Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Oh universe, why?

Have you ever had one of those days where it seems like the universe is out to get you?  Well I did...  Yesterday.  I took our oldest to the dentist for the first time in too long to admit.  I could make excuses about not having dental insurance, but regardless he should have been taken in before.  He has a pretty bad cavity that needs a root canal.  At 10 years old.  It's horrifying.  I've never had anything that extensive done and I just can't believe that I let my child's tooth get that bad.  Ugh. 

But enough guilting... We finally have dental insurance (signed up last month!) so we went in and got him checked out.  The appointment went great, all the ladies in the office loved him, my big brave boy.  He didn't complain or wimp out even though he was nervous.  They told me he needs a root canal, one other filling, and a couple of sealants.  We scheduled our next appointment and then they gave me the bill. 

When I signed up for the insurance I made sure to get the plan with the most coverage I could get.  I bought the most expensive plan because I knew our whole family needs to get some work done.  Only after we'd already been seen did I find out that our dentist isn't in our insurance network.  Every other dentist in the area seems to be, except for ours.  What does that mean?  It means that our insurance company will not pay our dentist.  I pay the dentist and then get reimbursed by the insurance company.  That might not be so bad except Alex's first appointment was nearly $300 and the rest of the work he needs done is going to be over $2000. 

Another kick in the teeth?  No dental plan in our area will cover a root canal unless you've been with the company for over a year.  Apparently people sign up, get their work done, and cancel their policy.  I have no intentions of doing that, as I said before we all need some work done so it's going to be a lifelong policy.

I'm at the point now where I have to decide, do I want to switch dentists or insurance companies?  Honestly I would rather switch insurance companies.  We like our dentist, we don't want to switch.

Even if we do switch insurance companies, they won't cover his root canal.  As I've mentioned before, we don't have any savings.  If we save every extra penny we can and put everything towards the dentist.  It'll take 3-4 months to save up enough.  I'm going to call the dentist today and see if we can work out a payment plan.  I hope that we can because I want to get him all taken care of. 

And aside from all of that, I had to pay $80 down on the cost of his first appointment.  Which was nearly the last of our spending money for the next week and a half.  I'll go over where that went in another post. 

It seems like as soon as you start trying to build up a savings, or get things on the right track, things just pop up and problems happen.  It's like you are knocked down before you can really even get started.  I haven't lost faith though, I believe that this will work out somehow.  I'm not going to throw my hands up in the air and give up.  Even if it takes three months, we will get this taken care of. 

Thank you guys for lending an ear, it helps to get it all out there.  It's funny...  I say things in this blog that I'm feeling, things that I wouldn't ever say aloud to anyone...  Except maybe my hubbs.  He's great about letting me vent to him.  But without this blog, I think I would be a lot more stressed out!  So thank you again, for being there! =)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

My very first budgeting trip to the store!

I have actually been working on a "planning your first budget trip to the store" post but I was unable to finish typing it before I had to go shopping!  I will finish it because it's nearly done, and there may be someone else out there going through this.  Maybe it will help them...

I made my first trip to the grocery store with my budget!  I had built myself up over the past couple of days thinking this wouldn't really be that hard.  People shop on a budget all the time right?  I can do this too...  Well I have to say, it was MUCH harder than I thought it was going to be!  First off, the sale paper that I had been checking?  Was for NEXT week.  What a shocker that was when all the things I had marked to "stock up on" weren't actually cheap at all.  I had to make some major changes in my shopping plan right there in the store.

I learned I need to start my grocery list early in the week and add to it as I notice we are out of something.  I kept putting all these things I hadn't written on my list but remembered that I needed them when I saw them. Things like ketchup, brown sugar, pancake syrup.  All things that we use on a regular basis.  Every time I found something we were out of but it wasn't on the list, that added to what I already had planned on buying.  It added on top of the $125 I had already planned out. 

While I was shopping, I made sure to add up every item I put into the cart so that I would know when I hit my limit.  About mid-way through the store I realized, I'm almost at budget and still need a lot more stuff.  I started sorting through everything to see if I had anything I could do without until next week.  I realized I had added a lot of things I didn't really need already.  I had steaks (on sale but still $6,), steak sauce (only for the steaks I just mentioned, $4), extra cereal that hadn't been on my list ($4), and a couple of other unnecessary things.  I should have written them down for reference but I wasn't thinking of that at the time.  But it was well over $20 worth of stuff.  I put all of that back and went back to work.  By the time I got to the end of the store, I had to do another lap to put away the things I didn't need.

There was a lot of evaluating, a lot of mind changing, and some frustration.  I was so tempted to go over budget, I thought of using some of our weekly "spending money" to cover it.  Then I remembered another blogger friend telling me: Once the money in one area is gone, it's gone.  I didn't want to take from the extra money when I knew I would need it for gas money and for the kiddos dentist appointment.  I held strong, passed up the things I wanted, and put back the things I could do without.

As I went up to the check out I was nervous, afraid I had forgot to count something, worried I had gone over.  At your grocery store, does it show you the total of everything before it takes off the money you saved by getting things on sale?  Well ours does!  I didn't know that, so when I saw it say something like $138 I was really unhappy...  Then it started ticking down, lower and lower!  I was actually under budget by a little over $6!!  I was SO happy that I jumped up and down, clapped my hands a bunch of times, and said "Yes!"  I even told the cashier that this was the first time I'd ever been able to stay under a budget.  She wasn't impressed...  But I was very happy!  I can't express how great I felt. 

I haven't been that proud of myself in a very long time.  Now I know what to expect when I go to the store next week.  And I'm going to do a couple of things to better prepare.  Like starting a list today and being sure I have the correct sale paper. 

A huge thank you to everyone who gave me words of encouragement and support this past week.  I can't tell you how much it helped.  I find confidence and strength in the fact that there are people out there waiting for me to report back in.  It makes me feel empowered knowing these people have faith in me. 

One last thing, if you are in the same boat, if you are struggling with a grocery budget or any kind of budget really.  Just know that you CAN do it.  You can stay under budget.  And when you do, you will feel like a million bucks.  Have faith in yourself and just do it.  You'll be glad you did!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

It's A Numbers Game - The Short Version

If you follow this blog or my facebook page, then you know that a few days ago I posted a blog detailing our financial woes and my extreme lack of money management skills.  Well earlier today I finished up a post I spent days working on, it was our budget plan.  It ended up being VERY long and I decided to write out a shorter version.  If you want to see the more detailed blog, just click here.

All of the numbers I'm going to post here will be rounded to make it even and to simplify things.  More exact numbers are in the other post.  OK let's get started!

Our total monthly income is after taxes and our house payment is $3060, $1530 every two weeks.

The total of our monthly bills:  $1550, or $775 per pay period.
Our food budget:  $500 a month, $250 per pay period, $125 a week.
My hubbs meds:  $250 a month, $125 per pay period. 
Hubbs book fund:  $200 a month, $100 per pay period.
Savings:  $200 a month, $100 per pay period. 
Misc. Spending: $360 a month, $180 a pay period, $90 a week.

Total:  $3060 which means I've budget out every dollar we have incoming.  It gives me a feeling of structure and security.  Knowing that we will have a little bit of money for miscellaneous spending also comforts me.  Everything extra we need will be coming out of that, gas money, my son's dentist appointment next week, I mean everything.

I hope this was an easier read than the first one, I know it's much shorter!  I hope you guys are having a great weekend with your families! 

It's A Numbers Game

I'm sitting down today to write out our budget, I'm doing it from scratch and I'll share my process with you guys.  You can do it right along with me!  I'm not really sure where to start with it all so I'm just going to make a list of all the things I've been paying regularly.  As a heads up, there are a LOT of numbers in this post.  When I finish this, I plan to write out a cliff's notes version for those of you who don't want to read the entire process.  -  I did!  It's posted here.  If you don't want to read this long post, feel free to get the highlights from the short one! =)

Before I get to that, I'll give you a little background on our income.  Our house payment is taken directly out of the paycheck each time.  They take $374.46 each time for the house.  After that and taxes our take home pay is $1530.66, we get that every two weeks for a monthly total of $3061.32.

I have been writing my bills down in a binder for about the past year so I'm taking the average of each one, rounding up just a bit, and adding them all together to find out what we'll need a month for bills. 

Electric - $240
Gas - $190
AT&T - $330
Internet - $55
Credit Card - $50 - The minimum payment is $25 but I am trying to always pay extra.
Fingerhut - $30 - Same as the credit card, the minimum is $15 but we're paying ahead.
Water - $180
Trash - $40
Car Insurance - $100
Dental Insurance - $120
Dish Network - $70
Lunch Bills - $80
Bandland - $40 - This is payment for our sons instrument for school.

Total - $1525 which I will round up to $1550 to make up for any differences, or $775 a pay period.

This doesn't include our house payment (which we already talked about) or any debt that we have.  I haven't really even thought about where to start with that.  My general plan is to save a small emergency fund and then start on the debt one thing at a time.  I think in total we have about $25,000 in debt including my husbands remaining student loans. 

I've set our grocery budget at $500 a month, that's about $150 less than we have been spending a month.  I include all of our household purchases in that, such as toilet paper, pet food, laundry supplies.  Things that I normally purchase when I grocery shop.  This brings our monthly total to $2050, or $1025 per pay period.

I just realized that something pretty big had completely slipped my mind.  My husband is an asthmatic and we do not have health insurance.  All of our medical expenses are directly out of pocket.  Including his Symbicort and it's $246 every month.  So including that we have $2296 a month, $1148 - rounded to $1150 every two weeks. 

That leaves us with $380 remaining every two weeks, from that we need money for miscellaneous spending such as gas for the car and anything else we may need.  My hubbs travels a lot for work and needs a little pocket change.  We will be keeping $180 for the misc spending.  That means we will be putting the other $200 per pay period towards savings. 

Something else I still need to mention is the fact that when my hubbs is not going around fixing computers for Go-Mart, he's a writer.  He's written three books so far but we have been unable to find the money for an editor.  We need to save a little over $1500 to get that done and we will be putting half of our savings money toward that.  At $100 a payday or $200 a month that should take about 8 months to get saved up.  After that, we will put the other money into our savings account.

Our initial savings goal is $3000,  we'll be saving $200 a month for the next 8 months and then it'll be $400 a month.  It should take us about a year to meet our first goal.  After that we will start on our debt.  I know a lot of people probably think we should already be paying off our debt, it's something that nags at the back of my mind all the time.  But you have to realize that we have neglected it for the past 10 years.  It seems like every time you start trying to pay off your debt without a safety net, you are doomed to have an expensive emergency.  The car breaks down, the washer dies, someone has a medical problem.  That's why we're doing the safety net before the debt. 

In the past, I've had trouble sticking to other "budget" plans I've come up with.  But I quickly fell off the wagon.  This time, we will be putting away the debit card!  No access to that bad boy at all.  On payday I will be going to the bank to get our "spending money" and that'll be that.  From this point on out, I'll be writing down every penny we spend. 

Well that was exhausting and days of work but I've finally finished the most difficult part of it!  I also got a few good ideas for future posts but for now, I think I'm done!  I feel pretty good and productive.  I've already planned out the bills that I'll be paying this payday in the spirit of being as prepared as possible. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

What's The 50's Housewifes Deep Dark Secret?

A quick disclaimer: I do not like negativity and will not tolerate it.  I understand that this is the internet and there are certain things to be expected when you put your life out there.  But also, if you treat me with rudeness or disrespect you can expect to get blocked.  I just won't put up with it.

We all have a secret of some kind...  Something that we aren't proud of, something we wish we could change.  Something that we would never want people to know about ourselves...  Well today I am going to share my deep dark secret with you.  Why am I sharing something so personal with you?  Accountability.  I want to change this problem that I have and I haven't been able to do so privately.  Besides, someone else may be having the same problem and maybe they can go through this with me! 

I'm sure you are saying OK Housewife, what gives?  Are you going to spill your guts or just keep us in suspense?  I'm getting to it!  Really it's not all that bad in the grand scheme of things...  OK well here it is:  I am bad with money.  That was harder to type out than I thought it would be.  It's much easier to say that to an understanding friend or family member than it is to say to the surprisingly critical public. 

Now that you know what my big deep dark secret is I want to take a second to say, this is going to be a long post.  A really long post.  I'm going to go in depth about my family's finances, debt, reasons behind the way I handle money, my goals.  If you are not interested in that then thank you for reading this far!  If you continue reading, thank you even more!  Thanks for sticking with me and by me. 

I'll try to keep this as organized as possible so I will start from the beginning and work my way to the present.  I was raised by a single, working woman.  I had three siblings, me being the youngest.  My mom did the very best she could with what she had.  We were dirt poor and at one point in my childhood I remember being on state assistance.  My mom tried to shield me from the fact that we were struggling.  If I asked for a toy, I got it.  If I asked for take out, I got it.  For birthdays and Christmas I got obscene amounts of presents.  I was the baby of our family, and I was darn spoiled.  I didn't realize until I was much, much older that we lived in a house that my mom had to staple cardboard no the walls to keep cold air from blowing through the cracks. 

I realize that a lot of families struggle a lot more than we did, but my point is I was shielded from money.  Everything about it...  Lack of money, what things cost, the fact that people actually had to WORK for money.  Really I just thought it was something you had for a long time. 

As many of you know, I became a mother very early in life.  I'm 26 with a 10 year old and a 6 year old, both biologically mine.  I am so very thankful for them and for my hubbs, without them I would be living a very different life I think.  That I'll go into in another post because it will be a long one as well.  But when you go from being a baby yourself to having a baby practically overnight, it's a pretty drastic change.  I didn't have time to learn about money and how to manage it when I was trying to figure out how to change a diaper and make a bottle. 

In the beginning of our marriage, we had a lot of help from both sides of our families.  Help paying bills and buying anything we needed for our bebies.  I'm thankful for that because my also young hubbs was working a minimum wage ($5.15 I think it was) job trying to support his new family.  Even with help from our parents we struggled...  We had a lot of checks bounce and our bills were paid mostly when they were about to be shut off.  I rarely thought about money at all, I was so caught up in all of the baby whirlwind.  Fast forward four years, our second son was born.  My mother passed away shortly after that.  I guess looking back, life just kept me distracted from our money problems.  I know that sounds crazy but I really just didn't think about it at all. 

We were struggling more than ever at this point, I remember my husband was bringing home $800 a month.  That's what we lived on for our family of four.  His parents were separated and we could go to either one of them any time we had a problem.  When the hubbs' step father passed away, my mother in law was suddenly a widow.  She couldn't help anymore because she was having her own financial problems.  We no longer had help from my mother (obviously).  And to be honest, his father was getting tired of helping his adult son and his wife out.  Things were really looking pretty bleak.

Then we received a true blessing, my husband was offered a wonderful new job.  An amazing offer.  We couldn't believe ourselves!  An IT position for Go-Mart, a chain of gas stations here in WV for those of you that don't know.  It was paying an unbelievable (to us) $50,000 a year.  There was a small catch, we would have to move about an hour north of our childhood homes.  It wasn't that big of a deal to me because my family was mostly gone, I had no ties to the community except a few close friends.  We found a home and set to the loan process and were (surprise!) denied.  Turns out when you have unpaid bills and bad credit, banks are not likely to give you a loan!  We got another blessing, the same person that owns the company my hubbs was going to work for also happens to own a chain of banks.  They helped us get a loan. 

Within a couple of months, we went from broke and renting to rich (to us) and home owners!  During that drastic change, I learned the joy of being able to go out to the store and buy what ever I wanted, when ever I wanted.  That was five years ago...  I've been shopping ever since without ever really looking back.  Our bills are caught up and (mostly) paid on time, we have a ton of debt which I will go over in a later post, we have no savings and are living paycheck to paycheck even now.  There is no safety net and it's getting old.  I've been embarrassed to admit to anyone that we are still having money problems even to this day.  We shouldn't be.  I know that.  With my husband getting regular, yearly raises we are making more money than ever before.  But somehow we always still seem to be broke come payday. 

I've tried in the past to make small changes and it just hasn't worked for us.  This time I'm doing something I've never done before, I'm drastically overhauling our finances.  I've been working on a budget for the past couple of days and I'm changing the way we live.  It's not setting a good example for our children and I'm tired of it.  We've been living paycheck to paycheck for the past 10 years.  Really isn't enough, enough? 

I'll be going over the rest of the things in a series of other posts.  I will be talking about my budget, goals, and much more so check back! =) 

If you are struggling financially or just want to set some new goals for yourself, we can do it together!  Comment here on my blog, message me on my facebook page, or send me an email.  Whatever you are going through, I promise to never judge you.  If you need a supportive friend then I am here for you, no matter what!