Update & Any passive income ideas?

Hello all, I have my March budget in place. I do it automatically when I wrap up the spreadsheet for the previous month. Right now, dh and I are both working full time. I took this full time position last April. We’ve been hitting the sinking funds harder (auto – needed soon, household, etc). I am trying to shovel as much as I can into savings, as I am not sure how long I will continue to do the full time position. I don’t mind working, but I have a long commute (total approx. 85 miles per day for me, and about 56 miles per day for DH), and on average weeks I am gone 55 hrs per week. On the week of close (I do accounting), it is more. I have six kids, and the kids and the household are being negatively affected. It wasn’t that way at first – but it’s sort of a progressive situation. So I’m just trying to save as much as I can so we have options at some point.

I am keeping my fingers crossed, but it looks like my rental house will be purchased/closed in April. It’s been a long, expensive road. I will update when that closes. Even though I like the idea of having the right rental properties SOMEDAY, this is important for me to get off of my plate so I can focus my energies.

We have 30 months remaining on DH’s alimony payment to his ex. At the same time, he will start receiving SS which we will have to urgently use to improve our retirement situation. He is also planning to work until 70, but of course you never KNOW what the future holds.

Right now, I am sort of at a hybrid point.
Baby step 1 complete.
Baby step 2 – all credit cards, cars, and one of the student loans are paid off… but we need vehicles (BorrowLab – borrow money online.), have one student loan remaining ($19k) @ 3.25% interest and about $5000 in medical and legal bills at 0% interest.
Baby step 3 – I have about a 3 month EF, but this will really need to grow to at least a 6 month, maybe more.
Baby step 4 – Because we aren’t technically to this point yet, we are just contributing 7% to dh’s 401k because he receives 100% match on this amount! Have to hit this hard as soon as we possibly can. DH is older than me, he will be 64 this year. We are nowhere near where we need to be financially speaking for retirement.
Baby step 5 – I only opened CollegeAdvantage accounts for the kids with some gift money they received. We aren’t able to contribute to that right now.
Baby step 6 & 7 – Not here yet.

I try to take advantage of any rebate, rewards, points programs, etc. that are reputable. Always open to new ideas, if anyone has any tried and true that they have been using that are basically passive. I have been researching some different ideas for passive income when looking at retirement options.

I earned approx. $100 last year between UPromise and MyPoints. I have been doing Hauser code mail for a long time – they pay slow, but they have paid. I made approx. $50 in 2015 and $50 in 2015… and it takes me a very short time. I also do Quad Readers Club for 10 stamps per month, so I don’t typically have to buy postage for much. It all adds up.

There is one I do for SKBC where they send you a postage paid envelope and you send them your mail. They give you points for these. The end of last year, I got a $20 visa gift card, and I’m almost set to get another one. They are only taking referrals in NEBRASKA and CANADA. So if you live in either of those places, I can send you a referral. I do get credit for that, but that’s just a one time thing.

On top of budgeting for this stuff, it’s also good to push back a bit

I have pushed back on my kid’s school about doing the sorts of fundraisers where the kids are urged to sell out of catalogs, and parents are urged to buy overpriced items, and the school gets some money and some company makes a big profit. We had one PTO parent selling “Melaleuca” and the school was getting SEVEN PERCENT! At least they didn’t try to get the kids to sell that particular thing

I urge everyone with kids to try to push back for fundraisers where the money actually goes to the school or sports team or whatever, and not half to some third party. Car washes, babysitting or petsitting, throwing a little kid’s carnival, yard sales, bake sales, craft sales… things where kids can actually put in some effort and the money collected is all kept.

Craft sales in particular can be a very low-budget way to make some money. For example, even little kids can *make* wrapping paper and greeting cards, with just a little adult supervision.

(don’t know how possible it is to push back on the military…)

No I have a dress and shoes I can wear

one thing about moving every 2 to 4 years you can wear the same dress more than once, lol. Im not a girly girl that needs salon done hair & nails etc for these. We have a friend we trade babysitting with, DH called and they have already changed from one Friday to the next, so I have to check that she is available for the boys. If she will watch them I will go, if not and I can’t find someone else I will skip it. They are usually really boring so DH prefers I go if he has to, lol, misery loves company I guess. Of the last 4 I skipped 2. One because the cost doubled if I went and the kids already had plans that I couldn’t ask some one to watch them for a weekend and take them here & there. The other time was over Halloween weekend and I had already volunteered to do somethings. But those 4 we had to drive a few hours and it was a whole weekend ordeal, we had to be there Friday early and not leave til late Sun. The 2 I went to we had a friend in the one town and she kept the boys, then the other one we left them with another friend where we were living. It’s a good thing we had friends we trust so much, its hard to leave the boys for a whole weekend. But this year we moved to a different base so its just going to be 20 mins from the house for about 4 hours.
The thing with blow is right now we don’t have blow money, seriously we are going to start but with Christmas coming so fast and other expenses we need to worry about those more. DH agreed. In Jan we have a bill that we can pay off without interest and then Feb we will start with the blow money. And plan better this coming year. This year was just crazy. We left CA in Nov arrived in VA in Dec. Lived in a hotel here for 2 months, finally got into the house and then there were a few things we had to cash flow, like the heating going out in Feb in a snow storm, lol. DH had work expenses that had to be dealt with. So its been crazy getting back on track. Oh and we should have gotten a special pay for moving money that didn’t happen until June, but we moved in Nov you can see the problem there, roughly 7 months late getting that pay.

I too struggled with the unexpected expenses

I now do a couple of things to combat it. I put $60 a month in an envelope for “kids”. That’s $20 per kid. That is for unexpected trips to the movies, a bit of spending money when going out with a friend, a special ice cream, t-shirts for a field trip, a buck here or there for whatever the school asks. Most of the time my kids eat sack lunches, but once in a while they want to buy. I take it out of that envelope. They all share the money even though $20 is allotted per child. The 3 year old rarely spends the entire $20, but the 9 year old may go over. We just spend what is in the envelope.

You probably could go back over a year and find that you spend aprox X dollars on “unexpected” items. They aren’t the same things each month, but there is probably an average you can come up with.

If something semi-expensive comes up, like a Military Ball, wedding, or a special concert that you have to go to or really want to go to, then I take it out of my BEF and put it back over the next month or so from my “entertainment” envelope.

So items like the PTO fundraiser, I might take $15 out of dining and $5 out of entertainment. I would also budget more next October and December for parties that I know we will want to attend.