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August 7th, 2018 at 05:42 am

I love payday...mostly because I get to go in and budget it. I finished off the Costco and Marriott CC sinking funds since both come up this month. I also went into the next month and reset the goals for next year. Since I started midway through this year, they were higher than they normally would be.

I've also started putting more things on autopay. As I get more comfortable with YNAB, it's easier to simplify all the bills to pay themselves.

DH's bonus comes in tomorrow. It's a little less than I thought at $5500ish, but still a big help. The goal is for that to go into the car replacement fund, but I think that I'll have to use some of it temporarily to float us until DH's next paycheck. Maybe if I don't fund the sinking funds until his money comes in, I can swing it, but seeing the orange makes me feel like I came up short.

DH's only paycheck this month will come in Friday. It'll be slightly more than normal due to 4 hrs overtime. There will also be an additional per diem payout for some short term out of town work he did before he left.

More Small Wins

August 6th, 2018 at 08:22 am

DH left this morning. I'm a big emotional eater, so skipping fast food breakfast was a big deal. I had made a batch of blueberry overnight oats, but those didn't look appetizing. Instead, I just grabbed a yogurt, nutrigrain bar, and bigger lunch.

I was debating adding money to the animal fund to get our dog groomed, but I decided to just try it myself. She's a GSD/Husky mix, so her fur is getting out of control. I'd bought a cheap grooming kit when I was considering cutting DH's hair. However, he's since decided to just embrace the bald look, so I'm going to use that and give it a shot. That'll save $100 if I can get her to a reasonable state.

I've also planned simpler meals since DH is gone. They're so easy that my brother can pitch in and cook more.

Like the last time that he was gone, I've made a list of small house projects that just never seem to get done to tackle while he's away. Today is furminating all the animals, cutting the dog's nails, and using the hair remover block on the couches/chairs. Other things this week include clearing out all of empty the Amazon boxes from our downstairs closets, organizing some of the house decorations, decluttering the kitchen, and deep cleaning the floors.

Projecting August

August 3rd, 2018 at 05:01 am

It's been up in the air as to whether DH would have to go out of town for 3 weeks again this month, and as of yesterday, it was confirmed. DH leaves on Monday morning to drive to his destination 6 hours away. While there, he won't have to drive and meals are covered. He knows he gets mileage, but we have to check on gas reimbursement. His projected pay for the out of town work will be just over 3k before taxes/deductions to be paid out the week after he returns.

This means, we'll have to do some moving around again this month. Between his one paycheck next week and my two normal paychecks, I think I can cover this month's expenses and next month's mortgage. If we can manage that, then I can use all of that work paycheck when he returns for goals. Our expenses are considerably less when he's away because I keep the temp much higher (75-78 depending on how cold I am), and we eat less/simpler because it's just me and my brother.

Revisiting Goals

August 1st, 2018 at 06:08 am

I'm going to update on these goals once a month, so here's where they stand today.

1) Pay off 2 more credit cards (Ashley Furniture balance: $827, Marriott balance: $2500)
2) Save 10k in a replacement car fund. ($50)
3) Live off last month's income. ($2500)
4) Fulfill fireplace fixing and dining room pantry savings goals ($160)

I did some more forecasting/YNAB goal setting, and it looks like my goals are going to be really hard to reach. Forecasting what I'd need to accomplish them looks like this:

1) Pay off 2 more credit cards (Ashley Furniture needs $180/mo and the Marriott card needs $520/mo). Capital One is just not going to be possible with the other goals, but if we happen to get some sort of windfall, then maybe.
2) Save 10k in a replacement car fund. 6k of this will come from DH's bonus. We need just under $800/mo for this one.
3) Live off last month's income. Based on the average spending from the few months of YNAB data, we need $1200/mo for this one, but less if I prioritize this over sinking funds and/or roll the BEF into last month's income and use that buffer. Taking out the mortgage payment (which we recently started accounting for next month's in this month's budget) leaves us needing $720/mo.
4) Fulfill fireplace fixing and dining room pantry savings goals (160/mo)

That totals almost 3k/mo going towards these goals. I'm not sure we're going to be able to do this, but I'm going to try. DH and I will have to discuss what's priority. For me, I'd rather accomplish 1,3, and 4, and adjust our car budget to whatever we manage to save. I think he'd prioritize 2 and advocate for skipping 4 this year.

Just typing this out, I've realized that 1 and 3 are my main priorities (and by default, DH's). While I want 4, and I suspect he'll want 2, I think we'll probably end up going with 2 and part of 4 - a safer car is more important than getting the fireplace fixed this year. The pantry is only $150 and would help with kitchen organization. Worse case, I tell him not to get me an Xmas gift, and we use those funds for that.

Fixing up the yard

July 31st, 2018 at 05:00 am

Debtfreeme pointed out on my last post that I don't pay rent...I've been in the house for almost 2 years now and still refer to my mortgage payment as rent...oops!

To honor my stillborn son's original due date, my boss gave me a butterfly bush. She knows we have a ton of yard, and landscaping isn't our thing. She came over to help us plant it, and we ended up spending hours out there starting to clean things up. Apparently, we have boxwoods and azalea bushes in the front. (I'm terrible with plant identification.) We used the new hedge trimmer to clean them up and shape them nicely. We dug out a bunch of weeds and small trees that were popping up. The butterfly bush looked beautiful for a few days, but then the rain stopped and it shriveled up. My boss was shocked because she said they're really hardy. I'm really hoping it perks back up because my whole concern with planting something was that I wouldn't be able to deal if that died too...

This past weekend, DH cut the grass since there was a break in the rain. I decided to use the hedge trimmer (I'm obsessed with that thing) to clean up the shrubs and bushes in the backyard. 4 hours later, we'd actually moved on to start clearing out the line of overgrowth that had provided privacy between us and our neighbors. We'd torn down their 4 ft fence and replaced it with a 6 ft privacy fence, so the overgrowth wasn't needed anymore. Unfortunately, most of it is on our property. The longterm plan is to turn that side into a small vegetable garden (lettuce, zucchini, peppers).

Everything looks so much nicer. Next year, I'm looking forward to hopefully putting some perennials in a few areas that we've cleared.

Never been richer or poorer

July 30th, 2018 at 05:52 am

I'm experiencing the YNAB poor phenomenon. There's currently over 5k in my checking account, and yet I have no money. That probably doesn't seem like much by most people's standards, but that's far more than I normally keep in there. It's usually a toss up as to whether I'll hit the $1500 daily balance minimum needed to avoid checking account fees.

For the first time in a long time, I can afford rent on the first rather than using our first paychecks from the new month.

These are small, but very exciting wins. As mentioned before, debt payoff is going to slow a bit as we build some momentum towards the savings goals, but I do feel very grateful that YNAB's philosophies finally clicked with me.

It's been a rough month, but I'm still here.

July 25th, 2018 at 06:36 am

Some quick financial wins. We're slowly working our way towards last month's income. We're about 40% of the way there with our available funds and 60% of the way there if we were to clear out the sinking funds and count them towards the buffer. Considering the weird paychecks with DH's work travel, I'm feeling pretty encouraged. Adding in the BEF would be 75% of the way there. We want to get there without counting the SF or BEF, but it's still nice to feel like we're making progress.

I also finally paid off the BoA CC. It's been next on the list for awhile, so it was nice to finally see it gone.

I did do some Prime Day shopping. I ended up moving my Amazon CC on budget in YNAB and entering the transactions, so that they would come from the right categories. I had all the money already set aside to pay the unplanned spending in full!

I adjusted my direct deposits to contribute a larger amount to our joint account - an extra 800/mo!

I have also decided on some midyear goals that I think are achievable by the year end (DH is on board by default since he trusts me to handle the money):
1) Pay off 2 more credit cards (Ashley Furniture and the Marriott card totalling about 3k, stretch goal would be 3 including Capital One at 1300)
2) Save 10k in a replacement car fund (6k of this will come from DH's bonus)
3) Live off last month's income
4) Fulfill fireplace fixing and dining room pantry savings goals (about 800 total)

It's going to require a lot of diligence and a little luck to achieve all 4 of these things, but I've never felt this in control of my money.

One last note... For anyone who was curious, I decided to forgo the match on my 401k through the end of this year in order to make some serious progress on getting to some stable financial footing. Beginning January 2018, I will increase my withholding back to 8% to get the full match and DH and I will just make do with slower debt reduction progress. (If all goes well, we'd have about 28k CC and 30k student loans.) DH has increased his contribution to 15% since he started later than me with retirement funds.

Zaycon Fresh

June 28th, 2018 at 04:32 am

Well, there goes my super cheap meat source. Zaycon Fresh unexpectedly and abruptly suspended operations yesterday. Their phones are down, their offices are covered, and they're not responding to emails. I have $160 worth of food that won't be delivered, so I'm disputing those credit card charges today and will hopefully receive that back. Now I'll have to find another source for cheap, quality meats. We've gotten fish from Lidl which is pretty cheap and good quality. Their chicken is a good deal as well, but I'd never needed to buy it since Zaycon Fresh was cheaper. Before finding Zaycon Fresh, we used to buy the $20 meat deals from Safeway which comes with family packages of 4 different meats. Then we'd portion it into 2-person meals. Now, I'd probably have to cook the whole thing if we go that route since my brother is with us.

Advice moving forward.

June 27th, 2018 at 05:36 am

Looking for some advice as to how to proceed.

DH got a surprise email this week. He is also getting a raise - 7%! We both work really hard, so it's nice that our companies realize the potential and are recognizing it. While we're both still well below our full earnings potential, we enjoy our companies and work.

I'm trying to decide the best way to handle these increases. We don't currently contribute much to retirement: I do 3% and DH does 10%. I do not reach my max. Since it's 50% up to 4% of salary, I'd need to contribute 8% to receive my full company match. I have done the match in the past, but lowered it to get extra money to put to today's goals. Since we're still trying to pay things off, I've been keeping my contributions low for the past year or two.

What I'd like to do is keep my contribution static through December to give us a little more time to get on stable footing (hopefully one month ahead on income and pay off another 3 credit cards). Since DH's income is variable and I always underestimate it anyways, I want to use his raise to up his contribution to 15%. He'd still get a very small increase in his take home, but he'll be setting himself up well for the future. Since he came in with no debt, I hate the idea of my debts burdening his long-term security.

Is this a good way of handling it? Should I just take the hit and up my own to 8% now and find a way to live within whatever our take home is at that point? Since using YNAB, we've 'found' extra money that we've been using to cash flow projects we've been putting off, so nixing those would allow us to live on our current salaries before the raises. Since my raise was almost 6% and I'd up my contribution by 5%, I'd be working with a less than 1% raise plus DH's 2% to improve our current situation. I'm just not sure what's the best way forward. We'll have about $500/extra a month right now with our raises and keeping contributions as is (not counting the several hundred we spend on delayed projects). That should be more than enough to get up to last month's income and pay off 3 more cards to by Christmas (2 are under $1000). Upping my contribution would give us maybe a couple of hundred, so we'd have to stop the extra projects in order to really get any debt payoff traction.

I really don't want to keep putting things off - saving up for hypothetical future children, funding sinking funds, staining the stairs and fence, stocking up on tools, minor landscaping, fixing the fireplace, etc. But maybe taking care of my future self is a bigger priority. Thoughts?

Various Updates

June 22nd, 2018 at 05:22 am

A bunch of random things today...

1) Raises were confirmed. Mine was over 5% which I fully understand is pretty incredible in today's world, but still leaves me several 10s of 1000s below what I would probably get by leaving. Adding in the month plus of PTO and amazing flexibility helps too, but it's still something I constantly struggle with.

2) Had a rough afternoon yesterday. I had to go to the hospital to get a copy of the records I need for Aflac. It hit me really hard being back there especially because I had to walk by the labor & delivery unit.

3) DH's car needs maintenance (the light's been on pretty much the whole time I've been driving it). Plus, the tire pressure light came on yesterday. Plus, my car needs inspection this month. Plus, my brother said he was hearing a weird rattling on the drive back here. I had about $60 in the car things fund, but added another $100. I don't think we'll need it, but I'd rather put the money there in case. The tire pressure light went off after I put free air in the tires and recalibrated. DH is under a maintenance plan, so while it's a further drive for his oil change/tire rotation, it's free. The car inspection shouldn't be more than $30. The only variable is the rattling which may or may not be something.

4) I'm trying to focus on using up things in our pantry. I did have to get groceries yesterday and spent $30 on tortillas, hot dogs, a 50% off tenderloin, snacks, and fruit. I made grilled cheese sandwiches with the last of the bread, meat, and cheese and homemade tomato soup. Tonight is chili with 3-4 cans of random beans that have been in the pantry forever.

5) I have a potentially spendy weekend coming up, but I'm trying to minimize the output. I was invited to a winery tonight that I'm thinking I'll skip. Sunday, my friends and I are taking their kids to a play place in the mall by my house. I invited everyone to my place beforehand for brunch. I have everything on hand for waffles or pancakes. I want to grab some eggs and turkey bacon (there's $10 in the grocery budget for that), and my friend is bringing fruit. It cost money for the play place, but since I'm not bringing a child in, I can just tag along as the second adult on their admission. Plus, there's a military discount.

6) Weather depending, I also invited all of their dogs. We're dog sitting one dog (in addition to our pup), so I figured if the weather's nice, we'll break out the kiddie pool....if you've never seen a puppy pool party with 5-6 large dogs, you're missing out.

7) Lastly, if the dog party does happen, we'll need to be extra careful. Last weekend while mowing, we found a rabbit's nest with 4 or 5 newborn bunnies (we're talking less than a week old). While they're considerably bigger, they're still babies and I don't want to stress them out. I'm thinking of getting some cheap netting and staking out that corner of the yard to block it off.

Itching for tomorrow

June 21st, 2018 at 05:36 am

Our raises go into effect tomorrow. Still no official word, but there's a different number in the check calculator tool and rumblings that that number is indeed reflective of our increases. By my new projections, we're only $50 short (not counting any money from my brother and underestimating my paycheck by about $20 since I'm not sure of the exact number). That includes some budgeting for fuel/groceries. I was able to submit past/present claims for Aflac totaling $175 for physician visits. Still waiting on the $1000 claim to see if the paperwork I submitted is enough or if I need more. Considering how much tangential spending crept in (Babies R Us closing sales, personal items for DH before leaving, a concert and dinner with friends that I rarely see, etc.), I'm pretty proud that we were able to weather this. I do have a $30 Costco card to supplement groceries. I also cashed some CC points out for a Papa John's gift card. DH is pretty miserable, and I want to make sure he has some comforts when he gets home. I didn't want to spend eating out money since we'd already gone way over with unanticipated spending, so I figure this is a good compromise since our points just accumulate with no real plan for them.

More potential Aflac money

June 19th, 2018 at 12:10 pm

Apparently, I need to read my policies better. I had submitted a claim for the pregnancy and received $1160. We had a meeting today with our rep, and it looks like I actually am missing another grand. Plus, I haven't been using my physician benefits. I get $25 for up to 3 physician visits/yr. The $1000 I was paid out was for an overnight hospital stay. I am supposed to get an additional $1000 for the birth itself. That would be completely unexpected and go straight to the buffer putting us closer to/a bit over 50%. Since Aflac is retroactive, I'm also going to put in for previous year's physician benefits. 4 years' worth would be another $300.

I also *think* I know what my raise is, but still waiting to hear official word. If it is what I'm suspecting, it's almost a full percent more than my most optimistic estimate. Still well below what I'm worth, but I really do like the flexibility the company offers, so I'm trying to be patient.

Too Close for Comfort

June 18th, 2018 at 04:53 am

I think we're going to take July to focus on building a buffer for August. Thank goodness I'd at least started sinking funds because raiding that gave us some breathing room. By my forecasting, we'll be $40 short of covering everything (with no grocery spending and minimal fuel). We should be fine though because that's not accounting for little brother's rent payments which we should have at least something before the next paycheck. That's also banking on some sort of increase. Our performance reviews and any subsequent increases go into effect on our next paycheck. While I haven't received official word, I feel confident that I will at least get something based on conversations with my managers and my performance. If I go to minimums for July, then I think we can save about a third of next month's income (maybe closer to half if I don't replenish the sinking funds just yet and instead categorize to the buffer). It's not much, but should more than cover the delay of paycheck that we'll again face in August. Once that paycheck finally comes in, we'll be able to go back to normal...although, is there really such a thing?

I'm really hoping we'll come out a bit ahead with all of this since I covered all expenses from my paychecks. DH's delayed paychecks are fair game to go straight to buffers/sinking funds since they're not needed to pay anything back. Also, I'm pretty proud that I was able to do this without 'borrowing' from the EF. In the past, I wouldn't have hesitated to take what we thought we needed.

A graduation gift and mid-month status

June 13th, 2018 at 05:01 am

We had a flurry of spending right before DH left, but I haven't spent anything since Saturday. I did have to raid pretty much all of my sinking funds to cover the pre-trip spending, but I didn't touch the EF and since I can cover the remainder of June and early July with the money we have, DH's paycheck will go to paying those categories back. One of the spendier items was 4 Echo Dots. We use Alexa constantly and have the goal of one in every room (we literally use them that often). They were on sale for $40 down from $50, and then another $20 off the purchase of 2. I did 2 separate orders of 2. 2 of them will be gifts (one to DH's brother who graduates high school today and one to my brother for his birthday), one will go in our bedroom, and the last one will go in the office.

I learned how to use our lawn mowers this past weekend. DH didn't get a chance to get to the yard before he left, and my brother came up this weekend to help, but it rained all weekend. This upcoming weekend is supposed to be nice, so I plan to tackle the yard then. I've also been giving my days some structure by adding exercise and a house project to each day. So far, I've cleaned baseboards, window sills, and door frames and cleaned/packed a ton of DVD cases that I took from my mom's house months ago. Today I will steam clean the microwave/toaster oven and clear out a bunch of Amazon/shipping boxes from our storage closet.

This weekend, I'll finally get around to our house binder which has been on my to-do list for about 2 years.

FSA Usage

June 11th, 2018 at 05:44 am

I had maxed out my FSA this year in anticipation of having a child. While that happened (albeit not in the way I would have liked), I grossly underestimated how amazing Tricare is and had a good amount leftover. As is, I have about 600 remaining, but at this point, I'm not clamoring to spend it since I can roll over $500, and we still have 4 months to the end of the plan year.

I did spend $230 to splurge on an Ava bracelet. It's basically a high-tech fertility monitor that tracks temp, stress, sleep, hr, etc. I got it this week and am liking it so far.

Other than doctor visit copays/meds, I don't foresee any other medical expenses, so I suspect that I'll be rolling over somewhere between $300-400 (we've both already gotten new glasses and had dental visits). DH has about $300 left, but I may suggest he use that to get prescription sunglasses, and then we only fund my FSA next year. (I had funded $500 in his thinking that our out of pocket costs might be more than what was in my FSA.)

Barely gonna make it and other musings

June 1st, 2018 at 06:04 am

My little brother was able to make a rent payment yesterday. Since this is a 3 paycheck month, he should be able to make another payment at the end of June, but not going to rely on it.

With that payment, we can actually follow the necessities only budget which does include cash spending for groceries/fuel/pets (granted, these are minimal amounts, but there's money allocated for it). On that budget, there is currently a $175 deficit, but I'm hoping to come in under budget on the variable categories (especially food and fuel since DH will be out of town) and I underestimated on DH's paycheck intentionally. I'm guessing his paycheck will actually just cover that deficit since he's likely going to have some overtime and is missing some of the differential pay from his last travel.

It's a very small thing, but I'm at least happy that we won't be adding anything to the credit cards to cover this weird pay gap. I actually borrowed from some of our other categories (electric and water are due this week, but the categories weren't going to be funded until next Thursday, so I rolled with the punches), but I already forecasted to put those back with the next paycheck, so we're basically going to stay flat for the next month.

Budgeting's going to be so fun when DH's big paycheck finally does come through in July. We'll be able to fill in some of the goal categories that will have to be skipped, pay off BoA CC, and have extra to designate specifically to the car fund.

Still waiting on tax returns.

Sometimes, it doesn't feel like I'm making progress. But then I remember, that we haven't added any debt in 6 months, have paid off several credit cards, are consistently staying within designated budget categories, and have begun setting up sinking funds (I didn't bat an eye at DH's car registration and inspection last month and there's already money set aside for mine later this month). It took me more than a decade to accumulate all the debt. It's going to take more than a few months of focus to get rid of it.

Lastly, my raise should go into effect soon. Our reviews are sometime in the next week. I didn't get a raise last year because I received a significant bump a few months before review time due to another job offer. I have a feeling I'm going to be disappointed by the number, but hoping for the best.


May 30th, 2018 at 06:04 am

The one drawback (and that's debatable since it's not the purpose) of YNAB is being able to forecast. I get the methodology, but I do like to think ahead a bit. Right now, I'm still forecasting through my Excel spreadsheet. This morning was enlightening...

DH will be going away for most of June. During this time, he will not be collecting a paycheck. (Side note: he will get paid afterwards for the entire time. Plus, he will get the difference in pay between his normal work and the 3 weeks' pay.) I don't know why it didn't occur to me before to look at this info and make sure we were covered.

In my forecasting today, I mapped out scenarios for budgeting for all expenses, only the 'necessary' ones (including cash for groceries/fuel/pets), and only the ones that required cash on hand (not ideal, but I could set groceries/pets to 0, and assume minimal fuel costs which would come out of only my fuel money). I also mapped out scenarios where I finished paying the BoA CC as planned versus using that money to cut into the deficit.

I still have to discuss with DH to make a decision, but it looks like if we only go with paying the minimums on things that require cash on hand, hold off on BoA payoff (no payment due this money/0% until September) and assume no grocery or pet money/minimal fuel costs, then we can get by without adding debt. We will have to temporarily borrow from the EF until DH's pay comes in, but that will only be a week at the beginning of July. And realistically, we probably won't have to raid it all because I don't account for rent payments from little bro, but that will cover the deficit.

It's going to be a really tough June...tax money may come in during the month which would alleviate some pressure, but again, not counting on it. When that arrives and DH's bigger checks come in July, we'll be able to put a pretty decent buffer in place to prep for when this happens again in August. I'm not sure why I stuck my head in the sand when I knew this was coming, but c'est la vie. We'll get through it.

About the car and another debt gone

May 22nd, 2018 at 04:37 am

The car's been on our radar for awhile. I have a 8 year old coupe style car. DH and I would like to have kids and we knew that at that point, we'd have to get something a bit bigger and safer. DH gets a bonus this summer that should be between 5 and 6k take home. The plan was to use that and bank the snowball after these next two debt payoffs to put about 10k down on a new CR-V (the redesigned model with the safety driving features). However, after reading Total Money Makeover and thinking it through, I decided it wasn't worth it. **Side note** I'm still pro-new car. Despite the cost and instant depreciation, I find comfort in the fact that I know exactly what's happened to it and where it's been. **End Note** Right now, it just doesn't make financial sense. We can get a decent older CR-V for that same 10k outright, bank the monthly car payment, insurance & property tax difference for 5-7 years and then buy something nicer. For now, I will continue to drive my car until kids become more of a reality than a pipe dream.

In other news, goodbye Wells Fargo student loan! It was kind of silly to pay it since it was only 5%, but it was the next smallest one and freed up $50 to the snowball. Next month is the BoA CC that has 0% interest (the promotional period ends later this year and it was low-hanging fruit) and then we'll split the snowball into the higher CC debts and the car savings.

This is why I love YNAB.

May 21st, 2018 at 04:39 am

So that $53 I got refunded? I had put it in as a refund inflow transaction to the Home Maintenance category. Imagine surprise when my credit card went negative! Thinking it through, I realized this makes perfect sense because I had already paid the credit card bill including the $53, so those dollars already had a job: credit card payback. I was able to fix it by budgeting more to the credit card payment (we're still carrying some debt on our everyday use card from DD1's euthanasia/cancer treatments last year). Then my TBB went negative until I cleared the $53 from my Home Maintenance fund. Here I was thinking we had that money back when realistically, it had already done a different job.

Fortunately, I'll be able to replenish that $53 on my next paycheck by allocating the money that was going to go to credit card payments to the Home Maintenance fund instead.

In other news, we have very loose plans to buy a car in the next year or so. I think I've finally managed to get DH on board with the plan to pay cash for a used car! That's a story for another day, but quite the win.

Thanks Google!

May 19th, 2018 at 07:39 pm

Normally, I'm weirded out by Google's stalking, but in this case, it paid off. DH got a Google notification that an item he had viewed was the cheapest it's been in 3 weeks. It was a battery push mower that we had bought for $200. I looked up Home Depot's policy and sure enough, they do price adjustments. The mower was 25% off, so we'll be getting $53 back. Pretty awesome deal.

Small Payday

May 18th, 2018 at 03:50 am

DH got his check today. It was smaller than normal due to him being out of town for two days last week. Everything's been budgeted. We decided to forgo a big anniversary dinner. Instead, we'll see the new Star Wars movie for $6.25 each on Regal's discount day. I'm even going to forgo the snacks which is kind of a huge deal for me. I budgeted $15 to entertainment to cover that. I think the 23rd is Chick-Fil-A's military appreciation day, so we'll probably do that as well since it's a free meal.

I've topped off most of my sinking fund categories and have a few more to do when my paycheck comes in next week.

I'm waiting on several items to come in/resolve: state and federal returns (totaling about $900) and a Swagbucks order (about $5 which would give me the $25 I need to do a Paypal withdrawal).

Rough Weekend

May 15th, 2018 at 05:04 am

This weekend was really tough. We had a 1-yr. old's birthday party and Mother's Day. Suffice it to say, I didn't handle it well. I took yesterday off and am feeling much better today. On the positive side, DH's parents came over to grill for Mother's Day dinner. They brought everything which was a bunch of steaks, ribs, hot dogs, and wings, plus rice and cake. Other than making one plate for DH's brother who was working, they left everything else with us. So while there's only $27ish left in the grocery budget and half a month to go, we should be okay. This will be the second month sticking to the $250 and minimal eating out. (We did get Five Guys one night since they opened one close by to us, and we'll have our anniversary dinner somewhere - both budgeted.)

Money In, Money Out

May 9th, 2018 at 12:57 pm

I got an email two days ago reminding me that two of my animals have their annual wellness visits coming up. Even though I'm working on building up an Animal Fund, there certainly isn't enough in there to handle their checkups. I was a little bummed that we'd likely have to add debt or raid our small EF, but decided to do what I could to mitigate the damage. One of those things was finally following up on our Aflac claim from the early delivery. I was expecting a couple hundred from that, but it turns out that we're getting just under $1200 back. We'll be using that to cover the animals' checkups, knock out one of the smaller debts, and add some to our sinking funds/buffer.

Weekend Spending and other musings

May 7th, 2018 at 05:06 am

This was the first weekend in a long time where there was frivolous spending, and even then, it wasn't terrible. There was a local air show that my brothers and I attended. Although it was free, there was a suggested donation of $5/adult. I put in $5 to cover all 3 of us. It is a completely free, amazing event covered only by donations and sponsors. In future years, I'd like to donate the full suggested amount (or more), but for this year, I stuck to 5 bucks. We also spent $12 at 7-11 beforehand to get some snacks/waters to round out the pb&j sandwiches I'd packed. (Our pantry was pretty meager since I'd been so determined to stick to the $250 grocery budget.)

All told, we had a full day of fun for less than $18 since the snacks lasted past that day. I gave the last $2 of that $20 to my older brother to buy 2 burritos on his 1.5 hr drive home. I also spent $4 later Saturday evening to buy a Wendy's 4 for $4 for my little brother.

No eating out for me, but I actually will be eating out today from my $5 fun money as I didn't pack lunch. In my ridiculously poor planning, I left my wallet in my husband's car this past weekend which ended up on base during his drill time. Since I couldn't access it, I didn't make it to Costco as planned to do the grocery shopping for the week because I didn't get my wallet back until after they closed yesterday.

Dinner meal plan for the week is all set up. I plan on doing the $250 grocery budget again, but added a separate Household category which will start with $50. I know we'll need to split it eventually and since I'm feeling more comfortable with YNAB, I decided to do it now. I know we'll need laundry detergent and cooktop scrubbing pads out of household, but that's all for the moment. I also need to start a separate Zaycon Fresh category.

We (sort of) made it!

May 1st, 2018 at 07:24 am

There's about a buck in the grocery budget until Friday (maybe Thursday) with a dinner meal plan in place. Lunches and breakfasts are a little more up in the air. I did slightly cheat in that I got $8 cash on Saturday and used that yesterday for spaghetti sauce and creamer.

May is our anniversary month. I'm right behind Laura and we'll hit our two years in 3 weeks. DH got me the Xbox Kinect and 2 dancing games. I'd been debating signing up for Zumba classes somewhere, so this lets me do it at home. I had budgeted fun money out of joint account for a soccer jersey for DH, but I'm going to pay that money back from my own funds so the jersey can be his gift.

Otherwise, we're just waiting for Friday's paycheck to begin May budgeting.

Frugal Weekend Plans

April 27th, 2018 at 05:03 am

This weekend, we have a couple of things happening. Tomorrow, DH and his dad are going fishing. DH is hoping they catch a couple for dinner tomorrow night. His dad ended up giving him the fishing poles and tackle box that we borrowed. DH paid for his VA fishing license and the permit to fish out of his own funds, so no hits on our joint account there.

I'm going with my mom to Annapolis for her college alumni social event. We're doing a boat tour and then a networking social. It's a one day trip, but it'll be a long day. If we're back in time, we'll stop at DH's parents' place for dinner (which will hopefully be fish!).

Sunday will be DH and I's relaxing day. He's been craving pancakes, so I'll be making breakfast. We also have some puzzles to finish up and we'll just be spending some time with each other. With his studying, weekly class, and work, and my passing out at 9 pm regularly, we haven't seen each other much. Plus, he leaves Thursday for 4 days.

I'm looking forward to a nice relaxing weekend. We also have a couple of frugal events the next two weekends that should be fun. My brothers and I will go to a free air show next weekend, and then DH and I are going to a free Viking festival the weekend after.

Hospital Bills and rolling with those punches

April 24th, 2018 at 04:57 am

We finally got some of the hospital bills. I way overestimated the FSA and was wondering how we were going to spend approximately $1500. The bills come out to just under $300 for the anesthesia and ob care. I'm still waiting to see if we get something from the actual hospital.

I believe I can roll over $500 from my FSA, so I'll still have $500 to spend by October. I think we'll be able to do that, and I'll lower my contribution for next plan year.

I wasn't able to send the full Wells Fargo payment. DH got an opportunity to get certified in a niche technology in his job. His classes will be reimbursed, but only after he passes the exam. The course materials were $150. Since he has some upcoming travel this summer, he wanted to try and get certified by the end of May which means studying asap. I lowered the Wells Fargo payment, so that we could cover his course materials.

While these expenses (course materials, bat removal) are a bummer, I feel like we're handling them much better than in the past. We'd normally put things like that on a credit card without any real plan to pay it off. Now, the money's already set aside and it's a relief to finally start seeing the balances go down.

Another semi-financial win yesterday due to YNAB: after working out, I was exhausted and didn't feel like making pizza bake. That $12.99 Papa John's deal was sounding really good. But then I remembered that we wanted to roll our eating out budget over for our anniversary and that pizza bake only takes 15 minutes to throw together and a half hour to cook. So I made dinner at home. $15 stayed in my bank account and I'd like to think it was slightly healthier.

Less than $7 for groceries

April 23rd, 2018 at 04:37 am

I set our grocery budget to $250 this month in YNAB and funded it all with our first paycheck. I think we normally spend a lot more. And more realistically, our budget will end up around $300, but for now, I set it at what would be ideal to see if I could stick to it. As of today, there's $6.86 in the grocery budget. Since I'm still getting my bearings, this also includes household items (and a puzzle). I broke out the pet stuff and moving forward, will break out the household/entertainment items. We did a lot of pantry eating. I still have about 10-12 of those crockpot freezer meals. We eat one or two a week alternated with non-chicken meals. I planned all of our dinners based on things we had at home.

For breakfast and lunches, I did a small shop yesterday for bread, cereal, fruit, and salad stuff. I prepped 8 salads to get us through midweek, cut up the veggies to make midweek salad prep easier, and made hardboiled eggs and a batch of homemade applesauce. Since our next payday isn't until May 4, our grocery budget has to last until then. I think we can make it, although it'll probably mean pb&j lunches next week. Luckily, I love me some pb&j.


April 20th, 2018 at 06:42 am

Today's payday for both me and the hubby. I went ahead and allocated the money in YNAB. Tonight, DH and I will review it. This is the first time he's taken an active role in our finances, so we'll see how it goes. We have a couple of expenses that I had to budget for and we're trying sinking funds for the first time ever, so it's a process.

I put $500 in the Home Maintenance category and $50 in the Car Things category. We'll spend most of those on the bat removal and DH's registration.

The bat removal and blocking the gable vent will be about $425. I added an extra $75 in case it's more. If not, that'll be the start of our Home Maintenance fund. I plan to try and add $150/mo. DH's car registration was $42. I will continue adding $50/mo. Our next car stuff will be my inspection/registration in June.

We also need to get some lawn care items, but will not be buying anything until the funds are available in Home Maintenance.

While we're not living off last month's income yet, we are slowly building an account buffer by having these sinking funds.

I have $377.82 available to send to my smaller private school loan. This will bring the balance to 105.21. While I'm seriously tempted to WAM $100 from somewhere to pay it off, I'm really trying to build things up to where one off payments don't disrupt me. I can't do that if I keep taking the money allocated for that. WF will be paid off with my first April paycheck and I can't wait!

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.

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