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And 2020 keeps rolling

June 12th, 2020 at 08:02 pm

My son has been back at daycare for 3 weeks now, and so far, it's been okay. We've started talking about transitioning him to the Toddler room which of course sparked our own discussions about all of his other transitions. Given that we'd like to have the nursery ready and are keeping it mostly as is furniture-wise, he'll be switching to his big kid room and a toddler bed at the same time. And then there's the obvious adjustment of new baby. All of these will happen in a 2-3 month time frame, and I'm a bit worried for how he'll adjust. We're remaining optimistic, but are definitely staying flexible if he isn't ready for some of these yet.

The pup is scheduled for his neuter and microchip next week. It looks like we way over-budgeted for that which is completely fine since we can reallocate to either debt payments or nursery/baby prep. I'm hoping that by doing it a bit earlier, he'll be healed and hopefully, somewhat calmer, by the time new baby arrives.

Last big news is that I finally got word of my salary increase for my promotion. I was really hoping to hit 6 figures even though it would have been a huge jump. I did get pretty close. My new salary moving forward is just shy of 6 figures and when all the other benefits are considered, total compensation is above that. For someone whose parents never cleared 50k, it seems like a huge amount of money. I'm far from perfect, but I hope to keep making small strides in the right direction to create a better future for my kids.

Pushing Through

April 22nd, 2020 at 02:48 pm

I've been having a really tough time emotionally and mentally (as most are, I'm sure). Pregnancy hormones certainly don't help. Last week, I snapped at my 1 year old, and my heart shattered in a million pieces at his response. I had honest conversations with my husband and my bosses that I was really struggling with balancing everything, and everyone really stepped up.

My husband approached his managers again asking to work out a plan, or barring their flexibility, letting them know that he'd have to voluntarily cut his hours to help out at home. Fortunately, they are trying to avoid that. It's still not ideal, but they are letting him work the middle of the day from home twice a week. He still has to go in for an hour or 2 in the morning and evenings to get his assignments and then debrief, but he'll be home for 4-5 hours to help with baby care while he works.

My bosses basically offered me even more flexibility and made it clear that my promotion wasn't in jeopardy. Rather, I should do whatever I needed to take care of myself as they can't afford to lose me right now.

All of the conversations really helped my mental health. While I'm still in physical pain most days, the stress is a lot more manageable knowing that I don't have to feel guilty stepping away from the computer when my son needs my attention.

I do feel incredibly grateful that my husband and I are both still working with jobs that will hopefully weather this recession. But I also cannot wait for things to go back to 'normal'.

Financially, we are okay. We did a cash-out refinance in March. That, coupled with a large tax return (I wasn't sure how things would shake out with my husband's deployment, so we didn't try to minimize the refund), the stimulus payment, and overpayments to the closed mortgage have given us a large influx of cash. We've saved most of it, but have done a few yard updates since we're confined to the house for who knows how long. The deck addition has suddenly decided it's had enough, and the boards are significantly warping to where we can't open the screen door in the afternoon after the heat has expanded the boards. We got a reasonable estimate to fix it, and since I cannot comfortably go up and down the stairs to let the dogs out several times a day (especially with the baby), we've decided to fix the deck. That is our last update for now.

We're continuing to pay our minimum debt payments, but not adding additional payments.

Lastly, we decided to change how we eat. With all the stress, we're still eating out way more than I'd like. We're going to make 2 1-week meal plans of standard things that are really easy (think spaghetti, tacos, chili, chicken and mac and cheese, fish and rice, etc.), and just alternate weeks. It'll get boring and repetitive, but since almost every other aspect of living is these days, we think this'll help (hopefully...).

The days are long, and the weeks are still long...

April 14th, 2020 at 12:35 pm

Does anyone else feel like they've lived 157 years since early March? I'm busier than ever and not in all good ways. Between taking care of the 1 year old, the 8 month giant puppy (seriously, he's 90 lbs and counting), 3 other less-maintenance animals, working from home full-time, and being pregnant, I'm wiped out.

On top of all that, I found out that the promotion I'd been wanting for years is finally mine. It's wonderful, but the timing is terrible, and I'm really torn up that I can't really give it my all. It's the career rejuvenation that I'd been waiting for as I love my company, but was dissatisfied with the lack of growth opportunities despite more than proving that I was ready to move up. Now, I get to move into a lead role, but with everything else, I've become more in line with a mediocre employee rather than a standout. It's really hard to accept for my perfectionist tendencies.

Money-wise, we're doing well. We did spend some money getting the backyard in a better spot - not the complete overhaul that we'd envisioned, but getting rid of some of the trees, so that our back and front yards were clear and usable. We've put aside 8k in to our emergency fund rather than pay off the credit card right now. We're going to use the stimulus to hopefully repair the deck. It's become really warped in places, and we plan to use it a lot this summer being quarantined. My son's big first birthday gift was a water table, so I'm excited to see how he likes it.

DH and I are lucky that we both are still working, and I will continue making all my normal debt payments with extra small amounts as we can. In the meantime, I'll continue to take it one excruciatingly long day at a time...


February 28th, 2020 at 02:18 pm

I've been avoiding this place because life's been hard...really hard. A good amount of it is our own fault. We went way off the rails when DH returned home, but we've also just had an incredible amount of stuff going on, and we're very much emotional spenders. I'd thought we'd made so much progress, but these past 6 months have just kicked our butts.

Just a quick rundown:
-DH came home
-We (very stupidly) leased a family car
-Excessive holiday spending
-Got a puppy (he wasn't cheap, but that part we'd budgeted for)
-Puppy brought stomach flu chaos (this we hadn't planned for and resulted in a really expensive surgery)
-Attempted to refinance a house (another ongoing thing, but I think we're finally getting really close to closing)
-Got pregnant (not expensive in and of itself, but being so sick and having all of the other craziness led to way more eating out than I'd ever like to admit)
-Baby started daycare
-More family help (brother quit one job before the other was finalized which led to needing help with car payments since I cosigned and was responsible and a very expensive insurance lapse mistake that he paid for)

DH and I have committed to resetting. Now that I can actually eat food that isn't greasy and DH is back at work and more settled in to a schedule, he's agreed to take on all the cooking, so long as I make the meal plan and ensure the groceries are available. At some point in all the chaos, I lost my son's social security card, so I need to apply for a new one in order to file taxes because I literally cannot find the number anywhere. Between that and the money from the refinance, we should be able to catch up all of the debt we've racked up and get back to living on last month's income. All of our projects that we wanted will just have to wait because we both want the security that comes from feeling like we're swimming rather than drowning more than any aesthetic stuff right now (although, I'm still really sad that the yard won't get done).

Lastly, we've put our proverbial feet down on the family thing. We got rid of my mom only to be stuck with the brothers. We gave little bro a deadline to move this year now that he's making a livable income, and we've extended the offer to have big bro live here as well to save money and find a full-time job to hopefully move out with little bro. Regardless of what happens, everyone will be out by the fall even if big bro just ends up moving back to our mom's and little bro has to find a roommate or live in a small studio so he can afford it.

Midweek Valentine's Plans

January 28th, 2020 at 02:28 pm

DH and I decided to take a day off work the week of Valentine's Day. I prepped our taxes on TurboTax, but since he was deployed overseas for a big part of the year and it's our first year with our son, I want to make sure that we did it correctly. We're going to base in the morning to have their tax center check over everything, and then in the afternoon, we're just going to catch up on sleep and our shows. We're both super exhausted, so it'll be a nice break and a chance for us to reconnect a bit.

If we did everything correctly, we should be getting $3-4k back. This will catch up most of the holiday overspending.

It's nice to be getting back into a solid routine and for DH to have paychecks again. He's loving being in an office and really embracing his new role.

Another student loan down, 2 more on the chopping block

January 22nd, 2020 at 03:57 pm

I made the final payment on my big student loan today. $16000 finally gone. Considering I've had 0 family support for school and actually started in a really big hole since I was also supporting my family, it feels like a weight lifted. Forecasting with the extra money in my own bank account, I should be able to pay off the smallest of the remaining 6 loans by June. Then, there's a handful of $2k loans, so throwing everything at the highest interest rate one would leave about $180 by Dec, so I'm going to aim to get that one paid off as well. That would leave 4 loans totaling about $17.5k.

Refinancing Update

January 22nd, 2020 at 02:05 pm

The refinance is finally moving forward. We had to pull a new credit report since it had been so long, and with all of the overspending (including the new car), I was a bit worried. I was pleasantly surprised to find out scores were both well in to the 700s. Doesn't seem like a big deal, but when you've consistently been low to mid-600s for a decade, it feels like nice progress.

We did the appraisal yesterday, so just need to finish getting in all of the paperwork, and will hopefully be good.

Someone had suggested paying off debt with the money that we're getting back. Honestly, we'd been so focused on some of these house projects that we've been wanting that it never occurred to us to make big leeway on the debt front. It just feels like debt is so ingrained in our lives that we should use it to fund some of our wants that we've continually put off. I talked to my husband about it, and we decided to split the difference. We plan to add $2k to the EF, pay off the credit card for the fence ($5k), and then choose one house project. We nixed the 2 less important ones and have one inside (basement bathroom remodel - main cost would be materials since FIL would do the labor) and one outside project (backyard remodel - regrade yard, install better underground drainage, deck maintenance, and fence/deck staining) that we plan to get quotes on before deciding. But we may end up changing our minds again and just putting it all to debt or to savings.

In personal news land, our new addition is healthy and everything is going well so far, so fingers crossed that continues.

2020 Goal Setting

January 8th, 2020 at 02:34 pm

DH and I have been having lots of money talks, and we've come up with some 2020 goals. Full disclosure, we're working on a refinance that would give us the cash to handle the house projects in addition to removing PMI and lowering our mortgage payment by $300. If for whatever reason, it doesn't work out, then the home projects will be removed.

Debt Payoff:
1) Pay off big student loan - Original balance was $16k. There's a measly $225.22 left which will be paid off this month.
2) Pay off one student loan - The 8 remaining loans range in balance from $1100 to just under $4k. I plan to have the $1100 one paid off by summer.
3) Catch up credit cards - We were doing really well with the credit card use, but the holidays really knocked us off track. We currently owe about $950 on the Amazon card and $9k on the Marriott card. There is $76 and $2340 set aside in YNAB to pay to these cards, so obviously a bit of catch up to do.

1) Get back to living on last month's income - I suspect we'll need this first quarter to catch back up, but should be back to it by March.
2) Increase EF - Our EF currently sits at about $1300. I'd like to get it to $2500 by August.
3) SAH Funds - I'd like for us to be able to stay home again for a bit if everything works out with this pregnancy. Ideally, we'd have a month's expenses set aside (not counting on last month's income). This is a super stretch goal, but we'll see. If the refinance pans out, we do plan to set aside $2k of that towards savings, so that would jump start this.

Home Projects:
This is still being worked. DH and I identified 4 projects that we'd really like done on the house. We won't be able to do all 4, but with the cash we're slated to get back on the refinance, we should be able to do at least 2. We've agreed to get quotes for all 4, and then based on that, set our priorities.

Our Annual Movie Date

January 6th, 2020 at 01:10 pm

DH and I each get a free birthday ticket to a movie theater that we love. It's one of those where you can order legit food and drinks. It can get super expensive, so we don't go often, but since our birthdays are only a few weeks apart, I wait to redeem mine, and we make it a movie date. Our costs are the food that we splurge on. It's become a fun little tradition. We saw the new Star Wars movie, and since it was the first time leaving DS in daycare, it was a good way to keep us distracted.

We did a big Costco shop and started some meal prep on Sunday, so I'm going to buckle down and start recovering from all of the holiday spending.

DS starts full-time daycare today, and DH returns to work next week. Looking forward to a new, exciting year.

2019 Reflection and 2020 Planning

December 31st, 2019 at 02:40 pm

This has been one of the hardest, most rewarding, emotionally confusing years of my life, and this post is so all over the place that it reflects just that. We were able to make more progress this year alone than I'd done over the past several years, but it came at an emotional cost having had to handle everything solo while my husband was gone. On the plus side, our relationship is as strong as its ever been and it really feels like we're a team when it comes to the household as opposed to me running the ship.

We've kind of gone off the rails in December, but I'm not going to let it get me down. I'm looking forward to starting 2020 with renewed zeal towards debt payoff. Here's a few things that we've been dealing with this last few weeks: extreme holiday spending (even with the $1200 Christmas spending we'd saved up through the year, we still went way over...), a road trip (we took a trip to Boston to visit friends), a new puppy (on the way back from said road trip, we stopped to look at a puppy and ended up coming home with him), a sick puppy (turns out that he was getting over a stomach bug which took a very expensive vet visit to identify and resulted in a coned puppy with tummy stitches), a sick household (that stomach bug turned out to be contagious across species...just our luck...victims were the male cat, me, my brother, my other brother who came to help, our son, and then several family members who decided to still risk Christmas at our house despite our warnings), shocking news (it's still really early days, but it looks like we are expanding our family again in 2020), and other changes (in the midst of everything, we decided to wean my son, so we had to deal with my hormones and his adjustment to full formula feeding).

We've added a few big expenses to the budget including the car payment, daycare, and additional animal expenses. But my husband received some good news when discussing his return with his company. He got a small raise that would have been his normal raise during his annual review. He's also been designated to head up a program that is in development. If he does well in the role, he will promoted into it when it becomes an official position in July.

2020 is shaping up to be just as crazy as 2019, but I live for the crazy wonderful ride.

In terms of debt payoff, our first priorities will be catching up the credit card and finishing one of my student loans. We have almost $1300 in our EF, but I chose not to touch that in case we need cash on hand for something else. Instead, I'm going to accept responsibility for our overspending and underpreparedness (not having extra money set aside for the new pup) and spend 2 months getting the CC back on track. I had hoped to finish off the big student loan this year, but it'll be done in January ($225.22 left). That'll free up the $170 monthly payment to go to other things. I think I'd like to split it between beefing up the EF more and paying off the next CC. After I catch up the CCs from this month's spending, we'll have 2 remaining cards totaling about $18k. I seem to do better when I have small milestones, so I may do some balance transfers to knock out smaller amounts.

2 steps forward, 1 step back

November 13th, 2019 at 02:14 pm

I haven't touched my Google budget since before my son was born (late March). I've pretty much switched to YNAB full-time. While I'm really happy with the progress, I also still see a ton of leaks in our budget, but I'm having trouble buckling down to get there.

The Good:
- Paid off a bunch of debt!: Without looking at the details, I'd guess 4-5 credit cards and got off the float on the ones that I still do use.
- Will continue to pay off debt: Just made the final payment today on one card. Will make the final payment by the end of the month on another. And have a plan in place to pay off my huge student loan (originally 16000) in December.
- Last Month's Income: We've been living on last month's income all year. These next few months will be tight, but the goal is to make it through DH's at-home period still living on last month's income.
- Paternity Leave: DH doesn't have to go back to work until the end of January. With all the work we've put in, we should be able to let him stay home almost the full period, so that he can bond with his son.
- Daycare: I'm still on the fence about daycare, but we're going to try it out. My first choice was near my work and would have been $1800/mo for 3 days/wk. We decided to check out some places near our home, and it was considerably cheaper. We found a place we felt comfortable with that is $1450/mo for 5 days/wk. With DH's military discount, it's under $1400 and includes meals.
- Sinking/Emergency Funds: While these are still a work in progress, I have made some good progress. This is the first year that our Christmas budget is fully funded before Christmas shopping. Our EF is at $1500 (and hasn't been touched since I got it back to $1k). Our life insurance budget has $550 and counting (I really need to get on this...). And our home maintenance fund has almost $500 (this can be wiped out at any moment by one home emergency, but it's a start).

The Bad:
- A New Car: I'll just put it out there. We leased a new CR-V. I don't regret it in the lifestyle sense, but I do regret the financial side of it. While we can afford the payment, I basically worked all year to replace a bunch of small minimum payments with one large consolidated minimum payment...That said, I do really enjoy driving it - the self-driving features are phenomenal in my traffic-heavy area and make the commute so much more bearable. We got an incredible deal. And I should still be able to budget $200/mo towards either buying this car out or paying cash towards a new car when the lease is up.
- 2 Credit Cards Remaining: I have 2 large credit cards left. Total balance is just over $15000. I'm toying with the idea of doing a transfer or 2 to minimize the interest since I'm used to those $200/300 payments and the small wins energize me.
- More Student Loans: My school was expensive ($50k/yr back in the 2005-2010 timeframe). Even with no financial help from family, I was lucky to make it out of there with about 40k in student loans total over all 4 years. I still have about $22k left. I hope to make a considerable dent in this next year.

All things considered, I do feel like we're making progress. I started so far in the hole with no financial knowledge and a ton of mistakes (read: family crutches). My hope at this point is to leave my son and any other kids that I may be lucky enough to have with a much better starting position and the financial knowledge to make good decisions from the jump.

Finally got paid

November 6th, 2019 at 12:23 pm

DH is finally home! The really annoying thing is that the bureacracy and paperwork around it was completely screwed up. Long story short, DH stopped getting paid mid-September (even though his deployment ended Oct. 31). After a month and a half of struggle, he finally got a paycheck on Nov. 1, but there's still things missing. The good part of all that is that we didn't need the money immediately, and it'll actually come in handy now that DH is home and will be out of work for 3 months. I feel lucky that we've gotten to a point where we were able to get by without the money coming in (they actually offered to give DH a loan that he could then pay back when he got paid?!?!?).

There are other financial updates including a frivolous, (slightly) unnecessary one, but that's for another day. In the meantime, I'll keep on keeping on.

On a personal note, DH and DS were best buds within minutes of being reunited, and we feel very lucky that DH doesn't have to return to work immediately and can continue to bond with his son for the next few months. (Bonus: no childcare expenses until the new year!)

Finding a new normal

April 8th, 2019 at 11:08 pm

Baby boy D arrived 3 weeks early on March 26. It's been a process to adjust, but we're so happy that he's with us. Everything went about as smoothly as it could. Due to potential complications, my husband was brought home, and I was induced. 7.5 hours later, our son was here. I'm recovering well, the baby's healthy, and my husband got to spend some time with his son.

I'll hopefully get back to the financial side of things in the coming weeks as things normalize.