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Archive for May, 2017

MDW and other things

May 30th, 2017 at 08:12 am

There was definitely some spending this weekend as we hosted a barbecue. DH and I are also both having car issues. DH took his in today for an oil change which should be free with the package he bought when he got the car. I recently had an oil change, but my car is making a grinding sort of noise while accelerating, and it's getting more pronounced. I'll have to take it in this week.

I'd like to thank everyone for their feedback on my last post about the certification. To clarify, I'm not actually getting a promotion or raise at this time. The certification is to be prepared in case an opportunity arises. While there's certainly no rush, I would rather do it while my enthusiasm and motivation is still high. I think I may have a plan to be able to buy the materials this week, but I'll have to report back on that later.

We have a ton of leftover stuff, so other than getting a bag of brown rice today for veggie stir-fry, I'm hoping to avoid groceries this week and maybe even next week.

Conflicting Priorities

May 26th, 2017 at 04:56 am

I need some advice...

I got approval from my company for reimbursement of that certification that I want to go for. The issue is that I have to pay for it upfront. There are two costs associated with this certification. The prep materials are $265 and the exam fee is $550. My plan is to get the materials, prep for a month, and then sit for the exam. I only get reimbursed if/when I pass the certification. (Side note: I took a practice exam with zero prep regarding terms/formulas and using only my experience and scored 50%. I need 85% to pass. I'm fully confident that once I review the materials, I will pass the first time.)

There are several ways I could go about this:

A) Credit card now, pay it off in June before the statement even closes since this card just closed. (This option would entail delaying the Mariner Loan payoff as I would be using those funds to cover the credit card payment. I would then pay the Mariner Loan with the reimbursement or the following month if I should happen not to pass. The pro to this option would be that I could start prepping immediately. The con is that I'm trying to stay away from credit cards until I'm confident that I can use them responsibly.)

B) Buy materials with cash. (This would delay my start time as I wouldn't be able to purchase them until my 6/7 paycheck. Even then, I would be taking the cash from our account and again paying it back with the money designated for the Mariner Loan payoff from my second paycheck.)

C) Wait it out and see what happens. (My brother is now living with us. We are giving him some time to adjust to living on his own and told him to pay us as he could the next few months. Those payments were slated to be split between debt and savings, but I could use the first payment or two to pay the certification costs, and then designate the reimbursements to savings. The con to this one is that I'm not sure when he will be able to start contributing which would again delay my start time.)

Any thoughts?

One other thought...while there are free prep materials out there, this particular certification requires a certain number of instruction hours. Those can only be achieved through classroom, online, or podcasts created by certain providers. The $265 prep materials were the cheapest I could find since I was uncertain that my company would pay $2000 for a certification that is somewhat beyond my reach. (It's a certification that requires experience in a position that I've never officially held.)

One foot at a time

May 24th, 2017 at 07:25 am

Things are slowly moving forward. Our debt went down about $1200 this month. We have also started contributing to savings. It's very small, but it's a start. It'll actually double this Friday to $120. After June (the personal loan payoff month), I will be putting all of my extra money to savings to build it up a bit. It's controversial since we have so much debt, but DH and I discussed it, and we'd feel more secure having a couple grand saved up before focusing back on debt payoff.

We've decided to wait on all projects for now, but as my brother starts contributing to household expenses and our savings build up a bit quicker, I think we'll try and cash flow the fireplace and tree removal this year.

I'm feeling cautiously optimistic about where we're at. Hopefully, things will continue to improve.

One Year, House Repair, and Career Moves

May 22nd, 2017 at 09:31 am

DH and I celebrated one extremely wonderful year of marriage yesterday. We read our wine box letters, wrote new ones, and resealed the box with a new wine that we enjoyed from the winery we visited yesterday. It wasn't a frugal day, but it was an amazing one.

DH's dad told him how to temporarily fix the hole in our house. We bought foam insulation for $6 and filled the hole on Saturday. We'll still need to replace that piece of siding, but it'll do for now.

I've been looking into a certain certification. While I don't have management experience based on my title, I essentially do a manager's job, so I'm going to go for this certification and see what happens. Hopefully, the company will support it and reimburse my costs.

Did that just happen?

May 19th, 2017 at 11:25 am

Last night, we had a pretty bad thunderstorm roll through. I checked the backyard afterwards and saw that we had two or three more large branches come down in the yard. Later that evening, I decided to give the dogs a treat before bed. Something on the wall caught my eye in the utility room by their treat station. Something had broken through the wall! I looked closely at it and could see a branch poking through the insulation. Even as I was thinking there was no way that could happen, I knew it had to have. I went out to the backyard, and sure enough, a branch had speared our house! It went straight through the siding and insulation and came out inside the utility room!!

Our insurance carries a $1000 wind/hail deductible. However, my amazing FIL said that it is a pretty easy fix (made even easier if we got lucky and the previous owners left some siding in the crawl space). He suggested we avoid going through insurance and just fix it. The unfortunate thing is that he's leaving the country tomorrow for several weeks, so I don't think it will be fixed for a bit, but he's going to call us this evening to discuss it.

I really hope this string of unfortunate luck stops soon. My car is still in the shop because what was a 2-day repair revealed body damage when they took off the bumper. It's going to be at least the middle of next week before I get my car back.

Car Repair and Unexpected Out of Town Work...

May 16th, 2017 at 04:40 am

...for DH. They already gave him his per diem check for $230. He's hoping to have a fridge. In that case, he'll just get sandwich fixings and eat that all week. Another option is tuna packets. Apparently, they offer continental breakfast, so that'll keep costs down as well. He's going to a particularly swampy area, so we did get him some muck boots for $22 yesterday.

DH gets paid on Friday, and my paycheck comes in Monday. That check should get me under the $400 mark for my Mariner loan. I'll be so glad when that is gone! In addition, now that my brother is here, he will be paying us $400/month, plus $50 if he wants access to all of our food. I was still debating what we wanted to do with it, but I've decided. Half will go to our savings and half will go into our bank account until we get to next month's income. I'm still consistently about $800 short. Once that shortfall is eliminated and we have $1000 in savings, $350 will go to a home improvement fund and $100 will go to savings. (Note: These are long-term plans as it will likely take several months to reach each of these milestones)

We have a ton of home improvement things we'd like to start accomplishing including(the numbers are real estimates for my high COLA) :
1) Tree Removal - $1800
2) Backyard Enhancements (Regrading yard, adding drainage, reseeding) - $2400
3) Fencing - $6000-$8000
4) Hot Tub - $500
5) Fireplace - $700

Eventually, we'll need additional furniture, and I'd like to renovate the master bathroom within the next 2-3 years.

My car is in the shop this week. The other insurance company approved the estimate and cut me a check to pay for the repair. I declined the insurance on the rental car, so it worked out well that DH was sent out of town. I dropped him this morning and will just drive his car.

DH and I had plans to go to a movie tonight, but he obviously won't be here now. Fortunately, my brother wanted to see the movie anyway, so he'll come with me. He'll probably purchase the snacks since I already bought the tickets.

33% and a big change!

May 12th, 2017 at 04:41 am

This morning, I weighed in at 33% of my dietbet month 1 goal. It's encouraging because this is still the first week, and I haven't even really been working out because I was ill. DH actually hit his month 1 goal last night. I'm very proud of him.

It's been in talks for awhile that my younger brother may move in with us. We're closer to the DC area, so there's a lot more access to jobs. Plus, we have AC and he'd have his own room. Since he's only working retail, we decided to not charge him a lot. His transfer just went through, so he'll be moving in on Sunday. We've agreed to $400 rent. We're excited to have him with us for the extra dog help, but it should also reinvigorate him and his job search. He's been struggling to find even entry-level work in his job field, and it's discouraging. (Side note: I remember job searching after college. It took me a year to find a job, and with how fast-paced things are these days, the longer he's out of school, the harder it'll be for him to find a full-time job in his field.)

I don't have a plan for the $400 yet, but I'm thinking we keep things the same and put $200 to debt and $200 to savings. We also told him he'd be able to help himself to the food we have, but that we'd ask for an additional $50 to put to the grocery budget to help with food.

He'll have to adjust his car insurance. The other plus is that it'll greatly shorten his commute since the store he's transferring to is barely a 10 minute drive and his current store is at least a half hour away. (Other side note: I actually wish he'd sell his car, walk to work, and save up for a beater, but I don't think I can convince him to do that...)

He's actually closer in age to my husband than I am, and we're both hoping this helps him establish himself as an adult.

Dietbet, Electric Bill, and More

May 11th, 2017 at 05:44 am

DH and I bit the bullet and joined Transformers. I also signed him up for Planet Fitness. There's one 5 minutes from the house and on the route home for him. Both money outflows came out of our main account. The caveats are that if either of us lose any months or DH doesn't go to the gym 12 times a month (about 3x/wk), then we have to pay that money back out of our individual bank accounts. So far, so good. He and I are down a collective 3 lbs. (started earlier this week). The first 2 days were incredibly rough for me. I felt nauseous and dizzy all the time, had no energy, and went to bed at 7 pm. My body's starting to adjust and yesterday, I got in a Cize workout. Hoping to get in a few runs this weekend, but if the weather doesn't cooperate, then I'll resort to hour-long Zumba Wii sessions.

Our electric bill was crazy low this month - $100! Back in our apartment days, $100 was on the higher end. However, the house is considerably larger. We're doing our best to minimize electricity use, but I still budgeted $210 for the higher months. In November, we'll have been here a year and can enable budget billing to have a more constant average number.

You know how sometimes your TV and sound get out of sync, so the mouth will be moving but the words come later or before? I feel like that's how Mother Nature is. We had no winter. It's been 40-60 degrees this past week. April was relatively dry, but it's been nonstop rain since May began. Whatever happened to those April showers?

Finances are kind of on autopilot. This is the last month for the DC United season ticket charge, so that should free up $65 until Fall when we renew for next season. I've been doing Swagbucks/mystery shopping to earn a few extra bucks here and there. I'm at $20 on Swagbucks and will continue to accumulate until I can get $40 in Amazon gift cards. I've had my eye on an Essential Oils case, but can't justify the price tag by sacrificing debt payments, so I'm side hustling for it. Mariner loan should be under $400 by the end of this month with a target payoff of end of June!

Revised Mother's Day Plans and Hell Week

May 4th, 2017 at 05:59 am

Thanks everyone for the feedback on the last post. I think we will just do the winery picnic with both families and focus on quality time together.

This week has been a nightmare. On Sunday, our AC stopped working. We have home warranty, but they called on Monday and said it'd be at least another week. DH's dad came to the rescue yet again and got the guy who services his AC to come out that afternoon. It was a broken capacitor. He charged us the $100 that we would have paid as the service fee, so we just cancelled the home warranty claim. On Tuesday, I got rear-ended heading in to work. It seemed to be very minor cosmetic damage, so all I took was his company (it was a work truck) information and his name and phone number. I told him I likely wouldn't follow up on it unless my car started acting weird.

On Wednesday, I had a 2 hour commute in to work. It normally takes 45 minutes. The evening before I'd noticed my car driving a little strangely, and I still noticed it yesterday morning.

Last night, I called the guy. No answer, so I left a voicemail. This morning, I texted him and hinted that I would be following up with his company if he did not respond. He texted back a few minutes later with a really rude response asking how I was going to tell him now that there's an issue when I had said nothing was wrong. I responded that I had said that it didn't seem like anything was wrong and that I'd only follow up if I needed to. I then asked for his company's insurance info. Again, no response. If I haven't heard from him by this afternoon, I will be calling up the company. I suspect he didn't report it to his company and that is why he was so angry.

Additionally, our hall bathroom toilet had randomly started leaking a few weeks ago. DH's dad took a look at it and gave us the options of a super cheap fix or a new toilet. He said the one we had was actually really old and inefficient and since we could get a decent new toilet for under $200, we should just do that. He installed it for us yesterday. Once again, I'm incredibly grateful for his dad's handyman skills. DH realized afterwards that we should have just given him the sausages as a thank you. He really liked them and gave us $25 for a 10 lb. box containing about 160 links.

Here's hoping there's no more expenses for awhile. Every time I feel like we're starting to make progress, things set us back.

Salads, Zaycon Fresh, and Looking Ahead

May 3rd, 2017 at 06:26 am

Now that the weather has warmed up, we've been eating salads a lot more. I don't even like salads, but we have a pretty basic one that I can live with. It's basically iceberg mix (with cabbage and carrot shreds), grape tomatoes, chicken, a small pinch of cheese, and a hard-boiled egg. DH adds banana peppers and jalapenos to his.

We got our second Zaycon Fresh order yesterday. This time, it was pork sausage breakfast links. After processing one box of 160 links, we decided to see if his parents would want to buy the other box off of us. I cooked up 3 links last night - one for us to try and two for his dad and his friend who are coming by today to install our new toilet. The sausage was delicious! So far, we've had chicken and the sausage links and absolutely no complaints! In the next 2 months, we'll be getting hot dogs and ground beef as well as a new order of chicken. If you're interested in buying bulk meat at pretty good prices (the chicken came out to $1.39/lb. and we also just placed an order for 93/7 ground beef at $2.80/lb.), I'd appreciate it if you used my referral link

Looking ahead to May and June, it looks like we're definitely not going to be able to do the fence. Instead, we're looking at cutting down the line of trees at the back of our property, so that next year, we can run the fence straight along the property line. We've received one quote for $300/tree (there's 6 total). We have two more contractors coming out this week, although we really liked the first guy.

For Mother's Day, DH suggested bringing picnic things to a winery with both our moms. That sounds fun, so I will look into planning it. I also want to get them each an oil diffuser. My mom already has a starter pack of oils, and I have one coming that I can give to my mother-in-law.

We also have our 1-yr. wedding anniversary in May. We decided to just celebrate simply the weekend of, and then have a Memorial Day cookout with family and friends. We'll be providing most of the food which should come out of the grocery budget since we have plenty of food on hand

June is a 3 paycheck month for DH. That is earmarked for some of our recent bulk meat purchases, the new toilet we had to get, and DH's upcoming car service. Anything left will be split between savings and debt.