Monthly Wrap Up
Already we’re at the end of February, and I’m happy to report that I made up the gap from January and am ahead of schedule for my annual goal with a current savings of $1,082.86! That means that I put $968.86 into the emergency fund just in the month of February. Wow! A big chunk of that, over $550, was a reimbursement from overpaid health care, but I still was able to make $409 this month, before including payments for February’s mystery shops or refunds I’m waiting on. Not too shabby!
I’m still working on my Medi-Cal application, but the kids are covered while they’re evaluating our paperwork. I learned that our assets are too high to qualify us for Medi-Cal, but they don’t consider assets for kids, so they are covered. As you might imagine, our assets are not especially high, but you can’t have more than $3,000 in combined assets to get Medi-cal, and a small 401(k) from a previous employer, the average balance on our regular checking account (which is down to next to nothing by the end of the month), and this growing emergency fund push us over that amount. We will likely be using the San Mateo ACE program once all the paperwork goes through, which has an $8,000 asset limit.
Having the full $6,000 in an emergency fund will likely put us over the asset limit for ACE. Since our income doesn’t give us the flexibility to pay out of pocket for health care, I’ll need to readjust our savings plan at some point this year so that we continue to qualify for the county plan. I’m sticking my head in the sand on that until I come to it, though. I’m not willing to liquidate the meager 401(k) and pay the penalties so that we have a full emergency fund.
I’m not sure I made my 21 no-spend days goal, but if I don’t include mystery shops (which I consider work, as I’m being paid and reimbursed for whatever I spend out of pocket) I’m pretty close. I’m going to keep the goal of 21 days in March, again not including food, gas, regular bills, or mystery shops.
I’m expecting $453.00 for mystery shops (including reimbursements), $32.00 from mail in rebates, $11.29 from Ebates and $26.50 from Surveyhead (that’s taking awhile!). I’ve done more surveys but haven’t cashed out yet.
Once I get the payments for mystery shops, I will have gotten for free in February: a brake check, oil check, children’s clothes, paint, beauty supplies, a night of bowling, several meals, an eye exam (which I really needed!), and a house plant.
In February, I also did a MAJOR declutter of the dining room, painted (with paint from a mystery shop), and it is a clean, livable, and in my opinion, beautiful space now. Come back Monday for the after pictures!
Goals for March
1. Stick to a zero-based, envelope budget, using only cash.
2. Call to negotiate the price on more of our services – cell phone, car insurance, etc. Watch for a few more Dialing for Dollars articles in March!
3. Save or earn $449.14 to stay on track for my annual goals.
4. Finish paperwork on Medi-Cal, college for the fall, and preschool for Peanut.
5. All meals at home except for mystery shops. (This is still a tough one for me!)
6. Attack the closets with decluttering fury! I’m feeling so good about the dining room and want to bring the rest of the house up to its standards. This month, the focus is on our four small closets and a wall of cabinets in the living room – all of our personal storage space.
7. No-Spend days – 21; No-Drive days – 14
Income – $1,700 (I did some work this month for the family business and will make about $200)
(We get food stamps, so food is not accounted for in our budget.)
Savings – $100
Rent and utilities – $1,000
Car payment – $200
Gas – $70
Household expenses – $49 (toilet paper, dish soap, diapers, etc.)
Mystery shops (will be reimbursed) – $100
Irregular Expenses – $181
How I came to the amount of irregular expenses:
Renter’s Insurance – $230
Car Insurance – $700
Smog Check, Car registration – $160
Clothes and shoes – $600
Household items – $480
Annual total: $2170
/12 = $181/month
We don’t pay for utilities out of pocket; they’re included in our rent, explained here. On months that I don’t work, I don’t put away as much for irregular expenses, use less in gas or household expenses, reserve money that would go to the emergency fund, or pull from it for things we need (such as chairs this month, and my ticket and traffic school last month.)
I was asked about preschool: my son was isn’t currently in school. He was in preschool before our cut in income, at which time I had to pull him as I couldn’t continue to pay the $300 a month. He was in a Head Start program for the first semester of this school year but it was a poor fit for him for reasons I will not discuss here. I have found a subsidized program at another local preschool and am working on getting him in there now. It would be really wonderful for our family, as they’ll also take both kids full time in the fall while I go to school. Think happy preschool thoughts for us that this will work for us!