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Movin' on up :D

August 1st, 2016 at 06:42 pm

Hello! It has been a while since I have posted. Part of it is that I have been busy, a bit has been me just taking a step away from tracking our finances now that our income has increased significantly (with my finally getting a job!). Moving from living on a grad student salary (25,000 a year) to 62,000 combined has been a big shift! I feel so relieved, and it has been so nice not to feel like I needed to track everything so carefully. I've also been able to see the doctor about an ongoing medical condition I have that was a bit out of whack.

However, now that I've had time away from tracking our finances, I find I miss it! I also notice that in the last month or so we've been spending a bit more than usual--this past month, when I looked at our credit card statement (we always pay off our credit cards each month) and realized that last month we spent around $1,200 (so including rent--which was just raised $15--that was around $2,000 for the month). And we're only two people. With no major medical issues. Or car repairs. Or...anything, in particular. Wasn't even a month we had to pay insurance. Sigh.

HOWEVER, regardless of my semi-mindless tracking/planning of the spending, being used to spending so little (and continuing to make most meals at home) has helped us make good progress on our goals Big Grin! Most significantly, yesterday I sent our LAST PAYMENT to my student loan (*happy dance!!!!*). When I clicked "submit" I air punched at the computer monitor for a good five-ten seconds...DH looked at me all bewildered, and when I told him I was sending the last payment he was like "oh, cool!" and went back to his paper lol

So, progress! Our net worth is also no longer negative! Since December 2015, we've improved our standing by almost $20,000. Here's where we're at now:

August 1, 2016 ($17,585.83)

Debt: -$5,500
(My remaining student loan: BIG FAT ZERO as of July 31, 2016)
(DH's student loan: $5,500 - not in repayment, not accruing interest)

Non-debt: $23,085.83
(EF: $5,976.81)
(Checking/buffer: $550)
(Roth 403b: $13,219.84)
(Roth IRA: $297.05)
(House fund: $2,236.20)
(Early retirement fund: $805.93)

(Travel savings: 1,023.50 - I don't count this toward net worth, I consider it already spent)

I remember when I wrote the goals on my sidebar, and thought they were really ambitious. Now that we're 7 months through 2016, I feel like maybe I was too tame! We're going to kick the butt of those goals (it's been no problem stashing the $1,500 from my paycheck into retirement, since we're used to me not getting a paycheck at all :P and next month we'll hit our emergency fund goal, and we've already met the goal for increasing our downpayment fund), so I'm thinking about making some new goals...but my dental saga is still not over, so I don't want to set us up for failure. I'll have to talk it over with the marital unit and see.

In the meantime, for now, I'm just going to start monitoring our spending a bit and trying to trim wherever possible. I've got my eye on you, grocery spending! And I'm going to start walking/biking to work instead of taking the bus (I always walk home, I've just been lazy in the mornings)

OH, the BEST thing about me working again? Now that it's super hot I allow us to turn on our window AC unit when it gets unbearably hot. SUCH an amazing luxury in this heat and humidity. Oh, but this month I realized I was an idiot before, since using the AC last month whenever it was hot in the bedroom (where we have the AC) RAISED OUR ELECTRIC BILL BY LESS THAN $5. It's a new, small unit (our apartment complex provides and installs AC units as part of the rent) and we have thermal curtains in our small bedroom...so I guess that shouldn't have been a huge surprise. But I swear I thought the bill would have gone up like $20-$30 a month at least...DH has been teasing me mercilessly the last two days, since last summer I didn't let us have the AC installed lol

New Job

October 21st, 2015 at 12:00 pm

It has been a long time since I last posted--mostly because it got so discouraging being out of work (8 months). Anyway, I accepted a job offer at a local university and am just waiting for the last few things to be finalized and if all goes well I start on Nov 2nd! I'm very excited but also don't quite feel it is real...it's strange.

Anyway, if it does go through, I'll be doing exactly what I've always wanted to do and be earning a good salary for my area--37,000 a year--which is like a fifth of what a lot of you make, but it is a lot to my and the husband's budget (more than doubling our income! lol..)

So..fingers crossed! I'm so very much hoping HR doesn't hate me...

I'll update here later. I've enjoyed reading everyone else's progress, and hope to FINALLY be able to share some of my own...

July wrap-up, overspending but still paid some debt down!

August 6th, 2015 at 01:45 pm

This month's spending was a bit higher than desired...but was somewhat expected because my mom was here for over half the month. Also, some health expenses and 6 month car insurance

Still no job Frown BUT I do have an interview for a position on Monday. Hopefully that pans out. I really put a hold on any job-hunt stuff while mom was here--it had been a long time since I'd seen her, so I don't regret it. Anyway, now I've been getting down to business! And I just got time to look over last month's finances. I tracked eeeevery single thing, so it was really depressing since we spent waaay more than usual because we took mom out to some activities (all free or low cost, but it still adds up!)

Heeere it is:
790 - Rent

34.79 - Electric bill

60 - Dental bill payment

50 - Our cell phone bill

52.43 - Gasoline (Uuuugh, we never have to fill up twice in a month! Hopefully we don't need to fill up again in August..)

312.33 - Groceries (food for three adults is more expensive than for two adults!)

22.46 - Household (misc. toiletries and cleaners)

149.30 - Car insurance (good for 6 mos starting in late August), eye insurance add-on

20 - DH bus passes (DH has been busing instead of walking)

20 - Laundry

104.62 - DH's spending (including one expensive meal that he covered for his friend that I don't think we'll be getting back. DH thinks he will, but this isn't the first time, lol)

56.15 - My spending (mom and I went out of state to visit family, I covered some of the travel expenses, and purchased supplies for a volunteer project)

7.99 - Netflix (my favorite luxury after coffee!)

42 - Eye exam for DH...he needs new glasses, he's choosing now

187.06 - Entertainment and dining out (minor league ball game, entrance fees to nat'l parks, etc.)

Sooo... this month we spent $1,909.13! That exceeds monthly income by $141.13...meh. Could be worse. We did plan to use some of our travel money for while mom was here, but I'm trying to avoid that.

I'm already planning ways to cut back this month, but I know we have some other expenses--DH needs some books and glasses (~$300 total?). Sooo I'm trying to cut back on grocery costs and whatever else I can.

Of course, more than anything right now I'm just trying to get a job (that I enjoy). Ugh, it can be so discouraging

June wrap-up, no job progress

July 1st, 2015 at 01:07 pm

Sooo...I haven't been much in the mood to write anything lately, just been keeping up reading other blogs. I've started volunteering with two local nonprofits and attending workshops at an employment agency nearby. Those workshops have actually been very helpful! I learned a lot of things about how the job selection process works--especially the now widespread use of scanning programs to sift through resumes submitted (especially those submitted online). Apparently there are a ton of things that you can do to your resume that can get it "misread" or "rejected", so I'm working on re-formatting my resume (and also editing it based on other things they taught in the workshops). They have a ton of helpful (and free!) resources and counselors.

I feel a little more hopeful now. I know the best way to get a job is through personal/professional connections, but I have virtually no network here...soo having to slog through the less-effective methods (applying online, mostly).

Oh! When I met with one of the counselors, he asked if I'd put my student loans on deferment--I said no, b/c I thought I didn't qualify since DH has income. Apparently I was wrong! I was granted unemployment deferment, and since it is a subsidized loan, it isn't accruing any interest in the meantime. That's ~$58 a month we don't have to pay until I get a job! (Good especially b/c premiums are due soonish for car/renters/dental insurance)

Anyhow, my mom will be visiting soon, but I won't stop with the job-searching--just tone it down a bit while she's here. I've planned out some fun (and cheap) activities to do while she's here, but our weather has been a little unpredictable lately (rain!).

So June spending was better than I expected (I expected it to be baaaad). I knew we spent nearly $600 in unplanned laptop replacement and car repair (yikes! For many people here that's a tiny percentage of incoming funds, but for us that represents about 30% of our monthly income). I'm going to do a better job of tracking spending this month, because I can't properly sort our charges at the end of the month. I do know that we spent a ridiculously low amount on groceries (b/c of the pantry challenge, and generally trying to cook more frugal than usual meals, anticipating high bills at end of month)...oh, and I took 250 out of our travel savings to cover part of our spending while DH's friends were visiting. Even with all that, we didn't go too much below where we were before (partially because I deposited random cash from around the apt resulting from my stupid habit of taking cash out to go to the farmers market, not spending it all, then just put it down in random places whenever I realize it's in my pocket)

Debt: $11,645.10 ($100 down!)
(My remaining student loan: $5,254.10 - in deferment, 0% interest)
(DH's student loan: $5,500 - not in repayment)
(Dental bill: $891 - 0% interest until late 2016)

Non-debt: $8546.05 (-$9....booo!)
(EF: $5,000)
(Checking/buffer: $1,616.83 - this increased b/c I deposited the cash we had laying around the apt)
(Travel savings: $1,753.64)
(Retirement: $175.58)

In happy news, retirement savings is up! We're going to try for $75 a month.

Well, off to work on resume some more, I'm going to meet with a counselor tomorrow

Didn't get the job :(

June 24th, 2015 at 02:08 pm

Sigh. I've been looking for and applying to other jobs. DH's response to my frustration is virtually always "why don't you take some time off?" which would be nice, aside from the fact that I've been "off" work for about four months. I'm not even really sure what I'm doing so wrong! I've even gone to those resume review things offered by our library. Meh.

Anyway, I've just finished applying to a temp agency. I think part of the problem is that I don't have enough experience (or as much as the other people applying) for the permanent positions I've been applying for. Temp positions pay much less (pay is around $9-10 per hour, a sneeze away from minimum wage here), but hopefully that way I can manage to get more experience and maybe try to fanagle myself into something more long-term.

Last night I felt super crappy after hearing I didn't get the job, so DH surprised me with carry-out (paid for with his personal spending allowance) so I wouldn't have to cook and could just wallow and watch crappy TV. Very grateful to have a supportive partner

In any case, I've decided to only spend 5 hours a day job-searching, the rest doing housework/cooking/exercising and starting to volunteer (I loved volunteering where we lived before and I've found some good opportunities here). This way I won't feel overwhelmingly like a failure when my 8+ hours a day in job searching/applying doesn't yield quick results

Personal spending money changes and determination of monthly goals

June 19th, 2015 at 01:06 pm

So since I quit my job (in February), we decreased our personal spending money from $20 per week to $10 per week. I generally didn't spend most of this, and just threw whatever I didn't spend at the student loans (now just one loan). DH, on the other hand, likes to eat lunch out during the week and would often spend his entire $20 on eating out (his friends often spend 4 times this per week). Yesterday I was going over our budget with him to figure out how much we can save for retirement (from his pay alone), and he requested that we re-up the personal spending money to $20 per week. Personal spending money will now also be what we use to buy family/friend gifts/cards/postage (not including nuclear fam Christmas gifts--though I'm going to try to figure out some more frugal options for these) and clothing.

I've agreed to the change, as he has been so good about honoring the rest of our budget (he loves to spend, so I know this must have been difficult!) and this way I can budget for gifts and clothing more easily. I need some new clothes, but since it isn't specifically budgeted for, I feel guilty to spend anything (since it seems like such a personal expense).

Soo...adjusting our budget. It looks like we will be trying to save at least $75 per month for retirement (more once I get a job). This past month was a little strange because of the car repair and the laptop purchase, but next month should be better. My mom is coming to visit in July, but she's pretty low-key and likes frugal activities (as a single mom of 3, she is very used to finding low-cost, fun things to do Smile!). She's not in a great place financially--especially retirement-wise--for her age, so we'll be paying for everything (she's covering airfare). I don't expect her being here to radically change our budget, though--and outings will be covered by our travel savings fund.

Next month I am going to try to track ALL of our expenses. I've been a bit loosey-goosey lately, guestimating the budget amounts and all...I was planning on going over our statements at the end of the month to separate everything out...but without receipts I can't categorize everything properly since I honestly can't remember what I bought at Target/Sams/wherever like two weeks ago...

Oh, also had an ahhh crap moment when I realized that our various insurance policies cost more than I previously estimated...it all works out to $910 per year (before I estimated just under $800). I forgot to include our roadside assistance in there and under-remembered our renter's insurance. So per month that's about $10 more than I estimated. I don't like "saving up" for these though, since they're staggered enough to where I can cash flow them.

In other news, I'm fairly certain I didn't get the job I interviewed for Frown...bleh. Time to start looking again. I guess the worst thing that could happen is I don't work in July and get to spend more time with my mom Smile

Also, not gonna lie, not working rocks. But it's also a bit rough--we would be able to save so much more if we were a dual-income household!

Weekend happenings...happy times, spending, and mini-rant

June 15th, 2015 at 11:41 am

This weekend we had some of DH's friends (C and V) over--we went to Niagara Falls and took them around our town. Most of the trip was super fun! Also, we spent only a little bit above what I was expecting.

61.45 Groceries/beer purchased before they arrived for breakfasts and one dinner
25.53 Gasoline (filled up tank, we still have 1/4 left)
13.20 Coffee for the four of us
59.32 Lunch for the four of us
76.00 Passes to various Niagara attractions for DH and me (C and V paid their own passes!!)
97.42 Dinner for the four of us
15.00 Lunch for DH and I
5.00 Tasting at brewery for Dh and I
-----
352.90

Overall, we paid only a little more than I had planned. Part of that is b/c we were told the night before their arrival that V had certain dietary restrictions and that her doctor demanded she adhere to a strict type of diet (intolerance to a long list of things, will only eat certain approved brands of foods, must be 100% organic, etc.). I didn't mind accommodating this at first, since (as a vegan) I always appreciate it when a host takes the care to accommodate my dietary preference. This is why our grocery bill was so high for just the few days they were here. A lot of that was in organic nuts, organic fruits, particular type of organic tea, gluten free organic bread and organic fruit juice (what we were told she has to eat for breakfast). Interestingly enough...her diet apparently does NOT extend to meals or snacks out (where she ate absolutely anything!). The only time she ate the special foods on her "diet" were breakfasts and the dinner at home we cooked (we couldn't find a local restaurant to accommodate her diet). Then...when they left this morning...I noticed they took a bunch of our food from our pantry and fridge! When I went to make breakfast and saw they'd taken all our nuts, dried fruit, hummus, a bunch of tea, leftover enchiladas I made the day before they came (and they jacked the glass container they were in too!), juice, and misc canned goods (????). DH said I shouldn't make a deal of it, since they had a long train ride ahead and if they had asked I would have said yes...but that isn't the point! Who the heck takes a bunch of food without asking?!

Whatever. I can say that the one bright point of having them with us was when they offered to pay for parking at Niagara Falls, which cost $20. They didn't cover us for anything else, but that $20 is the first time they've chipped in for our share of anything.

What's even more annoying is that C frequently bragged about how he makes twice what DH does...sigh. Anyway, overall the trip was pretty fun, and DH and I got to spend some romantic time alone at NF--so it was well worth it! DH was also very happy to see his friend C. I've already vented to mom, so I'm going to try to just remember the happy parts of this past weekend (there were many fun and happy parts!!) and let go of the frustration/judgement with/about C and V.

Anyway, I'm off to go catch up on reading other blogs and prepare more for my interview tomorrow!

Loooong entry...recent/upcoming goings on

June 8th, 2015 at 10:09 am

Apologies in advance for the super long entry, I've been busy preparing for my interview last Friday, and then going on frugal outings (walking in the park by our apt and going to Canal Days in Fairport--including a rubber duck race!).

Pantry challenge is going well--which is good, since DH has had some social engagements (advisor-related and networking) that he spent some money at (but he kept it to drinks, not dinners!). Anyhow, this week I spent $20 on produce, coffee, bagels and stuff for DH's lunches (sandwich bread, pretzels, strawberry jam). That should last us thru Friday--when we have out-of-town guests coming in (DH's friend and his gf) neither of whom I am a huge fan of...ugh. But I'll play the good hostess. And then vent my face off to my mom. lol.

DH's friends want us to show them around here and take them to Niagara Falls (1.5-2 hours away). We'll be dipping into our travel savings for this...knowing his friends, they will likely expect us to pay for everything (even though they basically invited themselves to our place. Didn't ask. Just sent dates they were going to be staying with us). Before we moved to NY, they wanted to come and visit our place--I planned dinner and everything, then a couple hours before they came they called and said there was this place in the area they really wanted to try and asked if we'd be up for going out instead of staying in. We said yes, then when we got the bill, DH put in $110 and handed it to his friend, who refused to pay, saying that they had come to visit US and had not expected to pay. Ugh. It was like $200 before tip (and his gf's drinks alone were like $50 of that). If we had invited them out, or even chosen this place, I would not have had a problem paying the whole bill--but they're the ones who wanted to go out! Double ugh. In any case, I told DH to let his friend know in no uncertain terms that we would NOT be paying for all their expenses (they want to do boat outing, private tour, fancy dinner, etc. etc.). I'm SO not looking forward having these people in my apartment Friday-Monday...but this guy is one of DH's favorite college friends...so I'll get over it. I should really try to get a more positive attitude about it. Breathe.....

Anyway, in relation to the job search: I got an email from the director of the foundation last Wednesday requesting an in-person interview. I chose the earliest available time (Friday morning) and so spent the next 40 hours prepping. I think the interview went well--but I really have no idea about what the other people applying for the job are like or what their qualifications are. I'll know mid-this-week if I'm getting called back for the third (supposedly final) interview round. There are an awful number of hoops to jump through in this process of applying for a part-time job that I don't even know the hourly pay for. Sigh.

Since I started the process of applying for this job, I haven't been looking into other job possibilities since I'm really hoping for this one. But at this point, 3+ weeks in, I'm wondering why I didn't start looking for a backup. Ugh. I'm going to start looking again, once I plan out what we're going to do with the...lovely people...coming to visit Fri-Mon.

Mrs. Frugalista’s Pantry/freezer challenge

June 2nd, 2015 at 07:15 am

I’m also taking up Mrs. Frugalista’s pantry/freezer challenge. It turns out that my freezer is more overstocked than the pantry. Sooo… I guess that it is good that I did not do my shopping this weekend, because we have more than enough. I’m very much a fan of the all-in-one dishes, so this is nowhere near as fancy as LuckyRobin's (whose garden sounds awesome!). I have a ton of frozen vegetables, giant bag of onions, sack o sweet potatoes, and misc rando produce

Anyhow, I figured it so I don’t have to do any shopping this week:
Dinners:
Monday (yesterday) – Cold citrus noodle salad
Tuesday – Roasted sweet potatoes with kidney beans, spinach salad
Wednesday – Veggie stir fry with tofu and rice
Thursday – Pasta bake, side of broccoli
Friday – leftover pasta bake, side green beans
Saturday – Fried rice with sweet potatoes
Sunday – Veggie burgers with oven fries

I’ll have to do some shopping next week—since I’ll be out of coffee (whaaaaaaaat! I know, I know...it's not good for you...and probably technically a violation of the pantry challenge...but there it is) and a couple of fresh produce items for the dinners below. I eat leftovers for lunch, husband likes to bring sandwiches to work—so we’ll need more bread and pretzels. We’ll also need more bagels.
Next week:
Monday – Inari sushi and edamame
Tuesday – Chili with brown rice
Wednesday – Linguine with lentil sauce
Thursday – Sweet potato enchiladas (I’ve got a bunch of sweet potatoes—can you tell?)
Friday – Rigatoni w/ eggplant, artichoke hearts and roasted red bell peppers
Saturday – Leftover sweet potato enchiladas
Sunday – Lemony red lentil soup

I’ll see where our pantry stands after the second week to see if I can squeeze anything else out of there. We have a ton of frozen stir fry that I have not included much of above. We have enough baking stuff for weekend waffles and the bolillo to go with Sunday chilaquiles, so that’s good. I also have some cake flour left from when I baked our wedding cake (last July) that ehhh I’m not sure is still good. Does flour go bad? I couldn’t find an expiry date.

Budget

May 31st, 2015 at 06:26 pm

Hmmm…I clicked post, but the entry didn't show up on my page. Fortunately, I wrote most of it in Word so I didn’t have to re-write most of the below post--but if it shows as being posted twice, I apologize!

First some good news—we got a good deal on husband’s computer, which only cost $422 (we couldn’t just get the most basic, since he uses it for programming and stuff). I was hoping to keep this under $500, and it was! And since it’s a Lenovo, we’re hoping it lasts through the end of grad school. Also, our car repair ended up only costing $95—the struts didn’t need to be replaced, it was just something with the suspension! Since unexpected expense only totals $517 we won’t need to go into my buffer or the EF. Yay !

So now on to our budget—I’m super motivated to find at least a TIIINY bit that we can put towards retirement. Of course, what really needs to happen is I need to get a job (had a phone interview last week, and will hopefully be scheduling an in-person interview in couple days—fingers crossed!)

1769 Monthly income—husband is a grad student, I’m not working right now
-790 Rent—included in our rent is internet and all utilities but electricity
-40 Electric bill—this is usually upper 20s unless we use the AC, but I prefer to round up the budget to be safe
-332 Groceries—this is budgeted at 75 a week, but we’re usually closer to 65. Fortunately (for our budget), we don’t have any little mouths to feed (not for a couple more years, at least!), so it’s just the two of us.
-80 Eating out—in case we feel like going out! We’ll spend this at one go in special months like anniversary if we do a day trip. Other times we go out a couple times a month with friends or on date nights. I think we could cut back here…
-30 Gasoline—we have an old Saturn so it doesn’t take much gas(since it is basically made of plastic). We also don’t have to drive much—mostly just weekends for outings and groceries. Husband buses/walks to work depending on weather
-8 Netflix—we don’t have cable and like to watch movies! I’d really rather not cut this.
-50 Cell phones—we each have a cell phone…we consider this a necessary expense
-25 Laundry—coin-op in our building, we aren’t allowed to have a machine in our apt
-86 Personal spending—we each get 10 a week for whatever we want. Husband uses his b/c he likes to go out to lunch sometimes—I don’t usually use mine
-10 Cleaning supplies and toiletries
-118 Debt payments (student loan and dentist)
-65 Car, renters, and dental insurance
----
130 (usually closer to 200, depending on other expenses that come up)

Since I’m not working now, I just let this overage accumulate to pay for periodic expenses I’m not sure how to plan for like gifts and various necessary costs (like car repair, new computer, clothes)…but this builds up more than necessary. Somebody commented on my previous post about what a difference just $50 a month makes over time…so I think starting this month (June!) we’re going to try that. We have my buffer fund and an emergency fund, but for some reason it’s tough for me psychologically to have us cut it so close at the end of each month.

Anyhow, if you have any advice/suggestions, feel free to comment! The husband does NOT enjoy financial discussions, and any conversation I try to start about our budget and financial goals gets met with him saying he trusts me to figure it out and that he’ll go along with whatever. Ugh. I love the man, but he can be so frustrating sometimes.

Getting to terms with our present financial situation...

May 30th, 2015 at 05:54 pm

I decided to join this site as a way of keeping myself accountable and motivating myself (as the budget-handler of the house) to keep us on track to eliminate our debt and start saving for retirement. I found this site shortly after I started trying to plan for longer-term goals (like retirement) and was impressed with how so many people here were having success in building toward their goals--I hope to do the same! Below is my work-up of our current financial state.

My student loan: $5,310 (yikes! but much better than the $12,000+ it was when it entered repayment in February...paid most of that down with my previous job, but since I quit we've only been making around $60 payments each month..interest rate is 4.25% This is the debt we most want to get rid of ASAP)

Husband's student loan: $5,500 (but since he's in grad school, and this is a subsidized loan, it is currently deferred and not accruing interest. Since there will be a 6 month grace period between when he graduates and when this goes into repayment, I don't consider this a priority to save for...especially since he's got another four-five years. I think saving for retirement is probably a more pressing need)

Dental bill: $924 (root canal...ugh. In any case, this is at 0% financing for 18mos, so we're paying $60 a month to get it paid off well within the promotional period)

Total debt: $11,746 (OUCH)

That is rather high. Fortunately we don't have any credit card debt...we use credit cards for groceries and gas whenever possible for the rewards, but we have always paid the full balances off each month.

In terms of savings, we are doing reasonably well...aside from retirement savings (whiiich amounts to nothing).

Emergency fund: $5,037

Travel savings: $2,000 (for visit back home and for going out with friends/fam who are visiting this summer)

Buffer: $1450 (built up when I was getting ready to leave my previous job, to deal with non-emergency overages in our budget)

Retirement: $50 (so not even kidding. This is terrible...as soon as I get a new job, we'll be working on this in tandem with my student loan..especially since the interest rates on retirement accounts is generally higher than the 4.25% interest we're paying on my student loan)

Total savings: $8,537

So we have a negative net worth! Of -$3,209! Ack!

Well, of course as soon as I started trying to buckle down with our finances, unexpected necessary spending comes up! Sooo... I'm off to go figure out if we're going to need to dip into our buffer to pay for the unexpected expenses of a computer (husband's died and will cost more to fix than replace...unfortunately this is necessary for his research. Hoping to keep this cost under $500...we'll see) and necessary car repair (we were quoted $800 at one shop, now it's at a shop where they quoted $350...we'll see what comes of it). Fingers crossed!