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This is going to be a crazy month...

March 1st, 2017 at 11:36 pm

The last one for a while... Wink

We are heading to Georgia and Tennessee on the 15th. When visiting San Francisco late last year, Frontier cancelled our return flights, twice. So they set us up with $600 in vouchers (which is $400 more than we spent on all three round trip tickets, all together). So, we are using those vouchers for our Spring Break. We are cash flowing the hotel and rental car. It will be our BIG vacation this year. And it's just the three of us (me, DH and our DS10).

I haven't filed our taxes yet, BUT, I now have everything ready to go!! So, I will mail them out in the morning. I really thought we paid enough in 2016... for the last half of the year, I even had them take out an extra $100 per pay check... So, we ended up with $15,212 paid to the Federal Government. I sure hope that's enough. I still make monthly payments for back taxes we owe, and I'd like to be done with these eventually.

I was snooping around my Merrill Lynch accounts (work 401K) and saw that we received an employee contribution - more than my matching. So, happy about that. I also found out that I have a Roth 401K account. Had no idea (I know... I got to get this all figured out). While I was there, I upped my contribution for my regular 401K by another 3%. Which means things are about to get even tighter around here. Finally, I figured out why I am getting $20-$50 checks each month - something (not sure what) was sending me my dividends. I reinvested those bad boys. I have several checks I never cashed, so I have to call them and place stop payments on them.

I received a large bonus this month for work - so that's been a nice cushion in my checking account. I also had a chance to pay off some medical bills and purchase a few things we "needed". I still have about 2K left, but I am going to move that to a Savings now to prepare for A/C fixes come summer. That means, we have to stick to our March budget like CRAZY.

Blew it already, and other things

February 24th, 2017 at 10:25 pm

I was just checking out my side bar... my main goal was to file our taxes by Jan. 31. Yeah, hasn't happened yet. I am pretty sure I have everything, just need to get it done.

- - -

My husband and I have been chatting a lot about "what next?" Do we stay in this house until our youngest son graduates? Do we look to move sooner? We go back and forth almost daily. We have about 135K in equity, but I am not sure I want to go through the hassle of selling, even if it's to downsize. We owe 193K on the house.

I think we ask this question a lot because there are things we want to do around here and we just want to make sure it makes sense. Like, this storage shed my husband has been building for us.

- - -

We've incurred some debt as of late... It's been a while. We paid off and sold a car (to my son) and decided to purchase a truck. It was a difficult decision to make - to go further into debt - but I am fine with our decision, and I am focused on paying off my car ASAP. We owe 14K on it - I know I can pay it off in less than 18 months, so that's my goal.

- - -

We got new PUPPIES! They are cheagles... Chihuahua and Beagle mixes. Their names are Beatrice and Ramona!
I forgot how much puppies need (shots, food, toys, beds). $$ but worth it! Smile I lurve them so much.

Getting there...

October 23rd, 2016 at 03:29 pm

So much going on... so much to plan for... so many goals to write down. I am declaring 2017 a SPEND VERY LITTLE year. We have done a ton of road tripping and weekend getaways over the past 3 years (and had so much fun and created SO MANY MEMORIES) but I am ready to settle down and decide what we want LONGTERM.

My oldest (21 on Monday) is still living with us. He causes zero issues, and is in school... but he's got some planning to do, too.

My middle (17) graduates in May and I have a feeling she will be hitting the road as soon as she is able.

We will soon be a family of three and I think that qualifies us for some budget adjusting and goal making!

This year (last 12 months) we did travel a lot. Probably spent upwards of 8,000. I REALLY want to refrain from that in 2017 and see what we can throw at debt (house, student loans, car).

We did pay off Car 2 a few months ago (need to update my sidebar). A whole year early. Happy at that!

I spent a few hours testing out a zero balance budget... I just need to get us through the holidays. We have birthdays, holidays, Christmas, etc...

So, here's to budget setting and goal making for 2017!

I love me some pay day!

February 12th, 2016 at 12:43 pm

I need to update my side bars... I found out that I owe $4100 on Car 2... I went into detail about it before... my brother purchased the car for his then girlfriend - unloaded her and then needed to unload the car, so I stepped in. We've been paying on it for 4 years and we can finally see the light! =) I am thinking of putting an extra $400 towards it for the next few months to see if we can just get it paid. Then I have to deal with getting it transferred into my name.

The tags are due this month, but I just realized that I have to get an emissions test done, so $157 set aside for tags and the test.

I was able to put $700 towards debt today! And another $600 to savings.

We've also had some expenses come up... Two dogs bites and, subsequently, two ER trips. Same dog, one victim was the husband and the other was my 9 year old. Exactly a week a part. My husband required plastic surgery, but my son did not. The hospital bills so far are $1200 (that's just the ER visit portion)... waiting to get bills from doctors and then for my husband's three day stay. The husband and kiddo are doing well, considering.

Sadly, we had to turn our pup in (another fee)... We just can't take any more chances. I don't feel like he is aggressive...But I do think he was trying to show his dominance. Animal Control was certain a rescue would come take him since he's only 2 and not yet neutered (may be part of the reason for his actions)... He may still have a chance. We've had the guy since he was just 8 weeks old and loved him MUCHO. So sad. We all have heavy hearts. And our other dog is missing him.

I have big plans for the weekend! We are going tennis shoe shopping and I may try to find some side chairs for my living room. 


February 6th, 2016 at 01:28 pm

And here I thought I only took the months of December and January off... Sheesh! It's been since October.

We spent money, went on vacation, paid the bills, celebrated the holidays, dealt with some drama... and we've landed safely on the other side.

I got my 2016 spreadsheet all cleaned up and the budget built out. Yesterday was our first payday of February so I took care of business and paid the bills. I still need to go grocery and Costco shopping this weekend, but we are set up to have a great week.

I get my yearly bonus on next Friday... $12k. Not too shabby. I have so many items on my wish list (mostly house stuff: replace slider with double doors, fix A/C, think about new counter tops)... but after taxes, the money only goes so far.

We are trying to figure out our vacations this year... far less than the previous years, but still want to get away this summer. I am thinking roadtrip to Colorado.

I love the feeling of a new year, warmer weather (we are in Arizona - expecting 80s all week) - I feel like I can accomplish anything... even my health goals! Smile

The talk...

October 1st, 2015 at 06:00 am

I couldn't sleep. I am waiting for my son to wake up so that I can have the talk with him before he leaves for work at 7:30 am pacific.

My son will be 20 in 30 days (Halloween baby in the house!) And so far, so good. He has saved $1000 dollars in the last 45 days. He is pretty much set with his Emergency Fund. His job has changed slightly - he does piece work with no salary now (he had salary before, which made it possible to save that much money in that short amount of time).

So, $1000 in savings and $800 in debt.

He has a Kay Jewelers card with a balance of $500 and a USAA CC with a balance of $300ish.

I currently pay his $100 a month auto insurance bill (explained this in a previous post - he does a lot of the heavy driving for me, getting his sister to school, etc).

His phone bill is part of our family plan and costs me $15 a month.

Other than that, he has the Kay bill at $25 a month and the USAA bill at $25 a month.

I am of the mind that he should pay off the debt, then rebuild his savings. He's proven that he can hustle (in the most white, suburban way possible), and can save when needed... so I am not concerned with him being able to rebuild his emergency fund. In fact, I kind of feel like I'm still his emergency fund for now. He hasn't had any emergencies; he just replaced all four tires on his truck, his truck is paid for, his registration is set for the next two years, he's under my medical still... So, I don't see a reason for him NOT to pay off those cards.

I think he can completely do away with Kay, but keep the USAA card to continue to build his credit.

Now I just have to convince him. He's holding on tight to that savings account... Which makes me proud; it means he understands the value of paying himself first. But at the same time, he needs to get rid of the debt.

So... that's first on the docket this morning. I'll let you know how it goes!


Updated to Add:
We had the TALK! And it went well. So well, that I didn't realize his balances were lower than they actually were and he paid both accounts off, while in bed, with me perching next to him. (Hmmm. Maybe he just wanted to get me out of his room?). After both accounts being paid off, he still has $500 in savings. NOT BAD!!

Another mortgage payment killed...

September 30th, 2015 at 06:49 pm

I love being under the $200K mark on our mortgage. I cannot believe we've lived in our house for FIVE years already. Still love it as much as the day we got it; some days I can't believe we are homeowners. It took us so long to get here...

Anyway, here is a quick look at what I paid today.
My HOA dues is only $130 a month, but I pay a little extra because it's on auto-pay, and if the dues ever goes up, I don't have to adjust my auto-pay. It was only $117 when we moved in (brand new development) and with every new house that goes up, we see an increase. I am thinking someone needs to take a math class. lol...

Mortgage $1,504.00
HOA $150.00
Savings1 $125.00
Savings2 $25.00
Savings3 $25.00
Safe $100.00

Savings 1 is our Emergency Fund - the balance should be about $700 right now (it was zero as of 9/1).
Savings 2 is my Wells Fargo savings account, which is connected to my mortgage. I am looking to save 3 house payments in that account and keep it there "just in case." I think I have $100 in there - ways to go. lol
Savings 3 is my USAA account; we don't use it for every day, but it's nice to have that money in there. It builds slowly, at $25 twice a month, but - hey, it builds. Smile (I just found out my husband has his Starbucks account linked to this account - no wonder it's not climbing very fast. Going to nip that in the bud!!)
Safe Funds is just cash in the safe...

This last paycheck of the month isn't a real 'get at those bills' paycheck. But the awesome news is that the husband gets paid on Friday, so I will be able to get my bill payin' self going in just two days!

The good news is...

September 29th, 2015 at 10:56 pm

Well... really - the GREAT news is we have not waivered and we have not lost our motivation. We are still on track for the month. In fact, there is more money than month left. Nice, right? I have been so busy with work, that I haven't had a chance to document everything. I will regroup and get back on track, blogging-wise.

WIN for today?!?! Finally got our 2014 tax stuff to our accountant this afternoon. FINALLY.

We spent several days up north (well, northern Arizona) - just the two us and really, truly enjoyed some hiking, good food, and fall weather.

Tomorrow is payday for me... mortgage and HOA dues. The husband has 3 paychecks in October (yeah!). So, lots to plan! Also, should be able to put an extra $500 towards the Mazda in October. If my brother would send me the freakin' account number.

Another payday; I'm not mad.

September 18th, 2015 at 10:26 pm

I like that we had two paydays this week.
We've stayed on budget, ate in, and spent zero dollars!

Today I paid:

Mazda $322.00
Escrow $205.00
Internet $100.00
Water $50.00
Dish $40.00
Savings $100.00
Essntls $300.00
Food $250.00
Debt $100.00

After the dental bills last week and adding in new deposits for Escrow and Essentials, we have over $1500 in savings/cash. I would say that's an awesome start... considering we had $100 on Sept. 1. If we keep going at this rate, we will be golden. Heck, I even paid some additional medical bills this week.

We went grocery shopping tonight... Me, my DH, and 2 out of 3 kids... It was chaotic, but we stayed on budget. And we bought all whole foods! Tons and tons of veggies!!

We are staying in tomorrow - I have a few DIY/decor and house stuff to finish. I've worked long hours this week, and haven't gotten around to finishing some items. I bought two new rugs from IKEA a few weeks back and they are still in their packaging. #oops

Sunday will be all about food prep and getting the kids ready for school. And laundry. How did I almost forget the darn laundry??

Also, the boyfriend and I will be jumping in the car to head to the high country (Flagstaff) on Thursday and Friday of this upcoming week! Just the two of us - to unplug and rest. Three days of hiking, eating, and resting! Can't beat that!!

It's Pay Day!

September 15th, 2015 at 08:48 am

Today is the second official payday for since climbing back on the wagon... these bad boys never seem to come fast enough. I want to pay all the bills.

Here is what today looks like:

Geico 1.....$175.00
Geico 2.....$106.00
Sav 1.......$125.00
Sav 2.......$ 25.00
Sav 3.......$ 25.00

I currently pay my son's insurance payment... It's only $106 a month and he does a lot of the heavy driving for me, including waking up and taking his sister to school (no bus) each day. The moment his rates go up for any accidents or tickets, or he moves out, then he will take that bill over again.

I am paying two medical bills in full today, one for $10.55 and one for $35. I will see what else I need to take care of, I am sure there are small bills somewhere (remember, baby in March?).

DS8 did have to have a tooth extracted on Friday, so that’s $53 to the dentist and $4.10 to the pharmacy for antibiotics that came out of our medical Essentials fund.

Our Essentials this payday is $100 for groceries and then $300 to put into envelopes for things like gas, medical bills, entertainment, etc. I budget $600 a month for those things.

That reminds me, one of these days, I will post my budget... I definitely want to work on weeding out the extras (no matter how hard it will be).

The husband gets paid Friday, so I don't have long to wait to pay more bills!!

All outta love...

September 14th, 2015 at 11:55 am

From the student loan peeps, at least.

I am sure I am not alone in the fact that I owe student loan debt that I know NOTHING about. A few promissory notes here and there, two degrees (BSB/M and MBA), and five years later, I get a phone call.

I have two accounts... one that is called Federal Loans and the other is Department of Education Loans; payments totaling $850 a month. And I am all outta forbearances. Evidently there is a cap.

I only answered the phone today because there were three back-to-back No Caller ID calls... I thought it was an emergency. Thankfully, it wasn't. Well, not in my eyes anyway.

It's true, I been out of school for five years and I've never made a student loan payment. Well, I did make a payment to both loans on Saturday for $100 each. Figured I'd warm up to it a little.

However, after today's call from my mystery caller, I am now the proud owner of an admin forbearance through November 12. I've filled out a federal consolidation loan application and requested a graduated payment... which will run me about $350 a month to start. That is more than I originally budgeted, but it looks like I don't have many options left.

I did find out that with the new, consolidated loan, I will be eligible for 36 months of forbearance again... I don't plan on using it, but glad it will be there just in case.

Once the cars are paid off, I will be throwing as much as as I can at those student loans to get them paid off.

Patience and time... Time and patience...
And, well, money.

The Mazda

September 13th, 2015 at 04:00 pm

In 2011, my brother was in Iraq (Army) and was dealing with an emergency at home. I stepped in and helped. I flew to North Carolina and collected his 16 year old daughter and his second car (really his ex-girlfriend's car in HIS name). My niece stayed with us for about a year, the Mazda hasn't left. I took over the payments in February of 2012.

For all intents and purposes, the car is ours. We drive it, care for it, and continue to make the payments. Once the car is paid for, my brother will transfer the title into our name. There were a few reasons why we did this.

1) To help my brother out
2) We wouldn't be able to get a new car at the rate he had (we had teens starting to drive)
3) The car was only 11 months old and in perfect condition

The light is finally near the end of the tunnel... Just under $6000 left. And I want to get it paid off as quickly as possible. So I spent the day figuring stuff out. Bottom line... the amount he pays to interest is SOOOO low, because a) we are near the end and b) his rate with USAA is phenomenal.

In doing the math, I realized that if we throw an additional $200 a month MINIMUM to the Mazda's principle, we could pay the car off 8 months early. We don't save a whole lot of interest (see a and b up there), but we would be saving the $320 payment each month (which of course we would start to throw at the Dodge - more on that later).

We have a weekly pizza night each Wednesday. We pay $50 for 2 XL pizzas and wings. That gives us dinner for 5 (or 6 if the DS's girlfriend is over) PLUS left overs for lunch for the DH and I on Thursdays, so two meals. But, if we eliminate that each month for the next 8 months, then we are in business. I can make homemade pizza and wings much cheaper... More work, but I will suck it up.

BONUS: If the DH goes in for OT for 2 days per pay period, once a month (or once or twice during the next 8 months), we could knock that out even faster (he generally brings in $1000 extra for two extra days of work, during holiday weeks it's even more).

So, we've got our eyes on the prize... getting the Mazda paid off by August 2016 (instead of February 2017).

This Lemonmade Life

September 13th, 2015 at 11:54 am

A little over seven years ago, I found this site and at the beginning, I used it to my full advantage. We were married over 13 years and still weren't homeowners. I learned so much from the forums and the blogs. So much so, in two years, we were able to clean up enough of our act to finally purchase our first home.

We did all the things you aren't supposed to do, even after we learned so much and worked so hard. The brand new (HUGE) house needed blinds, didn't it? Home Depot credit card. We needed a table to eat at and a couch to lounge on and a bed to sleep in, didn't we? Furniture store financing.

See? All the wrongs. Ever.

We are five years in, five years older, and ready to get back on the wagon.

We do not have any credit cards. We do have some debts left, mostly medical. We have two car loans and my student loans.

Our income has increased over the years and we have plenty of money to pay our debts and save at the same time.

I've updated my sidebar accordingly. Well, sans savings balances... I will get to that. We are just starting to build back up again, but I think across our accounts we have a little over $1000... which, obviously isn't enough. In the past few years, if an emergency came up, we paid cash from the closest pay day, which was essentially robbing Peter to pay Paul... late.

We do have some back taxes we are paying on... evidently we weren't taking enough out based on our income... the IRS now demands we take the most out possible for the next three years (we got a very official letter). I think this means we may actually start to see some returns?! If my math is accurate.

We are getting up there in age... Smile So we really, really, really need to focus on savings.

That's why I am here. Again.
We've had so much fun over the past few years, but if we want to have ANY fun at all during our retirement years, we need to get a move on.

On our 20th wedding anniversary last year, my husband took me on a trip to Disneyland - I had never been. It was magical. And romantic. And fun. And, unbeknownst to us, we came home with a little souvenir. At 38! With a 19 year old! And a 16 year old! And an 8 year old! What the heck!?! We were thrown for a loop, but were super, very excited! We had to change gears in life... And then change gears again when we found out our son passed away in utero at 17 weeks. He was born sleeping on March 31 and we buried him next to family. Want to know the worst thing, ever, to spend money on? $2000 for a tiny little casket and a tiny little plot.

My partner and crime, whom I affectionately refer to as my boyfriend, take the good and the bad, and really try hard to balance it all. Which is why I call this our lemonmade life.