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Archive for June, 2018

Zaycon Fresh

June 28th, 2018 at 11:32 am

Well, there goes my super cheap meat source. Zaycon Fresh unexpectedly and abruptly suspended operations yesterday. Their phones are down, their offices are covered, and they're not responding to emails. I have $160 worth of food that won't be delivered, so I'm disputing those credit card charges today and will hopefully receive that back. Now I'll have to find another source for cheap, quality meats. We've gotten fish from Lidl which is pretty cheap and good quality. Their chicken is a good deal as well, but I'd never needed to buy it since Zaycon Fresh was cheaper. Before finding Zaycon Fresh, we used to buy the $20 meat deals from Safeway which comes with family packages of 4 different meats. Then we'd portion it into 2-person meals. Now, I'd probably have to cook the whole thing if we go that route since my brother is with us.

Advice moving forward.

June 27th, 2018 at 12:36 pm

Looking for some advice as to how to proceed.

DH got a surprise email this week. He is also getting a raise - 7%! We both work really hard, so it's nice that our companies realize the potential and are recognizing it. While we're both still well below our full earnings potential, we enjoy our companies and work.

I'm trying to decide the best way to handle these increases. We don't currently contribute much to retirement: I do 3% and DH does 10%. I do not reach my max. Since it's 50% up to 4% of salary, I'd need to contribute 8% to receive my full company match. I have done the match in the past, but lowered it to get extra money to put to today's goals. Since we're still trying to pay things off, I've been keeping my contributions low for the past year or two.

What I'd like to do is keep my contribution static through December to give us a little more time to get on stable footing (hopefully one month ahead on income and pay off another 3 credit cards). Since DH's income is variable and I always underestimate it anyways, I want to use his raise to up his contribution to 15%. He'd still get a very small increase in his take home, but he'll be setting himself up well for the future. Since he came in with no debt, I hate the idea of my debts burdening his long-term security.

Is this a good way of handling it? Should I just take the hit and up my own to 8% now and find a way to live within whatever our take home is at that point? Since using YNAB, we've 'found' extra money that we've been using to cash flow projects we've been putting off, so nixing those would allow us to live on our current salaries before the raises. Since my raise was almost 6% and I'd up my contribution by 5%, I'd be working with a less than 1% raise plus DH's 2% to improve our current situation. I'm just not sure what's the best way forward. We'll have about $500/extra a month right now with our raises and keeping contributions as is (not counting the several hundred we spend on delayed projects). That should be more than enough to get up to last month's income and pay off 3 more cards to by Christmas (2 are under $1000). Upping my contribution would give us maybe a couple of hundred, so we'd have to stop the extra projects in order to really get any debt payoff traction.

I really don't want to keep putting things off - saving up for hypothetical future children, funding sinking funds, staining the stairs and fence, stocking up on tools, minor landscaping, fixing the fireplace, etc. But maybe taking care of my future self is a bigger priority. Thoughts?

Various Updates

June 22nd, 2018 at 12:22 pm

A bunch of random things today...

1) Raises were confirmed. Mine was over 5% which I fully understand is pretty incredible in today's world, but still leaves me several 10s of 1000s below what I would probably get by leaving. Adding in the month plus of PTO and amazing flexibility helps too, but it's still something I constantly struggle with.

2) Had a rough afternoon yesterday. I had to go to the hospital to get a copy of the records I need for Aflac. It hit me really hard being back there especially because I had to walk by the labor & delivery unit.

3) DH's car needs maintenance (the light's been on pretty much the whole time I've been driving it). Plus, the tire pressure light came on yesterday. Plus, my car needs inspection this month. Plus, my brother said he was hearing a weird rattling on the drive back here. I had about $60 in the car things fund, but added another $100. I don't think we'll need it, but I'd rather put the money there in case. The tire pressure light went off after I put free air in the tires and recalibrated. DH is under a maintenance plan, so while it's a further drive for his oil change/tire rotation, it's free. The car inspection shouldn't be more than $30. The only variable is the rattling which may or may not be something.

4) I'm trying to focus on using up things in our pantry. I did have to get groceries yesterday and spent $30 on tortillas, hot dogs, a 50% off tenderloin, snacks, and fruit. I made grilled cheese sandwiches with the last of the bread, meat, and cheese and homemade tomato soup. Tonight is chili with 3-4 cans of random beans that have been in the pantry forever.

5) I have a potentially spendy weekend coming up, but I'm trying to minimize the output. I was invited to a winery tonight that I'm thinking I'll skip. Sunday, my friends and I are taking their kids to a play place in the mall by my house. I invited everyone to my place beforehand for brunch. I have everything on hand for waffles or pancakes. I want to grab some eggs and turkey bacon (there's $10 in the grocery budget for that), and my friend is bringing fruit. It cost money for the play place, but since I'm not bringing a child in, I can just tag along as the second adult on their admission. Plus, there's a military discount.

6) Weather depending, I also invited all of their dogs. We're dog sitting one dog (in addition to our pup), so I figured if the weather's nice, we'll break out the kiddie pool....if you've never seen a puppy pool party with 5-6 large dogs, you're missing out.

7) Lastly, if the dog party does happen, we'll need to be extra careful. Last weekend while mowing, we found a rabbit's nest with 4 or 5 newborn bunnies (we're talking less than a week old). While they're considerably bigger, they're still babies and I don't want to stress them out. I'm thinking of getting some cheap netting and staking out that corner of the yard to block it off.

Itching for tomorrow

June 21st, 2018 at 12:36 pm

Our raises go into effect tomorrow. Still no official word, but there's a different number in the check calculator tool and rumblings that that number is indeed reflective of our increases. By my new projections, we're only $50 short (not counting any money from my brother and underestimating my paycheck by about $20 since I'm not sure of the exact number). That includes some budgeting for fuel/groceries. I was able to submit past/present claims for Aflac totaling $175 for physician visits. Still waiting on the $1000 claim to see if the paperwork I submitted is enough or if I need more. Considering how much tangential spending crept in (Babies R Us closing sales, personal items for DH before leaving, a concert and dinner with friends that I rarely see, etc.), I'm pretty proud that we were able to weather this. I do have a $30 Costco card to supplement groceries. I also cashed some CC points out for a Papa John's gift card. DH is pretty miserable, and I want to make sure he has some comforts when he gets home. I didn't want to spend eating out money since we'd already gone way over with unanticipated spending, so I figure this is a good compromise since our points just accumulate with no real plan for them.

More potential Aflac money

June 19th, 2018 at 07:10 pm

Apparently, I need to read my policies better. I had submitted a claim for the pregnancy and received $1160. We had a meeting today with our rep, and it looks like I actually am missing another grand. Plus, I haven't been using my physician benefits. I get $25 for up to 3 physician visits/yr. The $1000 I was paid out was for an overnight hospital stay. I am supposed to get an additional $1000 for the birth itself. That would be completely unexpected and go straight to the buffer putting us closer to/a bit over 50%. Since Aflac is retroactive, I'm also going to put in for previous year's physician benefits. 4 years' worth would be another $300.

I also *think* I know what my raise is, but still waiting to hear official word. If it is what I'm suspecting, it's almost a full percent more than my most optimistic estimate. Still well below what I'm worth, but I really do like the flexibility the company offers, so I'm trying to be patient.

Too Close for Comfort

June 18th, 2018 at 11:53 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 12:01 pm

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 12:44 pm

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 01:04 pm

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.