Friday, February 18, 2011

Long, Long Overdue Update

A friend of mine from work commented to me yesterday that she was reading my blog and I admitted to her that I felt bad because I hadn't updated it in so long. What can I say? Life caught up with me and life certainly got crazy really fast.

We made it through another "cash only" Christmas with much success. It's not as hard as I thought it would be and it was fun to try and find those best deals for the kids and also get them the things they wanted.

In December, Matt accepted a new full-time job and that's made our lives very interesting. We had to line up full time daycare for Lauren, part time daycare for Nick, and transportation for Nate, and juggle all the bus schedules for Nick. It was crazy there for a few weeks especially since Matt was working day shift for a bit, and then was switched over to third shift. He's been on third shift now for a couple of weeks and we are slowly getting used to the "new".

Before he even accepted the new job, we were thinking about our car situation and how we were being pretty wasteful by having 2 larger vehicles that take a lot of gas to run, especially since I am driving by myself every day to Grand Rapids in a minivan. We didn't have the cash on hand right away to make any changes, but we started saving up furiously to get a small economy car for me to commute to work with every day and keep the minivan for those times where all of us are in the car together. Since the Aztek doesn't really fit all of us all that well, we made the decision that it would be the car to go. Now we are on the hunt for a used Honda Civic within our budget, and we'll hopefully be able to get that taken care of in the next couple of weeks. Someone might buy the Aztek from us and we'll have that cash towards the car, or if that falls through we can just trade it in.

Another pretty big thing that hit our financial radar since my last post is that Nate has braces. Kind of bad timing, but it is what it is. Our plan year for flex spending has open enrollment in August and becomes effective in September, so I totally missed the window when we went to the orthodontist in October. When we went the previous year for our first consult, it was hard to know if he would need braces this past October (2010) or if we could wait another year (October 2011) and because of all the changes to flex spending and the healthcare reform, I decided not to guess high on my flex election and lost. I guess it's better than guessing wrong and being stuck with a bunch of money in flex that I lose, but it still would have been nice to have that money set aside. We did set up a payment plan with the orthodontist to pay it off rather quickly, but it was certainly medical expenses that we were not really counting on paying. I am just glad I could set it up on a payment plan because I was NOT going to open any sort of line of credit in order to make it happen. My dental insurance covered a small portion of it, we're making monthly payments, and when tax return money comes in, a nice chunk will go to the balance. If we owe anything when August comes up, I can flex the balance then. Nate better thank me later in life for all this juggling I'm doing to give him a nice smile!

Speaking of tax returns, I got those taken care of this past week and filed. We are getting back a nice return and have made a plan of attack as to what we are going to do with that money:

1. Economy car
2. Replace my digital camera
3. Eye exam/contacts for me
4. Orthodontist

Not very exciting, but all things that we need to take care of financially. I've been pricing the camera I want to get and missed a couple of great deals, so I am just biding my time and watching for the next one to come up. I have patience so I will wait a bit if it means saving a significant amount of money.