Sorry I haven't been here in forever. We've had about the busiest spring/summer of our lives. Consequently, I have a good update. I posted back in Feb or so about looking for a house. We found one and closed a couple of weeks ago. We're doing some light reno now (ripping out fake wood paneling and putting up dry wall, painting, putting in some cork flooring in the basement, etc) and will move in in about 3 weeks. We'll be saving $400/month after moving out of this rental.
Also, dh got a small raise in late June. And, my mother, who has been living with us with zero income for the last yr and a half starts getting SSI survivor benefits at the end of Aug. While we will no longer get her $200/month in FS she has committed to giving us $400/month for "rent"!
Thirdly, thanks to thystle's (I think it was her) recommendation to creditboards.com a little over a yr ago we not only got high enough credit scores to get the house, but after the house closed I apped for all the rewards cards and necessities we didn't have (like a lawn mower). Dh got an additional $16,700 in credit last week (we no longer carry debt, except student loans while still in school, after doing a debt snowball a few years ago, so no worries there). With available balances like that, including a $3000 overdraft line of credit, we should never have to pay a bounced check fee again simply because I was too busy to keep track of our balance, which will save us hundreds of dollars a yr. And even if we needed to carry debt (for instance, 18 months no interest on a new laptop for school is worth carrying the debt for 17.5 months) the utilization shouldn't cause him any hit to his credit score. (Yes, I learned how to play "the credit game" over there) Yay!
Our student loans will be coming in about a month, too, so the emergency fund we're somewhat depleting with reno and moving costs will be replenished and we should be in SO much better of a position next yr it's not even funny! I'm so filled with hope and optimism. Not only have I worked so hard to get us better credit, thus a better permanent living situation, I've been working on self-sufficiency, too. We will be raising animals and a huge garden at our new house. It's just outside of town limits, 15 minutes outside the city. We have an acre and a half and will start with chickens, ducks and quail this summer. We'll be moving the rabbits outside and breeding them for some periodic income (show rabbits. the bunnies sell for $30 a piece). And in the spring we will get a few sheep and small pigs. The kids are allergic to cow milk, but do great on sheep milk, so having our own on tap is going to be freaking awesome! Plus, selling icelandic fleece and lambs each year... And then meat on the hoof, sure of what's gone into it and how healthy the animal was raised outside on grass, and that it won't make us sick... Priceless. A big step toward never ever finding ourselves in real trouble again, I hope. Wish us luck! Just as I wish it for all of you!!!