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Too Close for Comfort

June 18th, 2018 at 04:53 am

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

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

A graduation gift and mid-month status

June 13th, 2018 at 05:01 am

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

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

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

FSA Usage

June 11th, 2018 at 05:44 am

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

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

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

Barely gonna make it and other musings

June 1st, 2018 at 06:04 am

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

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

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

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

Still waiting on tax returns.

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

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


May 30th, 2018 at 06:04 am

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

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

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

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

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

About the car and another debt gone

May 22nd, 2018 at 04:37 am

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

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

This is why I love YNAB.

May 21st, 2018 at 04:39 am

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

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

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

Thanks Google!

May 19th, 2018 at 07:39 pm

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

Small Payday

May 18th, 2018 at 03:50 am

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

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

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

Rough Weekend

May 15th, 2018 at 05:04 am

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

Money In, Money Out

May 9th, 2018 at 12:57 pm

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

Weekend Spending and other musings

May 7th, 2018 at 05:06 am

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

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

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

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

We (sort of) made it!

May 1st, 2018 at 07:24 am

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

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

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

Frugal Weekend Plans

April 27th, 2018 at 05:03 am

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

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

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

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

Hospital Bills and rolling with those punches

April 24th, 2018 at 04:57 am

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

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

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

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

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

Less than $7 for groceries

April 23rd, 2018 at 04:37 am

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

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


April 20th, 2018 at 06:42 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

Short weekend trip report and SO on board

April 16th, 2018 at 05:23 am

This weekend was our quick getaway trip. I had budgeted $100, but we ended up spending a bit more than that. I put the groceries we got on Sunday under the grocery budget and put the fast food dinner from the drive home under Eating Out. While it means that we didn't meet our not eating out goal, I think we're still doing great considering it was part of our return drive from a planned vacation where we knew we'd be eating out.

I'm bummed we didn't make our Entertainment spending budget work, but a few unplanned things happened. First, the fishing license was $37 instead of the $3 that I had planned for. Even though the day stamp was $3, the online website didn't mention the $37 yearly registration fee. Rather than both of us fishing, we got the license just for my husband and actually added Sunday as well. 2 days of fishing for $43 is definitely pricey, but we both really enjoyed it. We probably could have just fished without the license, but since he and I both love the outdoors, we don't mind doing our part to help maintain it. The other unforeseen thing was a cleaning fee. We didn't pay for accommodations as his parents booked it for us through their timeshare. However, since we weren't staying the full week, they charged a $30 extra cleaning fee.

When we got back yesterday, DH and I spent some time setting up a separate budget for his own money. He keeps his drill money and is always saying he doesn't use it, but then has all these subscriptions come out of the house budget. To help him see that he may be better able to afford to pay for those things himself, we set up a budget for him. He had a blast making his categories/goals. He gets paid his drill money this week and can't wait to budget it all out. I'm really happy that it's clicking so well for us, and while we're still adjusting, it truly seems to help. He evens want to sit with me on Friday when our regular paychecks come in to help decide what our dollars' jobs will be.

Embracing True Expenses

April 11th, 2018 at 05:44 am

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

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

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

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

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

Another one bites the dust

April 6th, 2018 at 05:53 am

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

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

More YNAB thoughts

April 4th, 2018 at 05:00 am

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

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

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

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

April Challenge - No Eating Out

April 3rd, 2018 at 05:26 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

Increased Take Home Pay and Other Happenings

March 30th, 2018 at 04:38 am

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

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

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

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

Taking control

March 21st, 2018 at 08:46 pm

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

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

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

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

March 19th, 2018 at 05:35 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trying to move forward

March 7th, 2018 at 08:19 am

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

From excitement to devastation in less than a week

March 2nd, 2018 at 05:40 am

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

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

Glad I waited!

February 26th, 2018 at 05:05 am

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

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

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

Another one down...probably

February 23rd, 2018 at 06:45 am

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

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

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

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

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

News Upon News

February 22nd, 2018 at 12:54 pm

I've been swamped...the reason? We're expecting!

Now, that it's actually happened, DH and I buckled down into panic mode to make sure we can properly afford this. I think it all seemed like a distant pipe dream, and I seriously regret not doing it sooner, but we can only look forward.

Here's where we're at so far:

1) Paid off Mariner Finance personal loan...So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye!
2) Sent our tax return straight to savings - $3200 and counting
3) Used PTO payout to pay down some other debt. From my calculations, I should be pay able to pay several things down/off by June. (Baby is due shortly after that.) The payoffs add up to several hundred extra dollars a month.
4) Discussed maternity leave with work.
5) Began accumulating baby things - My dad and stepmom gifted us a crib with changing table, we bought a discount Ikea dressed for $120, and we have clothes covered for the first year due to a few resale lots and hand-me-downs from my friend's almost 1 yr old son. Friends have committed to loaning/giving us the following: infant seat/stroller, bassinet, swing, and probably more that I'm forgetting. These same wonderful people also provided my maternity wardrobe, so no costs there.
6) Furnished upstairs: we have a fireplace area that is currently unfurnished. Our fall to-do list includes getting the fireplace working, so we were debating furniture to be able to use the space. Luckily, DH's dad is a home contractor. One of his clients gave him a newer furniture set. They're keeping that one and asked if we'd like their current living room set. Voila! Living room furniture. It's old and outdated, but at this point, we'll take it!
7) We do need to some prep to get the nursery ready, but FIL will take care of that for us.

DH took on out of town work since it has more hours and per diem. He's also working any and all overtime. Any and all extra money is currently being split between savings and debt. Is this a good plan? Should it all be one place or another?

P.S. As I typed it all out, I realize how fortunate we are. Could we better off? Most definitely, but we have a good support system and were able to avoid most new-parent expenses.

P.P.S. We still miss our dog like crazy. Two days after we lost him, we saw our little boy for the first time.

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