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January Update

January 9th, 2022 at 01:42 am

Happy New Year!

Fiscally speaking, we are on an upward trend.  I'm participating in UFMC and the only items purchased so far are printer paper and highlighters (outside of gas and groceries).  Youngest son needs a new winter coat and is now man-sized so I'm hoping to find something suitable at Kohl's where I can use a coupon and store credit toward the purchase.

Work is a beast - I'm still in the special ed 3rd/4th grade class (behavior issues and emotional problems).  I'm covering a medical leave since the start of school and I'm now considered "long-term sub" status and am making around $40/hour.  This is an unexpected bounty, so we're moving forward on new flooring and upgrades to the townhome.  And getting ahead on everything.

401K contribution is at 12%, HSA annual contribution for 2022 is set for $5,000.  Net worth is at $665,000.  Saved $2,300 so far in January.  

That's about it for now.


Plan for Jan(uary)

December 4th, 2021 at 11:35 pm


Hello SA Friends.

It's been a long minute since I've posted anything here.  Our financial situation is greatl improved as we are now mortgage-free,  only have one as opposed to three in college, I am employed full-time as a substitute teacher in special education through June, and the SO is still employed although still under the threat of layoffs at end of Q1-2022.

My goals for January are to be 1.5-2 months ahead on our bills and sinking funds starting January, have 15% of SO's salary going into 401K, and investing $2.5-$3K per month.  I'm not sure how long we'll be able to maintain that momentum and if it is reasonable, but it's a goal.

We also have $4,000 currently saved for our home improvement campaign which will involve redoing our fireplace ($1,500 estimate) and new flooring on our first floor (open concept).  I had grand and expensive plans and decided that there are things within reason that will give the place a whole new feel without breaking the bank.  I've decided to keep my repainted cabinets (painted professionally one year ago) and just install new hardware and counter tops.  I also am torn about my sectional which is too large for the space and what to replace it with.  Anyhow, it is good to have funds earmarked for the project and economic choice is easier when you actually have money to budget.

We did some Christmas shopping today and while I won't say I'm embracing minimalism, I will say that I no longer wish to surprise my children with gifts I think are awesome: its now what they would like (whether an item or money).  I did enjoy buying a nice winter coat and hat/gloves/scarf for a 6 year old girl in my high school son's adopt-a-family in his homeroom class.  I am thankful that my daughter is home after modeling in Capetown, South Africa, and my family is healthy and mostly happy.

Off to catch up on the blogs now.  Happy Holidays!

August Update

August 7th, 2021 at 02:34 am

Hard to believe that August is here and school is just around the corner.  I worked summer school (special ed, grades 1 and 2, in the RISE program (Reaching Independence through Strucuted Environment). It was overall a debacle - 20 days of understaffed classrooms with no access to curriculum and the bright idea that THIS was the summer to track IEP goals).  The only good thing about it is that I made enough money for a makeover of my fireplace - $330 for the tile and $970 labor.  

Our money life remains on autopilot since were mortgage free now.  SO's net salary covers all of our expenses in the following broad spending categories: $1,425 for all bills (utilities/insurance/HOA, etc), $1,025 for all living (groceries/gas/miscellany), $1,000 for property taxes on two properies, and $1,000 for Short-Term Expenses.  Our short term expenses for August so far have been $556 for an auto repair (I broke the axel on my 2012 Nissan Versa) and $400 toward travel for SO to go our to the West Coast to visit our daughter.  We have one dependent under 17, so we qualify for the $250 and that's going toward his back to school expenses and tuition.   Our other income (passive from rental property) is going to savings as well as any other money we make from property management for my father.  

Our net worth is somewhere arounde $650K.  Property values are $284K on the townhome and $290K on the rental property.  Our investments are at $100K.  My goal is starting in September to invest $3,000 per month.  We've accomplished a lot of what we wanted to for home improvements to the new place.  We will need to upgrade our vehicles though: one in a 2007 Honda Odyssey and the other is the Versa.

That's about all that is new here.

Reboot and Updates

June 26th, 2021 at 04:37 pm

We officially became mortgage free back in April.  It was immediate relief to get the mortgage monkey off of our backs after being house poor and paycheck to paycheck living for too many years.  I wish I could say that I immediate jumped into a different canoe and began paddling upstream toward financial responsibility, but that wasn't the case.

We didn't spend recklessly nor needlessly, I just failed to track and monitor the nitty gritty details.  We paid $1,800 to carpet our family room where our boys sleep.  I spent $500 on a matress and bed for youngest, $300 for desks for the boys, we spent $800 on needed car repairs and helped oldest daughter with $300 towards car repairs for her vehicle; club soccer was $750 for the spring season, and $600 miscellaneous travel (air fare to California for several of us and hotel for out of state soccer tournament).  I have also regularly contributed to the property taxes due in October.

However it was time to go back to tracking and having some goals for our money, so that officially started yesterday with SO's paycheck.  Put $525 to Living Expenses, $750 to Bills, $500 to Taxes, and remainder to Short Term Savings/Expenses.  My youngest son headed to California this week for a month with his oldest sister and was in need of some new clothing so I headed to Goodwill first and then the outlet mall next and spend within reason.

Our goal is to having all bills and some savings from SO's net paychecks with are every other week.  I'd like to invest the passive income from the rental property.  I'm also working summer school which is for one month but a regular paycheck (I usually sub) and I'm hoping to put those funds toward home upgrades and maintenance and travel.  I'm tracking out net worth which is currently at $671,000.

My goals for 6/25-7/8 is to track all spending and start getting quotes on new flooring for the main level of our townhome and new windows on the rental property just for planning purposes. 

Hoping to post here more regularly so I have a place to document this new phase of our financial journey.

Easing Into Financial Security

April 24th, 2021 at 12:51 am

We are almost one month post sale of our previous home.  I achieved the monthly goals of

1) $1,000 to 401K

2) $1,500 to Vanguard

3) $1,650 to Chase Savings

I also earned a $200 bonus from opening a checking account at Chase - I transferred that to my vacation fund over at PNC - so that's now $1,200 (waiting on a $650 refund from Disney).  Our May fixed bills (utilities/insurance/HOA) will be paid in full from the 4/30 paycheck.  Our living expenses have remained low for April, so I have money left in each budget category.  

My girls are on the West Coast for a few months; older daughter signed with a talent agency in Utah and is branching out to acting (she's been in the Chicago arena and done American Greed, Empire, Chicago PD, and Chicago Med.)  The living expenses are lower with half of the kids gone.  I expect our travel expenses to increase since I was just there for almost two weeks and plan on going back after the school year ends (I sub in the schools and in our area the kids have been back since January).  

Very odd not to be stressing about things.  I can get used to this. Smile


April Finanical Snapshot and General Goals

April 10th, 2021 at 01:15 am

It is very nice to live life without the mortgage monkey on our backs.  We closed on the house on March 24th and it took a week everything to be moved around.  I repaid the kids and deposited their funds back into their Vanguards.  My parents lent us money to do repairs and cover unexpected expenses, so they are paid back.  I upped the 401K contribution to 11% for SO.  I deposited the rest into the money market and need to meet with a finanical advisor on how to allocate, etc.

We do have an EF at $15,000 at a local bank.  I did put $500 into each of our individual checking accounts for whatever: my spenders can spend and my savers can save.  I was also rear-ended and ended up with $2,100 settlement which I put into a vacation fund.  I also have $10,000 for upgrades to the new townhome; so far we only plan on spending to carpet the family room first.  

Based on the new budget for April, here are the goals and accomplished so far after 4/2

Save $1,000 to 401(k) - $500/$1000 (Expected to complete 4/16)

Save $1,500 to Vanguard - $750/$1,500 (Expected to complete 4/16)

Save $1,650 to Chase Account - $0/$1,650 (Rent expected 4/15)


Reboot. Destination: Financial Stability and Freedom

March 25th, 2021 at 03:25 am

It is official. We closed the contract on the previous primary residence. It was not without anxiety and chaos, but nothing really to retell as it all worked out in the end (as of 9:00 AM CST this morning).  

We are now currently mortgage free, paying cash for our townhome in September 2020.

We also own our rental property outright, and that yield $1,650 monthly passive income.

We deposited the equity check into our savings account today and will move it to Vanguard when the funds are available. I have upped the 401K contribution to 11% for SO.  We actually banked all of the stimulus payment 3 and managed to maintain a $10K EF.  I was in a car accident on Thursday with normal whip lash as a result, and State Farm offered me $2,100 and I accepted.  

I can breathe a huge sigh of relief.  We actually managed to accomplish what we had hoped for and it all should be much simpler and straighforward now.  Life and finances included.

Closing Date. Survived Paycheck to Paycheck Living.

March 21st, 2021 at 05:04 pm

We are set to close on the sale of our previous primary residence this Wednesday.  We are signing the papers and giving them to our attorney today, so no need for us to show up.

We have settled nicely into our new townhome that we downsized to. We did a major declutter and purge and pared down our possessions.  We have made some changes to the family room in the basement which is now a man cave where our 18 and 16 years olds sleep (still need some functional furniture, and can now finally afford it).

I have reworked the budget and without this mortgage monkey off of our backs, we will be able to save 50% of SO's takehome pay.  I'm subbing part-time, so anything I make is extraneous.  

Reminder: we liquidated all of our assets, borrowed our children's money and paid cash for the townhome.  We are paying everyone back in full with additional "appreciation funds" for them to spend or save.

I had perseverated about funding a trip to Miami earlier in the month, but SO ended up with an unexpected bonus that funded the trip.  My older daughter just signed with a modeling agency in Cape Town, South Africa, and I'll be able to afford to visit her.  My younger daughter has opted to finish her second semester remotely, so she and her sister will be driving to California to spend April to June at the condo. I found one-way air there for $23 from Chicago to LAX. So I'm joining them.  

Just so thankful that we're finally on the brink of a brighter money future!

Waiting Impatiently

March 9th, 2021 at 09:18 pm

We are waiting on the closing date for the sale of the previous primary residence.  It cannot get here fast enough.  I'm expecting within two weeks.  I'm anxious to start a budget for April -- the first time without the mortgage monkey on our backs sucking our funds and energy.  

The SO is in Miami with my daughters.  The older one had a shoot yesterday and is meeting with agencies today.  Tomorrow they are going to Disney World.  SO's bonus funded this trip. So win-win on the money front.

I've taken older son back to college after his Spring Break and it is just me and the youngest.  Boy, I have realized that I much prefer a full house than an empty one!  But I'm enjoying the unseasonably warm Midwest sunshine and doing a massive purge and declutter.  Going to be doing a second run to Goodwill today.  Less stuff is definitely better, and I'm past the point where "this stuff cost me money and let me try to sell it and get some back."  

Looking forward to smoother sailing and a budget reboot and some actual savings goals!


Closing Date: Pending

February 21st, 2021 at 03:38 pm

4th Offer on Previous Primary Residence was a success.  Inspection and appraisal were uneventful and sometime tomorrow we will know the closing date.  I am so thankful that we are going to have the mortgage monkey off of our backs. 

I can now start working on the new budget for April 2021 (Reboot for us will be Quarter 2!).  We will be able to save at least $3,000.00 a month before my pay as a sub is included.

Since we are dwindling down with cash poor and paycheck to paycheck existence, it's rather an odd feeling.  There was an unexpected upcoming trip for our oldest; she is off to Miami for work and her father and sister are joining her.  Airfare is thankfully inexpensive, hotel prices should be manageable, and the worst expense is the fee for driving a rental car from one city to another.  I was fretting a bit about how to cash flow this; and then SO got notification that his company is still paying out a bonus this year.  

Looking forward to swimming upstream instead of treading water and staying in one place - although afloat is better than sinking.


One Step Closer and an Unplanned Trip

February 13th, 2021 at 09:40 pm

Today was the inspection at our house for sale; we signed a contract last Monday.  Our realtor updates us that the inspection went well and didn't appear to present any major issues that the potential buyers were concerned about.  We disclosed a chimney issue and provided estimates ($3.5K for the rebuild) (last contract that fell through might have been from the fact that our realtor provided an incomplete disclosure - I am not thrilled with her and won't recommend, but am trying to only entertain the positives of situations).  So I am hoping that we are one step closer to the sale of the property.  We are looking to close around March 25th.

Once the sale of the house is complete, we will be mortgage free.  I am wondering if I should make automatic contributions to the 401K for SO at 10% or 15%.  

My daughter has to travel to FL in March for work.  SO is going to go with her.  I hadn't anticipated having to fund a trip while we are still cash poor and paycheck to paycheck.  Happily airfare to FL is affordable.  We'll have to factor in hotel/car rental/meals and DisneyWorld.   This trip is in 3 weeks.  So far I have $150 cash.  I am hoping to do the lowest spend possible this week (eat from pantry, limit any extraneous spending) and roll into payday the 19th with another $250-$300.   This may be the last time we'll have to stretch the dollars til they scream with the elimination of the mortgage and $9K in property tax), so I'm trying to see it as a challenge rather than a struggle.

I worked half-days this week with success; maybe COVID fatigue is finally diminishing, although there is still strangely no smell or taste at all.

February Check-In

February 9th, 2021 at 11:46 pm

Boy, the Midwest is in a cold snap and I don't like it too much.  This is after a week in Southern California with a daily temp in the high 60s/low to mid 70s.  Daily life is still no smell and no taste, though my energy is finally returning.  Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms are manageable.  I've given up caffeine and the insomnia has lessened since I'm on a schedule and I am taking melatonin as needed.

Financially, it's still cash poor and paycheck-to-paycheck living.  But we're managing to make it work with prioritizing the bills and economic choice.  We did travel to Southern California (me and two kids, for one week for $850 all inclusive).  This was funded by Christmas gifts and diverting some of the regular budget funds.

The first contract fell through on our old house that is on the market; the second was what I considered to be a low-ball offer with a three month contingency (their home wasn't even listed); third offer was $335K and we did a take it or leave it offer at $367.5K but their max budget was $350.  [House is currently listed at $390K].  Fourth offer was $350K but we met at $370K with no contingency and 45 day close.  Contract was signed on Sunday, so here's hoping that it goes through to completion.  

That's about it for now.  



Real Estate Updates and Ridiculously Cheap Travel

January 26th, 2021 at 11:18 pm

So there was another low-ball offer on the house, like $55K less than asking price.

We decided what our lowest sell price is ($20K less than current asking price) and did a Take It or Leave It offer with 24 hours to accept.  I'm still recovering from COVID (fatigue is lingering and some days I am more tired than others).  My realtor was surprised that I didn't comment on the kind note that the young couple wrote when they submitted the offer. My honest response was "I stopped reading when I saw how low-ball it was."

My biological father told me that real estate is all emotions, and once you take them out of the equation, you're better off.  That is true.  I've decided that it will sell in its own time, at a reasonable price, and we will not sink our cash boat that has kept afloat all the years we couldn't really afford the house.  That's where I'm at.  Tired, but hopeful.

I am going to the West Coast from the Midwest next Sunday for one week. I  am travelling with Children 1 and 4.  Child 1 has to meet with her agent and has some work lined up.  Child 4 is just coming along for the ride.  We have all had Covid.  We are all now out of quarantine for at least a month.  And this is costing next to nothing.  Round trip air fare from Chicago to Santa Ana is $97 (Spirit with one stop over in Las Vegas - going there it is 45 min, coming back it is 2 hours).  And car rental for a week is under $100.  It was $400 for three of us to fly R/T and the car rental.  We stay in my parents condo and we shop at Trader Joes and mostly eat in, except from In N Out.  

Here is just hoping a good 2021 for all of us.

Life Updates

January 20th, 2021 at 03:28 am

Well, the house is still on the market - the initial contract fell through.  Inventory is low, but things aren't moving.  Until it sells, we remain cash poor and paycheck to paycheck living.  We did turn down a ridiculous lowball offer when four of us were in the throes of Covid.  So for now its day by day and we hope for an offer.

The residual effects of Covid for me are extreme fatigue and no taste or smell yet.  I have returned to subbing - but only for 1/2 days last week and this week I'm really feeling just too tired.  I am so happy that my kids came through it easier, maybe this is where youth is definitely on your side.  Yet another family friend passed away Sunday of Covid.  Again, can't even really talk about it to process it.  It's not denial, just self-preservation.  And then there is the reality of life with SADD.

I was going to participate in Frugalwoods Uber Frugal Month Challenges, but decided just to adopt a low-spend month.  I budgeted $500 for gas/groceries/everything else (all spending outside of mortgage and fixed bills) for the first half of the month.  I'm happy to say that we only spent $350.  The remainder I used to pay for College Student #2's books for the upcoming semester.  We also found out that the Pell Grant for College Student #1 was $3,100 rather than $700, that was a welcomed surprise.

We remain waiting for our Stimulus Payment #2 because we were part of the Tax Act-IRS fiasco.  It will be a nice addition when it arrives, supposedly to be deposited 2/1 or shortly thereafter.  

Goals for remainder of month: Maintain a spending threshold of $350 for the balance of the month for all discretionary spending.  

Update: Covid and Stimulus

January 10th, 2021 at 07:44 pm

I am almost two weeks post diagnosis of Covid.  I am happy to say that my family has bounced back quicker than I did, and that my daughter with asthma didn't spiral badly out of control which was my greatest fear.  My cough is gone mostly and I am not only tired; the extreme fatigue tired symptoms lessened two or three days ago.  Finally today I was motivated enough to make a batch of chili and help pack up my son who is returning to his college campus.

Our stimulus was hijacked because of diffiuclties with TaxAct and the IRS.  It is claimed that the funds should be deposited into our checking account sometimes this week.  I am hopeful, as the primary residence is still on the market and we rejected a very low-ball offer.  I just need to trust that it will sell, be thankful that I have a small EF, and continue to cut corners where we can from the budget box.

My only goals this week are to drink 40 ounces of water a day, 4 NSDs, read daily, and try to get outside for a walk every day.  SADD is ususally kicking me to the curb by this time of the year, but I'm attributing the curb kicking was due to Covid.

That's it in my small corner of the world. 

January 2021 Concrete Goals; Life in the Covid fog

January 3rd, 2021 at 07:42 pm

Health update: All of us who have tested are positive for Covid.  I can say that I am not feeling as though I am dying quite as badly or quickly as several days ago.  The shortness of breath is the worst - and as a person who has SOB due to anxiety, this is a double-edged sword.  We are monitoring the oxygen saturation levels here and I have done a breathing treatment or two with the nebulizer, but the albuterol causes an edge.  No win situation for anyone.  But some of us are feeling better and we are receiving help from family who shop and drop.  I did watch the Queens Gambit and enjoyed it.  SO watched Cobra Kai.  We have finished a jigsaw puzzle also.  And I did get a late Christmas present in the mail which was tea.  I enjoyed that.

I also found out that my previous SIL's father died of Covid.  He was a doctor who treated patients with Covid.  He was only 73 and in good health.  I can't really talk about this pandemic anymore - might actually crush me in the process.  But I'm trying to take it one day at a time.


1) 20 NSDs in the month of January (So far 3/3 because of illness - not discipline)

2) $3,500 in savings account (anticipated $1,800 stimulus and $1,650 rental property income and $50 from savings)

We rejected a very lowball contingent offer on the house.  Like $50K less that what the price was just dropped to) and three months.  Being too sick to even ponder about it, SO and I decided to just decline. We're hoping for a reasonable offer soon.  

Off to catch up on the blogs; hope my fellow SA-ers are doing well. 


Ready for 2021

December 30th, 2020 at 07:55 pm

Well, another child has tested positive for Covid.  We are waiting on results for yet another one and I am getting myself tested today.  What a discouraging fog we're going around in.  I have been beyond tired and am not sure that the shortness of breath is anxiety or not.  

We reduced the price on our house by $10K and received a ridiculously low contingent offer that we passed on.  No sense counter offering to something reasonable when they want three months escrow and hope to sell their current home that our realtor feels is very overpriced for the area.  It's discouraging and tiresome, but I'm thankful that we're able to last paycheck to paycheck and cash poor for another duration.  Some people are not as lucky.

I have no real goals for 2021 at the moment.  But I look forward to seeing fellow SA'ers goals.

Happy New Year.

Merry Christmas!

December 26th, 2020 at 01:55 am

Wishing all the SA Family a wonderful Christmas; I hope it was a good one.

Concentrating on our positives and blessings.  Despite contract being cancelled on our primary home for sale and the nasty Covid virus coming to my house.

We are fortunate that those infected aren't doing horrid and have oxygen saturation levels at 99% (despite one having asthma).  And the house will sell.

Rejiggered the budget for less aggressive savings goals and need to be serious about a No Spend January.




New Beginnings

December 18th, 2020 at 12:24 am

For the first time we will no longer be cash-poor, paycheck-to-paycheck survivors eeking by.

We are set to close on the sale of the old house 1/15-1/25.  After we reimburse our kids accounts and parents, we are expecting $90K left over.  Value of townhome recently purchased cash: $260K, value of rental property owned outright: $300K with passive annual income of $20K (annual expenses $6K, net profit $14K).

I am committed to having goals and being proactive.  We should be able to save an additional $25K outside of regular contributions to the 401K and IRA.

I have already increased the 401K contribution for SO's account from 1% to 15%.

I am able to jump into budgeting YNAB style with January's income going to February expenses.

I am also planning on participating in the Uber Frugal Month over with Frugalwoods.  We've managed to adjust well to life in the townhome here with all the old stuff, though there are a few things I may pick up before January (ornament storage bins, pantry storage bins, shower curtain).  Smile

I am just thankful for new beginnings after so much time of trying to make it all work.

Happy 1st Birthday to this Blog

December 14th, 2020 at 05:07 am

Hard to believe that this version of my blog rebooted on December 10th of last year.  

It's been a busy year, aside from Covid.

I was fortunate to travel to Southern California in February, March, and October.  It is the place where I feel I live my best and happiest life; not sure exactly why. Probably has something to do with relief from SADD, love of the Pacific Ocean, and the general lifestyle in the Laguna Beach area.

It was definitely a year of accomplishing things and I generally suffer from analysis paralysis and can't get much of anything done in a timely fashion.   Most of my life plans were derailed or put on the back burner for a series of justified reasons: a cancer diagnosis for my SO, managing my daughter's modeling career when she was a minor, etc.

We've managed to downsize to a townhome in our preferred location.  We paid cash and liquidated all of our assets, also those of our children in a bold move.  (We are paying them back plus interest).  So since September it's been living on a prayer and our finances are all smoke and mirrors.

That being said, we are under contract now with an offer on the primary residence.  I am thankful that I was a bit of procrastinator and didn't rush to a price reduction as my realtor suggested.  It's been on the market for 60 days.  Sale price was $15K less than asking price with a very short escrow.  I don't think the reality of life without the mortgage monkey on our backs has sunk in.

I remain thankful for the health of my family, my now smaller but full house with all the young adults/teens here (22/21/18/16).  Looking forward to a much brighter 2021 for all of us.


Update of Sorts

October 3rd, 2020 at 07:16 pm

Final Phase of New Home 2020 is underway.

We closed on the townhome 9/4. We decided to have an odd wall between the smallish formal living room and family room removed ($981) and had the main living areas painted along with kitchen cabinets painted ($2,500). Movers were last week for $760 (definitely worth it as we haven't moved in 15 years and in that time my significant other and our parents have all aged a lot)!

Monday we have the cleaners coming in at the OH (old house) $200 estimated, and the final work done by our contractor (installation of toilet/mirror/exhaust fan and light in bathrooms; exterior storm door installation; finishing up two missing floor boards; a new cabinet bottom in the kitchen under the sink and installation of 24" of trim). So this weekend we run and pick up online orders and stain things.

Tuesday is pictures and Wednesday is listing day.

I was also offered a long-term sub contract through December in a special ed classroom I worked in at the beginning of the year. I was reluctant to accept it given COVID, but its a classroom of four kids in person with one remote (grades 2-4). They are in person 8:15-12:15 and then in the afternoon its just remote support and curriculum support.

It is timely given our money situation is still "smoke and mirrors" and "living on a wish and a prayer" and "robbing to Peter to pay Paul when they are one in the same". Thankfully I've had a line of credit extended by my parents and will hopefully have the equity from the home sale in our hot little mitts soon!

Hope that all is well with everyone; I'm going to catch up on the blog reading now.

Trying to Slow the Money Leaks

September 14th, 2020 at 11:36 pm

Still robbing Peter to Paul since the purchase of our townhome. We closed on 9/4. Ten days later here is the other spending I've been doing:

$981 for removal of wall separating small formal living room with family room of townhome
$1,500 installation of carpeting in the family room of home we are selling
$2,500 painting of main living areas and kitchen cabinets of townhome
$200 deep cleaning for home we are selling

With half of the children off at college, our expenses are down significantly. I'm left with a picky eater who is very low maintenance and a vegan who mostly buys her own specialty foods (outside of fruits/veggies/vegan findings at Aldi).

Also trying to cash flow a trip to California next month and a side-excursion to Salt Lake City on our way home. Airfare is cheap, we have a place to stay, expenses should be low. I have a $100 gift card from the realtor who brokered the sale of the townhome, $35 from a forgotten check, and $52 from rolled change. RT airfare from Chicago to LAX is now at $85. Crazy.

Relishing the last days of Budget Lockdown's Last Stand.

Moving Forward and Paid Cash for a Townhome

September 8th, 2020 at 03:10 am

We closed on our townhome on Friday; it was rather anti-climactic with e-signatures on documents and wire transfers, but we had the keys in hand at 10:00 AM. Purchased it outright. Cost $260,000.

Our rental property is now rented with tenants who signed a two-year lease. Monthly income is $1,650 before expenses. Owned outright. Value of that property is $278,000.

Current home going on the market within the next week. We anticipate $160K after mortgage and fees are paid.

We also have three in college this year. We are blessed that the youngest two are both on full scholarships at Wheaton College and Milwaukee School of Engineering, and the oldest is employed and able to pay for her own tuition.

Our money and budget is totally whacked with all that is going on right now, but its Budget Lockdown's Last Stand and smooth sailing is ahead.

Looking forward to being able to budget and make progress on some goals once its all simple.


August 15th, 2020 at 09:06 pm

I’m back. Though only temporarily Baroque.

We have purchased a townhome and close on Sept 4. It’s in our desire location with desired amount of space as we’ve still four young adults/teens currently at home (22/21/18/16). We are purchasing it cash and our portfolio is currently very barren. We’ll replenish it with equity from the current home sale (expecting to be on market 9/8).

We did rent our rental property with a two-year lease so that’s an additional $2k per month. SO is still employed and I won’t be returning to subbing so I’m still figuring out what to do employment wise. We have three in college this year, though the oldest is paying her tuition (still modeling and doing online classes) and the next two are on full-rides.

It’s nice to be back and we’ll be mortgage free shortly with two paid properties and the passive income from the rental property covers all housing expenses. Hoping to get back on the money bandwagon especially since things have improved significantly!

It is what it is.

February 2nd, 2020 at 04:54 pm

Financially, we almost tanked in January.

There was an issue at my daughter's college last semester with the Financial Aid Office receiving the IRS transcript of our returns for FAFSA. They did receive it, but because it was late my daughter's MAP grant wasn't disbursed leaving an unexpected $1,600 balance due from Fall and she couldn't register for additional classes in January for Spring. My EF had $2,000. (This isn't an earth-shattering amount and what I paid took care of our balance due for Spring semester anyhow. I can't complain because she is virtually full-ride living on campus and our share is $3,200 per year).

So Good-bye $1,600 of our $2,000 liquid EF. Then there was the issue of the defunct furnace at my house.

Then up came the furnace issues. It's old and on its last legs. Thankfully my husband's close friend only charges up parts at cost. I spent $325 on a motor and another $178 on an additional part and $25 for a thermostat. We're keeping the house at 67 during the day and 63 at night hoping it makes it. We're using my parent's space heater. Ours died. Its rather depressing.

So good-bye balance of our small liquid EF and then take away a few additional $100s from the budget that's already squeezed and pinched and zero based.

And then there was no paycheck from my subbing in January since Christmas vacation and the pay delay. And the jobs available for January that I've worked aren't my cup of tea. I'm not very good with preschools in the developmental learning program. It is really more daycare and I'm sure that there is a benefit to the socialization, but again its not what I want to do. So while I've worked some, and I'll have a decent paycheck on 2/14 it will be a dry spell after that.

I'm off to California in two days. My SADD is really kicking me to the curb of life, living here in the Midwest where it seemed like an entire week without sunshine. That plus insomnia. And since it seems we're just in survivial mode, we're not doing what we need to do to get the house on the market. Once I return from CA, it must happen. There are endless small projects and some big ones, but it just needs to happen.

We had planned on moving into the rental property which is vacant. We moved some stuff over there. Then we thought that my inlaws might need to go in because of some health issues they have and the distance they live from us. That hasn't happened either. When I get home, I'll have to move to get it rented so we have some income coming in.

My husband was in a car accident in October and we didn't replace the vehicle, rather used the funds to pay the property taxes and toward some home repairs. This is such a First World problem and I hate to complain, but it would be nice to have another car again. Again, First World Complaint and I hate to even write that out, but it's honest and I'm even ashamed to admit. Some people rely on public transportation in horrid weather to get to their jobs. Again, feeling sorry for myself. Clearly no attitude of gratitude here.

The only upside is that there is no new debt and I've not touched the big EF that lives at Vanguard.

I'm able to feed my family whole food and am still staying away from convenience foods.

I was able to purchase my ticket to California round trip for $140 on Spirit with just me and one small carry on. My parents are already there so I won't need to rent a car. Also they are near a Traders Joes and Aldi's so we'll cook at home.

I am planning on doing the taxes as soon as I return, and I am expecting at least some sort of refund from Federal and State.

February has got to get me to a place of productiving and moving forward. Any advice when one is feeling sluggish and totally overwhelmed?

Thanks in advance, SA Friends.

UFMC Flunky > Spending More for Better Quality

January 2nd, 2020 at 05:25 pm

I declared January was going to be UFMC success.

Blew it on the first day. I have, however, decided that my new approach to spending money is going to be buying better, but less.

My family was in need of new towels. I had some Kohl's cash to spend ($30) and I thought I'd use those funds toward that purchase. Certainly $30 should cover new towles for most of us (six). I fell in love the luxury bath sheets by Vera Wang. $25 for one! Their sale was buy one, get 50% off. Plus I had 25% off purchases, so I ended up payingo ut of pocket $45 for new wonderful towels for the family.

Definitely a frugal fail, but I do feel that I scored high in the better quality department.

Next step up to replace will be my every day dishes. I purchased two sets of white ones from Walmart last year in November. Very disappointing, as they are all scratched up from every day use. I used pfaltzgraff for years without wear and tear and just got tired of the pattern. I'll be switching back to that as I can upgrade.

Happy New Year

January 1st, 2020 at 12:45 am

Happy New Year, Fellow SAers!

Wishing everyone peace and prosperity in 2020!

I'm opting to celebrate in quiet fashion at my brother's and skipped the annual get-together with friends who party hearty. One child is sick and staying home; one child is at party with SO; one child is coming to my brother's; and oldest child is with her boyfriend. I'm feeling the freedom of obligation, and doing what feels right for me at the moment (low-key with my brother's family and parents).

Tomorrow is a NSD and payday is Friday. Cruising into Payday again balanced and broke; or adhering literally to Zero-based Budgeting.

Enjoy and be safe and see you on the flipside!

Transitioning to Transformation

December 31st, 2019 at 01:02 am

2019 wasn't a real stand out in the books. It wasn't the worst, it was just here. We stagnated. We dealt with some health issues (nothing major thankfully, but a gall bladder removal and then some health issues for the SO's parents).

We had high hopes for fixing up and selling the primary residence, but life got it the way and we didn't move as fast and we've made some poor financial decisions along the way - like thinking we'd move to the rental property that remains unrented (loss of $1,600 per month) and more costly home repairs ($3,500 for mason work on our chimney), etc.

My subbing isn't covering the loss of rental property income and we also understimated the cost of repairs to the home to be sold.

But I'm no longer looking back and lamenting, since I'm not heading that way.

January 1st I begin a comprehensive list room-by-room what else needs to be done here at the primary residence. And I'll tackle it efficiently.

I'll be travelling to California with my older daughter and I have estimated round trip air to be $145 at the most (based on tentative time for travel) and I will split the car rental with her. I have $300 cash saved for that and am expecting at least another $300 from the side gig with biological father and his rental property issues.

Christmas was pleasant - however, we had a new Christmas tree with new ornaments and my sentimental children missed the nostalgia of our normal tree with all the memories on it. We also attended Christmas service at the Evangelical church that younger daughter and I attend and she, of all people, missed the Traditional Mass and ended up going Christmas morning to the Catholic Mass with her grandparents. My mother was lamenting past times as well and I'm sadly unsympathetic to these conversations, and I usually quip in "Well, tell me something that you liked about this Christmas". I really have to work on being immune to the people who are generally Debbie Downers (sadly there are a few in my circle).

I miss my dear friends - one of the dearest ones died in October and the other one moved to OKC. My other friend is a mess and requires a lot of time and hand-holding as she has chosen to take an opioid addict into her home and he also is on a merry-go-round of in and outs of stays in the mental hospital (third stay in 30 days).

I'd like to transform past this. I'd like to be settled mortgage free in a townhome in the subdivision where we have selected.

I have signed up for a writer's workshop (I did a blind submission and got positive feedback on what I entered). Cost of this is $250. I have also signed up for a self help/bible group/book study run by liberal Catholic friend. I have the goal of losing 10 pounds in January. I would also like to drink more water, do cardio 4x a week, and spend time daily on a hobby (reading/writing/stitching).

I am really ready for 2020. I am enjoying everyone's inventory of goals success for 2019. Hoping to join you all in reporting good things accomplished in 2020 one year from now.

Happy New Year's All!

What's Your Word for 2020?

December 20th, 2019 at 08:48 pm

Mine is transformation!

We are in transition, so it is underway. We will hoepfully be in a townhome owned outright by the spring.

We will hopefully have our rental property bringing in passive income again

We will hopefully have a nice family vacation, two smaller or one larger.

We will have three in college in the fall (a freshman, junior, and senior)!

We will hopefully have a better balance of work and leisure.

Currently, our personal lives are recovering from havoc: my inlaws have had major health issues and SO is an only child - compound that with the fact that they insisted on living 50 min away when they relocated here; SO is still in a high stress situation and as his job has become more secure, the stress with the position has taken its toll - he's gained weight and complains of body issues that he's not doing anything about; a very dear friend of mine died - not unexpected, but he was a big part of our lives - including daughter who has started acting; I returned to work as a substitute teacher and have accepted longer-term placements; youngest is in high school now and very active in sports.

I am very ready for 2020 and excited to see where my fellow SA blogges are going and what's your wordZ?

LAL's No Gifts

December 18th, 2019 at 01:07 am

I'm right there with LAL on no gifts. My mother was slow to get on board, but did realize that there are very specific and costly items that my children would like and are saving for.

Older Daughter will be living in CA by herself for a few months; additional funds will help with her food and transportation costs (she's driving her car there on a road trip with SO in February and staying in my parents' condo).

Younger Daughter puchased a dress she's wanted since high school prom in 2017. Her college has a Presidential Ball in February and it is a fancy formal event. The dress was finally on sale 50% off and is handmade in London. She bought it without regrets and is putting any money back into her savings account. Cost of dress was a hefty $320. But she could probably be married in it this summer if her plans go the way she is thinking.

Older Son is heading off to college in the fall. He said he'd like to have "a healthy savings account" so he might not have to work the first few trimesters. He's frugal and budgets, and I admire his goal.

Younger Son is an athlete, playing on the freshman basketball team and also doing club soccer. There is always something needed: new cleats, high tops, an additional training session, etc. He can decide and prioritize his needs and fund some of this.

Interestingly enough, I was at my brother's house on Thanksgiving Day for drinks and desserts and my SIL was having a discussion with her sister on spending limits. They agreed on $150 for each child (so my brother and his wife are spending $600 on her neices and nephews). We stopped gift exhanges a few years ago. It's a world I never lived in and am glad I didn't/don't. They are free to do whatever they choose and I don't mean to be a curmudgeon, but ... I'll stop now.

Our most fun gift tradition is Secret Santa with our immediate family. Funniest year was when Child 3/E was 13 and he put his name on all of the slips and then thought the better of it when no one started to compare notes. He had to confess and re-do, but it still caused a good laugh.

Our gift limit is $30. We also give ideas on things we'd like: I usually get a personalized ornament with the year and everyone's names on it. I've given a gift certificate for a pedicure and cozy socks to Child 1 two years ago, and last year gave Child 3 a Harry Potter Funco Pop Head and coloring book.

I also pick up puzzles at Goodwill that we work Christmas week. We watch our favorite Christmas movies. We also make gingerbread houses ($7.00 for a set at Aldi's) and a Christmas craft or two from Michael's (usually purchased for 70% off a few days before Christmas).

I think its really about the traditions that we have or have had. And for me now gifting is such a small part of the season, but I remember feeling bad at not having much money for grand gifts. Or only one really nice gift (like an American Girl doll one year)

But whatever works for one's family is what should be done!

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