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Health Update & Tax Return

February 21st, 2024 at 02:48 pm

I made it through my lung procedure. It was much easier this time so feeling pretty good and a lot less sore.

TMI warning: It was good news and bad news. My lung disease was still soft after two months and hadn't solidified. So they were able to use suction instead of cutting it out with a laser for hours like last time. So that's good that after two months it hadn't hardened back yet. The bad news is that the damaged parts they were hoping would recover did not at all. Parts of my lung are officially non-functional. So now we will have to decide if it's worth getting the dead parts of my lung removed or if we will leave it for now. 

I was a bit of a celebrity which was funny/weird. Everyone recognized me this time and were super excited to see me. They said it was one of the rarest and coolest things they had ever seen in the lung department.  There have been almost no documented cases of my disease in adults especially not at the severity I have. The doctors asked me to sign a release so they could write about me in a medical journal, and I allowed about 20 extra people to watch my procedure. Anything that will help others like me. I think they were disappointed it wasn't as bad this time, lol. 

They want me to continue getting lung cleanouts every 4-6 months permanently. That is a lot of anesthesia, but not a lot of other options. I am on a waitlist and still waiting to hear back from the one hospital in the country that does a sort of experimental treatment to see if I am a candidate. I have been denied in the past but we'll see. A one-time intense surgery would be better than a lifetime of procedures if there is a chance it would work.

We are supposed to get our tax refund tomorrow. It's over $8k. (I like getting a large chunk back)

We had big plans for it but unfortunately, I had to pay a $2.2k downpayment for the lung procedure and next week I will have to put down $2.8k for the heart cath. There will be more bills afterwards. That is just the base price pre-payment. So for now we will be using the refund to pay medical bills. We will eventually reimburse ourselves once the HSA fills back up. But I didn't want to miss out on the 15% discount for prepaying that much money. 

We also need to put $3k into retirement before April 15 because I claimed that on our taxes.  After we reimburse ourselves we plan on saving for vacation, getting new tires on the car, and then saving the rest. 

Heart cath next week.

January Check In & New Job

February 10th, 2024 at 03:23 pm

Debts

Mortgage -$112,689.16 (-$241.43)
Land Loan -$8,388.33 (-$194.71)
Hospital Bill -$366.41 (-$75)

Savings

Roth IRAs +$29,512 (+$237)
401K +$60,591 (+$1,031)
Emergency Fund +$5,216 (-$1,051)
Animal Fund +$1,039 (+$4)
Car Fund +$260 (+$20)
HSA +$1,419 (-$321)

Overall: +$431.14

I was wrong in my previous check in about our deductible changing. Unfortunately, it still is $3,700. Oh well. 

January was a tough month for us. Lots of expenses and we had to pull from savings again. February so far has been better but we'll see how the month plays out. I have lung and heart procedures this month so going to have lots of medical expenses. Will have to decide again if I am going to take a short-term loan or pay out of savings. The savings are getting lower than I am comfortable though, especially since we keep having to pull from our EF just to cover our basic monthly expenses.

Which leads me to my next news. I got a job! Currently one day a week at the library but with options for more hours if I want. I have been wanting a one day a week job because we need money but I'm already so busy and homeschooling the kids. I was discussing my sadness with a friend that there are no jobs that hire one day a week and then the next day when I took my kids to the library they mentioned to me they were hiring for one day a week and would love to have me. It felt like fate.

I applied and got it. I won't start until it is officially voted on by the city board mid March. But I don't foresee any issues. They also commented on my web design degree on my resume and mentioned they were beginning to look for companies to redo the library website and asked if I would be interested in that job as well! So that make give me a larger income opportunity.

I am a bit nervous about rejoining the workforce but also excited. I LOVE books, and the library seems like a nice quiet, and easy job. I will only make a few hundred dollars a month but it should hopefully cover our budget shortfalls and also allow me to get out of the house every week. 

Goals for 2023 and 2024

January 12th, 2024 at 04:09 pm

Let's do a recap on my 2023 goals.

1.       Increase Net Worth

My net worth went up $30,038 in 2023! Mostly market gains but I'll take it.

2.       Save $1,000 Extra in HSA

I was able to do this as well! 

3.       Save $3,000 in IRAs

Front-loaded this with my tax return.

2024 Goals

I am still a bit undecided on my goals for this year but here is what I am currently thinking

1. Save $3,000 in IRAs

2. Save $2,500 in EF

3. Get & keep both checking account buffers at $1k each

That is is total of around $7,000 in savings. Which will be hard. But I really want to work on building up our cash this year. Especially if we want to do home projects anytime in the near future. 

 

2023 Net Worth End of Year Update

January 12th, 2024 at 03:48 pm

Cash/Liquid Savings:

$1,034 Animal Fund ($1,686)

$4,898 Escrow Fund ($6,042)

$2,056 Checkings ($2,062)

$240 Car Fund ($20)

$1,740 HSA ($1,119)

$9,968 Total Liquid Savings ($10,929)

Retirement:

$59,560 DH's 401K ($42,860)

$6,171 DH's IRA ($5,050)

$23,104 My IRA ($16,122)

$88,835 Total Retirement ($64,032)

Liabilities:

-$112,931 Mortgage (-$115,833)

-$8,389 Land Loan (-$10,861)

-$441 Hospital Loan (-$1,263)

-$121,761 Total Liabilities (-$127,957)

Assets:

$185,000+ House
$20,000 in Cars (not counted in figures)



2023 Total Net Worth: $162,042 ($132,004)
2023 Net Worth without Mortgage & House: $89,973 ($62,837)

Numbers in () are 2022 figures for comparison.

This year was MUCH better than last year, especially as far as market growth. Cash is a bit down, but we did well saving for retirement. The interest on our debts is so low we haven't paid any extra and probably won't.

Hoping to save this year for some home projects again, and just try to keep our expenses down so we can build up more cash. I feel like we have been riding too close to the line and it's stressing me out. 

Hoping this is the year we break $100k in retirement. Smile

December Check In

January 4th, 2024 at 02:31 pm

Debts

Mortgage -$112,930.59 (-$240.85)
Land Loan -$8,583.04 (-$195.08)
Hospital Bill -$441.41 (-$75)

Savings

Roth IRAs +$29,275 (+$1,540)
401K +$59,560 (+$3,554)
Emergency Fund +$6,267 (-$515)
Animal Fund +$1,035 (+$4)
Car Fund +$240 (+$0)
HSA +$1,740 (+$107)

Overall: +$5,200.93

Another big market increase month.

I ended up pulling a little money from the EF to cover a few expenses by the end of the year. I'm hoping in 2024 we can increase our savings instead of continuing to pull from it.

I'm happy that we managed to not take on any new medical debt this year, and it looks like my husband's insurance made a few changes for 2024 which will be in our favor. Previously we had just a family deductible which was $3,700 & OOP was $7,400 I think. Now they have changed it so each individual has a $1,850 and $3,700 OOP max with the total family staying the same as well. This should help us cut costs tremendously since I am the one who usually has the highest medical bills each year. I was worried I would have to upfront $7,400 in February when my next lung & heart surgery is rescheduled for, but now I should only have to pay a max of $3,700. That is a big difference.  

I will make other posts with my year in review and goals for next year. 

Health Update

December 19th, 2023 at 06:36 pm

It has been a crazy couple weeks!

 My surgery ended up getting cancelled again. I was in pre-op, with an IV and labs. I paid, signed, etc. and the doctors were just reviewing stuff with me prior to surgery. They pulled up my CT scan from over a month ago (for the first time...) and were shocked. It showed a huge mass/abscess in my lung and they decided that it was likely that I had a very serious and fatal fungal disease. It was too risky and complicated to do at the current hospital, so they stopped everything.

 

Then I had to wait almost a week until they could get me in as an emergency with the new pulmonologist at a more specialized hospital. So I got to spend a week thinking I was dying and they were talking about lobectomies, and months of IV medicine, multiple surgeries, timelines etc.

Finally got surgery last week and thank GOD I did not have the new disease they thought I did. It was just a very severe form of the rare Plastic Bronchitis I already have. My bronchi which should be like pinky finger sized or smaller had a baseball sized mass which they were able to remove plus lots more. Surgery took much longer than expected but when I woke up it was wonderful to learn I wasn’t about to leave my husband as a single dad to two toddlers. All the cultures came back clean and I am breathing so much better now.

My throat and lungs are very sore and blistered but it’s improving. My lungs now have several large empty cavities which will likely fill back up so I will get another CT scan in a couple weeks, and another bronchoscopy in Feb to check progress and clean out things again. Overall the best outcome I could have hoped for. I really like my new lung doctor as well, and I am so thankful to finally get some relief from my constant breathing issues.

I am still feeling fatigued and lightheaded. Which will probably not get better until I get my heart stent put in. That is currently on pause until my lungs are improved but will probably happen sometime in the next few months.  My stamina is also very low after months/years of poor health. I’m sure it will take me some time to feel normal again. Hopefully I will now be more closely monitored on a maintenance plan with the new doctor so I don’t get this bad again.   

Made a 401K Mistake

November 30th, 2023 at 02:54 pm

From what I understood my husband's work would 100% match the first 1% you contributed and then 50% match up to 5%. But going through our retirement accounts yesterday for the end of the month I noticed that it said 50% up to an additional 5% contribution. So a total of 6% to get all the employer matching. Ugh!

 

That means we have been missing out on free money all this time. I am wondering if they didn't change it at the last union contract because I originally thought it was 100% up to 3% and then 50% up to 5%. But who knows. I immediately upped our contribution to get the max matching. They also contribute an additional 2.5%-ish in a lump in Decemeber. So we will be up to 12% in his Roth 401K a year plus we put 5% in my Roth IRA.  

17% isn't great but isn't terrible. Thankfully we have time on our side and everything is Roth so tax free in the future. 

November Check In

November 30th, 2023 at 02:41 am

Debts

Mortgage -$113,171.44 (-$240.27)
Land Loan -$8,778.12 (-$191.07)
Hospital Bill -$516.41 (-$75)

Savings

Roth IRAs +$27,735 (+$2,448)
401K +$56,006 (+$5,387)
Emergency Fund +$6,782 (-$329)
Animal Fund +$1,031 (+$253)
Car Fund +$240 (+$20)
HSA +$1,633 (+$894)

Overall: +$9,179.34

The numbers seem really skewed from the large market increase.

Overall my cash is down, and I owe some to myself for Christmas presents which thankfully are all pretty much already purchased.

I finally got some good news regarding my health issues. The lung doctor my cardiologist referred me to couldn’t fit me in until late June, and I couldn’t wait that long so they referred me to the only other doctor who knew anything about my rare disease. He wasn’t the first pick but at least he could get me in before February.

Well today the original doctor called me and said he personally reviewed my case and that I was too complicated for anyone else to handle. So he just went ahead and double booked me in for early January!

My surgery is still scheduled for next week, (with my cardiologist and a random pulmonologist) and I am very excited at the prospect of feeling better soon. I am also super nervous about catching an illness before then and getting it cancelled. I have some plans for tomorrow and then after that I think I’m going to try to stay home and lay low to avoid germs.

Quick Health Update

November 14th, 2023 at 03:05 pm

Since my last post a couple weeks ago, I got strep throat again! My immune system is so bad.

 I ended up going ahead and pulling the money from savings to pay for the surgery and get the discount, BUT in a sad turn of events the Dr. decided the day before with all the recent illnesses that I wasn’t healthy enough for anesthesia and cancelled it.

 I was absolutely devastated and bawled and begged but they would not give in. I think that is so dumb since the entire reason I am sick is because I need this surgery and I will continue to decline until it’s done. I’ve already waited for 5 months.

 They still did my CT scan as scheduled and it showed my lungs are worse than they thought, and besides my normal exceedingly rare lung disease it looks like I have aspergillus which is a serious fungal infection from black mold.

Will have to do the surgery to test it, which they rescheduled for December. They are now saying “oops I guess we should have done it as originally planned.” Yeah no kidding. They told me it needed to be taken care of asap but have no sooner appointments, so as of now I just get to be miserable and sick for another month.

I am instructed to come to the ER if I start running fevers again, and hopefully they will be forced to do surgery. We’ll see.  

October Check In

October 31st, 2023 at 07:26 pm

Debts

Mortgage -$113,411.71 (-$239.70)
Land Loan -$8,969.19 (-$193.70)
Hospital Bill -$591.41 (-$75)

Savings

Roth IRAs +$25,287 (-$1,114)
401K +$50,619 (-$1,884)
Emergency Fund +$7,111 (+$235)
Animal Fund +$778 (+$3)
Car Fund +$220 (+$200)
HSA +$739 (+$51)

Overall: -$2,000.60

Market is down a lot. 

Car battery quit working and had to buy a new one, plus a rock hit my windshield and it will likely have to be replaced (happened on the same day), also need new tires sooner rather than later. Sigh.

Since my post last month about having strep throat (2nd time this year) I caught some sort of virus covid/flu and then I got pneumonia and had to get antibiotics again for the second time this month. Been sick nonstop for months it seems like. I really hope my surgeries will improve my overall health. 

At a financial dilemma with my surgery. I owe $2,700 but if I pay this week they will take off $400. I don’t have the money in my HSA so I would have to pull from savings which is making 4.5%. Or I can get a 0% interest two-year health loan.  Using my own money will cost me a loss of around $200 in interest I would have gotten over two years. So loan cost comes out to around $200 but I also have more reassurance because I won’t have to drain a large chunk from my savings. What would you do? Pay up front for the discount or use the loan for more stability?

Feeling kind of bummed about overall finances. If I budget just off my husband’s base pay without any overtime, or random side income, we barely make enough to cover just our basic mortgage/loans, utilities, and groceries. That is not even considering gas, tithes, or anything else. Thankfully we are averaging above that, but I never wanted to bank on overtime and now it seems we are running a very thin line. 

I really need to find a way to reduce groceries, but prices just continue to climb unfortunately. Considering trying to do a no spend month in November but I don’t see it as possible with the holidays and such. Maybe just an overall “do I really need this” discussion before every purchase. I'm not sure what to do, I just know this isn’t sustainable.  

September Check In & Health News

September 29th, 2023 at 01:46 pm

Debts

Mortgage -$113,651.41 (-$239.13)
Land Loan -$9,162.89 (-$190.71)
Hospital Bill -$666.41 (-$75)

Savings

Roth IRAs +$26,401 (-$507)
401K +$52,503 (-$573)
Emergency Fund +$6,876 (+$378)
Animal Fund +$775 (+$3)
Car Fund +$20 (-$0)
HSA +$688 (+$385)

Overall: +$190.84

Market is down but we were able to contribute to savings just a tiny bit. Better than pulling from savings every month!

I got a new puppy and also had some large animal expenses which I was able to offset by selling some goats. 

Finally heard back from the doctor and also had an appointment. I am getting a heart cath and also a minor lung surgery in November. We don't really have any answers as to what is wrong with me but something is so they need to do some more exploring.

I guess I really need to work on my yearly goal of sending $500 more to the HSA. 

Currently sick with strep throat (for the second time this year) but starting to feel better and now I'm in a mood to finish some random projects around the house that have been put off. 

August Check In

August 28th, 2023 at 03:06 pm

Debts

Mortgage -$113,890.54 (-$238.56)
Land Loan -$9,353.60 (-$189.99)
Hospital Bill -$741.41 (-$75)

Savings

Roth IRAs +$26,908 (-$984)
401K +$53,076 (-$1,235)
Emergency Fund +$6,498 (+$413)
Animal Fund +$772 (+$503)
Car Fund +$20 (-$0)
HSA +$303 (-$181)

Overall: -$980.45

Overall down from the market. But this was actually a great month for us. Besides adding to the above funds I paid for a $600 medical bill, $800 lodging for a future vacation, have the loan payment for next month saved, and have cash for a couple upcoming expenses. This is due to husband's bonus and I also finally got some back pay I was owed. 

I should have more side income coming and with September being a 5 paycheck month I hope we can continue to replenish savings. 

I still haven't gotten news about my heart yet. There was some poor communication between medical providers and it's all "not my fault" blame game right now between them and in the mean time I know nothing yet.

July Check In & Possible Heart Surgery?

August 5th, 2023 at 02:23 pm

Debts

Mortgage −$114,129.10 (-$245.11)
Land Loan -$9,543.59 (-$228.86)
Hospital Bill - $816.41 (-$75)

Savings

Roth IRAs +$27,892 (+$858)
401K +$54,311 (+$2,074)
Emergency Fund +$6,085 (-$906)
Animal Fund +$269 (-$1,095)
Car Fund +$20 (-$0)
HSA +$484 (+$385)

Overall: +$1,864.97

Up from the market. All cash accounts are down. On average we are spending over $300 a month more than we make this year. Which is NOT good. Unfortunately there just aren’t a lot of places to cut and husband is pretty much maxed out on overtime. 

My alternator did need to be replaced and it was $600. Had to buy hay which was $1,300. 

Groceries are our biggest climbing expense. We pay pretty much double what we paid before covid which is crazy to me. I do meal plan and don’t buy a lot of extras. I can’t help the price increases. We don’t have any streaming services, or cable, or memberships etc. 

I am still owed money and husband should be getting a bonus and a raise this month. I’m kind of bummed about the raise. He is going to get around $75 a month which we were going to increase retirement .5% and then put the rest towards groceries but just found out our home insurance/escrow is increasing by $45 a month starting this month. So there goes most of the extra. 

The bonus is hopefully going to be used to replenish some of our savings we keep borrowing from. 

I was casually running our taxes and forecasting it looks like we are going to make $3k or less too much to qualify for the earned income credit again this year. So frustrating to me to be so close to poverty line and not get any of the breaks or assistance. Especially since it’s not based on AGI but earned income so I can’t do anything to help. We don’t qualify for anything because we make too much but we also spend more than anyone I know on medical bills every single year (averaging over $12k a year) so we are really making less than it looks like. Sigh. 

On a related note I am having lung and heart issues again and we are discussing me possibly needing heart surgery again… Hoping for something minor like a pacemaker and not open heart surgery again for the third time. Hopefully I will know something soon. I’ve been wearing a heart monitor for a month and will do some more testing next week. Recovery for something like that sounds terrible with two toddlers, but I also feel terrible every day so I just want to be better.

Mid-Year Net Worth Update

July 1st, 2023 at 06:36 pm

Now that we are half way through the year (how is that possible already??) I wanted to check in on how I am doing financially. One of my big goals for the year was to increase my net worth. Which so far I have accomplished! My liquid savings are down but so is debt and retirement is up.

 

Cash/Liquid Savings:

 $1,364 Animal Fund (-$322)

 $5,720 Escrow Fund (-$322)

 $2,124 Checking Accounts (+$62)

 $20 Car Fund ($0)

 $99 HSA (-$1,020)

 $9,327 Total Liquid Savings (-$1,602)

 

Retirement:

 $52,237 DH's 401K (+$9,377)

 $5,683 DH's IRA (+$633)

 $21,351 My IRA (+$5,229)

 $79,271 Total Retirement (+$15,239)

 

Liabilities:

 -$114,374 Mortgage (-$1,459)

 -$9,772 Land Loan (-$1,087)

 -$891 Hospital Loan (-$372)

 -$125,037 Total Liabilities (-$2,918)

 

Assets: 

$185,000 House

$20,000 in Cars (not counted in figures)

  

Mid-Year Total Net Worth: $148,561 (+$16,557)

Mid-Year Net Worth without Mortgage & House: $77,935 (+$15,098)

Numbers in () are the changes from the beginning of 2023.

 

Really pleased to see both my retirement contributions and the market are up, leading to the biggest increase in our net worth. Now if I can get my spending reigned in and my savings up I'll be in good shape.

June Check In

June 30th, 2023 at 08:28 pm

Debts

Mortgage −$114,374.21 (-$244.52)
Land Loan -$9,772.45 (-$151.32)
Hospital Bill - $891.41 (-$75)

Savings

Roth IRAs +$27,034 (+$915)
401K +$52237 (+$2,025)
Emergency Fund +$6,991 (+$27)
Animal Fund +$1,364 (+$154)
Car Fund +$20 (-$0)
HSA +$99 (-$2)

Overall: +$3,569.84

Our overall went up a lot which is quite surprising to me since I feel flat broke.

We went on a two week vacation and went $500 over our budget, which honestly isn't too bad because we had some unexpected expenses/changes pop up. We sold some concert tickets planned for later in the year and cancelled that hotel/trip which netted us enough to cover the overage. We spent around $2,700 on a two week trip for everything for 4 people.

My car windshield cracked and we had to fix it before vacation because we drove across the country. -$300 Then yesterday I drove my car for the first time since we got back and my battery light and some other errors came on. Then my electronics went off including my AC (it's over 100 degrees outside)... After diagnostics my alternator is broken. Frown I’m waiting on quotes but it’s looking like $500-$800 possibly. Yikes. But super thankful it made it through 3,000+ miles of driving and broke close to home, and that I’m a SAHM so I can do without a car for now. 

I had to replace my broken retainer which ate up all our HSA contributions this month. 

My checking account buffer is lower than ever because I’ve had to keep pulling from it. I’m owed $600+ and was hoping to refill some of it, but now it may be going to more car repairs. 

I had to transfer $150 from the EF to my animal fund with plans to pay for this years hay in July. Price has increased $300 from last year unexpectedly.

Somehow even with all that we have come out ahead, honestly I don’t know how. Hopefully in July we will have less emergencies pop up. It’s been several months of large expenses and I’m ready to have some breathing room. 

May Check In

May 31st, 2023 at 03:57 am

Debts

Mortgage −$114,618.73 (-$243.94)
Land Loan -$9,923.77 (-$187.82)
Hospital Bill - $966.41 (-$75)

Savings

Roth IRAs +$26,119 (-$113)
401K +$50,212 (+$265)
Emergency Fund +$6,964 (-$1,224)
Animal Fund +$1,210 (+$4)
Car Fund +$20 (-$0)
HSA +$101 (-$784)

Overall: -$1,345.24

Ouch! The expected vet bills along with an unexpected and sudden termite swarm which cost $1,200 to remedy really did us in this month.

Some good news is that both our land loan and our medical loan dropped a figure off, I’ll celebrate the small wins. Sometimes I get an itch to pay extra on the land loan, but our saving account is drawing almost the same amount in interest as we are paying. So right now it doesn’t really make sense to pay the debt instead of save since we would then have to take on new debt to complete more future home projects.  

April Check In - Lots of Vet Bills

May 1st, 2023 at 04:25 am

Debts

Mortgage −$114,862.67 (-$243.36)
Land Loan -$10,111.59 (-$188.36)
Hospital Bill - $1,041.41 (-$94.44)

Savings

Roth IRAs +$26,232 (+$577)
401K +$49,947 (+$1,533)
Emergency Fund +$8,188 (+$1,292)
Animal Fund +$1,206 (-$495)
Car Fund +$20 (-$0)
HSA +$885 (+$143)

Overall: +$3,576.16

The month looks better on paper than it actually was. The market is up, but our general budget money is down. Unfortunately my dog was acting a bit off so I took him to the vet and shockingly found out he likely had an aggressive cancer. Within 3 days he had worsened considerably and I took him back and sadly had to make the decision to put him to sleep before we could even get an official biopsy. Frown He was only 3 years old and I lost my other older male last year to the same thing. Plus I had to make the decision on my lifetime horse just a couple months ago. I’m just heart broken, and of course had to pull from my animal fund to pay for pricey unexpected vet bills. Now we will also have to consider getting a new dog and all the expenses that come with that since they are working dogs and I really need to find a new partner asap for my remaining old dog. 

Overtime was hard to come by this month but I did have a yard sale and made a couple hundred dollars which helped us cash flow some things, and cleaned out some junk! This week I have vet appointments for 3 year shots for 4 animals. Ouch. Which I didn’t save for. Double oops. I think two of them I will only get 1 year shots this time so I can get them back on a rotating schedule and I only have to pay for a couple animals each year. 

There is also another $1,000 hospital bill on the CC which will drain the HSA as soon as the next paycheck is deposited. 

I was reimbursed all the money I had put down for the vacation deposit from family so that is where the biggest chunk of increase came from this month. I’ve been working as much as I can on web design so hopefully that will be enough along with more overtime to keep us gaining in May. 

March Check In

March 31st, 2023 at 04:04 pm

Debts

Mortgage −$115,106.03 (-$242.77)
Land Loan -$10,299.95(-$190.25)
Hospital Bill - $1,135.85 (-$75)

Savings

Roth IRAs +$25,655 (+$456)
401K +$48,414 (+$2,744)
Emergency Fund +$6,896 (+$263)
Animal Fund +$1,701 (+$5)
Car Fund +$20 (-$0)
HSA +$742 (+$293)

Overall: +$4,269.02

A really good month for savings and for the market. My husband and I went on a week long vacation without the kids for the first time. It was nice to get away and we kept it pretty cheap, only going over my budget by about $50 for a total of $800 spent.

Our sump pump went out during a storm and flooded our basement. Luckily no damage, just a mess to clean up. Husband got a bonus at work so we used it to buy the new pump, and saved $600 for driveway work when the weather clears. Our yard and driveway were destroyed when we had to trench over 400' for a new water line. It's been graded several times but over the winter it's settled again and we will need to backfill, blade, and get several dump trucks of rock. $$$ Thankful for the bonus to help offset some of the cost. 

It's nice to be caught up for the time being. If nothing major comes up we will be able to put back extra next month for our upcoming vacations. 

February Check In

February 27th, 2023 at 04:10 pm

Debts

Mortgage −$115,348.80 (-$242.19)
Land Loan -$10,490.20 (-$183.04)
Hospital Bill - $1,210.85 (+$22.83)

Savings

Roth IRAs +$25,199 (+$2,261)
401K +$45,670 (-$1,158)
Emergency Fund +$6,633 (+$1,835)
Animal Fund +$1,696 (+$5)
Car Fund +$20 (-$0)
HSA +$449 (-$934)

Overall: +$2,411.40

It's kind of depressing that despite a $9k tax return this is all our net worth went up. A lot of our retirement contributions were offset by market loss. HSA contributions were over shadowed by an ER visit. With many more hospital bills to come. A high OOP max and a chronically sick child will do that.

At least our EF went up, and we do have savings not shown here for vacations and other things. 

Federal Tax Refund

February 22nd, 2023 at 02:00 pm

Got my federal refund today. I tried to stick mostly to the plan but due to some unexpected expenses I did have to shuffle things around. Here's out it shook out:

$8,600 Received

$3,000 to IRA

$3,000 to vacation fund

$1,000 to new tires, alignment, and plate renewal

$500 to HSA

$375 for dinner and new clothes

$650 to checking buffer

$75 to utility bill overages

---------------

My car's tires were bald and going flat every week. It was time to get new tires. I did manage to snag a buy 3 get 1 free deal, but I needed an alignment and my plates were due. I felt it was a good use of money since I use my car to haul around our kids, and we will be traveling across country in it in a couple months.

Our automatic payment for our trash bill charged us twice this month for some reason. Sigh. I turned off automatic payments, and it will be applied as a credit for next time. Our electric bill was also up this month. So I used a bit to cover that.

Got my buffer back up to normal levels, went to dinner and the family bought some needed clothes.

I was hoping to send $500 more to HSA and save $500 for Christmas. But I still do have $400 in state refund coming to allocate somewhere. Overall I feel like we saved the majority of our refund and/or used it on things we definitely needed.

January Check In

January 30th, 2023 at 02:26 pm

Debts

Mortgage −$115,590.99 (-$241.61)
Land Loan -$10,673.24 (-$187.63)
Hospital Bill - $1,188.02 (-$75)

Savings

Roth IRAs +$22,938 (+$1,766)
401K +$46,828 (+$3,968)
Emergency Fund +$4,798 (-$2,527)
Animal Fund +$1,686 (+$5)
Car Fund +$20 (-$0)
HSA +$1,383 (+$184)

Overall: +$3,900.24

A good month thanks to the markets bouncing up. I had to pull from our savings for our 6-month car insurance. This is a planned expense that I use that account for besides emergencies. But the biggest loss in savings was due to putting a deposit on a vacation home rental for later in the year. Most of the money will be reimbursed to me by my family (we are sharing the rental home) so it's temporary.

I was able to catch up on all the budget overages this month and put some money back for next month’s budget. I am also owed a couple hundred for web design so that will give me gas money for February and allow me to replenish my checking account buffer a bit.

Still waiting on my Paypal 1099, arg. Hopefully tomorrow so I can submit our taxes.

Expected Tax Return

January 20th, 2023 at 04:03 am

I haven't filed yet because I am waiting on one more thing, but we finally got my husband's W2 and I can make a pretty good estimate on what we are getting back. It looks like right around $9,000, which is great! I was honestly only expecting at least $4k with hoping for up to $8k, so even better than I planned.

This is the first year completely without my W2 income and my old job was a major tax leech.  I was expecting our refund to go up, but then a lot of things that we got extra credit for the last couple years got removed like the extra kid payments and the charity contribution bonus.  I've heard lots of complaints about the refunds dropping this year.  Pleasantly surprised. I know we could reduce our deductions and get more money in the paycheck each week, but I kind of prefer the big chunk. Something to consider now that we have kids and get a refund each year. Before I was always concerned about paying in because we were so close to the line each year with my income. But without my job and kids lowering our taxes we may need to change things.

Crazy how much tax I had to pay on my previous tiny W2 income, which was part of the reason for quitting. The numbers just didn’t make it worth it. My web design last year only netted a little over $1,000 after all my expenses, BEFORE taxes. So barely worth it, but it does pay for a lot of business-related subscriptions and programs I use.  

As far as a plan for the return here are the current thoughts:

$3,000                   IRA

$3,000                   Vacation

$500                       Christmas

$300                       Clothing

$100                       Date/Dinner

$750                       Buffer

$1,000                   HSA

$350                       MISC

 

That would complete all my financial goals for the year, save some for future vacation, Christmas and clothing expenses, and get my buffer/EF back up where I like it to be. Husband asked to use a bit to go out to dinner, and the left over $350 would just be put wherever needed at the time or saved.

Plan is subject to change along with actual refund amount we get back, but this is a pretty good start.

2023 Goals

January 7th, 2023 at 03:33 pm

This year the goals were hard to figure out. Our budget is going to be super tight so honestly the main goal is to just survive without accruing more debt.  Which puts us at our first goal.

 

Increase Net Worth

2022 was the first year we had net worth loss. This was a combination of overspending, new land debt and market decline. For 2023 I want to go back to saving more than we are spending overall. Which I think the next two goals will help with.

 

Save $1,000 Extra in HSA

We already do an automatic paycheck deposit weekly but it’s not enough to cover our entire OOP max for medical bills. We don’t have enough in the weekly check to set anymore up on auto pay so I would like to send more directly over the year with windfalls. $1,000 is kind of an arbitrary number, I want to deposit enough to cover all our medical bills for the year so we can use tax free money. This number could be $0-$2,900 depending on how health issues go throughout the year. $1k is a good starting point.

 

Save $3,000 in IRAs

I was hoping to save $5,000 this year so we would hit 15% of our income but it is looking unrealistic for our budget. We’ll start with this and see how it goes.  

 

2023 is going to be the year for hustling and scrounging. With our barebones basic budget covered by paychecks, spending and saving are going to have to be fought for. At least I am aware in advance so I can tighten the purse strings and start looking for ways to save/make money. Our first big decision will be our tax return. It is going to be tough to decide where the money should be allocated. I am eagerly awaiting our W2 so I can get a rough estimate of what I’m working with. Hoping the return is bigger than I’m expecting and I get a nice surprise. It would be great to fund the IRAs and HSA at the beginning of the year.

2022 Net Worth End of Year Update

January 5th, 2023 at 07:41 pm

Cash/Liquid Savings:

$1,686 Animal Fund ($1,214)

$6,042 Escrow Fund ($7,537)

$2,062 Checkings ($6,427)

$20 Car Fund ($20

$1,119 HSA ($1,491)

$10,929 Total Liquid Savings ($16,689)

Retirement:

$42,860 DH's 401K ($45,294)

$5,050 DH's IRA ($5,463)

$16,122 My IRA ($15,337)

$64,032 Total Retirement ($66,094)

Liabilities:

-$115,833 Mortgage (-$119,044)

-$10,861 Land Loan (-$0)

-$1,263 Hospital Loan (-$0)

-$127,957 Total Liabilities (-$119,044)

Assets:

$185,000 House
$20,000 in Cars (not counted in figures)



2022 Total Net Worth: $132,004 ($148,739)
2022 Net Worth without Mortgage & House: $62,837 ($82,783)

Numbers in () are 2021 figures for comparison.

This is the first year we have lost progress that I can remember. I do know the land we purchased increased our house value but I'm not sure by how much without a new appraisal, and the markets are down even though we kept contributing this year. Sadness.

A wake up call that in 2023 we need to do better at more saving, less spending, and knocking down our debts again. I'll have to think a while on specific goals to set for the year with our tight budget.  

December Check In

January 5th, 2023 at 07:20 pm

Debts

Mortgage −$115,832.60 (-$241.04)
Land Loan -$10,860.87 (-$184.25)
Hospital Bill - $1,263.02 (+$1,263.02)

Savings

Roth IRAs +$21,172 (-$825)
401K +$42,860 (-$1,108)
Emergency Fund +$7,325 (+$49)
Maternity Fund +$0 (-500)
Animal Fund +$1,686 (+$4)
Car Fund +$20 (-$0)
HSA +$1,199 (+$184)

Overall: -$3,033.73

Bad way to end the year. Received a large medical bill and several more hospital bills pending and more sure to come with our deductible starting over and our child’s continuing health problems. We made the decision to just do 0% monthly payments on it for now until our HSA builds back up. Once we are in better shape we will pay it off. But I have a feeling we are going to need every dollar for more medical stuff in the next few months.

I would love to be able to fill the HSA completely each year so it would 100% cover our OOP max, but on the weeks my husband doesn’t work overtime we would be short. So at this time we have to scrounge $2,500 each year from overtime to pay the entirety of our medical bills. Hopefully next year we can bump it up even a little, and hopefully eventually we will be healthy and stop having astronomical medical bills every year.

 Markets are down. Used up the last of the maternity fund I had saved. So happy I was able to put that back and then “pay myself” for over an entire year. I’m going to miss it for sure.

I will compare our end of year net worth in a separate post.

 

Feeling discouraged

December 30th, 2022 at 09:39 pm

Upon reviewing our income and spending for 2022 and forecasting for 2023 I am feeling very discouraged. I track everything and so I know the numbers are accurate. With our estimated income I am putting us at $4,800 short in 2023 for our budget NOT including vacation spending, home improvement or IRAs.

Adding those three categories makes our deficit a whopping $17,200! Which is almost half of our total budget.

Well how did we get here? The main thing I can figure is that we have received over $11,000 in tax returns and/or stimulus payments for both of the last two years which has given us a deceptively inflated income. I am estimating our tax return this year to be somewhere between $4-7k. Which will help offset some of the deficit, but we are going to have to make hard choices of where to put that money and where we are going to have to cut and/or scrounge up more income for the rest.

This is estimating very little side income besides husband’s paycheck, so if I can hustle a little, pick up more web design, sell things, etc, then we will be in better shape but it’s still a large mountain to climb. I’m also not sure what the impact of husband’s raise will be over the course of a year because he works so much overtime it’s almost impossible to see the difference in the last couple months. But I’m thinking it should give us $3k+ more to work with than I am budgeting.

Unfortunately there aren’t many areas to cut drastically, but every little bit helps I suppose. I may have to seriously consider going back to the workforce if we can’t hustle and cut enough in the next few months. Such as bummer since I don’t feel like we have added too much extra spending, the price of all the normal things have just increased dramatically.

November Check In - Rough Month

November 28th, 2022 at 04:39 am

Debts

Mortgage −$116,073.64 (-$240.46)
Land Loan -$11,045.12 (-$180.79)

Savings

Roth IRAs +$21,997 (+$1,324)
401K +$43,968 (+$2,950)
Emergency Fund +$7,276 (-$817)
Maternity Fund +$500 (-500)
Animal Fund +$1,682 (+$3)
Car Fund +$20 (-$0)
HSA +$1,015 (-$473)

Overall: +$2,908.25

It's been a rough month for our household but the best the market has done in a long time! We paid around $1,300 for our new 500' main water line and hydrant.

I purchased nearly all our Christmas presents and my husband's and daughter's birthday presents for later in the year. Only two more things to purchase! I love buying everything early. It takes some of the stress off and I make sure to capitalize on sales. I spent a little more than I wanted to. I stayed mostly in budget for the gifts but with kids old enough to be excited we felt like we needed to replace a few things. We got a new tree, some new lights, plus a few small decorations and little things like a gingerbread house kit and pjs for the kids. Our tree and such were what we have been using for a decade and it was free/used when we got it. So it was time to replace.

I had to put to sleep one of my pets this month. I had him for almost 20 years and I am heart broken. On the budget side of things his geriatric care and food were costing $100+ a month so that should free up some extra cash flow to catch our overflowing expenses.

My human kid had more diagnostic testing for a chronic problem and also an unexpected hospital stay. So yay… more medical bills. At least it fell before the deductible starts over I guess. Thankful she is doing better-ish, still working on a long term solution.

 

Hoping we are about done with the spending because we have been bleeding money this month, along with high stress and busy schedules. My house is a wreck, I’m mentally and physically exhausted. I had my yearly doctor appointment and they said I’m constantly sick because I am chronically tired and stressed. Not much I can really do about it since most is out of my control but I sure hope life winds down a bit soon. I’m ready to have a peaceful and relaxing Christmas season. 

October Check In (House project and medical bills)

November 2nd, 2022 at 02:46 pm

Debts

Mortgage −$116,314.10 (-$239.89)
Land Loan -$11,225.91 (-$185.66)

Savings

Roth IRAs +$20,673 (+$134)
401K +$41,018 (+$457)
Emergency Fund +$8,093 (-$32)
Maternity Fund +$1,000 (-500)
Animal Fund +$1,679 (+$1)
Car Fund +$20 (-$0)
HSA +$1,488 (+$358)

Overall: +$843.55

Markets are slightly up which is better than the typical sharp decline. Still pulling some from our buffer / EF, and we just completed a large outdoor project (replacing the main water line) so who knows what that bill will be but it will come out of the EF. The EF includes our saved amount for home projects as well but I leave it and label it as EF until it's used just to keep the numbers more simple.

I am thankful to have another project done especially before the cold weather sets in. I am thankful to not have another year of worrying about water lines freezing and breaking again, and I also added an outside hydrant which will improve my quality of life greatly. I've been carrying buckets of water from the bathtub for ten years all winter to water all my farm animals because my current house spigot freezes. Embarrassment

Still need to run gutter drainage lines and put in a new septic but that is looking like it’s going to be put off until next year again. Which is fine with me, gives us longer to save.

Just got our yard regraded a month or so ago and now it’s a disaster with the 500’ water line that was dug up and installed. Sigh. They are going to come back and regrade again in a week or so. Wish the projects would have coincided a little better but it is what it is.

Still having pretty consistent medical bills. Our medical costs are crazy crazy high. Me with my chronic health issues and both kids have been sick pretty much nonstop all year. We have been averaging over $12,000 a year out of pocket including our premiums for the past 4 years. American healthcare sucks. That is 20% of our gross income.

I have several friends who make around what we do and all have free healthcare and food stamps due to taking cash jobs and not reporting all their income so they quailify and/or having more kids. Kind of sucks that since we follow the rules and pay our taxes we have to lose 20% to medical every year plus our taxes. Bad system that is easy to scam. 

September Check In

October 7th, 2022 at 03:55 pm

Debts

Mortgage −$116,553.99 (-$239.31)
Land Loan -$11,411.57 (-$179.30)

Savings

Roth IRAs +$20,539 (-$1,426)
401K +$40,561 (-$2,060)
Emergency Fund +$8,125 (-$399)
Maternity Fund +$1,500 (+$430)
Animal Fund +$1,678 (+$6)
Car Fund +$20 (-$0)
HSA +$1,130 (-$923)

Overall: -$3,953.39

Ouch! Markets are down, and our savings are down. Even sadder is the fact that we got an extra $600 in back pay this month. We did go on vacation, which was supposed to be to Florida, and then of course once we got there Hurricaine Ian was coming so we had to abandon that plan and leave to another state. Bad timing for sure, but thankful we were able to get out and praying for all the residents there. That did end up changing our costs a bit but we only went over about $400 and we have $600 in flight credits for next time so really it's a wash. 

Otherwise just lots of expenses that popped up, including a much needed new (used) lawn mower because our old small one couldn't handle the new acreage of land we purchased. 

Husband's raise contract passed, not the number he was wanting but he did also get some extra vacation time, and possibly paid paternity leave for the future. Plus a couple other perks. We are expecting $50-100 extra a week depending on overtime. Hopefully that will be enough to dig us out of the hole we are sliding in. 

August Check In

August 29th, 2022 at 10:17 pm

Debts

Mortgage −$116,793.30 (-$238.74)
Land Loan -$11,590.87(-$187.98)

Savings

Roth IRAs +$21,965 (-$189)
401K +$42,353 (+$268)
Emergency Fund +$8,524 (+$926)
Maternity Fund +$1,070 (-$500)
Animal Fund +$1,672 (+$2)
Car Fund +$20 (-$0)
HSA +$2,053 (-$163)

Overall: +$770.72

Got the bonus which we used to replenish the emergency fund and save more for our upcoming vacation. Raise negotiations are currently on hold due to a different plant strike. The good news is that they will be back paid once the raise goes through eventually.

Haven't paid back the maternity fund yet until some medical bills are settled. Had another urgent visit with the other kid. Sigh.  Retirement is about even with our contributions which is better than declining. 


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