Our finances are a mess. Last November, we had everything go wrong at the same time and it drained our emergency fund. And when I say everything, I mean it — the garage door opener, furnace, hot water heater, and more. It was brutal.
And then I was let go from my job.
Womp womp womp.
The Day I Got Fired
Getting fired wasn’t entirely unexpected. I worked for a judge and it was his last term, so a new judge was starting on January 1, 2019. According to Michigan law, my position was appointed directly by the judge.
With a new judge coming in, I knew my job was in jeopardy. Basically, the new judge has the power to either re-appoint me to the position or to appoint someone else. They chose to appoint someone else. (There is a lot more to the story, but it’s politically-charged and I’d rather not get into it here.)
So, on December 31, 2018, I no longer had a job.
If I’m being honest, a big part of me was relieved. I’d felt unfulfilled for quite a while and had spent the past two years building a freelance writing business on the side. Juggling both the writing and a full time job along with being a mom, wife, and volunteer was tough. And now I wouldn’t have to.
With my writing income, we weren’t entirely screwed financially. After talking it over with the hubs, we decided it was a good opportunity for me to pursue writing full time.
Preparing for the Lost Wages
Since I no longer had a regular paycheck coming in, it was time to make a plan. Andrew and I were tasked with figuring out how to pay our bills and replenish our emergency fund on half of the income we were used to.
In true money-nerd fashion, I made a spreadsheet. (I LOVE spreadsheets!)
First, I listed Andrew’s income at the top and put a low estimate of what I thought I could bring in from writing each month. Then I made two columns: one was for fixed/necessary expenses and the other for discretionary spending.
At this point, we’re basically in full-emergency mode. If it wasn’t the mortgage, electric or gas bill, or basic groceries, it was considered discretionary. If we had to skip a few credit card payments and ruin our credit so we didn’t lose our house, then that’s what we’d have to do!
The good news is we could make it work on paper, even with the credit card payments. It would be tight, but we could do it.
Knowing I had to hustle to make money so we keep the lights on and food on the table, I got to work. And in that first week of being self-employed, I got three new clients.
Whew. Huge sigh of relief.
I’m still not at my full earning potential, but at least I have some money coming in!
Our February Budget
I want to share the balances of our debt. But this post is already getting long, so I’ll do that another time.
For now, I want to share our budget for February. Yes, I know the month is half over… the truth is I’ve been planning this post for weeks. But sharing your finances is scary when things aren’t going well and I’ve been afraid.
Today, I’m punching fear in the face!
So here’s our February budget:
- Mortgage: $1,141
- Clarinet payment for Nora: $30
- Auto insurance: $304
- Utilities: $205
- Car payments: $571
- Credit card payments: $492
- Student loans: $51
- Cell phones: $157
- Life insurance: $191
- Netflix/WWE Network: $21
- Internet: $45
- Groceries: $400
- Prescriptions & doctor bills: $283
- Gas: $175
- Entertainment: $70
- Personal care: $85
- Everything else: $50
Mortgage. Our mortgage payment will be lower next month. There was a problem with our taxes and that messed up our escrow account, but it’ll finally be fixed starting March 1st.
Car payments. Having two car payments sucks. I don’t recommend it.
Student Loans. This is only Andrew’s payment. I was able to have my student loan payment deferred for six months because I’m technically unemployed, and that’s helping our budget right now while I build up my writing income.
Entertainment. We bought tickets for WWE Raw late last year and the show is this month. We can’t sneak food into the venue (they check our bags), so we’ll need money for soda or a snack. Plus, we have to pay for parking.
Personal care. This is for mostly haircuts. Andrew was brave and let me cut his hair last week (it didn’t turn out terrible haha), and I can sacrifice a haircut to save money, so we probably won’t use it.
So, That’s It
Well, there you have it. Our plan to spend our money this month. I have no idea if it will work. Being self-employed is terrifying! If I take a vacation day or can’t work because I’m sick, I don’t get paid.
But on the plus side, we’re saving money on gas because I don’t have to drive to work. Plus, I basically have unlimited vacation days and can take time off whenever I want.
This experience has been a test of my faith. God has a plan. Even though I’m scared and have no idea what’s in store for us, I’m moving forward.
Sometimes in life, you have to do it scared and trust in God’s plan.