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The Price of Stocking Up

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Here in the Northwest, we’re in Coronavirus mode. It showed up close to home far faster than I expected. We’ve had some cases in our immediate area, and it’s put everyone on high alert. It certainly motivated us to pay the price of stocking up last minute on essentials, including some of the basics Hope mentioned when preparing for a pandemic.

I know this has become a controversial topic for a lot of people, but I think we can all agree it never hurts to be prepared. Here is one of our main concerns: what would we do if we were quarantined for 14 days? That’s already happened with some families, and we know it’s a very real possibility.

So this weekend we focused on:

– Stocking up enough food for 14 days
– Getting sufficient medicines, especially for my asthma
– Creating a plan for our business

Stocking up on Food

I ran to the store early Saturday morning, buying two weeks’ worth of what we’d normally eat. We usually have a lot of dry goods and canned foods in our garage, but with moving on our mind we’ve been eating through it. Dangit. So I begrudgingly restocked some of those staples, juuuust in case. This bonus grocery trip cost us nearly $100, but it did mean I can avoid the stores this week.

By Saturday evening, apparently, store shelves were becoming bare. Rice, beans, and soup cans were gone. A friend went to Costco and texted that they were in line all the way to the BACK of the store. Toilet paper and water were the hot items, although people were also joking about the wine and beer in their carts.

I’ve since seen stores are cleaned out (pun intended) of hand sanitizer and cleaners like Lysol and Clorox Wipes. There’s been some price gouging, so I’m grateful we already had enough of these non-food items.

Keeping Medicines on Hand

We made sure we had fever reducers for us and the kids, and then I started getting more of my asthma and sinus prescriptions. They’re so expensive and because of insurance limits I often don’t get extra. Calling in all my meds at once reminded me just how much we pay for my medications each month!

– Asthma pills $14/month
– Allergy pills $30/month
– Nasal Rinse $45/month
– Steroid Inhaler $45
– Rescue Inhaler $45

That’s a total of $179.00. And those don’t include a few over-the-counter vitamins and pills I take. Oof!

(I have to put in perspective that before I started this cocktail of prescriptions about five years ago, I was having non-stop sinus and respiratory problems. I needed regular sinus surgeries, I wasn’t sleeping well, and I was really struggling. So I’d rather pay for my better lifestyle now than endure that miserable existence again.)

That total was bothering me though. I already take all the generics that I can, so I decided to finally look into online coupons. I came to the pharmacy with a coupon I found on GoodRx.com that I thought would make one of my $45 inhalers only $18. Unfortunately it wasn’t for the exact same one, and the kind pharmacy tech searched and couldn’t find a coupon that would work either. If you have any coupon advice, I’d love to hear it.

Planning for our Business

We’ve had some cancelations at work either because people weren’t feeling well or they were being cautious. We are bracing ourselves for a possibly slower March and April due to all of this. We’ve been tweaking how we schedule and getting even more strict with our cleanliness and hygiene.

We also may have to close our business down for a time if my husband or too many of the employees get sick or quarantined. If only we could work from home! We’ve been bracing ourselves for what that could mean for our bank accounts.

 

All this prep has really reset our typical budget, but it’s money we would have spent eventually in the month so we’re making it work. Plus, I suppose this is a time to be grateful for emergency funds. Stocking up and preparing has given us some peace of mind, so it’s definitely been worth the price.

Taxes, Taxes, Taxes!

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2018 was a great year for my husband’s business. We landed some large jobs and it was a banner year. We paid some taxes throughout 2018 but it wasn’t enough, and we were hit with a more than $5,000 tax bill early last year. If you’ve ever been hit by a significant tax bill, you know those are followed by quarterly estimated payments to proactively pay for the following year. Your scrambling to come up with enough cash to pay the tax man then scrambling every quarter for the next year.

Entrepreneurship is awesome, until tax time.

2019 was not a good year for my husband’s company. We started turning away business midway through the year in preparation for moving it to light part-time work on weekends. Yet, each quarter, we wrote pre-payment checks to the IRS.

I hoped for a nice refund this year after all those estimated payments we made throughout 2019 but if you’ve lived in California longer than a minute, you know the taxes here are insane. There were years I would get a nice refund on the federal side and still must pay the great state of California.

We met with our tax guy last week. I think the poor guy sees me coming a mile away… or he sees the raincloud I’ve been carrying since last year.

My raincloud is quite huge at this point.

We sat through the hour and a half appointment. I was literally shaking. My husband’s truck decided to take a turn for the worse and the mechanic still had it two days later. The day before, my dentist discovered a problem with my crown and it needed replacement ASAP. And next Saturday is the registration for summer camp for the kids. We completely forgot to budget for it. A huge tax bill, a huge car repair bill, and a huge dental bill would hit my emergency fund hard. Forget summer camp. Kids aren’t going this year.

After a final few clicks, he looked at me and smiled. ‘Ready?’ he asked.

‘Hit me with it.’ I said unsmiling.

‘Your REFUND this year will be $6,000. Yes, it’s a refund.’ he laughed.

Oh. Thank. The. Lord.

Between the truck repair, estimated dental bill, and summer camp for the kids, we’ll have about $4,000 left. We’re keeping it as a buffer fund for now so we can continue to keep our hands off the emergency fund. We’ve discovered that things hit harder when we are living on a single income. When we both worked, we could respond better to unexpected expenses. Now that our budget is smaller, we need to work much harder to stay in bounds. We were good before, but we’ve had to turn into magicians the last few months. Like anything new, we just need time to adjust.

California didn’t win this year!! Hoping tax time has been kind to you as well!

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