900 range. While we certainly could cash flow this as well, I've been hoarding cash for various reasons that are coming up: $2000 for the potential move-out fee, $2400 first mortgage payment, $1150 to cover rent up until the 60-day mark in our current place, not to mention the $77/day proration we will owe the current sellers if they move before the end of October.

In November and December, I'd like to put 50 aside for this. In January, I want to up it to $100. That'll give us $1000 at the beginning of next October.

For this year, here are my options:

- Tap into savings: DH has about $500 in his own separate savings account. We could clean that out and cash flow the other $300.
- Credit Card: We could put it on a credit card that recently closed and then we'd have almost 2 months to cash flow it before interest started.
- Cash Flow: We could cash flow it outright, but that taps into our $2000 fund.

I'm leaning towards the credit card, but any thoughts?

So Many Updates

October 3rd, 2016 at 08:01 am

Where to begin? We've had several things happen in the past week...some of which I can discuss and others which I can only allude to. Here goes:

DH's Job: DH was scheduled to get two notifications on Friday about the two jobs. The first was great. He was offered a position, albeit at an even lower salary than we thought. We didn't even bother negotiating because after running the numbers, we are okay as long as DH works at least 10 hrs. overtime/wk. The second call was to tell him they went with someone else, but that they'd keep him in mind when ramping up to full staff next February. DH was a little bummed, but the job he was offered was ultimately the company he wanted. We were just hoping for the second offer for leverage to negotiate on the first.

Renting the Current Place: Our landlord has agreed to waive the $2000 move out fee if we put in the effort to find a tenant and coordinate the move out. We had one gentleman look at it yesterday, and we have another person coming by Wednesday evening. I also renewed the posting in case neither of these pan out.

Additional Income: Because this new job is a huge pay cut (but a ginormous boost to our home life), we've been looking at some ways to make up the missing income.
1) DH can do overtime at time and a half. The company said they offer overtime about 80% of the time, and since DH is used to 70+ hr. workweeks, he's more than willing to put in 50-60 hr. workweeks.
2) DH's dad has offered to have DH come back and help him on the weekends again. This would allow DH to build up his home craftsmanship skills and earn some extra money.
3) A coworker of mine has a friend looking for after-school tutors. Hours are flexible and pay $10-20/hr. The other plus is that it's near where I will live, so I can detour there an hour or two on the way home and make some extra money.
4) I'm beginning to realize just how underpaid I am at my job. I've always known that I was, but I stick it out because the job offers flexibility, I enjoy my coworkers and the culture, and I will eventually move into a lead position which will be a big income boost. However, with this change, if we're finding it difficult, I may have to start looking into something that is more in line with my experience/skill set. Looking at the average salaries for my job and experience, I would easily make up the difference in DH's income and then some (we'd be pretty close to 6 figures on my income alone). I'd rather avoid this route as I truly enjoy my company, but it's definitely on the table and something we are thinking about.

Verizon and/or Hulu

September 29th, 2016 at 07:22 am

As part of the upcoming move, I've been trying to really break down each of my non-essential bills to see where I can cut back. One of the areas was Verizon. We currently have Triple Play. We don't even own a home phone, but Triple Play was cheaper than just Internet and cable. I was looking over the bill, and $82 for the Triple Play package didn't seem to bad compared to our old place which was 93 for the same package and only one Set-Top box. As I was reviewing the details, I noticed they were charging us for DVR service. I called and sorted that out. There will be a $16 credit to this month's bill and future bills will be $8 cheaper. $74 a month for cable and Internet doesn't seem expensive to me. It is a 2-yr. agreement, but the current triple play package is 29.99. After one year, it'll be either 39.99 or 49.99. I guess I'll have to price out just the Internet and figure out if it makes more sense to switch to that when we move since we'll otherwise be locked into the Triple Play package for 2 yrs. If we end up doing just the Internet, then we'll keep the Hulu package I recently added. They had a limited offer for 5.99/mo. for a year. I added it, and the first month is free, so that gives us some time to decide whether to keep or cancel it.

Medical Insurance, an Injury, and Free Stuff

September 28th, 2016 at 12:36 pm

This month was open enrollment at my office. After looking at my options and DH's military insurance, I've decided to jump onto his insurance. We prepaid the first two month's premiums - about $420. I did keep vision and dental with my company and added DH to those plans.

Shortly after settling all that, I fell in the parking lot of BJ's. I rolled my foot and stubbed my toe. I had to get x-rays done yesterday and am waiting to hear back the results, but I can walk on it. I'm also waiting to hear back from the landowner responsible for parking lot maintenance (it was a rather sizable pothole). I have no interest in suing, but I would appreciate not having to pay out of pocket for an injury occurring on their land. All told, it's $100, but still...

In the free stuff category, we've had a couple of interesting happenings. You all already know about the hot tub and the desk/2 computer chairs we got from a generous gentleman who's moving and Freecycle. The same man also has a 2 month old 2-piece couch that he is giving to us. I haven't see pictures yet, but it is brand new. I also entered a Facebook giveaway for an iFetch. I'd planned to buy one in our new place, saw the giveaway, and entered. Apparently, I was one of the winners!! Unfortunately, it may be too small for our dogs to actually use (the balls are only 1.5 inches and our dogs are both 60+ lbs.). It arrived this morning, so I'm interested to try it out and see how our older dog takes to it. If he seems to like it, I may just invest in the larger version. The lady that notified me was very nice and said that while they couldn't substitute it for the larger version, they could send me a care package with treats and a toy that my bigger dogs could use.

Income and Food

September 26th, 2016 at 10:03 am

I want to thank everyone for their input on my tentative budget. We definitely have some thinking and refining to do over the next few months.

Just to reiterate, those numbers were just our combined budget. We each have our own accounts through which we pay car gas, auto maintenance and taxes, any gift or individual spending, etc.

Combined, our income averages 5-6k/month. I bring home a consistent amount whereas DH's income is variable. Since he doesn't carry nearly as much debt as I do, he tends to contribute more to our combined account, but I anticipate that that will change if he snags one of the new jobs. He'll still contribute about 90% of his income, but I'll be contributing more money to the account simply because my income will be higher.

Out of my own income, I usually have 300-400 extra per paycheck to throw at debt, so while I think we'll have to be mindful, I think we'll weather the adjustment to being homeowners just fine.

To prepare for the move, I have a little over a grand in our savings currently. The plan is to get that to 2000 to cover our move out if we can't fill the place. I think we'll be able to do it with DH's commission check mid-October.

I'm also trying to avoid groceries as much as possible. I do know that we need milk and bread, but otherwise, I'm going to focus on eating down our pantry. Tonight is hamburgers and homemade french fries using the remaining potatoes I have.

Yesterday, I went on a cooking spree and made banana chocolate chip muffins for breakfast (half topped with some almond slices I've had in my pantry for awhile). I also made chocolate chip cookies for something sweet in our lunches and a few hard boiled eggs. I've have one of those big bags of chocolate chips for about a year. They're good until next February, but I'm trying to get rid of it before the move. Once I get bread, we should be good on lunches (pbj or turkey/cheese sandwiches, a babybel, a hard-boiled egg, cookie, and fruit snacks).

Tentative Numbers

September 23rd, 2016 at 07:46 am

Below is our tentative joint budget. For now, I will still keep my debts paid out of my own bank account, but that may change. We'd agree that once we were married, I'd close my individual account and pay everything out of our joint account, and DH would keep only his fun money in his individual bank account. We've both sort of changed thoughts on this. He's leaning towards closing his individual account and doing everything out of the joint account, and I'm leaning towards keeping my own account to still pay my debts out of. We'll have more conversations on this coming to figure out what the best plan is. For now, the below numbers only cover our joint expenses.

Our income is up in the air at the moment. My second October paycheck will be the amount I will make until July of next year. Until then, I can just guess. My last paycheck was 1770, but our 401k loan hadn't started hitting yet ($90/pay period). Between that and our insurance changes taking effect in October (I'm moving medical to DH's military plan, but we're keeping dental and vision with my company), I'm not sure exactly what my paycheck will be, but I'm guessing around 1650. The plan is to put 950 into our joint account for a total of 1900/mo from me. DH's paycheck will make up the rest. Based on my math, he'd need to make at least 34k/yr to cover our bare bones budget. He was contacted for a interview at a different company yesterday, so if he ends up getting either of those new jobs, we'd just have to make sure the numbers are right. It seems salary for those positions run between 35 and 40k, not counting overtime, so we should be good. In his current position, DH's income is variable but ran around 60k last year and should be about the same (if not more) this year. While it makes more financial sense for DH to stay in this job, I'm really concerned for the toll it takes on our relationship and his sanity, so I'm hoping he is able to transition into this other industry. It's less money for now, but he'd be home by 4 pm every weekday, have weekends off, and would only have a 10-15 min. commute as opposed to the hour-plus he'd have if he kept his current job after the move.

Anything missing from the list below that I haven't considered? I know we do want to start a home maintenance fund, but I don't how much we'll be able to allocate to that yet.

Rent (PITI) 2370.79
Gas 100
Electric 150
Verizon 90
Groceries 200
Entertainment 50
Miscellaneous 100
Pets 100
Marriott Card 50
Cap One Card 50
Ring 101
Geico 114.76
Med. Insurance 210.83
Total Expenses 3376.55

Other Happenings/Thoughts

September 22nd, 2016 at 09:18 am

Just some random thoughts jumbling around in my head/recent happenings.

We got our wedding video back yesterday on our 4 month mark. It was incredible. We love it so much! Absolutely, positively worth the money. I've already watched it 4 times and it was just the 10 minute highlight video.

The hot tub looks like it's a go. We got the all clear to take it if we wish, and his dad said it looks like it's in good shape. We just need to ensure that it'll fit into his truck, find 6 people to help move it, and then we'll be good. His parents are going to let us store it at their place until our move. Yay for saving!

I've tentatively laid out plans for improvements for the first year. As I mentioned before, the house is move-in ready. There's some minor fixes like sagging gutters, but DH's dad has agreed to help us with those, and DH can actually do some of it himself. The only big splurges that we're planning for the first year were painting, fencing in the backyard, and the hot tub. The fencing we're going to hold off on until we get our tax returns. In the meantime, I am picking up a freecycled dog stake for our younger dog as I'm afraid she would run off and chase something whereas my oldest dog can run freely and listens. The painting will actually happen while we're in the house, but the plan is to live in the basement (it's finished with a living area, bedroom, and bathroom) while we paint all the upstairs, and then move upstairs and paint the basement rooms.

The sellers will be out October 31st. I spoke with our current landlord last night to give him notice, and explain that we'd be out sooner than late November if he wanted to try and turn it around quickly and get someone in there before the holidays. He offered us a different solution which we will be doing. Our current lease states that we can get out of our lease with a $2000 break-lease payment, and 60 days notice. He said that if we wanted to take on the responsibility of trying to fill the place (putting up the craigslist ad, showing the place, etc.) and we found someone, then he'd draw up a new lease removing the fee. If we couldn't fill it, then we'd just still owe the $2000 and rent up until November 20th-ish. DH and I are going to get the place organized this weekend, and place up a Craigslist ad next week. That's not too early, is it? I'd rather give us plenty of time to try and fill it.

I've also been scouring freecycle. I found several desks, so I sent them to DH to see if he liked any of them for the new office. He did like one, and it's still available, so we're picking that up this weekend.

I've been thinking through our budget. I want to get back into tracking through YNAB, but right now, I'm undecided as to whether to get the paid version or continue with the free version. Any thoughts either way?

I also have some ideas about how to cut our spending. I want to try once-a-month cooking with repeated meals - the goal will be to cut our groceries to $50/week or $200 month. Considering we were having trouble staying under $300, this is a big goal, but I already explained to DH that we'd just be doing a lot of simple repetition. Two other big things we're going to do are give up DH's soccer membership and cable. I'm not entirely sure no cable will be all that much cheaper than just Fios internet, but we'll price it out and then make a decision.

I've been reading my old blog entries, and I was so gung ho and good until that Vegas trip derailed my progress. I'm hoping to renew that intensity and really make some progress over the next year. It may not be debt-free by thir-ty, but I'd really like to knock out everything but the mortgage over the next 2-3 years.

The whole house story...and a potential hot tub

September 21st, 2016 at 11:07 am

Since we've officially closed and are now (temporary) landlords, I feel like I can finally tell the house story. I've been keeping quiet because I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop, but everything worked out.

Let me preface the story with this fact: a month and a half ago, we had no plans to buy a home. In fact, I discussed here about our plans to spend a year in a place to give us time to save up money and really look for a home we loved. About a week after we moved, one of the lenders we'd spoken with told us that the 2 year employment period of commission-based employees was flexible. It was a military-focused lending institution, and since DH had 1.5 yrs under his belt and was in school the remaining time, they could get a waiver for the 2 yr. requirement. We went ahead and applied for kicks and ended up with a $400k approval in our hands.

For anyone familiar with the DMV area, it's REALLY difficult to find single family homes in a decent location under half a million. So even with the approval, we figured we'd start looking, but likely would have to do some additional mortgage lender shopping once we hit the 2 yr. mark at DH's company.

We started by looking at Zillow and reaching out to DH's family friend who is trusted realtor (she helped us in looking for the place we're currently in). She told us that of the 6 homes we'd wanted to take a look at from Zillow, only 2 were actually available. We went on a Thursday to look at the one we really liked. It was even better in person. For a 30 year old home, the house had only been through 2 owners, and these people had really taken care of it. All appliances were under 5 yrs. old. And there was storage/shelving everywhere. They'd also done some neat quirky things like turning the area under the stairs into a storage closet and installing a laundry chute from the master bedroom to the utility room in the basement. It had a sunroom and a deck and a patio (perfect for a hot tub) and (our only requirement) a HUGE backyard. I loved the house, but was really hesitant to admit it because 1) it was the first house we saw and 2) it was bumping right up against our $400k limit.

After that first house decided to look at a house we'd seen around the corner that was for sale. It had been on our Zillow list, but hadn't made the short list of homes we wanted to see. We were not impressed. The first turnoff was the 4 or 5 huge hornets hovering around the tree in the backyard. From there, it just got worse. The floor plan felt much more stifling, it wasn't kept up as well, and to top it all off, it was more expensive than the first place.

At the end of the day, we couldn't stop thinking about the house, so we decided to ask his parents to look at it. DH's dad is a contractor, so he'd be able to tell us if it was in as good a shape as it seemed. I was also hoping his mom would talk us away from the ledge. She even told us at dinner the evening before they saw it that they'd look at 30-something homes before committing (although they knew instantly that the one was it). The next morning, they made it through the living room and kitchen before they turned around and told us we'd be crazy not to take the house (so much for that...).

I spoke with the realtor to get a quick idea of the numbers. I knew I could pull from my 401k, but even with that, we might be short. DH's parents graciously agreed to help us, and by Monday morning, we were under contract.

Yesterday, we closed. However, the sellers have asked to rent back from us until the end of October. So now, we wait to move in.

The good news is that with the 60-day notice needed to vacate our current contract, we should have little (if any) overlap in rents/mortgages.

DH and I are super excited to get into our home. We already have some basic ideas, but the house is essentially live-in ready. We do know that one of our first big improvements will be to fence in the backyard. This will allow us to let the puppies run freely and give us some privacy once we get the hot tub (can you tell I really, really want a hot tub?).

Speaking of hot tubs...I joked about it at the end of our closing just to keep it fresh in DH's mind. Well, our realtor chimes in and says 'I actually just did a quote for a hot tub removal. In fact, your dad (DH's contractor dad) is doing some work on the place and will probably be the one to remove it. I think it's in good shape if you guys want it.' Uhhh....of course we do!! DH's dad saw it today, and said it definitely looks like it's in good shape, so the plan is to see if it'll fit in his truck and then his parents would keep it at their place until we move in. Score!!!

Obviously this will mean some very different things for our finances, so updates on that coming soon.

Everything but the kitchen sink...

September 20th, 2016 at 07:42 am

Well, actually, it's everything but the whole house. I'm going to save the crazy house story for tomorrow.

Today, I'll fill in everything else that's been happening. DH (still makes me incredibly happy to say!) and I have been experiencing a ton of life changes.

My Work: My job has been giving me increased responsibilities. I was selected to be a part of a team for a proposal challenge which we did last week. It was a whirlwind to prep for, and a blast to be a part of, but I was so exhausted at the end of it. They've also set me as the interviewer for several new testing positions that are available. It's nice to feel recognized for my value to the company.

DH's Work: DH has recently become very jaded with his company. He's started looking at transitioning into a different industry and interviewed last week with a company. He's got a pretty good shot, so I'm hoping he hears some good news in the next week or two. While it would be considerably less money, it'd be stable hours and income, and would make for a much happier home life, so fingers crossed!

Recent Move: We've been in our current place for about 2 months. I still don't feel settled and probably won't given that we're not unpacking anything.

Finances: These have been on a major downslide. We've been great about not eating out or spending on silly things, but just given the circumstances, we've added on some temporary extra debt Frown I'm hoping these will stabilize in a few weeks, and we'll be able to see some progress.

Cooking: I've been on a cooking roll recently. I've never been very comfortable in the kitchen, but I'm certainly improving. I'd like to get into preparing healthier meals, but delicious, home-cooked comfort food is about all I got going right now.

Fitness: I seem to be maintaining which is good. I tend to eat or drink my stress and given everything that's been going on lately, I'm glad that I'm at least not adding weight.

My List

September 16th, 2016 at 08:55 am

I haven't been around much lately because it seems like my world is spinning much faster than I'd like. To quickly summarize, we are dealing with increased responsibilities at my job, a recent move, a potential new job for DH, and my biggest reason for keeping quiet...a house! I'll elaborate later, but for now, here's my list:

1. I turn 30 this year and started this blog with the intent of being fully debt free by that age.
2. Since starting the blog, I've been through 3 moves, a new relationship that turned into a marriage, and this coming Monday will be closing on our first home. Needless to say, that whole debt-free thing is not going to happen.
3. I live in the DMV area and traffic here is an absolute nightmare.
4. I got married this past May and will celebrate 4 incredible months on 9/21.
5. DH and I have 2 dogs and a cat (Bouncer, Riley, and Katniss). I'm so in love with our little family.
6. I coach kids' cheerleading. It is one of the most rewarding, and frustrating, things I've ever done.
7. DH and I really can't wait to expand our family and have children, but with all of our recent life changes, I've recently become super committed to putting that off until our financial situation is more stable.
8. I've never been outside the U.S.
9. I'm an interesting blend of cultures: Filipino, Spanish, French, and German. No one can ever really tell what I am. Our future kids will be that + Navajo and Guatemalan.
10. I've always been afraid of cooking, but I've really blossomed in the past few years. While I still mostly follow recipes, I am getting more comfortable with experimenting and making my own choices/substitutions.
11. About a month ago, I discovered that you can bake hard-boiled eggs, and I will never cook them on the stove top again.
12. I've never met any SA bloggers in person, but I do think it would be fun to do!

Just keep swimming

July 18th, 2016 at 12:14 pm

That phrase is even cuter now that I've seen Finding Dory.

I'm finding it really difficult to keep up with everything going on. We're in the middle of packing for our move this upcoming weekend. So far, costs for that are about $60 for the truck (with the total for miles coming to about $30). Plus, we'll have food cost since we'll be ordering pizza as a thank you to our helpers (my brothers plus DH's best friend and dad). We have upcoming vet costs for shots, plus our younger dog has a problem controlling her bowels when she's sleeping, so we want to check on that. We also want to get the dogs groomed before moving, so that is another $100 or so.

My rabbit died last week. I'd had him nearly a decade. We bought him in our junior year and kept him in our dorm, breaking pet rules. He was always a grumpy old thing, but I was so sad when he passed. We were going to bring him to the vet to be put down, since his behavior changed so quickly. Fortunately, I was with him and he passed away comfortably in the comfort of his home.

DH is shaping up to have a great month, so hopefully next month, we'll be able to get back on track and pay off some things. First up, is $1400 to an outstanding personal loan. That pain is leftover from my pre-savingadvice days, and I'll be glad when it's gone.

Pokemon Go

July 11th, 2016 at 08:02 am

Not much on the financial front, but I found my new favorite pastime which gives me more quality time with my DH, dogs, and provides some exercise. It's always been a hassle to get DH to walk with me because he's so tired in the evenings. I don't like taking both pups on long walks by myself because the younger one is still learning her big girl manners, so it's difficult to control them both. With pokemon go, DH is suddenly much more motivated to walk even if it's just a mile around the neighborhood. We've been getting out a lot more, plus it's silly fun. Have you noticed more people out and about in your neighborhood? Are you trying to catch em all?

2 Steps Forward, 4 Steps Back

June 29th, 2016 at 10:15 am

I received an offer for Chase for a 0% APR balance transfer. Since my NFL Points card (the one with a large $4k+ balance) just passed the 0% APR period, I transferred that balance to Chase. I'm hoping once we settle into the new townhouse, things will calm down, and I'll be able to knock this down quickly. I have about $700/month extra money to throw at debt.

We signed the lease on the townhouse a week or so ago. It's only $50 more than we currently pay, and we're upgrading from a 1-bedroom apartment to a 2-bed/2-bath townhouse with a tiny fenced backyard and 2 designated parking spaces. It's a very dated home, but it'll do nicely for a year while we save/look for a permanent home. The really nice thing is that the landlord is very laidback, and if there are improvements we want to make, he'll reimburse us the cost of materials and deduct the cost of labor from our rent. Upfront costs totaled just under $2100 for the deposit, pet fee, and half of the first month's rent. Fortunately, we'd had that $3k put aside from wedding gifts. The remainder of the rent is due when we move in which will be the last part of that 3k. We still have another $900 in that account for wedding gifts that we haven't bought yet. The biggest is the Roomba, but since we have a perfectly good pet vacuum, I may hold off on it for now and just keep that money as savings.

I really need to start budgeting again. I'd fallen off the YNAB bandwagon and need to fresh start and do it right.

Otherwise, things are great with DH and I. We got a bunch of free boxes yesterday from a FB group, so over the next few weeks, I plan to start packing/decluttering.

Moving forward and other things (including more wedding pics)

June 22nd, 2016 at 01:33 pm

Lots going on over here. Outside of our new family unit, we've had to deal with my mom's potential foreclosure and family issues on his side. With us, everything is great.

We signed a 1-year lease on a townhouse that will take all 3 animals. We've also initiated the process of getting pre-approved for a home loan.

My potential promotion has been postponed, but I did get a 3.5% raise, so that's something.

We also got our pro wedding pics back.

Moving, Medical Issues, and Couple Goals

June 9th, 2016 at 07:23 am

Now that the wedding is behind us, we're looking forward to a few things. The most pressing is that our lease ends 8/5, and we have decided not to renew. The issue is that we have 3 animals. We'd love to find a townhouse or SFH to rent for a year until DH has the required 2 years commission income needed to buy a home, but it's very difficult to find someone willing to rent with one animal...let alone 3. We've only looked at 2 places so far. One told us it wasn't likely given the amount of interest he has from non-pet owners. The other place was run down and far too much of a fixer upper for us to commit to for a year. We're going to look at another next week. This one is slightly out of our ideal price range, but we could afford it. It has a huge backyard and a hot tub which would make for an amazing summer both for us and the animals. However, it would hinder our ability to save and pay down debt over the next year. Our backup plan is to upgrade to a 2 bedroom in our current apartment building. We've agreed that if we don't have anything by 7/10, then we'd sign a lease for a 2 bedroom where we are. More space and we'd be able to keep all 3 animals. The huge drawback is that we were really hoping to move to a place with a yard.

Another thing affecting our goals of saving/paying down debt is medical issues. I've been having chest pains for about 3 weeks. After finally going to the doctor, I find out that I have a chest fracture. We think it may have been the corset, but I'm still waiting for the doctor to speak with the radiologist before she determines how to proceed. In the meantime, they gave me some pain medicine which really helps alleviate the pain.

Now that we're getting back into our normal routines, DH and I are trying to get back to our previous fitness levels. DH has committed to no alcohol, no junk food, only water, and regular workouts until he drops 22 lbs. I said I'd join him, but I'm not doing only water (I don't drink soda or anything regularly, but I'm not limiting myself to just water). I can't really work out until I have a better idea of the medical diagnosis, but for now, I can certainly commit to eating better and helping hold DH accountable. We'd gotten a gym membership before the wedding. I'm going to drop mine as we have a perfectly adequate facility in our apartment complex, plus I prefer working out at home. He wants to keep his which I said is fine, but he must attend at least 3x/week. If he doesn't go 3 times every week, then he has to drop it. I'm debating whether we should join a few dietbets to really help motivate us.

Wedding Budget Breakdown

June 9th, 2016 at 07:06 am

I know some people were curious as to how I managed to spend 32000 on one day. To be honest, I'm not sure how I managed to blow that much considering I thought I was extremely frugal in some areas. The good news is we paid almost this entire sum on our own. The bad news is...that money's all gone now, and I don't have anything physical to show for it. This isn't a completely accurate picture because I found that especially towards the end, I did a terrible job of tracking things. It was easier to throw money at an issue than stress over it, so I padded the budget I did track by a grand to account for all of those miscellaneous costs.

Venue 9264.29
Caterer 6889.04
DJ 1020
Photographer 1632.62
Videographer 1100
Florals Included in venue package
Officiant Included in venue package
Tips 490
Alcohol 1667.27
Dress 826.87
Shoes 76.29
Accessories 16.5
Other Events Clothing 160.45
Reception Dress 120
Groom's Suit 198.73
Rehearsal Dinner 1151.60
Hair/Make-up 240
Nails 404.60
Invitations 60
Rentals 1100
Bridal Party Gifts 890.33
Wedding Rings 120
Wedding Night Room 425.48
Centerpieces 133.9
Placecards 25
Cake Topper 27
Wine Box 82
Guestbook 65
Save The Dates 125.08
Bridal Party Proposals 118.61
Dress Steaming 140
Flight 560
Car Rental 706.12
Day Of Food 311.76
Honeymoon Activities 930.80

Total 31079.34

Miscellaneous 1000**

Estimated Total 32079.34**

**This is a rough guess and includes all the other small things that I didn't categorize. Examples include an orange petticoat, washi tape and other craft supplies, a video cable for the projector, a flower girl book, mini notebooks, markers, DH's flight for our planning trip, etc.

I'm back and married!

May 31st, 2016 at 12:48 pm

Back to work, back to reality, back to being focused on finances. The wedding was wonderful. We actually had tons of little things go wrong, but my bridesmaids were great about keeping things hidden from me. DH (yay!!) was sick all morning, but he also managed to keep that from me. We did a first look which was my favorite part of the day. I was all nerves and emotions and the second I saw him, I was just happy. We got each other gifts too, and it turns out they were perfect complementary gifts (yet another indication that we belong together). For those who are familiar with How I Met Your Mother, I gave him a small blue french horn, and he gave me the yellow umbrella. I didn't get to enjoy any of the delicious food we had, and I had maybe half a drink the whole day. You really do get pulled in so many different directions. One other big highlight was DH's great-uncle gifting us some ceremonial Navajo blankets. They were absolutely beautiful.

Here's some pictures (hopefully it works...I don't do pictures often...):

Groom's cake at the rehearsal dinner:

Opening my gift:

Our ceremony:

Us in front of some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever witnessed:

Us with our ceremonial blankets:

In other financial news, I did pay off my smallest credit card, and we've decided to put most of our wedding gifts to savings. So our current savings is now $3000. As I get back into the swing of things, I plan to track debt and savings here. Our goal is 15000 by next summer to buy a house, and no consumer debt by the end of the year.

Leaving one week from today & big news!

May 10th, 2016 at 06:50 am

In one week, I'll be on a plane to Phoenix to marry the love of my life. It's so crazy to think about. We're very lucky to be where we are and to have managed to pay 90% of the wedding ourselves. I'll try to break it down when we return, but the rough estimate is about $31000. FH has worked his butt off this past year to make this happen for us, and I'm so grateful to have him in my life. (I do contribute to our finances and actually make just as much as him, but my paychecks are steady, so we use his commission checks to knock out large sums of our wedding bills...plus, I'm bringing in much more debt to the marriage which makes me cringe, but luckily, he's understanding.)

In other big, big news...my work won a HUGE contract that they bid on. Since several staff on my project were key personnel, big staffing changes are afoot including...the potential for a promotion for me!! My boss has always said I'd have her job one day, and it did seem likely that it would happen, only years down the road. With this work, I think they're going to try and get me in there now. It's really scary, but exciting to think about. It would make it that much more likely that we could pay off all consumer debt by the end of this year (minus FH's car) in addition to saving up 10-20k for a house down payment next year.

Random Updates - Wedding Brain Edition

April 28th, 2016 at 06:52 am

There's so many things happening right now that I'm finding it hard to keep track. Between my regular job, the second project I'm helping on, the final wedding details, and upping the workouts in a last ditch effort to be semi-toned, I have zero free time. Over the weekend, I'm really going to try and meal prep as we have a ton of food, but haven't been cooking. Last night, we went out to eat. At least, I'm eating healthier when we eat out.

DF and I are doing a choreographed dance. We started learning it awhile back, but started slacking on it this past month. With only 3 weeks from this Saturday, we've really got to pick it up. The problem we're having is with rehearsal space. Last night, we practiced in a basketball court, but it's definitely not the same with shoe grip and surface. I'm looking into community spaces, but those are $60/hr. Granted, we didn't do dance lessons, but we're really trying to minimize extra costs at this point. I'm also looking into a gym. I guess worse case, we could sign up for 3 different one week free passes (there's lots of gyms in our area) and use their studio space.

My boss (who is attending the wedding) very generously offered to decorate for us the day of the wedding, so I was able to apply the $150 we were going to pay the venue to do it to the kitchen fees instead. We'll stay have another $500 or so to pay for kitchen fees, but I won't know that until we have our final catering bill.

My venue coordinator has gotten a lot more friendly the closer the wedding gets. She's been very helpful as of late. I've started booking our appointments for when we get out to AZ. It's looking like Wednesday will be Phoenix area vendor meetings while Thursday will be Sedona area vendor meetings. Friday, I'll review everything once more with my venue coordinator and then let go and hope everything goes smoothly on Saturday.

Debt-wise, I got one credit card under 300. The Chase Freedom I'm going to try and decrease by 50. The Marriott card is paid in full each month. They also just increased my limit, so while I think we're fine money-wise, it is nice to know that we could potentially put last-minute expenses on the card and have one more month to come up with the money. My score is creeping slowly back up to 700 and I'm hoping to be above 720 when we look to buy next year.

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