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The Bank Isn't Broken Anymore

November 17th, 2019 at 06:31 pm

I am in such a different place than I was earlier. Namely because I've cracked the tough nut of budgeting and have a hybrid system that works for me (cash envelopes, budgeting weekly paychecks, etc).

I am finally on top of things and my short term savings is taking care of kid expenses. High school soccer season has ended and we've turned the page to a new season of new sports. It's been expensive, but its all been cash:

1) $150 first payment for DS2's club soccer
2) $140 for indoor soccer for DS1
3) $143 for DS2's soccer uniform (to be used through 2021)

And I also purchased a new Christmas tree from Michaels for $183. I used my birthday funds for that though.

My EF is at $2,000 too. I thought I'd need to touch that by its still intact. Yay for cashflow.

We can now say the bank isn't broken by these and the train wheel are still on the track.

Just feeling pleased as punch that I managed to get ahead of the 8 ball and I'm no longer reactive, but proactive!

Hello Again

November 10th, 2019 at 02:29 am

Been awhile since I've posted (March 2019, so this is my longest absence).

Good news is we are very close to getting the house on the market. It isn't that we were unmotivated folks, but life got in the way. Health issue with SO, health issues with SO's parents, traveling in the summer, my return to work, a soccer season, etc.

We are managing financially, though we've no rental property income coming in as we're half moved in over there for when the "FOR SALE" sign goes out here. I no longer worry excessively or lament. I'm still striving for simple living and am getting there one step at a time.

I finally cracked the budget code and figured out what works for me. I like the theory of budgeting per paycheck by thebudgetmom.com but found her workbook difficult to put into practice. A simple free spreadsheet from easy budget solved the problem and took all the angst out of it. One spreadsheet accomodating each paycheck in the month - so its a snapshot and straightforward. We are still at 5% for 401K and I'm paying into the teacher's retirement plan.

2020 appears to be promising with travel to California and Tokyo for older daughter (she is still with BF and they are planning for a future) Younger daughter is contemplating a marriage of her own (she's 20 and still in love with bf from last summer despite him being from another country). We may be going to Brazil to meet with his family. Older son is looking at UWM or MSOE for architectural engineering. Youngest is a freshman now. Thankfully all are healthy and happy.

It's been a rough patch with the loss of a very dear friend; but the lesson from that is move forward toward the life you want. I'm happy to say that I am being far more productive than I was and we are decluttering and simplifying. I've got the money on autopilot and have implemented some household habits and its all good.

Happy to see what's going on here with the SA Friends.

The Budget Mom and Capital Improvements

March 20th, 2019 at 04:22 pm

Hard to believe that Q2 is almost here, though as a SADD sufferer Spring is most welcome.

My relationship with the financial has done a total turnaround. I've found a system that finally works for me - the budget mom whose plan involves simply budgeting per paycheck. I was one of those people who couldn't make it work when we're paid on a random Friday for whatever reason. Now random paydates such as 3/8 and 3/22 aren't a big deal. So we are being successful. I have tracked the variable expenses for a long enough time now (three months) to know that my targeted amounts for weekly spending (groceries/gas/other) is $230. On a diligent week with good meal planning and no surprise needs I can do $210. I was able to cash flow the expenses for Confirmation (new dress shirt/tie/gifts for son and neice/and two events a coffee and cake get together and then a brunch). Now on to Graduation in May (only one child this year!)

I also spent $300 cash to have a deadish evergreen tree removed from our front yard. Our house is going on the market around 5/1. I was so happy to have found a small tree removal company who was flexible. Bigger companies quoted $650-$800. Cash under the table is king!

Hope all is well with my fellow SAers.

1st Quarter Update

March 7th, 2019 at 04:23 pm

My grandpa used to say "The tides on the minnies have turned." I think it has something to do with minnows going up or down stream to spawn. Regardless, it's applicabe to our situation now.

The day to day worries of financial life with a minimal or non-existent EF are gone. What's changed?

1) Vanguard Money Market where I deposited 90% of my inheritence. The 10% was used for capital improvements here at the primary residence, a new sectional, getting current on past due bills, and getting one month ahead on the budget.

2) Higher HSA account balance has helped defray some unexpected medical bills (broken hand) and braces payments.

3) Part-time work for my biological father. It has been difficult to find a job that I'm suited for (I'm over or under qualified with a lack of demonstrated employment history). I delayed the job search since I don't know where I will be during the summer. He's difficult and I'm practicing my skills of diplomacy and flexibility. And its practical experience in project management that I can use as a job description.

4) I've discovered The Budget Mom and found a system that actually worked for me. Simply budgeting your paycheck for the period that you have it. And using cash for all of your variable expenses. I tracked diligently and we can live life reasonably on $125/week (gas/groceries/other).

We're using gift cards from Christmas for movie theater outing and eating out. Clothing expenses have run me about $100/month because the 16 year old son and the 14 year old son both decided to grow at the same time. But thankfully there were good deals at places like American Eagle Outfitters and Aeropostale (they both wear uniforms to school).

5) DH's annual 2018 bonus is being deposited tomorrow. The 15th will be the checks from my biological father (he pays DH and me separately). We're dogsitting for my brother for a week at the end of the month too, so that's a few additional thousand that we weren't really counting on. And for once I'm not desperately waiting for it to pay someone or something.

So all is well on the money front, and all other fronts as well. Off to catch up on the blogs. Have a good day!

Broken Hand

January 21st, 2019 at 05:35 pm

Well, things were bopping along boringly with only stupid things breaking: like replacing DH's iphone the first week of the month ($250) and then a necessary computer repair and update ($250 the second week of the month).

This, the third week of the month, brought a broken hand. That hand belongs to my third child. Collectively the children that I have birthed have occupied space on this planet for almost 71 years and this is the first broken bone that any one of them has procured.

Scenario for event: 9:30 PM on Monday night. Younger son says something completely annoying to his older brother and there is some type of tussle. Younger child sprints up the stairs to avoid retalliation by his older brother. Older brother runs up the stairs and trips on the top one, falling forward and catching all 120 pounds of his weight on his right hand.

"It's broken," he wails. "I heard a pop,"

"You didn't hear a pop. I don't think it's broken," said I.

Younger brother trots down to get him a bag of ice because Older Brother E is almost crying.

In the space of 15 minutes the pinky on the right hand (medically known as Number Five) swells. A bruise forms on the palm of his hand. I give him motrin and more ice and tell him to go to the bed.

Tuesday morning its worse looking and The Patient is convinced he is indeed correct that it is broken. I, not letting him know that I secretly agree with him, say "Let's get that checked out before you go to school!" Cheerfully, like going into school late is a real treat.

We see the nurse practitioner who has the first available appointment. She looks at it and winces. Son almost cries as she pushes and moves and check for range of motion. "Well, we'll need an xray to have that checked out. Good news is that I think its really only the finger and not the hand."

We got to xray. Son goes to school. I get a call with the results: fracture, growth plate, orthopedic visit required.

I call to make appointment and have to decide: pediatric orthopedic or hand specialist. I pick hand specialist. I email son to let him know he's got a fracture. He informs me via return email that he already knew this. No smugness, just assurance that he was correct on his first guess. And he did hear AND feel the pop, which he now refers to as THE FRACTURE.

Next day we see the orthopedic specialist. Good news: no surgery. Bad news: needs a cast. More bad news: hand is so swollen they can't put the permanent cast on til next week so they put him in a temporary splint. That could seriously hurt someone if Older Son decided to go for their solar plexus. He's dysgraphic to begin with and the cast does nothing to help his handwriting. Good new is he can still type!

So we are off to the orthoped again on Wednesday for an additional xray and the cast. The fracture is on the growth plate of the left pinky. I want him to have normal size hands so I'd do surgery if necessary, but thankfully that isn't required.

The good news is that we received our debit card to access our HSA funds. I'm wondering how fast we'll go through them with this little exercie so early in the year.

And, oh yeah, in my scatterbrainedness, I somehow managed to throw out my oldest daughter's inhaler. That cost me $96. I had to spend an hour with CVS Caremark Pharmacy Folks for a vacation over-ride to get them cover the replacement inhaler. The good new is that inhaler (same thing) only cost me $35. Not sure on the origins of that decrease, maybe my family deductible is already met with the hand fiasco? I'm sure that the mystery of that will be revealed with some EOB's coming my way.

And my 16 year old son is now the consumer of copious amounts of chocolate milk for added calcium. And The Patient fought with me about going to early Friday AM soccer practice. I said No. He said Yes. I did win that one, but only until the real cast is put on.

I lose. Please, just no more broken things from here on out!

January 2019 Goals

January 8th, 2019 at 05:23 pm

I already upped 401K contribution to 10% at the end of December and am expecting that to be in effect on first paycheck 1/11.

1) Save $25/week from variable expenses. Budgeting for $225 but hoping to only spend $200.
2) Save $25-$40 in $5 bills from weekly spending for Christmas 2019
3) Cashflow tub and shower installation from rent
4) Add $150 to retirement funds
5) Coupon and save the difference in cash for fun $
6) Continue with monthly dinner out as a family
7) Continue to socialize with our family and friends (Italian dinner with 10+ people set for Friday the 11th)

UFMC is going well so far. Eating from pantry and only spent $75 on groceries and $30 on gas. I did need to cashflow a replacement iphone for DH ($250 on Amazon, upgrade from a 5 to a 7) and $18 on haircut for youngest son. Frugal win: Using ECB on the most recent round of OTC cold meds for us.

Happy New Year SA Family

December 31st, 2018 at 10:06 pm

I'm ready for 2019. We've ended in a good place.

The tenant didn't the rent before going to Poland and it didn't wreak havoc on our financial life. The 12/28 paycheck covered everything and a $250 tuition payment for 1/11. The tenant did contact us and will pay on 1/7. And again on 1/20. In our old life this would have caused major headache and heartache and juggling. Now, not so much.

My grandmother passed away in October, and that is still a very sore subject. But I have $90,000 in a money market at Vanguard. We are also awaiting additional funds. We also have $4000 in our vacation fund. Vacation is on the horizon for February/March.

Biggest goal for 2019 is to downsize from current home to a townhome paying cash. We've located the subdivision where we would like to live; its near to train and walking distance to downtown area of the town we've selected. Excited about that. Every step is moving toward simple.

I've filled out the requested preliminary background check for a job that I'm hoping to get. I'll follow up with the recruiting department on Wed.

I've nothing but high hopes for the future. And I wish my fellow SA-ers nothing but the best.

Happy New Year. Bring on 2019!

Honking My Own Horn

October 30th, 2018 at 09:15 pm

Every year at my husband's current employer, there is a Halloween event that includes a chilli cook off and a pumpking contest. Two years ago we won the pumpking decorating contest (turned one into cookie monster thanks to pinterest).

Last year we didn't fare very well in either category.

This year I am proud to say that I won the chilli cook off! I found a simple recipe for a creamy chicken chilli in the crockpot.

Here it is:

Place two pounds chicken breasts in the bottom of crockpot.
Add drained can of corn and rinsed and drained black beans.
Add can of diced tomatoes WITH liquid.
Add one yellow onion chopped.
Add one green pepper chopped.
Season with one packed of dry ranch dressing mix.

Cook on high 3 hours.

Remove chicken breasts and shred. Return to crockpot and mix well with vegetable mixtures. Add on brick of cream cheese cut into squares, stirring til well blended.

Cook an additional 15 minutes.

I've never considered myself anything beyond basic in the kitchen. I'm pleased that my simple recipe was recognized and won.

Prize: Engraved ladle with our names on it.
And a $15 gift card to AMC Cinemas. I'm thrilled about that since I've forgotten how much I like seeing movies in the theater. Hello Date Night!

Happy Halloween!

Lost my grandmother

October 16th, 2018 at 05:10 pm

Eight days ago my grandmother died at the age of almost 99. I was able to spend time with her one month before she passed, and I think that she might actually have waited to see my daughter. D arrived on Friday the 5th and had a really great day with G. The chaplain came and they had a wonderful 45 minute visit and my daughter got to pray over her great-grandmother. Saturday my grandmother was tired and they figured it was just the excitement of having D there. Then on Sunday she was tired, but in good spirits, having spent time outdoors in the Cafornia weather which she so enjoyed. They had her favorite dessert at dinner and the next morning my uncle and aunt were notified that my G passed away in her sleep.

My grandmother wasn't in bad health, but was definitely frail and having a hard time maintaining weight and had become more oxygen dependent. So while it wasn't completely unexpected, I had still hoped to see her again.

I am sorry that the other Laura lost her mom. And I hope that Lucky Robin's Dear Girl get a diagnosis and reliable medical treatment so she feels better.

I guess this was really just a lament post. Nothing here has changed one way or the other moneywise; we're still just moving along toward the future.

Prayers for everyone who needs them.

And then the ceiling fell in, or where I just laugh ...

June 7th, 2018 at 02:59 pm

We had a plumbing issue with the toilet in the master bath. Twice it overflowed with tons of water. We were't home the second time and it took Offspring a bit of time to turn off the water valve.

It must've been a lot of water because the ceiling in my family room was stained the first day after and actually fell in the second day following.

And there is currently a gaping hole roughly 4' x 8'. DH removed the wall board and we've got the dehumidifier going, so it's not feeling musty or moldy.

Irony: I agreed to host a law school graduation party on Sunday for my cousin who lives out of state, but whose son lives in Chicago. My house is clean and it's being catered by Portillos. I've collected card tables and chairs from family and friends. I am renting a carpet cleaner on Saturday (we've two dogs, one very old who is having more accidents nowadaays).

My mother (who has strong Martha Stewart tendencies) said, "Oh dear. When are the repair people coming in to fix it before that party?" To which I just laughed. Since we're still running on fumes here and the money we have needs to cover oil changes and pet grooming.

I've my final appointment with the Career Counseling Center on Tuesday (finalize my resume) and we're still in the process of finding renters for the rental property.

At least my good humor was here and I didn't let my mother's aghast look that I'm actually hosting a party with a hole-y ceiling get my knickers twisty!


College book stores price match. Who knew?

April 10th, 2018 at 08:07 pm

I had a snafu with the last textbook I purchased online from Amazon. On the cover it clearly stated that it was intended for international students and not those in the US or Canada. Boo. I was so happy to get it at a reasonable price; after all the angst, I was able to use it in class and cannot quite actually determine what the differences in the text books are.

I was on campus at the bookstore today for the textbook for the two-weekend seminar upcoming. They only had new books for $105. While being helped, I said I could probably find it cheaper on Amazon, to which the worker said they price match. I ended up with the text book for $73.00 out the door. I was happy with that.

Who knew that they price match? I also found out that the eye doctor sells the contact lens boxes at warehouse club prices. I suppose it always helps to ask if they price match.

I guess this qualifies as "Saving while spending". I will need to Whack a Mole for this puchase (I am $23 short from the EXTRANEOUS FUND). But its fine. Spending across all other categories is at expected or less.

Win Some. Lose Others. Today was a Loss.

April 3rd, 2018 at 10:29 pm

I was riding high on the thrill of the economical suit purchase for DH.

And I was super proud that I got my required textbook in an earlier version for $35 on Amazon. It arrived today and ... big fail. It's for international students and not intended for use in the United States or Canada.
Topic: Methods of Research in Organizational Behavior. I thought that statistics were universal, but apparently not. The only way to remedy this is to see if I can take out a general methods textbook and try to supplement. It's required for tomorrow, I will limp along.

Also in an effort to corral expenses, I did not renew my Amazon prime today.

I did spend $33 at the grocery store and $25 in gas.

Prayers please for DH's upcoming test. It's a PET scan to confirm that a small nodule on his lung is really the "highly unlikely to be harmful" kind that his doctor thinks it is. DH does have some small nodules of insignificance on his lungs, this is a new one. His other CAT scan results were all fine, he is two years post-cancer diagnosis. I know logically this is probably nothing, but the anxiety and stress is kicking in. Anyhow, he needs to eat a particular diet tomorrow before test on Thurs.

That's all for now. Stay warm; hard to believe its spring out there!

Happy Easter/Spring and Hello April

March 30th, 2018 at 04:14 pm

I closed out spending for March. The extraneous spending was higher because we had title/plate/registration/tax on the minivan my parents gifted us, I paid for spring sports for my grade schooler, Easter cost us $170 (that is the dinner and I spent $30 on each child getting them things that they need (summer clothes), I also had to pay for a textbook that I needed for this quarter and couldn't borrow.

I think that the rest of the year is going to fly for us since we are 4th quarter/2nd semester for everyone. I have 9 weeks left of the quarter and I think it should be manageable. The methods of organizational research class requires weekly check-ins with the professor (there are only nine of us in the class), so I won't be stressed at the end of it, and I read the syllabus for the two weekend seminar and I've already started what I can on that (journal article reviews and doing prelim background research on some OD topics).

I am going to attend a Speaker Lecture Series for free; I'm non-degree seeking (16 hour grad certificate) but they agreed to waive the cost. I'm looking forward to it and am glad I accepted the offer. More knowledge is always a good thing.

Looking forward to a low-spend April. It's a short month, I'm fairly organized, and I've been building a stockpile. And collecting easy and economical recipes.

Today we're heading to the Garfield Park Conservatory and eating at Chillis. I spend $50 on gift cards at CVS for Chillis and have $10 ECB. I also spent $50 on groceries at Target and got a $10 gift card. I'm hosting a brunch but it keeps getting smaller and smaller. I don't really mind much; I'm getting less and less accepting of other people's drama.

Enjoy your weekend and see you in April!