Getting out of the financial quicksand.

We've been in a financial "hole" for a few months now. Things were ok til late Spring, then it all went bad as I have blogged about before. I probably could have gotten us out of it before now, but we were committed to the trip to Florida to see the ailing grandparents. Each month, just as I think we're going to get pulled out of it, we get dragged down again. So, this hole, isn't just a hole.  It's filled with quicksand.

I just spent this afternoon working on the budget again and this time I really tried to stick to how we actually spend money, what could wait til the next paycheck and how much we really spend on groceries etc. Unfortunately it happens to be the first week of school, which means having to pack lunches again. I'm going to apply for reduced lunches just in case. I never know when the limits might change. If we paid full price for breakfast and lunch at school for all 3 kids 5 days a week, it comes to $240 a month! That's insane! That's a car payment! If we got on reduced meals, it would cost $42 a month for all 3 kids for both meals a day!  can't there be some middle ground there?!!?

Anyway, that's another rant altogether.

So, anyway, I sat and did the budget again, right? And I find myself wishing I didn't have all these piddly bills that come out of overdraft each month. Thankfully my computer is almost paid for, and I swear if I ever get anything on rent to own again SLAP ME!   I have stopped paying for Rhiannon and Faelyn's phone minutes. That's a complete luxury.  While I do prefer them to have a phone if they're at school and need to stay over for instance, I just have to make cuts where I can. If they want minutes, they'll have to pay for them themselves.  They do get money from a farm program they're in as well as working odd jobs for grandparents. I'm going to call the local collection agency that's been charging my debit card every two weeks as part of the payoff plan I arranged with them. I'm hoping they'll be ok with letting me skip a month and just tack it on at the end. I've been paying $100 a month on it, and the bill was around $600 so I think it'll be paid off by Christmas at least if we skip August.
I've also been paying monthly on Hubby's cardiologist bill that had gone a long time without any payments, so it went to collections too.  I set up a payment plan with them that comes out automatically as well. I can't really get that one to stop for a month.  What kills me though is that we got the latest bill for this year's stress test and it's another $1200 AFTER insurance. SIGH!  Thank GOD he doesn't have them every 6 months!  They actually will take $25 payments, but I'll be paying on that dr bill forever... oh well, guess it's what we have to do to keep his ticker ticking. But anyway, I've not even made the first payment yet, and it's gone 60 days now I think, so I have to make a payment on it in Sept to keep it out of collections. So, no way to cut something there, and actually should be paying more.
Nothing else really to cut unless we cut back even more on groceries and gas.  We never go anywhere as it is, though we did have to put the last of what we had in the gas tank to go to the funeral home an hour away a couple days ago. I can't really cut on groceries due to having to pack lunches now, so I really ought to be budgeting more for groceries, cause we'll probably spend more on food.  I have tried to make the budget realistic though and I HAVE to stick to it.  The budget even includes using the full overdraft protection we have which I hate cause they charge such a huge fee of $29 for each item.  That's $29 I could pay on the Dr bill or groceries, etc.  It makes me physically ill when I see there's been an overdraft fee and I didn't realize it would happen, due to something going through I'd either forgotten about or an annual renewal thing I totally wasn't expecting or just bad math in my checkbook.

So, we have to:
1. Make a realistic budget.
2. Contact creditors about deferral of payments for a month.
4. Write down EVERYTHING in the checkbook.
5. Don't pretend overdraft fees won't happen. Don't be surprised when they happen.
6. If schools have to have down payments for big trips right away, ask about the kids work program for them.
7.  STICK TO THE BUDGET - yes it needed saying again.
8. Try to get overtime at work.

I haven't had a chance to go as far as October in the budget. Also, I don't see much reason getting too far ahead anymore. Things always happen. What I do have done for September looks very good. We'll finally get caught up on the house payment, so October's should be fully paid on time. I really pray that we never ever ever get behind on it again.  in fact, I'm making a list of things I'd like to do with the next tax refund, and making an extra house payment is at the top of the list.  I want to be at least one whole month ahead.

I had originally planned on being completely debt free by the middle of this year, (not counting the house.) According to that budget, we would have done it by September, maybe even August.  Now I'll just be happy if we can really get back on track and just not be behind on anything by the end of the year.

I'm doubting we'll even go on a trip for our 20th Anniversary. I don't know.  Maybe if I can find a good deal on something nearby in the Smokies, we'll just go there. Leave the beach til next year.