Well, Hello Life

Wow!  When did it become the last week in January?  I am so far behind on blogging.  The rest of my life seems to be going ok, but this poor blog has been quite neglected.  I did update a few of my sidebars, and you may notice that our maternity leave savings is up quite a bit!  We were able to put over $900 into that account this month.  We are already halfway to our goal and we still have 5 months to go.  I know we will be getting some back from the government for taxes (thanks to our little one), and I have short-term disability insurance that I need to get submitted.  I also have some photography session set up, so I will get some money there too.  I think we will easily make our goal, which feels great!

Murphy came and visited our household yesterday… in the form of Bandit.  Hubs and I had to go out of town for a funeral, so the dogs were staying with my parents (which is where they normally stay).  As most of you know, Bandit lives his life in a cone.  He has severe allergies that will cause him to scratch his head and face until he bleeds.  It’s rather sad.  Well, he somehow got out of his cone on Sunday night while he was in the kennel.  When my mom went to let him out, his head and face were covered with blood.  He had scratched himself into a bloody mess.  She texted me some pictures of him, and Hubs and I made the executive decision to have her take him to the vet.  He has scratched himself to the point of bleeding before, but this was worse than what we had seen.  We thought that if anything, the vet would be able to give him some pain meds and something to ward off infection.

Well, Mom took Bandit to the vet today and after $140, we have one pathetic dog!  He ended up having an inner ear infection (which would have also led him to scratch).  He has thick goop in both ears to help with the infection.  He also had part of his head shaved so they could clean up his wounds.  He has some spray that we have to spray on his head twice a day.  He has an antibiotic that will help his ears and his head/face that he takes once a day.  He is still on Benadryl and is actually up to 3 a day.  He also got a Cortizone shot.  He is so lethargic now and so pathetic.  I was going to take pictures, but his head is quite gruesome, and I don’t want to gross anyone out.

We are lucky that the dogs have their own savings account that we tuck some money away into each month.  I don’t think we have the full $140, but we also have a miscellaneous savings account, so we will cover the rest of it out of there.  It’s not what we wanted to spend money on, but it sure makes me happy that we have savings!

I have so much else that I need to catch up on, but I don’t want this to turn into such a long post that you don’t keep reading.  Instead, I will leave you a picture of Miss C doing her new, most favorite thing in the world… sucking her thumb!

Thumb Sucker Thumb Sucker 3

 

She hasn’t figured out how to put the rest of her hand into a fist.  Because of this she managed to scratch the daylights out of the bridge of her nose this weekend.  She was having a rough evening and was flailing.  Her face and Bandit’s face are both so scratched up.  It’s sad, but she looks so cute when she is sucking that thumb!

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Tough Stuff

This whole working mom thing is a tough one!  I have so much respect for those women who are doing it on their own.  I luckily have my husband to help out, and I also have my parents and sister close by to help when needed.  Even with all the help, it is exhausting!!

Life is so busy, and I am still trying to figure out how to balance it all.  I am teaching full time, I am a mom full time, my photography business has really started growing the past couple months…  it’s a lot!  Because of how busy things have been and how overwhelmed I have felt, I had to make a tough decision.  I have decided to put my master’s program on hold for now.  I am not taking any classes this semester and if it is the right thing for me, then I will pick them up again at a later date.  This is really going to suck because my student loans will go into repayment, which means more debt.  This was one of the factors that was really bothering me with dropping the program.  Hubs has been super supportive and completely understands.  The most important thing right now is my family and if I would have stuck with the classes, I would have been totally stressed out and unable to spend time with Miss C on the weekends due to homework.

Since I last blogged, I have started back at work.   It was tough, but honestly when I am so busy with my first graders, I barely have time to focus on how much I miss Miss C.  The downfall to going back to work is the germs.  About 25% of the first grade was out sick today.  I have been feeling super crummy this evening with a sore throat and some sore muscles.  I am hoping it is just a cold/sinus infection and being sore from lying on the couch all day, but who knows.

Because I have been so busy, I haven’t been able to focus much on my goals and resolutions.  I do believe we are kicking rear on the budget, though.  We have been doing our best to use cash, and honestly our bills and a couple other line items have been coming in under budget (gas prices being $2.95 in our area really helps).  We did get one bill from my doctor so far.  It is a whopping $30.  I need to pay it and then transfer over the money from our medical expenses savings account.  We have gotten some EOBs from Hubs’ insurance company, and honestly it looks like they are covering almost all the expenses.  I am very happy that we made the decision to put me on his insurance when he got his job last year.  It would have been a tough road without it.

I will leave you with a couple pictures of our sweetheart.  These were taken on Sunday during a quick, impromptu session.  Enjoy!  (I can’t believe how big she is getting!)

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Zebra 1

A Nice Surprise

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January challenges are going great!  Today was payday for Hubs, and the first budget day of the month.  When I created our budget for January, I chose to do a $0 balance budget.  That means that everything that was left in our account before Hubs’ pay kicked in, we split between our maternity account and regular savings accounts. (We have many smaller accounts for specific purposes.  Each account gets a certain percentage of any money we save).

We had almost $400 left before Hubs’ pay.  Our maternity account got $198 and the other $198 was split between all of the other savings accounts.  That was nice, but here is the really nice surprise: The last paycheck for Hubs before the new year was $1030.  Considering the concern for the fiscal cliff fiasco, I adjusted our projected pay.  For Hubs I figured out about $990 per pay (he is paid every other week).  Well, imagine my surprise and happiness when his first check of the month was almost $1,600!!  That means it was almost $600 more than I expected!  He was approved for a raise, and he had over an hour of overtime on that paycheck, but we were not expecting this at all!  If this is going to be his regular pay, then we will meet our full financial resolutions a lot quicker than I thought.

With that extra money, I took $500 out and put into the savings accounts.  I could have done more, but I thought a small cushion would be a good idea.  I put $250 into the maternity leave account and $250 into the other savings accounts.  This means both accounts got $448 today!  That is more than what I challenged for myself for the regular savings accounts.  It also means I am over half way to my challenge goal for my maternity leave.  I already have another $450 budgeted to put into the maternity account before the end of the month.  I really thought this financial challenge for the month was going to be really tough, but this little surprise made it much easier!

This week, Carla also gave us two mini-challenges to complete.  For the financial mini-challenge, it was to make-do with something we already had instead of buying something new.  This challenge did not save us a whole lot of money, but we did make-do without buying something new (well… technically until we went to the grocery store).  On Tuesday we had quesadillas for lunch.  I usually make them with shredded Mexican cheese.  We were almost out of it, so I used what we had left and then mixed in some shredded sharp cheddar cheese.  I wanted to run to the store immediately to get some, but didn’t.  This initially saved us about $2.50.  I did end up buying more at the grocery store when I went on my weekly trip (since I knew we were having tacos later this week).

Another make-do moment today was while I was shopping for work clothes.  All I asked for for Christmas was money to buy clothes for work since none of my pre-baby clothes work.  I went to two different resale stores today to shop.  At the second shop, I had two pairs of pants that I was ready to buy.  One was a pair of black pants, and the other one was a pair of nice jeans, but they were a little long.  I debated back and forth for a while and eventually decided not to get the jeans.  I already have two pairs of blue jeans that fit and that I can wear to work.  This ended up saving me $18.00.  (All clothing was paid for in cash, since it is all part of my Christmas gift).  I ended up spending about $60 today and got 2 pairs of pants, 2 shirts, a dress, and a work-out jacket.  I still have quite a bit left and will probably go shopping again next week, since I only really have enough clothes to get me through a week at work.

I will be posting photos of my decluttering mini-challenge tomorrow.  I have actually already completed my main decluttering challenge for January and need to get photos of that up tomorrow also.

How are your challenges and resolutions going?

2013 Day 2

We are on to day 2 of 2013 and the resolutions are still holding strong.  One resolution is to stay on budget and to use cash for almost everything.  I had to run errands and was able to stick to both of these.

The first place I went was Target.  I had to get some mailing envelopes and picked up a couple other office supplies for another project I am going to start.  I had gift cards and was able to use those and still have some money left over on one of them.

The second place I went was the grocery store.  I did have to dip into another cash envelope to cover the $10 that I went over, but it all worked out.  I only had $65 in the grocery envelope and the total was about $75.  I had bought some special laundry detergent for Miss C which was $10, so I just took $10 out of the baby envelope and it was all good.  I did use some coupons or else I would have been even further over budget.

Right now we are technically still working with the 2012 money/budget.  Hubs’ first paycheck is on Friday, so that is when our new 2013 budget will kick into gear.  I have created the budget assuming we would have about $160 less each month because of all the fiscal cliff junk that is going on.  I have also overestimated our utility bills, just in case we get a higher than normal bill.  Any money we have left over from those bills will be put into the maternity leave savings account (because I am salaried and have a certain number of allowed days off, the days of work without pay will actually kick in on my July and August paycheck… that is why we are still saving for maternity leave.)

Here is a look at our new budget (the income is estimated since I did not know new tax rates, and because sometimes Hubs gets some overtime):

Take Home Monthly Income (during a typical 2 pay month for Hubs): $4120

Bills
Utility (Gas): $50
Utility (Electric/Water): $175
Internet: $75
Car Loan: $519.03
Student Loan 1: $16.97
Student Loan 2: $141.90
Rent: $790
Car/Renter’s/Personal Prop Insurance: $100
Cell Phones: $140
Student Loan 3: $50
Hard Drive Backup: $5
Student Loan 4: $285.34

Total Bills: $2348.24

*We now have 4 student loans instead of 3 because Discover bought out part of our other student loan.  I need to update sidebars soon.

Cash Envelopes

Hair: $10
Entertainment: $10
MAD: $50
Dogs: $100
Groceries: $360
Car Tags (actually an online account, not cash): $30
Miscellaneous: $30
Baby: $100
Gifts: $60
Clothing: $10
Medical (for meds and copays): $50

Total Cash for Envelopes: $810

Miscellaneous- Not Cash
Gas for cars: $325

Savings
Maternity Leave: $450
Emergency Fund: $100

Total Savings: $550

This is what we are expecting for January.  If we are stretched tight in one area, then we will adjust for February.  I hope we can stick to this!  I feel like I have Hubs on board, so hopefully we can make it!  The only concern I have is that we have received NO bills yet from Miss C’s birth.  I am quite surprised that it has been over two months, and we have received nothing.  When those start rolling in, then things are going to have to be readjusted so we can pay them down as quickly as possible.

How does your budget for the new year look?

Happy New Year!

I was in bed by 10:30 last night… But don’t worry, Miss C woke me up just before midnight so I was awake for New Years.  I got to spend it with her, which was fantastic.

I hope everyone’s new year is off to a great start!  I have already gotten some play time with my little girl, cleaned up around the house a bit, and Hubs and I took Rose out for some snow play time.  She loves the snow and doesn’t get to play in it very often.

Resolution/Challenge Update
Carla has posted the first mini-challenge for my January challenges:

Financial Goal Week One: Instead of buying something you need this week, find a way to “make do”. Do you grab a coffee each day on the way to work? can you brew at home & use a travel mug? Run out of an ingredient for a recipe? Can you find a substitution? There are many ways to “make do” each & every day… track how much you would have spent.
I am not sure what I am going to do for this one yet.  I guess I will just wait to see what comes up for this one.

Decluttering Goal Week One: What “thing” clutters up your home the most? Is it clothes? Toys? Books/magazines? Kitchen Stuff? Knick-Knacks? Find a way to get rid of some of these items! Be sure to snap a pic of your declutter!
I think I am going to tackle an area in my kitchen that is driving me crazy.  One of the cabinets that houses our small appliances also houses our to-go coffee mugs and my reusable water bottles.  I have way too many of them!  I need to get rid of some of them and open up some space.

One of my other goals for the year was to continue and finish out my Winter Photography Challenge.  We are already in week 7 of it, which just blows my mind!  The time is going so quickly and really needs to slow down.  This week’s theme is New Beginnings.  This was a tough one for me to come up with a picture idea for, but I finally figured it out:

New BeginningsOne of my most favorite parts of a new year is a new calendar/planner.  This is my new one, and I am just itching to start filling it out.  I love  how it is empty and clean.  It holds endless possibilities for what the upcoming new year can become.

I hope everyone had a great night last night and isn’t suffering too much of a hangover today!  Good luck with those resolutions!