Last night DH and I sat down and took another look at the health plan offered by the job recruiter company. They offer 4 different plans.
The gold plan has a $500 per person and a $1000 per family deductible. Prescriptions are $10 for generic and $50 for brand names. Co-pay is $35 whether it is a regular doctor or a specialist. Out of pocket max per person is $4500 and per family is $9000.
The silver plan has a $2000 per person and $4000 per family deductible. Prescriptions are $20 for generic and $80 for brand names. Co-pay is $45. Out of pocket max per person is $6850 and family is $13,700. It has an out of pocket max of $10,000 after the deductible has been met.
It offered 2 bronze plans. Plan 1 has a $5250 per person and a $10,500 family deductible. Prescriptions are $20/$80 and then they have a third tier and a fourth tier of 30% and 50% respectively for the really high priced drugs. Co-pay is $50. Out of pocket max is $7150 per person and $14,300 per family.
The second bronze plan is an HSA plan. It has a $7150 deductible per person and $14,300 per family. Prescriptions are $35/$100 with the other tiers again being 30% and 50%. Co-pay is $50. The out of pocket max is $6550 per person and $13,100 per family.
Based on our prescription costs and the fact that my daughter is going to need 2 surgeries in the next couple of months, we knew both bronze plans were out, so it really came down to which would save us more money this year, the gold or the silver.
DH ran the numbers and on the gold plan weekly take home pay will be approximately $1177. On the silver plan it will be $1232. This is without any overtime, his guaranteed 40 hours a week. If he gets ten hours of overtime a week the amounts would be $1523 and $1577.
They are currently on an overtime moratorium for this week and the next two weeks, though DH has been getting 50 hours up until now. But they put the freeze on because they have pushed the end date of the job out to mid-April instead of mid-March, so the rush to get the work done on time has slowed. It means DH will be employed for another month at least, though.
So not feeling we could count on the overtime at all, my numbers to budget with had to be $1177 and $1232. I sat down and figured out the budget with the lower amount to see if we could swing it and still be able to start the 401K contributions in March when he qualifies.
We can swing the more expensive plan and we are going to because in the long run it will be cheaper. I have 7 prescriptions, my daughter has 6, and my husband has 2. I know we might only be on this medical plan a few months and if DH gets hired on through the actual company it will be all different medical than this and a different 401K plan, too, but since I know what is coming up and how much we would be spending, the gold plan will be cheaper, especially since more of it will be in pretax dollars, which will also lower our taxable income.
I have determined we can at least contribute 2% of his income to a 401K which is $36 a week. If after the first month of that he is still working there we will try to bump it up to 4% or $78 a week and see if we can handle that. We will proceed forward with 1% bumps until we get to 6% to get all the matching funds.
I can make some cuts in the grocery budget and we can cut out eating out again. Not that we eat out much, but we do. I think the amount I have allotted for medical expenses will drop, too. I am not sure we will be able to contribute to the Emergency Fund or pay back my mother anything, though. I will try for at least $100 a month into the EF, though.
Our insurance will go up once the will finishes up whatever it is doing and the title of the truck gets transferred into our names and MIL is no longer paying the insurance on it. I reckon it will double, but it might not, since we ought to get a multiple vehicle discount. I am considering at that time dropping everything but what we need for if we are at fault since we will have two vehicles. When you only have one vehicle that is a chancier prospect. We'll see. DS is about to start learning to drive, which doesn't change anything yet, but will once he gets a license.
I hate the idea of having such a cramped budget, but we've lived on less before and I know we can do this with enough self-discipline. Once I can start growing food again that will help, too. The fruit and veggie portion of the food budget from May through October really goes way down.
At least with the turkeys and chickens gone I don't have any animals that are hemorrhaging money. The rabbits pay for their own feed as well as the ducks' feed. We don't get enough eggs for the ducks to be self-sufficient, but the rabbits make up for it. We are down to just 4 ducks and 1 drake now and they forage a lot. They also eat a lot of garden produce in the spring, summer, and fall.
This month has been a rough one with the animals. We lost Annabeth the duck shortly after the new year started and last night Luna Blue died. Luna Blue was the rabbit I had to feed with a dropper full of raw goat milk because her mother died when she was 3 weeks old. Only 3 out of 7 of that litter survived without their mother. But she was the runt and she needed the most help. I adored that rabbit. She was the sweetest thing.
We had a vicious wind storm yesterday and all I can think is that the loud noises scared her and she flipped and broke her back. We've had that happen before with really loud noises and her back was definitely broken. I've lost rabbits when the Med-Evac helicopter has flown illegally low over our house on the way to the hospital on three occasions and twice now to wind storms. It is frustrating. We have more wind on the horizon as well and I hope I don't lose anyone else. I'm not particularly attached to the others like I was to Luna, but I do love them and it is always hard to lose animals.
Viewing the 'Is Budget a Four Letter Word?' Category
Last night DH and I sat down and took another look at the health plan offered by the job recruiter company. They offer 4 different plans.
The outgo was slightly higher than the intake this week, but I had money left from last week in anticipation of that. I also have some money left to pay the surgeon consult on Monday and get the cash discount.
DH didn't get any overtime last week because of the holiday. He at least got his 40 hours in, though, by working 4 ten hour days. That $300 of overtime pay sure makes a difference.
I am not sure if we will be able to put anything in the Emergency Fund this month. Or at least not the full $500 I budgeted. And nothing to the College Fund, either. Maybe not even a loan payment to Mom. I was not expecting an ER visit and surgeon consult. If I can manage to not take any money out of the EF, I'll be happy, but we'll have to wait and see. I am hoping the hospital does not bill us until the end of the month.
I am really dreading when they start taking medical out. We are going for the plan with the lowest deductible and most coverage due to the anticipated surgery after running the numbers, but that will mean a normal paycheck is a little over $1000 a week, and overtime might be $300. They may take out less in taxes, though with the tax cut, but I don't know when that goes into effect so I am not counting on it.
I really wish he had been hired on direct with the company and not through a recruiting service. They are talking about keeping him on after this job is up and I hope that pans out. The job he was hired for only goes mid-March. If he gets asked to stay, he will have to work through the recruiting service through May, though, unless they buy out the contract, which the recruiting company may go for after they see the medical bills we're going to generate. The actual company has much better benefits and medical shouldn't be anywhere near what it is through the recruiter company.
Here are the bills I paid today:
_500.00 To Mom for Utilities
_158.01 BoA MC
$1548.60 Total Money Out
I just discovered I didn't actually make a payment on the 30th. I recorded it in my check register, but I must have gotten distracted before I actually went online and paid it. Fortunately I had made a payment the week before, so there was no late fee, but that does mean we got charged interest for the $1400 balance. Ugh. I hate when that happens. I hate giving a single cent to the Evil Empire.
Okay, we were a bit distracted having to deal with DD's gall bladder attack, but still. I am usually so on the ball with paying the bills. Lesson learned, though. Don't enter it into the register until I've actually made the payment. I wish I'd realized this two days ago.
I was wondering why the balance was so high on that account. I couldn't find the payment there, so I checked my checking account online and couldn't find the payment there, either. I can't believe I did that. I know I haven't been feeling good and have been kind of spacey all week, but still. This is the second time I have done that in 4 months. *sighs*
I did finally catch all my budgets up to date on the spreadsheets. I finished up September, October, November and December, including entering all the medical bills into each month. I haven't added up the numbers yet, but I know as of August we'd already spent over $20K on medical bills for 2017. I'd say it is going to be around $27K from a guesstimate.
Can I just say again, the Affordable Care Act was badly misnamed? Burdonsomely Unaffordable Care Act would be a much better title. Or Bankrupting the Middle Class Care Act. That would be an acceptable title as well. I know it has helped the people that get it for free, but it has hurt just as many people, if not more so by driving up the cost of everything insurance related, making it more expensive for employers to offer plans, and shifting the expense directly to those who don't get any subsidies. And I'm not sure it is going to get any better any time soon, either. They like to talk about health care, but they don't like to do much, no matter what side they are on.
Today was payday and included in the envelope with the paycheck stub, which they mail out, was a $100 Master Card for Christmas. I wasn't expecting any such thing as DH has only been working there for 3 months. It was a pleasant surprise. We will be using it to pay for gas, since we are changing storage facilities and will be spending the next two days getting as much moved as possible. The storage unit is still leaking even after they supposedly fixed the roof.
We are getting an 18 x 10 and a 10 x 10 at the new facility. Total monthly cost will be $250 as opposed to the current cost which is $484, a savings of $234 a month. I wanted a 12 x 30, but they didn't have any available. I am going to see if they will let us skip the insurance. With the stuff with the current insurance, I am not sure we will ever see a payout and quite frankly it will probably be easier just to eat the loss, considering there is a $200 deductible and they are just difficult to deal with. Calculatedly so, I presume.
Anyway, the payday report is pretty small. I just paid 2 things.
$1400.00 to Citi Visa (paid in full each month)
+_549.19 Medical Bill
$1949.19 Total out
Some of this was money I already had in the checking account. With overtime DH's check was $1739.90. I currently have $94.07 left in checking. Citi is higher because we put a large dental bill on it, so I will have to make a payment on it next week as well to get it paid in full before the 1/3/08 due date.
I realized that I wrote out the check to the chiropractor last week, but I forgot they were going on vacation and would not be back until the 8th, so our next month's family plan is not actually due until then. I will void that check and dump it back into the checking account. I will pay the tithe out of that and the rest can just sit there. I will pay that bill out of 1/5/18 paycheck. So that tithe will be $173.99.
Next week will be a large payment to Citi again, the life insurances, and tithe. I will need to scrape up some money for the oral surgeon in January so my daughter can get her implant. I don't know how much that will cost, but I imagine somewhere between $1000 and $2000. Hopefully closer to $1000. Even if we had insurance it wouldn't cover that. It may have to come right back out of the Emergency Fund.
I got my payment from youtube today, so that was nice. I'll dump it into savings with the rest of my earnings. They are earmarked to go into an IRA.
$1867.89 American Express (in full, as per usual)
__475.00 Best Buy (Paid off 12 months same as cash)
__102.13 Life Insurance for DH and Me
__500.00 Mom's Utilities
__196.35 BoA MC (in full, as per usual)
___20.00 Food Bank donation
A little of this money was carry over from last payday. I did also reorder two boxes of checks, but forgot to ask them how much. It doesn't show up in my bank account until the day they are shipped, not the day they are ordered. It's usually around $15 for a box. We don't go through checks very fast since we started putting almost everything on the credit cards and just paying them off, but I wanted to get it out of the way before we have to start living on our savings again. It's not like they won't get used eventually.
This coming week my daughter has a physical therapy appointment and I have one. My son has his physical. My PT is $90, but I don't know how it will work for DD. I pay my own out of pocket because it is no longer deemed medically necessary, but it is what keeps me walking so it kind of is. What they really meant was the insurance didn't want to pay for it anymore and they didn't think there was anything further they could do, despite the facts that the sessions keep me from being crippled. Every time I have to skip a week things get bad. I've tried to not go and I end up using my cane and curled up in pain must days, so I deem it necessary. Don't know what will happen once we can't afford it anymore, though.
We have a $30 co-pay for regular doctor visits and $40 for specialists. I have no idea where her PT will fall, because sometimes specialists are not considered specialists. So it could be $70 out for them or $80.
Also, I know in the past that this company likes to wait until the full set of therapy is done before charging it, but I don't like that as it means a big bill at the end instead of paying as you go. But that was back in 2011 so things may very well have changed since then. I will have to wait and see, but I will ask about it when I take her to the first appointment.
I have no other spending that needs to be done this week, so other than going to the grocery store to get milk, we should be good.
$5413.65 Citi VISA
__452.88 Car Insurance (6 months)
__180.00 Physical Therapy
$6253.91 Total Paid Out
I put the eye exams and glasses on Citi and BoA MC respectively. DD is building her credit history and is a signer on the MC. All credit cards are paid off in full each month. I am still running all groceries through the Citi or the AMEX depending on what store I shop at. Most incidentals as well. And prescriptions. BoA Visa is specifically for DH's work travel expenses, hotel, air fare, cold medicine from the commissary.
We are fully switched over to Ting now. It looks like our monthly bill will now be $50 instead of $137. DH decided to take the leap, too.
DH will be getting a reimbursement check from work for having to change his flight last minute when they wanted him to work longer. They pay the difference. Eventually. I think he said it will be $400. He is going to try to do the phone deposit thing again. Last time it didn't do so well, but last time he sent it from a dumb phone. It should not be so difficult with a smart phone. I'll probably just keep that around for the 1 day on the paycheck week.
We had/will have a lot of medical stuff this week. I think we are pretty close to hitting the deductible, though. A small amount of this was from money leftover from last payday. The Citi card is a partial payment and a larger one will be made to them next payday. We still have carried no interest by running our cards this way.
$150.00 Best Buy (No interest same as cash)
$500.00 September Utilities (water/power/gas)
__70.26 Garbage (2 months)
$650.78 BoA Visa (In Full)
__94.82 BoA MC (In Full)
$825.81 AMEX (In Full)
$207.79 Chicken purchase from local farm for freezer
$300.00 to Citi Visa (Partial)
__90.00 For Upcoming physical therapy this week
__40.00 For Upcoming Neurology appt
3449.13 Total Money Out
I have been running most household expenses and a lot but not all of the medical expenses through credit cards. It makes it easier when payday comes to just pay the cards off in full. Most household expenses go on the Costo Citi card, most medical expenses go on the AMEX except for those companies who do not take it, as well as Netflix, storage, rare meals out, and cell phones, and all of DH's work travel expenses like plane tickets and hotels go on a miles card. The due dates are spaced through the month with the 3rd, 14, and 22nd so that works out nicely.
This is what I paid from the first paycheck in this cycle:
$2826.72 Citi Card
___56.83 Life Insurance DH
___45.30 Life Insurance Me
___90.50 BEP (Medical DD)
__120.00 Cash for Allowances and Gas
___40.00 BEP (Co-Pay DD)
___11.07 FCN (Medical DD)
___90.00 Next Wednesday's PT
$3280.42 Total Bills Paid
I gassed up the car. I had 4 points and paid in cash so got a total of 50cents per gallon discount, which put me at $2 a gallon.
$1255.14 BoA Visa
__113.57 BoA Master Card
__125.00 Best Buy (12 months same as cash)
__500.00 August Utilities
__250.00 Chiropractor (won't be paid until 8/28)
__258.00 Medical (Another bill for my ER visit)
___54.54 Medical (DD)
___30.00 Medical (DD)
___11.69 Medical (DD)
$2597.94 Total Bills Paid
$2500.00 Citi (7/21)
_3200.00 Citi (7/28)
__102.13 Life Insurance (DH and Me)
__801.46 Various Medical Bills
___90.00 Next Tuesday's Physical Therapy
So of the $5700 that went to Citi, $5000 of that was medical bills that I kicked down the road from my daughter's ER visit and my ER visit for the torn retina and the accompanying emergency laser eye surgery. I still have about $1200 to pay on Citi before the due date on the 3rd so that will come out of the EF and I'll pay it on the 1st when the money arrives in my account.
The rest of the Citi charges were groceries for the month. I still have an additional $3500 of medical bills that I put on the AMEX card that is due on the 14th, so I'll pay that off with the paycheck on the 4th. There will be just enough in the half paycheck on the 11th to pay for DH's travel expenses and the remainder of the August bills and then he won't get paid again until the next paycheck which won't be until September 1st.
Barring any more medical bills, and I honestly can't do that when things are still trickling in, we should be able to start paying back the EF. Not that that will last long if DH gets laid off again in October. His boss's boss is trying to find a place for him elsewhere in the company because they don't want to lose him now that he's worked for them. Wish they'd had that attitude last August, instead of putting us through 9 months of destroying every financial hope and dream we ever had of staying ahead, in loving partnership with the (Un)Affordable Care Act, of course. But whatever. I'm not bitter, she lied.
I was able to pay some of the medical bills this month, but our next payday isn't until July 21st. I ended up putting some of it on my Citi card which isn't due until August 3rd. That will give me two paydays, the 21st and 28th, in which to pay that card off before it is due and I should be able to do that.
The bill for my daughter's hospital visit has not been paid yet. It is due on July 6th and is $2,333.48. So on July 6th I will go online and pay it using the American Express card, which is not due until the 14th of August. That gives me the full payday on August 4th and the four day payday on the 11th to pay that card off before it is due.
I will still have to borrow about $1500 from the Emergency Fund, but hopefully I will get that put back by the end of the coming pay cycle or at least most of it. I should be getting a paycheck from Google/Youtube this month, too. A small one. It'll go into savings.
After the August 11th paycheck DH won't get paid again until September 1st. I am not a big fan of the 3 weeks on/3 weeks off work hitch. It makes it really hard to budget for six weeks. The 2 weeks on/2 weeks off fell much more nicely into a monthly budget.
One of the things we did to make it easier is we changed our storage payment from an auto withdrawal from checking to an auto charge to our credit card. That way I don't have to worry that the money is in the account on the right day, just that it is there for the due date on the credit card. I am considering finding out if we can have the life insurance put on the card as well so we'd no longer have any auto payments coming directly out of checking. Might do that with internet as well. We still get a paper bill on that, but I think we can set it up to go to a card.
If everything is on cards, then I don't have to worry about it so much. And the only bills I will expect to see in the mail are medical bills and the garbage bill. The garbage company does not allow for credit card billing. It comes once every 2 months, so not a big deal with a six week pay cycle instead of a 4 week pay cycle.
I know I'll adjust to this way of budgeting eventually, but until I do, I'll have to keep doing mental gymnastics to make sure everything gets paid on time and that I don't have to pay interest on anything.
Finally, we get to today's paycheck, which is a full seven day paycheck at hazard rate. Master Card is rarely used, but we have one that my daughter is a user on to build a credit history for her. It is basically used just for her online orders and when I am too exhausted to go into the store so she can go in with a list and get what I need while I wait in the car. We will be putting DH's flights and travel food and hotel overnights on the BOA VISA after this month. The previous plane tickets went on Citi VISA. We do not carry balances on any of our credit cards, but pay them in full every month. I am restarting the Car Repair Fund and the College Fund.
$190.00 Lab for Bloodwork
$288.79 BoA Master Card
$141.00 Charitable Giving
2739.55 Citi VISA
$120.00 BoA VISA
$100.00 Car Repair Fund
$100.00 College Fund
$_80.00 Car Insurance Fund (Six months)
This is for the paycheck on 5/5/17. It is a full seven day paycheck at hazard pay rate, so will be typical for that. Atypical payments for the tabs and the Beef Fund came out of this paycheck. We are getting half a grass fed beef. It was slaughtered on the 6th and has to hang for a bit. We don't make the payment until they are ready to cut and wrap and we know the final hanging weight. They estimated we'd be getting 300 pounds hanging weight. It is $3 a pound plus cut and wrap.
$500.00 Mom's Utilities
$_45.30 Life Insurance Me
$_52.34 Life Insurance DH
$_70.26 Garbage (2 months)
$177.31 Lab for Bloodwork
$125.75 License Plate tab renewal
$250.00 Chiropractor monthly family plan
1500.00 to Citi VISA
$_90.00 Physical Therapy
1000.00 Half a Beef Fund
Okay, so this is from the first paycheck from DH's new job and it's not typical because it was training for 2 days, which is not hazard pay, plus his per diem, and then 3 days actual slope rate. It wasn't a full week of work. I really want to get back into the habit of posting these with each paycheck.
$246.00 ENT doctor
$300.00 Cash for allowances and gas
$125.00 Sleep doctor
$363.30 BOA VISA
1000.00 Mom Loan
$500.00 Emergency Fund
$_50.00 Eye doctor co-pay
$_30.00 Co-pay regular doctor
$1000.00 of the AMEX was paid from money previously taken from savings when we still weren't getting income. The AMEX card is what our monthly insurance premium of $1337 is charged to.
Company B came through. DH has a job. He starts April 14th. He'll be making more than he was when he was laid off from Company A, but not as much as he was before Company A's 9% pay cut. They said they'd mail out a benefits package and it should be here on Monday, so we will know how much medical costs through them and whether or not there is 401K matching and how long it is before he can contribute.
He'll be working 3 weeks on/3 weeks off, which is not the most favorable of schedules, the 2 and 2 is much easier on the family and is easier to budget, but a job is a job and we can't afford to be picky right now. The way I did the budget in the past on a 3 and 3 is that I'd take 2 weeks, which was for one month and the third week I'd put in savings until the next month's budget. Each month's budget only dealt with two paychecks, whether it was a month that had 2, 3, or 1 paycheck.
That's another thing I'll need to find out, whether the pay is weekly, every two weeks, or once a month. The norm up there has always been weekly, but who knows with this company?
DH ran the numbers for me so I could figure out the new budget. At least what the numbers will be before they start taking out health insurance and retirement. I should be able to start rebuilding the Emergency Fund, though not at the speed I'd like. My goal for it is going to be $30,000, because $20,000 was not enough. If it wasn't for the Farm Down Payment Fund, we'd be living on credit right now. So $30,000 with perhaps $60,000 as a longer term goal.
$60K would cover a year's expenses with health insurance for the four of us. Although I'm hoping that if there is a next time, my kids will be on their own and it would only be the two of us, which would be much cheaper to cover. Or at least working jobs where they can pay for their own health insurance.
My earnings from youtube and AdSense and Pinecone will go into the EF. And if I do publish my novel (which is coming along) after I finish it, any earnings from that will go to rebuild the EF as well, I think, though I would like to start an IRA for myself also. Plus the old coin jar and $1 bills trick, which always serves me well.
Once the Emergency Fund is rebuilt, we can start adding to the Farm Down Payment Fund again, although somewhere along the line, I'd like to purchase half a beef.
We have learned to live on so much less, but with income again we'll be paying my mother $1000 a month again for 3 years and that's a big chunk. Maybe buying a farm is a pipe dream. Maybe it'll be something I have to give up. Or scale down. I know we can be pretty self-sufficient on two acres, but I have always wanted five with at least two acres in trees so we'd have our own renewable wood supply and not be dependent on propane.
I don't know. We'll have to see. The important thing is that DH has a job and we can at last get things turned around and going in the right direction again. Thank you all for your prayers. They have meant the world to me.
One of the things I've been doing lately is taking any leftover meat and immediately chopping it up into a small dice. It's nice to think that it'll get eaten over the next couple of days, but too many times it doesn't. So I've taken to dicing and then freezing immediately. Or in the case of leftover hamburger patties or lamb patties, crumbling it up. We can't afford food waste and I'm opposed to it even in the best of times. Everything needs to get eaten.
I have had some good pizza toppings this way, with some lovely homemade sausage, picnic ham, taco meat, and lamb de provence. The ham and sausage is also great for putting in an egg scramble or omelette. We have had a few things that I don't really want to put on pizza, though.
The pork ribs with the apricot/honey/soy sauce glaze and the Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey leftovers, to name two. Sometimes leftover rabbit or chicken as well, depending on the seasonings. That meat has been going into making stir-fried rice, which is also helping to use up the over abundance of eggs we've been getting now that the ducks are switching into high gear.
I used the leftover pork with the apricot/honey/soy glaze tonight and it was so good. It was better than Yangtze pork fried rice that you can get in just about any Chinese place out there. I did add some garlic and ginger to the meat as well as to the rice itself. I ended up with 5 quart baggies full for the freezer, enough sides for a family of four for five meals, and then 2 more cups that my son and husband were bargaining over for a late evening snack.
I am really happy with the amount of Chinese/Polynesian dishes I have learned to make. Besides the rice I can make chicken and broccoli, broccoli beef, black pepper chicken, subgum chicken chow mein, beef chow yuk, pineapple chicken, char sui pork, and then just a general stir-fry with whatever I have with Chinese flavors. I have mastered using oyster sauce, fish sauce, and hoison sauce without getting too much of any of them.
It is nice to be able to make our favorite Chinese dishes when we can't afford to get take out. I have learned a couple Korean dishes over the last couple years as well, mandu (pork and cabbage dumplings) and kimbap (rice, seaweed, vegetable, and shrimp roll up thingy cut into circles).
I have been running down recipes for Mexican foods that don't require tomato sauce or peppers. It's not quite authentic, but there are substitutes and I am going to try them so we can get it figured out. There are a few dishes that don't use those things anyway, like quesadillas, which are simple enough, but I want to make tacos, and chili, and enchiladas again.
With Sichuan peppercorns, long grain peppercorns, and grains of paradise and judicious use of some other herbs and spices that aren't nightshades, it is supposedly possible to do all three of those things. I'm just not terribly fond of the texture of the nomato sauce, though, which is the base for two of them. It tastes good enough, though. Maybe I need to puree it more or something.
All I can say is that I am glad I am a good cook to begin with, because it has been a challenge to replace half my spice palette with other things and half my recipes as well. But I am doing it and we are finding some new favorites in the process. I don't think I'll ever get over losing peppers, though. At least peppercorns are not the same botanical species. I'm not sure it would be possible for me to give up black pepper, too. It's underrated, but salt and pepper are the best seasonings there are, really. They enhance everything. It's just the amounts you have to watch.
I am trying to post more frequently than I have been. It's just hard sometimes to figure it out when there is no income coming in. There are no savings updates. There are no payday reports. We still have no debt. So pretty much it comes down to household management, stretching the food budget, and making sure nothing goes to waste. Well, enough rambling. It's getting late and I need to get some sleep.
I've plotted out the money for the rest of this month and it does look like I will be able to put $1500 into the EF from the overtime work, assuming nothing changes. That won't be tomorrow's payday, but the next. A large chunk of tomorrow's payday will go towards paying the credit card. I had to put an unexpected doctor's bill on there so it is higher than usual. A portion of next week's pay will finish paying it off for the month.
I got a second unexpected doctor's bill for my toe surgery. I know the deductible was met, so I'm not sure why it was so high. I mean, it wasn't more complicated than getting a cavity filled. I was out of there within the hour. But my portion is still $355? Maybe the insurance denied part of it or something. I'll investigate a little further. They are supposed to pay 90% after the deductible has been met. I don't think the overall total was anywhere near $3500. He's supposed to be in network. I don't know.
I am tired of medical bills. I've shelled out $2000 just this month and that is without any physical therapy, since my PT has influenza and I have not seen her this month at all. It should get better from here, though, since nothing else big should be coming in for a while. DD did see the doctor at the start of the month, but just for a regular visit so our portion should be quite low.
Although DS is getting a cavity filled next week that won't be charged until some time in May.
I don't know how people with low incomes and high deductibles do it. We struggle to get the medical bills paid and we have a good income. Without the overtime work, though, we'd be having a tough time this month. Without the OT we'd be saving nothing and might even have had to make a choice to dip into the Emergency Fund or carry a balance this month on the credit card. How are people who have no EF and no room on their credit card going to make it in the same circumstance. Oh, wait, I know this one. Not go to the doctor at all.
DH told me today that he got confirmed for an extra week of overtime, so that should really help me to stop stressing out over the Emergency Fund. I should be able to get it to $20K by the end of the year easily now, at least if the job continues. He also said that he should know the contract status by the end of the week. We've all heard that before, though. I am not holding my breath that they will not extend it again.
We had a big medical bill come in for my daughter yesterday. I thought we were done with big bills from the sleep doctor, but apparently not. Well, the overtime will cover it. I went ahead and paid it on the credit card, but will pay it off next Friday now that I know the income will be there for it. I would have just used the money allocated to go for the down payment fund if I'd had to. It would have been a bummer to not put money in that fund that month, but better than dipping into the EF.
DH finally got the numbers to me on what his new income will be and it was $97 more than I'd projected, so yay. I'm still resentful of the pay cut, mind you, but the extra almost $100 is going to make it a little easier and less stressful than I thought it would be on the new budget. I'm all for easier and less stressful.
So we were supposed to know yesterday about whether or not DH's company got the contract. Well, we still don't know. Apparently they are taking 2 MORE weeks to decide. Something that should have been decided in January. I am not holding my breath about 2 weeks from now, either. Do they not understand that they are fooling around with people's lives here and their livelihoods?
I am just hoping that DH can get some overtime in. There appears to be the work for it. If he can get in enough OT to get the EF up to $20K, I might (probably not), just might relax a little bit.
I have decided to do an eat from the pantry challenge for the month of April. I want to cut our grocery spending all the way down to $400. If I can, it will go a long way towards easing the pain of the pay cut. I don't need to buy meat at all during this month. I don't need to buy potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, pasta, tomato sauce, rice, or flour, or sugar.
I am allowing myself to buy fresh fruit, milk, and some greens and onions if I run out, but that is all. I will be baking all my bread, rolls, and buns. I've got plenty of food in the freezer and on the canning shelves. My Aerogarden is producing a couple of salads a week. I've got lettuce planted that will hopefully take off by the end of the month. This should be easy. It goes without saying that there will be no eating out.
If I can figure this out and stick to a much stricter grocery budget, and we can get used to not getting everything we want food-wise all the time, then if his pay does go back up, we can save the difference then, too. That would be nice. And if it doesn't, we'll know we can get by on much less.
I didn't have time to write about this when I started, but 12 days ago I did one big grocery shop with the intention of cutting my grocery spending for the month in half. I gave myself a budget of $400, and spent $319.94. That left me with $80.06 for things like milk, bread (if I don't bake it), lettuce, and fresh fruit.
Yesterday I spent $11.85 on 15 pounds of oranges, and $8.99 on a quart of fresh organic strawberries. So that is $20.84 and it leaves me with $59.22 to get through until the 22nd of January. $60 for 20 more days. I have 2 gallons of milk left so I am fine there, and I still have some greens growing under my little umbrella green houses, so I may not need to buy lettuce at all. I also have a loaf of bread left and plenty of ingredients to make more.
The $400 I am hoping to save (my usual budget is $800 a month) will go into the down payment fund. I have been successful in saving anywhere from around $200 to $250 for the past couple of months, but I really want to try to make this goal.
I do not have to buy any meat at all. The freezer is still packed with chicken, rabbit, beef, pork, and lamb. I have a ton of home canned food still on my canning shelves, and some frozen fruit and veg as well. So this is very doable as long as I don't get lazy. So far I have been sticking pretty well to the meal planning, though I've switched things up a couple times when I wasn't feeling as good. But it was all stuff we had available.
We also have not eaten out in that amount of time and I am hoping to make that go for the entire month long period as well. I am in full on savings mode. The faster I can save, the sooner we can move.
$2044.59 BOA Visa
__197.67 Christmas Fund
__300.00 Meat from the Farm
$2847.51 Total Out
I probably won't spend all of that $200 this week since I just bought groceries yesterday. I just have one or two things to pick up that weren't at the other store.
The Visa was high this month because I had DH purchase all of his holiday travel tickets last month. Waiting too close to his travel dates at this time of year would mean his plane tickets would cost double of normal. So he bought 3 tickets on that month's Visa instead of the usual 1. Fortunately we are at a place in the budget where I was able to absorb that without too much of a blip.
I misplaced the Comcast bill for out internet. I need to find it. It's not due until the 21st. If I can't find it by the 18th, we will go in person and pay it. It is out near the airport and I'll be picking DH up that day so it won't be an extra trip. Usually I pay it at the start of the month, but as I had to pay some doctor bills then, I decided to wait until closer to the due date.
I never set it up to pay online as they charged a fee for online payments. I don't know if they still do now that online paying is becoming a norm, but the last thing I wanted to do was give them extra money. Plus I really didn't want them having the ability to just take money out of my account or off my card. I've heard too many horror stories about that company to let them have carte blanche.
I'll get it figured out, though. And look some more for the bill. It's got to be around here somewhere.
$1700.00 Bank of America
$1000.00 Loan to Mom
___90.00 Physical Therapy
___20.11 Gas($1.84 a gallon!)
__100.00 Cash for Week
$3330.99 Total Money Out
It was good to finally get to payday. This year I am going to start much earlier on saving for the shut down that occurs every December at DH's work. As in, this paycheck. And in April when things cycle around so that we'll have an extra paycheck, I will put a good chunk of it into that fund as well. It was nice to be able to get through that time period without touching the Emergency Fund and I am glad we did not rely on the Christmas Bonus as that went to pay for the car roof repair and Christmas. There was nothing of it left for living expenses.
The paycheck is about $100 less for this pay period than it has been due to the new 401K withdrawal. Not too big of an amount to absorb easily. We'll see how it goes for the whole month before we decide to up it a percent, though.
$800.00 to Van Loan (including extra)
_400.00 to Mom's utilities
__24.28 Electricity (old house)
__48.60 Phone (old house)
__46.00 Security Monitoring (old house)
__41.94 Garbage (two months)
_100.00 Allowances (two weeks, 2 kids)
_100.00 Cash for Week
_178.00 Emergency Fund
_100.00 Property Tax Fund
_100.00 December Money Fund
_100.00 Propane Fund (old house)
The Propane Fund now sits at $700. The December Money Fund is at $233.55.
$1000.00 Loan to Mom (Nov. payment)
___29.13 Electric (Old House)
___47.92 Phone (Old House)
___45.30 Life Insurance DH
___44.66 Life Insurance Me
___71.41 Car Insurance
___48.75 House Insurance (Old House)
___41.16 Security System (Old House)
__400.00 Groceries (Major stock up)
I am still figuring out what to do with the rest of it. I have to pay for PT tomorrow and I'll probably send some to the Emergency Fund and the rest will go to next week's bills and some Christmas shopping.
Well, I know for sure that I am going to be able to squeeze $500 out of this coming Friday's paycheck to go towards the five weeks when DH won't be working. I might be able to squeeze as much as $750 out, but I'm not sure. Prescriptions are due to be renewed Friday, and I don't remember how much that is going to be now that DD is on the new meds.
We are still waiting to hear if he got the okay to work a few extra days before the shut down. They were supposed to tell him within 2 days of his getting home and he still hasn't heard anything. This employer is so unorganized. He's calling them today to see what is going on.
So far they have not sent out the grocery store gift card that they usually send out before Thanksgiving. On a normal year it would be here by now, but since this is not a normal year, it wouldn't surprise me if they don't send them out at all. I am not counting on it coming. In fact, it would shock me if they send them out with the way they've been behaving towards their employees this year.
I am very glad we have our turkeys taken care of for Thanksgiving and Christmas. And that we have lots of food in the freezer and on the shelves. We will get through this. It'll be hard, and we may have to touch the Emergency Fund, but we will manage. I just wish we didn't have to.
I won't have to contribute to the Property Tax Fund during the month of December since I already put an extra payment in in October for December. Same with the Dues Fund. I have $500 in the Propane Fund plus a $50 credit with the company so I won't have to put $100 into the dues fund next time. We just turned the propane on this week at the old house and it has a full tank. We won't be driving much for half of December as there is no school so gas costs will be lower.
Next year I will try to plan a little better. We've just never had this many weeks to cover before. But I will start saving $200 a month towards next year's shut down in January and put aside one of the two extra paychecks DH gets during the year that doesn't go towards the regular budget. It'll be tight, especially if medical goes up AGAIN and I see no reason it won't, but we'll deal. We have to. It's not like there are a lot of other choices right now.
Yesterday was payday.
$1800.00 BoA VISA
__800.00 Van Loan plus extra
__400.00 to Mom for utilities
__100.00 Property Tax Fund
__100.00 Propane Fund
__110.84 120 pounds of Organic Turkey Feed
__112.34 (2 bales hay, 150# of oats and duck/chicken feed
Last night frost threatened so I went ahead and harvested my sweet meat squash. I ended up with 4 good squash and the ducks ended up with some that had too much insect damage to store. Right now they are curing at room temperature for 2 weeks and then they will be moved to an unheated room. Sweet meat is storable for 6 to 8 months, with best flavor developing after it has been stored for 2 months, so we will be trying our first one around January. If it turns out we don't like them, which I doubt, we can feed them to the birds.
We should have enough turkey feed for 2 months now, as we are butchering half our turkeys (and one drake) later today. And we should have enough duck/chicken feed for about six weeks. The rabbits will go through the hay in a month and the oats in 2 weeks. Maybe a little longer as we are butchering 8 grow outs tomorrow. But then again, the 18 kits growing out will be eating more as they get bigger, so we'll see.
I've decided for sure not to breed rabbits again until February. I don't want to deal with births when it is very cold out or trying to keep very young kits alive in cold weather. And the rabbits eat a lot more feed in the cold months to stay warm, so it makes more sense to hold off during those time periods, especially since we can breed enough during February through August to meet our meat needs. That also puts our last butcher dates in late November/early December before we get tons of snow or it is always frozen out and hard to work outside. Unless we have some very slow growers, we shouldn't have to butcher after that until May when the weather is much nicer for it.
I finished paying the bills for this payday. I took the checkbook down to $3.81, but I have $90 in cash to pay for any incidentals that come up between now and Friday. Plus there is a cushion in the checking account that I don't count into things.
$1000.00 Loan to Mom
___45.30 Life Insurance DH
___44.66 Life Insurance Me
___74.41 Car Insurance
___90.00 Physical Therapy
___48.75 Old House Insurance
___41.15 Old House Alarm Service
___31.99 Old House Electricity
__100.00 Cash for Week
__100.00 December Money Fund
___21.66 Medical Me
___12.10 Medical DD
__600.00 (Will go towards car payment, temp savings)
$400.00 to Mom for her utilities
__46.00 Salmon and canning jars
$100.00 Emergency Fund
__29.06 Power Old House
__47.92 Phone Old House
__45.30 Life Insurance DH
__44.66 Life Insurance Me
__74.41 Car Insurance
__48.75 Old House Insurance
__41.66 Security Old House
$100.00 Property Tax Fund
$100.00 Propane Fund
$450.00 December Money Fund
$1789.41 Total Money Out
I do have a few other things that will be coming out of this paycheck, but they aren't due for a while so I will likely lump them in with next week's payday report unless I get the bills before next Friday. I will be buying the kids winter coats and umbrellas. I will be buying hay. I've got a couple of medical/dental bills to round up, too.
$1500.00 BoA VISA
_1000.00 Loan to Mom
__300.00 Beef and Pork bought at the farm
__120.00 Physical Therapy
___90.00 Physical Therapy
__200.00 on prescriptions and OTC Medications
__100.00 on layer feed, turkey feed, crimped oats
____9.08 Blood Work
____0.82 C-Pap filters
$400.00 Utilities to Mom
_100.00 Emergency Fund
__20.00 HoA Dues
__28.97 Electric (Old House)
__48.60 Phone (Old House)
__41.94 Garbage (2 months)
__45.30 Life Insurance DH
__44.66 Life Insurance Me
__70.86 Car Insurance
__48.75 House Insurance (Old House)
__41.16 Security System (Old House)
_800.00 Van Loan (plus extra)
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