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Payday

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.

Embracing True Expenses

April 11th, 2018 at 05:44 am

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

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

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

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

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

Another one bites the dust

April 6th, 2018 at 05:53 am

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

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

More YNAB thoughts

April 4th, 2018 at 05:00 am

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

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

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

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

April Challenge - No Eating Out

April 3rd, 2018 at 05:26 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

Increased Take Home Pay and Other Happenings

March 30th, 2018 at 04:38 am

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

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

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

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

Taking control

March 21st, 2018 at 08:46 pm

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

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

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

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

March 19th, 2018 at 05:35 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trying to move forward

March 7th, 2018 at 08:19 am

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

From excitement to devastation in less than a week

March 2nd, 2018 at 05:40 am

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

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

Glad I waited!

February 26th, 2018 at 05:05 am

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

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

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

Another one down...probably

February 23rd, 2018 at 06:45 am

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

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

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

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

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