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Some Big Changes on the Horizon for Hope’s Family


My grandmother made the comment that I have been keeping secrets this week. And while I don’t consider myself a secret keeper, I do value my privacy especially after the last couple of years of turmoil.

But there are a couple of big changes in the works around here that I thought I would take this time to share. Both could potentially have some serious implications, financial and otherwise.

So I’ll just dive right in…

Gymnastics Replaced by Football – Maybe?

Gymnast (yikes, does this mean I might have to change his blog name?) has been making noises about playing football since school started. I think it’s mostly the result of:

  1. Seeing the team spirit around the school (he just started public school in January so this is the first time he’s been around this.)
  2. The cut back in gym time from gymnastics and he has tons of extra energy.

I finally broke down and called the coach this week, and he agreed to evaluated Gymnast. That happened this past week.

Gymnast is working out with the football team all this week. He will have to make a decision about gymnastics and football at the end of the week.

football field

Thusfar, it has only cost me a pair of cleats ($67.) And from my conversation with the coach there is one more piece of equipment I will have to buy if he remains (a girdle.)

This is what I hoped for when I pulled him out of gymnastics. I wanted him to play a team sport, something through the school…but to be honest, football would not have been my choice. I’m excited and scared.

There will be financial implications, logistics implications and big life changes if he chooses football. I guess I may start seeing those next week depending on his choice. Yikes!

A Boyfriend or More?

I dove in the world of online dating last fall. I mostly thought I would have some fun, meet some people and maybe have some funny stories to write about for my personal blog. This has been a really lonely move for me, a hard move. Online dating was my remedy.

I quickly realized that I did not really like the whole online thing and within a month left the online sites. But there were several men that I stayed in touch with.

Fast forward nine months since our online meeting, and one of those men and I are now in a committed relationship. My first real committed relationship since my marriage ended 11+ years ago. He is moving to our town in two weeks. He wants to marry me.

My family has been informed about him and will meet him next month. (My ex has also been informed about him.) I do not know what the future holds, but again, a big change for us.

I’m not really ready to answer more questions, but if things get more serious, well, you know there is now another aspect to my life. But because like BAD readers, I know we are naturally curious here’s what I will tell you.

He has two grown children. He’s worked in construction and had planned this move, or at least a move to Georgia prior to meeting me. He’s moving here from Florida where he’s lived his whole life. He knows everything about me, the good, the bad, the highs and the lows. And I’ve never felt more understood and supported.

We’ve spent the bulk of the last 9 months writing several letters a week. Spent hours on the phone and video calls. I will meet him mom and some of his family when he moves up in a couple of weeks. And we are going to take it slow.

The kids know all about him and are comfortable with the thought of him and know our desires for a possible forever relationship. Gymnast is especially excited about a possible step-dad.  But other than a special letter he wrote to them, talks on the phone and video chats, they have not met him in person.

Yikes, this was a bit hard to write. There’s no manual for single mom dating, or person in debt dating. I’m just kind of feeling my way. Any BAD readers been through this? Have any advice?






Ashley’s Long Overdue Budget


This post has been a long time coming. I mean, a LOOOOOOOOONG time coming. Am I right?

The problem is, it’s hard to write a budget when all the categories are moving targets. It’s hard to project ahead when things feel shaky and there’s no solid ground from which to start.

I hope this is a step forward in the right direction. This is hard for me to write. But hubs and I are separating. I’ve already signed a 12-month lease at a new place and am getting the keys on 9/1.  While I don’t feel comfortable talking about specifics of what has lead to this huge decision, I want to cover some of the basics as they pertain to my financial picture.

Right now we are seeking a legal separation. I don’t know if or when a divorce might occur down the line, but we’ll cross that bridge if/when we get there.

We want to fix a couple minor things in the house and then sell it. I’ve had many family and friends already try to convince me/us to keep the house but that’s really not an option either of us want to pursue. I’m moving out over Labor Day weekend. My long-term plan is to rent for 12-months to get my feet underneath myself and figure out some “life stuff.” Once the dust settles at the end of my rental lease, I plan to buy again.

Hubs will remain in the marital residence while doing some needed updates. The upstairs needs new carpet (it’s all literally the original 30-year-old carpet and it’s disgusting). And all of the cabinets (kitchen, kids’ bathroom, and master bathroom) need to be painted with some minor repair-work needing to be done. Our goal is for updates to be made during the month of September and for the house to be on the market by October 1st. We put a large down payment down for the house and had been paying toward the mortgage aggressively. Additionally, property values have risen steadily  in our area in the short time we’ve lived here, so we should stand to get a good chunk of money out of the house. We have not hired a realtor yet, so we don’t know exact $’s.

From the proceeds of the house, we will pay off a large amount of our joint debt. All of these numbers are up-in-the-air, as we don’t know what to expect from the sale yet and how much we’ll lose to commissions, etc.

Ashley’s New Monthly Budget


For the time being, I’ll be in a small rental house. Hubs will pay the housing costs for our owned home (mortgage, utilities, etc.) and I will pay the housing costs for the rental home. Currently, our cell phone bill is still together. Eventually that will be separated so we will each have our own account. Hubs and I will be sharing joint-custody of the kids. I will pay for the After-school care. I built in a “housing buffer” because the first couple months in my new place may likely include me also paying some bills at the old place (e.g., cable – I’m not planning to have cable at my new place, but will still have a bill from the old house.). This won’t last forever, but I’m trying to be conservative initially.

Housing Buffer150



Separated, but not divorced, hubs will stay on our family insurance plan, which I will continue to pay.  I’ll also pay hubs’ monthly braces installment. I’ll pay for the girls’ medical care for the time being. Hubs will pay for his own co-pays and prescriptions.

Co-pays & Rx’s60


I’ll keep my vehicle, hubs will keep his.

Auto gas150
Car repair/maintenance75


I don’t know what exactly to expect here. I anticipate the food budget going down dramatically, but I wanted to keep the estimate conservative. I’ve also wanted to include some money specifically for taking the girls out and for me to have money to have happy hour or brunch with friends. Having the social support now, more than ever, is incredibly important to me. Keep in mind, I have no family in the area, so my friends are the only form of direct support available in the area.

Restaurants with kids100
Out with friends150


For the time being, I’m expecting to pay for the majority of the girls’ direct needs, including clothing and kids activities (they’re currently in swim lessons, though that ends at the end of September). I’m building in some savings again – a semi-annual fee category (for car insurance, life insurance, etc.) and an emergency fund.

Kid activities150
gift giving60
Exercise (yoga, races)60
Semi-Annual Fees150


All combined, this comes to $4121. My monthly income is about $5,222 (after taxes, retirement, payroll deductions, and insurances are removed). That leaves $1101 for debt payments.

Our debts are all over the place. Again – we’re planning to pay off a lot with the sale of the house. In the meantime, I’m likely going to have to put the costs of a few things on my Home Depot credit card to get situated in the new place (e.g., I’ll need a washer and dryer, and I’m planning to pay for the home improvements to get the house ready for market on this credit line). Really, our debts are kind of a mess. I will reveal them all, in good time. But again, it’s tough to come up with a concrete plan when you have a moving target. I feel like step 1 is to get situated in my new place. It will be much easier to project ahead once the move is pulled off. I do have a budget for the move and moving-related expenses, too. I’ll share that (and my plan to pay for it) soon!

Thank you for your support over the past 4+ years! Many of BAD’s readers have been around through all life’s up’s and down’s. It feels, at times, like an extended family. I appreciate your input and advice on my planned monthly budget. Is anything missing? Anything I’m not thinking of right now that needs to be added?