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Archive for November, 2016

Wonderful Thanksgiving & Some Financial Updates

November 28th, 2016 at 06:38 pm

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 02:52 pm

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 02:25 pm

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 04:02 pm

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 08:00 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 12:03 pm

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 05:08 pm

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!!