Despite car set backs and our bills, we are still in the green with our bank account, with $300 in the emergency account as a small back up as we build that back up. I also got a job to help alleviate some of the weekly bills. I'll bring in around $70 after taxes for a part time job, but hey, that's groceries or gas or emergency as we pay off the last chunk of credit! We've been watching the dollars every day! I also paid a huge chunk of the credit card bill and I think I can pay off the rest next week! I think I can do this because I got our monthly hospital payment lowered so I can throw as much in to the credit card. There is no interest on the hospital bill so that makes things a little easier. I've also been avoiding thrift shops and am slowly getting into the old clothes after the baby. All I can say is that it is all the little things that are adding up to make a difference, whether it's the food I eat to lose weight or where the money goes weekly. I've also been making a conscience effort to make new friends (higher quality people that don't complain or play victim and people I have more in common with).It's a slower process since I'm finding that many like to play the victim route or make excuses. However, I'm super grateful for platforms like this!
Viewing the 'Budgeting' Category
I know that most would not get excited about paying the bills on time and that many do, but it has really taken a while for us to get things together in terms of how much/when they come in-are due/and making sure we have enough money to pay them, especially with kids and "unexpected" situations like fixing the car. Not to mention, I used to have a fear/procrastination of paying them, but now it is the fear of fees/adding up/not getting out of the hamster wheel (it took a lot of pain and mistakes to get here) This month we have successfully paid on time and continued to have money in the emergency fund, despite taking out a huge chunk for car fixing. We still have to pay a hospital bill, one last credit card (which was opened in an emergency to fix car last year) We got paid this week so I replenished the emergency account, which feels good, but we will have to keep it super frugal for a very long time since we are fixing the car still(hopefully the last major visit). Although the car situation is not fun, I spoke with a friend who let me know that their new 3 year old car not only has monthly car payments, but they have to pay the things that are starting to go wrong on it now. they are paying $350 a month on their car payment! However,we are trying to figure out...do we continue to pay for fixing this car or buy another one?
Today is a bit better than yesterday. The kids are feeling better and I got a bunch of stuff done today. I was feeling overwhelmed yesterday and wanted to make sure today was at least better. I was looking over my bills, bank accounts, and student loan. I decided to call about the student loan and told them that I'd be more motivated to pay on time and not miss payments if they could help me out a little. They put me on an automatic pay plan where they withdraw the monthly payment every month and lowered my interest rate by .25%. It is now 4.5% rather than 4.75%. It might not seem like a lot, but it is because my student loan is now over $55K, unlike what I previously thought. As for the weird bill that went to collections and bounced back and forth to different agencies from 2011 up until now (I must have missed it when I paid off all of the consumer debt accounts...we seriously had that many credit cards at one point in the past), the account is now closed for good apparently and they are no longer collecting on it, both the credit company and the collections agency. Unfortunately it is just on my credit report, which is shot anyway, but at least I know what was going on. I also received the statement for my kids college Next Gen accounts...it was a letter stating what the fees would be...get this, it's going to be 1%, 4%, and 5% on the mutual funds we are investing in! I read about being warned on this by the Tony Robins investment book, which lets readers know that mutual funds have the highest (hidden) fee costs than most investments and to switch to low cost index funds from the 500's list...Which I will now do! After understanding the interest rate on my student loan and how much just .25% can change it good/or bad for the life of the account, I can not sit and be charged 5% on investments for the mutual fund account manager who makes money regardless of whether or not my mutual funds go up or down. (I also found it fascinating that I happen to deal with both today and finally understood the impact of every little percent counting. life is interesting). Anyway, for dinner I made chicken salad (using the shredded chicken for the chicken soup I made over the weekend) with shredded carrots and olives, with a baked potato with cheddar cheese and a sliced hard boiled egg on the side and sliced oranges for dessert. The kids loved it, which was great. I have been running out of produce a lot faster than I had anticipated and think that I will need to set aside a small weekly amount for fresh produce (maybe $10 or less). I have been recording the meals that the family eats so I remember and also be able to tell friends/perhaps family that don't believe that I'm actually home cooking all the meals and at a super low price. Tonight's meal had to cost below $.75, which made everyone happy. So, now back to re-budgeting. Now that I know that my student loan interest rate is pretty low, I will add more to the 401K side since they not only match the funds, but the interest rate is higher in terms of compounding interest.
Ah yes, that question that many of us have..."How do I make more money?" I'm actually in the process of trying to figure this out as I look at my expenses and realize that things are getting more expensive as my children get older. I totally forgot to add summer camp to my list. Usually what happens is that every summer I do the "Oh no, I forgot about summer camp and don't have the $200 per week/per kid," and then well, get driven nuts for the majority of summer having to spend every waking minute with the kids (of course I love them, but seriously, summers can be tough sometimes). They usually do not do summer camp and I understand that many families don't do this. However, this year the kids want to do lego and robotics camp. So, how do I make more money aside from cutting overhead expenses etc? At one point I typed office documents, but relying on a husband to get home on time so I can go to work is stressful so that's out of the picture. I also realize that most don't want to hire a prego person, understandable. I did try and run a business at one point, but the overhead with insurance, customers, etc can also be super involved and expensive. Avon and Mary Kay aren't really my thing as I don't have network of people that would be interested in it to sell to. In the past I've sold many things, especially when we moved, so there really isn't much to get rid of since our goal at the time was only to keep what we wanted. Perhaps I'll try the real estate license since the course is already paid for (my mother n'law wouldn't leave me alone about it a few months ago so I caved and got the course, it might be a good start?). I'm also trying to think ahead about HOME SCHOOLING for next year? I put it in caps because this has really been on my mind. I've been really disappointed by public schools, the new way of assessing children's intelligence and progress (kindergarteners now have to take a 100 question test on a computer...the kids are 5! It's ridiculous!) and the private schools, many are amazing, but WOW, the tuition! I'm not sure if I can handle a new baby and 2 kids to homeschool? It would be different if I worked full time...should I try and go for this instead and plan after 3 months of the new baby to go to childcare while the other kids are in public school so I can make money? Everything seems to have a trade off and cost! Has anyone tried this or the homeschool route and how did you make money or passive income? Anyway, on a plus side, I found a get $150 with chase bank when opening a checking account. I think we will do this. At this point, we have only one credit card with a limit of $300 for the "just in case" times, but we are thinking about applying for capital one since there is no APR for a year and perhaps we'd get a higher line for that just in case. Anyway, I'll post my revised budget list soon as it keeps changing (new things arise like potential robotics camp now that I'm more aware of it).
I finally made a comprehensive list of the items that we spend our money on a monthly basis, kinda... This is what I am aiming for at least and I'm sure I missed a few things. I actually tried to shave off a few dollars from the grocery and car fuel, we actually live walking distance to everything and technically have very low fuel, but things like rent and utilizes are pretty accurate. I also tried to make a list of the upcoming items and a general estimate. If your groceries or other are lower, please let me know how or where to lower it too
1.) rent and water/sewer: $2,168
2.) cell phone for 2 lines (just lowered too): $130
3.) basic cable/internet: $70
4.) car insurance (maximum coverage): $450
5.) minimum student loan payment: $387
6.) home electricity: $45
7.) groceries ($75/weekly/ATTEMPTING): $300
8.) car fuel: $120
9.) clothes (kids grow fast and destroy): $80
10.)coin/apartment complex laundry: $60
11.) misc (birthday gifts/fees/etc): $100
12.) monthly kids college contribution: $100
Left Over: $1,500
Upcoming Expenses to put the left over $1,500:
1.) 401K contribution (?)($700??)
2.) Emergency Fund
3.) Life insurance/Hubs (?) ($1000?)
4.) IRA contribution on top of 401K...redundant? (stocks? $100?)
5.) extra to pay student monthly loan ($100-$200?)
6.) save for kid #3 bill ($650/for 7 months?)
So, I'm hoping I did not miss anything. Maybe my husbands job has a life insurance policy that I'm unaware of?
I have some time to really think ahead and then put in to action plans before kiddo #3 is born. On the agenda:
1.) Hubs 401K matching kicks in soon...do we contribute to get the matched funds and utilize the concept of compounding interest and time or direct as much as possible toward student loan?
2.) It will cost at least $4K out of pocket after health insurance for hospital etc for baby...do we save the $4K plus now and pay it after birth or break payments down over the course of the year after kiddo arrives, while putting funds in other areas?
3.) Do we move out of the 2 bedroom where kids currently share a room or do we stay for one more year and figure out a living situation by rearranging apartment, sleeping on couch, having kid in our room or giving up our room to sleep on a pullout? Rent in CA is mucho $$$ and also hard to find a place allowing pets.
Luckily our car already has a 3rd row. It was an unknown extra when we bought the car so somehow I think the universe/G-d/etc. already had this part ready and figured out for us. Lol. As for kids schooling, it was a tentative plan to charter school/homeschool program with the charter school, but will this be unrealistic with #3 and will I need that time of having kids off at public school during the day? What else can I cut to continue to add to the kids college fund and our debt pay off and dream fund (so far not there now with expenses). At this point the hubs is working and doing as much side work as possible. No one will hire a prego woman so I'm wondering what else I can do at this point considering #3 was not on the original plan and I was going to find work next year...was.I can get the real estate license, but how realistic is it for me to utilize that with kids? I kind of feel like just as it was going to get easier #3 happens and new plans need to happen, but how is it possible to still maintain the current finaces while I know things are just going to be more expensive with all the gear, diapers, food, etc that will all cost more? what more can I do aside from save as much and not spend, but how do we continue to make more money next year when the baby is here in the summer?