Thursday, April 10, 2014

Gah! Feeling really overwhelmed since the move!

Before we made the move from Boston to Kentucky (AKA from ridiculously high cost of living to nice and affordable) I did some number crunching to see if my salary could support us while S got his art work back up and running and bringing in some funds.  I knew things would be tight but on paper it looked like it would work.  Maybe not putting away the savings or paying off as much debt as I had hoped but at least we could make ends meet without taking on new debt.

But so far everything about the transition has cost a lot more than I anticipated and the extra cash that I factored into the equation to cover our expenses has been falling short.  One of the biggies is that our old landlord kept $1200 of our deposit leaving us only $90 returned.  The list of "repairs" he had to make to the place after we left is quite lengthy and most of it could be argued but he's a lawyer and kind of jerk and I don't have the energy or time to fight him.  So there's a big hit.  

As for the move, a friend ended up flying up to help us drive/ handle the babies (which was amazing of her to do) but it meant we were paying for an extra hotel room and her food.  We had a late start and ended up needing two nights stay.  I did not do a very good job of estimating the fuel a fully loaded truck pulling a car through the mountains would gobble up.  And I failed to factor in how much we would spend on deposits for utilities and getting the fridge and pantry restocked.  All in all, I think the move was a good $1000 more than I expected.

On top of all that, our elderly dog got really sick as soon as we got here and we've been battling to get him better.  The prognosis probably isn't good but I can't justify spending the $600 for full diagnostic testing to confirm that he has cancer and he's dying and there's nothing we can do.  The vet agreed that the best course of action is to give him some meds (kind of expensive steroids) daily to help keep his appetite up and just enjoy what are most likely our last months with him.  Which is a horrible blow after having just found new homes for some of our other fur babies before we moved.  

So the bottom line is that the transition to our new life has been more difficult than I anticipated, I don't even have a clear picture of our finances at the moment since bank accounts, bills, and paychecks are all in flux which stresses me out to no end but I think we're potentially looking at a shortfall of around $500 a month. 

Kind of feeling like a financial failure since I did such a crappy job of estimating what our new life would cost.  I don't want S to have to scrap his dream of getting his business back up and running so soon out of the gate but unless things change and soon, he's going to have to get a job.  And of course that means he's either working in the evening or weekends and we won't see each other or he's working during the day and we're back to paying someone else almost a full salary to raise our kids.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

1st Quarter 2014 report

Starting point:

Student Loan 1 (My fed loan): $38,339
Student Loan 2 (S' state loan): $21,719
Student Loan 3 (S' fed loan): $5,454
Car Loan: $11,684
Credit Card 1: $10,577
Credit Card 2: $3,635
Credit Card 3: $0
Misc. small debts (S' small debts in collections): $5,443
Medical expenses: $3,672
Parents: $600

Total: $101,123

And here's were we are today:

Student Loan 1: $35,478
Student Loan 2: $19,496
Student Loan 3: $4,759
Car Loan: $0
Credit Card 1: $0
Credit Card 2: $3,171
Credit Card 3: $6,407
Misc. small debts: $4,284
Medical expenses: $550
Parents: $0

Total: $74,145

Paid off to date: $26,978 paid off + $523 in savings

This is kind of a weird quarterly report... the credit card debt balance is a bit deceiving.  Since we just moved we have a lot of money in flux.  We have a deposit from our last place we're waiting for, various small refunds, balances from multiple bank accounts being sent to us since we had to close our Massachusetts bank and set up a Kentucky bank account.  We also didn't know when my new jobs pay cycles would be or when we would have access to our new bank account so we decided to put all the moving expenses on the Credit Card.  Once all our money is consolidated into one account again, we'll make a big payment to the Credit Card debt.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Moving expenses

Just a short post today...

We made our big move from Massachusetts to Kentucky this past weekend and are busily settling into our new life.  With the move and the settling comes expenses.  As many times as I've moved in my life you'd think I would have a better handle on the expenses that come along with moving.  However, the last time I moved was pre-financially responsible days so my memories of how much should be budgeted were pretty useless.  

I haven't sat down and actually counted up how much the move cost but here are some things that I did NOT budget for:

  • An extra set of hands. At the last minute one of S' friends offered to drive with us to help with the babies.  Without her help I think we'd probably still be on the road struggling to make the drive!  However, I hadn't budgeted anything for extra food and lodging for a helper.
  • An extra day of travel/ extra night of lodging.  We got a late start and couldn't make up the time which ended up costing us an extra night.
  • How much fuel the truck would gobble up fully weighted down.  We packed that Uhaul like a sardine can AND towed a car on the back so I'm sure my calculations for fuel costs were thrown off. 
  • Restocking the fridge.  I never really considered that we'd be starting over, almost from square one, at the new house.  I think we've spent over $250 at grocery stores over the past week and we still don't have much to show for it besides all new condiments and essentials!
  • Deposits for utilities.  These haven't hit us yet but the first utility bills are going to be painful.
  • Stuff for the new house.  I didn't budget anything for new furnishings, decor, or odds and ends to help us get situated in new our new home.  Our new place is much larger than the last and we are going to have to work very hard to resist the temptations to fill it with more stuff.  
Once things get a little more routine and I've got the major items figured out, I'll try to go back and figure out how much the move really cost us.

Friday, February 28, 2014

2014 outlook

Since I spent all of January struggling to overcome hardships and most of February preparing for the awesome transition we are about to make, it's high time I got around to thinking about what I want the REST of 2014 to hold for our finances! 

I'm having trouble remembering how much I've written about S and my plan for him to be a stay at home dad and get back into his pottery studio.  We've been kicking around the idea/ hope that we can live mostly off of my salary which would allow him to get back to doing what he loves- making/ selling/ teaching pottery.  We've been trying to figure out how to make this happen since before the babies were born but never could come up with a feasible plan that met all our financial goals and obligations if we stayed in the Boston area.  

But with this move to Kentucky, we might actually be able to make it work!  We've gotten the math to work on paper but we will have to stick to a very skimpy budget until he starts pulling in some money from his art work/ teaching classes.  So Goal Number 1 for the remainder of 2014 is to stick with the slimmest budget we've ever had to give S the opportunity to reestablish his pottery studio and be able to stay at home with our boys!  (This is a major topic so I'll write more about it later)

Goal Number 2 is to get our emergency fund back up to $1000 by the end of the year.  As for our debt, Goal Number 3 is to pay off the remainder of the medical bills ($550), pay off as much remaining credit card debt as possible and to chip away at the rest of the debt with the regular monthly payments for a total debt reduction of $7000.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

On the road again

February has been a busy month!  Somewhere around the end of of January, when things were looking so bleak, S and I kind of threw in the towel and decided it might be a good idea to think about moving nearer to my family and somewhere cheaper.  Our initial thoughts were to get somewhere in the one easy day's driving range of Kentucky so that travel for holidays and emergencies would be more doable and perhaps family would be tempted to visit us more often to lend a helping hand with the twins.  We figured it would take several months to land a new job which put us moving somewhere in the late spring/ early summer right before the boys' 1st birthday.

With marching orders in hand, I spent the first weekend in February putting together my resume and portfolio of work examples.  Over the first week of February, I sent out some e-mails to my friends in the profession and started scouring the job postings.  Mid-week a friend from college wrote me back to let me know her company was hiring for their office only an hour or so away from my parent's house!  I sent off my stuff and got an immediate call back.  A week later I was flying down to interview and now, only 19 days after starting my job search, I have officially accepted a position with them and start on March 17!

My head is still spinning with this sudden change but I have such an optimistic feeling about the move.  It seems serendipitous that just when we have reached our breaking point, an opportunity presents itself.  The move means we will be within arms reach of my entire family and most of my closest friends, a whole battalion of helping hands for when things get a little too much to handle on our own.  The move also means a much cheaper cost of living, and with a comparable salary to what I have now, equates to roughly a 30% raise!  Lastly, the move puts me in a job that I believe is much more in line with what I enjoy professionally so I'm hoping there will be a level of job satisfaction I don't currently have.

Fortunately, I did our taxes as early as possible and we have already received our mega return (since we didn't adjust our withholdings after the babies came last year).  I had initially thought it would go towards debt, which would have been nice, but now it looks like it will help us make this unexpected transition!  So many things to get done in a very short amount of time!  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

January Do-Over

This month has seriously been one of the worst I’ve had in recent history in terms of Murphy’s Law.  Just trying to keep up with all the things that have gone wrong (ie dealing with dead rodents in the heating ducts, the great dryer fire of 2014, and a multitude of car repairs just to name a hand full of things that January dished out) has not left much time or energy to deal with the bigger picture of life and finances.  With a little over a week left until the end of the month and much of the mess from the past weeks cleaned up, I am declaring a New Year’s Do-Over.   I will be popping open a bottle of champagne and singing Auld Lang Syne come midnight next Friday and treating February like the new January!  

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Lemons, lemons, and more lemons

It's only 2 weeks into 2014 and I'm already OVER this year!  I know the little saying about what to do when life gives you lemons but I am SICK of lemonade!  Let me just elaborate on what the past 14 days has dished out to me, S and the babies:

  • We brought back a washer and dryer from my family when we went to visit them for the holidays (YAY), however the hookups at our rental place, being basically held together with bubble gum and zip ties, all but disintegrated when we tried to uninstall the cruddy old washer and dryer.  We have spent the last two weeks replacing the outflow water line when it failed, mopping up the basement when the incoming water line failed, replacing the dryer outlet pipe when that failed, and last but not least, rewiring the dryer plug when the faulty outflow pipe dripped water onto the wiring and caused the wiring to CATCH ON FIRE!  All said we spent around $300 hauling and hooking up our "Free" washer and dryer.
  • There was a blizzard. Not surprising my work did not get closed.  After our street finally got plowed (it's a private street and gets plowed whenever my A-hole landlord decides to call someone to do it), S and I dug out my car.  It wouldn't start.  So then we dug out his car.  I almost got to work before it broke down on the side of the interstate.  Accepted a ride from a stranger, which I would never, ever do under normal circumstances but given that it was 7 degrees out and I had no one else that could pick me up including a tow company since they were all busy dealing with the snow emergency.  Stranger was nice and took me all the way to work.  Finally found a tow truck that came and picked me up and took the car to a shop.  S was able to get my car running but it cost us $300 to get his running (tow plus repair).
  • And speaking of cars, it turns out the vehicles we purchased from our families for super cheap have not had basic maintenance performed on them, like, ever.  One of them is 80k overdue for a timing belt replacement.  That's like driving around in a time bomb.  And it's going to cost us around $900 to get it fixed.
  • Our dental check ups uncovered quite a bit of dental work that needs to be done... pretty much every one of S' old fillings is failing and must be replaced as well as a cavity for me (thanks a lot soda addiction).  So far $400 spent and not even half way through the list of tooth repairs.
  • Something died in our duct work and every time the heat kicks on the sweet, sweet smell of death gets blasted through the house.  Kind of like a the Glade Plug In from Hell.  In the course of trying to figure out where the smell was coming from, S went in the attic and discovered that a family of rodents has been using the insulated duct work for bedding.  All the duct work going to the bedrooms and bathroom upstairs is full of holes with the babies room being almost completely disconnected.  So for who knows how long, we've been pumping a/c and heat into the un-insulated attic.  What a complete waste of energy and $$$!  At least the landlord sent someone over to fix it this a.m.
  • And lastly, the most horrible of all, we finally came to terms with our inability to provide for all of our pets (and babies and us) and decided to find a new home for one of our sweet pups.  We had already found great homes for the two lizards and one cat with friends but could not find a home for the high-needs pup.  We decided to use a rescue adoption service and this past weekend was the drop-off.  I am completely heartbroken, even though I know she will find a great home with a family who can give her what she needs.
I really hope things turn around soon because all this stress is really taking it's toll on me (and our finances)