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2 steps forward, 1 step back

November 13th, 2019 at 06:14 am

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 04:23 am

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 04:08 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.

Just popping in

March 19th, 2019 at 11:02 am

Life has been insanely busy. My family and friends threw me a surprise shower, the nursery is just about finished, and tomorrow is my last day in the office. I was supposed to stop driving a few weeks ago due to my size and belly positioning, but pushed it to term because we have a new person that I'm training.

Financially, thanks to the surprise shower and my work shower, we only have a little left on our 'buy' list. I also have about 35 meals in the freezer, so groceries should be minimal as well. I need to file our taxes too and check the calculations on this year's. I transferred a small amount of my bigger interest-bearing cc to a 0% interest card and have set up a YNAB goal to pay that before interest starts. The other interest-bearing card had its rate dropped to 6% due to SCRA, so I'm still paying the full balance and just having more of it work in my favor.

DH and I are doing well despite the distance. I wish he were here, but we've been lucky enough to be able to keep in touch almost daily.

Just a few more weeks left. I'm cautiously excited, but also not getting my hopes up.

Every other week and a minor car accident

February 12th, 2019 at 08:52 am

So, it looks like the busy weeks are every other week. This week, there's nothing on my calendar, so I'm looking forward to plenty of relaxation and rest.

Yesterday, I was involved in a very minor car accident. I'm still not entirely sure what happened, but the best I can tell is that I switched into a right hand lane on a pretty busy 3-lane street and a car turning into the right-hand lane didn't notice me switch and turned into the back of my car. It seems like they realized it mid-turn and tried to avoid me because they were halfway up on the curb when I felt the impact and saw them in my passenger mirror. I think if they were actually in my blind spot, and I had merged into them, a few things would have happened differently: 1) the car would have much more damage as the speed on that road is 45-55 2) they would have honked before I came over or after and 3) (most importantly) they would have stopped. I pulled over at the next turnoff and they drove right on past. Fortunately, I'm completely fine, baby movements are normal, and the car has zero damage.

Taxes, Baby Savings, and Exhaustion

February 8th, 2019 at 05:31 am

I did most of my taxes. I'm missing a few forms, so I haven't been able to file yet, but I'm not in a rush because for the first time in years (if ever)...

I owe money - about $680. At one point, it was $3k, so I'm not too vexed about the amount. I was hoping to get a refund to beef up my maternity leave fund, but ah well.

Even though we haven't started saving towards that, I think we're actually completely fine. We're now living on last month's income. Plus, DH will continue getting paychecks, and I'll have STD at 60% of my regular pay. His bigger paychecks more than cover the remaining 40%, and I'll have PTO saved up if I really want to extend my leave past the 6 weeks that I get of STD. Right now, I'm leaning towards 8 weeks (provided it's not a c-section). I want to keep some of my FMLA for the end of the year, and take another month/2 month-long break when DH gets back, so we can bond as a family.

The exhaustion is really setting in. I think it's just a matter of trying to do too much and not giving myself proper breaks. I haven't turned my TV on in about a week which is absolutely unheard of for me! Tonight, I don't have anything planned, but tomorrow is brunch with some friends. Sunday is an all day project with FIL doing the hardwoods, and MIL and I sorting, washing, and organizing clothes, packing the hospital bag, and whatever other small projects.

Small Money Trickling In

February 5th, 2019 at 04:41 am

I cashed out my Ibotta account for $35 and got a statement credit on one of my credit cards for $20. That particular credit card is one that I don't use. My mom and brothers were all authorized users on it, and I've slowly taken everyone's away except for my mom's. The last stand help (what I've started calling this final time) should wrap up this month, and we'll be getting her card back too. There's a 3k balance on that card, and it's one of 3 cards remaining that are accruing interest at the highest rate, so I'm trying to get that balance down to something reasonable, so I can transfer it and be done.

OAMC and another big expense

February 4th, 2019 at 05:11 am

I haven't done a 'once a month cooking' session in a long time. I want to do a month-long plan next month, but I did a 2-week plan this past weekend. I spent about $320 of our $400 monthly grocery budget, so it's definitely not the most cost efficient, but considering how much less I'll eat out with food in the freezer, it's worth it. When we had previously done these plans, it's worked out really well.

I did the 2-week plan that I'm somewhat familiar with. DH's best friend came over to help, and together we did all the meals but 6. The last ones were beef/turkey/steak meals, so definitely faster than all the chicken ones. I can definitely tell the pregnancy is wearing on me because I was in a lot of pain by the end of the day. After he left, I went ahead and knocked out 3 more meals. I have 3 left to do this evening including the one planned for tonight's dinner (meatball sub cassserole). All told, this plan will likely last a month because I split a lot of the 4 person meals into 2 since my brother isn't the biggest leftover person.

As for the big expense, with the baby on the way, I decided that I wanted to change the carpet in the nursery and guest room to hardwood. We expected it to be between $1500 and $2000 for the materials (based on Home Depot estimates), and my wonderful FIL would do the actual work. He found us a similar style flooring at Lumber Liquidators for $1450, and since the manager is a good friend of his, he gave us an additional small military discount. So this weekend, I wrote a check for $1390 to FIL to pick up all the materials and then work should start this weekend. Once the flooring is done, the nursery will be ready for set up and decoration! We are redoing the flooring in the guest room and also installed overhead lighting/fan, but we decided not to paint that room for now since it will eventually become the baby's big kid room and they'll likely want to choose their paint/theme/decor. I do feel incredibly lucky that we're able to write a $1400 check without batting an eye or worrying about it.

On a separate, but related note, when we were doing groceries, my mom was shocked that I wasn't being overly stringent with the amount things cost. She was shocked when I purchased 2 $20 packs of the chicken breasts from Costco because the cost per pound was $2.39 which she thought I could beat elsewhere. She's probably right, but I needed 24 and was already at Costco which I told her. It really struck me how far I've come when she said that it must be nice to buy groceries without worrying about the bill. While I still have an incredibly long journey ahead of me, it made me realize that we have made great strides and just need to stay the course to continue moving forward.

UFMC Wrap Up

February 1st, 2019 at 04:50 am

I slipped up these last few days with the eating out and game purchase. I also used a gift card that had some money left to support my half sister by buying Girl Scout cookies. Overall, I was incredibly pleased that we started February with almost $6k ready to be budgeted. It's not last month's income since I did pull some for our bigger bills (namely the car and termite payments), but it's more than enough to cover our expenses for the month.

One thing that I was hoping to be able to do, but couldn't was pay off the loan I had taken for my mom. It has about $700 left on it. While I technically could pay it off, it would mean clearing out some of our savings categories which I don't want to do. Whatever DH doesn't spend of his allowance will go towards it this month.

Day 29: Amazon ($25.48 for cleaning supplies); Money In - Healthcare Premium Refunds ($656.76)

Day 30: Panera Bread ($32)

Day 31: Amazon ($4.99 for game coins);
Money In - Dividends ($1.97); Mom Payment ($25)

UFMC Days 25-28

January 29th, 2019 at 05:57 am

All standard monthly payments except for Home Depot. We got some lightbulbs, paint for the nursery, and a big storage box for DH's Army gear. We've been meaning to organize our big storage closet in the basement, and I finally went ahead and got him this storage box. I was thinking it'd be a few hundred bucks from the way he kept talking about it, but it was only $50.

The money in is the first of 3 or 4 refunds for health insurance premiums. In the midst of the whole insurance debacle, we were still paying all of our normal premiums. So once it all got worked out, I asked about refunding those payments (this was mid-December). They kicked off the process and told me it'd be 30-45 days. So I followed up a week or so ago when I had to call for something else anyways, only to find out it had gotten hung up. They were able to get it worked out, so we should have about $780 coming back in various payments over the next few weeks.

What I'm struggling with is YNAB. It's going back into Health Insurance. However, I'm using those refunds to just pay down the CC balance (we now pay it in full, but we ride the float, so we accumulate more as we pay it). There's no option to assign it to the credit card, but moving the money from Health Insurance to the card increases the payment available which isn't accurate since the money's already on it. If anyone has any thoughts for handling it, I'd be open to suggestions.

Day 25: NSD

Day 26: Hulu ($5.99); Home Depot ($105.23)

Day 27: Money In - Health Insurance Premium Refund ($162.35)

Day 28: Verizon ($84.99); Car Payment ($401.59)

Productive Weekend

January 28th, 2019 at 09:25 am

My in-laws came over this weekend to help with some of the projects. My FIL got the whole nursery painted and my MIL helped me clean out and organize two of the rooms in the basement. They both look worlds better, but still need a bit additional work. Next up should be the hardwoods in the nursery and guest room. I'm eternally grateful to have a FIL who happens to be a house contractor.

Bonus: he ordered us pizza while here, so I didn't have to cook!

There was some other spending, but I need to organize before posting the UFMC days.

UFMC Days 22-24

January 25th, 2019 at 05:35 am

I caved a bit this week on the eating out, but tried to keep it reasonable.

Day 22: Cinnamon Roll ($2.43); Pest Proof - 2nd termite payment ($870.53); CC Payment ($144.48); Boxed ($54.16 for groceries); Gas ($24.95)

Day 23: $5.18 (Burger King); CC Payment ($140.52); Mom Loan Payment ($207.33); Dog License Renewal ($10); Walmart ($54.83 for groceries)

Day 24: Student Loan Payment ($169.70); CC Payment (124.15)

Today's anticipated spending is 1 scrambled egg at the cafe at work.

The two grocery shops should get us through the end of the month. I did go slightly over the grocery budget by $33.33 (budgeted $150). However, that includes about $18 worth of Ibotta rebates. For anyone using YNAB, do you all put rebates like that back into the category?

UFMC Days 15-21

January 22nd, 2019 at 09:35 am

I haven't updated this in a bit. The 2 credit card payments are the card that I use regularly and pay off. The Etsy purchase was a coming home outfit for baby. Since I don't know the gender, I tasked DH with picking something out. Since he was headed somewhere shortly, he went ahead and purchased quickly. I will keep said outfit in the package and bring it to the hospital. There's been some spending today, but not too bad.

Day 15 Update: Student Loan Payments ($386.61, 100.65, 35.20); Car Insurance ($116.24)

Day 16: NSD

Day 17: Vet Appt. ($58)

Day 18: Credit Card Payment ($1110.85); Groceries ($30.58)

Day 19: Credit Card Payment ($1090.17) Money In - My normal paycheck

Day 20: Gas ($22.09); Etsy ($36.94); Pest Control (2nd payment for termite treatment - $811.50); Air for Tires ($1.47)

Day 21: NSD