I did (mostly) receive the past due rent. The money orders for March were dated March 1 and totalled $1215. So apparently, the tenant purchased the money orders, put them someplace, then thought he had mailed them. All of the info regarding what MoneyGram had told him was obviously fabricated. When I received them, I texted him to let him know I had received them then asked where he had found them. No response. No explanation as to why they were $35 short.
Yesterday I received June rent in full, but no additional $35.
Regarding paying for the cruise, I did lower my 457 plan contribution from 15% to 3%. I also changed my withholding from single 0 to single 1. The net result to my paycheck is an additional $214.02 per. All of this will go towards the cruise.
At the end of May, I had $630.80 saved. I have already purchased my daughter and son-in-law's airfare, and I have already paid $800 towards the cruise. So I still need to pay $4,370, which means I need to save $3,739.20 more.
My Mom and nephew came up here the Friday before Mother's Day and stayed (at the bed and breakfast in town) until Sunday afternoon. We had such a good time.
My birth mother is coming for a visit towards the end of July. She has a camper van so will stay right on the property with us. I will take some time off while she is here. I'm really looking forward to that.
My former father-in-law died about a month ago. I went down to the viewing (not the service) and did get to speak a bit with my former mother-in-law, sister-in-law, niece, and nephew. The financial situation former m-i-l finds herself now in is not good. Various family members and friends helped contribute towards the modest yet tasteful final expenses. (F-i-l and m-i-l did have some money set aside for this, but it was not enough) I helped a little, as he was my children's grandfather. Despite the circumstances, it was nice to see all of them.
Viewing the 'Budgeting' Category
So I've been thinking about how exactly I am going to pay for that planned family cruise. I loathe the debt I am already carrying and am uninterested in carrying more.
After a great deal of consideration, I have decided to cut my 457 plan contributions from 15% to 3%. I will bank the extra take home pay and should have enough by January to pay in full. I need 7k to cover 5 fares, port taxes, gratuities, and air fare for 2. I have $1,356.25 in my travel/vacation fund right now, with 9 more $150 deposits budgeted for this year. That's $2700, I need another $4,300. I calculate I will take home an additional $2,808 this year from reducing 457 contributions. That still leaves $1500. I do have those 2 extra paycheck months. I think I can do it.
I think my retirement plans can withstand the hit. I am on track to surpass my minimum nest egg goal. This trip is very important to me. I will fill out the paperwork tomorrow and expect to see the extra take home pay beginning in May.
Finally tallied up March. Of course, I knew it was bad, having received no rent. The shortfall came from WF savings and checking buffer.
I took some of my overtime in pay and some in my comp time bank.
I did not need to pay AmEx anything after all; I had transferred the entire balance (I had remembered transferring balance - $100).
Unbudgeted includes a tank of gas for a trip to see my mom, one night hotel stay when a plumbing problem made sleeping in the travel trailer not such a good option, stocking up on a hair product I use called "silk drops", tax prep fee for my son and d-i-l (I just paid it, didnt even tell them), and some medical supplies from the pharmacy.
My car registration was due ($275) but I dont count that as it was paid from a sinking fund.
March budget is ready to go.
I applied and was approved for a new BofA MasterCard. The terms are 0% for 15 months, no balance transfer fee. I requested that $9300 of my existing $9400 AmEx balance be transferred. That leaves me with $100 to pay to AmEx in March, and then the minimum payment to the new MasterCard. I budgeted $100, but of course it might be more.
If the time comes I can no longer keep this debt at 0%, I will take a Heloc draw and finance it that way. Meanwhile, it is (oh so) slowly decreasing.
Nothing newsy here. SB and I continue to live our quiet little life in the woods; I continue to commute to the big town with 11k people and be gainfully employed.
Heres how it went in February.
Income - In addition to my one-time bonus, I received my federal and state income tax refunds. I filed with 1040.com this year.
Unbudgeted spending was mostly misc household items and medical supplies I picked up at Rite Aid (125.96). I bought two tickets for a community theater production (36.00), had to pay for a lost Netflix disc (15.02), paid to file my state tax return (4.95), and used up 2.76 of a 54.00 annual renewal for Allstate Motor Club. (I no longer need it).
So, all in all, not too bad. Im making progress towards my goal of building up my savings.
Here is how my January budget plan shook out:
Wages - I worked some OT. I took some as pay and banked some in my Comp Time hours.
Repay NB - I was asked and chose to agree to a 2 week extension. Instead of two $200 repayments, I received one. The other should be arriving any day. I am not worried about this.
Groceries - We were eating down our pantry and so spent less than usual. It's really best to not stock up when you have very limited space, a lesson we are still learning.
Unbudgeted spending: An area which continues to be a struggle for me. $141.59. This included several meals out and a $24.99 purchase on Google Play - season 9 of Sister Wives, my guilty pleasure. It also includes $36 at a drug store for medical type supplies.
I did manage to sock $540.72 aeay in savings, in addition to sinking funds.
All in all, I'm pleased with the month.
As I have mentioned, I have become enamored with fancypants planners. I've even taken to watching YouTube channels about "planning". Videos depicting laying out a week or a budget or what-have-you are called plan with me videos.
I have no interest in starting a YouTube channel, but I thought I might give plan with me blog posts a try. How is the picture quality? Can you read it?
And please don't get too excited about my "leftover" money; it's only that high because I am expecting a short-term $400 loan to be repaid.
Edit: I don't like it. I will try to get a better picture. Tomorrow.
Update: that's better.
Wages - both of my paychecks were for 10 days (rather than 11) in April.
Other Income - included a work bonus, my side gig, and some credit card rewards.
Cash Allowance - I gave myself an extra $100 to cover expenses for our weekend in Bodega Bay.
dining out 376.63 (!!)
hair cut 20.00
Pokemon Go 9.99
Allergy Dr. 6.05
Better late than never, right?
Utilities are low because...I neglected to pay my electric bill. I just forgot. Never before in my 30+ years of adulthood have I "just forgot" to pay a utility bill. My goodness. I looked at it a dozen times or so, there on my list of bills to pay, not highlighted, and it never clicked that "Oh, I need to PAY this".
Savings did not happen, but I also paid for my root canal and plane ticket (see below) without pulling from savings.
Everything else this month:
Balance of new roof and gutters - 9,550.00
dentist (root canal) - 550.00
airline ticket - 291.20
dining out - 182.83
gift cards - 60.00
clothes - 57.13
Plum Paper Planner - 52.89
oil change - 44.27
OTC allergy - 16.74
purse insert - 6.99
Pokemon Go - 4.99
My new roof and rain gutters are installed and look great. I am very pleased with the quality. Now there is just the small matter of paying for them. I did pull $700 from GS Savings to throw at the Heloc debt. Only 9.4k to go.
The airline ticket is for the trip Mom and I are making next weekend to Spokane to visit my cousin and his wife.
The dining out and gift card expenses are related to birthdays. I have a lot of friend birthdays in March.
I must now confess that I bought myself a fancypants planner! And...I just love it. It is nothing but an indulgence. The paper is creamy smooth, the colors are lovely, it has tabbed sections for each month. I have a place to track my bills, my debt progress, my savings progress, etc., all on beautiful paper which I can touch.
And for the first time I spent real dollars to play a virtual game. I have been playing Pokemon Go enthusiastically since last July. The game has a built in limit of how many pokemon you can have at any one time. With the release of Gen 2 pokemon, I was bumping the limit. I had to pay real money to increase my "storage" limit. Otherwise, I was in grave danger of not being able to catch 'em all.
Wages - The second pay period of the month had only 9 work days, which made for a little pay check.
Other Income - My state and federal income tax refunds, as well as a bit of CC rewards.
Everything Else -
dining out 212.31
clothes and purse - 194.84
medical co-pay 60.00
annual road service club - 43.50
Rx co-pays 40.72
CVS - allergy pills, hygiene products 32.79
Here is my January budget report. I paid my January mortgage payment in December. In January, I paid the balance on my Citi Double Cash Card from December's statement. It was not due until 1/8, so that worked out OK.
Everything Else this month was:
wall repair 1260
American Heart Assn 100
CVS medical supplies 47.62
movie tickets 16
Rx co-pay 10
The repair to my leaking wall was pricey.
SB and I bought a new mattress and split the cost. It's the first piece of furniture we have co-purchased. It is one of those which gets delivered in a box and you unfold it. It is surprisingly comfortable. SB chose it. I think we will be getting a topper of some kind too.
The American Heart Association donation is in memory of my cousin once removed who died last September. Several of his immediate family and good friends have formed a team and are doing a 5k walk.
The library fine is for a book J's dog ate! Bad dog.
The movie tickets were a splurge. SB's favorite movie of all time is The Princess Bride. It's one of my favorites, too. Our local indie movie house is showing it on Valentine's Day.
Income - one additional day's pay
Savings - fell short of my goal
Utilities - paid J's cell bill twice
Groceries - so close
Gasoline - buying gas for just me now; J is buying his own
Everything Else - This month I spent $340 at the dentist. A visit each for J and I, plus I had two cavities so I got two fillings. I paid the GP another $100 for J's office visit. His medical card was expired, even though he is still covered. I will submit a claim for partial reimbursement.
I have to say, I think it is going very well using cash for groceries, gas, and my personal allowance. Categorizing my credit card transactions is a snap, even if I am using more than one rewards card.
I had a 10 work-day paycheck, so that left my income a little light. I also enjoyed a raise in July, so that helped.
I expect to go a little over on the mortgage, because I round up to enjoy having an even balance.
As I noted earlier, savings was anemic in July.
Did great on utilities. I am expecting my natural gas bill to drop soon, maybe one more month of paying $68. I currently have a credit balance. I am on balanced bill pay, so I have to keep paying $68 until they recalculate.
Have been doing great on groceries, which is all thanks to SB. He takes the time to visit different stores on his way home from work. He will stop at a grocery outlet and see what they have for cheap, then cook meals around that. He does an awesome job. He does most of the cooking, too. I really can't complain.
Everything else this month included my new phone (184.43), a trip to the dentist for J (85.00) as well as miscellaneous household. The phone was just a want, but everything else was necessary.
And now for the exciting news...J has started another part-time job! He is keeping his first one. This one will give him about 25 hours per week. He is very happy about the job. He will earn enough money to start saving for some things he wants as well as take over more of his own expenses. I'm so glad for him. MrsM180 helped him get his foot in the door. I always enjoy catching one of my kids being nice to the other.
And I won't lie, I'm excited about the positive impact to my own budget. I want to reach my goals.
Bill Fixers was able to reduce my internet bill by $13.96 per month. Not much, but something. I have to pay them half of it, so I am ahead $6.98 per month.
In other budget news, I cancelled my gym membership. A payment was due in July, and that is that. So, there is another $19.99 per month ahead.
I have added dvd service to my Netflix, and will probably keep that for a few months. Our list of movies we wanted to see which are disc only grew to the point it made sense to restart that service. I got the first month free, but afterwards will pay $12 per month.
So as you know, I recently switched to cash only for groceries, gas, and personal spending. Since I had previously used rewards cards for those things, in July I had to pay some of June's charges, plus pay as I go for July. (For budgeting purposes, I count spending when I make a charge, not when I pay it.) As it turns out, I am also parting with the cash for two electric bill payments in July*, which is further impeding my cash flow. It is a temporary bottleneck and will ease next month. However, July's savings account deposits are very anemic.
* My electric company bills me around the 5th or so, and I need to pay by the 20th or so. Usually, I use my Citi DoubleCash MasterCard to pay the electric company. The Citi billing cycle cuts off around the 6th of the month, so I typically charge the electric bill on the 10th. When I get paid on the 15th, I pay the charges which appear on Citi's statement from the 6th. In practice, I don't part with the cash for June's electric bill until July 15th. Which I have just done.
In the pursuit of credit card rewards, I have recently applied for and received the new Ally Visa. The sign-up offer is to spend $500 in the first 3 months and receive a $100 bonus. Since my electric bill is $252 per month, I decided to use it twice to pay my electric bill, thus I don't need to bother with it further. So, I used it this past July 10 to pay July's electric bill. And then the statement cycle closed, and I need to pay by August 12th. A bit inconvenient as that's 3 days before payday. So, I just paid it tonight. That $252 is coming out of my planned savings account transfer.
I will use the Ally card for August's electric bill and pay that in August too.
In September, I will go back to using Citi DoubleCash and won't need to pay that statement charge until October, thus picking up a bit of extra cash flow to throw into savings.
So there you have it. Other than that, just plugging along as usual here at Chez Petunia.
This month is a bit different in that I have credit card charges for gasoline and groceries, plus I withdrew cash at the end of the month for 2 weeks of gasoline and groceries.
Withdrawing cash for my personal allowance is not new, but I did decide to increase it beyond what I had originally budgeted.
May was brutal for extra expenses around here. Since I use rewards cards as much as possible, I won't have to fork over the money until June. I skipped budgeted savings and instead sent every penny possible to credit cards, in effect prepaying June's bills. I shouldn't need to touch GS Savings (emergency fund) at all, but WF savings (curveball fund) will be hit hard.
Rent - BF pitched in an extra $200 to help with the new hot water heater.
Groceries - An amazing coincidence.
Utilities - J's cell phone carrier (Republic Wireless) charged me on the 1st and 31st, so an extra $29.95.
Everything Else - Car repairs came in at $1266.82, new hot water heater totaled $847.81, car registration for J was $115.00, new puppy expenses paid by me were $104.82. May was also a big graduation and birthday month in my extended family, so another $133.76 was spent there. Medical co-pays were $64.08.
I'm almost afraid to put it in words, but I am hoping June holds no unexpected expenses.
Everything else this month included 138.00 for income taxes, 123.64 for medical, 36.86 for J's oil change, a new purse and wallet, and several dinners out.
I received a nice bonus and so tucked some extra money into my traditional IRA and my E fund.
I have a girlfriend who is the accounting manager of a small manufacturing company located in a nearby small town. She gave me a heads up that they will be hiring several entry-level employees for the factory soon. She gave the h.r. person J's name, and J has applied to the temp agency they use. Fingers crossed that J will have a full-time job soon.
I need to have some things done around the house. I had two shingles blow off in the last storm, so I want a roofer to replace them and take a look. My house was built in 1991 and the roof is original. I want to price some stamped concrete work for the backyard. In the front yard, I have a hedge which is just out of control. I allowed it to grow up and swallow two small trees. The hedge made a lovely barrier between us and the crazy neighbor. Now that he is gone, I feel the space would be better utilized as a parking space. We think we can handle the hedge and tree removal ourselves. If not, I will hire someone. To pour the concrete pad, I will definitely hire someone.
So, these expenses are going to slow down my E fund progress. I am going to try to pay for these expenses without resorting to debt. I really love having no debt other than the mortgage, and I really want to keep it that way.
Have you Saving Advice peeps heard about this?
This is a new company which will negotiate your cable, phone, and internet bills for you. They charge you half of your first year's savings to do it. If they can't help, you don't pay.
I'm thinking of letting them have a go at my Comcast internet bill, which is too high.
I'm very glad to be back to tracking my spending closely. Getting away from it makes overspending even easier. Here is my budget report:
Wages: A bit short because I budget based on 11 day pay periods. However, the occasional 10 day and 12 day pay periods do happen.
Rent: I agreed with SB that he would not pay rent on 1/5 as he had one last set of utility bills at his house to pay.
Other: Includes my state income tax refund, part-time job income, credit card rewards, and interest income.
Mortgage: January's mortgage payment was made in December.
Groceries: We supplemented meals heavily with what was already in the pantry. Sweet!
Utilities: I paid my gas bill twice. It used to be due around the 15th, but now is due on the 7th. In January, the first business day was the 4th. That did not leave much time for the electronic payment to arrive on time. I decided to pay a second time in January, so I don't have to worry about that happening again.
Savings: Happy to be over budget on savings.
Car payment: Happy to be over budget on car payment.
Cash Allowance: Trimmed it because I knew I was over elsewhere.
Gasoline: Has gone up now that J has a part-time job in a nearby town. However, J is now saving for his own car insurance. Recently, he got a friend to teach him how to change his brake pads as they needed changing. He paid for the parts himself. What a good kid.
Everything Else: $822 is for car insurance. $596.08 is for medical co-pays. If not for those, I would have come in at budget.
All in all, I am pleased with my spending for January. Since my car is now paid in full, I will re-direct that $350 into savings. Extra bits of income will also be re-directed into savings.
So here is my updated zero based budget.
I am very excited to have a budgeted amount for extra principal to my car loan. And of course, I will continue to throw income from my second job, credit card rewards, and anything else I can scare up towards it.
I am contributing $400 per month to my Simple IRA. My zbb is based on my net pay, so there is no line item for Simple IRA contributions.
So the last of my money transferred in and I have now been repaid in full. Oh, that feels good.
I have been working on my written budget, as I am getting back to tracking my spending each and every month. I really fell off the wagon with that. The budget is mostly done, but I will wait to see my paycheck before I finalize. This will be my first paycheck since changing my withholding and Simple IRA contribution amounts.
My budget is getting leaner. Child support has ended (good-bye $433 per month). My PITI payment has jumped to $1194.16, an increase of $113.52.
I am still paying J's car expenses for now. He had a job interview last week but did not get the job. He is still looking.
BF is accruing rent, but not actually paying it yet. No offers on the house yet either. BF did decide that we need lawn service as he doesn't have time to fiddle with it, and he is paying for that.
So, I have no choice but to re-jigger (is that a word?) my numbers.
I've gotten a bit lax about tracking my spending. I know it's been over, (waaaay over) and I just don't want to look! But as of June 1, I am back to tracking each dollar.
I'm not going to be able to pay my credit card bill in full this month. There have just been too many big expenses in the past few months. Big dental bills for both J and I (I have no dental insurance, J's new dental insurance is not accepted at our dentist), prom, senior trip, big car repair, and ouch-y high car insurance, all on top of everything else. They have ganged up and made a formidable enemy! I will be able to get away with paying no interest, which is a small comfort.
So, how am I adjusting my budget? Much as I hate to do it, I have eliminated the $50 extra car loan principal payment. I have trimmed CurveBall to $300, which is not enough. Further, I'm going to have to use it for credit card debt repayment for a bit.
I have trimmed my grocery budget from $550 to $500, which I'm not entirely certain I can do. That's groceries for me, J, two dogs, and general household supplies. MrsM180 and hubby buy their own groceries, and BF picks up some groceries. However, we really don't have a hands-off policy on general items. We tend to make enough dinner for everyone, regardless of who bought the groceries. And when it comes to milk, salad dressing, bread, we just share. When it comes to specialty items, we tend to ask the purchaser if it is OK to have some, but people mostly say "yes". I'm not going to tell someone who is hungry that they can't have my granola bar, or whatever.
So in short, I'm not real tickled, but it is what it is. For now, this is what it is.
There are some changes brewing on my horizon, and as a result I am changing some of my short-term goals.
What are the changes? I want to move, and I will be giving my son my car as a graduation present. So, I'm going to need some cash.
I spent more on vacation than planned (of course!), including a very unplanned repair bill for a rented ATV. My son was not seriously injured, so that was good. I have drained my vacation fund and tapped my curveball fund, but I continue to have no credit card debt.
I have renamed "vacation fund", its new name is "car fund". This will be to purchase my next car. I will not be taking another vacation until after my next car is bought and paid for.
I will no longer be chipping at my mortgage, but instead will be piling up all of the cash that I can.
Yesterday I received a rebate check for $6.67, as well as a payment from HauserNet for $4.25. I have added both to car fund. Combined with the $1.97 which was already there, I am up to $12.89. Not much of a car there yet.
I will be changing up my budget a bit. I will post that when I know if I got a raise on 7/1 or not. I won't know until next payday (7/15).
My plan once I have moved and gotten settled is to purchase a condo. Not sure yet if I will go for a 1 or 2 bedroom. Either way, I expect my total housing cost to be much, much lower than it is now.
Yesterday I received $160 from my part-time job, which has gone off to E Fund. Inching ever closer to 2 months of take home pay.
My NFL rewards Visa statement closed yesterday. I had 10,550 rewards points available which I redeemed for a statement credit.
So, I had $1,408.15 sitting in checking with nothing due for the rest of the month. But, I have things going on. Namely, my new 6 month auto insurance premium (will be cancelling the old one with 3 months left, but still, that is 3 months out of pocket now), my new homeowner's insurance premium (will have to wait for refund from current company), the new vacuum cleaner I charged, the $75 gas cards charged at Staples (it will take up to 8 weeks to receive my $25 credit), and I am getting a 100k tune-up on the car today, which will be about $500. I don't have to cough up any of this money now, but it is only a matter of time.
Here is what I did:
$445.54 to NFL rewards Visa (balance less $105.50)
_280.44 to WF rewards Visa
__75.00 to American Express
___7.17 to CurveBall Fund
This left $600.00 in checking, so I am done.
Neither the WF nor AmEx statements have even closed yet, so the payments were VERY early.
Notice, I have ended up using my NFL rewards Visa sign-up bonus towards expenses instead of as a mortgage chip. I'm not thrilled about this, but keeping credit card debt out of my life is a higher priority.
Also, I have not sent much extra to CurveBall. But hopefully, I am making it possible to avoid dipping in next month.
I felt a bit of panic when CurveBall dipped down to $54 two months ago; it's offering more cushion now.
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