Looking back... and going forward

Looking back

Before I start, I would really like to say thank you to all the YNABer's who have shared their 2019 journeys and successes. I am in awe of you. It is actually because of you that I decided to write a list of what I had achieved this year. For background, I lost my husband expectedly in October of last year so this year has been more than just a financial journey for me and my kids (navigating deceased estates is horrible #justsaying). Here's how I did:

Received $400K from his estate

In addition to all the other true expenses that come with life, I paid:

  • The balance of our loan to his dad - $50K (plus $224K we had sitting against our mortgage). That's a total of $274K paid back with nothing left owing to him.*
  • Mortgage - $164K (still $192K owing)
  • Invested $22,500 to be paid when my kids turn 30
  • Much needed repairs to the house - $6K

*His dad blames me for my husband's suicide so paying him back also allowed me to heal a little (I remain angry that he has completely blacked out that his grandchildren exist which means my babies lost more than their dad).

Anyway, you don't need to hear that long and painful story. Back to the journey at hand... I managed to fund grief counselling for three of my kids, a bunch of occupational therapy sessions for one of the twins and a short weekend getaway for us. Oh, and I started university without going into more debt. I also bought a new-to-me car for $21K after the last one cost me over $2K in repairs then died anyway in July.

Overall, I still went backwards and had to tap into my husband's estate by $1K per month - even though the net worth report says I'm up $341K since December 2018 (if you can explain this, I would really appreciate it). However, as someone smarter than me pointed out, I no longer have my husband's annual income ($100K) either. So, all things considered, I think this year went ok financially.

Looking forward

With the twins starting school in 2020 I am hopeful that the almost $1800/mth (out of pocket) daycare fees become less than $1000/mth... which should almost eliminate the need to tap into my husband's estate money. Plus, with all data I've collected about my spending habits this year, I have a much more realistic view of what our life actually costs. Such as the cost of food for 4 people for a year (more than $12K... did anyone less know this???? No wonder we only watch the monthly cost).

In 2020 I'm hoping to trial a new way of reducing the cost of dining out/having fun with the kids whilst saving for a holiday for us - the kids really want to go on a plane. This year I funded my grocery budget on a weekly basis (weeks 1 to 4, $260/week - thanks for the tip YNAB). Any funds left over at the end of the month - which averaged $123/mth this year - funded the extra week (needed every 3 months or so), entertaining visitors and Christmas food (does anyone else notice that you spend noticeably more on groceries at Christmas time??). Doing it this way actually seemed to motivate me to stay under budget (in the past I would have just bought that "extra thing" that I didn't need and wouldn't have planned the meals I was going to cook for the week in advance either).

So, my plan this year to bring our holiday into reality is to adapt my grocery budgeting method to my "make life fun" category. Hopefully I can stay under budget in my dining out, activities and fun sub-categories and fund our holiday wish. I'll also top up our holiday fund with any additional monies that come through from extra paychecks and/or my tax refund. Fingers crossed I will be booking flights this time next year to take the kids somewhere fun!

If you've read this far, thank you. I hope your 2020 YNAB journey is filled with success, happiness and fully funded sinking funds.

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  • I'm sorry for your loss and your father-in-law's behavior. Here's to a great 2020 for you and your family.

    Like 2
    • Thank you and best wishes to you and your family too.

      Like 1
  • Kudos to you for all of the deep dedicated work that you've done. You've made huge progress through a really challenging time.

    I just checked the net worth reports, and while we are no where near where I want us to be, my BF's budget net worth has gone UP by $5000 this year. That's also an over $10000 change in a positive direction since I started using nYNAB back in November of 2017. Every year at tax time we get to see a lovely spike in the net worth, so I'm looking forward to taxes getting done in the next couple months again to watch that jump up one more time!
    My net worth hasn't gone in the same direction, but my financial situation is no where near as strong as my BF's, and that's ok. I'll continue to work my way out of the hole slowly over time. Hopefully this year I have some more positive windfalls come my way. The good news is that I have a much better handle on the money and averages than I ever have before, and that's making it easier and easier to budget, and stay on top of categories without needing to move money all over the place constantly.

    Just gotta keep on keepin on.

    Like 3
    • farfromtheusual Congratulations to you both and thank you for sharing. Good luck for 2020! 

  • I think you deserve a medal. With all that went on in your family's life emotionally, you still managed to tackle financial issues. I think that's huge and you should feel incredibly proud of what you accomplished. And considering the fact that you only used $12K of your husband's estate money when you lost $100K in income is almost unbelievable. 

    I also changed the way I budget for groceries a few months ago. I budget weekly under a generic Grocery category. I do add more money to the last week of the month because there are usually extra days and I also added a Groceries for Guests line which I try to keep at a minimum of $100 at all times. That way I get a better idea of what I spend just for me vs what I buy when I have guests over. 

    This was my first Christmas using YNAB and I found out that I spend considerably more than I previously thought I did. (what else is new?) I managed to not overspend this month but it did involve some serious wamming in order to keep my budget intact. My 3 kids all came home for Christmas and I didn't judge very well how much additional money that was going to entail. I managed to keep the gift buying under the amount I had saved, but the extra Ubers, restaurant and take out bills were another matter. While I managed to hold it together this year, I'm planning on putting aside a more reliable amount for next year. Good YNAB teaching moment for me. 

    Wishing you and your children a happier 2020 and some financial peace of mind. You certainly deserve both!

    Like 2
    • KnitPurlKnit Thank you. I’m glad I’m not the only one who wammed a lot over the last couple of weeks. The last few days of this month are going to be extremely boring ;) I hope you and your kids had a lovely Christmas.

  • Welcome to the Forum, Cadet Blue Stallion ! We're in awe of you. I am so sorry for your loss, and inspired by all you've accomplished during this difficult year. Here's to 2020, and the future! I hope you'll check in with us here as things progress, and your trip plans. If you're interested, you might even consider starting a Journal!

    Groceries can be a wild card this time of year. We're traveling and still moving money around for miscellaneous grocery spending. Ha! We have a workshop called Saving Money on Groceries which I think you'll find helpful, if you haven't discovered it already! Here's the current workshop schedule. They’re typically offered many times throughout the week. If you can’t fit one in, we do have our workshop intros recorded as well.

    • Nicole Thanks Nicole. The Saving Money on Groceries workshop was actually my inspiration for “going weekly”. Enjoy your travels!

      Like 1
  • Can you feel the (((HUGS))) from over here? My goodness, that's a year and you are a champion!

    Suicides are the grief that keeps on giving (5 people in my life over a decade). However you managed to walk the journey through this has to have been an amazing example to your kids. Congratulations on your ability to model maturity through a rough patch and my hope is your kids will be able to look back to your example when they need it someday. 

    My hope is that 2020 is your best year ever.  Blessings to you and those kids. 

    Like 2
  • I absolutely feel the hugs, thank you Athena. I can’t imagine the pain of 5 suicides! I hope 2020 is equally as kind to you. 

  • Wow. You are a star and you deserve huge kudos and hugs for what you have been through and are still going through. Focusing on your finances using YNAB and this forum will definitely give you focus and purpose as it's done for me and so many.

    How old are your kids? I have 2 boys, 15 & 12 half the time, and this summer I really started to meal plan when I started YNAB.  They are eating a lot and I'm worried about job action at work so I started obsessing about all things YNAB & Personal Finance. I read somewhere $100 per person/month but it depends upon where you live. Cooking from scratch, price matching, loading up the freezer/pantry on sale, and only buying exactly what you need are all strategies I have been using. I used to just buy without a budget and could easily spend $700-800 but still have nothing to eat and order takeout. Now I'm averaging $400/month and my goal for Jan is $350. I need to do an inventory of my freezers/pantry tomorrow and come up with a system for adding/subtracting to the list when I use things. I'm thinking pen/pencil for now.

    I also set my budget to $20/month for takeout (laziness) and actually just checked my report. Was under $20 in July/Aug and then $0 since. No more takeout pizza but made at home instead. Dining Out is $200/month and my average for 6 months is $190. Not bad. Planning and prioritizing is the major key. 

    Sounds like your twins are little so they don't eat a lot but I bet you spend a lot of money on packaged foods & snacks. That is where meal prep will help you. Things like making jello into lots of little containers, cut up your own veggies & have them in a big container, make muffins, etc. Buy Goldfish in bulk & put into a large container then dispense into small containers for school. That's what I do and now they have found my stash...what happens when they are taller than me! Lots of ideas on Pinterest. I always plan for 2 lunches a week to be leftovers in a thermos. Use your slowcooker. Good luck! Looking forward to hearing about your wins. :)

    Like 2
    • Purple Foal Thank you. I’m so grateful for the headspace YNAB frees for me. A few minutes each day and I don’t have to worry about whether I am whittling away my husband’s money - because I know exactly what each dollar is doing. No stress, just clarity.

      My oldest one is 15 this month - OMG the food he can put away - and the twins are 4. Lucky for me they aren’t big eaters; yet. You absolutely nailed it on the packaged foods and snacks though... thankfully, they also enjoy fruit and yoghurt. Meal planning is my nemesis but only because I hate cooking. Having said that, it’s definitely easier with a multi cooker in the house. Slow cooked food if I have the motivation to prep early... or, in my usual form, I convert the slow cooker recipe to pressure cooker for days. I definitely need to expand my recipe book though so it doesn’t get too repetitious. A few frozen pizzas in the freezer also helps. As a result, my grocery bill wasn’t too bad in 2019. I think I averaged a saving of about $20/week despite my son’s habit of eating a “second dinner” most nights.

    • Cadet Blue Stallion Just checking in. Came across your journal and your mention to me that I never responded to. How's it going? 

      All my preparation to stock my cellar & basement freezer really helped during this pandemic but boy did I shop a lot in March & April out of fear. I'm back to budgeting food now and living on our reserves. 

      Cadet Blue Stallion said:
      my son’s habit of eating a “second dinner” most nights.

       I hear you! I hear both of them in the kitchen late at night. Banana pb or nutella wraps really help. I don't like cooking either. It is out of necessity vs joy. But I do like to batch cook & stock the fridge with meals ready to go. I've discovered that a rinsed can of black beans & tomatoes in my blender than added to my browned beef or turkey pretty much doubles the amount. Also add some oats into the mix, especially if the sauce is runny. It will expand the quantity & fill them up!! Saves money, more fibre, & more filling. "Secret's in the sauce" is my motto!! I will also put baby spinach & sauted onions through the ninja & added to the sauce. They don't know. 

      Another super easy recipe that I finally got around to making was egg cups. I bought some silicone muffin trays & they are amazing but works without. I used 6 eggs & 2 cups of egg whites (I'm dieting) but you can use 12 eggs, shredded cheese or goat cheese chopped, chopped sundried tomatoes, chopped cooked chicken, whatever you have... 375 degrees, but I did 400 cuz was making boys' muffins too, spray the tins, add the egg mixture, put in some of the chicken & I added baby spinach to each tin. Season the eggs how you like. Then cook for 30 min. So tasty & filling! :)

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