Well its been about a year and man have things gotten chaotic – last summer sucked to say the very least – the much anticipated job at the international pharmaceuticals company fell through and I was let go and man we hit rock bottom; literally, all the money was gone and the food and my sanity was pretty much gone.  Thanks to my husbands church we somehow managed to get through before we received our food stamps, my medicaid, and UI.  That 6 weeks was probably the longest six weeks I’ve had in a very long time.

Towards the end of July last year I accepted a position at small local electrical contractor as their office assistant, the position is 40 hours a week and pays me $13.00/hour.  I am happy – the stress levels are low and I have all of the benefits a normal employee would have.  Paid holidays, PTO and eventually a retirement plan (have to be here 2 years for that one)…we’re somewhat stable and doing ok.  Money is still very tight and we somehow manage to save a little every week to pay ourselves.

Ok so the nuts and bolts of everything:

Hubby is still on disability – he brings in $1,164.00/month

I work FT – my income is $2,210.00/month

I make sure I pay at the beginning of each month the mortgage ($810.00), the electric bill ($150 – $200.00/mos), my three credit cards (Belk CC, Hot Topic CC, and a General Credit One CC; $45.00/ea x 3 = $135.00) – thankfully my husbands SSI money covers pretty much all of this!!  My money usually will cover groceries that 1st week of the month and my son, man who is 16 now eats more now so I spend roughly $225 – $250.00/week in groceries.  CRAZY!!!

My next paycheck will cover the car insurance, $71.00/mos and if we owe money to the water company, next month another $91.00.

Week 3 brings in a monthly auto-draft to the hospital for a trip to ER when I burned my hand last fall, $15.00/mos and then 1/2 of the cell phone bill, $115.00.

Week 4 pays out Hulu ($12.89/mos) and Netflix ($9.62/mos), another bill to the hospital for something else, $15.00/mos auto-draft.  We also owe money to Delaney Radiology for an ultrasound I had to have done last year my insurance didn’t cover, $20.00/mos and we’re paying off replacing the compressor on our A/C unit at home, $25.00/mos.  And, if there’s anything left over the other 1/2 of the cell phone bill, $115.00.

Ugh it’s a lot.

Every week we average $250.00/week in groceries and about $30.00/week in gas.  We also save, $15.00/week which is auto-transferred to our savings account – we’ve used this money to purchase a new couch and chair for our living room.  Right now we’re living off of that money.

We don’t do a lot of fun activities but my kids are perfectly content to stay home most of the time; the 16 yr old just finished drivers ed and will be getting his learner’s soon and a JOB! Something we’ve been working on for awhile – it takes awhile it seems to get kids jobs.  My 14 yr old will be starting marching band in August with the high school, so there’s those expenses we have to now pay.  Including getting her a flute – she’s used a school flute throughout middle school – well in HS she’ll need her own – rent to own here we come 😉

Anyhew, that’s us for now – we breezed through our tax refund this year – but that’s a post for another day!

It’s time for an update.

And, man we have been busy!  Both personally and financially!

When I last posted things were on the upswing – we’d just received our taxes and were planning on what to do with them.

Well, the long and the short of it is this – we used the bulk of it to pay bills, pay off my truck and get our daughter’s room re-done! She’s thrilled with the final product as are we!

Before:

After:

She chose the colors and we ran with it!

Then once that was done, my hubby and I were chatting about the trip we were contemplating taking and ultimately decided we had the funds, so why not do a BIG vacation – so after weighing the costs with the pros & cons we booked a 5-Day 4-Night Trip to Universal Studios Orlando Florida!

We took this trip in October 2017 and had a BLAST!

But first we took two shorter trips – 1st the MD to visit the family and then my daughter and I went to Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, VA with our Girl Scout Troop.  This trip was mostly funded by two years worth of GS Cookie Sales, so I was responsible for food, transportation, and souvenirs!

We had fun on both of these short trips!

BUT the big one was obviously much anticipated!

 

Just a few of the 100+ shots I took!

BUT I have to say the biggest news is that I was finally able to leave my retail job behind and took a FT Office Job in June at an International Pharmaceuticals Development Company – now it’s not all sunshine & rainbows – I am a contractor through the same company that placed me at the paper plant in 2015, meaning no paid time off, and minimal benefits.  Though they are working on getting this company to hire me on FT permanent which will give me those precious PTO hours I so long for.  The pay is $15.50/hr which is an uptick obviously from my $9.34/hr at the retail establishment.  Hours are M-F 8:30 – 5:30.  I did overlap sometime working both jobs to help pay for food/gas for our FL trip, but on 10/30 I said Good-Bye to my friends at the store and resigned.

While it was best for my mental health – the money coming in would still be helpful – BUT I didn’t want to do another Holiday Season.

So that’s the biggest news of all!

I know I have been scattered here, but life has thrown me major curveballs and I have been busy!

A TON going on as of late!

We are FINALLY in a spot where we’re financially stable! WHAT?!?!? I know I am shocked too!

It basically boils down to two things:

  1.  The state stepped in an approved us for their mortgage assistance program and they paid our mortgage through Dec 31 – giving us time to use our money to catch-up on bills.
  2. We had steady Food Stamp money to pay for groceries and we were able to use that money again to pay the bills
  3. We didn’t have a vehicle and relied on the bus system – as inconvenient as that was it definitely saved us money from insurance, gas, and a payment.
  4. We received an Escrow overpayment check from Midland in October in the amount of $2,321.75 which when added to my husband’s monthly disability money and my paycheck allowed us to be solidly stable!  We were able to purchase a Washer/Dryer set, pay all of the bills and hold steady for a long period.
  5. THEN in December we received my husband’s back due SSI for $2,682.75 & $1,45.25 along with his monthly funds and we put $1,500.00 of this money into savings and then about two weeks later we put down $2,500.00 on a new, to us, 2002 Chevy Trailblazer, she has well over 200K miles but she drives great and I just love her – we named her Rosie because she’s tough and strong like Rosie the Riveter!2002_chevrolet_trailblazer_4dr-suv_ext-lt_fq_oem_1_500
  6. We had an AMAZING Christmas! The kids had a great day and my hubby and I exchanged gifts and I got myself an awesome tattoo I have been contemplating for a very long time
  7. So we were able to ring in 2017 with the confidence we were good!
  8. We were set to retake over paying the monthly mortgage, $775.00/month and have enough left over to pay some bills
  9. We used the money we put into savings to pay the bi-weekly $140.00 payment for Rosie along with the $198.66/month for her insurance.
  10. Taxes were filed and WOW is all I can say, we got from our Federal return, $8,894.00 and are waiting on just over $600.00 from the State! This weekend alone I was able to pay OFF the balance on the truck, $1,509.55 – pay the mortgage, ALL of the utilities, and a couple smaller bills with a good amount left over!

Our overall plans for the refund money is to hold onto as much as we can to live off of, redecorate our daughter’s room – painting this weekend! And we’re planning a cabin camping trip over the summer.

So that’s the long and the short of it all – we’re hanging steady – I am still working the retail job though they’ve moved me upstairs to Intimates/Today’s Woman – BUT I have an interview in the morning and then I am attending a job fair for the county next Saturday the 18th.  So hoping it won’t be too much longer I am there – really want out as soon as I possibly can get out!

So I know everyone is just itching to know how things are going – nothing has changed work-wise for me – still working the retail job and its going well, we’re getting into our busy time of year – albeit slowly – so things are cranking along well there.

Still do not have a car – ugh – and the public transportation system in our area is just forming a more and more sour taste in my mouth – they seriously need to work on getting their ish together, it is near impossible to hold onto steady riders, who also need to hold onto steady jobs, with the crud schedule they are running.

1507010_future_socialsecurity-jpg-crop-promo-xlarge2

Lastly, some good news 0 my husband was APPROVED for his disability, to the tune of $1,107.00/month, WooHoo!!! So stoked about that!  Our plan for now is to pay down the utilities and then use what we can afterwards to put toward the purchase of a vehicle. I am adamant that I DO NOT want another car payment, just gas and insurance every month.  So once tax season rolls around we’re going to put together what we’ve saved with some of our refund to pay cash for a vehicle.  We’ll also need to set aside some money for the taxes & registration.  I am hopeful we can also find someone reliable to give whatever vehicle we have considered a once over to ensure mechanical stability.

So that’s where we’re at right now!

So once again we’re in the position of being near broke, unstable, and trying to figure out ways to stay entertained all the while getting out of the house!

I am first going to share this link, from the blog, A Sip of the Good Life, she discusses ways to get out and about all the while spending less than $20!  Personally, I prefer to keep things cheaper and if at all possible FREE!

So what do we do?

Well in the lovely city of Wilmington, NC we have several parks right on bus lines and one right within walking distance of our front door – going to these parks is Free so when it’s nice and we don’t have other errands to run we can always go the park!

playground-greenfield-lake-in-wilmington-nc

Closest to us is the historic Greenfield Park – with a playground, an ampitheatre and walking trail that is 5-Miles long Greenfield is a great way to spend an afternoon! Of course they also offer paddle boat and canoe rentals, but you can walk around the entire lake for FREE!

Next if we choose to hop on a bus we can visit either Hugh McCrae Park with several playgrounds and its own walking trail or we can go to Halyburton – which also offers a stunning nature walk!

riverwalk-at-dusk

Image Borrowed from Wilmington, NC Government Page

Then again sometimes we don’t want to venture too too far from home, so we opt to head downtown and cruise the Riverwalk – usually wrapping up our visit with some ice cream from Kilwin’s usually this will cost us somewhere in the neighborhood of $25 for all four of us, but it’s worth every penny!

kilwins

We will also go over to the shopping center where I work, an outdoor mall called Mayfaire Town Center – with a Michael’s, Barnes & Nobles and two dozen other shops and restaurants there’s never a chance to be bored for sure!

Now sometimes the weather doesn’t permit us to venture outside – so we then go inside and wander the mall, grabbing a coffee or a drink from the food court and doing some window shopping.

So then what if we want to remain home?  Simple – we’ll make some pizza and chill at home watching one of our 400+ movies! Its just simply too expensive to go out to the movies these days, thus putting this bit of entertainment out of our fiscal reach!

************

For other financial planning advice, visit Personal Capital to enjoy some amazing tools!

I am exhausted!

I have found that riding the bus everyday to and from work makes my days three hours longer than the work-day itself.

Example:

I have to be at work by 9:45 am – I have to leave the house by 7am to catch my 1st bus at 7:20 am, then a connector at 8:00 am arriving at the shopping center where I work around 8:45 am – if i leave at 8:00 to catch the 8:20 am bus I risk the connector being late and thus in turn being late for work (the buses here are NOTORIOUS for being unreliable and consistently OFF schedule)…so instead I get there early – sometimes I go to the break room of my store and hang-out other times I’ll head to Starbucks and borrow their internet while having another cup of coffee.

Then when I get off work at 6:15 like I did today, I caught my 1st bus at 6:45 and the connector at 7:15 getting dropped off around 7:35 and home around 7:45 – talk about a SUPER long day.

I am both mentally and physically exhausted.

Last paycheck I wasn’t able to put aside any money, I actually had to pull funds from a savings account to cover our financials for the two week period – still getting used to this bi-weekly pay schedule.  I did send $200 to Progress Energy for our electric bill and had some other items auto-draft.  I also cancelled my Personal Training contract and put a timeline stay on my gym membership (which will continue to draft) in an effort to save some money.

Anyhew – we’ll get there, hopefully sooner rather than later.

I am rambling – can you tell I have a LOT Of mental downtime on the bus?

Today it finally happened – Silver was repo’d – we’re back to square one – no vehicle – no transportation, no nothing.

We’ve been down this road before – once many years ago our Pontiac Vibe was Repo’d and we went five months without a vehicle – it was difficult and we had a very hard time finding work due to the lack of reliable transportation.  So now we’re trying to figure things out, slowly.  We’ve outlined a plan using my last two checks as a basis for the budget so we can ensure we have funds every month with some leftover for saving for a new vehicle.  We’re looking for something decent – and something we can pay cash for – last time we had a group helping us – this time we’re on our own.

I have also dictated to my husband that now we’re out of a vehicle we need to talk about replacing our washer/dryer so we can run laundry.  Ugh.

It’s become so overwhelming in the last couple of weeks – and its finally come to a head….

Wish us luck!