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A Small Win

December 4th, 2018 at 04:54 am

Things have sort of gone to the birds over here. It's been really hard to stay financially focused when we're dealing with expecting anxieties, an upcoming deployment, holidays, etc. But we're trying. I did meet one of our goals - the Ashley Furniture card is paid off!

Considering how few of the other 2018 goals we're going to meet, I am proud that we did this one. While we still have funds set aside for the fireplace and car replacement, the deployment's changed those plans. I'm going to take those amounts down to $200 for the fireplace and $2000-3000 for the car and repurpose the rest to cover our lapse in income (see below). We have all next year to save for both goals since I wouldn't really use the fireplace without my husband around until I got used to it (and I'd want him around for that). For the car, I'm going to use DH's while he's away. My car will still go to my older brother as planned, so that it can be driven regularly.

For the everyday use credit card, I still haven't paid it off, but I am officially riding the float meaning I'm no longer paying interest, but paying the balance and then reusing the card for that month's spending. The remaining balance is sitting right at $1500.

One other difficulty during this time is that DH won't be getting a paycheck for awhile. We expect today to be his last day at his civilian job, and he probably won't begin collecting a military paycheck until the end of December or beginning of January. Fortunately, we have the savings funds to repurpose and can hopefully make up ground quickly once he starts collecting paychecks.

Everything is still so floopy, but I'm hopeful that at some point, they'll become un-floopy. (Friends reference...)

Checking In

November 27th, 2018 at 06:08 am

I had to go back and look at my last few posts to see what I had and hadn't shared. Things have been a flurry of activity over here. While we are still waiting on official orders, it looks like DH will be deploying for a year. While it's unfortunate timing and our first long-term separation, I'm at peace with it after some adjusting. I have a really good support system in place here with my family and DH's as well as a few close friends, so I think it will be manageable. This puts all of our financial plans sort of up in the air until we figure out what is happening. He was slated to leave early December, but hasn't actually gotten orders. He has been officially transferred to the unit though.

I had drafted a list of things to get done before he goes, but we're waiting on official word to kick those off. I guess we should probably start since it's not looking like he'll get the 3 week notice he was hoping for. It also puts him in limbo at his regular job as he'd like to take these last few weeks off to get everything in order, but doesn't want to schedule his 'last' day until we have official word. I'm hoping they come in this week.

Using up food

November 6th, 2018 at 04:27 am

I've been feeling much better these past few weeks. While I still don't have abundant amounts of energy, I do have enough to work out a bit most days. I still feel meh towards food and don't like cooking, but I've been forcing myself to focus on using up the stuff in our freezer. Yesterday, I had DH make the last of the frozen potstickers and about half of the remaining bag of spinach/mozzarella ravioli. I brought a bit of the ravioli with me for lunch today. Our fridge is mostly empty and we're running low on lunch snacks, so I'll likely have to make a Costco trip soon, but we're using things up for dinner.

I know I have the following in the freezer - 8 pk. tilapia fillets (x2), 1 pk. mild sausage, 4 frozen chicken breasts, 4 frozen pizzas, 1 pk. frozen shrimp, and a handful of Hot Pockets, Bagel Bites, and Pizza Rolls (left over from survival mode). We also have several packs of frozen veggies, 2 containers of stuffed bell pepper soup, and a questionable turkey from sales last year.

In the pantry, we have tons of pasta, mac and cheese, rice, and chili staples.

For upcoming meals, I've planned things such as shredded bbq chicken (both sandwiches and tacos), mac and cheese and sausage with veggies, rice with fish and spinach, and shrimp fried rice. My goal is to empty our freezer over the next few weeks, so I can make a winter batch of once-a-month-meals. I suspect that I won't want to cook much in the next few months, so I'd like to make a month or so's worth of meals in the next couple of months. And then 1 or 2 more batch cooking sessions towards the end with my mom/husband's help. This should help us get through without spending too much on eating out. The issue is that I simply don't feel like cooking and DH has no idea what to cook without direction (which I also don't feel like giving). The last few times that I've done the batch cooking worked out well because I wrote the cookbook page number on the frozen meal, so he just referenced that. Since they were mostly prepared and required little effort other than baking or reheating, he was a lot more comfortable taking the lead.

One of those weeks

November 2nd, 2018 at 04:58 am

It's been one of those weeks that feels like it'll never end. Wednesday felt like Friday since it was Halloween. Then, Thursday felt like Friday since it seemed like it had been forever this week. And now today finally is Friday.

This month is DH's 3 paycheck month. While I'm hoping to make some progress on our goals, I'm also hoping to be able to put some more aside for shopping. I know it's silly to suddenly cram every house project ever in to the few months remaining until my (hopeful) due date, but that's what we're trying to do. This month is getting the fireplace working. For some reason, I'm obsessed with the idea of wasting my winter nights away reading in front of the fireplace.

The next few months will be a flurry of organizing, decluttering, and fixing up the nursery. We have almost all of the big things, but I want to redo that room a bit. We've picked out paint colors and wall decor (we're framing puzzles and my mom is drawing some original artwork). Since DH's dad is a contractor and so excited, we're hoping he'll be willing to get his hands dirty and help. We'd like to switch the carpet to laminate that looks like hardwood, add a ceiling fan and overhead lighting, and (probably) add crown moulding. We also want to insulate more between the garage and bedroom since the two rooms over the garage are horrible with temperature.

My two wish list items for Black Friday include family tablets (would like 3, but may just go with 2 since I probably won't use it nearly as much as I'm thinking: one each for DH and I, and one that will stay with the recliner in the nursery) and a Nest thermostat with sensor. I'd like to put the sensor in the nursery, so we'll be able to handle temperature in there a bit better.

I'm looking forward to a quiet weekend and really hoping the projects and holidays will make the next few months go by quickly.

A Bit Nervous

October 25th, 2018 at 05:36 am

Today's the day where we find out if everything is okay after the trip. Everyone was incredibly worried about me driving that far given what happened last time. Since I'm stubborn, I refused to miss out on it just because I'm expecting. I'd feel really terrible if everything isn't okay given everyone's concern. I did clear the trip with my doctor beforehand and feel like I did everything in my power to take precautions. I feel good and haven't had any concerning signs, so I'm hoping everything is fine.

In financial news, I found out at my therapy appointment that I owed another $80. I had been told that the counseling facility was covered by Tricare. I finally figured out how to access my EOB and account info. I found out that I'm at $297 of our $300 deductible and $950 of our $1000 catastrophic cap. Since I still have almost $500 in the FSA, it should more than cover any remaining medical expenses through the end of the year.

Trip Report

October 24th, 2018 at 05:37 am

It's been brutal adjusting to being back. The trip was really relaxing and just what I needed. The drive there and back was a bit rough given my condition, but it was so nice to be able to tell family and friends in person. We did spend quite a bit more than anticipated considering the 'budget' that I'd set barely ended up covering gas. In the future, I'll have to actually do some math rather than just guessing at a random number. All told, we spent just under $700 which I covered by pulling from other categories. I'm really grateful that we were able to make these memories without stressing about money or going further in to debt.

Debt-wise, this was a poorer month in terms of payoffs. I didn't make much leeway on my goals, but I'm trying not to beat myself up about it since we have a lot of competing priorities at the moment. All I can do is keep pushing forward.

Getting spendy

October 15th, 2018 at 05:08 am

We've had a lot of random spending lately (groceries, household, gifts, and entertainment). I currently have about 8 categories that are over budget. The reality is that the money is there in my account, but I really don't want to pull from the car fund, so I'm letting it sit over budget until Friday. DH's paycheck Friday should catch us up. That coupled with my paycheck next week will fund us through the end of October. If I top up all my goals categories (which I'll likely do), then our first November paychecks will go towards rent. I'd like to be more ahead, but for right now, it's okay since the car fund is sitting as a giant buffer in our account.

One other thing that I did recently was increase my retirement. I had always interpreted the 401k match incorrectly, thinking that it was 50% matched up to 4% meaning their max contribution would be 4%. That would mean I need 8% to max it out. However, it actually means that they only match on the first 4%. Since I already contribute 3%, I increased it to 4% to take full advantage of the company match. It will likely stay there for awhile. My latest projections have us debt-free except for the mortgage by 2021, so at that point, we'll start playing catch up.

Riding the credit card float

October 12th, 2018 at 10:25 am

I just set up a credit card payment to pay the statement balance in full for the credit card that we use for everyday things. Technically, there's another $150ish set aside for the payment, but I just did the statement balance. The money was set aside in YNAB for current purchases put on the card, so this officially means I'm riding the credit card float. It's strange that this is a big milestone, but I certainly consider it one. This is the first time since early last year when our dog got sick that we've been able to pay a balance in full on this card. The goal is to have the card paid off completely by December (which will also be the one year mark of losing my dog).

Beyond Exhausted

October 11th, 2018 at 05:08 am

I'm so, so tired. Since I'm out on my trip next week, I've been trying to make it in to the office every day this week. Today was incredibly difficult, but I made it. I'm leaving a bit early for a therapy appointment. Hoping the therapy helps with everything I've been dealing with.

Financially, we're slipping a bit, but mostly holding it together. I need to get a better bill payment system in place. With me being out of it, I've paid 3 bills late so far this month. The money was there. I just forgot. Fortunately, we're in a much better place now thanks to YNAB, so it's not terrible. My 'Idiot Tax' category has been getting some use though.

I've also been trying to get out more to help improve my mood. My friends have a whole October schedule planned. We did apple picking last weekend. This weekend is a local event where they use pumpkins to create these elaborate sculptures and then an afternoon of fall crafts. I opted out of the event because it's almost $30/ticket. I've been wanting to go for years, and DH said it was my call, but that next year would probably be more special with a kid in tow. For fall crafts, we're mostly trying to use what we have on hand. I'm going to host since I have a yard for the dogs, and my friends know that moving is hard, so they offered to come to me. We're going to do Italian night. I'm going to cheat and get the Stouffer's veggie lasagna, one's bringing pasta/meatballs, and of course, garlic bread! I may also pick up a salad even though I can't necessarily eat it. I'm getting better at the veggies, but only if they're hidden.

September Goals Update

October 9th, 2018 at 05:04 am

Edited - Forgot to update intro...Below are our original goals for the remainder of 2018 along with how we're tracking to meet them. As I thought, September was difficult. Hoping to get things back on track through the end of the year for everything except last month's income. Since kiddo is (hopefully) due in April, we plan to have last month's income in place by then.

1) Pay off 2 more credit cards (Ashley Furniture balance: $827, Marriott balance: $2500): On track - Paid $544.01 extra to Marriott (1621.64 remaining) in addition to current charges and interest payments. Paid $180 to Ashley Furniture ($370 remaining).
2) Save 10k in a replacement car fund. (Original balance $50): Slightly behind - I was able to put aside $800ish this month. We'll see how this continues tracking, but the goal will be a new-to-us car with whatever balance we end up with. New balance is $5854.86.
3) Live off last month's income. (Orginal - $2500): Behind - I've decided this goal is lowest on our priorities list. I actually didn't put anything towards this choosing instead to throw as much as we could into the car replacement fund. Current balance is $0.
4) Fulfill fireplace fixing and dining room pantry savings goals ($160): On track - Fireplace account has $480/$800 set aside. Behind - Home Maintenance (where we'll pull the dining room pantry from) currently has $0. We actually added $160, but wiped out the category to get a pressure washer and leaf blower.

Take Two

September 28th, 2018 at 04:57 am

I was going to wait a little longer to post this, but since some of my recent purchases can't be explained without it, here goes...I'm pregnant again!

Yesterday was my 12 week checkup, and I'm due next April. (Fingers crossed!) I haven't really let myself be excited about it, and I've had a pretty rough first trimester, so I'm hoping it lets up soon. Since it's been so difficult, I just kind of leaned into it. There was a lot more eating out than normal since I had no energy to cook, and even if I did, the food aversions were so bad that I couldn't actually look at food for more than 5 minutes before getting violently ill. Once I realized how bad it was, I started buying more convenience food to enable my husband and brother take on more of the load, so we could eat out less. Two weeks ago, my mom stepped up big time. She visited and cooked a week's worth of healthy-ish (certainly better than the frozen stuff) meals. She offered to do that for as long as I need. This weekend, my brother is delivering the next set of foods. Since I have really bad veggie aversions, I tried to think of ways to sneak them in to the meals she's making. The menu is fajita mix, spaghetti meat sauce, broccoli cheddar soup, beef stew, and chicken fried rice.

I can't even be in the grocery store for long without gagging, so DH has been making the trips with me. At Costco last weekend, we ended up with several impulse purchases, including a big one. We bought new potholders and a king size blanket (from the Household budget). We also bit the bullet on our last remaining big purchase for the nursey - a recliner. I knew I wanted a recliner, so we could use it in the living room furniture eventually. Costco had one for $350 that was electric and had massaging and heat options, plus a USB port. The ones I had been looking at were around the same price without the bells and whistles.

For other baby planning, my dad and stepmom had already bought our crib last pregnancy. We'd also bought a dresser before losing him. When Toys R' Us had their closing sales, we went ahead and got the infant travel system, high chair, extra infant car seat base, pack n' play, and bassinet. At this point, I think we're mostly set. I don't want a lot of toys, and we're set on clothes. I don't want to heavily stock up on diapers, bottles, etc. because I have no clue what the little one will actually tolerate or take to.

Obviously, this changes financial plans yet again. More to come on that soon.

Lots of paydays and a trip

September 21st, 2018 at 10:30 am

Today was essentially 4 paydays - my personal account, my contribution to our joint account, DH's paycheck, and a payment from my brother. It's all been appropriately budgeted out.

One thing I haven't yet mentioned is that next month, my brothers and I are going on a road trip. My dad moved from California to the deep South. It's now about a 14 hour drive to see him, so we hope to go down once a year or so. This year, we timed it for my brother's and our stepmom's birthdays.

I've only budgeted $300 to the trip. We're going to drive straight down in one shot, but break the drive into 2 days coming back. I used my rewards CC free night for the hotel. We're staying with family and will mostly just focus on family time, so the $300 is gas, road snacks, hotel parking, and then a trip to the aquarium on the way back home. The trip fund is fully funded. We also have the money for my kitchen pantry set aside, so I'll probably pull the trigger on that soon.

A Fresh Start

September 20th, 2018 at 06:20 am

Apparently, my company has 2 financial planners as free resources. They gave a presentation the other day, and I decided to meet with them to get some ideas. They asked me to give them a look at my financial picture, so that they could help me develop a plan. I'm still working out what information I actually want to give them, but it did force me to look at my financial spreadsheet and recalculate debt payoffs based on where I am today and some things that we're anticipating. According to the new calculations and not accounting for raises and bonuses, we should be debt free (except for the mortgage)by the end of the first quarter in 2022. If we push hard and stick to this plan, we may even be able to do it earlier. My 35th birthday is in December 2021. That'd be a pretty nice gift to myself.

Can't wait to free up money

September 18th, 2018 at 06:38 am

I'm trying to cut myself some slack because we have a lot of things we're juggling right now. I currently put aside about $1250 across 5 goals - Marriott CC payoff, Ashley Furniture CC payoff, fireplace fixing, property taxes, and an old loan that I took for my mom that she just completely stopped paying me on. All of these goals minus the old loan were planned to be completed by the end of the year. Rather than rush to live off last month's income, I'm going to use the $1050 freed up from everything else to pay off the Mom loan (there'll be less than $1k left) in January (if I can't find the cash before the end of the year) which would free up the last 200. That extra $1250 will give us breathing room to up my retirement to 10% and still give us at least an extra $500/month snowball. Looking at the next few months, it looks like Last Month's Income will happen first quarter of 2019. We also won't have $10k for a new-to-us car, but we're going to stay within whatever we manage to come up with (it's looking like about $8k). That'll also free up whatever money we'd been saving to that goal - not sure what the number is yet since October will be the first normal pay month we've had in awhile.

Life's Hard

September 14th, 2018 at 06:12 am

It's been so difficult adulting recently. On the one hand, our financial situation is probably the best it's ever been. On the other hand, we still have light years to go, so it feels impossible. To be fair, we are not even remotely gung ho about the debt payoff, so I guess that I can't get upset if I'm not actually willing to commit to the sacrifices.

A random list of financial things:
- I moved our baby emergency fund of $1000 out of our checking account and in to savings. (I used to keep it in checking to ensure that we'd have the $1500 account balance.)
- Our checking account saw over $10k for the first time ever which is huge. It's still sitting up that high, but all of the money is accounted for in various YNAB categories.
- I won't be able to make all of my goals for the rest of the year. I know the living off last month's income will be short, and I'm pretty sure the car will too, but I'm still going to try. We'll just find a car within whatever we do have saved. And DH will have one extra paycheck month by year end which will get us kind of close on the last month's income.
- I set up our credit card payments today and realized that if I found an extra $500ish, I could pay off last month's balance on the Marriott card (our main one) and officially move on to riding the credit card float rather than paying interest.
- I also should have an extra $500 coming in from DH, but that might be better funding ahead rather than allocating it to the credit card.

August Goals Update

August 31st, 2018 at 10:16 am

Below are our original goals for the remainder of 2018 along with how we're tracking to meet them. It's a bit misleading as we received a big influx of money from DH's work payment. In September, we'll only receive one and half paychecks for DH, so things will be tougher.

1) Pay off 2 more credit cards (Ashley Furniture balance: $827, Marriott balance: $2500): On track - Paid $544.01 extra to Marriott in addition to current charges and interest payments. Paid $280 to Ashley Furniture.
2) Save 10k in a replacement car fund. ($50): On track - Right now, YNAB says we're on track since we were able to put aside DH's bonus. I know this will fall behind in coming months, but we'll do our best. New balance is $5064.54.
3) Live off last month's income. ($2500): On track - This will fall behind in September since we won't have 2 full paychecks for DH, but right now, we're ahead. Current balance is 2970.34. We need about $5600.
4) Fulfill fireplace fixing and dining room pantry savings goals ($160): On track - Fireplace account has $320/$800 set aside. Home Maintenance (where we'll pull the dining room pantry from) has just over $100. The pantry I'm looking at runs about $200.

So far, we're doing well. September will be tough, but then I think we'll be able to make some headway again in October when DH's schedule should be back to normal.

Just a quick update

August 28th, 2018 at 04:56 am

I just realized I've been MIA most of August. Things are still chugging along. DH gets back today, and his paycheck will come in tomorrow, so I'll be able to meet all of the goals this month (more to come on that later in the week). I am a little disappointed with myself at the exorbitant amount of eating out that I did ($234.06), but sometimes, life is about survival.

Payday

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.


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