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Marriott Payoff and Upcoming Expenses

September 15th, 2017 at 12:27 pm

I set the last payment today to pay the Marriott card in full. I'm so grateful we were able to weather this spat of bad luck and hope that things go smoothly for a bit.

We have two big upcoming expenses to work into the budget. The first is car taxes due in early October. Since we moved to a slightly cheaper county, the cost for both cars comes out to somewhere around $800. My husband's car is still new which is why it's so expensive. Mine was only $130.

The other big expense depends on how well we execute it. One of my closest friends is getting married the first weekend of October in Boston, and I'm in the bridal party. We had originally planned to drive up on Friday, have two nights of hotel expenses, and drive home Sunday...

But then, the maid of honor planned the bachelorette party for the Tuesday before. I already missed her bridal shower due to a flat tire, and this friend stood by me during my wedding and made it to all of my pre-wedding events, so I'd like to be there for her. After discussing some various options with my husband (including some elaborate plans around one of us driving up and one flying so we could arrive at separate times), we decided to just both take that week off and make it a mini-vacation. DH just got back from almost two months of 60-hr. workweeks, and I finally finished my work cycle on two major projects, so it seems like a good time for a break.

Some things we're doing to frugalize our now almost week-long vacation include:

1) Staying with a friend Tuesday-Thursday: My maid of honor also lives in Boston and turned 30 this week. DH and I will be staying with her Tuesday-Thursday night so as not to impose on my friend getting married while she's prepping last minute things for the wedding.

2) Using points/certificate for the hotel: On Friday, we'll drive to the actual city where the wedding is. I've booked a hotel for two nights using a combination of points/our annual free night from the Marriott card.

3) Cheap Entertainment: Since we'll have Wednesday/Thursday/Fri. morning to ourselves, we plan to do some sightseeing. I've always wanted to show DH around my college campus and Faneuil (sp.?) Hall. We also plan to get in some hiking since we'll be there when the Fall colors are coming in.

4) Cheap Food: Since we'll be staying with my friend most of the time, we'll get some sandwich stuff for picnics during our daytime excursions. I'm also going to offer to cook one of the nights we're there or help chip in for groceries if she cooks the whole time.

I haven't worked out the full budget for the trip, but I think we'll have around $400 for everything including gas, tolls, food, entertainment, etc. I'm hoping to come in well under that number, but we'll see. That number also doesn't include the wedding gift.

My Drug Costs

September 14th, 2017 at 11:58 am

Seeing PatientSaver's post about the cost of drugs and Snafu's comments on my last post about my allergy meds has made me consider the cost of my own meds. I have terrible allergies. If you name it, I'm probably allergic to it (with the exception of food allergies). To combat them, I take 4 maintenance medications, and I have a rescue inhaler for emergency situations or winter activities (I also have seasonal bronchitis). The cost of these meds have gone up and down over the years, but I think I'm currently in a pretty good spot. I buy the generic Zyrtec in a yearly supply from Costco ($10). I also will start getting my generic nasal spray from them as I found that a 5-month supply was $17. Previously, I was buying a generic one from Wal-Mart at $10 for a 1-month supply. The steroid inhaler and Montelukast tablets are on my plan's home delivery program. It's wonderful because I no longer have to make a monthly trip to the pharmacist, plus I get a 90-day supply each time. The Montelukast is covered, while the inhaler has a $20 refill cost for the 3-month supply. My rescue inhaler is by far the most expensive of these at $50/refill. The good news is that I only fill that one once/maybe twice a year since I don't use it that often.

All told, I spend about $180/year or $15/month on maintenance meds. I'd always wanted to try allergy shots. Maybe I should look into plan coverage on that and price out what would be cheaper. My only concern is that I know people way less allergy-prone than myself who've gotten the shots, but had no noticeable improvement.

CC, Dietbet, and Food Updates

September 11th, 2017 at 11:40 am

We made an $1835 payment to the card, so the remaining amount we need to pay by the 20th to pay it in full is 1068.94. DH gets his last reimbursement this Friday, so that will go towards it, and we'll pay the rest of our account.

Our dietbet month 4 weigh-out was this weekend. DH is at his 10% goal and has been for awhile, so he weighed out on Saturday. Since I was sick last week, I wasn't able to work out, so I pushed myself hard Saturday and Sunday morning to end up .1 lb. under goal, but I made it! Now, that DH is home, that should eliminate some stress, and I'll be able to focus more on measured loss.

I can also get back into meals now that DH is home. I prepped four salads over the weekend for these next few days, and we still have some sandwich stuff on hand. I'm defrosting some ground beef to make some sort of taco rice casserole concoction.

I also want to make a pasta salad tonight or tomorrow for lunches/light dinners. I do have to stop at the grocery store tonight for allergy meds and fruit.

Credit Cards Update

September 6th, 2017 at 12:39 pm

I sent a payment in to the Amazon Rewards CC. It's now paid in full and paid off. We'd been paying it off for several months, only to order more and have new charges hit. Since I paid the last $82 off, I will not be ordering anything else on the Amazon card that wasn't in the budget.

So far, the Slate and Amazon cards are paid off. The other cards are not being used, and I'm working on paying their balances down. Most are at 0 % interest except for one card with a balance of about $600 and one with a balance of $3600. I've been watching for transfer offers on my current cards, but no luck so far (I want to avoid opening another CC).

The Marriott card is the only one that we use regularly, and we've been paying it in full for awhile now. I'm hoping to continue that this month despite the much larger $4000 balance (normally it's about $325). We have to pay 2800 more to pay it in full. The next payment to that will be on Friday for around 1800. I'll know the exact amount this evening when DH's pending deposit shows up in our account.

Spendy LDW

September 5th, 2017 at 04:44 pm

We definitely spent a lot more than anticipated this weekend. We started off good eating things from his room on Friday night, bagels I'd brought with me on Saturday morning, and packing picnic lunches for our Saturday waterfalls hike, but it went downhill from there. Saturday night, we had dinner out as planned at the restaurant run by his hotel. They gave us a free dessert because no one helped us and we sat there for about 10 minutes before someone even took our drink order. We didn't really mind waiting as we weren't in any sort of rush, but it's a small place and the owner felt terrible that we'd gotten missed.

Sunday was rainy, so in looking for something to do, we found a red deer farm. Unfortunately, it was closed on Sunday, but still sounded cool, so we decided to go on Monday morning before I drove home. The cost for that was $9 pp, plus $1 for a bucket of feed.

On Sunday, we drove to the nearest town and did DH's laundry. While waiting, we popped into an Antiques shop and ended up with 3 purchases totaling $13 - a New Orleans souvenir glass for the dining room display and two Navajo sand paintings for DH's mom.

On Sunday night, DH wanted his weekly pizza. Papa John's still had their spend $15, get enough rewards points for a free pizza, so we did that. We now have enough points for 3 pizza orders, so no eating out budget needed for September.

Monday was the spendy day. In addition to the $20 deer farm admission, we ended up with jerky, dog treats, an antler, and a hat totaling over $100. We also ate at Cracker Barrel ($25) after the tour because DH wasn't ready to say goodbye yet.

The total spending all came from DH's personal account, so no impact to our budget and really just ate up the extra he'd been accumulating from being so careful with his spending. Of his $150/wk allowance, the most DH spent in any given week was $80 and most weeks, he was well under that.

DH comes home this Friday for good, and it's back to the grind.

There is such a thing as a free lunch...

August 31st, 2017 at 11:55 am

This week, all of my lunches have been paid for as I'm participating in a company certification appraisal. I rarely eat out anymore, so it's been a treat to not have to pack lunch. Today's the last day, so we're eating out rather than ordering in.

I had bought a ton of food last weekend, but my lunches were so big that I often only ate half and ate the other half for dinner. Yesterday, I ate the whole thing for lunch, but ended up feeling full the rest of the evening except for a small snack plate of chips and homemade guac.

We're definitely good on groceries as we haven't even touched the fruit/sandwich things and still have plenty of leftovers. I decided to go back up to PA this weekend to visit DH again. He comes home next Saturday, but I miss him and it's a less than 5 hour drive. Tonight, I will turn the leftover rice and corn into stuffed bell peppers for my brothers to have enough food to get them through the weekend.

Paying the piper...

August 30th, 2017 at 12:55 pm

...or you know, the credit card. The first of several large payments is set up to take out on Friday - $1200 which will bring the card down to 2900. The next two Fridays will have $1000 payments (DH's per diem reimbursements) bringing it down to $900. Next Friday, DH will also get overtime in his regular paycheck of about $800 which means we should be able to pay off the credit card in full! While it sucks that my husband worked so hard for a month and won't have much to show for it at the end, I am so grateful that this string of bad luck didn't derail us further.

Savings is up to 310.08.

DH got some potentially awesome news, but I don't want to talk about it and jinx it. Please keep your fingers crossed for us because it'd be a big blessing if it comes through!

Chase Marriott Paydown

August 24th, 2017 at 12:15 pm

Things are moving along here. This week, I've just been focused on making it through, but the past two days, I've started being productive again. I sent a large payment in to the Marriott card before the statement closed. For some background, the Marriott card is the only credit card we routinely use anymore. For more than 6 months now, we've been paying it in full. We don't put all of our expenses on it - just health insurance, DH's soccer tickets, and Sling TV (all of which are in the budget). Since we're still working on getting a handle on the credit cards, I'm leery of putting everything on it and not being able to pay it all in full by the due date. Typically, the card closes with about $300 on it, and we pay it in full. With the animals, car repairs, and 2 impulse purchases, we've run that card way up. Last statement balance was $1670, and this one is $4100. We were able to pay the last one in full and with a lot of diligence and a bit of luck, I think we'll be able to swing this one.

It's a bummer that all of DH's extra money has to go to those things instead of furthering our other goals, but I'm at least grateful that we're in a much better financial position to be able to weather these things without adding to our debt.

The emergency fund is up to $285. I'm going to add $20 to it on Friday to get it over $300.

Impromptu Weekend Trip, More Car Troubles, and Some Payments

August 21st, 2017 at 12:44 pm

DH is out of town for work. He decided he didn't need the weekly trip into town to the nice hotel moving forward, but since it was nonrefundable for this weekend, he stayed there. I was really missing him, so I decided to drive the 4ish hours up and visit him this weekend. We had a blast, and it was pretty low-spend. Besides gas, I spent less than $10 on the way up for a few travel snacks and a case of water for DH. DH paid for our dinner (Papa John's) out of his weekly allowance since he hadn't spent much. On Sunday morning, we were both awake pretty early, so we had the free breakfast at the hotel and decided to make a quick trip up to his normal hotel. There's a waterfall not far from it that was beautiful. We also went into the state park. DH found a trail that leads to a bunch more waterfalls (including a 40' one!), but we couldn't take it since I hadn't bought hiking boots. We also found a lake on top of a mountain and a beautiful beach.

Around 2 pm, I went to leave. I had just gotten on the highway when my tire pressure sensor came on. Apparently, our terrible luck with tires hasn't run out yet. Fortunately, there was a Wal-Mart at the next exit that was able to repair the tire for only $10. Since I wasn't far, DH came and got me since it was at least an hour and a half wait. Even though it sucked leaving much later than I wanted, I'm glad we got another couple of hours together. My sensor light is still on, but the car's driving fine. I made it the 4 hours, so it's holding the air, but I need to take my car in to our normal guy to have him double-check the tire and see if he can reset the light.

I did manage to send a $300 payment in Friday to the credit card we'd been using, so that was the last payment to cover the entire bill in full. The next bill hits the 23rd, so we'll need to come up with about $5k to avoid interest. I had apparently been getting DH's return date wrong, so he'll have another week of per diem and overtime. That should give us everything we need to pay off the card in full by the due date.

One Thing After Another

August 17th, 2017 at 01:36 pm

It's just one thing after another. I'm actually embarrassed to type it all out, but the short version is...we've spent about $6k this month. Most of it necessary, some of it frivolous. The only positive is that by my calculations from DH's overtime/per diem, we should only be short a couple hundred by the time the credit card bill is due. I think I can make up that deficit by keeping grocery/miscellaneous funds low. DH decided he didn't need the hotel in the city one night a week, so in the future weeks, we'll save that $200 from his per diem/reimbursement money.

DD2 ended up sick this past weekend which amounted to another $700 vet visit. She's feeling much better. She's still on meds and since she hates pills, it's a bit of a pain treating her.

Upcoming expenses include our $800 car tax bill and my friend's wedding which will necessitate a couple of day's hotel expenses, plus spending money. I do still have our Marriott Rewards card free night, so we'll probably use that to take out one of the nights.

DD1's Pathology Results

August 4th, 2017 at 12:00 pm

I forgot to add that we got the pathology results for DD1's tail lump. It was indeed cancer - grade 2 spindle cell sarcoma. That type has a low rate of metastasizing. The other good news is that the sample had defined boundaries, so they're pretty confident that they got it all. We'll definitely have to monitor him, but it looks like he may be in the clear.

His energy is back more than ever. I didn't even realize how much he'd mellowed until these past few days. I knew he was calmer, but I'd attributed it to age. It's good to see his exuberance back, but it's also exhausting because I thought we were past the constant energy phase. I will just enjoy my 8.5 year old puppy while I can.

It Never Hurts to Ask

August 4th, 2017 at 11:27 am

I may be totally wrong, but I feel like someone said this the other day...here's my version of that.

DH is slated for some more out of town work starting the week after next. He gets a lump sum (just under a grand) each week for food and lodging. Whatever he doesn't use is still his to keep. He'll be in Nowheresville and there's not a lot of options. His crew chief had suggested a place that runs $50/night. I called a handful of places yesterday with questions regarding everything from wifi to hot plate/fridge policies to longterm availability (although DH pointed out this morning that I forgot to ask about laundry facilities...). One of my questions was about discounts regarding long-term reservations. I was hoping for a 10 or 20% discount, but this particularly place offered me almost 50%!! It's normally actually $65 and she offered it to me at $35/night plus taxes/fees for 7 nights. So DH is officially booked there for one week . It'll be great to be able to bank that money, but I also told him if it's absolutely miserable to let me know and we'd move him elsewhere. There's some more decent options a half hour away, but I'm trying to avoid having him commute after working a 10-12 hr. day.

Since there's no fridge/microwave/hot plate there, we'll have to figure out food. I think we're going to stock up on those tuna packets for lunch, but dinner's a little more difficult. We have some MREs. The hotel is also a restaurant though, and I told DH that even if he ended up eating there every evening, it was okay. While their fancier entrees run $20 and up, they do have a $5 burger and most subs/salads were under $10. If anyone has any suggestions for meals that don't require any refrigeration/cooking and have a stable shelf life, I'd be grateful for suggestions. Other than peanut butter/banana sandwiches, I couldn't really think of anything.

Dog Update (amongst other things)

August 1st, 2017 at 12:53 pm

DD1 had his tail amputation last Thursday. He is recovering nicely and goes back this afternoon for his follow-up to check the incision. It was a bit of a shock to see him and those first two days were really rough to watch the poor guy struggle to go to the bathroom and get comfortable.

Total surgery cost ended up being just over $1500. With that, his xrays, his annual shots/wellness visit, and my car repairs, we've managed to put $3k on a credit card that I had previously had paid off. (For those keeping track, the other tire was also patched and is so far holding up, so no expenses there...) The good news is that I think we can avoid interest on it. DH has had some very decent paychecks lately with the out-of-town work since he gets both overtime and per diem. He owed his boss $1500 that his boss had fronted him to cover expenses since they don't get reimbursed until after. We were really diligent and had that set aside from his first few reimbursements. When he handed his boss the check, he asked my husband if he needed some more time to pay it back. DH said it felt really good to say, 'Nope!' Small victories, I guess.

We have $800 overtime extra from this past paycheck, one more expense reimbursement of about $500, and overtime of about 20 hours on his next paycheck to apply to the $1500 balance that is due on the CC this month. The other $1500 (the surgery itself) will be due mid-September.

DH is slated to go out of town again starting next week for anywhere from 1-3 weeks. Other guys who have done that work said it's guaranteed 60-hr. workweeks and pretty easy work. DH is loving the new skills he's getting and hopes to be promoted by the end of the year.

The savings account still has $200 set aside. Adding $50 this month, plus $5-$10 every time I resist temptation to eat out. We're going to leave this alone and do our best to cash flow the recent expenses.

My certification studying is still going, and I'm still trying to make some progress on debt payoff while treading water. I did send an extra $75 payment to my personal loan that I was hoping would be gone by now. I also used the rent money from my brother to eliminate the interest-bearing balance on my Capital One CC. The remainder is interest free for a bit. It's painful to see 3-4 balances under the grand mark that we just can't eliminate due to life happening, but we're trying!

Rough Week

July 21st, 2017 at 12:15 pm

Just a quick check in, this week sucked. Like Klarose's friend, I have a family that is constantly asking for money, and I continually help even to my own detriment. My mom actually called earlier this week for $470 to catch up her personal property taxes. She offered to set up an $80/month direct deposit to me and to keep it open after the $470 is paid to start paying me back for everything else. I told her I'd talk to my husband, but then I knew it'd cause an argument, so I decided not to tell him. I called her back and while explaining that I hated her for putting me in the uncomfortable situation where I was keeping things from my husband, I burst into tears. I basically told her that if she had the nerve to ask for money again before every single cent was paid back, I'd change my phone number and essentially cut her out of my life because I can't tell her no and she can't stop asking me for money. She told me not to keep things from my husband and that she'd figure something out.

Of course, I immediately called my husband (still in tears) and told him everything. The next day, I took DD1 to the vet for his shots/wellness exam. Total cost: $500+. They checked his tail because it's been limp for a few months now and asked me to come in the next day for xrays.

Lo and behold, my poor baby boy (not so much a baby since he's 8, but still...) has bone cancer in the base of his tail. They'll have to remove it next week, but the chest and abdomen xrays don't show signs of it spreading, so here's hoping that the tail amputation will take care of it. Cost for that: $1400.

I still have to take DH's car in next week to see about the tire. Patching it would be ideal, but if it needs replacing, the cost would be $400+.

As if that wasn't enough, I found out last night from my brother that lives with me that my mom decided to cut me out of her life first and is now using his bank account's overdraft protection to cover the money she needed.

Another tire issue and food

July 18th, 2017 at 02:05 pm

So as if the patched tire wasn't stress enough, I started my 8 hour drive to Boston on Saturday morning - 2 am to be exact. About an hour into the drive, the low tire pressure light came on. I sent my location to my brother, got him on the phone, and stopped at a gas station to check it. Turns out, there was a nail in a completely different tire!! What rotten luck...this one was even closer to the sidewall and not even all the way in which is why it was leaking air. I think we're going to have to bite the bullet and get them both replaced. Even though the first one was patched, I think the tread wear would be different enough that we should probably just do both, but we'll see what our family friend says. I need to mail my friend's gift up to her.

I made a sausage stew-type thing yesterday and used up half a red onion and half a green, yellow, and orange bell pepper, corn, broccoli, and mushrooms. It turned out pretty yummy. I have those leftovers over rice today and tomorrow. Tonight, I pick up 40 lbs. of ground beef from Zaycon Fresh. I'm excited to try it as we don't really cook with ground beef since it's so expensive. I think this was right around $2.50/lb. for the 93% lean beef. I'll probably cook a big batch in the electric skillet and freeze the rest in 1 lb. batches.

I need to pick up cokes, deli meat, and salad mix tonight. We don't normally keep sodas on hand, but my little brother drinks them. I also have a recipe for a Coke tenderloin in the crockpot that I want to try with the defrosted tenderloin sitting in my fridge.

Dietbet Winnings, MRE night, and More

July 13th, 2017 at 12:42 pm

Things roll on. This was a tough week working 11 hour days to make up missed time from last week.

DH and I both won our round 2 dietbets. Almost $24 bucks each on $12.50 bets. I'm 83% of the way to round 3 with 3.5 weeks left. DH has already met rounds 3 & 4.

I didn't spend any money yesterday (or the day before). I don't anticipate spending today, but tomorrow I will have to get some groceries for my brothers for the weekend and also pick up a refill on DD1's allergy meds.

Last night, I was too exhausted to cook, and I wasn't all that hungry anyway. My brother was about to order food, but I convinced him to have an MRE instead to save money. My other brother walked in and said, 'Oh, it's MRE night? What are the options?' ...and so, MRE night was born. My little brother had never had one. He actually really liked it. I ended up eating a small bowl of leftover pasta salad (my first attempt and not all that great, but eatable) and half a grilled cheese.

DH gets paid tomorrow...about $200 more than normal. I'll probably give him half for spending money and the other half will go towards making up our deficit for this month. We're going to end up a bit short because I lent my brother $200 for his blown tire, and since his registration is due, I'm not sure when he'll actually pay it back.

DH also had a tire issue on his car. He found a nail embedded in one of his tires when he was checking it after hitting a curb. We took it to our family friend who manages an auto repair shop, and he plugged it for free. So far, it seems to be holding, but he said to keep an eye out for a slow leak since it's closer to the side than they'd normally repair.

This weekend, I'm headed up to Boston for a friend's bridal shower. I got her fire color-changing powder and smores retractable toasting sticks. I still need to get smores' makings, a gourmet smores cookbook, and gift basket for packaging.

5k, Dietbet, and DH's work trip

June 29th, 2017 at 12:44 pm

The 5k was Tuesday night. That was my first time doing one. I didn't run the whole thing, and I'm a little disappointed that I didn't pay closer attention to the time. I came in at 40.59, but had I known I was that close, I would have pushed harder to come in under 40. I wasn't even sore the next day, so I know that wasn't my best. DH did well. Considering it had been a week and a half since he'd last run due to an ankle injury, he finished in 27.01. His time combined with the 2 other males who finished after him for our team won my company 3rd place in the male team category.

I'm just half a pound from goal which is right on target for the July 9th weigh-in. We have 2 kickball games tonight (plus I'm running before) and a full day walking around an amusement park tomorrow, so I should hit it early next week and will start pushing on to the next goal.

DH got asked yesterday to work on an out-of-town assignment, so he will be headed to NC for a month starting the 10th. Since he will be working 10-12 hour days and getting per diem, he's decided to take next Monday and Wednesday off to spend some time with me before going. Since we're trying to be frugal, we will likely just go to a local park and play Pokemon.

Meal Prep, Car Repair and a Busy Week Ahead

June 26th, 2017 at 12:34 pm

It was a very relaxing weekend. I didn't win the parking pass, but it's okay. We actually have a garage and I do early enough hours that I get a decent spot. The coveted spot was in the secure part of the garage that requires a fob to access it and the door to that garage opens right in front of the office building. Plus, that spot was guaranteed, but ah well...

I bought about $50 worth of groceries over the weekend and did some meal prep yesterday. I hard-boiled a dozen eggs for snacks and salads, used up the last of the potatoes, made our sandwiches for lunch today, and planned the remainder of the week.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings, we have commitments which will require us to be out (the work 5k and 2 nights of kickball). The meals for the rest of the week are as follows:

Tonight: Homemade subs with a side of veggies or fruit
Tomorrow: Either...leftover burgers or food at the race (they're going to have bbq style food and it's all for a good cause)
Wednesday: Frozen pizza or burritos
Thursday: Frozen pizza or burritos (whatever we didn't eat the night before)
Friday: Hot dogs with side salads

My Zaycon Fresh chicken comes in tomorrow evening, so I'll have to also make time to process that over the next few days. We'll also grill up a batch for grilled chicken salad lunches the second half of the week.

My car ended up coming out to $660ish. They replaced the battery, did transmission and coolant flushes, and since they're due next month, performed inspection and emissions. They called after doing the battery and said they could hear the noise, but couldn't figure out where it was coming from. However, the flushes must have done the trick because it's gone. While it sucks to spend that much, my car is now up to date on maintenance and driving like normal.

One last thing...DH and I decided to play hooky from work on Friday and have an us day. With all the overtime he's been working, we hardly see each other. An amusement park not too far from us has free military admission for the July 4th celebrations. While my ticket will still cost money, we can get it using the military discount. We will plan to eat a hearty breakfast and bring sandwiches to store in the car to minimize eating in the park. (We can't bring them in, but there are picnic tables in the parking lot.) The ticket for me will be about $40 with tax. Hoping to keep the total day's spending under $60 (not including gas/parking).

Work Fundraiser, Food, and More

June 23rd, 2017 at 11:52 am

Today my office is doing a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I'm donating $10 in addition to the $10 I've already 'donated' to the office raffles. It's all a good cause and one of the raffle prizes is a covered parking spot (the heat gets a little brutal here).

Last night, I finally got back to cooking. Our weekdays have been so hectic that I didn't make DH's lunch twice this week. I've also been putting off using up the rice, veggie, and fruit tray leftovers from our Father's Day bbq. Last night, I threw all the veggies and some chopped up jalapeno sausage into a sort of gumbo/soup dish. It actually turned out really yummy. I'm going to use the fruit to make smoothies tomorrow morning. I want to start prepping on the weekends again because that makes the week go a lot smoother.

I made a $275 payment to my Capital One Card yesterday. I have another $175 or so to add to that today that I need to put into the bank.

I also have to take my car into the shop tonight to be worked on tomorrow. I'm at 90k miles. It's making a grinding noise that originally only happened when I first accelerated and was hardly noticeable, but has gotten considerably worse (both louder and more frequent). I really hope it's not a super expensive fix.

General Happenings

June 20th, 2017 at 12:03 pm

Just checking in. Things are still rolling along. I won't be able to pay off the loan as I was planning to this month. Instead, all extra money went to paying down the credit card that we used for the vet visit in order to avoid interest. It will be paid off next month though.

I transferred a few small amounts over to savings, so it's right under $200 now. It's very slow progress, but I'm hopeful that these are steps in the right direction.

I'm actively studying for my certification. I'm not sure if I ever clarified. Getting this won't change my career situation right now, but having it opens opportunities in the future. My manager ended up fronting me the money for the materials since he really wants to see me get it as well.

The dietbet is also still going. I was 1 lb. away from Round 2's goal, but this weekend both DH and I indulged more than we should. We're both 2-3 lbs. away and there's 3 weeks left, so plenty of time to reset.

MDW and other things

May 30th, 2017 at 03:12 pm

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

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

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

Conflicting Priorities

May 26th, 2017 at 11:56 am

I need some advice...

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

There are several ways I could go about this:

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

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

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

Any thoughts?

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

One foot at a time

May 24th, 2017 at 02:25 pm

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

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

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

One Year, House Repair, and Career Moves

May 22nd, 2017 at 04:31 pm

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

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

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

Did that just happen?

May 19th, 2017 at 06:25 pm

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

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

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

Car Repair and Unexpected Out of Town Work...

May 16th, 2017 at 11:40 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

33% and a big change!

May 12th, 2017 at 11:41 am

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

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

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

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

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

Dietbet, Electric Bill, and More

May 11th, 2017 at 12:44 pm

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

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

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

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

Revised Mother's Day Plans and Hell Week

May 4th, 2017 at 12:59 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

Salads, Zaycon Fresh, and Looking Ahead

May 3rd, 2017 at 01:26 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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


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