Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June in Review

Lots to be thankful for today!

First, today was our last reduced paycheck until November!! We made it through the past five months, and overall we didn't do badly at all. In fact, I think we did better than both of us were expecting.

Second thing to be thankful for - I made some money this month. Not a lot of money, mind you, but real money, that I made myself working online. I'm anticipating next month being even better, and I'm excited.

And finally, I am thankful - exceedingly, indescribably thankful - for good health insurance!!! I found out today that my unexpected surgery a few weeks ago was billed at over $16,000. $16,000! And it's not over yet, as I still need - at the very minimum - another CT scan to see what is going on and how and if I need to be treated going forward. This in addition to the 10's of thousands I've already cost with my gall bladder, emergency room visits, and dental work. And the ironic part about it is, I'm healthy! I'm not a unwell person at all... have just had a very odd, unexpected, couple of years health-wise. Very very thankful for good insurance indeed.

Our progress for June: Total debt down by $365.35

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Furloughs, Revised Budgets, and Giving

As is often the case, I spoke a bit too soon in my last post. There will be 6 more furloughs, and Mike's pay will be restored to normal - sort of. We were given three options: Take the reduced pay of the 6 days spread out over the course of another 12 months; take it over the next 6 months; OR get full pay restored now, and take the hit of the furlough days when they fall in November and December (the company will be shutting down for the week of Thanksgiving and the week of Christmas) After weighing all the pros and cons, we chose the latter option. It just gives us the most control. Starting in July, we'll have our full pay again (!) and can 1) bang out some of our smaller debts to get back on track and 2) set some aside each month to prepare for the drastically reduced pay the end of the year. After the holidays, it's behind us, and we can move forward into the new year without having to worry about furloughs.

Planning for the next six months meant once again re-working our monthly budget. I enjoy doing it, in an admittedly somewhat obsessive way. Despite the availability of the internet, the computer, and a million different spreadsheet and budget programs, I will always feel most comfortable doing it the old fashioned way - with a pen and paper. I have been doing it that way for so long, it is now in the "if it's not broke, don't fix it" category, and will forever be my preferred method. For the past few weeks I have crunched, re-crunched, and crunched again, until I finally came up with a good workable budget that should get us through to the new year.

One of the things that we really had to take a good look at was our charitable giving. The question of how and what to give has been weighing on me a lot the past few months as things have gotten more and more tight financially. I have to say, I love to give. Deciding who or what we're going to anonymously give to at Christmas time is one of my favorite parts of Christmas shopping. And giving has always been part of our monthly budget, no matter how large or small. Lately though, it has felt.... off. I don't know any other way to put it. It just hasn't felt like we've been heading in the right direction.

The Bible is very clear that we should give, especially to the poor and to those spreading the word of God - although I think it's worth mentioning that the practice of tithing 10% was an OLD testament command that was not carried over into the new law. Another thing the bible is very clear about? NOT HAVING DEBT! Should we be giving to the detriment of our own financial health? If we give first, and then end up having to use a credit card just to feed our own family, is anyone really benefiting? Should we be giving money that isn't really ours to give in the first place? Is it like the oxygen mask on an airplane? We need to put ours on before we can help someone else?

It's important to give, no question. And we'll always have that portion of our budget set aside for just that. (It is small right now, but I so look forward to it growing!) Right now though, this month, we need to get back on our feet. We need to give to ourselves.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Back in the saddle again...

I am so, so happy to report - after a stressful recent post, and a stressful month for that matter - that I have good financial news!

As of July 1st, Mike's pay is going to be restored almost to normal!! After weeks of waiting and wondering what the verdict was going to be, he found out on Friday that they are going to be going from 2 furlough days/month, to just 6 days ammortized over the next year. Which means... just a half a day a month, and a quarter of a day per pay period. If he couldn't get his entire salary back, this was the next best thing.

As I said in my last few posts, the past couple of months have been difficult. We've dug ourselves a depressing little hole, but we now have the resources we need to once again begin climbing our way out. It's going to take a couple of paychecks to gather our bearings, reclaim our equilibrium, and get back on track, but I have faith that we can do it.

Onward and upward into the summer we go.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Unexpected Expenses


This is why you have an emergency fund. We don't have an emergency fund, haven't had one for a few years now. It's on the list of things to reinstate if/when the furloughs go away, but until then, all of our money goes to living expenses and debt.

Our hot water heater blew up on Saturday, leaving our garage temporarily flooded. We have a home warranty (very THANKFUL for the home warranty) and most repairs and replacements are only $50. They guy came today, and in addition to the $50, there was a $45 fee to dispose of the old one, and $90 in parts and labor to replace the valves. Another $185 that we don't have, another $185 further from our goal. Ack! It really does start to feel like a merry-go-round, but without the fun, colorful horses to sit on. I want to get off.