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Does it ever stop?

December 5th, 2016 at 06:03 am

Just when I think things are going to start settling down, they don't.

Here's some of the happenings in rambling form:

New Job: I'd been half-heartedly applying to other jobs. I don't really want to leave my company as I've built a lot of good rapport and flexibility there, but I feel very stagnant. I've been severely underpaid for several years now, and there's just not room for my salary to grow in comparison to how much my skillset has grown. I got a verbal offer late last week and am expecting the written offer this week. My biggest hesitation is that the job is hourly (meaning no PTO or paid holidays), but it's a solid 15k more than what I'm currently making. It would definitely give us a bit more breathing room and allow us to make some progress on paying off debts.

Holidays: I want to thank everyone for their comments on my last post. I'm definitely going to try and focus more on the spirit of the holiday rather than the number of gifts under the tree. That said, we did scrounge up what we could to buy some gifts.

Pet Care: I was delaying bringing the pets in to the new vet where we live because we didn't have the extra funds and they were fine. However, we did have to go in last week. DD1 (dear dog 1 for those who may not remember) has been losing a lot of weight. He's basically a bag of bones. We attributed it to the fact that he's now running top speed for at least an hour and a half daily and upped his food intake to make up for it. Well, when DH was walking him, he decided to check DD1's business and make sure there was nothing alarming there. He found tan and white specks, which according to Google, could be tapeworms. We took him in immediately, but there was nothing in his stool. We gave the go-ahead for bloodwork to make sure those levels were fine, and that was normal as well (except for slight anemia). Total cost was just under $200 for the blood work and float test (the visit was free since it was his first).

Cooking: I spend $160 yesterday on the ingredients for half of a 2-wk. once-a-month-cooking cycle (including several new pantry ingredients that I didn't have). Since this is my first time trying it, and we don't need that much to get us through December, I picked about half of the meals. DH and I will be prepping and cooking them tonight. Since they serve at least 4, we will divide them into multiple serving to get through the remainder of December. Fortunately, one that I chose serves 16-20. On Christmas eve, we will probably have both families over at our place. DH has a tradition that he does every Christmas eve that he wants to start in our new place. So that night, we'll do the slow cooker chicken sandwiches, so we can feed everyone. I still need to get Christmas day groceries, but I'm encouraged that we may be able to stick to our $200/month grocery budget in the future.

I'm sure there's a lot more, but I just can't really brain right now. I'm long overdue for a good hard look at the numbers.

Holiday Shopping

December 2nd, 2016 at 05:23 am

I'm trying so hard to resist the temptation of holiday spending. Being the one who normally makes Christmas happen for my immediate family makes me feel like a failure for not being able to do it this year. I did manage to snag up several things on Cyber Monday for DH and our household, including a carpet cleaner, new filters to revitalize our vacuum, a Star Wars puzzle, posters for all the Star Wars movies (to hang in the office), discounted frames for the posters, pajama pants, and several thermal shirts for DH to wear in the winter (he works outside).

I've portioned out $300 of DH's extra paycheck for him to be able to buy gifts for his family. We also have enough points for 3 gift cards through our Marriott credit card (2 $25 gift cards and a $15 gift card). I also need to get one gift for each of my family members.

I feel bad because we're doing Christmas at our place so everyone can be together again, and my mom is worried DH's family will judge that there's not many gifts from my family. Honestly, I'm a bit worried about that too, but oh well. They are somewhat aware that my family is nowhere near as stable as they are, but I just hope it's not super obvious when their family has tons of gifts to open and mine only has 2-3 gifts for each person.

Wonderful Thanksgiving & Some Financial Updates

November 28th, 2016 at 10:38 am

We had a great Thanksgiving. It was so nice to have our families (minus my little brother) all in one place. I also managed to escape Black Friday mostly unscathed (although there was some Cyber Monday spending today). On Black Friday, I bought 2 video games for DH. He knows this will be a lean Christmas, but I did want to make sure he has at least a few things he wants. He actually conned me into giving him one game already, but the other is with my mom. I told him that I only managed to snag the one game, so he'll be really surprised.

On the money side of things, his parents' generosity continues. They not only bought us a brand new 55 inch smart TV, a popcorn maker, a rotating waffle maker, and a bathroom set (not to mention, these aren't even part of our Christmas gifts because they gave them to us early), but they also forgave the gift they gave us for the house. It was originally intended as a loan, and we had every intention of paying it back further down the road, but they told us not to worry about it. I can only hope that one day, we'll be able to be as generous with our kids.

2 other things we've decided to hold off on for now are the Costco and YNAB memberships. Each runs about $50, but we have workarounds for now. I still have a BJ's membership until next August. Costco is around the corner whereas BJ's is about a 10-15 minute car ride. I still have YNAB4, so even though I find the import transactions feature so convenient, I will go back to the old way for now.

Something of a spending fast

November 23rd, 2016 at 06:52 am

We've implemented something of a spending fast. We're not spending nothing completely, but we are going to be very scrupulous in our purchases.

I wasn't very good about tracking our cash flow purchases which made things a little wonky this month. The only miscellaneous spending currently on the books will be DH's XMas gift (he wants a game that is normally $60, but will be on sale Black Friday for $25-$30). December is DH's 3 paycheck month. As much as I'd like to be able to do half-savings/half-debt, there's too much happening right now, but starting next year, it will be that way.

This 3rd paycheck will go to helping us catch up on living on last month's income with $300 going to DH to pad his bank account/use for Christmas gifts.

I do feel like he's trying to get on board with the whole cutting back thing, so it's nice to feel like I'm not alone in this.

Productive Weekend and Big Week!

November 21st, 2016 at 06:25 am

I had a very good weekend. DH was away at drill, so I took the weekend to recharge my batteries and get things done. It was a really good mix of busy and relaxing. Some of the things I got done were: dishes, laundry, unpacking a few more boxes, breaking down all the empty boxes, gathering all the recycling and trash, moving the pet things to their proper place, sweeping, and vacuuming. The house is in pretty good shape for Thanksgiving which is great news given that it's our first time hosting!

I'm both excited and nervous. The only sad thing is that I found out my brother has to work, so he won't be joining us, but everyone else from my and my husband's immediate families will be with us. Our moms and myself split the menu up, so the pressure won't all be on me. My mom is going to make the turkey as I've only tried it once and it didn't turn out well.

Our bedroom furniture arrives this morning. Besides that and 1 or 2 more cans of paint, we've decided no more unnecessary purchases for now. We're going to do our best to make do with what we have on hand.

Money is tight right now, so it's going to be a meager holiday, but so special because we're in our forever home for our first Christmas as a married couple! Today also happens to be our 6 month anniversary, and I feel so blessed even if our financial situation is a little tight right now.

Weekend Recap

November 14th, 2016 at 08:02 am

I had a very good weekend. The plan had originally been for DH and I to drive up to Boston together with the dogs to visit my best friend from college. She's the one who gave me DD1 and she has one of his brothers, so we try to get them together a few times a year.

Given everything that had been happening lately, we decided it would be best if I went up alone with DD1 and DH would stay at home with DC and DD2 and work on unpacking/set up.

Outside of driving and snacks, I didn't spend any money. My hosts generously comped our meals out and we also ate several meals in. It was a very fun, low-key weekend. We took the dogs to the dog park both mornings. Saturday afternoon, we had lunch with one of my other college friends and then just hung out. Saturday night, we rented The Jungle Book (really dark for Disney) and then had a campfire out back with drinks and s'mores. Sunday morning, we had brunch and then I headed back.

Some car issues did pop up on the trip (both for me and DH). DH had a flat tire. He has tire protection, but it wasn't covered since he hit the curb. He has really nice sports tires which cost $260. We did get a break on the labor though, since FIL's friend has a shop. I'm taking my car in there later today. On the drive back, my check engine light came on and remained on the rest of the drive. I'd thought it had to do with my oil since I was pushing the oil change before the 8-hr. drive. I added some oil since it was low, and bought an extra quart just in case ($10). My check engine light didn't come on this morning, but since this car needs to last another 2-3 years, I want it fully checked.

Unfortunately, DH didn't do any of the things he'd planned and instead spent the weekend recharging his batteries as well.

So this week will be our organizing week. I have 2-3 weeks before the winter cheer season starts, so we should both be home by 4/5 every day. Today, we have to do groceries and plan for hosting next week, but we also need to spend an hour or two each day unpacking boxes and finding proper homes for everything.

Adventures in Home Ownership

November 7th, 2016 at 12:00 pm

Well, we are officially moved in. It's been a very spendy few weeks, and I anticipate there will only be more.

A couple of highlights from the weekend include:
- losing our cat (she found her way in to the utility room and was hiding behind the hamper)
- the skunk who sprayed on our front porch causing the whole entryway to smell
- the stink bug who took up residency on our shower curtain and scared the living daylights out of me while I was hanging it
- enjoying a drink in our sunroom

A couple of frugal wins:
- getting a nice, new-to-us dining table from DH's parents that seats 6 and looks great in our dining room
- ordering pizza instead of eating out for all of the people who helped us move
- having DH's parents pay for the painter to come 2 more days and finish out the painting (not sure this really counts as a win, but it was generous of them and saves us money)

Not-so-frugal things:
- the paint was nowhere near enough and (as I suspected) there were some labor costs for FIL's friend to paint (another $350 in paint and $300 in labor)
- one of the lights went out and we decided to slowly switch to LED bulbs ($8 for 4 bulbs) and ended up getting a pantry LED light as well ($10)
- forgetting to use a 40% off Papa John's coupon when ordering pizza

Food and TV

November 2nd, 2016 at 05:03 am

I spent my fun money last pay period on a cookbook. I'd decided I didn't need it quite yet, but a week and a half later, it was still very much on my mind. It was only $13 which is technically half of my fun money. It's the Family Favorites edition of Once a Month Cooking. It very thoroughly lays out meal plans, shopping lists, materials, prep order, and meal cooking/assembly order. There are 2 4-wk. cycles, 2 2-wk. cycles, a Gluten-Free cycle, a summer cycle, and a fancy meals cycle. We've already decided which 2 wk. cycle to try first. Given that the meal sizes are anywhere from 4-12 servings, I think that we could easily stretch a 2-wk. cycle to a month (or at least pretty close to it). Since DH has weekends free now, we've committed to trying out this new way of cooking. DH makes it home in plenty of time to make dinner, and while he's an amazing chef, I don't think he's the biggest fan of cooking meals that take longer than 30ish minutes. I think OAMC will help a ton since he'll just have to reheat the meal and maybe make a quick side. I'm also hoping this will help us to keep our grocery spending down.

For TV, DH and I have decided to try a few different things. We're going to cut cable. We are getting Fios Internet only in the new place. Our biggest TV needs at the moment are soccer (DH is a big fan), Designated Survivor, 24 (we're marathoning it since I've never seen it and DH loves it), The Walking Dead, and Reign. To meet those, we have Hulu (5.99/mo), Netflix (10.99/mo), Amazon Prime (99/yr.), and we are adding in SlingTV (24.99/mo). I prepaid the 3 months upfront in order to get a free Roku streaming stick. We have one Chromecast, but 2 TVs, so this way, both will be entertainment enabled. I'd like to look into cutting Netflix, but it would have to be after finishing Reign. I also want to look into the Mohu Leaf once we get settled. If we can invest in one upfront, then I could get rid of Hulu since we only need it for Designated Survivor. That would just leave us with Prime and SlingTV which I think we could learn to live with.

Crazy Week Updates

November 1st, 2016 at 10:08 am

Today's probably the easiest day. Yesterday, we officially started moving things in. We also bought the paint which came out much cheaper than I thought ($125). To me, it doesn't seem like enough paint, but my FIL has been doing this a long time and I trust his judgment. We didn't have too many Trick or Treaters, but I think that's because we left about 745 to make it home in time for our 815 house showing. They loved the place and are likely going to reach out today about speaking with the landlord. Unfortunately, they don't plan on moving until December which wouldn't really help with getting our move-out fee back.

Tomorrow DH has a doctor's appt. and I will be showing the place at 4 pm. I'm waiting to hear back about another potential showing later this week as well. Thursday and Friday will be small moving days and back-to-back appointments for a quote to service the fireplace.

I'm really hoping we get a resolution soon for the current place. I had planned to make some extra small payments to the credit cards, but I may have to divert those funds to pay for the small things we're doing in the new place (like the paint). If one of the other potentials works out and moves in sooner, that would give us some extra cash to work with.

On a separate note, we absolutely love the house!!

The Crazy Week is Here!

October 31st, 2016 at 04:42 am

I just have to make it through this week. On the docket are moving small things throughout the week, painting samples on the walls today to see if we like the paint we picked (our painter's wife had a baby Saturday, so we didn't end up painting this past weekend), handing out candy to our new neighbors (!), medical appointments for both DH and I, painting (well, overseeing painting), two more house showings for the current place, cheer practice prep for their upcoming showcase, and Verizon hookup.

Wish me luck...

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.


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