Moving: Argh

In CategoryAdventure
ByDeb

Movers: scheduled.

Cable, internet, and phone: scheduled.

Mattress shopping: happening.

Freaking out about how much all this is costing: I’m on it.

My mother-in-law is visiting this weekend, too, for added fun-ness.

 

All Right. We’re Here.

In CategoryAdventure
ByDeb

or

THE UNMITIGATED HELL OF HOUSE HUNTING

Is that too dramatic? Sorry. I haven’t had a cookie in like, 5 days.

In no particular order:

• I saw a fence made out of bowling balls in Idaho. It was cuter than it sounds.

• Due to my compulsive and over-achieving planning, we did not eat ONE SINGLE MEAL out during the whole three day trip. That’s right. I am a snack-wielding rock star. I made about 3 pounds of meatballs, which I served with cubes of cheese and apples for lunches. For dinners, we had homemade chicken soup and spaghetti sauce that I made in advance and froze. I made the noodles separately and stored them in a gallon ziploc baggie. A box of plastic spoons and some paper bowls saved us a ton of money.

There was one night when we didn’t have a microwave in our room, and I had to heat everything up in the free breakfast area, and it was a little embarrassing. You know what I tell myself when I am nervous or insecure or shy? That it doesn’t matter if I look stupid because I will probably never see these people again. It’s surprisingly helpful.

Maybe what’s surprising is how often I have to tell myself that.

• We finally got to Colorado on Wednesday night. First of all, house hunting is not as fun as it sounds. I have a new appreciation for realtors. Especially the one who had to show us approximately 98 houses before we actually bought one (not an exaggeration. I pity any realtor who has to work with me.)

• House hunting = driving by a million potential houses and calling the ones we actually wanted to see. So. Awful.

(spoiler alert: this is the whining portion of the event)

We had an appointment at one house that seemed promising, until the property manager called to reschedule because the current tenants could not get home in time to get their dog out of the house, and it was one of those little yappy dogs that pees on the carpet when it gets nervous. Yappy Pissy House? No thank you.

• We found a house that we really like with an actual yard and in a good neighborhood. It’s above the budget cap that we had previously designated, so I fully anticipate turning into one of those people who makes furniture out of pallets and who posts tips like “1001 Cheap Pinto Bean Recipes.” Stay tuned.

So far we’ve only filled out the application, so hopefully we are deemed acceptable to live there. I irrationally find the application process annoying. Like, WHY do you need all these details when I am standing here practically exuding awesomeness and reliability?

• Complaining on Twitter is what kept me sane, especially on Thursday night when I just wanted to crawl in (the not mine) bed and cry.

Twitter is my therapy. Complaining is my cardio.

I’m all about self-improvement, people. Obviously.

Budgeting. Dang it.

In CategoryAdventure
ByDeb

Following the popular “re-evaluate your life” thing that everyone does at the new year, I have decided to develop a budget.

Blech.

I’ve never really had a budget before. My general method of dealing with our money has been Pay the Bills, Don’t Spend Too Much at the Grocery Store, and Put All Extra Money Toward Debt & Maybe a Little In Savings. But I’ve never planned out where EVERY dollar should go. Frankly, it seemed kind of pointless. I mean, aren’t all budgets pretty much about spending as little as possible while saving as much as possible? Plus also I’m not trying to enter every dollar I spend into an excel spreadsheet. I’m busy. Those Tivo’d Real Housewives episodes aren’t just going to watch themselves, you know.

However.

We are now at a new point in our life. At this exact moment, we have only three bills. Of course, we’re also technically homeless, so there’s that. We are going to be making a lot of decisions in a few weeks, and are going to have a ton of control over future expenditures. The Adventure was stupid expensive, so Priority Number One is getting the credit cards paid off and the savings built up so in a year or so when we figure out exactly where we want to live and find the energy to house-hunt, we’ll be ready to go.

I was talking about this with my friend Tressa, and she told me about this concept where instead of randomly assigning dollar amounts to the categories in your budget, you assign percentages. And then I was like, okay, where do you get the percentages from? Because I am five years old, apparently. Turns out, if you google “budgeting with percentages” you’ll get plenty of results to choose from.

Since we have a slightly different lifestyle than other people (we homeschool and my husband works from home), we don’t need much money for things like gasoline and school clothes, and we need more for groceries and toilet paper.

Here is what I’ve come up with, to start:

Housing – 33%
Utilities – 9%
Insurance – 2%
Debt – 10%
Long-Term Savings – 5%
Short-Term Savings – 5%
Groceries – 24%
Household – 2%
Entertainment/Recreation – 10%

Housing seems high to me, but that’s how much a house costs. Because of our weirdo lifestyle (see above), we need a lot of things from a house – an office for Jim, a place for school (a dining room table is fine, I just need to have a dedicated surface that won’t get splattered with milk or spaghetti sauce), and a kitchen decent enough for me to prepare three meals a day in. Long Term Savings is where we’ll work toward a reserve of living expenses, and Short Term Savings is where I will stick money for clothes, the life insurance bill, homeschooling supplies, car maintenance, and small unforeseen expenses like new tires or whatever.

The grocery budget is HIGH, I know. But have you SEEN how much cheese costs these days? And even at 24%, the actual dollar amount is going to pinch. I’ve been consistently working toward feeding everyone the best food I can, and I would rather do without other things than go backwards in that department.

Household is a category because HAI, I don’t own any towels. Entertainment is high because that’s where I will budget for the kids’ activities – swimming lessons, gymnastics lessons, piano lessons, etc. It will also cover Starbucks and haircuts and those miscellaneous things we spend cash on throughout the week. Theoretically it would also cover yarn, but I doubt there will be any money left over.

I have a lot of feelings about this budget. On one hand I feel like a dumbass for not doing this sooner. On the other hand, I feel a little sad that I won’t be able to make impulse yarn purchases or Amazon orders. But mostly I feel empowered.

In just the last few weeks since I’ve been thinking about this, my perspective has changed. That annoying 2% Social Security tax hike in our first paycheck really illustrated how much a whole percent IS. It’s a pretty small chunk of money, and we only get 100 of them to spend every month. Realizing that it only takes a couple of little impulse purchases to gobble up an entire percent of our income has opened my eyes to all the places we can cut back. It’s not the big expenses that have been our undoing, it’s all the little ones adding up.

I’m sure I will have to adjust things here and there, and it’s a huge incentive for trying to find a less expensive house, but I’m optimistic that with this plan Mr. Visa and Mr. Other Visa will eventually disappear and I can go back to buying yarn and using paper plates.

How about you guys? Do you budget? Have you always budgeted? Have you accomplished great things with a budget? Did you look at my budget and think something like “wow, she totally forgot about *insert giant line item*” ??

Moving

In CategoryAdventure
ByDeb

After I announced (announced! what am I, Beyoncé?) that we were going back to Colorado to settle down, Kristy asked –

Why Colorado? Just because that’s where your stuff is? And where you are familiar with? If I were you, I’d be taking this opportunity to move somewhere that I’ve always wanted to live…which would be someplace warm and near a beach.

Yeah, I know. I kind of thought we’d find someplace better. But we didn’t come across any place that really made us want to settle down.

Colorado IS familiar, and the people I am closest to in real life are there. I miss my best friend and my knitting friends SO MUCH. I guess I didn’t realize how deep our roots are in Colorado until we left. I understand the politics and the weather and the geography and the cost of living…. Somehow, after all this, familiar sounds pretty good. I don’t want to start over somewhere new.

We loved The Adventure. Now that we know we can travel while Jim works and we do schoolwork AND that we can do it less expensively than a traditional vacation, we are still planning on visiting new places – just with a home base to come back to when we are done.

I am a little nervous about renting a house, though. (Did I tell you that? We’ve decided to rent for a while, not the least reason being we can’t live in a hotel and look for a house to buy without going completely mad and also broke.)

We haven’t rented in years, and watching too many news stories has me paranoid. What if we get a house infested with fleas? Or bedbugs? Or meth-cooking fumes?

Or what if we rent a house that’s being foreclosed on the the sheriff shows up one day and throws all our stuff out on the lawn?

Or what if all the houses have hideous carpet and mountains of dog poo in the backyard?

Worrying: It’s my superpower.

Luckily, I have an IKEA catalog to distract me.