All Over The Place

I’ve been a very busy bee the last few weeks. We’ve had a lot going on, and somehow, accidentally, started a little side business.  The post is more of a good, bad, and ugly life update, but it’s positive.  🙂

A few months ago I mentioned being contacted by a collections agency for an invoice from my dentists office from 2014.  I know I paid this, but couldn’t prove it since we switched banks and our old bank was unable to provide statements for us from 2014.  (The ultimate downside of paperless…)  I’ve been making $50/mo payments on it ever since.  Fast forward to last week with excruciating tooth pain, I called to make an appointment, but they refused to see me until I paid the collections balance in full.  $400.  Then $153 for the appointment – nothing wrong, must be “bruising in the gumline.”  $153 for less than 10 minutes.  Pointless dental insurance.

We need to replace windows in our living room and master bathroom.  Not an emergency must-do, but definitely a “should be done in the near future” kind of problem.  We had the company that came out quote replacing all windows and replacing just the two rooms.  Entire house: $59,041.  LOL!!!  Just the two rooms: $21,940.  LOL!!  They have lost their minds!!  The lady was here for four hours and would not leave.  High pressure sales, you’ve met your match.  I’m not signing a damn thing.  😉  Sure gave us a good, hearty laugh.

We recently experienced some unusually cold, wintry mix weather here.  Around three inches of snow and lots of ice.  DH’s work was closed for the day due to this weather, and his manager told him to “make the call” for his night shift crew.  He drove out there and the roads were still quite bad, plus it was still raining, and temps were dropping to 16 that night.  Thank goodness for 4WD.  Anyway, DH called off for the night.  Yesterday he found out HR is refusing to pay him for that night, because “he did not make an attempt to work.”  Yet the day time workers are receiving full pay since the store closed due to hazardous weather conditions.  I’m sorry, but how the hell is that fair?  Especially when the weather was even worse that night?!  I don’t understand why the store manager and HR have different stipulations for daytime and nighttime crews regarding store closures.  It’s outrageous.  I hate that place!

As for the good, DH and I had a long talk about all the stuff we have in this house. We still have boxes we haven’t unpacked from two moves ago.  He had a few days off this week and we tackled a good bit of the house.  Tons of trash, tons to donate, and I have nearly 25 bins to consign.  It feels GOOD!  Not only that, but DH has decided to part with a collection of his.  Turns out this was a very profitable side gig selling off these figures.  In just a few weeks, we’ve made about $1,500, and still have 100+ to sell.  He also ‘flipped’ a few figures for other ones, and was able to make even more money selling those.  It has kept me very busy packaging and shipping every night after the kids go down.  I’m averaging 15 shipments per day right now.

The local consignment sale is only a month away, I have a lot to do for that.  Right now I have to figure out if I will volunteer or not.  By not volunteering you pay a $11.95 participation fee and earn 70%.  Volunteer 8 hours, receive 75% / 12 hours, receive 80%.  DH use to do the volunteering as security, but he can’t with his new work schedule.  I just have to juggle DH’s schedule plus the kids, and is an extra 5% really worth my time?!  I expect to make over $1000, if not closer to $2000 after fee’s anyway (based on 70%).

I’m feeling a bit more optimistic and motivated these days.  Hoping this lasts long enough to get through the seemingly endless piles of crap we have.  😉

Posted in Expenses, Extra Income, Home, Work | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

$150 Screw Up

I messed up.  One of the credit cards I’m working to pay off is for a home improvement store.  This was used to fix up the rental house a few times.  Each purchase had a no interest promo for 12-18 months.  Or so I thought.  Apparently one of them was only for 6 months.

I noticed the promo expiring last month, and I immediately added up how much to pay to avoid being hit with accrued interest:  $220.  I paid it before the due date, and gave myself a pat on the back for catching it.

Until today, when I logged in to pay the bill, and found $150 in accrued interest charged to my account.  😦  I nearly cried people.  I thought I was on top of every thing, but I messed up.  I misread that damn credit card statement.

Instead of adding up and paying off the full balance due on the promo, I accidentally added the accrued interest column of several promos.  The $220 came from accrued interest.  The balances due?  Over $700.

I have never in my life paid interest when we opted in to one of these promos.  Sigh.  Live and learn.  A painful start to 2018 already, hope it’s a one time thing.

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2017 vs 2018 Debts

Sickness has infected my household again.  I’m holding back a long rant about people hosting birthday parties and allowing their flu-affected children to attend.  Like dominoes, we have fallen one by one.  On the mend now, so here are the numbers:

Our starting debt for 2017:

  • Mortgage:  $60,185.80
  • Auto Loan:  $0.00
  • Credit Cards:  $11,186.44
  • Total:  $71,372.24

Our starting debt for 2018:

  • Mortgage:  $57,137.65  (-$3,048.15)
  • Auto Loan:  $8,582.54 (+full amount, new loan)
  • Credit Cards:  $9,974.47 (-$1,211.97)
  • Medical:  $291.60 (+$291.60 + more coming I’m sure)
  • Total:  $75,986.26 (+$4,614.02)

Womp, womp.  Here’s to hoping to a more successful year of paying off debt!!  I’m stilling waiting for DH’s first full paycheck of 2018 to get an idea of his take home pay.  I’m not sure how it will be affected with the tax changes and health insurance increase.  Once I have some numbers, I can work on a budget for the new year.

I’m hoping DH received his annual review next month.  They skipped his last year.  I don’t think it was intentional.  The company restructured and brought in a new management team at the same time as reviews.  The new guys never rescheduled DH’s.  No annual review, meant no raise.  He’s received a small raise every year until last.

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2018 Goals

I had a lengthy list of goals for 2017, and for the most part, failed miserably.  I’m okay with that, life happens, and we had a rough year.  Looking back, I can clearly see I was overreaching.  For 2018 I want to keep it simple.  In fact that’s my motto this year – KEEP IT SIMPLE.  Three “simple” goals to focus on:

  1.  Pay off as much debt as possible!  Credit cards, medical, truck loan, etc.
  2.  Rebuild our savings account.
  3.  Get ours wills and living trusts completed.

Selling the rental house is on the agenda for this year, and that will help wipe out debt.  So I consider this ‘goal’ just lumped in with paying off debt.  Same with consignment sales, yard sales, extra income, etc.  All these things have one goal:  Pay off debt.

Rebuilding our savings is a must.  Medical bills drained us in the fall, as well as my youngest’s ongoing therapies that insurance decided not to cover (five months after we received an approval letter!)  We went from a healthy $15,000 down to $1,000.  Yep.  We’ve got ourselves a baby step emergency fund at the moment.  It’s hard not to cry about this, but it is what it is.

Getting our wills and living trusts completed has been on my to-do list for a few years now.  We had an appointment set up to get this done (free) through DH’s employer benefits, but the person in charge of our district quit, and hasn’t been replaced.  Apparently there’s no one else to handle it (??).  I’d rather not wait out a new hire (over 6 months now), and will be calling around local attorney offices for pricing.  We’ve lost a lot of loved ones in recent years, and I have very manipulative in laws, so I want to make sure we are protected in case anything happens to either of us.

We have two exciting events happening in 2018.  My youngest was dropped from his PT and speech therapies due to the insurance issues mentioned above.  A classy move on the part of a non-profit Children’s Hospital if you ask me.  However, he is being evaluated by our local school system, to create an IEP for starting preschool when he turns 3.  This is an amazing opportunity, because it will cover physical therapy, speech, and any occupational therapies they deem necessary.  Plus it opens up my schedule a little more to search for work without worrying about extra childcare.

In the fall, we have a trip planned to the midwest for a relatives wedding.  I’ve been saving for eight months for this and only have $1,800.  That doesn’t even cover the cost of plane tickets for the four of us.  I’m hoping to bump this up with our tax refund.  It’s not until November, which gives us plenty of time.  I do hate it’s during a holiday month.  I am beyond excited to take the boys on their very first plane ride, even though I’m dreading the actual process of it.  This is an event I refuse to miss, so I’m going to make it work financially no matter what.

I’ll have a numbers update by the end of the week.  Here’s to a hopeful 2018!


Posted in Budgeting, Debt, Family, Goals, Planning, Savings | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

2017 Recap

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas, and a safe and fun New Year’s Eve!  I’ve been busy with family and haven’t had much time to gather my thoughts and post recently.  I’m going to end our crappy 2017 with a recap of the goals I placed at the beginning of the year.  I’ve officially been blogging for a year now!

1.  Sell 3 vehicles.  Buy 1 reliable vehicle for DH.

We currently have four vehicles, all are paid off, and they are older. Three have full insurance coverage (approx. $185/mo total) – I want to get this back down to $140ish or lower by going back to just two vehicles.  The fourth has no coverage.  Selling 3 vehicles to get 1 newer, more reliable is the main goal.  

We sold 2 vehicles and purchased a new-to-us truck for DH. We still have 1 vehicle to sell, but it needs a little TLC before we can list it. The extra money to fix it up hasn’t been there, so it’s on the back burner right now. Probably list it around tax refund season.

2. Sell rental house.

We became accidental landlords when we moved from our old home to our new one.  We intended on selling it immediately, but a family member needed a place, and we agreed to help them out.  We’re hoping this family member relocates, and we can sell the property this year.  Being landlords is not for us.

Fail. Complete and utter failure. This was our biggest downfall for 2017. So many costly repairs. The renter is suppose to be out by January 31st. I’m not holding my breath, but if we could get it on the market in March, out entire financial life will change in 2018.

3.  Pay off all credit card debt.

This is a no brainer.  It’s honestly not that bad.  We just need to stop using the cards for things that pop-up here and there, and stop eating out.  I want to use credit cards solely to churn them for cash back or rewards going into the new year.  Debt amounts will be listed in the sidebar and updated monthly.

Unfortunately, this was also a big, fat, fail. Between the rental house repairs, truck repairs, and kids medical costs – I’m shocked our credit card debt isn’t even higher than it was at the beginning of the year!  Only paid down $1,211.97, ugh.

Start of 2017:  $11,186.44
End of 2017: $9,974.47

4.  Use rewards credit card(s) towards bills.

As mentioned above, I’d like to start churning credit cards for rewards on a regular basis.  I applied for and received my first rewards cc a few months ago, and have been good about paying it off in full each month. 

This was a success. I paid all of our primary bills using a cash back credit card. I earned $1,288.29 this year in cash back. The credit card has never carried a balance, nor incurred any interest. I’m not going to extend this goal into the new year, because I found that paying the lump sum each month could be a bit burdensome all at once, especially during months with surprise repair/medical costs.

5.  Increase emergency fund from $15,000 to $17,500+.

Self-explanatory.  Just want to keep the liquidity building.  

Fail. 😦 Our savings was depleted towards the end of 2017 after having two kids hospitalized at different times, rental house repairs, and truck repairs. As of January 1st, 2018 – we are officially starting over with building a savings account. Depressing.

6.  Host a garage sale.  Participate in consignment sale.  Minimize belongings.

A must do for 2017.  We have plenty of large items to sell.  I think we could easily net around $1000, if not more.  This will help clear out the storage rooms and pay off debt.

Did not happen. I have had every thing prepped, but we missed the neighborhood garage sale weekend when DS1 was hospitalized, and I missed the consignment sale when DS2 was hospitalized. Spring consignment is coming up and I plan to partake. I did sell a few items here and there through Craigslist and the Facebook Marketplace.

7.  Vacation.

Either take a family vacation, or begin saving specifically for a big vacation in 2018.  We’ve considered Disney World and Disney Cruises.  Both are costly.  If we go this year, it would be a resort or other cruise line type getaway. 

Partial success. We went on a road trip in June with the kids. It was a budget friendly trip, but our 2 year old wasn’t a great traveler, so it wasn’t much of a vacation for DH and I. Any big vacations won’t happen until 2019.

8.  Keep job hunting.

While I am not in need of a job, I am keeping my eyes peeled for a potential position that may fulfill my needs.  Must pay enough to cover child care with some leftover, otherwise it’s not worth it.  Good benefits would be a must.

I have been actively looking for a job this entire year. I’ve sent in around 70 applications, not a single call back. I’m not sure what’s working against me, especially when I know I’m well qualified for the position. I’m still bummed I had to turn down the Amazon at-home job, but there’s no way I could have maintained their schedule without childcare (evening – late night hours.)

9.  Monthly meal plan – save more on food.

Eating out is our #1 budget buster.  I want to get into the habit of planning menus a month at a time and cooking at home more frequently.  I also want to shop sales and keep track of savings with various apps, such as Ibotta and Wal-Mart Savings Catcher.  I am late to the game with these savings app!

I haven’t mastered a monthly meal plan, but I’ve definitely mastered the weekly meal plan. Wal-Mart’s Grocery Pick Up service has helped me tremendously with saving money on groceries, and sticking to a specific menu each week. Happy with the progress we’ve made here! I’ve also made the following amount of cash back using these specific apps:

Ibotta: $27.25
Wal-Mart Savings Catcher: $157.94
Checkout 81: $12.00

10. Misc: Adjust direct deposit. Wills. Diversify stock. SAHM Retirement.

As stated.  Mini goals to do throughout the year.  We absolutely must get our wills done.  

Nope. Nope. Nope. :/

11. House goals: organize, declutter, and clean.

I’m still working on unpacking from our move and sorting things.  We have a lot of things to get rid of (goal#6), and a lot of organizing to do.  I’ll do a room-by-room list at some point.  No major renovations this year – hallelujah!!

A work in progress. 🙂

Happy New Year everyone!!

How did you do with your goals in 2017?

Cheers to a more successful 2018! 🙂

Posted in Budgeting, Debt, Goals, Savings | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Budget Friendly Christmas Pt. 2

I saved just over $600 towards Christmas using various savings apps and rewards programs.  I’m stretching this to cover eight people – primarily my two kids.  These are some deals I found this season:

Toys R Us

Of course their “site wide” 15% off sale didn’t cover anything I wanted.  I was looking for a specific Duplo set, but at $79.99 it was out of budget.  Then I found this exact set, brand new, sold by Toys R Us on Ebay for $49 shipped!  I also received 9% cash back for the purchase ($4.41.)  This is the 2 year olds “big” gift, and was recommended by his PT therapists to work on fine motor skills.


On Black Friday if you spent over $50 they gave you a 20% coupon to use the following week on your entire purchase.  We spent over $50 on some groceries and socks to get the coupon.

With the 20% coupon and $35 in gift cards, I purchased the Roku Ultra (reg. $99) and this dollhouse (reg ($129) for $147.40.  The Roku is DH and I’s gift to ourselves (our original one from 2013 finally died), the dollhouse is for our oldest son – it’s the #1 item on his list lol.  For his Disney figures!  I love the neutral color palate.  Nearly impossible to find a playhouse that isn’t bright pink!  I’ve been scouring Craigslist and local FB ads for dollhouses that I could just paint, but I was never quick enough to get one.

I also nabbed a clearance art easel for the boys playroom.  Regularly $40, it was on clearance for $11.98.  It comes with plenty of paper and accessories, I didn’t need to buy anything separately to “complete” that gift.


I stopped by to grab some ribbon (70% off!) for our Christmas tree.  I came across a nice selection of Discovery Kids items while there.  It was Black Friday and they were offering 60% off your entire purchase, including sale items, before 11am.  I was able to get a telescope/microscope lab kit that was $15 on sale (reg. $60!!), and final price came to $6 + tax!  My science obsessed 7 year old will love this.

The Children’s Place

My last good deal was on clothing for the kids.  I usually try to stock up at the local consignment sale each year, but the selection was slim pickings by the time I was able to stop by.  (Same week DS2 was hospitalized.)   The Children’s Place had a great Black Friday sale, and I took advantage of it.

Every thing was discounted 50-75%, plus rewards points were doubled, and you could early $20 TCP cash for every $20 spent.  It’s normally $10 TCP cash for every $20.  (Similar to Kohls cash.)  I already had a $10 rewards coupon to use as well.  I’m quite happy with my haul:

  • DS1: 4 pairs of jeans, 2 school uniform sweaters, 1 hoodie, 3 t-shirts, 2 pajama pants, 1 pair of shoes, underwear, socks.
  • DS2: 2 pairs of jeans, 4 t-shirts, 1 sweater, 1 hoodie, 3 pairs of footie pajamas, socks, 1 pair of sweatpants.

My total was $101 shipped, including tax.  I received $100 in TCP cash, which I’ll need to use by end of January.  I’ll probably split this with a friend, unless I just order larger sizes.  I was thinking of putting it towards school uniforms for next year, but I’ve never bought their uniform items before.  (Old Navy shrinks, Target’s Cat & Jack tears easily, GAP is great (pricey) – but the navy attracts every bit of lint.)

Overall I think I did well.  There is one more “big” thing I’d like to get – a set of Targets Pillowfort industrial kids chairs for the playroom.  Those chairs are quite sturdy, and could support even me while sitting to help or play with the kids.  The Ikea chairs are definitely cheap and flimsy.  I’ve been trying to snag the Target chairs for over a month now, but they mysteriously go out of stock every time I add them to my cart during a sale.  They’re not a must have.

All the above comes to $310.97 out of my $600 budget – and honestly, some of the clothing was a need and not necessarily Christmas-budget worthy.  Other than that, I just need to get a few stocking stuffers, and we’re done with the kids!  The remainder of the balance will go towards our moms and siblings.  I’m considering hosting a $5-$10 white elephant game night with friends.  I think it would be fun, but we have some bah-humbugs in the bunch.


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Budget Friendly Christmas Pt. 1

I’ve always kept Christmas minimal with my kids.  Growing up we had huge Christmas gatherings and hundreds of gifts.  I watched my cousins become ungrateful brats, and it carried into adulthood.  I knew I wanted to avoid the attitude of “gimme gimme gimme” with my family, and I’m happy to say  (so far), that I have.

This year we’re on a very tight Christmas budget, and it will be “small”.  My kids (2 & 7) won’t even notice!  I’m done with my shopping for the kids and very happy with what I spent and deals I have found.

This year I decided on a budget of $500 for Christmas, which isn’t that much once you start looking into things to buy!  This covers the kids, DH, myself, mother in law, my mother, and siblings.  I saved in little ways throughout the year and here’s what I’ve earned:

  • Wal-Mart GCs (Savings Catcher):  $154.17
  • Ibotta Paypal Cashouts: $29.25
  • Amazon GCs (Coke Rewards): $70.00
  • Target GCs (Coke Rewards): $35.00
  • Amazon GCs (Aetna Rewards): $20.00
  • Ebates Paypal Cashouts: $299.93
  • Total: $608.35 !!!

I didn’t have to put any cash aside on pay days!  I nabbed the Coke Rewards recently.  I stopped saving codes this summer when Coke announced they were ending the My Coke Rewards program.  Over the weekend I received an email that for 10 codes I could get $5 to Amazon, and also found $5 Target gift cards for 5 codes.  My MIL still saves these and I was able to accumulate quite a few gift cards!

Part 2 will be a list of the deals I’ve received this year and the gifts!  🙂

Posted in Budgeting, Expenses, Family, Savings | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments