Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Finances and Birthdays and a Cup of Christmas Tea

Last night S and I sat down and discussed finances. First, we pulled up his USAA account and looked at Spending for the month of December so far. It was pretty ugly. I took all of the debit transactions he made and categorized it by Monthly Bills, Gas for his truck, Money that we spent as a couple (mainly weekends and groceries), and then the spending that he does on a daily basis on post. As a couple we spent over 500 dollars this month on groceries and going out. We went out a lot more this month than we usually do. I think that since deployment is coming up extremely fast, all of the husbands are trying to get their wives to get to know one another so that we have some kind of support system or budding friendships in place while they are gone. We also spent close to 800 dollars for plane tickets home for Christmas. We spent 800 last month for Thanksgiving to fly home as well.  It's weird to say "we spent" I'm trying to get over the fact that it's technically "our" money now, but it's a work in progress at least. 

Not all hope is lost however, we have been putting in over 1,000 a month into savings. 
I also discovered that we will be saving over 200 a month just on not buying gas for the truck. The jetta that I drive (his car as well) only requires 40-42 dollars every two weeks to completely fill up the tank! We obviously won't be spending money going out to dinner together. However, even if I do go out to dinner with the girls it will be buying one meal opposed to two. I also probably won't be buying any alcohol at meals since I'll be the one driving home. Also, I have a very low tolerance for alcohol-I get immediate headaches from any type of alcohol that I drink after the first few sips. The headache can last from 20-30 minutes at a time. Not very enjoyable. Anyway, I digress. We also figured out that on his very base pay of his O1 salary without including his recent promotion to O2 and without including the fact that I am now a dependent, or his deployment pay, if he pulled in the 3400 that he was a little over a month ago which is after taxes and his retirement fund, that we will be able to save 2,000 a month. Our goal is to pretend that he is still only making O1 pay-everything extra plus the 2000 a month will immediately going into our savings for our wedding and general savings. 

This sum does not include my paycheck. Right now with my pay from the employment agency I pull in about 1200 a month. However, 600 of that immediately goes towards student loan payments. I also have my credit card payment to make. My contract ends at the agency at the beginning of 2012. I will have to speak with my boss about how much I will be getting paid. When it comes to my credit card I feel like I am right back to where I started but I've already earmarked all of my Christmas spending in my savings account and I'm going to make a mass payment after Christmas and after we return from Chicago. I'm also considering a second job on the weekends. I would probably consider a book store or something. It's not so much for the money its more to keep myself occupied on  the weekends to make deployment go by faster for me. 
Alright, enough about finances for now. My second category...Birthdays..specifically one...today my mom turned 62! I was able to surprise her by shipping her chocolate covered strawberries from edible arrangements to her work! She said that she was having a pretty bad day at work (she works at my elementary school and its really hectic this close to Christmas vacation) and that the strawberries were just what she needed. I was happy that I could do something for my mom even when I was still in North Carolina. I hope my mom had a good day. The fact that I made her so happy kept a smile on my face for the remainder of the day at work.
A cup of Christmas Tea...and we come to the final topic for tonight. At work today we had to go to one of our client's apartments so that we could witness a Living Will for her. She is 95 and couldn't be sharper! She also is such a sweet lady. She sends cards to everyone in her church whether it be their birthday, christmas, or just a "thinking of you" card. She showed us her card collection. She literally had boxes and boxes of cards ready to be written in and sent to others. That seriously made me so happy for some reason. It was so nice to see good old fashioned caring about others for a change. Looking at her apartment so carefully decorated for Christmas made me think of my all time favorite Christmas story/poem- A cup of Christmas Tea. I even went back to work and ordered it with Barnes & Noble giftcards for my new mother-in-law. I thought it would be nice to share something with her that means a lot to me. If you haven't read a Cup of Christmas Tea...I highly recommend it. It really puts Christmas and its meaning into perspective. Its cute and short but has a powerful message. 

Ok...well that's it for tonight. It's midnight and this young wife (if you consider 23 young...) is tired and needs to wake up for work tomorrow. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Wait...I've actually started shopping for everyone on my list and didn't wait until Christmas Eve?

I am proud to say that I have already purchased presents for my husband, my mom, my brother, and I got part of my dad's present taken care of. I just need to finish for my dad and buy my sister's present. It is such a great feeling to have almost everything shipped out to Illinois already. ( I love buying gifts online!) Da hubby has already bought gifts for his dad and one of his brothers. We are purchasing his mom's gift when we get back home. He just has to buy for his younger brother. I told him that he didn't have to order my gift yet ( a new laptop!), that he could just wait until after Christmas to order it. He might even get a better deal that way..who knows!

Oops..I still have to buy for people at work but I am planning on getting something small. I have one gift picked out for one of the people at work. I just need to figure out for my boss and our loan processor. It definitely won't be anything too big though.

My credit card is definitely feeling the pain from Christmas. However, I have earmarked the amount that I have spent for Christmas in my bank account already. Once my bill comes in I'm going to pay for all of my Christmas spending.

In other news, S has a Christmas party tomorrow so I will need to figure out if I need to bring anything to that. If I do I already have the recipe picked out I think! Alright, well time to get back to work. It's been a slow day for the first time in a while. However, I can think of some files that I need to work on. I hope everyone else's Christmas shopping has gone well so far.

After Christmas I will post what I got everyone in my family. :)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Trying to Turn Over a New Leaf: The Spending Edition with a little help from Gail Vaz-Oxlade

I went to the court house today during my lunchtime to get copies of our marriage certificate. That was easy enough. I found parking immediately, didn't have to wait it any line, and ten minutes and a check written out for thirty dollars later I had 3 copies of my certificate. I was on my way back from work and I was tempted to stop at Baldino's (sub place) for a turkey sub. Suddenly that banana and strawberry lemonade yogurt didn't seem so appealing to me. Here is a little bit of how the conversation with myself went.

Me: Well I'm already driving.  I always work through my lunch so I never have an opportunity to go out for lunch. I should take advantage of it.

Smarter Me: You said that you were just going to go to court and come back. Besides, your other coworker is waiting until you get back before she leaves to run an errand.

Me: Yes,but it won't take long. And besides...I've been reading that Gail Vaz-Oxlade book about getting out of debt. This can be my one last hurrah and then I'll start for real next week.

Smarter Me: Why don't you just start now. You have food at the office that you paid money for. Why are you going to let it go to waste? Why spend money on food when you DONT NEED IT. Why do you need a starting date to become all saving and not spending..don't go.

Needless to say...I didn't go. I went back and ate my banana and yogurt. And drank my coffee from home.
The second thing that I did to think about making a change with my debt situation.

I was driving home from work and trying to think of a cohesive dinner menu. It wasn't working. I thought about going to the store and having to spend more money. Then I thought well if we can't come up with something that we both want/or can agree on maybe we can just order a pizza, and it would take the stress off of me from trying to figure something out. INSTEAD-I texted the hubby and told him that he was on his own for dinner tonight. I ate leftover macaroni and lobster pasta that I had leftover from going out to dinner the other night. He isn't home yet but he said that he would throw something together. We have italian sausage, buffalo chicken wings, eggs, soup, pasta, things to make sandwiches...believe me he has stuff to make. I'm not starving him I promise. I'm just happy that I ate my leftover pasta-otherwise it would have been absolute waste of money. It wasn't a cheap meal.

Well back to my Gail Vaz Oxlade book. I'm loving it a lot. I'm aware of most of the material that in it already-but its a fun and easy read. I can't wait to utilize her free spreadsheets online!!!

It's almost the weekend so....Can you name one way that you saved money today? Or if you are adventurous...two  ways???

Monday, December 5, 2011

He didn't want to Open a Joint Account?

My husband and I were sitting in the living room this evening after he got home from work at 8pm as is his usual these days. I mentioned that we have to open a joint account still and he seemed hesitant. He claimed A) he didn't want too many accounts (since when is 2 a lot?) and that he was worried the army would mess up his pay if he switched his money to a new account. Instead, he wanted to do an autodeposit into my account for the bills. Umm....what?

One of the main things that they speak about with predeployment is to make sure that your wife has access to all of your accounts in case something comes up or whatever. I guess I was kind of angry and hurt that he doesn't want to open a joint account which is something that I think is very important to do. He doesn't have to worry about me draining his account or anything like that-for God's sake. He realized that I was angry and of course he says that we will open a joint account...which kind of makes me even angrier. I don't need him placating me-I need to know that we stand on the same page when it comes to finances. I don't want him to give in without discussing things just because I'm not happy about something.

I guess that we will need to be grownups and discuss it. Wish me luck.Now if only my laundry would finish so that I could go to bed. It's midnight and I'm absolutely exhausted.

Spending for Today

Appliance Warehouse-30.29- bill for washer and dryer
Christmas Present for my brother-60 dollars

So far S and I have bought a present for my brother and a present for one of his brother's. We still need to buy for my mom and dad, his mom and dad, his other brother, and my sister. I also need to shop for something small for the people from work. We are such a small office (4 people) that I would feel guilty not buying something for them.

I'm not going to lie...I feel tired and stressed out. Good night everyone.

And here is another question since I love them so much-When you first got married (if you are married) how soon after did you get a joint account or combine your finances? How did you feel about it? Happy? Or did you feel like you lost a little bit of freedom? And for the singles out there-Would you combine finances with a significant other or wait until marriage?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Countdown to Christmas....more like countdown to Deployment

I'm going to share a little secret-something that I haven't told anyone else. I think I'm suffering from a little bit of denial about my husband's deployment. Yes, I know that it is approaching and fast. Yes, he came home on Thursday night with his multicam uniform for Afghanistan. Yes, he started packing his stuff for Afghanistan. Yes-we started working on predeployment planning tonight. And yes now I know about his funeral plans. That was a slightly hard moment for me and it brought me straight to an image of Carrie Underwood's, "Just a Dream" music video. If you haven't seen it ever,or if you know someone in the military, it might just bring you to tears. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLntFKtR66g

Anyway, I just kept thinking that it was so far away, and now its practically pounding on my door. When he went to training for a month I was fine for the most part. I think I might have cried just once the entire month that he was gone. I knew that he was still in the United States and everything that he was doing wasn't "real" per se. This, however, is the real deal and I can't pretend that it isn't. 

Am I scared? Am I worried? Hell yes. However, I'm trying to keep it together and I'm trying to take it one day at a time. I'm not the type of person to say poor me over and over again-it's just not my personality. Besides...if it's poor anyone it would be poor S-not poor me. I entered this relationship knowing that he would be deployed at some point in our lives. I knew what I was in for. I'm just going to have to take this one day at a time and make the most of the time that I have left before being apart from S for 9-12 months. One day at a time. I've been contemplating on getting a second job just to keep myself busy but we will see if I follow through on that or not. 

On a lighter note...we went to S's military ball last night. Apart from the stress of getting there ( hair appointment/makeup application ran an hour late) and we were literally racing to get there...the night went very well. The resort the ball at was absolutely gorgeous and we stayed at a really quaint hotel that was built in 1895. And the dress that I decided to wear again...also a success. I was sitting at my table completely by myself because hubby (hee hee) was outside talking to some of his men and other people were dancing on the dance floor. A colonel and his wife approached me at the table. She walked up to me and said, "I just wanted to tell you how beautiful I thought that you look. Your hair is gorgeous and your dress is beautiful. You look very elegant. Then she asked her husband, "Doesn't she look beautiful?" And the colonel said "Yes, she does." Not too shabby for a 1st Lieutenant's wife to be complimented by a colonel's wife. It definitely made me feel good about myself and it made my night! 

This morning we grabbed breakfast at IHOP when we came back from the hotel. Then we picked up a Christmas tree from Lowe's. We had a low key afternoon , did some predeployment planning, and then went over to our friend's house for pizza from Mellow Mushroom and watched National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation- All in all not a bad night. This past week I paid 290 for my student loans. I also spent some money for hair/makeup, gas, and some other necessities. I'll post my figures tomorrow. 

And how about you? Is there is something after Christmas that you want to avoid or are you ready to meet the New Year with open arms and champagne toasts?