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Archive for June, 2008

I hate the summertime

June 30th, 2008 at 12:23 pm

I just want to cry on days like today

Summertime when all four kids and both dogs are home... and I have to work at home... my kids are soooo bad. Its amazing any of us make it out alive.

My DH was away for a 3 week business trip, so I've been doing it all on my own. No family... we're military... family is a word reserved for people who live AT LEAST 1000 miles away.

Before the end of the school year, I bought my son his first reader book for preschool... my EIGHT YEAR OLD decided she wanted to write in it.

SO I told her she had to pay for it... $10

Forget the fact that she is not allowed in my office which is the only place that pens and pencils are found in this house.

Now today was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Last Christmas, we bought my 4 y/o a SmartCycle... he LOVED it. $100 we paid at the time. For Christmas this year I was going to get him some other games, he's been really wanting the Hot Wheels game.

Today my oldest two daughter wanted to play tug of war with the cord to see "who would win".... the cord is stripped. They might as well have taken scissors to it.

I'm somewhere between just wanting to cry and just being livid. It hurts me that my son doesn't have very many toys to begin with... and they are always breaking his... and of all things, my OLDEST is the one doing this.

I told her... she's not going back to horseback riding (equivalent of $31.25 a lesson) until she's saved up the money to get him a new one. Of course though, she is 8... so the only way she can earn that money back is not going to horseback riding.

I don't have the money to just buy him a new one... oh and they also broke the extra PS2 we had... the TV in the playroom was broken a long time ago too.

I give up... what do you do? Am I just not allowed to have anything nice for myself or for the kids while they are young? (I say this as my 4 year old finds a string off of our couch pillow - which is 7 years old - and pulls)

*Ugh*

So not really finance related... but it does make me think... what is the point of buying anything nice when anything nice we do have for them they break anyway?

I don't know why I'm 2nd guessing myself

June 29th, 2008 at 02:02 pm

But as I was helping out at the stables today and leading the horses to their stalls... all I could think about is... I love this. I don't want to go to school again.

I want to spend my days doing my job, spending time with my kids, the pets, my wonderful husband, and volunteering at the stables.

I'm sure I feel this way because classes start Tuesday.

So why am I 2nd guessing myself?

I've already started reading my books... I'm taking Operational Assurance services and although I'm interested in the material, I'm not interested in writing a 20 page essay or towards the last three weeks trying to scramble to find someone to watch the kids when my husband can't.

Are these just excuses? Am I just hesitating cause its been 4 years since I graduated with my bachelor's? I just... I don't know, but I'm dragging my feet about the whole thing.

I tell myself all the time... IF I lost my job - which in all honesty I'm doubtful will happen because I'm a good worker & in charge of much of the reporting and starting to take over the partner payments & invoicing process as well. So if I ever lost my job though... I'd need to make 50-60K to make ends meet.

I tell myself... just do one class at a time so I don't feel overwhelmed... and I'm doing that. But I'm still not intrigued to be a student again.

Maybe if I just keep taking one class at a time, before I know it I will have my master's and it will just feel like it was automatic rather than an exhaustive effort.

I don't know... I'm just rambling to myself. I've told my husband all this and he just says its totally up to me.

What keeps me going for my degree? The same thing that keeps me putting money into a savings account.... I'd rather spend the money on something I'd like, but heaven forbid I need it then it will be there. Same thing with my degree, I'd rather spend my time and money on other things... but heaven forbid I need my degree, at least it will be there... and for $9K to get a master's degree - its a bargain.

I'm just tired of writing essays and I haven't even started.

The Official Plan

June 27th, 2008 at 02:06 pm

So I set aside a plan to have us free of credit card and car debt within the next 2 years and 4 months.

This was allowing some room and saving $350/mo for an emergency fund. I debated NOT doing that and using the $350/mo to pay our debts down sooner but my goal is to try to find a plan I can stick with. If I have that $350/mo cushion plus the $20 challenge, then even if I have to dip into it for an emergency... my plan to pay off the debts is still on track.

And this was also allowing DH to pay for a motorcycle in cash next year. HUGE concession on my part, but its one that gives him enough room to feel like he's not depriving himself... while also allowing us to stay on track. Kind of like allowing chocolate cake on a special night out.

I feel like this is a good plan... I'm going to print out the amortization schedules I created and put them on the fridge - just to remind myself that 2 years and 4 months - we'll owe our cars outright and be credit card free.

So in June '09 the credit card will be 100% GONE

October '09 his car will be paid off

And October '10 my car will be paid off... and we should have $10K in savings... so long as we don't have to use the EF, but if we do - we'll be covered.

I'll still pay for my master's degree in cash and in May 2010, I should graduate with that.

I'm also going to start volunteering at the stables on Sundays for 4 hours. For every 8 hours I volunteer there, I earn a free lesson. I figure this way, I can earn free lessons either for myself or my daughter. But its also therapeutic for me... I don't even have to ride but being around horses is one of those rare times for me that I'm "there" completely. I've fallen victim to mommyhood where I've become SUPER obsessed with multi-tasking... being around horses erases that for me. I'm not thinking about what I'm going to make for dinner, the report for work, etc... so it'll probably be good for me just as therapy in that respect... even if I end up getting dirty in the process (which is HUGE considering my neurotic OCD self)

Attempting $20 challenge

June 26th, 2008 at 05:30 pm

Well I'm attempting what I *think* the $20 challenge is...

I went back through my past two bank statements and if a bill, check, debit was ended with 51 cents... I allocated 49 cents to my savings account.

I did this for the past two statements... for May I put $23.61 into my savings account and for June I put $22.13

I'm also adding up our "net worth" - and for the first time its in the positive.... albeit just $190... but that will change once I charge my $972 tuition next week.

That is factoring in the houses and cars though... our debt between the HELOC, CC, student loan and cars overall hasn't changed much cause of the tuition. But DH's car is finally in positive equity!!!! I know I say that term relatively though cause I know they are depreciating assets... but at least we are no longer upside down with his car. We owe $12500 and Kelly Blue Book says Private Party value is $13000.

So good things have happened since I've joined... they are small and not overnight but overall its going in a positive direction.

Re-evaluating Insurance Needs

June 26th, 2008 at 02:37 pm

So I took some time today to talk to our insurance agent about our needs cause I suspected we were under-insured. Which we were.

For $18 more a month I'm adequately covered for life insurance... and for $8 more a month I'm now adequately covered on our auto and homeowner's policy

Gosh, makes me feel silly to think that if we had some issue come up and we were to get sued or one of us would die that it was only a matter of $26/mo between being adequately insured vs under-insured.

Finally broke down and went to the doc

June 22nd, 2008 at 09:06 am

Pretty bad when you're a 26 year old drooling on yourself cause you can't swallow I guess. I woke up at 7 and wanted to throw up... but couldn't... jumped into the shower hoping the steam would help, it didn't. I had been dealing with this since Wednesday but since I'm on Standard I didn't know the copay on an ER visit... and DH just told me to take Motrin and gargle salt water. Which I have been doing, but no success.

I didn't have a sore throat... I felt fine otherwise - just my tonsils were terribly swollen.

My oldest was at least gone at an overnighter, so it was just me, the 6, 4, and 5 month old.

Still not sure what the copay is... but its 15% and I have a $1000 catastrophic cap... I've met $50 of it, so I know the limits of it.

Picked up my presription after getting a shot in the leg... yeah, interesting to walk carrying a car seat with a 13 lb baby in it after just getting a really potent shot in the leg that they add lidocaine to keep it from burning... but it still burned.

But at least the prescription was only $3... I think I can deal with that. Starting to feel better already so maybe when I talk now I won't sound so weird. The pest control guy came over Friday (the sellers purchased a 5 year termite protection package so we at least have the last year of that) and he asked me to spell my name and everytime I said "A" he thought I said "E"

I'm thinking in a couple hours I'll probably call AT&T to find out more about the international calling thing.

I'm so ready for Saturday to be here so I don't have to be doing this solo anymore.

Learn to make No the logical answer instead of saying it

June 21st, 2008 at 08:50 pm

DH has been trying really hard to convince me that he needs a SmartPhone so he won't have to carry two phones... or a bulky laptop and a work phone... or something to that effect while he's in South America for 2-3 weeks in August.

Problem is... the phones he wants are $199 plus an increased data plan and all that on our monthly bill. We currently pay $38/mo and he got a new cell phone so he could have "music" on his phone like mine (Mine is free cause my Dad gave it to me when he bought a family plan... I will have had it for 2 years in August).

So instead of just saying "No, we can't do it." I tried something else... pretend to problem solve with him.

After all, he's an adult... he now knows our budget... so I went ahead and looked at international roaming calling plan details.

If he uses his phone as-is... it'll be $2.28/min to call me. If he buys a $6/mo plan it'll be $1.99/min... so after 20 minutes the plan would be worthwhile.

A SmartPhone is out of the question cause I explained to him that just opening up a 5MB email could cost $40 when roaming according to their website... AT&T has discounted traveling plans, but the country he is going to doesn't participate in that.

So... can't access email without it costing an arm and a leg... same with calling. Soooo he started thinking about a laptop to bring, but he doesn't want to bring a big bulky laptop.

Well, aren't all laptops big and bulky? Well except for the ones like mine that cost $2K but he's not taking mine cause all my work stuff is on there and I work from home.

We do have an OLD laptop, well old is relative, we bought it in Nov '04... so just over 3 years old... with the "D" key missing he could take, it has Wifi... its a Vaio and we could just replace the keyboard... but thats when he said he doesn't want to bring a big bulky laptop.

What he says he needs? The ability to check his work email and make calls from anywhere in the world... oh and if he can add music to the phone (like his Walkman or my SLVR) then that would be nice too.

Towards the end of the conversation he started to get upset cause the answer was obvious... I simply told him to talk to his work people and ask them how they do it. He says they buy little cards that they put into their phones & bring a laptop... that a bunch of them have a SmartPhone and a laptop.

Meanwhile... umm... he's supposed to be getting a FREE SmartPhone from work in November, and yeah we can take the work cell phone off our taxes and pay for it out of pocket but thats a PITA and takes out of our income versus getting something in ADDITION to our income that we don't have to claim on our taxes cause it is for work.

Anyhow I think the answer is obvious to him... which is why he got upset. But seriously this trip in August is his last one most likely for the rest of the year, I'm not going to fork over $200+ plus a higher monthly fee when we clearly can't afford it... but thats also why I'm glad now he knows the budget, he can't get mad at me like a child anymore with a parent saying no... he knows the budget, we can't afford it... end of story.

Shopping for textbooks

June 21st, 2008 at 04:51 am

So my college bookstore has my books on special order, so I decided instead of doing that (which takes 2 weeks)... that I would use Amazon.com

Amazon emails me today and tells me they are having difficulty locating my order

So I cancel... the book was $94.50

Go to Half.com

I look at the prices and finally settle on one that isn't perfectly brand new... in the end the class is only 6 weeks, if I end up with a more worn book and $20 more in my pocket, I don't think I'll feel any less (the $20 in my pocket will make me feel better lol)

So they confirmed the order would ship by the 25th. Yay! I bought the book for $77.99 w/shipping.

So instead of spending $125 like I thought I would... I only spent $102.99 for both books that I needed.

Cultivating a new habit

June 19th, 2008 at 12:00 pm

Web billpay has allowed me to put off some of my bills till the due date but I've decided today that I'm going to stop this habit.

Sure some of my payments are on auto-draft so I can't pay them as soon as they are due - but like for my gas bill, water bills, and all the other bills I've set up to pay via web but not set up on autodraft, I should do this.

So I went ahead and did that today with one of my bills. It wasn't due till 7/07 but if its in the bank, when I know I have to pay it anyway... I might as well just pay it and be done with it.

I used to be like that, don't know what changed that habit - but I've decided to go ahead and start doing it again.

I also refunded my Emergency Fund. The bank took it from my savings to avoid an overdraft I wasn't expecting (poor planning)... so I put the money back today. My goal was to not touch the EF for June... well actually my goal is to not touch the EF for a year (except for taking out $1500 in Sept to visit the in-laws)... so I blew that, but at least I re-funded it. Still yet, I'm not going to make a habit of it.

I've been feeling proud of myself for how I'm handling my spending while my hubby is away. Aside from paying bills, I've only spent $61.43 on groceries. And that has been since the 8th of this month, and now its the 19th. So I've had a lot of no-spend days.

DH hasn't been so lucky... or smart with his finances. He was given $54 per day for per diem. He said he's been trying to be mindful of what he spends but the places he's going the group he's with want to "eat out" a lot. So if he does that its $15 for dinner. He's staying at the hotel for breakfast and lunch & bought $50 worth of stuff for him to eat. And then when he tried to be cheap and hang out with a friend of his stationed where they are, his Chief called him all worried as if he had done something wrong.

So I don't know... the day my hubby hung out with his friend he did save money cause the rest of the group went tubing. I'm guessing we'll probably make off with $400 from this trip if DH does better to conserve.

I did warn him though and said "The money from your Texas and South America trip is what is going to pay for your trip to visit your family." So at least that gives him incentive cause otherwise we wouldn't have the money.

Taking it a step further

June 16th, 2008 at 05:47 am

So the tenants came back and said they could only afford a $25 rent increase. Which upset me cause my DH makes less than them since he's enlisted and they are officers, we have the same amount of kids, and if DH got a $150 BAH raise this year, I know they did too or better.

Considering the rental is already operating at a loss I told the property manager, NO... I need the rental to have a $50 increase AT LEAST because had I known our taxes were going to increase I would have NEVER rented it out at $1525 in the first place.

So the manager sent an email to the tenant letting them know that this wasn't meant to upset them but the expenses on the property had gone up & they can choose to go month-to-month on their current amount till we find someone who will pay the $1575 or agree to the new amount.

I'm not sure what the tenant's response has been.

But this morning the property manager emailed me a list of my "competition" so I wonder if that means the tenants did not/do not agree to the rent increase.

I guess if this is the direction everything takes... maybe its for the best. I can list the home instead for rent... but for sale as well.

I hate to take a "faith based" approach but I really feel like in the end, things will work out for the best. I was angry and resentful at being told they could only afford $25 more when 2 months after I rented to them my expenses increased by $50. I didn't expect that and had I known I would have NEVER EVER agreed to $1525.

I'm going to trust though that whatever happens is for the best. My parents told me I was being too nice to the tenants so I put my foot down and explained that I needed it to turn a profit soon or not have it at all.... so we'll see.

I'm sure in the end, it'll work out. Not much of a financial plan, but I do have faith it will be okay. I'll either get the rent I want or no longer have to worry about it anymore.

Update: Well the tenants said they would be willing to move over a $50 increase. The property manager thinks I stand to lose more money by losing the tenants. DH is pissed, he said the tenants should not be dictating to us what we charge in rent but the property manager said there is a lot more places up for rent now because they weren't selling. So people caught on to what we were doing last year.

I'm not sure. I could call their bluff but on the other hand I don't like turning down guaranteed money. It seems so ridiculous to me, yeah the other places are bigger but our place has wood flooring in the entire house, new windows, SS appliances, its in GREAT condition and fully remodeled. So they could get the 2000 sq ft place for $1595 but its not as nice as our 1500 sq ft place for $1575.

Not sure what we're going to do. The property manager said we are heading into the wrong time of the year. Right now we'd be looking at a Sept 1 move-in date. And if it didn't rent immediately then maybe October or November.

Meanwhile, my DH is stuck on the principle... I have the property manager telling me I will likely lose MORE money on it... and yeah, as usual I'm not sure what to do. But am going to think about it and hopefully the right answer will come to me.

Not going to have enough

June 9th, 2008 at 04:31 pm

I just looked at the finances, and I'm pretty disappointed with myself.

I'm going to have to drop my summer course. There is just NO way I can come up with the $1000 plus $200 in books and parking passes to attend. Not unless I put it on a credit card - and I'm fairly tempted to do so.

Is it worth it to put it on a credit card?

On one hand I HATE having to use a credit card for tuition. BUT, these are master's degree courses that are only available once a year and the "site" its offered at varies from year to year.

This year the course is offered in my town, so it saves on gas. If I defer it till next year, it'll be in the next town so that is 30 minutes of driving. Plus tuition goes up every year.

I'm just not sure. I was hoping to cut costs this month and I'm really not going to be spending much with DH away, but it is 100 degrees right now so although I try not to use the A/C... when it gets this hot, I have to.

Ok, so minor setback I guess... I'm just not sure if I should take the class. If I don't I'm worried I'll regret it cause the classes are only offered once a year and I need 9 more classes till I have my master's degree.

Shopping around for vets pays off

June 5th, 2008 at 12:19 pm

I took our golden retriever for his 2nd set of shots today at the new vet.

He got his distemper & corona vaccines, a deworming, fecal exam, a free bag of dog food, a sample of advantage and sentinel... and a free pedicure

All for $53!!!

Thats the cheapest vet visit I've ever had. At the other vets I've gone to or were quoting me over $100

Needless to say I'm switching all my pets over to that facility now.

An insightful day on a variety of issues

June 3rd, 2008 at 07:48 pm

I took my daughter to Girl Scouts to walk into the parents having a discussion about money. Normally, I'd participate... but this time I just sat back and listened. These people are all older than me... because I had my daughter when I JUST turned 19. The woman who did the most of the talking was 38 and this was a few of the things I heard:

"I assumed the lady auctioned off a week at her timeshare, I didn't realize they had a condo. I mean, her husband is a doctor but he does Sports Medicine its not like he's a cardiologist or neurosurgeon"

"Gotta love credit cards, you work for the credit."

"I installed a generator for a family and the personal assistant opened the gate. Opened the four car garage and the first door had a Bentley, 2nd had an Aston Martin, 3rd a Lexus SUV so I thought... ok not too bad... and the 4th was a Jag. They were ROLLING in dough."

And I stayed silent the whole time. Ironically as I was driving home the country song "Back when I knew it all" came on the radio and there is a part there that says something along the lines of "when I thought credit cards meant you were rich".

Thats when it dawned on me... as I stayed silent listening to this whole conversation.

1) Just cause someone has a vacation home doesn't mean they are rich. They could be leveraged to the hilt. And just cause someone isn't a neurosurgeon doesn't mean they are any better/worse than the doctor in Sports Medicine.

2) Credit cards and CC debt DON'T mean you are rich and although the average person may have that.... that doesn't mean its great news. After all, when was it good news to be mediocre?

3) Owning a million dollar home and having a million dollars worth of depreciating assets sitting in your garage either means you have millions upon millions in your bank account and can afford to be frivolous OR you have your priorities messed up.

Prior to coming to this forum I would have thought "Wow, must be nice. I want that one day." But now I realize, I don't.

And the way to end the night?

Blockbuster sent us Sicko. And while I'm not really a Michael Moore fan. I really don't consider myself right or left or political in any way (although I do exercise my right to vote)... it just added to the whole thought process.

I am sooo thankful we have free healthcare. Sure I can CHOOSE to pay for better coverage and options but I can walk into ANY hospital with no prior authorization or referral and know I'm covered. I can't imagine having to pay for it and I don't even think the healthcare is great but its not substandard either. They just kinda piss me off cause there is no continuity of care and in order to be a doctor in the Navy, as far as I know, you don't need to pass your boards. You just have to have graduated medical school. There also seems to be a focus on treating symptoms and maintenance than finding the actual cause. Of course I know not ALL doctors in the military are like this, but this is the majority of the sentiment I've received in the 10 years I've been in the system.

DH is a healthcare provider himself and can prescribe meds. He's the enlisted equivalent of a Physician's Assistant but he doesn't even have his Associate's degree so we have to stay in the Navy cause nothing in the civilian world will pay him what the Navy does because he doesn't have any certifications. But he gets jaded, and has gotten used to people abusing the system and he doesn't get any benefit or incentive whether he treats 5 people or 500. But that's another story.... nonetheless, when someone gets sick or hurt, I don't need to worry about how I'm going to pay for that ER visit. It's free and even if I see a non-participating provider and Tricare covers it & I'm on Standard because its a gov't healthcare policy - I can only be billed a maximum of 15% over the Tricare allowed amount.

I found this out when I was billed $1240 for an U/S and Tricare only paid $547. But then only had to pay $87.

It makes me scared for my kids in a certain way. I can't imagine paying for healthcare (beyond the $1000 catastrophic cap I have to pay for CHOOSING to switch to standard) and yet I live in the U.S. Healthcare has NEVER been a thought in my mind. My Dad worked 2-3 jobs and took out dual healthcare policies to make sure we were always covered. If I was sick, I went to the doctor... not a second thought. As an adult, I married a U.S. Navy sailor... when I was sick, I went to the doctor.

I wonder how my Dad does it. I should ask him one day... or ask my Mom. They never talk about money with me, or healthcare... but I'd be interested to know. How do people do it? Cause having to choose between my health and debt is... well, unfathomable to me. I've just never had to deal with it - and I live in the U.S. where my civilian friends pay $1000/mo in deductibles/copays/premiums.

Not sure I could go to another country either, but the whole day... just made me think.

Oh and our yard got torn up today cause they are installing fiber optic cables for a local utility company. So I went outside to let the workers know we have a sprinkler system, so not to dig it up.

Umm, yeah. I don't speak Spanish well, although if someone speaks it I can understand the gist of it. But, I don't live in California, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, or Florida... so to walk outside my front door and have the workers digging up my yard not speaking English was something I did not expect. Had I been back in San Diego I wouldn't have thought much about it, but I'm not far from the nation's capital. A little surprising.

Conversations toward progress

June 1st, 2008 at 05:58 pm

We still have a long way to go in our whole transformation in how we think about spending money & debt, but I'm finding more and more instances where I can see our mindset changing for the better.

We went to Target today to get some things off of our list that we couldn't get at the commissary (Cotton balls, vitamins for nursing moms, a dog leash) but I went up to DH later and took him to the DVD player we were eyeing a couple days ago ($200 plus we'd need to buy a $50 HDMI cable). I asked him if he wanted it as a father's day gift.

I was having a moment of weakness & since my Amex has 0% interest till July - thought maybe I could charge it and pay it off by next month.

See, I am FAR from perfect and 50% of the reason we got into so much debt.

But I'm proud of DH. He stood there and looked at the system and said "Problem is, I know we don't NEED it."

So I said "Ok, maybe for Christmas or something and I'm sure this will be even cheaper by then or something that we want more will be out." And we walked away from the electronics.

Then while we were in the car, DH was telling me ideally he'd have a motorcycle and a truck. I looked at him confused and said "I don't get it, we got rid of the Accord and motorcycle so you could have something small to zoom in and out of traffic."

And he explained to me why he wanted that, but he wasn't pushing me for a truck cause he knows I want to go down to 1 car payment and then NO car payment at all. So we talked about him getting the motorcycle next year with cash and then we'd see if maybe we could sell his car & then get a truck he wants and pay cash. So then he gets a motorcycle & truck... and I get what I want and go down to just paying 1 car payment.

These conversations have been huge to me. He's really getting on board with this with me which is half the battle cause when I have my weak moments, he doesn't just go along with them - he's focusing on saving money now too. Talking about how he is pretty much over wanting to buy new cars and will be happy with a used car.

So I just had to share cause I know in order to get out of debt and STAY out of debt, him and I need to both be on board with this so when I'm weak (like I was about the DVD player/home theater system), he can step in and be strong and remind me we don't need something. Its nice to have a partner in this instead of feeling like you're trying to fight a battle on your own... I know I'm not perfect and its nice to know he'll help keep me from making a mistake when I'm having a weak moment.

We left Target with ONLY the things we had on the list... although we did forget to get stamps. Ugh!