Browsing posts in: Emergency Fund

“Fun” Little Freak Out

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Let me share with you a story about an all-out “FREAK OUT” moment I recently had regarding my pay.

In terms of back-story, I am on a 9-month contract which ends May 19. When my new contract goes into effect I’ll be switching to a 12-month contract. But that contract does not go into effect until the start of the fiscal year, July 1st. In the interim (May 20-June 30), I will be receiving pay designated as “supplemental compensation” at my current rate of pay (my raise doesn’t go into effect until the new contract).

Since the academic year is soon ending, I emailed our business manager last week asking if I needed to complete any paperwork/what I need to do to get the supplemental compensation to kick in. There was a bit of a process involved last summer and I can’t remember the exact steps.

The business manager replies back basically saying (paraphrasing), “I have no record of you receiving supplemental compensation this summer. Your new contract starts July 1st.”

And I’m like, “WHAT THE WHAT?!?!?!?!” (insert the Scream emoji face)

I’m instantly reviewing old emails and re-living old conversations in my mind. Is it possible that I misunderstood? That I simply thought I would be receiving supplemental compensation but that I’ll actually be going AN ENTIRE 6 WEEK PERIOD WITH NO PAY WHATSOEVER?!?!?!

I call my husband in a panic. How are we going to survive? Here, I was just saying how these next two months are going to be super tight…I didn’t realize we’d literally have NO INCOME during this entire time period! We (stupidly, in hindsight) sent our entire $5,500 emergency fund to the IRS when we were setting up/establishing a payment plan for our 2016 taxes. What were we thinking?! The IRS felt like an emergency at the time, but with the gift of hindsight, I now realize we never should’ve entirely wiped out all liquid savings. What are going to do?!

Deep breath in. Deep breath out.

I allowed my heart-rate to come down. I emailed my boss to gently inquire into this issue. Was I mistaken? Or am I supposed to be working for the next 6 weeks, as I had planned (not to mention, I’ve got work meetings piled a mile high on my calendar, and all kinds of tasks to accomplish over that time).

My boss was at a conference at the time so it took what felt like an eternity for her to respond. My initial email was sent around 2pm in an afternoon and I didn’t hear back until nearly noon the next day. It was just a simple clerical error. YES, I am supposed to be working (as planned). And YES,  I will be receiving supplemental compensation under my current rate of pay until my new contract goes into effect on July 1st (at which point my nice raise will go into effect).

Just breathe.

I have taken a couple lessons from this experience. First and foremost – we made a horrendous mistake in completely wiping out our EF. We need to get back to at least a “baby” $1,000 EF ASAP!!! Not sure how that’s going to happen given that we’re still grappling just to tread water and not lose ground over the summer. Either way, regardless, we need to have at least a starter EF to help us if, heaven forbid, we face a similar crisis in the future.  Second, rather than rushing to panic – maybe just reach out to my boss immediately and try to save the panic for later. In this case, I would’ve been able to sort out the situation and no panic was needed at all. Also, I’m glad I was proactive in reaching out to the business manager BEFORE the semester ended. It would’ve been a terrible surprise to have the semester end and then all the sudden have NO MORE PAYCHECKS when I was depending on them to pay our bills and feed our family! Yikes!

 

Have you had any financial “close calls” recently?


Well Crap

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It’s been a long time since we’ve had a major financial set-back. A really long time.

In fact, everything has been going rather smooth over the course of the past year or so. Income is up, outflow is down, we just hit the half-way point in our debt reduction journey. Life is good!

Until…..tax time.

We met with a CPA on Friday. Turns out we didn’t have all our sh-t together so we have to round up the last of our documents and get them over to the office early next week. So we don’t have official numbers, but it’s looking like it’s gonna be bad. Like….possibly in the 5-digits level of “bad.” Yeah. We may owe the IRS to the tune of over $10,000. How the f do we owe so much? I don’t even know where to begin.  I  thought my payments through my full-time job would help offset things more than they did. Clearly.

We have a LOT of deductions to claim. We also have tax credits we can claim. We’re not out of hope.

But it felt like I’d been punched in the gut after our CPA meeting. We don’t have $10,000. Not in cash. To owe that much would officially move us BACKWARD in our debt progression. The first backward movement since we started our debt payoff process nearly 3 years ago. We’ve had months of stagnation, but we’ve never gone BACKWARD. Never ADDED to our debt (mortgage not included). But my plan (to have cash or put it on a credit card to buy us an extra month) isn’t going to work if we’re talking about that much money.

We’re scrambling to think of a plan so we can pay with cash and not have to set up a payment plan (accompanied by penalties and interest) with the IRS.

In the meantime, we’ll be having another meeting (or two) with the CPA to figure out exact numbers and the best course of action. I’ve also suspended all non-essential debt-payments so we can pile up some cash. Unfortunately, given my recent agreement with the medical bill place, I’m committed to minimum sized payments of $1215/month through April. That, in addition to my minimum student loan payments, puts us at a minimum of about $2000/month. We’ve only been budgeting $3,000/month toward debt and having a minimum payment of $2000 only leaves us about $1,000/month of “wiggle room” to try to stockpile cash for our upcoming IRS debt payment. It’s not nearly enough. Particularly if we owe in the tens of thousands of dollars. omg. Just saying it makes me sick to my stomach. I hope to God it doesn’t turn out that bad. But, as the saying goes, hope for the best and plan for the worst. So all non-essential spending is DONE. In the meantime, we will hoard and stockpile money as best as we can. We do have an EF ($5,500) and a couple various savings accounts. Though it’s a bit like stealing from Peter to pay Paul. It’s certainly not ideal. But neither is the thought of acquiring more debt. It gives me a headache to even consider the thought.

Many of you had warned that we should beef up our EF now that we’re homeowners. This wasn’t the intended purpose (most commenters were thinking more in-line with needing to repair/replace an old roof or HVAC, etc.)….but now that we’re in this situation, it’s sure making me think about how great it would be to have a full $10,000 EF. This IRS tax problem would be solved (and then the “problem” of re-stocking the EF is much easier and less stressful).

So that’s my “well crap” update. I will bring you a February debt-update (which, as mentioned, is lower than the originally planned $3,000 due to the need to save all non-essential payments for our upcoming tax bill). In the meantime, I’ll just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Hoping for the best. Preparing for the worst. Ugh!


The Savings

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I received several questions about the $200 budget item towards savings that I listed in my last post.    The answer is a bit complicated.   We currently have have several savings accounts that are for irregular expenses…with the idea that we could also use those accounts as an emergency fund in a true emergency.   These funds are currently auto-drafted into the savings accounts every payday.  Each category receives $20 a month added to it.  However, the original thought was that some categories are close to being “fully funded” and then that money could be reallocated to other categories until they need “refilled”.    Here’s how I have things divided:

Savings 
Work expenses100.03
Home improvements133.00
fun/holidays55.00
Gifts5.00
clothing85.00
pets70.00
replacements55.00
Auto185.02
Irregular expenses (auto registration/costco/ AAA)39.53
Yard/garden/pest control70.00

Total: $802.58

In explanation:

  • The work expenses category covers things like continuing education, licensing and replacement items for Hubby’s work.  Once we reach $500 this will be considered fully funded.
  • Home improvements will never be considered fully funded.
  • The Fun/holiday fund covers everything from fireworks on the fourth of July, extra grocery expenses for Christmas baking, campground fees, and the occasional movie date night.This will be considered fully funded at $100 while we are still reducing debt
  • Gifts are a hard one.  I will have to think about what I would consider fully funded.
  • Clothing I will consider fully funded at $100, mostly because we do not have expensive clothing needs.
  • Whereas we have an older dog and an older cat that at some point in the future will need a greater amount of vet care, I would not consider this fully funded until we reached $1000
  • The replacements category is actually very new to our budgeting, inspired by needing to finance a fridge when ours died.  This is meant to be money for when an appliance dies, or a new mattress etc. is needed.  I am not sure where I would consider this fully funded, most likely at $1000+
  • The auto category is pretty self explanatory.  We currently own one vehicle out right and have a loan on our second.   These funds are used for maintenance and hopefully will eventually grow enough that we can replace a vehicle by paying cash.
  • The Annual expenses category covers things like AAA and costco memberships, and car registration.  I would like to grow this to be able to pay for six months of auto insurance at a time in order to receive the prepay discounts.
  • The final category is yard/garden.  I LOVE veggie gardening.  We just moved into our home last summer, so this will cover soil amendments, hardscaping, seeds and repairing the disaster of a sprinkler system that currently exists.   It also covers pest control to come out four times a year to treat for voles and the giant wolf spiders that we get here.  After this coming summer, the amount going into this account should be able to be reduced significantly as some of the much need landscaping is completed.

Obviously, If I wanted to keep putting money into these categories until they were all fully funded, I would be saving forever, and that would impact my debt payoff.   I am currently leaning towards continuing to save in them at my current speed until I reach a total of $2000 across all the accounts.   At that point I would simply add to the accounts if I had used the funds.

What do you think?  Am I making a mistake by combining my savings categories and emergency fund?  Is there something I should be saving for that I am not?

 

 

 

 

 


Small Goals Met – Emergency Fund, Credit Repair and more

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Just dropping in to share some exciting news…I’ve met one of my small financial goals on my road to getting back on my feet.  I now have $1,000 socked away in an emergency fund.  Woohoo!

With that goal met, my next goal is to clear up my credit a bit.  When I originally met with the mortgage company a few years ago regarding financing our build, they referred me to someone who came highly recommended.  At the time, I was able to qualify for the amount needed without it, my credit actually wasn’t too bad.  (Not good, but not too bad.) But now…yea, it’s in the pits.

Since I am able to pay my bills on time again and have relatively steady although fluctuating income, I decided it was time to get that going.  So I met with the company this past weekend, put down the non-refundable $400 deposit and now just have to wait.  Their work typically takes 2 months but can take up to 4 months.  So we will see.

Last small update…I am just a little over a month from having my ex-husband’s car paid off.  Sticking to him paying these last 2 payments.  I am looking forward to transferring the title and being rid of this last legal financial tie (excluding our kids but that is not at all the same thing.)

I haven’t forgotten about getting a real numbers update to you.  I will, I promise.  Thanks for your patience with me.

But I do have a question for you…have you ever used a credit repair service?  Experience?


May 2016 Debt Update

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Late is better than never! Plus, my debt payments are all scheduled for middle-to-end of the month so these are all still true numbers, no additional payments have been made in June yet. Here ya go:

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date Original debt, March 2014
Navient$725356.55%$980May$74218
ACS Student Loans$85966.55%$20May$8215
Balance Transfer Student Loan #2$73500% (through April 2017)$300May$7650
Medical Bills$58110%$25May$9000
Balance Transfer student loan #1$00% -Paid off in March 2016$5937
PenFed Car Loan-2.49%-Paid off in January 2016$24040
License Fees-2.5%-Paid off in April 2015$5808
BoA CC-7.24%-Paid off in June 2014$2220
Mattress Firm-0%-Paid off in May 2014$1381
Wells Fargo CC-13.65%-Paid off in May 2014$7697
Capital One CC-17.9%-Paid off in March 2014$413
Totals$94292 (April balance = 95,250)$1325Starting Debt = $145,472

The past couple months (April & May) had smaller debt payments than what I’d originally planed. One of our 2016 goals is to pay $30,000 toward debt in total. Here’s a table showing planned and actual debt payments:

Month 2015 2016 GOALS 2016
January $1678 Goal: $3500 $4013
February $1822 Goal: $1000 $1261
March $653 Goal:  $1000 $2134
April $1796 Goal:  $2000 $1521
May $1708 Goal: $2000 $1325
June $725 Goal:  $4000  
July $2125 Goal: $4000  
August $2250 Goal: $2500  
September $2575 Goal: $2500  
October $5513 Goal: $2500  
November $2751 Goal: $2500  
December $2522 Goal: $2500  
Total $26118 Goal: $30,000  

At this point (Jan-May), our goal was to have paid $9,500 in debt so far. Our actual payments put us at $10,254. So even though our recent payments have been below our goal, overall we’re still on track to hit our annual goals. Just as a note, the reason why the goal is set so high for June and July is because I get big checks from my part-time job these two months (instead of spreading out the payment across 4 months, which would be normal sized, I don’t get paid in May or August at all, but instead I get double-sized payments in June & July). Right now it feels scary/intimidating/impossible to be making a $4,000 debt payment (though, to be fair, I haven’t been paid yet this month so that’s probably why). I still want to be cautious and re-allocate some funds back to our emergency fund after having to raid it for life’s recent emergencies.  But I still think (fingers crossed) we should manage to make some pretty hefty sized debt payments, too. Time will tell and I’ll keep you updated! : )

Hope you all have a great weekend!

 


Rain Cloud

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I feel like Eeyore, with the tiny rain cloud following me around. It’s not that I have a negative outlook on life (I like to think I’m a pretty positive person),  but I can’t shake these sad life “happenings” that seem like they’re going to persist…at least for the foreseeable future.

Let me back up. Guess where I am!!!

Hint – I’m not at home or work. I’m not even in the state of Arizona. I’m back in Texas. Flew in (on a $700 last-minute flight, no less) for a funeral. My maternal grandmother unexpectedly passed away. I should say “unexpected” in quotations because although we weren’t anticipating it, she has been in a nursing home for 4 years, is 84 years old and in only mediocre health, so these things don’t come entirely by surprise.

Her death comes right on the heels of Rocky’s death and the sting is real. Guess what else – Chris’ grandfather was just placed on hospice. So he may be making a last minute trip back to Texas for a funeral soon, too.

For a number of reasons, we decided we would each go back solo to attend our respective grandparents’ funeral. In addition to the funeral trips, we’re also planning a trip back up to Utah. For newer readers, my Dad used to live in Utah and still owns property there. When he was diagnosed with his incurable disease, we moved him to an assisted living facility in Texas closer to family. But his Draper home sits unoccupied. The goal is to go up, completely empty the thing out, and get it placed with a property management company that can take over its management and care. Originally we were going to sell the home, but when we actually looked at numbers we realized he didn’t have as much equity as we’d thought. After accounting for closing costs, etc., the house would probably just about break even or net a tiny amount of profits. I’ll outright say that I really wanted to get rid of this property simply for my own sanity – I don’t want to keep dealing with it!!! But I was outvoted amongst the siblings and I respect the group decision to keep it and hope to build up some equity as we get some renters in there paying all the bills and upkeep (plus extra for profits). It feels like a scary risk to me (what if the roof needs repair? the foundation cracks? some other huge $$$ disaster occurs?) but, again, not my decision.

So that’s what’s up on the old summer 2016 docket:  three deaths, two funerals, and a trip to Utah. Oh, and my brother is going through a horrific divorce, the likes of which I’ve only ever seen before in movies (I mean, it’s D.R.A.M.A.). So there’s that.

I don’t know why this little rain cloud won’t leave our family alone, but I’m totally over it. I’m really trying to refocus my priorities on work and family and to keep a positive outlook on life, making the best of even bad situations. On that note, I’m excited to see a couple cousins who will be flying into town today (my grandma’s funeral is tomorrow). We’re going to have a swim and pancake party tonight at my brother’s house and I can’t wait! Wish my kiddos were here (they’d love it!), but given all the circumstances I don’t regret the decision to fly back to Texas solo. I’m happy to spend time surrounded by extended family, love, support, and fun stories of our sweet Nana.

Financials…

I can’t just end this post without getting to the meat of the matter. Which is to say that I’ve taken another $700 from our emergency fund in order to cover the costs of this unexpected last-minute trip. I owe you lots of posts soon (May budget update; May debt update) to fully update you on our whole money situation. The Cliff’s Notes version is that our May debt updates were small, we had NO savings in May, and we ended up having to raid our EF to help cover the end-of-life expenses for our beloved dog. BUT (looking at the positive) – NO NEW DEBT and I was still able to make a little dent in our current debts, too. I have to call that a win with all things considered!

Let’s not dwell on the negatives. Tell me something POSITIVE about your summer:  some fun plans, exciting activities, new debt milestones or debt payoffs, etc. etc.  I’ll tell one of mine:  We took our girls up to Sabino Canyon last weekend and had SO MUCH FUN! We rode a little tram thing, hiked around, and “swam” (waded) in some bodies of water that result from the snow melting up on the mountain. Being the desert, we don’t have a lot of water in Tucson so it was a real treat to get to play in a natural body of water (not a swimming pool), and it was the girls’ first ever “hike” (a very light hike). I love making these types of memories with the kiddos!