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Year of Becoming an Adult: January Update

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Remember when I talked about our goals for the month of January in our quest to “become adults” in the year of 2015?

I wanted to give you a little update.

First of all….we’re already behind. Yep. One month deep into the new year and already falling behind. Sigh. But it’s not for lack of trying!!

Hubs and I went to the bank on Friday of last week (cutting it close) to try to get added to each others’ accounts and get all of our documents notarized (a will and power of attorney for each of us).

Weeelllll, the process ended up taking a full 90 minutes and still didn’t get accomplished everything we needed. At that point we had run out of time and simply had to decide to let some of the work spill over into February.

Here’s what happened…

We went to Bank of America (the first of our 2 planned stops, as we bank at two different places). First we tried to get our documents notarized. Come to find out, they do not notarize wills because there is a conflict of interest (huh? In what way??? When we die the bank is not benefiting/getting money, so why is this a rule???). But they said they’d notarize the power of attorney forms. So we go through the whole thing, doing initials and signatures on all kinds of pages. At the very end we turn it over for the notary, who looks everything over, goes to grab a co-worker, and comes back to let us know that the bank employees cannot serve as a “witness”, which is required by Arizona state law. So now the document is essentially useless, being as the witness has to actually, ahem, WITNESS the signing of the document.

Long story short, we end up getting a random patron to sign as a witness for us (after much distress, and finally telling the patron we’d give them $10 for their time and effort). So it was a huge pain in the butt, but that was finally done. Thank goodness.

The wills, not so much. Not only will we have to go to another independent notary, but we discovered that it actually requires TWO witnesses, not one. What the heck!? Why is it so difficult!?!

Additionally, I have accounts at Bank of America, so I was able to add hubs to my accounts while we were there (checking and saving), but his accounts are at Wells Fargo and since we ran out of time we weren’t even able to go there yet.

So we’re taking baby steps. Making little bits of progress. Not as much as I would have liked, but forward progress nonetheless.

I’d also planned on giving you guys a budget update today but I’m so behind at work right now that I think I’m going to have to put it off until later this week so I can devote the rest of today to playing catch-up with work stuff (fun, fun!) As a little foreshadowing of what’s to come, I’ll tell you there are some pretty big changes coming for the month of February. I feel the need to shake things up a bit as I really re-commit and start knocking my debt in the teeth! Onward!

Hope you’re having a good Monday! 


Weekly Debt Update #2- Back Online

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After 3 nights and many cable swaps later, I’ve finally got my computer working. The cost? $17.99 for a new video cable. Thankfully, it could have been worse.

Firstly, I want to thank everybody for their kind words and for sharing their stories on my previous post. There were some questions as to why me and my girlfriend split the costs like we do (so if you haven’t read why, go to the comments section on this post) and after a lengthy discussion between me and her, we decided to stay the course (paying bills based on a ratio of our pay) as she looks for a full time/higher paying job. Thanks again, it was extremely helpful to us.

After the past week, I have a lot to go over, so I just want to dive into it.

Here’s my new debt numbers (as of Tuesday):

Loan NameInterest RateOriginal Balance- May '09Current BalanceTotal Paid Off
Sallie Mae 015.25$27,837.24$24,462.48$3,374.76
Sallie Mae 024.75$22,197.02$19,189.15$3,007.87
Sallie Mae 037.75$20,692.10$655.99$20,036.11
Sallie Mae 045.75$10,350.18$7,723.61$2,226.57
Sallie Mae 055.25$6,096.03$5,356.99$739.04
Sallie Mae 06 & 074.75$6,415.09$0.00$6,415.09
Sallie Mae- DOE 015.25$5,000.00$0.00$5,000.00
Sallie Mae- DOE 025.25$3,000.00$0.00$3,000.00
AES6.8$9,000.00$0.00$9,000.00
TOTALS$110,587.66$57,338.22$53,249.44

I made some pretty good progress on the pay down. I made my normal payment (on the 21st) then put some extra on to the lowest one. I’m currently tracking having this one paid off by March.

Here’s what my January ’15 budget looks like (as of Wednesday)

January '15 Budget

Even though I made progress with my debt payoff, I also did a couple of things that are out of character of me since I started my debt free push- I made a couple of big ticket purchases that I otherwise wouldn’t have. First- I got sucked in the juicing craze after watching Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (1 & 2) on Netflix during the weekend. Although the juicer makes some delicious juice, I definitely wasn’t worth the +$200 price tag. Not only that, but in order to juice, we need fresh veggies, and since I don’t do the grocery shopping, I (understandably) got a run down of why she (my GF) doesn’t have that in her own budget. I mean, you really need ALOT of veggies to make even a small cup of juice. Certainly not the wisest decision I ever made.

Secondly, I bought a plane ticket to Florida. My little sis, who lives in Orlando, just gave birth to my nephew (the first in our family). For the past 9 months, my feelings were I was going to wait to see my sis and her son once they came up to see us, whenever that happened to be. Well…we got the news Saturday night, first pictures starting rolling in and my feelings changed pretty quickly. The plane ticket ending up costing $262 and I leave this coming Wednesday. I’m going to be staying at their place, so I’ve budgeted $200 for the trip just in case.

Since I didn’t budget for either of these 2 items, I took the money out of my slush fund (I’m not calling it an emergency fund anymore since I hardly use it for emergencies). In order to hold myself accountable I’m going to my slush fund total every week along with Weekly Debt Update. After these 2 costs, I’m currently at:

Slush Fund= $2,570.55

Other than these costs, everything else has been normal. My parents did stay with us on Friday as planned, but they ended leaving early Saturday morning when they found out my sister was in labor. So, all in all, a pretty crazy week.

 


Ashley’s January Debt Update

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I pre-wrote and scheduled a couple of posts for today because I’ll be doing my campus interview all day (my itinerary is from 9am-7pm)!!! I probably won’t have a chance to respond to any comments until tonight or tomorrow so I just wanted to give you a heads up on that. Please send me some good vibes, positive thoughts/energy, prayers, good juju, whatever works for you! I am trying to come off as confident (but not cocky), enthusiastic and likable (but not desperate), professional, and articulate. Remember – I’ve kinda got all my eggs in one basket on this one, so it feels like a BIG day for me! Wish me luck!!!

The numbers are in and here’s how my debt has been shaping up this month…

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date (original debt, March 2014)
Capital One CC-17.9%-Paid off in March ($413)
Mattress Firm-0%-Paid off in May ($1381)
Wells Fargo CC-13.65%-Paid off in May ($7697)
BoA CC-7.24%-Paid off in June ($2220)
License Fees$22082.5%250January ($5808)
PenFed Car Loan$159782.49%1000January ($24040)
Navient - Federal Student Loans$44448.25%16January ($4687)
Navient - Dept of Ed$722318.25-6.55%260January ($69191)
ACS Student Loans$210407.24%77December ($21035)
Medical Bills$64110%75January ($9000)
Totals$122,312 (Last month = 123,667)Total: $1,678Starting Debt = $145,472

Maybe it’s just because we’ve reached the 10-month mark so some of the newness and excitement has started to rub off a bit, but I’m just not as enthusiastic about my progress as I was early on in the debt-repayment process.

On one hand, we put over $1,600 toward debt this month! That’s great, right?!

On the other hand, my student loan balances went up. Again. (my minimum payments don’t cover the interest, so the balance keeps slooooowly growing).

And my total debt ($122,000+) is still so out-of-control. I cannot WAIT for the day that I break the $100,000 barrier and dip into the $99,999s.

Hubs ended up making an extra debt payment toward his license fees at the end of last month. So if you were to compare the balance this month to the one from last month, that’s why there’s a discrepancy (the table says $250 was applied this month, which is true, but hubs had made a payment of just over $250 at the end of last month, too, so it’s gone down by $500 compared to last month’s beginning balance).

Can I make a little confession that will become pretty apparent anyway real soon (when we talk about how the budget went this month)???

I ended up going a bit over on a couple categories this month. I think some of the holiday-spending spilled over into January and I was just a little too loosey-goosey on my spending. Nothing crazy or extravagant. Mostly just up to my old tricks again….spending too much on groceries and crap that we don’t really need because its oh-so-easy for me to justify grocery purchases as a necessity, even if they aren’t.

Anyway, my plan at the beginning of the month was to pay extra toward my student loans (above the minimums) so I could pay the interest in full and not have a growing balance. *Sigh* Having gone over on my grocery budget (by a lot, I should add), I re-allocated those funds to cover my frivolous food expenses and, alas, the student loan balances continue to grow. Very discouraging.

I will do better next month!

Another confession, since we’re on that train now…

Hubs and I have fallen off the wagon with our monthly finance talks, too.

For long time readers, you’ll know that hubs and I have a unique financial relationship (I talked about it here when I first started blogging). Some of it is changing (e.g., we’re adding each other to all of our accounts this month), but one of the big things is that I’ve always been the one to sit down and actually pay the bills. When I first started blogging we started loosely following a Dave Ramsey-esque type program where hubs and I would have a monthly budget discussion to decide exactly how to allocate that months’ funds.

Over the holidays we’ve sort of slipped back into our old patterns where hubs has simply given me money and I’ve put it where I think it should go. To be clear, I really am doing what I believe to be best with the money (in terms of debt allocations, etc.), but I do think it’s important for hubs to actually be in on these decisions rather than simply letting me handle the funds how I see fit. Things seemed to be moving faster and progress seemed to be better when we were working together. So that’s coming back at the end of this month as we discuss our plans for February.

Hopefully in the coming months we’ll see some stronger progress!

How’ve you been doing with your debt payments? How do you and your significant other handle finances/bills/etc?


Budgeting

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As I mentioned before, I analyzed all my spending from 2014 and have made some budgetary changes to reflect real-life spending. The biggest of these changes is that I’ve added additional budget categories (instead of lumping things together as “miscellaneous”), and I’m allowing for more fluidity; meaning the same budget categories won’t be present every month.

Just so we’re all on the same page, this is a work in progress. I’m still tinkering and figuring out how to do this correctly. I would imagine it will probably take a few months for me to really get a hang of it and to anticipate a month’s needs.

So, that being said, I’ve decided I’m going to do away with providing a “planned budget” for the month and, instead, will only provide summaries of the my spending once a month is complete. I’ll still be doing monthly planning, but because things are going to be more fluid, it will be difficult for me to allocate every dollar to a category at the beginning of the month when I don’t know for sure what expenses are going to pop up. To account for this, I’m budgeting every dollar that I KNOW has a job already (i.e., rent, water, electricity), and trying to anticipate some one-time expenses, but then I’m leaving a good chunk of money (what used to be my “miscellaneous” budget) in the bank and will allocate it as expenses pop up. Make sense? I decided to do this because it doesn’t make sense to me to give you all the boring stripped down numbers at the beginning of every month (rent, utilities, food), because they’ll always be fairly consistent. Instead, I’m only going to provide a spending overview once the month is done. Sound fair?

That being said, I owe you a budget update from the month of December!

December was a bit of a “wonky” month, so it’s a bit unique compared to other months. We had a couple really large expenses ($1600 root canal & $1100 car maintenance). We’ve been living on last month’s income for several months, but with $6550 to spend for the month and well over that amount in expenses, I ended up having to use all of last months income, plus dip into some income from the current month in order to cover all of our expenses.

Here’s what I did:

$6550 = last month’s income

$225 = Christmas money (from my savings account)

$1100 = from current month’s income to cover car repairs

$1600 = from current month’s income to cover dental work

= $9475 for spending in December

 

Place Planned Budget Actual Spent
Rent 1055 1055
Electricity 170 164
Water 60 56
Natural gas 20 23
Sprint (2 lines) 115 114
Cable/Internet 100 100
Car Insurance 56 46
Health Insurance 350 380
Trash 35 35
Debt 2078 2078
Miscellaneous 300 3361
Groceries 400 371
Baby Purchases 1200 1092
Gasoline 100 103
Saving for Irregular Expenses 495 495
Total Budgeted 6534 9473

 

After adding in the above funds, we were barely able to cover our expenses for the month. Why so high?

  1. Turns out our health insurance is rising after all. In honesty, I have no idea why it’s higher this month (I need to call and find out). I received notice that our monthly premiums would raise to $400/month for the 2015 year. Still much, much lower than other insurance plans I’d priced, but a $50/month hike from what it used to be.
  2. Christmas & Travel-related spending. Our actual travel expenses were pretty low, and we tried to keep gift-giving reasonable, but it did cost additional money outside of our regular budget.

Here’s how the miscellaneous category broke down:

  • Entertainment: Budgeted = $20, Actual = $21
  • Eating Out: Budgeted = $100, Actual = $61
  • Personal Maintenance: Budgeted = $30, Actual = $10
  • Other: Budgeted = $300, Actual = $3270

But if you take the “other” category ($3270) and subtract the dental work ($1600), car maintenance ($1100), and hotel from traveling to Austin ($140), you’re left with only $430 spent for everything else (including all the “regular” stuff that falls under this category in addition to all Christmas-related spending). Still a bit high, but not as bad once you realize that the overage is mostly due to those two really high bills this month (dental + car maintenance).

So there you go. And then, just to contradict myself, let me tell you about a couple of expenses that I’m planning for the month of January….

First, hubs and I are both getting our wills done! 2015 = year of becoming an adult, remember??

Also, I’m going to try to keep the costs low-low-low, but I have a couple gift-giving expenses to budget for. One friend got married, 3 family members have birthdays (including my step-dad’s big 60th birthday), and a baby shower (I’ve already got the gift for this, but need to mail it). Haven’t decided if the dental stuff (exams & x-rays) is going to happen this month or next month. Guess we’ll see how it goes!

Are you implementing any big budgetary changes for 2015?


2015 Financial Planning & Goals

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Warning: This post is a bit of a doozy! Reminds me of when I first started blogging and would basically write a novel for each post! But everything is related so instead of breaking it up into separate smaller-sized posts you’ve got one monster post to contend with. Maybe make yourself a cup of coffee and settle in with a little snack. This is gonna take awhile!

One of the things I did over my winter blogging break was to analyze my 2014 spending and do some planning for 2015 budgeting and savings needs. I’m trying to shake up my budget categories a bit for 2015. For one, I want to do away with my “miscellaneous” budget all together. I want everything categorized. This will make it infinitely easier in future months/years to look back and easily see exactly where my money has gone (as opposed to this year…where I had to look at each month’s spending individually and start to categorize things on my own).

 

Basically, I wanted to see where this “miscellaneous” money was going and see if I could plan and budget for it. In addition to my normal budget categories (see latest budget here), here are some new categories I’ve come up with:

  • Gift-giving. I’ve greatly reduced the amount I’ve been spending on gifts since starting to blog here at BAD, but it’s not down to zero! This needs its own category.
  • House maintenance. Looking at the past year, this is mostly gardening-related stuff (some tools, plants, mulch), but it also includes things like light bulbs and cleaning supplies. There’s nothing too major cost-wise, but still enough random miscellaneous expenses to justify its own category.
  • Phone/Computer Items and Repairs. I broke my phone twice this year. I now have a serious heavy-duty case on it, but should the unthinkable happen again (fingers crossed), I decided to make this it’s own budgeted category. In addition to phone repairs, this year I had to buy a new charger for my computer and an external hard drive to back up my work, so expenses like that fall into this category as well.
  • Holiday expenses. Non gift-giving holiday related expenses. Things like Halloween costumes, 4th of July sparklers, and holiday decorations. This was also a relatively small category of spending.
  • Clothing purchases. I’ve actually successfully avoided the clothing-shopping bug this holiday season. I’ve mentioned before I’m not a big shopper in general, but I usually have one or two big shopping splurges a year where I’ll spend over $100+. This year I’ve done really well with making do with what I have and only filling in with absolute necessities (like when I had to buy a new pair of pants when my old ones had already been mended twice and were falling apart). Again – a small category in terms of money spent.
  • Work-Related. This was primarily for parking-related expenses when I would drive to campus for meetings. I haven’t been going to campus as regularly in recent months so some of these expenses have fallen away, but this also includes anything specifically work-related (e.g., licensing for special data analytic software, printer paper, ink cartridges, etc.)
  • One-Time Expenses. This was a tiny, tiny category but there were still a couple random things that came up that don’t fall within any other category. I’m calling them one-time expenses.

Please note, I will certainly NOT be spending money in each of these categories every month! For instance, I only spent money on work-related purchases 6 months out of this past year; only spent money on holiday expenses 3 months out of the past year, etc. But these will be categories that may pop up from time to time along with my regular budget categories, depending on what that month demands. Instead of having such a rigid, set number of budget categories, my new 2015 budget will be more fluid depending on that specific month’s needs. I think this will be a much better system overall.

What Else is Changing?

I did a careful analysis of all my monthly savings categories. It’s obvious that we were not budgeting enough toward dental and car maintenance, for instance. By tallying up our actual expenses for the full year, I was able to get a better picture of our real needs in these areas. Let me address each one individually:

 

Current

Saved

New

Plan

Explanation

Annual Expenses $100/mo $100/mo This is a perfect amount. It covers annual life insurance premium, car registrations, and Costco membership. It actually also left us a little bit extra leftover, but I’m not reducing the monthly amount saved because we’ll be adding life insurance for hubs soon, too.
Car Maintenance $100/mo $200/mo My calculations actually amounted to only $166/month needed for vehicle repairs, but I’m rounding up to $200/month because I know we will be needing to replace husband’s work truck at some point (probably this year), so I want to save a little extra. This will amount to $2400 saved for the year. Note that when we come up with an exact time frame to buy a new (new-to-us) work truck, this figure may need to be bumped up for a few months.
Dental/Vision/Health $125/mo $125+ ??? Our actual costs here would amount to needing $3651 for the year (just over $300/month). BUT, we’re going to purchase a dental discount plan in January and will see how much it will save us. Husband is going to go get a full exam and see exactly how much dental work he is quoted. I think we’ve covered the “big” stuff at this point (fingers crossed) and, in the meantime we’ll continue saving $125/month, but will adjust this number depending on his dental appointment with an in-network dentist.
Christmas/Travel $25/mo $25/mo Of course, this doesn’t fully cover our travel and/or Christmas-related expenses, but it was never intended to fully cover those costs. It does what it needs to do, which is to off-set some of the costs incurred. Any extra money needed will come from that month’s budget.
3-6 Months Expenses $25/mo $25/mo Ugh! Still owe you guys a post about the emergency fund. Right now, though, the amount being contributed will remain the same on a monthly basis.
Dog Expenses $10/mo $500/year Previously, I was only saving for potential vet expenses. I’m changing this category to cover food costs for the full year (about $50 every other month), plus the pet registration required by our county, and a couple hundred dollar buffer for potential vet expenses. I’ll likely fully fund this savings in January and just draw from it all year long.
Girls’ Birthday $10/mo $10/mo Staying the same
2014 Roth IRA $100/mo $100/mo Staying the same
TOTAL $495/mo  

$585/mo

 

(+ one-time $500 expense from the dog expenses category)

 

This brings me to…

My 2015 Financial Goals

In 2014 I paid monthly debt payments that equaled $25,091!!! This is actually a conservative number because it only includes the planned debt payments. Remember that before I was living on last month’s income I would often make debt payments bi-monthly: once was the planned debt payment (which this figure represents), and then I’d make a second payment at the end of the month with any extra “surplus” money from the month. (Side note for new readers: I did this because we have a variable income so I made conservative debt payments initially, then when I figured out exactly how much income we had for the month, I’d put any money leftover toward debt. Now that I live on last month’s income I know exactly how much money we have at the beginning of the month and, thus, have eliminated the need for any extra payments because I do a zero-based budget so there is no money leftover at the end of the month).

So my goal for 2015 is to pay at least $30,000 toward debt payments.

Whoa. That’s a big, huge number. $30,000 is a full annual salary for many people! To say we’ll put that much toward debt is certainly a lofty goal. But you have to shoot for the moon, right? ; )

What debts do I plan to eradicate from our lives with that $30,000???

Well, some of the money will be going toward minimum payments for all of our debts and interest, of course. But with extra debt money I plan to eliminate the license fees, car loan, and highest interest unsubsidized student loan. Then our only debts remaining will be medical bills and additional student loans. Don’t get me wrong – we’ll still have a ton of debt (I have almost $100,000 in student loans, alone), but it will feel so good to knock out some of these smaller debts in their entirety! So, so good, indeed.

How Will I Do This?

I’m a firm believer that all goals require careful and strategic planning. If you just pull a goal out of the air its really more of a hope or a dream. Goals, in my opinion, require more careful calculation than that.

So it might surprise you that my answer to this question (How Will I Do It?) is….”Who Knows!?” ; )

This year could potentially be full of many big changes. If I land a job here in Tucson then my salary will double and we won’t have any moving costs. Win! If I land a job elsewhere then my salary will more than double, but we lose husband’s salary and incur moving expenses. If I don’t land a job then I keep making what I’m currently making, try to find additional work, and husband focuses on building his business. Oh yeah, and I’d love to start saving for a house down payment at some point (once we know where we’ll be)! There are so many unknowns!

What I do know is that I want to keep working as hard as I can on reducing our debt. BUT, that being said, I do still plan to let up a little steam (just a teeny, tiny bit) in March 2015. Remember this whole post about finding balance??? It still stands. I don’t think I’ll give up the blogging (I love it and you guys too much), but don’t be surprised if you see a “date night” pop up in the budget every other month or so. That’s a big expense that we’ve done without for the majority of this past year (honestly, for the majority of the last 2.5 years since we had kids!!!). But I also think it’s important to nurture our relationship and while our kids have been infants/toddlers our marriage has taken a bit of a back seat. Don’t get me wrong – there’s no trouble in paradise or anything like that!!! But I think it’s time to make dating my husband and nurturing our relationship more of a priority in our lives. And even if we do so cheaply, it still costs money.

I’ve got one more curve-ball….

I’ve spoken before about retirement savings and how we’d like to start funding a Roth IRA. Although our contributions for 2014 are pretty measly, I’ve been talking more to hubs about it and we’ve come to an agreement about the matter. Once the highest interest student loan and license fees are paid in full, I want to bump up our Roth IRA contributions. Ideally, I’d like to work toward having fully funded Roths for both hubs and myself. We haven’t committed to an exact number yet at this point, so it may be that we double our current savings (go up to $200/month) or triple them (up to $300/month), or we could even aim to have fully funded Roths (about $458/month x 2, for each of us). We’re not there yet so I’m not sure how comfortable I’d be with saving that much while our existing debt is still incurring so much interest. It’s something we’ll think about more moving forward (and feel free to weigh in on the topic). But just let it be known – once these two fees are paid in full (license fees and highest interest unsubsidized student loan), our Roth contributions will be increased…while still trying to hit the $30,000 mark for debt payments this year.

So cross your fingers for us or wish us luck (or call us crazy).

No matter what 2015 holds in store, I feel like it will be a very good year!

What are your financial plans for 2015? Any big budget changes? Any lofty financial goals? What do you think of our goals and plans?


Counting my Blessings

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With all the “poor me” attitude I’ve had lately (see here), I just have to share a super kind thing that happened to me last night.

After this conversation about teacher gifts, it sounded like the best thing to do was get each teacher a $5 gift card, a nice note, and a hand-colored picture from the girls.

So Friday we decided to drive around and look at Christmas lights as a family. We turned on some Christmas tunes and headed to Starbucks. I was going to spend from my eating out budget to indulge in a couple hot chocolates for hubs and I, and use from my other budget to buy the $15 worth of gift cards for our kids’ 3 teachers. We place our order, pull up to the window, and are informed that the car in front of us paid for our entire order – including the gift cards!!!!

Hearing about these “pay it forward” lines is so commonplace now and, yet, I’ve never had one happen to me. I was floored! Of course we paid for the car behind us, but their total was only a whopping $5 (compared to ours, which was going to be $22).

I still feel guilty about having the car in front of us pay for our entire order! If it had just been drinks I wouldn’t feel so bad, but I feel guilty about them essentially buying our teacher gifts for us.

With all the big spending we’ve been doing lately (on root canal, car repairs, etc.), I’m going to take some time this weekend to count my blessings and be thankful for the kindness of strangers!

 


Bad Things Come in 3’s

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That’s the saying, right? Bad things come in 3’s. So apparently the God of the “bad things” has trouble counting because I’m pretty sure we’re on bad thing #130903480 in the past couple months. Sure, it’s a bit of an exaggeration, but some more crap has gone down.

First, on Monday while I was driving my front left tire blew out. I’ve been a passenger in a car when a tire has blown out before but this was my first time driving when one occurred and it was scary! Luckily nothing too crazy (I was going about 45 on a regular street, not on the highway), but it swung me into the center median pretty hard before I regained control of the car and was able to safely navigate to the side of the road. I’m so, so, so glad I just hit the median and not another car! Yikes!

Four new tires + an alignment later (oh yeah, plus it needed new brakes too), I was coughing up $1100 for car maintenance. All relatively necessary. The car (5 years old) has never had new tires so we knew we’d be needing some in the coming months but didn’t realize the day would come so suddenly. The tires weren’t completely bald or anything, so the blow out was a huge surprise. I guess the thing to be grateful for there is that the blowout occurred while only I was in the car (no kids in the car), in our own town (not on the road somewhere between Tucson and Austin), and no one was hurt. The alignment was necessary because its good to do when you get new tires plus I had really whacked the sh*t out of the front blown tire when I rammed the curb. Not sure if that can mess up the alignment, but I’m sure its not good. Alignments are relatively inexpensive anyway. The only thing I think we could have gotten cheaper were the brakes. Husband knows how to do brakes and I would have liked to have had him do them, but they were all rusted and corroded (so weird because the car is well maintained and we rarely have rain in Tucson?? but we bought it used so the rust could have been from before we owned it), and hubs said to just have them replaced since he’s been so busy with work and wasn’t sure when he’d have a chance to do them before our Texas trip.

Oh yeah, and remember how we used up our full vehicle maintenance savings fund last month when husband’s car needed maintenance? Yeah, so we’ve got nothing saved for it.

Then the second thing occurred this morning. Husband always wakes up before me (he’s usually out the door by 7am, and I only wake up at 6:30-6:45ish). Today, though, when he woke up he went to the bathroom and came back out, gently shaking me awake. I open my eyes and see…..a swollen cheek.

I’ve seen this before. This is the same mother-freaking swollen cheek I saw last time husband had a bad tooth that required a root canal. Correction. This is the same swollen cheek he had the time before last time. Last time was just this past July (remember??), and his mouth never swelled up that time.

Seriously, world? SERIOUSLY?!!?!?!!?!

He says it came out of nowhere; that it hadn’t been hurting or anything. But he’s now in serious pain and the situation is going to require immediate attention (side note for long-term readers: yes, it’s not really “out of nowhere” because we knew he had a few teeth that really needed root canals and we’ve just basically been putting them off, trying to save up money and pay down some debt first).

So this morning he had his helper meet at our house so the helper could take the truck and get started working. Husband went to the dentist and had some preliminary stuff done (he did get a prescription for some antibiotics, too, but apparently the infection wasn’t bad enough to preclude some of the initial root canal stuff – like taking a mold of the tooth or whatever happens? I’ve never had a root canal so I don’t know). But here’s where I get really pissed. I’ve had a couple people (real life friends & readers) comment on how awesome these dental discount plans are. I’m familiar with these plans and, back in July when husband had his last root canal, I had suggested he buy one of these plans.  Husband said that the office showed him their rates with the plan, but they were able to match the plan’s price without having to actually purchase the plan. If you’ll recall, back in July we paid $1600 for the root canal + crown.

Welllllll…. I was b*tching about this to a friend today on the phone and, again, she brings up the dental discount plan. She urges me to check it out myself, practically insisting on it, even though I tell her that husband already saw all the rates while at the dentist’s office. I get off the phone and do a little internet research and – lo and behold – guess what guys! The dental discount plan could have saved us nearly $600! Yes. Root canal + crown for just under $1,000. We paid $1600 (and that’s the same quote we got for the current root canal, too). WTF!?

So now I’m conflicted. We already owe the dental office from their work today (to the tune of $800), but now what? Try to find an in-network dentist to do the crown at the discount rate (of about $500), or just finish up with the dentist we’ve started with? Husband is in immediate pain and has already had the process started at this current place so he just wants to finish there. But I feel like they’re basically swindling us out of money! It’s our fault because we should have researched and learned that different offices have different rates (husband & I both assumed the rates he was shown for the “dental discount plan” would be comparable at all Tucson dentists), but it just makes me angry! We’re basically hemorrhaging money around here!

I feel like Murphy  (of Murphy’s law) is testing us. How dedicated are we to this whole get-out-of-debt thing?

Guess what, Mr. Murphy! Pretty f-ing dedicated. Why don’t you just pack up your bags and take a hike?!

In the meantime, we’ve spent $1900 and counting (that’s $1100 on the car + $800 on the tooth, and between another $500-800 to go). Thankfully, we do have some savings in our dental insurance savings fund, but not nearly enough to cover the full procedure (we have about $500). So, I’m breaking my living-on-last-month’s income rule. I’m raiding our bank account to cover these costs so I don’t have to dip into additional Emergency Funds to cover the deficit.

December looks like it’s turning out to be quite profitable for husband’s business so I think we’ll be okay. Meaning, I think that even after paying these expenses we’ll still have enough to “live on last month’s income” for January (so we won’t have to start over on that). Essentially, January would have seen a great debt payment. Instead, it will get an average-sized debt payment and a lot of what would have been surplus will be going to pay car maintenance and dental procedures. Big bummer. But at least no new debt is incurred and we’re still making progress on our existing debt.

This also impacts how I’ll be budgeting in 2015. I still need to find the time to go over everything and really analyze our spending, but now I’ll be able to know a precise number to save for dental expenses or car maintenance, etc., instead of just randomly selecting a number out of thin air to save (which, as it turns out, has not been enough). So, live and learn.

And…no more bad things. We’re capped out on bad things right now.