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Short weekend trip report and SO on board

April 16th, 2018 at 05:23 am

This weekend was our quick getaway trip. I had budgeted $100, but we ended up spending a bit more than that. I put the groceries we got on Sunday under the grocery budget and put the fast food dinner from the drive home under Eating Out. While it means that we didn't meet our not eating out goal, I think we're still doing great considering it was part of our return drive from a planned vacation where we knew we'd be eating out.

I'm bummed we didn't make our Entertainment spending budget work, but a few unplanned things happened. First, the fishing license was $37 instead of the $3 that I had planned for. Even though the day stamp was $3, the online website didn't mention the $37 yearly registration fee. Rather than both of us fishing, we got the license just for my husband and actually added Sunday as well. 2 days of fishing for $43 is definitely pricey, but we both really enjoyed it. We probably could have just fished without the license, but since he and I both love the outdoors, we don't mind doing our part to help maintain it. The other unforeseen thing was a cleaning fee. We didn't pay for accommodations as his parents booked it for us through their timeshare. However, since we weren't staying the full week, they charged a $30 extra cleaning fee.

When we got back yesterday, DH and I spent some time setting up a separate budget for his own money. He keeps his drill money and is always saying he doesn't use it, but then has all these subscriptions come out of the house budget. To help him see that he may be better able to afford to pay for those things himself, we set up a budget for him. He had a blast making his categories/goals. He gets paid his drill money this week and can't wait to budget it all out. I'm really happy that it's clicking so well for us, and while we're still adjusting, it truly seems to help. He evens want to sit with me on Friday when our regular paychecks come in to help decide what our dollars' jobs will be.

Embracing True Expenses

April 11th, 2018 at 05:44 am

I've been waffling on whether to fund the buffer to next month or aggressively pay down debt. I'd decided that I want to knock two small debts out. While I still want to do that (and can since they come out of my own funds rather than our account), I've also decided to follow rule 2 of YNAB which is to embrace my true expenses using funds from our account. In that vein, I've set up goals equating to $558.64 needed for the remainder of this month. I think we'll have this from the money that would have flowed to next month, but now they'll have sinking fund jobs instead of buffering jobs. I still want to build up next month's buffer, but I think designating those dollars to specific things (auto repair, future subscriptions, etc.) is a better way to go for now. Essentially, they're still building my buffer, but they're not actually a buffer, so I'm not tempted to move them to something else.

The $558 will start sinking funds for Car and Home Maintenance, Animal Fund (separate from the Everyday Pet category), Amazon and YNAB subscriptions, Season Soccer Tickets, Pest Control, Life Insurance (outside of work) and Christmas.

I have a few others that I'd like to start, but these are the ones that I'm starting with. There are definitely things I'd like to cut down on, but we haven't reached the point where we're willing to go gazelle intense. I am going to get DH to commit to contributing funds to some of his wants - namely the Amazon Music and Season Soccer tickets.

Our finances are set up to where he keeps his drill money as fun money, but his normal work paychecks go to our account. I also transfer $20 twice a month to him as additional fun money. He really only spends on the occasional meal out, so I'm going to ask him to give up the $20 fun money transfers, giving us $40 to put towards his wants. It won't cover the full sinking funds needed for the music and tickets (about $70/mo), but it does make up more than half.

I'm excited for his next paycheck. He's working more hours, so there'll be some overtime pay. Since my money is steady, his paychecks are more of a treat since I get to budget his extra dollars and see some progress. Anything extra will go towards the EF true expense, stuff I forgot to budget, and then next month's expenses.

Another one bites the dust

April 6th, 2018 at 05:53 am

Paid off the NFL Points card today and topped off most of April. I have two categories left to top off with our next paychecks and the remainder will go to the next month's budget. I will have about 1/3 of next month's income. I know some people advised having that full buffer, but these next two cards are so small and it's going to take me much longer to get to the next month's income. We currently have just under $800 in savings. My car stuff came to $704. I paid it off with from the $1500 savings and will pay that money back when my amended federal and state returns come in. I just didn't want them to get charged interest in the meantime since I think mailed returns are much slower. I will have about $300 of the returns left over to put to next month's buffer.

DH is starting to put in overtime at work, so that should help things along. Even keeping the next two small payoffs (a Wells Fargo student loan and BOA CC each with balances under $500), I should hit next month's income by fall. That's a stretch goal, but doable. Paying off the two small cards frees up $130/mo which will then go towards the next month's income goal.

More YNAB thoughts

April 4th, 2018 at 05:00 am

I'm really loving YNAB. I can tell it's definitely changing my mindset. I had a really bad day yesterday and was so tempted to stop and get Easter candy to stress eat. But I have no money in the grocery budget until it gets funded on Friday. I could WAM money from another category, but I'm trying not to do that unless necessary and Easter candy isn't that.

I thought I'd messed up somewhere with regards to my main CC, but I got it figured out. I'd actually made two payments from my personal account, meaning that when the YNAB subscription I'd budgeted hit, it would eat into the money designated as my buffer in that account. However, I'd paid YNAB with a CC, so it just made that money available for payment. Since the account doesn't matter, I can pay it out of our joint account which was where the extra $50 payment for the main CC should have come from in the first place.

It's nice to be able to leave the money sitting in my account to keep the average daily balance above the minimum and avoid maintenance charges. At the same time, there's no temptation to spend because I can see that every dollar is already accounted for.

On Friday, I'll have the NFL Points CC paid off and most of the categories for April topped off. My two current goals are debt payoff and building up to a one month buffer. I almost wonder if it's worth delaying debt payoff for a month or two to build the buffer first and then go back to debt payoff. But I really like knocking some stuff off, and I can knock out two more debts in the next month or two.

April Challenge - No Eating Out

April 3rd, 2018 at 05:26 am

DH suggested we completely save our $50 eating out budget for April to combine with May's so we can go out to a nice anniversary dinner. It's quite the challenge for us to go a whole month without eating out, but we're going to give it the old college try.

We've implemented a few household organization tips around cleaning the litter box and dinner. We each now have an assigned litter box day. This way, it gets cleaned 3 times a week, but each of us only has to clean it once a week. We only started yesterday, but so far so good. In terms of food, I've begun planning out that week's meals on the white board during the weekend. I am also now assigning one of us to cook it, so we can all refer to the meal plan and know who's responsible for what. Once it's been in place for a few weeks, if someone forgets to take care of it, they still have to provide dinner somehow.

Meals this week have been slow cooker potato/celery soup and sweet-n-sour chicken. Tonight, I'm using some frozen veggie/chicken nuggets in an attempt at some sort of chicken parm casserole. My best friend had made me these carrot/chicken chicken nuggets to help me eat veggies back when I was pregnant. They were very dry and didn't turn out well (she was experimenting...). I feel bad letting them go to waste, so I'm hoping that dousing them in tomato sauce and cheese will make them palatable.

The remainder of the week will be as follows:
W: Turkey soup (from freezer so bro is reheating it)
Th: Leftovers
F: Rice and fish
Sa: Lemon Garlic Chicken over pasta with salad

I will need to do a grocery shop this weekend for lunch add-ons/produce to round out the meals. This is the first month that I'm really trying to stick to our $250 grocery budget, so hopefully, we can do it.

I'm feeling really good about our finances for the first time in a while. We still have a huge uphill climb, but it's looking positive.

Increased Take Home Pay and Other Happenings

March 30th, 2018 at 04:38 am

I managed to increase my take home pay a bit by adjusting my tax witholdings. My paycheck is just over $100 more now. This will help pay things a bit faster. I'm still doing well with YNAB. I think it's sticking so far. With the increase, I used $50 to get the yearlong subscription. I noticed that it's helped make me more aware of my choices. It's a lot more difficult to justify that $7 fast food meal when I have to pull it from another category since I've already blown the eating out budget. In the past, my mindset has been more of 'the money's there, so it's not a big deal to spend it.' Now, if I have to take it from the auto fund or the buffer to last month's income, it gives me pause. I even managed to have $4 left in the eating out budget to roll to next month.

I am going to have to WAM some things because we've found out that we have bats in the attic. More home ownership joys! We started hearing scurrying last year, but DH went into the attic looking for squirrels and didn't see anything, so he chalked it up to twigs rolling on the roof. Yesterday, as we were coming back from our walk with the dog, we heard squeaking. After some time, we discerned that it was coming from the vents at the front of the house. DH went back into the attic, crossed to the front of the house using the joists, and discovered a small bat between the walls. We think that was the youngling, and the others were out. It explains why I really only heard the scurrying during the day. We have pest control coming out today to see what can be done about it.

We've been doing much better about eating at home. My Zaycon Fresh order of chicken breasts came in and I processed it into about 20 crockpot meals. We've had the ginger peach chicken and the chicken philly cheesesteaks. Tonight is buffalo chicken sliders with carrots and celery.

I've been trying to eat more veggies and am doing well so far. Last night, I used up some extra carrots, spinach, peas, onion, and a red bell pepper to make stir fry to go with the leftover rice. I tried a homemade sauce recipe, and it turned out delicious. Definitely one of the better meals that I've just thrown together. Considering we're hardcore carnivores, I'm especially proud that it was meatless.

Taking control

March 21st, 2018 at 08:46 pm

I'd like to thank everyone for the support and recommendations on my last post. I do have access to some of those resources mentioned that I'd forgotten about (EAP, etc.). Since DH is in the Reserves, I did also find that the Family Center offers 12 free counseling sessions (joint, individual, etc.). I haven't had time to reach out to them yet.

I have been feeling better though, and I think it's because of my control issues. I always feel better when I feel like my life is in my hands. To that end, I've been focusing more on finances, fitness, and food. My goal is to try and lose 20 lbs. I did it last year and accomplishing it again would put me back at a reasonable weight. I've also been more focused on eating from our pantry and not giving in to the urge to eat fast food. Over the last week, I've used up grapes, triscuits, a cheese block, hamburgers patties, and a jar of turkey gravy. Today, I used up half of a bag of broccoli and half of a bag of shredded cheddar to make crockpot broccoli potato soup. I used up bananas, almonds, and chocolate chips in making breakfast muffins. I also used one of 4 bags of marshmallows in making rice crispy treats. It all turned out delicious and reminded me why I enjoy cooking so much.

Tomorrow, one paycheck goes in and then the other goes in Friday. Looking forward to some YNAB budgeting.

YNAB (again...) and a random tax question

March 19th, 2018 at 05:35 am

I got another 34 day trial a few weeks back, and so far, I really feel like it's helping. It's eye-opening just how much we feel like we need to 'treat' ourselves. That money would serve a much better purpose somewhere else. I have been trying to be easy on ourselves for the eating out these last few weeks given everything we've been dealing with, but it still hurts to see that we've spent almost $250 on eating out. For comparison, we've spent $273 on groceries which includes household items.

I did take our BEF down to $1500 and put an $1183 payment to the main credit card we use. I had been good about paying this in full until we encountered all the pet issues with our dog. It currently has a balance of about $4700 before the payment.

I also put just under $500 to our goal of living off last month's income. I wasn't entirely sure how to set it up, so I just created a Rainy Day Fund category to allocate money to until it reaches the full month of expenses and then I'd budget it to the following month.

I'm itching to budget out the paychecks coming in later this week, but since that's not the point, I'll be patient. I do have the projected budget in my Excel spreadsheet. Since I adjusted my witholdings, I'm hoping to have extra to buy the year subscription. Since I'm more on the go, it's easier to be able to access things online rather than relying on one computer with the software.

I need to get my amended federal return and state return sent in. Does anyone know how it works if I haven't actually mailed in my original state return, but then amended the federal? Do I mail both the original state return and the amended one from TurboTax? My amended return will be an extra $240 while the the state return was just under $800, but will be closer to $900 with the amended one. It was going to go to savings, but I need new tires and am just starting sinking funds, so I'll use it for tires and any remaining will go to debt. I'm very close to getting some things paid off - one cc by the end of April and another in July (sooner if I get the $240 before then and put it to that).

Emotionally, I'm really struggling. I'm going to look into mental health options available through my insurance. Our FSA account is still rather sizable and no longer needed for the baby, so I do have a bit of wiggle room for some much needed therapy.

Trying to move forward

March 7th, 2018 at 08:19 am

DH and I are still devastated, but we're trying to get back to our daily lives. We did decide that given everything that's happened, we don't need the full 3200 in the EF. For now, we're going to take it down to 1500 and use the rest to pay down some debt. We have a Capital One CC that has been pretty close to maxed out for awhile. Since I was only paying the minimums which barely covered the interest, we weren't making any progress on it. I just transferred a little more than half of the remaining balance to our Navy Fed CC which has half the interest rate. We're using the extra $1700 to knock out the remaining $1400. The other $300 we are using to take a weekend trip to NY to get away and focus on us. We were supposed to go to NY to see a Broadway show over Christmas, but I was sick and not up to it. I'm planning to join several show lotteries over the next few weekends, and if we win one, we'll pack up and go. Otherwise, we'll just keep the money set aside.

From excitement to devastation in less than a week

March 2nd, 2018 at 05:40 am

I'm numb. On Monday, we found out my water had broken early. By Wednesday, I went in to labor and delivered my sweet angel boy. We have a long journey ahead of us to even attempt to come to terms with this.

In the meantime, I'll try to keep myself busy by continuing to get our finances in shape for when we are able to start a family. I restarted YNAB, so I got another 34 day free trial. I do have some unaccounted for funds that will go towards a payment on the lowest CC - NFL Points ($305). Since we don't have to be so aggressive with savings anymore, most found money will go towards paying some things off.

Glad I waited!

February 26th, 2018 at 05:05 am

So, in my ever-frustrating mushy-brainedness, I did forget that I set our fence payment to come from my account. Since I modified my direct deposit amounts, this shouldn't happen in the future because I don't have a lot of extra in my personal bank account now. I adjusted it to where I have enough to pay my personal bills each month and not much leftover.

I've decided to focus mostly on debt repayment. As far as the EF goes, I only have the $3400 right now. The goal is to get it to $5k by baby time. (Side note: I know this amount is not nearly enough, but it covers more than a month's worth of expenses, so I figure it's a start while we get some of the other things paid down.) I started looking at the numbers, but need to do more forecasting. I think we can free up an additional $300-400/mo by paying some things down, so the focus will primarily be there. We will split extra money with 75% going to debt repayment and 25% to savings.

It's amazing how much money you 'find' when you start buckling down...

Another one down...probably

February 23rd, 2018 at 06:45 am

With my recent PTO payout, I paid a little extra to various debts. However, I'm almost positive I miscalculated and have an extra $423! I'm going to wait until midweek next week to make sure that my mushy brain didn't accidentally not account for something. However, I checked several times and am almost positive that that money is available. (I'm also the person who wore slippers out of the house the other morning. Luckily, I only drove up my street before I realized I wasn't actually wearing shoes.)

With that, I will be paying off the $305 balance on my NFL Points card and putting the remainder into savings.

I also adjusted my direct deposits amounts to send $125 more to our main account each paycheck. I now contribute $2800/mo to our joint expenses. DH's contributions are variable, but at least $2k/mo. Percentage-wise, DH contributes significantly more of his paycheck since he didn't have any debt before we got married other than his car.

Even though we make decent money, I'd always felt like we were drowning. Looking at my forecasts though, this is the first time in a long time that I feel good about where we're headed. *Knock on all the wood...*

One question that has been on my mind, should I reduce all debt payments to the minimum to build our joint account back to living on last month's income before the baby comes? I feel like our budgeting would be smoother if we could get back there, but I'm not sure if the focus should be on that or paying off as much debt as possible to maximize our future disposable income.

News Upon News

February 22nd, 2018 at 12:54 pm

I've been swamped...the reason? We're expecting!

Now, that it's actually happened, DH and I buckled down into panic mode to make sure we can properly afford this. I think it all seemed like a distant pipe dream, and I seriously regret not doing it sooner, but we can only look forward.

Here's where we're at so far:

1) Paid off Mariner Finance personal loan...So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye!
2) Sent our tax return straight to savings - $3200 and counting
3) Used PTO payout to pay down some other debt. From my calculations, I should be pay able to pay several things down/off by June. (Baby is due shortly after that.) The payoffs add up to several hundred extra dollars a month.
4) Discussed maternity leave with work.
5) Began accumulating baby things - My dad and stepmom gifted us a crib with changing table, we bought a discount Ikea dressed for $120, and we have clothes covered for the first year due to a few resale lots and hand-me-downs from my friend's almost 1 yr old son. Friends have committed to loaning/giving us the following: infant seat/stroller, bassinet, swing, and probably more that I'm forgetting. These same wonderful people also provided my maternity wardrobe, so no costs there.
6) Furnished upstairs: we have a fireplace area that is currently unfurnished. Our fall to-do list includes getting the fireplace working, so we were debating furniture to be able to use the space. Luckily, DH's dad is a home contractor. One of his clients gave him a newer furniture set. They're keeping that one and asked if we'd like their current living room set. Voila! Living room furniture. It's old and outdated, but at this point, we'll take it!
7) We do need to some prep to get the nursery ready, but FIL will take care of that for us.

DH took on out of town work since it has more hours and per diem. He's also working any and all overtime. Any and all extra money is currently being split between savings and debt. Is this a good plan? Should it all be one place or another?

P.S. As I typed it all out, I realize how fortunate we are. Could we better off? Most definitely, but we have a good support system and were able to avoid most new-parent expenses.

P.P.S. We still miss our dog like crazy. Two days after we lost him, we saw our little boy for the first time.

Always, always ask

January 31st, 2018 at 05:16 am

DH and I are both movie rewards members at a local theater. We each get a free movie on our birthday. Since our birthdays are only a few weeks apart, we wait to go together. Well, time got away from us with everything that's been happening (more on that soon), and my reward expired.

I decided to reach out to them and ask for a few more days to use it, so that we could go this week. DH's expires in a few days, so we knew we'd definitely do it this week.

To my extreme surprise, they not only added the reward back in with an expiration of 2/28, but they also credited me a free popcorn. What incredible customer service!

So, tonight is date night. DH and I both still struggle with the loss of our dog along with some other changes on the horizon, so it'll be a nice little escape. Two movie tickets and a small popcorn is at least $25 in my area, so I will transfer that over to savings.

Trying to turn the page

January 5th, 2018 at 07:08 am

2017 saw some of my highest highs and lowest lows. I didn't achieve any of my financial goals, but I did manage to finish the year by paying off one of my personal loans. I don't have time to track everything here given that we currently have lots going on, but I will say that I have two more things on track to be paid off by April. I've decided to go for some of the smaller wins. The first quarter of the year will be dedicated to my NFL Points CC (less than $500 left). I should then be able to knock out Wells Fargo (a school loan that is around 600 in April.

Now that we've been in the house for a year and don't have DD1's medical bills, I'm hoping we can really make some progress this year.

Bye Bouncer

December 13th, 2017 at 04:42 am

This is a difficult post to write. DD1 (dog, not daughter) has always been super needy. Sometimes we'd mess with him by saying 'Bye Bouncer' and he'd get all spazzy and cuddly. Unfortunately, this past Friday, we said it for real. Starting early last week, he started throwing up everything that he ate. I took him in to the vet on Monday hoping he just needed a medicine refill. Nope, the tumor had come back again - 2 actually - and was in a spot that was difficult to operate and causing him a lot of discomfort. He said it was about time to have the 'conversation'. Since DH was out of town and would be back Wed., I asked the vet to get us through the week and we'd put him down on Friday. He had an amazing week filled with delicious food, a dog party, and lots of love, cuddles, and fetch.

It was by far the hardest thing I've ever had to go through. I'll miss that dog so freaking much. The house feels empty and DD2 seems lonely, but we'll get through it.

In finance-related news, the CC we normally use is way high, but with DH's recent work, we're still managing to pay it off in full. This month is $2300 (I normally only charge about $300 each month) which I have $1500 already set aside. DH gets an extra paycheck this month and my brother is planning a few big payments to catch up what he owes, so hopefully things will level out soon.

Trying and Failing

November 7th, 2017 at 05:18 am

I think we've just accepted at this point that more debt is okay given the circumstances. We got another fence quote. Given that we were approved for financing, and DD1 doesn't have much longer, we decided to go for it and get the yard fenced in, so he can enjoy being out.

His favorite thing in the world is just to lay in the sunshine with his ball, and God willing, we're going to let him do that as long as the weather holds and he feels up to it.

His oncology appointment is this afternoon. We already know that we don't want to put him through chemo, but we do want to discuss any homeopathic options or supplements that could keep his quality of life up. Over the weekend, his energy dropped substantially, he stopped drinking water, and he threw up everything he ate.

I made him eggs which he managed to keep down, so over the last few days, I've been making him meals of eggs, pumpkin, and applesauce. His energy went way back up Sunday afternoon, so I've kept him on the home-cooked stuff and only added in a bit of dry food to round out his meals.

Since we've unfortunately taken on this additional debt, I'm really trying to buckle down and scale back. I cracked open the OAMC cookbook and used a bunch of chicken recipes to process the Zaycon Fresh chicken. We now have about a month's worth of dinners already made and in the freezer. Between that and the holidays, I'm hoping to make it to the new year with a very minimal grocery budget. We're also going to be scaling back Christmas gifts.

We weigh out for our 6-month Transformer in 2 days, so we've agreed that we each get to keep all of that money as our own spending money and will use it as the basis of our gift-giving money.

We do also have a few windfalls expected next year (taxes, PTO payout, and reenlistment bonus), so I'm hoping to right the ship as those come in.

Upcoming Oncologist Appt. and Other Pet Happenings

October 27th, 2017 at 05:29 am

So, it came back as soft-tissue osteosarcoma. Next week, we'll take DD1 (dog, not kid) in for an oncologist consult. We're 90% sure that we don't want to put him through chemo, given that he's currently acting like a puppy again. I am open to homeopathic options though and hope to get some advice regarding supplements/diets we can implement to hopefully give him more time.

Our adventure day is planned for 11/12. We already are planning for a happy meal, doggy ice cream, and some toys. I purchased the toys yesterday. Anyone else have any fun, frugal bucket list ideas for a dog?

Really sad news

October 19th, 2017 at 04:36 am

The wedding weekend was a lot of fun and pretty low-spend. Our return, however, coincided with some sad/bad news. Another lump appeared on DD1. They removed another vertebrae, and we're waiting on the pathology. While he's running around like a pup now, it's likely the cancer's spread and will crop again. The prognosis for osteosarcoma in dogs (particularly when part of the axial skeleton) is very poor. We're taking it really hard, as I raised this dog from a puppy, and he's finally accepted DH and they're best buds.

We're trying to remain positive, but at this point in time, our focus has shifted to making sure he's happy and comfortable and making memories with him. We have two originally unplanned expenses that we will accommodate for this: the first is a photo session. We want to do some pictures with just him and us while he's currently healthy and happy. I'm trying to set that up for early November before it gets too cold. The second is one of those photo keepsakes that's a picture on one side and a cast of the paw print on the other side. I'd been wanting to do that for awhile now, so we will finally get around to it. I did enter an online contest to win one that draws on the 25th, so if I haven't heard anything by the 31st, I'll just buy it myself. I got really upset reading all the comments as those were about dogs who were 12, 13, 14 years old. My dog is 8...life's so unfair sometimes.

The total cost will probably be under $100. I'm hoping it'll help us cope with the thought of losing him.

Mini-Vacation Prep

October 2nd, 2017 at 06:58 am

This weekend was pretty busy and spendy since we were getting ready to leave. We spent $160 in groceries/gifts/shoes and $60 in dress alterations. $60 of that $160 was spent on DH's goddaughter's 1st birthday gifts, and $10 was for a pair of flats for the upcoming wedding. I also placed a Zaycon Fresh order for chicken breasts. With a credit I had, it came out to $1.30/lb for 40 lbs. We are missing his goddaughter's birthday party, so we went down to see her yesterday. She's grown so much and is such a happy baby.

When we got back, I got hit with a wave of productivity. I made a giant pot of crockpot taco chicken, banana nut muffins, 2 sandwiches for DH and my brother's lunches today, and washed a load of dishes.

Today, after DH and I's workout, I need to get Tide Pods and bagels from Costco, pick up cat litter from PetSmart, and get my dress from the tailor's.

At home, I need to make pizza bake, chicken/broccoli alfredo bake, shape hamburger patties, and hard boil eggs. That should leave the house pretty well stocked while I'm gone. I also need to pack my and DH's clothes, and we need to switch cars.

I'm going to make a sandwich for the road tomorrow, and I bought an energy drink and orange slices when we went grocery shopping for my road snacks. I'm hoping to be able to make the drive to Boston with only paying for gas.

New Workout Schedule

September 25th, 2017 at 05:13 am

DH and I have won every round of our dietbet so far. The one we're in doesn't seem to have as much participation. We've more than doubled our money in almost every round, and we're not even to the big money.

Lately, I've been cutting it very close, so this month I'm trying to get ahead of things. DH has a Planet Fitness membership. When he had all of that out of town work, we upgraded him to the Black card. He's now able to use any Planet Fitness, has access to the hydromassage equipment, and can bring unlimited guests. I've gone with him a couple of times, so we've devised a new workout schedule. He will still go every weekday except Thursday. I will go with him on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. On Mondays, we'll do our own workouts, but on Wed. and Fri., we'll do a half hour run and the 30 minute circuit. I normally hate the gym because I don't feel comfortable when I feel like people are judging me, but it's not too bad with DH cheering me on.

The consistent workouts should help me to get a few pounds under my 10% goal which would be great since my friend's wedding is the weekend before weigh-in. I'm currently about a half-pound above my 10% with 2 weeks left.

Wedding-Related Expenses

September 22nd, 2017 at 04:42 am

We had a case of trigger fingers this week that was a mistake. DH mentioned that our mini-vacation wasn't sitting well with him because he had a test the following week and didn't want to miss his class. One of the other options we'd discussed was him flying in Friday morning, so I looked up flights. One way to Boston was under $150 with taxes and fees, so I told him that was an option. He said he'd feel better being able to go to class, and since there were only 3 seats left, I went ahead and bought his ticket.

I was really bummed the next several hours because I'd been looking forward to some time with him, and now it was gone.

Fast forward to yesterday, DH texts me that he messed up bad and feels really ashamed. After some prompting, he explained that he hadn't really looked at the syllabus, and his test wasn't until the end of October. Essentially, he could have skipped class and come up with me after all. I told him what's done is done and let it go.

Looking at the plane fare, they'd take a $100 fee and refund the remainder in the form of credit. Since we rarely fly, it's better for him to stick with flying up.

He can only miss 5 classes in the entire school year, and he'll for sure miss at least 2 with drill weekends, so this is one less class he'll miss. And now, he won't have to use all his leave during one week. I'm bummed, but I also took some responsibility as I should have made him double check his schedule before committing to the ticket.

I suspect it'll end up about the same budget-wise, as I now won't be out and about during my extra days up there. I volunteered my assistance with any last-minute wedding prep, and if my friend can play hooky, we'll still go hiking. Otherwise, the new plan is to spend those days focusing on my certification studies.

The other wedding-related expenses that popped up this week are alterations and shoes. I need to find a pair of champagne flats and take in my dress since I lost weight. Technically, it fits now, but it's very obvious that I lost weight since it hangs off me. I need to get the straps taken in and have it taken it a bit at the waist. For the shoes, I'm going to ask my friend that I'm staying with what she has available for me to borrow. If that doesn't work, I'll just get a cheap pair from Amazon or DSW.

Marriott Payoff and Upcoming Expenses

September 15th, 2017 at 05:27 am

I set the last payment today to pay the Marriott card in full. I'm so grateful we were able to weather this spat of bad luck and hope that things go smoothly for a bit.

We have two big upcoming expenses to work into the budget. The first is car taxes due in early October. Since we moved to a slightly cheaper county, the cost for both cars comes out to somewhere around $800. My husband's car is still new which is why it's so expensive. Mine was only $130.

The other big expense depends on how well we execute it. One of my closest friends is getting married the first weekend of October in Boston, and I'm in the bridal party. We had originally planned to drive up on Friday, have two nights of hotel expenses, and drive home Sunday...

But then, the maid of honor planned the bachelorette party for the Tuesday before. I already missed her bridal shower due to a flat tire, and this friend stood by me during my wedding and made it to all of my pre-wedding events, so I'd like to be there for her. After discussing some various options with my husband (including some elaborate plans around one of us driving up and one flying so we could arrive at separate times), we decided to just both take that week off and make it a mini-vacation. DH just got back from almost two months of 60-hr. workweeks, and I finally finished my work cycle on two major projects, so it seems like a good time for a break.

Some things we're doing to frugalize our now almost week-long vacation include:

1) Staying with a friend Tuesday-Thursday: My maid of honor also lives in Boston and turned 30 this week. DH and I will be staying with her Tuesday-Thursday night so as not to impose on my friend getting married while she's prepping last minute things for the wedding.

2) Using points/certificate for the hotel: On Friday, we'll drive to the actual city where the wedding is. I've booked a hotel for two nights using a combination of points/our annual free night from the Marriott card.

3) Cheap Entertainment: Since we'll have Wednesday/Thursday/Fri. morning to ourselves, we plan to do some sightseeing. I've always wanted to show DH around my college campus and Faneuil (sp.?) Hall. We also plan to get in some hiking since we'll be there when the Fall colors are coming in.

4) Cheap Food: Since we'll be staying with my friend most of the time, we'll get some sandwich stuff for picnics during our daytime excursions. I'm also going to offer to cook one of the nights we're there or help chip in for groceries if she cooks the whole time.

I haven't worked out the full budget for the trip, but I think we'll have around $400 for everything including gas, tolls, food, entertainment, etc. I'm hoping to come in well under that number, but we'll see. That number also doesn't include the wedding gift.

My Drug Costs

September 14th, 2017 at 04:58 am

Seeing PatientSaver's post about the cost of drugs and Snafu's comments on my last post about my allergy meds has made me consider the cost of my own meds. I have terrible allergies. If you name it, I'm probably allergic to it (with the exception of food allergies). To combat them, I take 4 maintenance medications, and I have a rescue inhaler for emergency situations or winter activities (I also have seasonal bronchitis). The cost of these meds have gone up and down over the years, but I think I'm currently in a pretty good spot. I buy the generic Zyrtec in a yearly supply from Costco ($10). I also will start getting my generic nasal spray from them as I found that a 5-month supply was $17. Previously, I was buying a generic one from Wal-Mart at $10 for a 1-month supply. The steroid inhaler and Montelukast tablets are on my plan's home delivery program. It's wonderful because I no longer have to make a monthly trip to the pharmacist, plus I get a 90-day supply each time. The Montelukast is covered, while the inhaler has a $20 refill cost for the 3-month supply. My rescue inhaler is by far the most expensive of these at $50/refill. The good news is that I only fill that one once/maybe twice a year since I don't use it that often.

All told, I spend about $180/year or $15/month on maintenance meds. I'd always wanted to try allergy shots. Maybe I should look into plan coverage on that and price out what would be cheaper. My only concern is that I know people way less allergy-prone than myself who've gotten the shots, but had no noticeable improvement.

CC, Dietbet, and Food Updates

September 11th, 2017 at 04:40 am

We made an $1835 payment to the card, so the remaining amount we need to pay by the 20th to pay it in full is 1068.94. DH gets his last reimbursement this Friday, so that will go towards it, and we'll pay the rest of our account.

Our dietbet month 4 weigh-out was this weekend. DH is at his 10% goal and has been for awhile, so he weighed out on Saturday. Since I was sick last week, I wasn't able to work out, so I pushed myself hard Saturday and Sunday morning to end up .1 lb. under goal, but I made it! Now, that DH is home, that should eliminate some stress, and I'll be able to focus more on measured loss.

I can also get back into meals now that DH is home. I prepped four salads over the weekend for these next few days, and we still have some sandwich stuff on hand. I'm defrosting some ground beef to make some sort of taco rice casserole concoction.

I also want to make a pasta salad tonight or tomorrow for lunches/light dinners. I do have to stop at the grocery store tonight for allergy meds and fruit.

Credit Cards Update

September 6th, 2017 at 05:39 am

I sent a payment in to the Amazon Rewards CC. It's now paid in full and paid off. We'd been paying it off for several months, only to order more and have new charges hit. Since I paid the last $82 off, I will not be ordering anything else on the Amazon card that wasn't in the budget.

So far, the Slate and Amazon cards are paid off. The other cards are not being used, and I'm working on paying their balances down. Most are at 0 % interest except for one card with a balance of about $600 and one with a balance of $3600. I've been watching for transfer offers on my current cards, but no luck so far (I want to avoid opening another CC).

The Marriott card is the only one that we use regularly, and we've been paying it in full for awhile now. I'm hoping to continue that this month despite the much larger $4000 balance (normally it's about $325). We have to pay 2800 more to pay it in full. The next payment to that will be on Friday for around 1800. I'll know the exact amount this evening when DH's pending deposit shows up in our account.

Spendy LDW

September 5th, 2017 at 09:44 am

We definitely spent a lot more than anticipated this weekend. We started off good eating things from his room on Friday night, bagels I'd brought with me on Saturday morning, and packing picnic lunches for our Saturday waterfalls hike, but it went downhill from there. Saturday night, we had dinner out as planned at the restaurant run by his hotel. They gave us a free dessert because no one helped us and we sat there for about 10 minutes before someone even took our drink order. We didn't really mind waiting as we weren't in any sort of rush, but it's a small place and the owner felt terrible that we'd gotten missed.

Sunday was rainy, so in looking for something to do, we found a red deer farm. Unfortunately, it was closed on Sunday, but still sounded cool, so we decided to go on Monday morning before I drove home. The cost for that was $9 pp, plus $1 for a bucket of feed.

On Sunday, we drove to the nearest town and did DH's laundry. While waiting, we popped into an Antiques shop and ended up with 3 purchases totaling $13 - a New Orleans souvenir glass for the dining room display and two Navajo sand paintings for DH's mom.

On Sunday night, DH wanted his weekly pizza. Papa John's still had their spend $15, get enough rewards points for a free pizza, so we did that. We now have enough points for 3 pizza orders, so no eating out budget needed for September.

Monday was the spendy day. In addition to the $20 deer farm admission, we ended up with jerky, dog treats, an antler, and a hat totaling over $100. We also ate at Cracker Barrel ($25) after the tour because DH wasn't ready to say goodbye yet.

The total spending all came from DH's personal account, so no impact to our budget and really just ate up the extra he'd been accumulating from being so careful with his spending. Of his $150/wk allowance, the most DH spent in any given week was $80 and most weeks, he was well under that.

DH comes home this Friday for good, and it's back to the grind.

There is such a thing as a free lunch...

August 31st, 2017 at 04:55 am

This week, all of my lunches have been paid for as I'm participating in a company certification appraisal. I rarely eat out anymore, so it's been a treat to not have to pack lunch. Today's the last day, so we're eating out rather than ordering in.

I had bought a ton of food last weekend, but my lunches were so big that I often only ate half and ate the other half for dinner. Yesterday, I ate the whole thing for lunch, but ended up feeling full the rest of the evening except for a small snack plate of chips and homemade guac.

We're definitely good on groceries as we haven't even touched the fruit/sandwich things and still have plenty of leftovers. I decided to go back up to PA this weekend to visit DH again. He comes home next Saturday, but I miss him and it's a less than 5 hour drive. Tonight, I will turn the leftover rice and corn into stuffed bell peppers for my brothers to have enough food to get them through the weekend.

Paying the piper...

August 30th, 2017 at 05:55 am

...or you know, the credit card. The first of several large payments is set up to take out on Friday - $1200 which will bring the card down to 2900. The next two Fridays will have $1000 payments (DH's per diem reimbursements) bringing it down to $900. Next Friday, DH will also get overtime in his regular paycheck of about $800 which means we should be able to pay off the credit card in full! While it sucks that my husband worked so hard for a month and won't have much to show for it at the end, I am so grateful that this string of bad luck didn't derail us further.

Savings is up to 310.08.

DH got some potentially awesome news, but I don't want to talk about it and jinx it. Please keep your fingers crossed for us because it'd be a big blessing if it comes through!

Chase Marriott Paydown

August 24th, 2017 at 05:15 am

Things are moving along here. This week, I've just been focused on making it through, but the past two days, I've started being productive again. I sent a large payment in to the Marriott card before the statement closed. For some background, the Marriott card is the only credit card we routinely use anymore. For more than 6 months now, we've been paying it in full. We don't put all of our expenses on it - just health insurance, DH's soccer tickets, and Sling TV (all of which are in the budget). Since we're still working on getting a handle on the credit cards, I'm leery of putting everything on it and not being able to pay it all in full by the due date. Typically, the card closes with about $300 on it, and we pay it in full. With the animals, car repairs, and 2 impulse purchases, we've run that card way up. Last statement balance was $1670, and this one is $4100. We were able to pay the last one in full and with a lot of diligence and a bit of luck, I think we'll be able to swing this one.

It's a bummer that all of DH's extra money has to go to those things instead of furthering our other goals, but I'm at least grateful that we're in a much better financial position to be able to weather these things without adding to our debt.

The emergency fund is up to $285. I'm going to add $20 to it on Friday to get it over $300.


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