Minimalist Progress Halfway Through September

Emotions have been high this month. Something about doing the Minimalist Challenge has really brought home that we are going to be leaving this house. I am not sad about donating things we have had for a long time, I am so nervous about how the move will affect the children. I don’t want them to have the same experience I did moving back and forth between locations as a child leaving me forever feeling like I’m not anchored to any place I may be.

I am not sure if you can see the actual progress made between the “Before” picture on the left and the update pictures on the right. In addition to three Rubbermaid bins full of donation items there were also four trash bags of broken items or things that will do no one any good. Thankfully, there was no actual trash in the area. We seem to have a lot more fabric than any person has a right to own.

The most exciting find? A bin full of bras. I had no idea I actually owned more than my 4 Aaah bras (that are falling apart because I have worn little else for the past five years) and my 4 Lane Bryant super push-up bras (for special occasions, purchased on clearance, very uncomfortable but very effective) but it turns out I have more than a few very comfortable t-shirt bras that I’m excited to start using on a regular basis. They are comfortable and fit well. It was like going shopping in my own closet.

 

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I have high hopes we will be able to finish this project by the end of next weekend. Saturday is Mr. Brickie’s birthday and a friend of mine is going to watch our children so we can attend the Brews & Blues fest (Mr. Brickie loves beer. This will probably give him some great homebrew ideas.) The tickets to the event were his birthday gift from someone I adore to the tips of my toes. She is the best gift giver I know. Whenever I shop for someone I think about what she would do and that guides my decision. It has made me a good gift giver, as well. (Or so I’ve been told. People might be lying to make me feel good.)

All the money that was on hold has cleared in the account and I’m not sure how much is in there right this second. I made the payments I needed to make and am leaving the rest alone until this week’s paycheck where I’ll pay the car payment.

I’m praying there will be some left over. Even though I know we will get the bulk of our moving money at Taxmas, it would be nice to have more of an emergency fund before that time.

I have to tell you, I’m also a little nervous about having to prove income. Paystubs in the winter/early spring months aren’t easy to come by.

There is a lot up in the air about 2015 and I try not to think about all the aspects I cannot control. Sometimes I find myself slipping into a horrible daydream of “things I could have done differently to make this not be happening” and go further and further back trying to find the big mistakes and determine how I could have lived those times of my life better until I’m thinking things like, “If I had just gotten better grades in high school….” which is pretty much how I know my train of thought has veered into coocoolococrazytown.

There are a lot of things I could have done differently. There are a lot of things I could have been better at. I could have been more dedicated. I could choose different priorities right now that aren’t my kids and their education and the care and feeding of this house and its occupants. I could get a job and put the kids in daycare. So many alternate realities are out there and I could step into any one of them tomorrow. Hell, I could step into a few of them right now.

But the reality I have chosen, the one where my husband is the breadwinner and I am the housewife that focuses on the children’s education? That’s the one we all like the best. It’s not just my choice, it’s everyone’s choice. This weekend one of my girls made chicken nuggets and one made instant mashed potatoes. They won’t be on Masterchef Junior next season, for sure, but they know how to preheat an oven, set a timer, use oven mitts, measure, mix, and serve. We talked about fractions, serving sizes, how things cook, seasonings, and food safety.

If my kids go away to college and live on crap food it will be a choice, not because they don’t know how to prepare basic meals.

Another minimalist win (but also sad times for the homemaker’s kitchen) is our discovery of Pantry Moths. We thought they were just in the rice and so we dumped all the rice and cleaned the container the rice lives in and got new rice. They’re back. That means they’re in something that’s not the rice and I have to dump most of my pantry. If we weren’t still getting food assistance I don’t know what I would do. I have to buy more flour, sugar, powdered sugar, rice, cornmeal, cornstarch and containers to store them all.

I didn’t have containers already because I didn’t know about things like Pantry Moths and thought containers were something people bought because they were stylish, not because you need them to keep bugs out. I thought folding down the top of the flour bag was good enough. Take it from me, it’s absolutely not good enough. *shudder* Containers are a lesson that trying to be frugal with everything all the time can have negative financial consequences.

Part of me feels good about having this excuse to get the cabinets all cleaned and knowing I will be able to get rid of everything in there we don’t need, but I’m also sad because buying containers for new food because mine was contaminated is something we can ill afford to deal with right now. Every penny is allocated toward moving at some unforeseeable time in the future. We are still hopeful it will be next summer but know it could be as early as February. The not knowing is something that affects me in waves. For a long time it will be calm and sometimes there is one of those little waves of anxiety that lifts you up a little but then you float back down. Once in a while, though, the undertow gets me and I’m sucked down into a very dark place where I find breathing impossible and the only outcomes involve shelters and living in the car.

It takes a long time and a lot of tears to get through those undertow times.

Plus the occasional article I read about people who get foreclosed on and how they should have known better. How commenters join in to say the people this happens to are bad and stupid and how they are all fools who don’t deserve to own a house in the first place. I wish I could get them all in one room to tell them that I wish they had been there before I owned this house. To tell me what a waste a mortgage is. To tell me that no house is worth the four times you’ll pay for it with a decent flat interest rate once you take interest and 30 years into consideration.

I wish I had listened to those people eleven years ago. Too bad they were too stupid and shortsighted to know I would need their advice. (That’s a joke.)

One of the things I tell my kids is, “Don’t tell people what they should have done. You can’t be the quarterback of someone’s past, not even your own. You can only use the information you have to give someone advice about what to do in the future. Anyone who tries to tell you what you should have done in your past is only doing it to make you feel bad and you should not trust them.” This is something that my husband and I are working on in our marriage. You should have asked this way. You should have said that. You should have told me sooner. Those are all based in the past and used only to make the other person feel bad. We are both learning to change this and want to make sure the kids are on board so they can recognize this trait in themselves and others.

I try to pay attention to people who do this kind of thing in a seemingly effortless way. Sparkling Adventures has more kids than I do and travels all the time. Maybe you become immune to the fear of change if you face it often enough. I’ve faced change so many times in my life – giant, upheaval-sized change – I would have thought I was already immune. Maybe being eleven years in the same place has made me weak. Maybe having a non-upheaval-style marriage and family have allowed me to become vulnerable to the pain of change.

Wherever I go, whenever I go there, I will get there in the most minimalist style possible for my family.

That is a huge positive.

 

Happy September Paycheck Update

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It’s been a while since my last paycheck update!

Last Wednesday (not yesterday but a week and a day ago) Mr. Brickie got his paycheck and it was for a full week and he deposited that paycheck into the bank and they decided it needed to be on hold until today.

Thank everything that is good and holy I stopped paying down debt and started an emergency fund! It was that $100 that made all the difference. We fell asleep last night with $19 in the bank and woke up today with some wiggle room.

Not for long, though, because Mr. Brickie has training coming up in a couple weeks. Training is M-F, 10 hours a day. I am not sure how to budget when a week of income is going to be gone. Well, not gone, he gets a stipend and that’s great but he gets the stipend during the week of training and if there is work he will work on that Friday and get paid for that day the next Wednesday. So I have to account for living expenses for both weeks without knowing how much he is going to work in between now and then.

I’m glad math doesn’t make me squeamish. How do people who hate math even budget? I mean, seriously, I love math and this stuff gets overwhelming sometimes. Maybe people who hate math are better at not having to make huge, giant career life changes that result in potential homelessness and a metric ton of math.

We all have our gifts and talents.

The bills that I need to pay are a couple credit card minimums, the car payment, and two utilities. I’m not sure if I should pay the car payment first and then the other bills, or the other bills and then save for the car payment. The car isn’t due until the 24th.

I guess the best thing to do is pay what’s due.

Finances This Week

$700.60 In Bank
- $200.00 Living & Tolls
- $30.78 Gas Bill
- $121.86 Electric Bill
- $50.00 2 CC Minimums
= $297.96 Leftover
+ $186.14 Still on Hold @ Bank
== $484.10 Total Leftover

As you can see, this leaves either two weeks of living expenses with $84 left over … or it puts me within ten bucks of the car payment. Really, it feels like it could go either way at this point. Oh, there is also the $150 we need to pull out of the budget for the car we have on loan. It needs new brake pads and rotors. Also, I have no idea how long the bank is going to wait to release the rest of that money since they were kind enough to wait over a week to clear the last check but release most of yesterday’s check today.

I’m going to call and find out what the difference was. I think it has to do with the check total being over/under $500 and even if I do call it will help my curiosity but it won’t change anything. Checks clear when they clear. Unless I want to start paying Walmart a dollar every time I want to pay a bill in cash, this is how it’s going to be. Sometimes Mr. Brickie works at companies that have direct deposit, sometimes he doesn’t. So we have to have a bank that does not charge more for no direct deposit. It’s best in the long run.

He missed a day of work yesterday because of the weather, but also had a chance to talk to a work buddy who thinks he has a lead on winter work with a big company. So the career giveth and the career taketh away. Sometimes on the same day.

I’m really glad I started working on living in the moment before all this. If I hadn’t I can’t imagine the fetal puddle of confusion I’d be in on a near-constant basis. Don’t get me wrong, I’m scared out of my mind some days but I would rather be scared than confused. I can put one foot in front of the other no matter how scared I am. I can breathe and keep going. When I am confused I don’t know which direction to go so I stand defeated without movement. I become stagnant and hopeless while descending into distraction and lashing out against anyone I can to try and dispel some of the pressure and pain.

Fear is a much more manageable emotion.

Mr. Brickie Promotion Tracker

Hours to 60% Days Projected Date
447.5 56 11/28/2014

Projected Date does not include holidays. It is only an estimate. 

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Was That A Failure or A Success?

Monday did not go as planned. If you didn’t get to read the three updates to the post that happened at the bottom I’ll recap for you real quick:

I basically did hardly anything on my magical unicorn schedule of specialness.

The couple/few things I did get done were things I would have gotten done without a list. I wrote a blog post and I put the rib tips in the crock pot at 11am (because I set an alarm to remind me to ) and I cleaned the kitchen surfaces but didn’t even sweep in there which means I haven’t swept in there in two days and who knows what bits lurk down there. Maybe I’ll have Little Sister use the Swiffer in there today. I love little kids. They’re all young and think cleaning is fun. I wonder when cleaning becomes unfun?

At the end of the day I felt like a giant failure for not following the system. I felt like I would never be successful because I couldn’t do one simple thing for one day. I was beating myself up pretty hard.

When Mr. Brickie came home I told him how crappy I felt and he asked me what I did do with my day. The answer? I did things that weren’t on my schedule. I paid some bills (currently $480 of Mr. Brickie’s paycheck from last Wednesday is still on hold at the bank so I can’t pay all the bills), did some projections, gave Little Sister a bath and a shower, and baked banana bread. I cleaned the kitchen and wiped down the kitchen table and chairs for dinner. I made ribs in the crock pot.

I want to find a schedule out there that works for me. FlyLady does not because I’m barefoot and my sink isn’t shiny and I’m not putting dishes under the sink and I’m not putting on shoes. Sure, I could do it without those things but seriously, you try and do it barefoot and see how long it takes before you start to feel self-conscious about it. Also? Religious messaging. I just can’t. Not with my cleaning updates.

I haven’t found a pattern on A Slob Comes Clean but that might be because I’m not looking hard enough. She has enjoyable posts and a podcast you might like.

Clean Mama has a bunch of printables and checklists and she has the great quick bathroom cleanup.

My own system? It doesn’t work for me either and I even know why.

When I create a system based on what I want to do – or what I think I should do – instead of based in what I already find important or do daily, there is no way that system is going to be successful.

I’m always going to bake and budget and bathe my baby and clean my kitchen and make lunch and dinner homemade. No matter what the schedule says to do that day.

So instead of being highly scheduled, my goal is to do whatever I want to do and then spend 1 hour during the course of the day throwing away trash and bagging up donation items from the girls’ bedroom. On days where I feel like doing more, I’ll do more.

Mr. Brickie and I talked about it last night and I told him I can’t even face the prospect of doing our bedroom by myself. My walk in closet is the most cluttered room in the house and it’s overwhelming.

You know what, you might want to see what the house currently looks like, huh? All this stuff with no background has to be rough.

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This is what I’m starting with. Well, I will do the dishes after I post this, I do dishes about the same time every day so just pretend the dishes aren’t there. I don’t have a dishwasher so until I can convince Mr. Brickie and the Girls (it’s like a band name) to do the after dinner dishes I’m going to continue doing dishes the morning after. By the time dinner is over I’m just done with the day and can’t make myself do one more thing.

As for the rooms and the state of the house? We are trying to turn into minimalists by the time we have to move. So…as you can see….some rooms will be easier than others. We will need to get a storage unit for things like beermaking supplies that aren’t used regularly as well as holiday bins that come out one month out of the year. If we are going to be renting I don’t want to store everything in the house/apartment and a storage unit seems like a perfect idea.

I was going to call this the messy house project, but I thought I should call it something that reflects the goal, not the current state of everything. A hopeful name. Or maybe I should have just called it Americus because I wanted it to have a name that means something.

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Monday’s Schedule | Cleaning Focus: Kitchen

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You might remember me telling you way back in the day I wake my children up with a song.

The same song, every morning, for years now.

Toward the end of summer the girls told me they were very excited I would wake them up with a song again. It was one of those moments you feel and want to hold on to forever. The secret, of course, is waking up before my kids do and getting a cup of coffee in before all this singing nonsense happens.

It’s funny, because at first (years ago) I hated having to get up a half hour before my kids did. It felt unfair. Now? It feels like a gift I give to myself that sets the tone for the whole day. I think that’s how people feel who exercise regularly feel and why they continue to do it. I wish I could feel about exercising every morning the way I do about waking my kids up happy. Even if I walk every morning and feel better physically, it doesn’t do near as much for me mentally. Not enough to keep going regularly. (I do it three times a week give or take a day but it’s nothing to brag about and I’m not increasing resistance or my game.)

There are a lot of things I used to hate doing or thought were awful, but when I saw the rewards they became things I enjoyed doing because I could see the fruit of my labor. Meal planning, cleaning, shopping lists, organizing, doing dishes…all things I didn’t used to enjoy at all. Now? I look forward to doing them because I know it keeps things humming along smoothly.

Minimalist Game Update

I’ve been doing great with the Minimalist Challenge. I have not been taking pictures every day but that does not mean I have not been productive. Every day I get rid of more than the required number of things. Starting today I’m dedicating an hour every weekday to throwing out or donating stuff from my house. By the time we move it will be a minimalist paradise, I assure you.

Of course, my deepest fear is that it ends up looking way more like this…

New! Cleaning Schedule

I’ve been doing my best lately to get the house in order. Now that Mr. Brickie is at work during the day and two out of three are in school, I have a little bit of breathing room to get stuff done around the house. I’ve done my best to try to find someone else’s system I can follow but, like most things, you have to change things up to fit your own lifestyle.

I’ve decided to pick one room every weekday to focus on for an hour. That hour is for deep cleaning baseboards to ceiling. If an hour isn’t enough, well, it will come back into the rotation. Perhaps after a few weeks I can cut the hour down to a half hour depending on how everything looks.

I also have an hour a day dedicated to tossing/donating things from the house we aren’t moving with. I know I already mentioned this but it’s important. I’ll have a timer and two garbage bags. One labelled donate and one labelled trash. (I use a silver sharpie to label black garbage bags.)

Monday’s Schedule

6:00am – 6:30am Wake up slowly and do some stretching or walk a mile at home.
6:30am – 7:35am Wake kids up and get them on the bus to school.
7:35am – 8:00am Put in the day’s load of laundry (Regular*)
8:00am – 10:00am Blog writing, posting, research, and social media posting.
10:00am – 11:00am Deep Clean (Kitchen**)
11:00am – 11:45am Meal Planning / Menu Planning / Shopping List / Recipe Research
11:45am – 12:15pm Lunch with Little Sister
12:15pm – 1:15pm Dinner Prep
1:15pm – 1:20pm Switch laundry to the dryer.
1:20pm – (1:55pm – 2:30pm) Quick clean of all rooms that are not today’s deep clean room. Take no more than 5-10 minutes a room. (35-70 minutes total)
2:30pm – 3:00pm Put away laundry.
3:00pm – 3:15pm Dance Break!
3:15pm – Kids get off the bus and homework/dinner/everything else happens.

There is an after dinner routine where the girls clear the table and do the dinner dishes (with the exception of our heavy frying pan or the crock pot crock) and they can relax and play until it is shower/teeth/bedtime, but it’s not timed so much as we just know it all has to happen before their 8:00pm bedtime.

Notes
* Regular denotes clothing that is not sheets/towels or socks/undies. Other days are dedicated to other kinds of laundry.
** Each weekday has a different room and will be rotated through the weekdays. Kitchen/Bathrooms/Bedroom 1/Bedroom 2/Playroom/TV Room/Living Room/Kitchen

Planning to the quarter/half hour might seem tight in terms of timing but I wanted to start with something and this seems like as good a place as any. Some things, I’m sure, will change over time depending on how much time each task takes, but when that happens the system can be easily altered. I want to print it on little pieces of paper and put it in my paper journal. I want to start using the Bullet Journal system and I think taping this printout in on one of the pages could be really helpful.

Do you schedule your day or just have one or two goals you try to meet and fit everything else in as  you think of it? Do you use a system you enjoy? If so, feel free to share it because you know I’d love to take a look!

Edited @ 8:36am

What was I supposed to be doing right now. Oh, I was already supposed to have the laundry in and write a blog post. Well I wrote part of this post this morning so maybe that counts. I’m not sure. I do have until 10am to be productive on social media. I’m on social media but I’m not sure if you could call what I did productive. I’ll come back and update again after 10am and see if maybe I’ve gotten my s#!t together.

Edited @ 12:22pm

I gave Little Sister a bath/shower and needed to supervise her because 4yo in a bathtub. So that took an hour I was planning on using for something. Also, I baked banana bread in this Pampered Chef heart tube and messed my oven all up which is the opposite of what I wanted to do in the kitchen today. My whole house smells gross. The parts of the bread that stayed in the tube are nice and cooked evenly, but for the sheer hassle I won’t be using it again. To the donate pile it goes.

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I Could Use A Little Luck

I mentioned I have a friend who loaned me a car.

I need brakes for that car.

My husband is buying brake pads today and they’ll probably cost about $20. No problem.

He thought he was going to have a friend change them Sunday but turns out he had something going on, so he was unable to. He told Mr. Brickie to give him a call back today (Tuesday) a little before 6pm and they’d do the brakes. I hope it goes through because Big Sister is signing up for choir today and the first after school meeting is tomorrow after school so this is the last day I can get the car fixed in order to pick her up from practice tomorrow.

Everything should be fine.

My kids not being in extra curricular activities has been a thorn in my side for years. Signing kids up outside of the school system is so much more expensive. This way I can have them in the activities and my inner-hateful-teenager can stop stomping around my brain yelling at me that I don’t ever let my kids do anything cool.

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I totally nailed it with today’s Minimalist Challenge. I picked two items that really take up space. One is an all-in-one printer where only the scanner works. Great, except I have an iPhone with Genius Scan (Link goes to a review. If you want the app search the name in your app store.) so…. it’s gone. The other thing I’m getting rid of is a storage container that the seal has broken off of and the latch is broken. It was the best size for our chili dry bean mix but it needs to be sealed. So I need a new container. This one is going to Goodwill for someone to use for something that doesn’t need a seal.

Oh, I also got rid of an umbrella push stroller. It was a last minute decision.

Mr. Brickie isn’t working today because the Iron is going in at the job site. He goes back to work tomorrow. So he got a four day weekend and I get to be a little more nervous about next week’s paycheck. But I’m not borrowing trouble and I have my baby ($100) savings account that I might be able to build on come tomorrow. We’ll see!

I’m also excited to know what a straight 40-hour paycheck looks like for my 50% apprentice.

I really, really love numbers.

The Minimalist Game

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So there’s this cool new thing.

Okay, it’s probably not new. I’m sure some of you have probably known about this forever and a day. I don’t know how new/old it is because it’s one of those blogs that doesn’t have dates on the posts. I guess they’re just too minimal for that. (It’s my blogging pet peeve. I’m not saying they can’t/shouldn’t do it but I don’t have to like it, either.) It has been brought to my attention this article originally appeared September 26, 2013. Thank you Wendy. It was driving me crazy like a tiny hangnail. 

Enough whining. Visit this post about The Minimalists getting rid of stuff game and check out how cool it’s going to be. You will get rid of 465 pieces of stuff during a 30-day month. If you are like me and Mr. Brickie, you have decided to both do this and the last day of the month will see your donations add up to a whopping 930 pieces of stuff. I love that this challenge works for almost anyone who isn’t already totally minimalist. If you don’t have a lot of stuff, you can count each piece of junk mail. If you’re like me, you count the whole stack of junk mail as one thing. If you’re in a very cluttered place, you start big. If you’re already pretty put together you start small.

Ways to Participate

Instagram & Twitter: #septmingame
Facebook: If Facebook groups are more your thing you can either PM me and let me know you want to be added to the group or you can stick with using the hashtag above or just do it on your own and tell everyone it’s your idea and that you’re a total minimalist thought leader. I won’t judge. (I do not run this FB group. I’m just happy to add you.)
Privately: I know, this is a crazy concept but you can just do this yourself without having to be part of a group.

Here is my first post for the challenge.

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I’m excited about having a good way to track this. Whatever day of the month it is? That’s how many things to get rid of.

Easy is fantastic.

If This Sounds Overwhelming

If it sounds like too much, don’t fret. The goal is to get something done, not to get it done exactly the way the game says to. Not even the way someone else is doing it. Even if you get rid of one thing a day, you’re thirty things less cluttered at the end of the month. Doing something is far better than doing nothing. You don’t get a cookie or a trophy or a badge for being perfect so get rid of one thing today and tell yourself, “I did more than I was going to. I’ve gone above and beyond.”

Doing one thing every day or a few things for a few days is better than giving up without starting because you couldn’t do everything the right way. There is no right way.

Credit Where Credit Is Due

Many thanks to Michelle Pendergrass &  Dianne at Pop Rocks & Eye Drops (If you’re participating on Instagram you can follow Dianne at @bunnytrails and use the hashtag #septmingame) for bringing this game to my attention and being an inspiration to join in!

How We Spent It Paycheck Update

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I’m getting an almost embarrassing amount of use from this one simple graphic.

When I first started writing about our personal finances I was scared. I tried to do a high level vague kind of thing where I shared a life list and only circled specifics from very high up. The thought of anyone knowing how poor we were felt like needles piercing my heart. I assumed – like most people do – there was something wrong with me and everyone else had their finances on lock.

I learn everyday how untrue that is.

Even though I know so much more about how to set up and follow a budget now, I still worry I am not good enough to keep this train on the tracks. I still wake up in the middle of the night sometimes with a half-completed calculation on the tip of my tongue. Sometimes I feel like a human calculator. Sometimes I feel like a broken calculator! 

But, really, I have no choice. I could stop blogging about it but there’s no need for that. It wouldn’t make my day-to-day life any less real. I am writing the truth and while I may leave some things out there is nothing hidden. I am focused on finances here because that is what I think about most of my day and desperately need an outlet to talk about. The people in my life will listen to me talk but since I know most of their financial situations I have to tread lightly so they do not think I am trying to give advice. You know I don’t mean you specifically in most cases. You don’t judge.

I love you guys!!

Speaking of not judging let me tell you what I did yesterday. I went out with my friend to Starbucks and I bought. Yes, I did. I know I’m in a tight spot but she buys more often than not and it’s important to give back. No, we can’t do something that’s not Starbucks.

Okay, on to how the check is getting spent.

$421.35 In Bank
- $200.00 Living & Tolls
- $95.00 Net10 (cell phones)
- $100.00 Emergency Fund
= $26.35 Leftover

The Starbucks purchase and another grocery purchase have already happened (and are not reflected in the above numbers) totaling just a smidge above $31.50 so there is less in the living fund but that’s okay because that’s why we call it a living fund and not just “gas and tolls”. I have found that actually allowing ourselves a little big of money to spend during the week makes it much easier to stick to the budget overall.

This week’s bottom line: Hooray and hallelujah we have a little bitty start to an emergency fund.

Budgeting money and paying bills is so much more fun when you have more money. (Also in breaking news, the sky is blue.)

Mr. Brickie Promotion Tracker

Hours Left to 60% Days
493 62

I have this really great spreadsheet that tracks Mr. Brickie’s promotions, insurance benefit hours, locations he has worked, hours he has worked, the foreman he works with at each job, and training information. Not only is it a work of art, it lets me know at a glance where he stands and how many work days are left until his next promotion. He just flipped to 50% on July 21st so the numbers don’t look super great yet, but they’re going a lot faster than they did last year.

If I’m not back before Tuesday, Happy Labor Day!

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Unexpected | Thankful Thursday

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I saw this side by side video on Facebook yesterday. It was something about how a rich kid gets ready for school vs. a poor kid. I found it on YouTube if you want to watch it.

While I know you’ve heard me go on about how I love my friends and family and I have the things money can’t buy today I was reminded in a very unexpected way that on the big bell curve of poverty I am rich.

So today, in a very real way, I am thankful for being rich.

This isn’t about love. This isn’t about how great my family is. (Even though they are.) This is about honest-to-goodness worldly goods and that damn hierarchy of needs. Seriously, check out just some of the stuff I’ve got:

  • I have clean drinking water.
  • I have fresh food, fruit, and vegetables in addition to other food.
  • Some of my food gets kept in a refrigerator.
  • I have a roof over my head.
  • I have shoes.
  • My daughters have thrift store clothing that’s Tommy Hilfiger and GAP.
  • One of my girls got a cavity filled at a high quality, much beloved dentist last week.
  • After my kids’ shoes wear down they get new pairs.
  • My glasses are the correct prescription.
  • Mr. Brickie goes to his job in new work boots.
  • I have a hundred dollar emergency fund. (WooHoo! I’m on my way to 1k!)
  • I have an iPhone, a desktop computer, a Kindle, a laptop, and an XBox.
  • I have Internet access in my house.
  • I live in a town with a fully stocked library.
  • I have underwear.

It doesn’t matter if some of those were gifts and some are on credit cards and some were bought by us. They’re the things we have. Things that are part of our everyday lives. I will make pasta salad tonight thanks to the government and the tax dollars you, me, and everyone else pays in. (Did you know just last week

Really, I’m not being crazy. I’m not even comparing myself to a third-world country (which I could do but feels a little “put them down to bring me up”) but here, in my country, there are homeless people without shoes and children without clean drinking water. There are children (and adults) who go hungry. Sure I may have had to put some of my food safety concerns on the shelf, but I would much rather make an intellectual sacrifice than watch my children suffer and become unable to learn because of chronic headaches due to near-constant gnawing hunger.

My perspective on being rich is not  something I’m doing to make myself feel better.

It’s a reminder that I am, in fact, doing so well compared to so many and that to deny or ignore that in order to cry into my coffee would be horrible.

It doesn’t take away my fear, but it puts it in perspective.

I just tried to do a Google search for links to maybe some hunger stats or the headaches kids get that keep them from learning in case you wanted to know more. I remember reading the article but I don’t remember where. It was a legit news source though, I almost always remember when my source for hard hitting news is TMZ or something that should never be admitted much less shared.

That also brings me to why I am afraid to do the things that would increase readership to this blog. I feel like the way we are now I’m inviting some people over to my house every day for a little brunch and talking. We have coffee and laugh and nod sagely and all have a good time. If I start doing things to bring traffic then suddenly it’s you, me, and the guy who wants to tell me I’m a wack-a-doo in the comments section.

A concern for another day, surely.

Today’s agenda is to clean the kitchen (again because it’s never ending), make BBQ chicken sandwiches and pasta salad for dinner, and maybe clean the bathroom. Before all that happens, however, it’s going to be time to get the kids out of bed and out the door to school.

I got up early today because the hour between when Mr. Brickie needs to get up (I set my alarm as his backup alarm) and when I need to get up is always plagued by the snooze button for him multiple times and then him coming in to kiss me goodbye at quarter till 6 and then just when I fall back to sleep my alarm goes off. So, today, I decided I would just get up at 5am with him. Maybe being up this early will yield better long-term blogging results. It’s certainly easier to write with no kid noises or husband noises. I know I need to get back to exercising in the morning and I’m going to see if maybe I can get both in during that hour and a half all to myself.

Right now, though, if I had to decide I would prioritize writing. I think it is important to make sure I”m not just recording the numbers and the increases we experience on this personal financial journey, but also the stress and the fear that will one day be a memory of the constant passengers during this part of the journey.

I feel better today than I did yesterday and the day before, so I think I’m coming out of all that mess. It felt like a thousand birds were flying into a thousand windows in my brain. But here on the other side of that it looks like Mr. Brickie will work a full week, which will make reaching our emergency fund goal a much faster process.

Have a great day and feel free to check out other posts from the Axis of Ineptitude blogging challenge.

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How We Spent It!

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This is probably going to be a short entry.

It will take much longer to write because I’m actively avoiding checking the bank balance.

I’m scared.

There is nothing more I can do. I have a long term plan and am sticking to it, I didn’t waste money or spend it frivolously. My decision to change from paying down debt to having an emergency fund was basically a perspective shift, nothing more.

Mr. Brickie’s union meeting went really, really well. All indications are that people think he’s going to go places. His foreman on the job is teaching him about bidding and estimations because, “When you’re a foreman, you’ll need to know this stuff.”

Everyone assumes he has a bright future. I know he does.

I just wish the future paycheck could come a little bit faster. I always knew this was going to be a “down to the wire” situation and like I said yesterday, most days I just stay in the now and think about today because we chose this path two years ago and it has gone as planned (a little slower than planned, but you can’t predict things like Mr. Brickie’s first year with the union being “the slowest year in bricklayer history” for all the members.)

So I need to reel in my perspective from here, there, everywhere, future, past, alternate futures 1-458, and get back to focusing on today. Doing the actions I can today to move closer toward my goal.

I am nervous but it’s not like my bank account is Schrodinger’s Cat. What’s in there is in there whether I look or not.

Mr. Brickie’s current company doesn’t have direct deposit. He’s getting a paper check today and if the bank is close he may be able to cash it but otherwise we’re going to have to wait days for it to clear in the bank account.

So I guess looking did make it not be there.

I texted him to let me know the amount of the check and the bank it’s drawn on so we can plan our next steps.

$377.00 Check
+ $42.00 Already in Bank
- $200.00 Living & Tolls
- $95.00 Net10 (cell phones)
- $100.00 Emergency Fund
= $24.00 Leftover (To Credit)

I probably need to put the lines in the spreadsheet differently so the $40 in tolls per week is on a separate line because that gets paid to the credit card. Since the other auto-billed things on the credit card are the Internet, hosting, and domains I do need a little extra per check to go on the card and so even if Mr. Brickie has not used $40 a week in tolls that money still comes off the top and goes toward the credit card so there aren’t any accidents or “oops” moments that put us over limit or cost us a late fee.

Also, it turns out the bank is less than a mile from the job site he is currently on, but because we have Capital One 360 checking there is no way for us (in this area) to deposit cash into our account. Doing the “snap a picture of the check” method can result in days of the check being held.

I hate when he works for companies that don’t use direct deposit.

Is it worse to wait a few days for the check to clear through the online deposit system or is it worse to get the check cashed and use the cash to pay the Net10 (you can buy a refill card at Walmart) and pay the Tolls + Leftover money to the credit card ($1 fee to do at Walmart).

I get how people go through life without a bank account. It used to seem like a mind blowing concept and I couldn’t imagine. Now? I don’t have to imagine. It’s a legitimate choice. (I would consider getting a local bank but without direct deposit or a minimum balance I’m poop out of luck for an account that won’t charge me more in fees than Walmart does to pay my bills.)

We should really consider signing up with the credit union. I think we can join the AFL-CIO credit union which has sister branches everywhere but I’m not sure what’s involved in that and if the online banking is up to snuff since the website for the credit union looks circa 2003. Really, what’s the difference between taking a picture of the check and depositing the check in a local brick and mortar bank? Both are going to make me wait for the check to clear.

But if the bank of the company is local it can be cashed there and then the cash deposited into our local bank.

This whole thing is making me tired. Today’s batch of banana bread is out of the oven and I promised Little Sister – who is really sick right now – we would make cookies together today. You know, so we can get the rest of the family horribly sick. (Even though we will wash our hands she’s still gonna breathe.)

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Breathing In A Paper Bag

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I’m trying so hard not to hyperventilate.

Tomorrow is payday and it’s going to be a 21 hour check. If I was going to judge prior decisions I would say my decision to build an emergency fund is one I should have come up with a hell of a lot sooner.

Because I’m going to have flexible extra income tomorrow of about $20.

Even though there have been crazy, sky-opening torrential downpours the last two days, somehow Mr. Brickie has managed to get a full day in yesterday and today. Hopefully the trend keeps up, because the check after this one needs to pay utility bills and minimum credit card payments.

The threat of Christmas is starting to loom.

I’m having a bit of a fear-based week. As much as I want to be optimistic, as much as I want to have hope that from now until Christmas Mr. Brickie will work full time and we will be able to keep up with bills and save money and pay off all the credit cards, well, I’m just having  a week where that’s a little too much effort to keep up with.

But in times of crisis I try to look on the bright side no matter how dim it might be.

My numbers might be wrong.

I used an online calculator to project what tomorrow’s paycheck will be. Maybe I guessed low!

Maybe since I was sick over the weekend and am still feeling the trailing effects, I have somehow made a grave error and my math is wrong, leaving us with more money to spare and start our emergency fund with!

Positive solutions for other money issues.

The birthday cake Little Sister wants would cost over a hundred dollars if I get it done professionally, so I’m going to buy some colored fondant and squeeze tubes of colored buttercream and make her dream cake myself. I’m not sure exactly how but it’s a cat face on top of a round cake so I’m just going to figure it the heck out.

I’m exhausted and I need to go back to exercising in the morning. When I do, I don’t feel this pit of exhaustion in the core of my soul. I wish I didn’t forget that’s the solution so often.

Part of me wants to be proud of how we have come and how stable our situation is considering how bad it could be by now. Most of me just wants to hide in my bed, deep under the comforter for about two years until we are in twice the financial position we are today.

See you for the regular budget update tomorrow.

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