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Archive for February, 2022

When it Rains it Pours

February 28th, 2022 at 04:43 pm

This is going to be super long and convoluted so I will probably break it up into at least 2 posts, but we'll see where my rambling takes me.

We are currently in the "when it rains it pours" stage of life; and I can't say I'm happy about it.

In December, driving home from a family day, about 1.5 away from home, our check engine light came on, the car started dinging at us and the dash said "loss of engine power". At the time, we were 2 miles away from where we were going to dinner, so we were able to get there and have dinner.  The Husband keeps an error code reader thingy (that's the technical term, LOL) in the car so he was able to figure out what the error was. It wasn't good! It had something to do with the pistons. (Again, I don't know much about cars!)

We have a very good friend who is a mechanic and The Husband called him and asked him what we should do. He said at this point, we were in survival mode so just try to limp the car home. (He also told us to call him at any point and he would come get us if we couldn't get home! He is a very good friend!) After an arduous trek home at about 40 miles an hour, we made it. (It's a very long story and quite honestly a blog post can't do it justice, but in reality, we felt like God was looking out for us and it happened in the best way it could have!)

Because of the holiday season, we were unable to get the car looked at until the first week in January.  My car is old but has been reliable and a great vehicle and we didn't want a new car payment, so we were hoping to have it repaired. The estimate was $1600. We debated and decided to go with it. We figured if we got only 4 more months out of the car, it would be the same as if we had a $400 per month car payment. 

We got the car back and everything was fine for about 10 days. Then, the check engine light came on again. I cried, The Husband swore, and we were both stressed! This time, the reader said it was emissions problem. For $100, The Husband replaced the O2 sensor. And the car was good for about 5 days. The check engine light came on AGAIN! Out mechanic friend old us if it wasn't the O2 sensor, it was probably the catalytic converter. 

Of course, the catalytic converter is a super expensive fix and our registration was due in March and it was a SMOG year. (In California, you only have to SMOG your car every other year.)

We were both super bummed, mostly because we had chosen to fix the car and it didn't even look like we were going to get the 4 more months out of it that we were hoping to get.

For the next several weeks, the car mostly sat in the driveway. (We are very fortunate that my mom lives with us and we were able to use her car!) However, last week The Husband took my car to his Daddy and Me dance class and when he got home, he told me that while he was driving, the check engine light turned off! (I understand this does not mean my car is fixed.) So this past weekend we decided to see if it would pass SMOG... and IT DID! We actually took it to an "official testing site" and it passed just fine.

We know something is still going on with my car, but its passing SMOG gives us a little more time to figure things out, pay off some more debt, and save up some more for a down payment of a new (or new to us) car.

Unfortunately, even after this whole car saga, it's still "raining" on us. But, as expected, because this turned into a super long post, I'll write about our other storms sometime this week. But not to totally sound like a whiner, I want to add that we are so lucky in so many ways! We had my mom's car to use, we paid cash to fix the car, we still have money in emergency savings, and we were offered cars to use (temporarily) by multiple family members. We are blessed beyond measure and even when we feel like things aren't going our way, we really are very fortunate!

Getting a Month Ahead

February 8th, 2022 at 06:00 pm

We are super lucky to have some money in the bank. We have about 4 months of bare bones expenses plus close to another month's expenses in cash on hand. However, my car is on the fritz in a BIG way so we are going to need to buy a new one soon. Our down payment will come from the money we have in the bank (we do not have a separate down payment savings, though I wish we did!) 

We will use about half of our current total savings to use as a down payment on a car. We are very lucky in another way, too. My mom lives with us so I am able to use her car until we get a new one, so we don't have to make any rash decisions and buy one quickly, but we still need to figure things out.

All of this to say... I want to try to get a month ahead on my bills, in addition to our emergency fund!

One of my children needed money for something the other day and when I was getting it out for them, I found a $100 bill in my wallet. I have no idea where it came from or what it was for, so I decided to start my "month ahead" envelope with it. I use the envelope system so it is very weird for me to have money floating around in my wallet without a home.

I know $100 isn't much towards our whole month's budget, but it is a start and since it's "found" money, I thought it was a good place to start. I also found an envelope with $20 in it. It was supposed to be a birthday gift, but we ended up getting something else, so the money is extra, too! (It was from months ago!)

I have a goal to save $5500 to get a month ahead in all bills and I am $120 (a little over 2%) of the way there! The goal to get a month ahead is in addition to my regular savings goals, bills, and debt payoff and will probably take me 18 months (or more) to complete. To be able to be a month ahead and have an emergency fund would be awesome!!!

Going forward, I am going to try to put little bits of found money and a tiny sliver of our monthly budget towards that goal. I know I'm not the only one who always feels like there are more bills and goals than there is money, but we will get there! 

401k Loan

February 4th, 2022 at 04:48 pm

When we decided to move 5 years ago, we took out a $15,000, 5-year loan from The Husband's 401k. We were living in a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom house with a 12 year old boy and an 11 year old girl... we had to do something!

I am so happy to say that the loan will be paid off very soon! One month from today (2 paychecks) and we will be 401k loan free! I'm super excited about it being paid off! Because it is a 401K loan, that is obviously through no extra effort of our own, but it will still be paid off!

Once it is paid off, The Husband is going to adjust his 401k contributions to increase by 1% so that he will max out at the full $20,500 limit. He maxed out last year at $19,500 and that small adjustment should have him maxing out again. We are very lucky that he works for a company that also gives a 3% match and 6% profit sharing. All told, he (and his company) are contributing about 28% of his yearly salary to retirement. 

The rest of the 401k payment will just be absorbed into our every day budget. And truth be told, we can use an extra $100 a month or so! With one senior and one junior in the house, school costs are crazy!

The Husband's yearly review is coming up soon too. He generally gets at least a 3% raise. We are actually hoping for a little more this year. Any increase he does receive will most likely go towards increasing contributions to my 403b. I contribute $1400 above and beyond what is taken out for my pension every month.  My school district runs on an 11 month cycle so I put away $15,400 towards retirement and would love to increase that if The Husband gets a raise! We are slowly trying to inch our way up to maxing me out, too!

I'm so excited to have this loan paid off and to increase contributions towards our future! I have said before that we are super far behind and trying to play catch up, so every little increase helps!