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Archive for April, 2018

Frugal Weekend Plans

April 27th, 2018 at 12:03 pm

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 11:57 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 11:37 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 01:42 pm

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 12:23 pm

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 12:44 pm

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 12:53 pm

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 12:00 pm

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 12:26 pm

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.