Feeling the burn

Not the Bernie burn. The financial burn. I got paid from my last job, a bit less since it wasn’t from a whole pay period, but I did overtime so it was ok. But I won’t get paid until 1/20 for the new job. In the meantime, I had to pay one month’s rent at the apartment ($3100), all of the travel expenses, M’s preschool and swimming, etc. Here’s how the trip worked out:

$362.80 for all hotels (6 nights) for an average of $60.47 per night. My awesome travel credit card gave me a travel credit of $192.18 which means the total was actually: $170.62 which is $28.44 per night!

Gas: $199.72, google estimated $180 for the trip so this was right on, since google didn’t account for side trip to Sedona or other short excursions.

Play: $15 for indoor play areas total (thanks to my science center membership which gets us into so many places for free).

Sight-seeing: $268- Sedona parking, grand canyon entrance fee, Pink Jeep tour

Gift shop purchase: $27.75 (needed gloves for me and M, and beer for NYE)

Food: $331.01, $85 more than I estimated. One grocery trip, three restaurants, one pizza order.

Travel credit from credit card: $53.87

Grand total: $948.23

My travel money from the agency will be $500, my sign-on bonus $500, and my license reimbursement $149. So I come out on top with $201.77 to spare! Yay me!

Now I just need to start getting paid my normal salary to pay for this rent and preschool and everything else here in SF.


November spending

Alright let’s see what happened here.

The 2nd half of our Hong Kong to Canada leg cost me: $508.54
That’s meals and snacks, the hotel, the Dreams Come True park… but this still seems like a lot.

Monthly bills: $2038.54 same as always

Groceries: $320.01… down by over $100 due mainly to being out of the country the first part of the month

Snacks and drinks and fast food: $22.76, because most of it is in the travel expenses.

Gas: $135, down over $100 again, thanks to travel in the first part of the month

Kids activities: $78.49 one movie and swimming lessons.

There was Christmas (I’m done with all my shopping) and some SF spending starting up (my bike and tandem attachment, registering M for her preschool).

Total in: $3121.44
Total out: $3735.56



feeling domestic and connected

I had my shit together today. After I picked up M from school, I cleaned out her room and reorganized the toys, rotating them out. After doing that she played for like three hours, as opposed to the zero hours she normally plays with her toys. We even played together and I really enjoyed it… We built a marble run and Legos, explored the world map together, and had some good tickle fights. It pains me to say that it has taken all this time to feel connected to my daughter again. I guess it’s like any relationship, with ups and downs, except there’s no option to call it quits (nor do I want there to be). I don’t know what the magic formula is, except maybe just time and self-care.

I also have procured housing and am exploring preschool/activity classes in SF as well as insurance options. I have my budget firmly mapped out, including expensive insurance and weekly activities, with enough over expenses to pay off my car, work on my nest egg, and get us through a month in Nepal. I was approved for a chase sapphire reserve which, if you haven’t heard, is the gold mine of credit cards for traveling. It comes with 100,000 sign on points which is worth $1500 in airline tickets. Next trip to Nepal = paid for. I just put my monthly expenses on it to get to the $4000 goal that is a prerequisite to the points.

Can I just say, though, that if you make more than $42,000 per year and therefore do not qualify for Obamacare assistance, the monthly premiums are insane. More than my mortgage insane. This country is so fucked up when you’re playing more than a mortgage to have health care for your family! I’m desperately jealous of countries with socialized healthcare.

Back to my good day. I scored a bicycle from a friend for $15. Got a bike lock and child tandem extension, too, so now all I need is my own helmet! Take that gas bill! I have someone to take care of my cat and my boss guaranteeing me a position when I’m back in Michigan at the end of May.

I cooked up dinner (including brussel sprouts from our own garden) and packed food for me at work tomorrow and my mom and M for home. Then M and I had a bath, read three books, and she was sawing logs five minutes after the light was out. Major score.

I’m feeling optimistic about our future being not just ok, but truly amazing. I’m also feeling grateful for all that is home, since we won’t be here all the time. It’s the best of both worlds.

October numbers

I don’t even want to spell it out. I went way over what I made, even spending less than $300 for the entire time I was in Nepal. Biggest problem is that all of my normal bills left me with about $700 leftover for everything else. And everything else was WAY more than that.

The places I saved was about $80 in gas, since I didn’t drive the last 10 days, and snacks and drinks, on which I spent less than $9. Kids activities spending was down by $115. Licensing was down by $300 (but it’s still an extra expense I won’t have next month).

Places I blew it: Fast food was $20 more thanks to eating at work a few times. Groceries were $100 more thanks to buying snacks and shit for the trip. Shopping was up by more than $200 thanks to buying some things for my niece and family in Nepal. Suprise expenses were up by $400 (?!) due to vet bills and a sewer bill that went up by 3x thanks to issues our township is having.

This month is one I simply can never repeat. In spite of cheap living in Nepal, all of the pre-shopping (for people there, for M, for snacks on the way) tipped the scale. Next time I’m not buying M so much for the trip (I’ll let her pick 5 things at the dollar store) nor am I bringing so much for people in Nepal (unless they want to pay me for it).

Where I’ll improve for sure: Good news, no more nursing licensing fees. In fact, the companies will be reimbursing me for a lot of it from now on. Also, no more vet fees since my cat died. No travel fees for November or December. I’ll be working hard to save on gas, groceries, snacks/eating out, shopping, and kids activities, as always. I had to buy extra groceries for Thanksgiving dinner, and Christmas is coming up of course so it’s going to be a one or two present deal this year. I am working Thanksgiving though, so that should bump up my income a bit. I need some overtime though.

2017: I have a strict budget set up for my new job and new life, and the great news is that I’m going to come out with much more wiggle room than before! I’ll actually be able to save and then pay down debt. That’s the whole point (besides the adventure), right?

September numbers

See, this is why traveling is cheaper. I was home for September with the exception of the first few days (when we were headed home from the East Coast), so other than a few extra gas fills, our travel spending was way down, but everything else?? UP! There’s lots of free stuff to do while traveling, but staying home means temptation to spend money.

Groceries $444… down $20 from last month. I feel like I’m just not going to get it down much from this number. This also includes pet food and litter, and M’s halloween costume and shirt, and a visit to the orchard for donuts and cider

Gas $247, up $30 from the previous month but should go down for October and November since we are not doing road trips.

Fast Food includes food at work, down $30

Snacks and drinks $30, down $20 from last month

Travel $40.04, down $327 (!!!)

Shopping over $100, no change, due to the need for new shoes, a portable charger, an ipad charger, and my halloween costume ($13 on ebay)

Kids activities $242.36, this replaced ‘travel’ costs basically. Swimming lessons, open swim, gymnastics lessons, a trip out for ice cream, and fall festival day at an orchard

Nursing fees and licenses: this broke the bank at $613.84. Licenses for Virginia and Texas, fingerprinting fees for several states, and license verifications for several states. Luckily I will make some of this back when I work in each of those states.

Surprise expenses: a $40 parking ticket (ouch), drug store, car wash, and checks. Oh, and the vet costs: $115.

Regular expenses: My loans (house, car, student) are still my biggest expenses, along with childcare, costing more than one of my two paychecks with a combined total of $1688. My other monthly expenses (phone, energy, trash, car insurance, internet) came to $362.

Total spending: not including licensing, $3303.
Total income: $3637, up several hundred thanks to 12 hours of overtime.

So my debt came from licensing. I still have a lot of room for improvement with groceries, gas, snacks/drinks, fast food, kids activities, and things like parking tickets.


august numbers

In spite of switching to cheaper car insurance and cheaper phone service, paying off my cancelled phone contracts as well as unexpected vet and tire bills pushed my spending way up for August. Also, two trips: San Francisco and New Jersey/New York. It was a hotel room in San Francisco and entrance fees to activities there that tipped the balance toward more spending instead of less.

In September I have a chance to make up a ton in the travel department, as we will not be traveling at all, but I’m going to lose a lot to licensing/fingerprints in the process of getting my licenses lined up for travel nursing. I’m hoping to drop dollar amounts in all other categories, though.

Groceries: $485, up by about $60 from July

: $217, up $75 from July, but with my grandma on her deathbed we stayed home a lot that month. I’m actually under both May and June by about $25, even with a road trip across the country!!!

: $174, up by $130 in July but down by over $100 from previous months, mostly due to buying a lightweight car seat for our trip to SF

Snacks and drinks
: $53.66, up $30 since July but down from June, and that’s all of our airport snacks

Restaurants/Fast Food
: $70, up $50 but down from June, includes two trips so I didn’t think it was so bad. The biggest expense was Hang Ah tea room, with a $40 bill for dim sum

$367, our most expensive travel cost yet and is almost entirely from the SF trip. Includes entrance fees to Children’s Fairyland and Muir Woods, airport parking in Chicago, and hotel in SF.

Surprise expenses
: $267 vet bill for my sick cat, $73 for oil change and tire patch

Travel nurse licensing/fingerprints
: $179


back for a minute

We got back from the east coast the day before yesterday… I learned a lot on this adventure (get a portable charger, campgrounds are often more like trailer parks), got my Manhattan fix (actually I needed a lot more), and hit the beach. It was good to be with family, the kids even got along a lot of the time. Of course, it’s also stressful to be in someone else’s house and not have your own space!

You can look for my new blog posts at Across the Never Sky or follow the facebook page if you like your updates that way.

I came home to a to-do list a mile long: take cat to vet, fix paycheck error that resulted in not getting paid on time, go to various banks, M’s swim lesson, clean car, a million phone calls… I’m maybe halfway through it three days later.

Good news on the money saving front: I got my home and car insurance switched and that saved me $50 per month and got me better coverage. Switching my phone service saves me $100/month. So I’m making progress there. Unfortunately I had more set backs. My foot pain has returned with a vengeance so I had to invest in new Dansko shoes (I guess they wear out after a year and I’ve had mine nearly two). Last time I got new Dansko’s my foot pain completely disappeared… so I needed that. Also the portable charger, cause my phone dies all the time using camera and maps, the two things I need most when traveling. And the iPad charger pulled apart… so had to get a new one of those. The cat continues to need adjustments to her thyroid medication, and now her eye infection. Bah.

Also, M did NOT miss school. She didn’t ask about it once, even when her cousin playmate went off to his first day of school on Tuesday. This morning she asked where we were going, and when I told her she was going to school, she looked shocked: “I don’t wanna go to school, mom!” I felt icky about sending her. She will be fine there of course, and I had to work a short shift this afternoon so she did need to go, but it made me feel better about her not going after we leave this state. She honestly doesn’t love it. She doesn’t miss it. And she doesn’t need it to learn. She needs a safe place that provides lots of creative and learning opportunities when I work, though, rather than just staying home with a screen and grandma, so she still goes for now.

I enjoyed being with her every day, though. I actually hated being apart from her today while she went to school. It’s nice to know that the more I’m with her, the more I want to be with her, rather than the opposite!

travel life: it’s official!

I’ve been contending with one large hurdle to traveling: child care. Not only is it difficult to find on short notice, but with full-time day cares only open until 6pm Mon-Fri, I have to also rely on private nannies or babysitters. The costs of daycare plus babysitters easily eats up all of the difference between my permanent staff salary and the extra travel nurse money.

Today my mother agreed to travel with us as long as I can get M in some kind of childcare part of the day on week days. This is so huge! Not only is the financial burden substantially lifted, but the stress of needing childcare right away, or god forbid having a babysitter call in and having no child care, is gone!

My income will go from $2900 per month take home to something like $6,250 per month. From that I will have to deduct either company housing or whatever housing we find, even at the highest end of $2000 per month I’m still left with $4,250 with which to pay my home mortgage and taxes ($596), sewer bill ($54), health insurance (somewhere around $150),  student loans ($165), phone bill ($65), and car insurance ($190). Then assume $400 for groceries, and a lot less for gas since I won’t be in the boonies ($150) and keep the $80 in for M’s swimming lessons. Utilities, cable, and wifi are included in provided housing. I’m left with $2400. Assuming housing is less than that, we don’t spend that much on groceries and gas, and I find cheaper car insurance, it would hopefully be more.

Notice that number is significantly higher than the -$90 I currently come out with. Also notice that there is no energy bill as everything will be turned off at home while we’re gone, no trash bill, no minimum credit card payments because I’m going to have them paid off from some investments I have, no car payment because same, and less gas because I plan to use public transportation/bicycle/walking as much as possible and save the car for work if it’s too far or just sight-seeing. Also, am shopping around for a lower car insurance rate. And finally, I just switched from sprint to google fi for my phone, which saves me $100 per month.

Basically, I’ll be then paying for part-time child care, saving for in-between contracts ($800 per month x 3 months will give me $2400 for time off), $500 max for child care, some money for my mom as a thank you, and $1000 left over for incidentals, public transportation, fun stuff, and to create a savings, pay down debt, and invest. I intend to have three months worth of savings (about $7200) as an emergency fund before I begin paying off my mortgage and student loans. Once we’re debt free half will go towards investments, the other half towards all the home improvements I want to do on my lake house.

Just think, I’m not even breaking even right now and none of that would be possible if we stayed here. Plus, we’ll be on VACATION four whole days per week! My California and New York nursing licenses are submitted, my recruiters are informed of my preferences and start date… just gotta let the current boss know an exact last day. WELP.

I’m thinking just after Thanksgiving to get going. That will give me two contracts before summer officially starts and we’ll plan on returning home to Michigan then. In Michigan I will have to work a local contract, which will be an income more like I have right now. We will have much cheaper child care, however and won’t have to save that $800 for in between contracts.

buckling down

Just cancelled netflix and audible.com subscriptions. I no longer have any subscriptions. We can do without.

Also just ordered Google Fi for phone service. It will pay for the cancellation fee at sprint in less than 3 months just by saving me so much per month. Also, the ability to call and text without extra charge in other countries, including Nepal.

And I’m currently shopping for a better deal on car insurance.

Let’s do this.

here’s some numbers that should impress

This is my spending in childcare/preschool/babysitters over the last 4 months.

May: $856
June: $507
July: $45
August: $180

I mean, I’ve decreased my spending on childcare by like 75%. (Thank you mom!) This fall that will go back up to $500/mo, but that’s a lot less than $850 and if my mom is helping me pay for it it will really be dramatically less.

Groceries: Still usually over $400 per month. Lots of room to improve here. This also includes toiletries, cat food and litter, pads/tampons, and beer/wine.

April:  $448
May: $311
June: $450
July: $426

Gas: Pretty stagnant here with a decrease in July due to not working as much (since my grandma passed), my sister driving us for camping, and M only going to school on days I worked.

April: $194
May: $246
June: $242
July: $146

Shopping: This is all purchases from amazon (things like charger cords, books, household items). Basically I’ve really been trending down here and sticking only to necessary items, but really I could’ve done a lot better in April and June.

April: $367
May: $65
June: $277
July: $46

Snacks and Drinks: This is my weak area, the “non-necessary” expenses that I can’t seem to cut out no matter how much I need to. These include gas station drinks, coffee at work, ice cream at parks for M, etc. Still, I’m trending down so that’s good! Gotta keep that up.

April: $80
May: $73
June: $61
July: $58

Restaurants/Fast Food: Includes eating out while traveling, and considering all of the traveling we’ve done since April I’m actually pretty proud of how well I did in this category.

April: $83
May: $16
June: $77
July: $20

Travel: Hotels/campgrounds and tourist attractions for trips to Tennessee/Kentucky, Chicago, Michigan’s west coast, and Niagara Falls.

April: $108
May: $60
June: $202
July: $173

I also cut out cable and my home phone completely, saving about $140 per month. If I can peel about $50-100 off of the above categories I’ll save another $100-$200 per month.