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Archive for May, 2015

Potluck Lunch & 5 things

May 29th, 2015 at 08:41 am

Today, we're having a potluck lunch for Asian-American Heritage Month. I made lumpia (Filipino egg rolls). I only had to buy wontons, so it costs $3 to participate. I've also still been doing the 5 things, but more in the sense that before I go to bed, I try to find 5 things from that day that made me feel accomplished.

For instance, yesterday included taking the pups on a long walk in the morning, unloading the dishwasher, making lumpia, training session with DD2, and cleaning kitchen post-cooking.

Debt Balances and Moving Forward

May 27th, 2015 at 06:33 am

I was just updating my budget spreadsheet and noticed some key points:

- Less than 30k on Navient student loans
- Almost half of the ACS loan paid (7k of 16k)
- Car paid off
- Less than 2k on WF loan

That's the positives...the negatives - still working on 3 CCs. I can't seem to get rid of them. I'll make progress and then undo it - a 500 payment with a 350 car repair, a 300 payment with a 200 pet visit. It feels like I'm swimming nowhere. I need to put the card back away, but a part of me wants the cash back rewards. I have $288 left to pay to cover last month's balance at which time I'll have about $700 on the Freedom card and $675 on the Slate. I think if I really buckle down, I can pay them both by the end of the summer (August), so that is what I'll do. I'm going to hold off the additional car repairs until after the Freedom card, but start them in parallel with the Slate card. After that, I'll have to assess. Part of me wants to aim for WF since it would only take 3-4 months, but that interest rate is only 5.25 compared to some of the other stuff.

At some point, I also need to start saving for a wedding. It's not official by any means, but we've certainly discussed it and I know it's coming within the next year or two, so I want to be at least somewhat prepared. Part of me wants to start setting aside something now, but I feel like part of the problem is stretching myself too thin which is why I don't really make headway on any one thing...

This darn child...I mean, puppy...

May 26th, 2015 at 10:46 am

Riley is teething and decided DC's toy was comforting to her sore gums. Unfortunately, the bell inside was nowhere to be found. X-rays didn't turn up anything either, although I'm still glad I did them because now I don't have to worry that it's stuck somewhere inside her, but I have no clue what happened to it...

Vet visit was $215 - much better than the grand I paid when DD1 was a puppy and walking funny, so I had x-rays done on his back legs...I'm kind of overprotective...but I also feel like the one time I don't do it will be the time permanent damage occurs.

DD2 is actually doing really well. Her potty training has improved significantly. Now, I'm working on getting her used to other dogs - she still barks at every dog that crosses her path. It's the protective GSD in her, but seeing that she's probably going to be huge and already has a frightening bark, I'm trying to minimize the barking. I actually don't mind a heads up bark, but after that, I turn her attention to me and make her sit.

I have to stop at the grocery store for eggs, bread, and milk, but otherwise, I have enough food to last me until SO returns. I'll have to be really careful with spending as SO doesn't actually get paid until he gets back from training - as it is, we'll have to tap our buffer, but I'm hoping to minimize that damage.

Puppy Care Plan

May 21st, 2015 at 05:44 am

I'm a little ticked that my vet didn't tell me about this plan sooner. They apparently have a plan that comes out to about $700 dollar (split into monthly payments of about $50) that includes 5 visits (each normally $60), all vaccines, spay, deworming, and 2 or 3 fecal exams.

Had I known this existed, I most definitely would have gotten this plan, as DD2's first visit was $160 and her second was $240ish including a fecal exam and deworming treatment. The spay alone is going to be around $500, and she still has another round of vaccines (happening today). As it is, I think we may still get it since the spay and 3 more visits alone would cover the cost, but it's really frustrating that no one ever explained to me that this existed. I'm going to speak to their billing department at the vet and also reach out to the hospital chain's billing department to see about possibly applying the previous visits retroactively (even if as just a credit since with 3 animals, we have vet visits several times a year), but it doesn't seem likely.

Setbacks and a milestone

May 19th, 2015 at 05:59 am

I took my car in yesterday. 60k maintenance = $353. Ouch...

As if that isn't bad enough, they called me with another 1200 in recommended repairs. All my fluids (transmission, power steering, and brake) need to be flushed in addition to some other stuff (including my rear brakes and a burnt license plate light bulb). SO can do the rear brake pads, but they also suggested machining the rotors (something to do with the brake pads). Does anyone happen to know if it would hurt anything for SO to do the brake pads and then I could just have them machine the rotors (each service was $200+, so if I could knock one off, that'd be great). I got a recommended order on the fluids, so I'll be addressing one/month over the next 3 months. I also plan to look into doing this work with someone other than the dealer. All of this unfortunately means the CCs will take longer than I want. I put the repair on the CC for the rewards and then immediately put a $500 payment to it. I have about a grand on the Freedom card and I hope to pay down another 400-500 by the end of the month. I was hoping to having it paid off, but that's looking unlikely unless I draw some of the money I'm still 'owed' from our joint account. (I probably won't do this as this was a lean month for us since SO has training, but I am tracking it. As we get surpluses, I have $750 that needs to be repaid to my cards.)

On the plus side, I'm $2 away from the 10k mark on my 401k. Seeing as my family has never been good with money, I think this is a huge start for me. I want to eventually get my savings up to 10% (which will happen automatically in June to coincide with raises). It's probably small change to most people, but to have 10k aside in retirement is a pretty big deal for my family.

Weekend Recap

May 18th, 2015 at 05:00 am

I had a very low-key, but productive weekend. I did end up spending a bit - took $40 to a garage sale - I bought several items of clothing (4 tops, 3 dresses, 3 polos for SO), a pull-up bar and yoga mat, a bag of stuffed toys (for DDs to rip apart) and some kitchen utensils.

I also found another low-cost way to keeps DD2 busy. She's already a chewer and goes through the expensive pet store stuffed animals in a day or two...she loves bottles! Water bottles are too flimsy (she breaks through them in less than 5 minutes), but gatorade bottles keep her occupied for an hour or so. Since we drink Gatorade anyway (big packs from BJ's), we'll just store them for whenever she's teething.

Other than the yard sale, I took DD1 to the dog park and both DDs to the local town center for some socializing. DD2 is about 90% husky in personality and 10% german shepherd. Unfortunately, that 10% manifests itself as barking at certain strangers and all other dogs. While she's still pretty small, she already has a pretty big bark. People kept thinking it was DD1 that was barking. As soon as she knows you're not a threat, the husky in her takes over and she plops on her back for a belly rub Smile I will continue to socialize her and work with her on the barking. She especially goes crazy towards other dogs, so I'm trying to anticipate that and focus her attention on me/the treat before she notices the dog.

The rest of the weekend was a mix of relaxing and house stuff - I got 4 loads of laundry folded, 2 loads of dishes taken care of, ate through the remainder of the barbecue leftovers (I've been eating potato salad sandwiches pretty much every meal), and did some general cleaning/organizing.

SO leaves this weekend for 3 weeks. That's the longest we've ever been apart. These past 4 days without him were tough, so 3 weeks will be really hard. I have a few projects I'd like to focus on that will hopefully keep me busy (dog training/socializing; entry closet decluttering/organizing; magazine decluttering; weight loss; 5k training) and are low-cost.

Productive Morning

May 15th, 2015 at 07:41 am

One unanticipated side effect of being able to sleep when I wanted to - I couldn't actually sleep comfortably without SO. I actually slept on the couch and woke up every 2-3 hours. Since I went to bed at 10 pm, it's still more sleep than I've had since getting Riley, but it was definitely a restless sleep.

I woke up at 5, but managed to stay (mostly) in bed (on the couch) until 645. At that point, I more than accomplished my five things for today:

- Gave Riley her last dose of dewormer and treated her lesions
- Loaded laundry
- Emptied all trash (including bathroom and laundry room)
- Cleaned litter box
- Packed breakfast so I wouldn't be tempted by office bagels
- Put away leftover disposable utensils
- Took care of all animals and shut DD1 and DC in bedroom (Apt is being treated today and they won't come in if they see DD1.)


I have two more things that I want to cross off along with possible housekeeping if I feel up to it: 1) Take last of loan money out of joint account and put into my account to pay credit card and 2) Pick up small bag of sensitive stomach dry food for Riley

Riley girl is back to her normal happy-go-lucky self. The lesions are still hanging around, but I'm just going to keep applying the topical and let them look at it again next week when she gets her vaccines since they don't seem to bother her and she can't reach them to lick them.

5 things

May 14th, 2015 at 03:58 pm

Packed SO coffee and bagel (at 5 AM...)
Fixed VPN client for work (reinstall didn't work, but sorted it out today)
Got stuff from pet smart
Loaded dishwasher
Administered Riley's meds
Repurposed potato salad into potato pancakes

Quiet Time (Hopefully!)

May 14th, 2015 at 05:46 am

SO left this morning. He'll be back Sunday evening until early Thursday morning and then he'll be gone 3 weeks. I woke up at 5 am after going to bed at 1, so I'm looking forward to turning in early tonight.

DD2 has two lesions on her back. We took her to the vet yesterday to have them looked at and while there, she was really lethargic and had vomited/had diarrhea that morning. I was really worried the parvo was back, but she seemed to perk up a bit in the afternoon. The visit was just over $200 which puts pet spending at double what I had budgeted for the month and doesn't even account for her next round of shots which will be next week. My goal is to not spend on anything for the remainder of the month except for gas and a trip to PetSmart (DC needs food and DD2 needs training pads). I was going to throw one eat-out/order-in day in there too, but I think I'll save that as my reward for making my DietBet goal.

5 things... and 50 bucks

May 13th, 2015 at 04:37 pm

I've been feeling really off lately, so I'm going to try the whole 5 things I've seen by another blogger (I think househopeful...). Maybe it'll help me to see I actually am accomplishing things...

1) Reinstalled my work VPN client on my computer.
2) Took Riley to the vet (she had a couple of lesions and generally wasn't feeling well).
3) Emptied dishwasher.
4) Got rid of the ceviche and more BBQ leftovers (sent SO to work with leftover ceviche, steak and a pork chop for his lunch)
5) Weighed in for my dietbet (was shocked to find out I'm still in the 120s considering how off focus I've been)
6) Moved remaining cooler items into fridge
7) Took out recycling (this was actually SO but it counts because I asked him too Smile )

I noticed we suddenly had 50 bucks in our joint savings. I think it was for actually opening the savings.

Got the loan and jewelry

May 12th, 2015 at 08:34 am

I forgot to mention that I ended up getting the loan. While I'm not thrilled about it, I'm hoping this will either work out and she'll change or backfire and I'll be let off the hook once and for all. She did immediately pay at least the pawn shop because she brought me the necklace on Sunday. I'll track the other loan and I'll have to rely on her word for the payday loan.

SO leaves Thursday. I'll miss him like crazy, but I'm kind of looking forward to the quiet. No going out, simple meals, eating at a reasonable hour. My focus will be dog training and getting to my dietbet goal.

Exhausting, but wonderful weekend!

May 11th, 2015 at 05:49 am

I am exhausted. Like, going home at 3 pm and napping/doing nothing tonight, exhausted.

Friday night, SO and I cleaned until about 1 am. My friend was coming in early Saturday and the barbecue was Sunday, and we hadn't really cleaned since getting DD2.

Saturday, I was up at 6 am. Took care of the animals, SO's breakfast and lunch, and then headed to the airport to get my friend. She'd also had a long night, so we decided to nap prior to doing anything. We got up about noon and decided to take DD1 hiking after having lunch in the apartment. DD2 is still too young to really be out for extended periods of time, and I wasn't about to be lugging around a 20 lb. puppy during the hike. We went to Great Falls park, and it was beautiful. We hiked about 5 miles. We had wanted to nap prior to going out in the evening, but by the time we made it home, it was 6 pm and we had to be ready by 730. We met another college friend in DC for dinner and then a night out. Spending was much less than I had anticipated - about $40 for drinks and $27 for dinner.

Sunday, I spent the day prepping for the barbecue. My friend and our college buddy went to the zoo, but SO and I skipped it to prepare the apartment. We ended up grilling on the grill outside our patio. I made chocolate covered strawberries and attempted merengue cookies. Apparently, there was oil or yolk still in it because it never whipped up properly Frown Our families got on great though. We played a rousing game of TV pictionary (everyone downloads the app and you draw/guess on your phone). It was wonderful family time. We now have leftovers for the next several days which means I get to relax since dinner/lunch will be a breeze.

Last Thursday, SO was on base, and there's this great dress kiosk there that's very cheap ($20 for the first dress, $15 for each after that). I subtly hinted that he should pick one out for me. The overachiever came home with 2 beautiful dresses - I wore one each day this weekend!


I was up at 540 this morning to take care of puppy. SO isn't a morning person, and I had to leave about 615 to drop my friend at the airport, so I wanted to make sure she was all settled before leaving.

Now things should quiet down, especially once SO leaves for training on Thursday.

The Ultimate Ultimatum

May 8th, 2015 at 05:27 am

This may not be the most popular decision, but I'll do my best to explain what has just happened. I added a 7k consolidation loan to my list of debts. Anyone who's been following my story should be aware of the money suck that is my mother and the constant struggle between setting myself up for success and bailing her out for her failures. Apparently, she opened one of those solicitations with a ridiculous front-loaded interest rate. She asked me to apply for it, so that she could be rid of the payday and pawn shop loans. Now, she's done this before, so my immediate reaction was no. However, she seems slightly different now. So I decided to use this as final ultimatum to her. I went with Navy Federal since they seem to be pretty fair with their loans and the interest isn't front loaded, so if she pays more/quicker, she'll pay less interest. The stipulations are that she pays the loan back with set-up autopay of her account and she signs a written agreement that IF she ever takes another payday loan or pawns anything else, I have ZERO future finanacial obligations to her despite all her 'we're family/I'm trying to clean up my credit for a new job' guilt trips. I also get the jewelry she takes out since it's technically supposed to go to me. I realize that if she messes up yet again, I'll be on the hook for it, but I'm also okay with that giving this will be the last time I ever feel obligated to her.

Happy Mother's Day to her, I guess...

April Numbers - Our Account

May 7th, 2015 at 08:04 am

Our numbers:

Item: Spent (Budgeted)
Rent: 1572 (1650)
Electric: 75.61 (140)
Gas: 90.05 (80)
Verizon: 93.03 (96)
Couch: 220 (1020)
Groceries: 478.38 (400)
Entertainment: 161.77 (75)
Misc: 56.27 (0)
Pets: 866.76 (900)
Total: 3613.87 (4361)

We did okay...I have no clue why I budgeted 1020 to the couch. That's the total left that we owe. I only actually meant to budget $220 to it which is what I paid towards it. We had a lot of unexpected entertainment for eating out during the first week with new puppy. The miscellaneous category was grilling supplies. It could conceivably be 'entertainment', but since the grill is right outside and it'll help us with eating at home, I was thinking of it more as an apartment expense.

April Numbers - My Account

May 7th, 2015 at 07:56 am

Below is my April recap:

Item: Spent (Budgeted)
BOA Savings: 25 (25)
Capital One Savings: 30 (30)
Netflix: 8 (9)
Insurance: 84 (84)
BOA CC: 32.66 (33)
Navient Loans: 152 (152)
ACS Loan: 170 (170)
Phone: 127 (132)
Wells Fargo: 50 (50)
Target: 50 (49.60)
Food: 19.32 (50)
Gas: 77.75 (50)
Clothing: 58 (0)
Pets: 0 (0)
Miscellaneous: 192.32 (67)
Entertainment: 83.37 (0)
Taxes: 0 (0)
Chase Freedom CC: 875 (148)
Chase Slate CC: 25 (260)
NFL Points CC: 60 (60)
Mariner: 100 (100)
Car: 413.60 (0)
Apartment*: 1400 (1400)

A couple of things...My miscellaneous category went way over because I paid off two medical collections to improve my credit report. I also had an unplanned car expense (my windshield) and some unexpected entertainment expenses (an alcohol purchase and a girls' night out). Lately, there have been a lot of purchases to the Chase card either as a placeholder to using our account or for my mom. I try to pay these back pretty quickly to get that spending under control (more on that later).

More Spending and Other Updates

May 5th, 2015 at 08:41 am

I forgot to mention this, but I lost my dietbet yet again. My weight has been consistent, but I've been so busy that I haven't been able to focus on actively losing. On the plus side, I won one of the weekly weigh-ins, so I received my polar heart rate monitor yesterday! Since I already have a fitbit, I decided to give the heart rate monitor to my mom for mother's day who has been trying to lose some weight. One negative side effect of losing weight is that I'm always freezing. If it were up to me, we wouldn't have the air on until June, but the dogs get really hot, so we have to run it.

DD2 is adjusting to her new schedule. It's really hard though because as it turns out, there is a carpenter bee nest in our patio. Two males hover around protecting it all day. I know they're harmless, but they still scare the cracker jacks out of me and DD2 doesn't like to be out there alone. She will go if I get there quick enough to let her out when she goes to the patio herself, but if I take her out to wait for her to go, she gets anxious and starts barking/jumping on the door if no one else is out there. I put a training pad in front of the door and she does go around it. She just doesn't always actually pee on it.

Yesterday, I hit up the grocery store. We've been spending too much on eating out/eating easy since things have been so chaotic. I spent $80 and got enough to probably get us through when SO leaves. We also bought some alcohol for a mini cinco de mayo celebration which was about 60 for tequila and rum and margarita mix. The last thing we got was the Omaha Steaks package for the barbecue. We went with a build your own combo for $129. With free shipping and a $15 coupon, we got 6 bacon-wrapped top sirloins, 16 burgers, 8 bratwurst, lasagna, 2 trays roasted veggies, 6 caramel apple tartlets, 10 potatoes au gratin, 4 hot dogs and 4 pork chops for $115. I also had a free reward, so we got chorizo salami. This will not only cover the barbecue, but also probably spill into the rest of the month. SO's parents offered to bring stuff, so they're bringing shrimp ceviche and guacamole. I told my mom she didn't have to bring anything, but if she wanted to, she could bring deviled eggs. That should more than cover the 10 or so people we're expecting.

I didn't get a chance yesterday, but I'm hoping to be able to do April spending and May budgets write-ups soon!

Trying to keep my head above water

May 4th, 2015 at 05:02 am

Things are okay, but really crazy. My brother went home Friday, so SO and I are trying to adjust to having DD2 around with just us. You'd think since she sleeps so much, it wouldn't be so exhausting, but it is. SO and I also got our first glimpse of what it's going to be like when we have real children. DD2 was fussy, so we got her settled in her crate with a treat toy. We climbed into bed just to talk and enjoy a few minutes quiet time when DC comes up meowing and wanting attention. We cuddle with her for a bit. She runs off to play, so we start talking about our weeks (yes, it's been so busy that we don't even know what's been going on with each other). And then we hear peeing noises. Apparently DD1 really had to go to the bathroom and even though he'd tried to hold it, he couldn't anymore. By the time, we'd cleaned up, it was dinner and play time for all the animals...

Saturday, we did get to spend some time together. His parents had extra free tickets to see the big fight at a casino about an hour away. I tired out the dogs during the day, and we put them to bed a bit early and headed out. Neither of us are boxing fans, but it was still fun. We decided to go a bit crazy (for us) and take out $100 to gamble (50 each). By 4 am, we each still had $20 which we decided to just keep and go home. We ended up getting food though which took one of the twenties. All told, we had a really great time and it was the first solid block of time we'd had together since getting Riley.

This week starts our new schedules. SO's doesn't really change, but I adjusted mine around his to take care of DD2 who can't be in her crate more than 4 hours at a time. I woke up at 530 this morning. So far, I'm okay, but I have a feeling naps will be a regular part of my afternoon.

DD2 is growing and learning very quickly. She's got a few commands, mostly goes to the restroom outside (including going to the door to let us know she has to go), and is already tall enough to reach DD1's water bowl (at the beginning of the week, she had to jump up to drink out of it). She's definitely showing more husky personality, so even though she understands things, she doesn't follow them unless she wants to. She went in the house 3 times yesterday because it was too hot for her to go outside...

I haven't really stayed on top of finances, so I'll have to check in tonight to see where I am. Barbecue is Sunday and everyone's confirmed except one of my brothers.