I got my first paycheck! Whoo hoo! I also got to deposit my financial aid funds. Then I got an almost $400 bill from my daycare that I had to take care of the same day or my kids would not be allowed to return that afternoon, let alone the next day. I hated that I needed to use the financial aid funds for that, but was grateful I had the option at least. I can't work if the kids aren't in daycare! So it became a short debate: Do I take the time off work, or do I use the funds and pay myself back? I used the funds.
Next step is to set up a savings account to put the remaining financial aid funds into and get them out of my checking account. That way: 1.) I'll be earning interest and 2.) I won't be nearly as tempted to use those funds for other things.
I had the chance to talk with Derek briefly as well regarding budgeting. I'll need to take a close look at the spreadsheets he's created over the weekend, but I am continuously grateful for his perspective, calming demeanor, and support. The two biggest debates, for me, are around how much to pay my mom each month to help the household, and whether to pay off the other credit card now, or to let it continue on the automatic payments. If I let it continue, it'll be paid off around November or December. Thankfully, there's no interest being added to the balance, so that's not a factor. If I pay it off now, I'd be using the financial aid money. But I'd also be freeing up funds in my monthly budget that I could put into savings instead, and essentially not only pay myself back, but also start creating a good savings habit sooner than later. Derek didn't seem to lean one way or the other on the matter, mostly since interest isn't a factor, I think.
My biggest concern now though is how tight my budget is going to be. Despite the fact that I'm earning more than I ever have in my adult life, it's still going to be challenging to make ends meet, especially once I'm on my own. Derek wants me to wait as long as possible before I move. I definitely see his point, and yet, the emotional toll it's taking on me to live with my mom is huge. I'll have to see how the next few months go and decide on that point later. I want to be smart, and I need to take care of myself mentally and emotionally too — it's just not a very supportive environment and is so draining when I'm home.
One day at a time. I've got homework to do this weekend from Derek, and a lot of opportunity ahead of me. It's challenging, and yet, it's a great place to be too!