Monday, June 24, 2013

Marriage Monday ~ Money, Part 3

Last month we talked about Grocery Budget and how our family makes it work for us.  Not you, but our family.  US.  It works for US.  Please keep this in mind while reading these posts.

This month I'm writing about our budget. 

This took a while for it to come about and for it to finally be something that works for US.

When we first started DR (Dave Ramsey) I had SO many things on our budget list.  They were a list of:

Gas and Oil
Car Repairs and Tires
Clothing – Arnold
Clothing – Miranda
Clothing – boys
hair care
blow money (spending money)
entertainment/dinning out
church tithing
medical (co pay and prescriptions)
Next big thing – Piano tuner
Next big thing – Camera
Next big thing – Computer/Photo drive
NOT included are things like bills/rent/CC's, anything paid for directly from our account 
- the last 3 things "Next big thing" were not part of the DR program but I needed them
Now our "budget"  looks like this:

Bank Fees
Student Loan
Cell Phones
Mir Visa - CC
Arnold Visa - CC
Arnold MC - CC
Mir MC - CC
Mental Health
Entertainment/Eating Out
Education/Book Orders
Commuting Cost

While there may be "more" lists they aren't as detailed as they were before.  We have found some things work better for and some don't.  For example... We save about 40.00 a month for Christmas/Birthday.  But during the summer months we kinda "lax" on that.  Not because we don't want to do it but because we don't have many birthdays or anything to go to or do.

About 2 months ago we added in our "Mental Health" fund.  It's $40.00 a month.  It's mainly for when I just can't handle cooking, we have nothing ready or I just need out of the house.  we use that to help with whatever the cost might be.  So if we have 20.00 left in our entertainment/eating out budget that's enough for a babysitter.  And Arnold and I can go out on the 40.00 from the mental health category.

We have also switched pays since we started DR.  When we had started we were paid on the 15th and the last day of the month.  Now we are paid every 2 weeks.  This means that there are 2 months where we get paid 3 times a month.

This just happen for us.  We were paid 3 times this month. Last year I didn't quite "get" it so this year I was really careful.  I put away the 2 weeks worth of grocery money, 2 weeks worth of gas money, part of our rent money and 2 of our things that have to be paid every month.  we had enough "left over" to put $500.00 on a CC and $500.00 into savings for this summer's boat trip.  And to help this summer if needed.

So here's the breakdown of our budget, so you have an idea:

Rent:  Our rent is taken out on the 1st of every month.  Our Rent budget include our utilities (which are included in our rent cheque).  We save the month before for the next month.  For example.  This month we have been putting some money away each pay to cover July's rent.

Bank Fees:  We pay more than we "should" but this covers anything and everything.  We have unlimited bank accounts (we currently have 6); up to 10 e-transfers a month (we use anywhere from 2 to 4 a month); and unlimited transactions.

Offering:  We have started to do our churches direct withdraw from our bank account.  It comes out on the last day of the month.

These three accounts (Rent, Bank Fees and Offering) are saved for in one account labeled "Rent" in our bank.

Internet:  My husbands work pays for a portion of our internet.  This is because Arnold is on at least 1 pager rotation a month (prime and secondary) and needs the internet at home in order to keep it working.  While it doesn't cover it all it does cover part of it.  We have this bill automatically taken out from our CC.  This was something that was needed to set it up.  And for us, it works well (not recommended by DR).  We take the first pay each month and put on the amount of our bill to the CC right away.  Then the bill come in and the amount we have put on "credits" the amount that is billed.  Then the money we get from hubbys work goes into our budget as well.  We have had to upgrade as we host a server in our house and we have enough people using the internet that it's needed.

RESP:  We started this when Kyler was born.  It's a Registered Education Savings Plan.  We put $25.00 per month per child away for this.  It's not something that we *should* be doing yet (according to DR) but this was something we needed so Arnold would feel more comfortable doing this program.  He wanted to know that even if it took us 18 years to pay everything off our kids would have something for school.

Insurance:  We pay this from our bank account every month.  It comes out on the 22nd or so.  It's for our liability, our car, Arnold's bike, and our contents. 

Student Loans:  My Student Loans were paid off last year (thank you for all your help!) and now we are plugging away at the loans Arnold has.  Which is a lot.  These will take us way more time than we want them too but that is ok.  We know why we got them and they are a loan we can handle for now.  Every few months Arnold does apply for "interest relief" because we can't afford the complete payment.  We have been blessed in the past few months to be able to put a little more on the loans.  A few hundred here and a few hundred there have helped us to get them down a bit more.

Cell Phones:  One thing you will see is we do NOT have a home phone on our bill. When we moved to Toronto we got a home phone and something happen and it fried!  So we figured, why keep 2 cell phones and a home phone.  So my cell is our "home phone".  Arnold's phone is truly the cell phone.  My phone doesn't stay at home however.  This has been a bit of an "issue" when hiring babysitters.  Our Babysitters need to have cell phones or something to contact people if help is needed.  We have left one of our phones at home every once and a while.

Mir Visa/Arnold Visa/Arnold MC/Mir MC:  These are our credit cards (duh!).  We made some serious mistakes years ago and are paying for them now.  Truly.  We are working on getting them paid off.  When we started the DR program we had 6 CC, a family loan and 2 student loans.  We are now down to 4 CC's and that's it :)  This does make me happy. I realize not for everyone but we are good with this.  The DR program recommends that you put your lowest amount CC first.  You pay that off then use the payments you would have paid to "snowball" to the next CC and get it paid off asap.  While I believe you can "live" without CC's in Canada I feel like we need to each have one.  I'm closing my VISA and Arnold will close his MC.  This way we have one VISA and one MC.  Each, that we are keeping, are the lowest interest rates of them all.  However... DH's VISA is our lowest balance.  We aren't paying that one off as fast as possible but it is on our list. 

Mental Health: As I explained above, this one was just added in to make sure I don't go crazy!

Food: Our Food budget is taken out in 2 week intervals.  I used to do shopping once a month  (see last post) but now I'm going weekly.  This is helping us out a lot more.  And it makes me putting money aside for it every month helpful.  Our food budget does include things like Food, cleaning products, possible needs for the house.

Gas/Oil/Car:  This budget is mainly for the Gas/Oil part.  See, we started, what most people call, a "sinking fund" for the Car.  We know one day we will need to replace it.  For now.  We have about $1,000.00 put aside to help repair the car, or help to buy a new one if we need to.  We just recently brought our car in to get the AC fixed (cause I don't want to melt in the car) and that came out of our car budget.  We will build it back up as "extra" cash comes in.  We never let it go under $500.00

Entertainment/Eating Out:  I don't know about you but I have never been able to go a whole month without eating out.  And with our crazy schedules sometimes it's good to have this as an option.  This covers going out to a movie (which we rarely do) and going to have dinner out.  If we go as a whole family (5-6 people depending on the day and time) it can cost us anywhere form $50-$80.00.  This isn't too bad, but sometimes I'm in shock how much we spend.  This helps us to realize we need to pick good days to go out.

Education/Book Orders:  We put this in when K went to school.  There were so many things I had forgotten about that I wanted to be able to do for K and Q at school.  They have a "Nutrition Program" where you pay $2.00 a week (Toonie Tuesday) and we get money to help run the program.  I've begun to learn more about it and know that at last 2 people in every classroom NEED this program.  They didn't have breakfast or anything so they can't make it to lunch.  If they have a lunch. This program helps our kids have food to eat.  We also have book orders.  Lately we have limited how much we can spend on it each month.  One month K picks a book (below $10.00 unless they pitch in their own money) and the next month Q does.  It's a great help for keeping the cost down.

Medical/Health:  This covers drugs :)  I am on BP meds and this covers my meds.  I get most of the cost covered by our health plan (taken right off Arnold's pay cheque) but I still have to pay the fee for getting it.  It also covers things like headache meds, drugs for my sinus cold last month, the kids meds when they have colds or are sick.  That kind of stuff.  This is something we do have a "cap" on.  We never have more than $100.00 in this budget.  It just doesn't make sense.

Christmas/Birthday:  This one, as I've said above, is hard.  We have K's bday in March, Q's bday in April, my bday in October, Arnold's bday in November.  And then Christmas.  So we don't "need" money in the summer time for birthdays but it changes now and then.  We are also beginning to experience friends birthdays and going to their parties.  We have had to increase our budget a bit.  We know that at Christmas we spend, maybe more than others.  So we take what we spent last year, add about $50.00 (since prices always climb) and we budget that out for 12 months.  Then add some extra for birthday times as well.  Every year it's different but generally we can handle it. all.

Commuting Costs:  This is part of the reason our "Gas" budget isn't as high.  And why we only have one "car".  Arnold has a bike that is a big part of our savings.  He saves about $5.50 a day by biking.  While that may not seem like a lot to you, and sometimes to him (mainly on days it's raining) he loves biking.  It keeps him in shape, he does something, most others don't and he loves setting an example to the kids of what he can do.  In a month, if Arnold bikes every week day, and there are no vacations, we save $110.00 a month.   This is in our budget, not as a saving, but knowing that we still need to spend money on it.  Arnold's bike needs new things all the time.  It's like another car (and sometimes I'm pretty sure it gets more KM's than our car does!).  We try to put aside $40.00 a month to help with the costs of repairs.  If it's not all used it gets socked away for the Bike Show in Toronto when we go and he gets new shoes/gloves/tubes/ect to stock up at home.  He also takes the TTC to get to work in the winter months (sometimes) so we pay for that, which means our costs go up in October until March.  They are between $95.00 to $110.00 (depending  on vacation times/days).

Anyway... this is our budget.  I know there is so much more I wish I could help you understand but I can only tell you what I have done.  If you have questions please let me know.  I'll do my best to answer them.  Remember this is what works for US.  Not the whole world but what works for US.

Next month I'm going to write about "sinking funds" and how important it is to have those around.  Even if you don't own a home!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Marriage Monday ~ Happy Father's Day!

While we didn't get Arnold anything "big" this year we did spend time together.  Check out the men in my life:

Monday, June 10, 2013

Marriage Monday ~ Loving When Things Are Hard

**If you have read much of this blog, or follow me on FB you know that we have lost 2 babies last year.  I want to say first and foremost I know not everyone has experienced this type of loss.  So that being said I'm going to try and gear this post to something else that's "hard" instead.**


Things are always hard right?

Sometimes we take on too much

Sometimes we have too much time to spend doing/thinking about the "hard" things

And sometimes we just have to deal with it head on.

When I took my Doula classes I learned more about the "fight or flight" reactions we have as humans.  When something "hard" happens we can either "fight" the problem or we can "flight" run from it.  I knew during our study it was more of an in pain thing but it really works for just about anything.

The other day in class (I volunteer in my son's SK class) the class was just driving me crazy.  Like completely crazy.  It doesn't help that I was getting sick (realizing that now when I look back) and things were just hard.  I took that time to say to the teacher "ok, I'm done!  I cant' deal with them anymore" and I walked away and went to do something else.  I know it's not just me, as others have said the same thing but it was that "flight" sense coming in.  I ran from the problem.  Instead of dealing with these kids I walked away and didn't bother.  It "wasn't worth it".

Yes, we all have things that "aren't worth it".  For example, our kid wants to wear the blue sweater instead of the green one.  Fine.  It's not worth it. 

Something I truly believe is "worth it" not matter what happens is my relationship with my husband.  He is worth it more than anything.

I was watching a news clip on the computer the other day about how someone said she puts her relationship with her husband before her one with her children.  It got such a flack for that comment.

But I agree (sort of).  My relationship with God is #1.  While I don't spend enough time with Him I know it's my #1 thing in my life.  (and I'm working on my time management!)  My relationship with my husband is #2.  My relationship with my kids #3 and all other things come behind that.

My husband and I need to be that example for my children.  That example of how a good, loving, godly relationship needs to work.  We may not be the perfect example (in fact I know we aren't) but I feel like we are a good one for our kids and our family.  We have seen what works and doesn't work in our own parents relationship and we move on to make ours work better.

A few months ago we had a couple of weeks that we knew things weren't going well.  I was having problems; Arnold was having problems and together nothing was working.  We had such a hard time.

We ended up stating that needed time apart.  Arnold spent more time upstairs and I spent more time in the basement.  In our own time, we both realized that this wasn't going to work.  As much as living as "roommates" in our own home something wasn't going to work.  Something needed to be fixed. 

And Fast

Part of me wanted to run home to my parents.  I wanted to pack up the kids and run away.  (Flight)  I was going to get as far away from this as I could.  I didn't want to deal with the problem.  I had no energy left to deal with what was happening. 

The other part of me wanted to stick it out, talk about it and work through this.

Something you have to realize about Arnold is he is *not* a talker at all.  He doesn't like talking things out.  Talking about things over and over again.  Or sometimes, I'm pretty sure of this, listening to me talk it to death and hope it comes back to life again to talk about it some more!

I'm the talker.

As I sat down to do my devotions one of the days during this I realized that it wasn't all these things I thought were hard.  It was something Arnold and I had piled on and on and didn't talk about or deal with for such a long time that we had to get *that* out in the open.  God showed me just what needed to be talked about, figured out and how to deal with it.

Arnold and I got through it.  It took awhile.  Almost learning to trust each other again.  But we both knew our relationship was a fighting one.  Not a running one. 

We need to fight for each other.  This also means, for us, carving out time to spend together.  And really it's not always talking; snuggling on the couch; or making out (mind you those ARE fun :) )  It's more things like working beside each other on the couch; being close; understanding that we both have our differences but we both need to find that time to be together.  And this is ours.

We are now back to watching a TV show together.  It kind of helps us to connect.  We spend 45 minutes together hanging out.  Arnold will play on his computer or phone.  I check my phone every once and a while and I'll watch a TV show.  Currently playing in our house is JAG.   Before that was NCIS and NCIS LA.

I'm not fond of Dr. Who (which is Arnold's favourite) so sometimes I'll handle the star trek tv shows we watch.

I guess what I'm rambling about is you need to decide from the beginning of your relationship.  Will you "fight" for each other?  Or will you get on the first "flight" and get out of there?

Friday, June 7, 2013

My 6 Month Check Up

Yesterday I had my 6 month PP Check up with my Blood Pressure Dr. 

I'll fully admit this one scared me more than anything.  I was so worried things would go wrong, I'd get bad test results and it would just be horrible. I voiced my concern to Arnold and he booked the day off.  Everyone, except Quinton, had some kind of appointment yesterday.

First off our day was crazy.  We were up, fed and out the door with Kyler by 6:45am.  That in itself is a HUGE deal as K is our "teenager" as far as sleeping and eating go.  He would rather be sleeping than getting up so early.

The boys (Arnold and K) dropped me off at work and headed to their dentist appointment.  Kyler's tooth needs to be polished down (as his jaw is still working a bit lopsided) or just pulled (as his Adult tooth is there already).

They went home and Arnold walked them to school and did some talking to people for his accountant duties for the Parent Council.

While I was still at work Arnold had his physical to do and then came to my work.  I left around noon and we went to Subway for lunch.  (thankfully Jack had the day off so he went and got Q from school)  While Arnold and I were at lunch the boys school called and Kyler hurt himself.  He has a tiny split on his knee and she wanted us to come and look at it if we could decide what to do.  The school board can't do anything but rinse it with water and put a band aid on it.  So we brought our "on the go" polysporn spray and stopped by to look at it.  A tiny split but not too worried.  Kyler let me spray it on (with a few tears) and then we put a butterfly band aid on it and another one on top just to keep it in place and then we were off to race to the hospital.

I went up to the 7th floor (silly maternity floor) and Arnold stopped by the lab to double check his recs from his appointment and what he needs to do.  I was sitting there blogging on my fitness blog and I realized... I didn't take my BP meds that morning!  How could I have done that!  And on such an important day!

Thankfully my BP was only 139/92.  Truly not that bad considering no drugs and on my least favourite floor in the hospital.

So we went in and talked with her.  I fessed up that I had forgotten to take my meds that morning and she wasn't too worried.  She said I'm on the boarder of not taking them or taking them.  While I'm on them my BP is *PERFECT* so now it's more of lifestyle changes than anything.  I'm staying on the drugs until we know for sure.

As far as lifestyle changes that includes, cutting back on my salt (little to none), watching my calories, and exercising.  Also getting my BMI to a reasonable number.  Right now my BMI is horrible. I need to weight 118 - 155 lbs to be in the proper BMI number. 

My dr told me to lose about 1 pound per week.  From what I weighted June 1st (which was the number we were going off - 239lbs).  I need to lose 84 pounds to get me right at 155.  So one pound a week... that's over 1 year of losing weight. 

Right now I go back and see her in September.  It's 18 weeks away.  So my goal is to be down to 220lbs by then.

So my tests results:

I was tested for anything and everything and we even added a few.  I was reading more about BP and I noticed one common thing was diabetes and I was scared about that.  I also wanted my thyroid to get tested.  So I did my blood work and was sent home with a 24 hour urine collection container.  I did that and brought it back to them.

EVERYTHING came back A-OK!!!  Negative for diabetes, negative for thyroid issues, negative for Lupus (something that is a big reason for BP issues), negative for protein in my urine. Kidney function normal; liver function normal.  Everything was wonderful!  I was told the only thing that was "up" was uric acid (sp) in my urine.  She said it comes when you may have a higher chance of getting kidney stones.  I told her I had already had kidney stones when I was in university and she said "oh well that's it!". 

So everything is ok.

I have the choice of taking myself of my own meds but I'm a little worried about that.  So instead I'm going to go back and see her in September.  Partly so I can get a script refilled (I could at my family dr if I needed) and partly to have that motivation to get down my 18 pounds before I see her.

All in All, I'm happy with how things are going. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Marriage Monday ~ Encouragement only please!

AKA Don't Dis Your Dude!

Do you remember when the big Christian movie came out?  It was called "Fireproof".  Everyone was all behind their challenge to "fireproof" your marriage.  It was a wonderful movie and what an incredible back story.  Working on your marriage every day for 30 days.  Seeing what God can do in just 30 days of loving your spouse.

Well I decided to do the challenge.  At that point in our marriage things weren't shaky but they weren't as good as they are now.  I was so excited about this challenge until I read the first day:

Don't put down your spouse.

"Love Dare Day #1
Today's Dare:

The first part of this dare is fairly simple.  Although love is communicated in a number of ways, our words often reflect the condition of our heart.  For the next day, resolve to demonstrated patience and to say nothing negative to your spouse at all.  If the temptation arises, choose not to say anything.  It's better to hold your tongue than to say something you will regret.

Did anything happen today to cause anger towards your mate?  Were you tempted to think disapproving thoughts and to let them come out in words?"

I thought, dang, that's so easy!  Who would have thought that *this* would be hard?  I mean come on, just say nice things right?

Well... that evening we had our C&C group over from church.  And it's not that we "bad talk" our friends but sometime when we play games we get a little edgy.  I had to bite my tongue so hard to not say anything bad about Arnold.  I couldn't think of good things.  It was horrible. 

I wrote some examples in my journal for that time.  They were things that bothered me from the night where I had to be careful to not say anything mean to him.

The C&C group had finished watching a movie and were going to play a game.  I started looking around for my diet coke and I asked DH if he knew where it was and he said I finished it.  I said ok!  He goes did you want your THIRD?  With this tone.  I said nope I'm just fine.  He goes Good!  Everyone was like... woooh.  Normally we 'get snarky' or something but not today.  It was kinda weird.

Another example was that the boys were in bed and I was getting worried he was coughing so much.  I asked Arnold to go and check on him and he said no.  I bit my tongue and then about 10 minutes later a few the other people asked if he was ok.  Arnold finally went to check on him.  It really bothered me that he didn't do it when I asked.
As you can see they weren't really bad examples but it got me worried.  If it was so hard to hold my tongue for the 3 hours our friends were over does that mean that it's hard for me on a daily basis?

Things have improved a lot in the past 4 years (this was 2009 we did this).  We have learned to communicate.  I know how to explain how I'm feeling without putting him down in the process.  I've learned to leave things in the past and not use them as "amo" for the next fight.  And most of all I've learned that God can help me do these things.

So readers :)  When you are talking to your hubby try to use encouraging phrases for them.  I find that a bit of encouragement goes far.  VERY far!