Tag Archives: Budget

*peeks in*

Is anyone still here? I know it’s been a while since I have written, but things have been super busy around here lately, and I am in the wonderful “desire to do everything, energy to do nothing” phase of pregnancy. By the end of the night when I can blog, my energy leads me to the couch and remote. I have had like eleventy billion ideas of things to write about, and none of them have really materialized, of course. So, a list and a quick update before I am led back to the couch this morning.

1. My husband has not received the Call yet (of course, because it’s not April 7, right folks?). In the meantime until they call, he had to take another job. I say, “had to” because that’s the way it went down. See, with unemployment, you have to apply for two jobs within your “field of expertise” a week. Well, he applied at this company, and they liked him, so they interviewed him. We didn’t really hope he’d get the job because it involves ONE HUNDRED PERCENT TRAVEL. Yes folks, he will be not home when working. Ever. For days to weeks at a time. (Read: WTF!?) Well, because the Universe works in ways unknown, he got the job. THIS raised a few questions. First, if he turned down the job, he would have to interview with unemployment, and then they could deny our benefits (read: no income). Second, even though there are two instances where they could “ideally” not deny our benefits, they would not tell him if they would or not until he denied it, and then interviewed, and then, it would be too late if they decided to cut our benefits (read: screwed with no income). Third, the hourly amount is not THAT much more than unemployment (and less than his wage at his job), but with the mandatory overtime (read: the average workday is 12-16 hours) it will make it totally worth it.

He is going into his third week there, and it hasn’t been as painful as I anticipated. I actually function quite well on my own, but by Friday I am ready for him to be home. He is lucky he married an independent broad like me. 🙂 So far he has gone to Houston for a week, Columbus for three days, and next week we know he will be in New York, but we have no idea for how long. They told him to always keep a bag packed because they could need him at a moment’s notice to head somewhere. They pay for travel, expenses during travel *including meals*, and he gets to go learn another trade area that will help him at his Primary Employer once they call him back. He still has a guarantee to get a call from them since he didn’t (and won’t) officially quit there, so we are just doing this until that phone call comes. I have checked into this ad nauseum (me? never, I know!) and I was told by someone else who knows the deal, “The company sometimes has layoffs for years at a time. They cannot just expect people not to work and support their families. Unemployment only goes so far (right?!), and they know that. They will call. They can’t NOT call. It’s against their policies.” So, I feel better about the whole job thing. The Call, though, can come any day now. April 7? THAT would be nice!! It looks like things are picking up soon, but seeing as we are rounding into a fifth month of being laid off, there’s no way to know until we know. So, he works while we wait. Sigh.

It won’t be fun all the time. It won’t be ideal. But it will be something we have to do until we get that Call. It will be nice to be able to breathe a little financially, and I can do anything for a short period of time (I am pretty sure I have proven that). I won’t like living the Single Married Mom life, but the girls are the ones who will be most affected by it all. C is old enough to understand that Daddy has to go to work, but E is not. And that’s ok. We will work through it as we go. We don’t know where he will be off to next until they tell him (sound familiar?), so we just take it one week at a time. Baby steps will be the plan of attack. We got this. I have a village to support me while he is gone, and I can call on them for support as I need it. Now, will they answer the call? I hope so!

So yeah. I am counting down the days until his phone rings and his Primary Employer calls him back. We will have fun, just us girls, while he is gone, and I will keep them busy so it doesn’t feel like he is gone forever, like I am sure it will feel in their two and four year old brains. It will be worth it for him to learn some new things, build his skill base, add to the bank account, and travel a bit on someone else’s dime.

2. His very first paycheck came in, and we were able to knock the first item off of our debt snowball. Woot! And then? The next day the taxes came in (which I was not able to do all I wanted with because when you make more money than the year before you should change your withholdings to get a bigger refund, which we know now, but didn’t then), and so we knocked the next item off of our debt snowball. Woot! Two in 24 hours. I cannot complain about that. Budget-wise, I am still going to budget our amounts based on the amount unemployment would give us a week, and then anything extra gets sent to the snowball and a bit to savings. I know Dave says to do one at a time, but I don’t want to NOT save more. We may need some to live off of because when he goes back to his Primary Employer, there will be a lapse in pays, and we need to be covered. So, I am planning for both. It will be so nice once that phone call comes because then we can just be.

3. I think, budget-wise, I will always keep us at the amount for unemployment until the debt snowball is paid down. I know we “can” make it on that amount because, well, we did. And that’s a nice steady amount every week to plan on. The rest will just be extra. It’s a nice starting point, and I am glad a friend of mine suggested that plan to me because I wasn’t smart enough to think of it on my own. 🙂 We will see how it all plays out in the months to come. It’s working so far, and I can see how it will continue to for a while. I’m excited to be able to budget in for extra money being sent place because we still have those two CC balances to knock out. Once those are gone, we are literally down to car payments, student loans, and mortgage. THAT will be an amazing feeling, and I hope to be there by October when the 0% APR runs out. I don’t want to have to transfer any balances to another 0% APR, but I know I will if we have to. I can only do what I can do with what I have, and I will do everything I can to make that October goal. We can do anything, but not everything, and that is something I must remember as I often try to do everything.

4. The girls are getting so big, independent, and so smart. Watching them play together has been SO fun lately. They are truly best friends, and we are so blessed to have them both. It’s unbelievable that we will have another baby girl around here in three(ish) months. Three months from tomorrow is my due date, and we have nothing in the nursery ready yet. We are planning on repainting it, but if he is traveling until she is born, that won’t happen. We do need to get on the stick to get the crib, but we have time. I have access to a bassinet which I will use anyway for the first month or so. I am in no hurry.

5. Because I am in no hurry, I feel a bit bad for Finola. I mean, I have not had any time at all to revel in the whole “pregnancy experience”. She’s in there. She nudges me, kicks me, lets me know she is here everyday. I love her to pieces, I just feel like she’s getting short changed already LOL. Get used to it, toots, you’re the third. 🙂 I mean, I found out I was pregnant in late October, and on the first week of November he was laid off. It hasn’t been the most calm and serene environment to gestate in. I am 100% sure she will be fine. I just don’t like feeling like I haven’t really enjoyed this whole experience. It isn’t that I haven’t enjoyed it, but it hasn’t been the most enjoyable. But that’s ok. She’s already learning coping mechanisms in utero, right? She’s going to be a warrior this one. Mark my word.

6. My in-laws gave us some exciting news last night which will make life easier for all of us very soon. It’s not my story to tell yet, but know that it is a good thing and something I look forward to, even though I don’t usually always see eye-to-eye with them on things.

7. The semester is almost over, and I am so happy. I love my job, I love my students, but I am so ready to not have to deal with both for a while. Again, I will enjoy pregnancy a lot more once I am able to focus on house and home solely for a bit. I have a good *small* group this semester, and I love helping them succeed. 🙂 It’s what I do. And I love every second of it.

Well, that’s it. I know it’s a lot, but it’s how the weeks have been recently. If you have any advice on how to help kids through a job where one parent travels, I would greatly appreciate them. Comment away, your words can touch someone else whom you’ve never met.

z0v98bcrfog2y0u28dgvokh1o1_400_largeI love this quote. It is so true…
I can do anything. But not everything.
But I will do what I can.
And it will be enough.
It will always be enough.

No Spend Month, Week Four.

Well, friends, we did it. We completed our very first (and certainly not last) No Spend Month. And, we did an excellent job, if I do say so myself. And I do.

We bought gas in both cars. We did a little grocery shopping (bread, milk, snacks) because I had shopped for our dinners the week before in advance. We were set for a good finish.

Our one little “blip”, if you can even call it that, came on Sunday (the 24th). Sunday was my sister’s birthday, and she wanted to spend the day with my girls and her wife. So my husband and I went crib shopping. Remember, we were done having kids and our crib was recalled, so we have NO crib (or much else for that matter). Anyway, we headed to a few (read: five) stores looking for the perfect crib (we found two we like, and SHOCKER to ya’ll, my husband likes one and I prefer the other…). Before we left the house that afternoon, I took a $10 bill out of our grocery envelope in case we ran into any issues while we were out. Crib shopping can sometimes take a while, and I didn’t know if we would be able to be home for lunch. I didn’t want the Hunger Monster to strike and for us not to be prepared for it (note: we used money we had already budgeted in for food). While out, my blood sugar started to drop a bit, and graham crackers weren’t cutting it. I had to get lunch. Well, we went to Burger King and spent $9.41 on lunch for two of us. Was it a true emergency? Perhaps, as had my blood sugar dropped too low I may have had a worse afternoon. Was it one I was prepared for? Yes. Because I anticipated the need by taking money out of our envelope for food in case we needed…well…food. So, we KIND OF fell off the wagon for a second (hello, pregnant women need to eat. And, apparently, I need to eat constantly), but not really, because it was budgeted, we stayed under budget, and it was still food. So, we were almost perfect. What can I say? I gotta eat!! Regardless, I still feel damn good about No Spend Month, and I look to do it again sometime in the summer.

It will be a bit harder for us to do once we actually have money TO spend on things that aren’t essentials, but I know we will be able to do it because we have the discipline in place to not allow for failure. Failure hasn’t been an option for us yet, and it will not be in the future. If we can do it now, we can do it anytime we want. It’s all about controlling the money, the money not controlling you. And, I can say with confidence, we *at this point* have damn near perfect control of our money. 🙂 More income will mean more savings, and that, to me, is cool as hell.

If you decide to do a No Spend Month, let’s talk about it! Post your ideas, link up to my blog to record your progress, and keep me posted on how it goes! I have inspired two of my friends to try it this month, and I KNOW they will rock it! 🙂

nospendJust stop it. What do you have to lose?

No Spend Month, Week Three…

Well folks, another boring week over here at FancyPants Manor. We bought groceries. And gas. And we took our daughter to her school’s monthly skate party (we had budgeted that in, and the cost was $10 for both her and my husband to skate, for those of you who would like to know exact dollar amounts of what we do). That about encompasses the excitement that abounds, I tell ya. Aside from the $1000 emergency savings fund, nothing really exciting happened over here.

In other news, I made our meal plan until April 13, which is huge. That will save me a lot of time. I want to be able to get up until and shortly after the birth of Finola planned and shopped for in advance so I don’t have to worry about it. I don’t know a lot of “let’s take the new mom casseroles and dinner” folks, so I figure I better get on it myself. So that’s the plan. I am sure it won’t be hard. I am disciplined and diligent, and I take care of what needs taken care of. NO big. I got this. 🙂

The Universe has been doing some really neat things over here at FancyPants Manor, which I am going to be weird and vague about for right now, but know it is SO true that God provides, and that good things happen when you don’t even come close to expecting them. It’s amazing when something happens that just literally nails you to the wall. And I was nailed to the wall yesterday, that’s for sure. I have gotten the chance to talk to two friends and educate them on what has worked for us, and they are implementing their own systems in their homes to help their families. And that means more to me than anything. To think that I can use this time to educate people and help them out by what I have learned is a dream, and it was something I didn’t know I wanted to do until I started it all. So, if you need tips, feel free to ask. 🙂 I will share it all (as you know!). I am in a uniquely blessed position to teach and help others, and that is always cool for me. I am a born teacher, in many ways.

We are really getting the hang of No Spend Month, and I am trying to figure out when we can do it again. I’d like to do it again around September-ish. We could do August, but August is school supply season (which, admittedly, we could budget for and buy in advance, so it wouldn’t be an issue). So, August or September just seems like a good time to try it again. I’d like to implement it twice a year. March will be Low Spend Month until the husband gets that phone call, which we all hope comes in March. I am almost positive it will; I told you I have good feelings about it coming soon. But, like with anything, we don’t know until we know. So, we wait. Yay waiting. I have become an amazingly patient person because I haven’t had a choice. lol.

Nothing fun to report. Next week is the end of this journey. I can’t believe it. 🙂 No Spend Month will be a distant memory, and hopefully in a few months’ time, all that is left of this crazy layoff period are the memories of the lessons we learned, the budget skills we implemented, the meals we planned, and the memories of the amazing times we had with all of us together. You know what WON’T be left? Debt! And that, that is such an amazing feeling that I cannot even express. The girls will be a wreck when he goes back, but they are resilient and will adjust accordingly. This time with them has been invaluable, for them and my husband. They have gotten the chance to value time with him (and me), and that is far more important than anything we could buy for them…


And, in these times, we have an excess of time where there is a lack of money…
And they are better for that.

It’s all about Baby Steps…

So, as some of you know (who have been paying attention), I have started implementing some of Dave Ramsey’s wit and wisdom into our financial well-being. And while, as I have said before, I am usually leery of anyone who is all “Jesus-y” (yes a word, deal with it), I find a lot of what he says to be pretty common sense-based, and it all makes sense. So I read “Financial Peace”, “Financial Peace: Revisited”, and “Total Money Makeover”. Let me tell you. I took more notes while reading these books than I did in most of my grad classes. Seriously. SO much of what he says just is so simple. It blows my mind that I had to READ about these things, but then like my wise husband said, “If saving money was easy, no one would talk about it. They would just do it.” Which, duh, makes sense.

So, we began the cash envelopes, and those are working like a charm. Like, I am SO in love with that system. Every time I talk about these with someone, they tell me that they either implement them or their dad does. It always seems to be older people (not saying my friends are old, but I mean older than me) because their grandparents and parents did it. Which, duh, makes sense. During the Depression, they did it because they couldn’t trust banks. So that’s awesome. It’s an old system, tried and true, and I am SO proud of us for keeping up with it. Now it’s kind of a pain to go to the bank every time we get either unemployment or I get paid, but I do it with a smile. My bankers love me, and they know what I am doing. They ask how it’s working, which is fun. So, cash envelopes, check!

Zero line budget, DONE! Every dollar that comes in has a name, from savings to bills to envelopes. This is easier than I thought it would be, and with February done and almost over and March already mapped out, I can’t complain. 🙂 And then, of course, the goal is to STOP BORROWING and stop using credit for purchases, and that’s just basic common sense when wanting to budget and live within your means. We have accrued ZERO CC purchases and NO extra debt because I refuse to!

Dave Ramsey also talks about Seven Baby Steps to Financial Freedom. And while I don’t know if I will ever get to the light at the end of the student loan tunnel *though I am working on it!!*, we started following them as well. Baby Step One is to have $1000 cash in an emergency-only fund. This is a fund that is not quite savings, can be used if needed, and should always be (if used) at $1,000 to start. Well, folks, 107 days into a layoff when all seemed lost at first, we have done it…

photo-6That’s right…I marched my happy self into the bank today and started the account for emergencies..
With these bills..$1000 cash.

I can’t believe we got there as quickly as we did. It seems like we JUST said we’d try it out, and BOOM! Step One, done. 🙂 Now, let me say we started at the beginning of the layoff with more than $1000, but with bills and life and whatnot, we had to use some of it. Until I got the budget down, I had to use it to cover things. But with the zero line budget, and not spending money on anything that we do not need, I am able to only utilize my paychecks and my husband’s unemployment. So, I was able to save what we had left of our original miscellaneous money, add in as we could, and today we rounded it out to $1000. It will grow, of course, but to be able to say we have it and don’t need it…is…awesome.

Step Two involves the Debt Snowball, and the point of that is to write out all of your debts and start paying them off, smallest to largest. EXCEPT for the mortgage. He handles that in a later step. So, I did what I was supposed to, and yesterday morning, I wrote out our Snowball plan, and putting it on paper makes it so much easier to see. We have two small balances on zero interest cards, like I said before, and those will be handled AFTER we pay ourselves from our taxes, whenever we get them done. I am putting that off on purpose because I don’t want to be tempted to live off of them. I want to keep our budget as it is, and then the taxes will go to our savings and our debt snowball. After those little balances is my husband’s car, and I figured out how to get it paid off within three years. THAT is an awesome feeling. To see it in front of me, and how easy it will be to get it moving, really makes me want to tackle it with “gazelle intensity” like Dave says. After car is student loans, and those… I don’t even want to think about how long that will take, haha. Now, I was going to wait for the Snowball until my husband gets back to work (soon we hope!!), but then I figured, why wait? I will do what I can now, and then really get into the thick of it… I don’t want to lose momentum, or focus, and I have already proven that nothing is impossible if you want it bad enough. God provides, but you have to want it bad enough to work for it.

Step Three involves saving 3-6 months of expenses and income, and that will come after I finish the debt snowball. I might work that alongside the student loans so as not to lose ground on savings, but I have that figured out (of course I do!). No slowing me down, friends. Onward!

So, step one, done! Bring it Step Two! Let’s do this!!

God Provides ENGThis is so true.. We are proof

(I am listening to The Boss’s song “Jack of All Trades”, and he just sang a line and in it was, “God provides…” Hello, perfect timing!)

No Spend Month, Week One.

As promised, I am going to keep you all posted on the whole No Spend Month. So far, it’s been easy. I guess I should plan this for when we actually have extra money to be able to spend. But as it is, every penny we have goes to savings, bills, groceries, and gas. Literally every single penny. But that’s ok. No debt collectors are knocking on my door, so I suppose I’m doing it right. We have incurred ZERO debt during the past three months, no CC purchases, and NO missed payments. So, something, somewhere so far is working for us. It’s called discipline and not giving in to “stuffitis.” In fact, we have cancelled and cut up CC’s, and that makes it helpful to know we can’t fall back on them. We just do what we need to do. So far, so good.

Week One. This was borderline frustrating because we found out that we are having a baby girl on Thursday. Naturally, we went to Babies R Us that night to start picking out room colors and other necessities. We went knowing we had NO money to spend, which helped. I knew what I wanted to find, and I happened to find exactly what I wanted. Which is nice. But I was looking at all these baby clothes, blankets, and other knick knacks and I had to walk away. I had to remember we had no money on us, no money to be able to buy anything we wanted, and that everything will have to wait. THAT was not the easiest thing, but it wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. I haven’t felt “let down” by not spending money. I haven’t felt like I am missing anything. Which is good, and it shows my thoughts on money and savings/spending have really changed. That is always a good revelation to make about yourself.

We started the Thirty Day Wait List for impulse purchases, and so far we have a trash can for the basement and MegaBlocks for the kids on it. Boring, eh? But that’s ok. It can all wait. March looks *so far* to be getting better. I spent about half an hour doing our Zero Line Budget for March, and I anticipate it changing a bit when my husband does return to work because there will be a lapse between unemployment and his paychecks. That will be a welcome *very welcome* wrench in the plans, and I will deal with it gleefully when it happens. Hopefully it won’t be a long delay, or during an inopportune week of bills, but one never knows. Again, we never know until we know. That’s kind of the name of the game at this point.

So, in my opinion, No Spend Month isn’t sucking my soul out of my eyes yet. I doubt it will. My tips I have for anyone thinking of giving it a try are (so far):

1. Don’t keep more than $1 in your bank account attached to your debit card. Once you pay the bills, truck yourself to your local ATM or bank and get the cash out to separate into envelopes. This just makes sense if you’re doing cash envelopes anyway. But it’s handy to know that you have no money to spend, even if you wanted to cheat. I do it every week. And I will continue to. It makes sense.

2. Don’t carry cash on you at random. Be intentional in your cash carrying. If you’re not going to the grocery or the gas station, the cash stays at home. Period. NO excuses, NO cheating, NO regrets.

3. Remind your kids that it is No Spend Month so they don’t ask a billion times if they can have things. My oldest gets it, which is nice. I just tell her we are trying something new in our house, and we won’t be buying anything that we don’t absolutely need, like food and gas. She thinks it’s cool, and I am sure she tells her preschool buddies about it somehow because she tells them everything as we find out. But whatever. Maybe their parents will ask me about it. Or think I am insane and depriving my children. Whatever. I don’t care either way. (Real Life, JUST HAPPENED example: My daughter asked me if she could get some Dora Rock Show thing on TV. I told her maybe later, but not in February. And she said, “Absolutely not because it’s NO SPEND MONTH!” and walked away. See? Easy.)

4. Stay strong. Even in Babies R Us while surrounded by little hot pink onesies, baby toys, nursery decor, and other such frills. Discipline is saying “no” now so you can say “yes” later. It isn’t fun, but it’s worth it.

That’s all I have so far. I will take any tips from anyone who has been there, done this. So far, this isn’t bad. It’s easy to not spend money you don’t have. Now, I also understand it is easy to spend money you DON’T have and spend more than you make, but again, eyes on the prize. Onward to Week Two!

goalwithoutaplanNow, isn’t that the truth?