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Viewing the 'Debt' Category: Another Family Debt Blog
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Viewing the 'Debt' Category

Yearly Update

March 18th, 2016 at 02:04 am

I admit we're not doing much with our TMM right now given me being in school. But I still feel the need to post occasionally given how prevalent our long-term financial situation still sits in my mind. And besides, I only have 9 months of school left! My goal is to be working by Feb of next year, and I am pretty sure I will be starting around $59K.

I want to dump as much of that new income as possible into my student loans so that we can finally be done with them once and for all. Even still, I'm guessing that's going to take about 5 years. Because I owe A LOT. Currently $121K and counting. Thankfully, there is a union work program I will qualify for that will pay off about $25K of that over 5 years, starting after 1 year of work. But, that's still $96K and I'm barely keeping up with the interest payments right now.

We could probably get it done in 4 years if we were really strict about it. But then I would lose $10K of the tuition repayment benefit. And we're going to be trying to save for a house down payment for part of that time as well. The boys are in kindergarten right now, and by the time they're in middle school (6th grade), we want to be in a better school district. So that again gives us about 5 years. (2021 should be an interesting year for us!) We have a fair amount of equity in our current home right now, but I don't want any PMI next time and who knows what the market will do by then.

Right now we're kind of treading water financially. I'm not working anymore now that I'm in school fulltime. And we have new before/after school care expenses on top of it. Medical expenses have gone down a little, but tuition/fees have gone way, way up. I managed to avoid taking out more student loans while doing just my pre-reqs part-time, but at this point its costing about $12K/semester and there's just no way around it. Ugh, ugh, ugh.
On the bright side, the amount I paid/borrowed for this career change is equal to or less than the gross amount I will make in just one year of working. And I will have a pension. So I think it will all be financially worth it in the end. And emotionally it's not even a question. A change was necessary.

Hubby got a nice bonus again this year, but not a very nice raise. We had kind of figured that due to the job hopping he did this year (3 different positions within the same company in 1 year). He seems happy now in his new position and hopefully next year will be a little better. But this new position is not as demanding as before, and therefore it is unlikely to come with the large pay increases he was getting for a few years while working his butt off. We'll manage though. Work/life balance is more important to us than higher paychecks.

This year, the bonus money was spend in some fairly unexciting ways. A lot of it just went into our emergency fund, to top it back up after the dips we had been making into it since I quit my job. Hopefully a combination of hubby's pay increase and some further belt tightening will keep that from happening again this year.
We also got a new water softener, which has been sorely needed for over a year now. We set aside some money for summer daycare since it will be double what we're used to paying during the school year. And then with the remaining amount we bought new deck furniture (our last set was about 14 years old and in poor shape) and new beds/dressers for the boys. They were finally getting too big for all their old toddler/preschool stuff. Now they have big boy beds and are no longer sharing an old dresser. All grown up!
Oh wait, and I got a new laptop. My old one was about 5 years old and died. The new one is nothing fancy, but a must for school. But that reminds me, the boys broke our old TV so we got a new one of those too. So I guess we did get a few fun things after all, even if they were mainly replacements. Hubby wanted one that was about 10 inches bigger than our last one, but I think TVs that big are just ridiculous. We compromised on one that was 5 inches bigger and it seems like a good fit for our living room, even though I can't, for the life of me, figure out how to use it. (Gosh that makes me sound old.)

Looking ahead to next year, a "new" car for hubby is on the horizon once I get a job. His car is about 12 years old now and is starting to show it. I know I had posted previously about planning to pay off my current car loan with last year's bonus, but somehow that didn't happen. Probably because of all the medical expenses we had for the boys back then. It's hard to remember now. By this time next year, I think we will still owe about $7K. Which, after taxes, is going to eat up most of hubby's next bonus, but so be it. I don't want to take out another car loan until we have that one paid off.

Someday, somehow, I really, really want to be able to take an awesome family vacation together to someplace like the Grand Canyon or Disney World. Not to mention a romantic vacation with just hubby to someplace like Greece or Machu Picchu too. But it's really hard to picture that being in the cards anytime in the next 5 years. Especially when I start thinking about retirement on top of it. None the less, I need to at least throw that wish out there.

We're both turning 40 this year, and should have at minimum about 2 years worth of income saved at this point. Instead, we have more like a quarter of 1 years income. In 5 years, I think we'll finally be ready to start tackling that head on, but by then we should have 3 years saved! Pretty sure retirement is going to have to be closer to 70 than 65 at this point. Just need to stay healthy so that I can still enjoy it! Feb 2014
Start 6% 401K withdrawals: Sept 2013----->Feb/Mar 2014
Save for/Pay off "new" car: May 2014----->Feb 2015

As I said: Ugh.

A new reflection though: I saw on FB recently that an old friend of mine I've lost touch with the past few years, is selling her house. She has been dying for a bigger house for years, and her husband had a well paying job. But they also had a lot of debt and not the best of spending habits, and with the housing market crash they felt completely stuck.

About 4 months back, her husband's department was downsized and he was laid off. He had a few months severance though and lots of job interview lined up, so they weren't too concerned at the time. Thus, when I saw her recent FB posting, I at first assumed he had found something even better and that with the housing market upswing they were finally able to afford the new home they have been wanting.

But then I read further. Turns out, they are not buying a new one, just selling the old one. She didn't elaborate more but a quick check on LinkedIn confirmed what I feared; her husband has been out of work since Oct. Now I am purely speculating at this point, but given what I know of their past financial situation, it's not at all hard to draw a line that without a high paying job, the large debts have are going to sink them once the severance pay ends, and they are trying to find a source for more funds.

I say all this not to gossip or point fingers (presumably, you have no idea who I'm even talking about), and I actually feel very bad for her, though not really close enough anymore to question her about such a personal matter. But for me, she is such a stunning reminder of why hubby and I are doing all this.

Our financial situations were close enough at one time that it is easy for me to picture how something very similar could have happened to us, had we not begun to exercise financial restraint. But I admit that it was very hard for me to hear about their fancy trips, and see their pretty new cars and how beautifully decorated the inside of her home was. I wanted those things too. I wanted to look that good as well. But we were pouring all our extra cash into debt and had nothing visual to show for it.

We are still a long way from where we want to be. And without more savings, we are still not even insulated from going through something similar ourselves were hubby to lose his job. But we have no credit card or car debt dragging us down anymore. And we have a very clear picture of our budget and of the steps we need to take to get from A to B. So, even though this is a total drag, and even though I feel like it's taking way longer than it should, reflecting on where we could be instead leaves me still feeling thankful about where we are. Maybe not happy, but thankful. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 3 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [105872] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21490] => Array ( [category_id] => 21490 [category_name] => Education [category_stub] => education ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21494] => Array ( [category_id] => 21494 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) [21495] => Array ( [category_id] => 21495 [category_name] => Saving Money [category_stub] => saving-money ) ) [entry_id] => 105872 [entry_title] => Commencing Baby Step 3 [entry_stub] => commencing-baby-step-3- [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/11/24/commencing-baby-step-3-_105872/ [entry_date] => 1385315344 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-11-24 11:49:04 [entry_text] => We've finally finished wading through all the home maintenance projects (including an unexpected $1000 repair on the roof a couple weeks ago) and even set aside $1000 for Christmas. We've reached our family health deductible for the year and are scheduling appts like mad for these next few weeks to take full advantage of paying only 20% rather than 100% for the rest of the year. And we were also incredibly blessed to have my aunt unexpectedly send me a check to cover my first semester of tuition and books for the community college I will be starting at in Jan. And so, with that all finally behind us, it's time to commence on our TMM baby step 3 (beef up emergency fund to cover 3-6 months of expenses).

It has been almost 4 months since we finished baby step 2, so I am relieved to finally be getting back on track again. We made a lot of prudent purchases and repairs, but as the money kept flowing out rather than in, I worried that our financial plan had become derailed. Apparently though, even without CC debt, we do still have some motivation and dedication to this plan after all. And it's time to buckle down again.

My main goal for this coming financial year is to see our next worth begin to rise finally. Although given it is currently -$46K, it might be more accurate to say we want to see our gaping net worth hole begin to be filled in. It's actually much better now that it was a year ago. Partly because of paying off the CC's and car loan. But also in a large part due to home values bouncing back again finally, and we can't really take credit for that. Plus that part could go again as easy as it came.

But I was realizing the other day that we are at an exciting point none that less because from here on out, we will mainly be investing in ourselves. Even the $25K we hope to save for a "new" vehicle over the next year and a half will be savings converted into an asset, rather than simply blown out the window. And yes, yes, I know their will be depreciation, but you get my point. We're finally investing in our own net worth. And that is exciting!

Plus, during the open enrollment period this year we made sure to max out our HSA contribution for next year, as well as bump up the life insurance and disability policies a little bit. And it feels wonderful to know we are getting an adequate financial safety net into place. Almost like we're becoming real adults finally!

From this point on though, we're going to be breaking a bit from strict compliance to the TMM plan. For instance, we're going to start baby step 4 (retirement savings) as soon as we get $5000 towards baby step 3. Which should be by the end of Jan if we practice restraint over Xmas. We are way too old to be putting it off any longer and we're going to be doing baby step 3 for quite some time. We want our final emergency fund to be around $20K, but we need to buy a car along the way, so almost as soon as we get it we're going to empty it out and start again.

I consider this an EF worthy purchase though because, as discussed previously, our current family vehicle is a 1999 and has over 225K miles. It's just not going to be around much longer, and when it does finally die, it will certainly be an emergency. After doing a lot of research we decided that the most financially wise options were to either buy a cheap 7-8 year old car in decent condition and plan to cover fairly regular repairs until we can afford an upgrade. Or to buy a reliable low mileage 1-2 year old vehicle that shouldn't need much work for a few years, and which would be just as affordable as long as we keep driving it at least 10 years. And given how very tired we are of highly used vehicles at this point, we have decided to go for the 2nd option.

We're going to save as much as we can for it until May and then get a loan for the remainder. We want to give the old one to our daughter when she comes home from college for the summer so that she will have her own vehicle to get to and from her summer job. And then we're going to pay off the car loan as fast as possible, though right now it's looking like Feb 2015 before we get there.

So that's the plan right now. Hubby is in the process of applying for new jobs that pays more though, and if one of them pans out, maybe we can even do this without a car loan. Hoping for the best!

[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 3 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [105329] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21494] => Array ( [category_id] => 21494 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) ) [entry_id] => 105329 [entry_title] => TMM Year 2 [entry_stub] => tmm-year-2 [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/10/20/tmm-year-2_105329/ [entry_date] => 1382288284 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-10-20 11:58:04 [entry_text] => It's been forever, I know. Not sure what the deal is with all this crazy /// nonsense in my info section since I left either. Anywho...

This Oct marks the beginning of the second year for hubby and I's Total Money Makeover. And how far have we gotten in a year? Well, considerably farther than we pictured ourselves one year ago for sure. We originally thought we'd be nearing the end of our credit card payments about now, and just starting to work on the car loan. The was before we discovered what the power of a budget and willpower can actually do. So instead we finished both by the end of July.

On the other hand...we are considerably less far than we had pictured ourselves being by now last June. Our revised goal was to have the initial $5000 for our emergency fund fully stocked by now, as well as kicking off the retirement 401k we need so badly and also making headway towards the "new" car we need. Instead we are in a much more dangerous no man's land somewhere between Baby Step 2 and Baby Step 3. I don't feel we are derailed from our TMM, but we do need to start getting this show on the road again soon.

So what have we been doing instead of all those June goals? Well, a lot of home stuff actually. Things we put off forever while dealing with our CC debt. We finally got a new toilet for downstairs (which lowered out water bill by $35/month!). We got a few trees cut down that had died and got our gutters cleaned out. We are also getting a large rip in our kitchen linolium repaired as well as some baseboards re-added that we never replaced after our mold damage issue a couple years ago.

We're getting our radon remitigation system installed this week ($1200). And we also had to take care of a couple big car repairs as well as buying hubby a new suit for job interviewing after all the weight he lost. Additionally, we finally replaced a few items that were wearing out. Like hubby's desk chair that was held together by duct tape and the kitchen rug that was coming apart at the seams. And we also spent more than typical on entertainment too, given it was summer and we had more family outings than usual.

Some of that stuff qualifies as emergency fund type things. Some doesn't. But it's all stuff we've been wanting to take care of forever and I'm glad we did it. By the end of this month we should be done with all that and ready to begin on Baby Step 3 for real. Trouble is, the boys are finally in preschool and I am finally going back to school myself to begin a second career. My first tuition/books payment will be due this Dec (just in time for Xmas) and is probably going to be around $2000. Long story short, I don't think we're going to be able to start the 401k until about Jan instead of Sept like we had planned and that sucks.

Regardless, compared to where we saw ourselves a year ago, we are doing much, much better indeed. Hopefully by this time next year we will be finished with Baby Step 4 and be looking ahead to a bright financial future!
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 3 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [103651] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21492] => Array ( [category_id] => 21492 [category_name] => Investing [category_stub] => investing ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21494] => Array ( [category_id] => 21494 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) ) [entry_id] => 103651 [entry_title] => Closing In [entry_stub] => closing-in [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/07/13/closing-in_103651/ [entry_date] => 1373733962 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-07-13 11:46:02 [entry_text] => Almost at the finish line for TMM baby step 2: debt snowball. Actually, we could have been there on July 19th, but, the laptop hubby has been wanting for so long went on sale for the 4th of July week. We saved $100 by buying it now and pushing the fridge payoff out one more paycheck (Aug 2). Which I think is fine given it's no interest for 3 more months and definitely will be paid off on the 2nd. We chose snail speed shipping though to save on that part, so it will still be another week or so before he gets it, but I'm sure he will be very happy when it finally arrives!

We are starting to look into what the next financial steps are. Dave Ramsey says baby step 3 should be saving a 3-6 month emergency fund (building on the $1000 one from baby step 1). That would be about $18,000 for us and would take quite some time. And in the meantime, we would still not be taking advantage of the 3% 401K matching hubby's company offers (not to mention just plain starting to save for retirement period, even though we're both entering our late 30's.) Additionally, our '99 SUV is probably not going to last much longer and certainly will be an emergency when it dies. And we want our next car purchase to be a slightly used, reliable family vehicle with low miles that we can count on driving for at least 8-10 years.

So, we're thinking of taking a middle of the road approach. I've opened a money market account with Ally bank and transferred our $1000 emergency fund there. As soon as the fridge is done we are going to work on building that up to $5000 as fast as possible. After that, we have some home maintenance issues we have been putting off forever that we need to take care of. Getting all of that accomplished is going to push us well into the end of Oct.

But once we're there, we are going to start putting 6% of hubby's paychecks into the company 401K (the maximum matching amount). And come open enrollment in Nov we are also going to up our HSA/FSA medical contributions to the max for the coming year. That's going to take quite a dent out of our monthly income, but with all the debt we've now paid off (as well as the decrease in taxable income from the 401K/HSA/FSA), we should still be able to raise our entertainment budget from what it has been these past 9 months, and still work towards saving for a new vehicle.

We originally wanted to save for it completely before purchasing, which would have taken about a year, but our daughter really needs a car for the college internship she wants to do next summer. Assuming the SUV is still running then, we'd like to pass it off to her by next May so she can do that. That said, we should be 80% of the way there by May with hubby's bonus, so it shouldn't be too bad to take out a small loan at that point and pay it off in 4-6 months.

At that point, I will be starting school again (just a few classes at a community college to begin with) so there will be some tuition to take care of. But we will also need to start kicking up our savings as well. I'm looking into a Roth IRA for that, and Ally bank seems like a good place to help us with it. Given that you can withdraw contributions without penalty if needed, I feel like this could double with retirement and most of our remaining 3-6 month emergency fund. Short of job loss, I doubt we will ever need more than the $5K we will already have set aside in the money market (which I will keep separate). And $18K seems like too much money to just have sitting in a low interest account, when it will likely never be used, while we make no progress on retirement. Dave Ramsey would not approve, and I'm still looking into the details, but right now that's the plan. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 7 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [103317] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) ) [entry_id] => 103317 [entry_title] => End of Month Slow Down [entry_stub] => end-of-month-slow-down [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/06/24/end-of-month-slow-down_103317/ [entry_date] => 1372097929 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-06-24 13:18:49 [entry_text] => The end of this month has been a bit of a let down in terms of the last leg of our debt payoff plan. We did make a $592 payment at the beginning of the month towards our last old credit card. But between the plumbing issues and car issues we had mid-month, there isn't anything left to do more. We just barely succeeded in not having to tap the emergency fund for the repairs, and now we're wiped. But even that is a success compared to our old way of life.

Still though, I think we will be able to send in another big chunk towards the fridge on the 5th of July. And our new estimated final payoff day is Aug 2. And then hubby can finally get that laptop he's been pining over for so long. Wink

Another bit of good news; we canceled 3 old credit cards this month and are about to close another as well. We applied for one new one with our warehouse discount store so that we can get the cash back on our purchases there. And we are keeping one other one to make sure we have enough available credit to keep our credit score rating up should something befall us before our souped up emergency fund is fully formed. But the plan from this point out is to pay them off at the end of each billing cycle and never carry a balance.

Now to just keep on trucking...
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 1 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [103087] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) ) [entry_id] => 103087 [entry_title] => We Did It!!! [entry_stub] => we-did-it [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/06/11/we-did-it_103087/ [entry_date] => 1370976855 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-06-11 13:54:15 [entry_text] => Just a quick note to say: We Paid Off Our LAST Credit Card last week!! We reached our goal a full 7 months early! I am so happy to be done!!

Of course, now that the old debt is done, it is time to acknowledge the new debt for the fridge we purchased on store credit. It has no interest for 6 months and we plan to be done in half that time. I have updated my debt stats accordingly. This debt milestone would feel a lot more exciting though if we didn't now have this to take care of that debt too. But at least it's debt for only one physical object that we use literally every day, rather than for a whole bunch of things transferred from card to card for so long that we had no idea what it was we were even paying for anymore. It is also nice to look at my wedding ring now and know that it is completely paid for. Smile

We may or may not make much headway on the fridge debt this month. Depends how my home business goes this month; this tends to be a slow time of year. Our car was in need of a $675 repair this week and we have a plumbing issue too now that is probably going to be at least $300. But guess what? For the first time, we don't have to tap into our emergency fund to pay for that. The mechanic told us the amount and we just sighed and said, well, at least we know we've got it. That is a very nice feeling.

Really looking forward to the end of the summer when we will have taken care of the back log of expenses we put off forever while doing our debt payoff. Because that's when the real fun begins. The accumulation phase that will (finally!) prepare us for our future.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 12 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [102806] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) ) [entry_id] => 102806 [entry_title] => A Talk with Hubby [entry_stub] => a-talk-with-hubby [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/05/27/a-talk-with-hubby_102806/ [entry_date] => 1369628147 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-05-26 23:15:47 [entry_text] => Many of you have pointed out to me that my hubby seems to be a reluctant partner in this Total Money Makeover of ours. To which I could not agree more. And it's certainly not as if that's something he and I haven't discussed. But its been a difficult topic for him. He feels like he works and works and works and yet has nothing to show for it (there's some truth to that right now). And generally speaking, since he lets me decide how to spend most of the money even though he makes most of the money, I try not to be too hard on him.

I did get annoyed enough the other night to bring it up again though. I was trying to have just a strategic, non-emotional discussion about what we should prioritize first once we finish paying off the last* credit card next month (*please ignore the fridge for now. I need that to be separate so I can be done, or I will implode.) But it once again turned in to a whine fest.

I managed to mostly keep my cool and said that while this certainly is hard, and there certainly is reason to whine about it occasionally, that shouldn't have to be the case every time money is discussed. That it made me feel like I was making him do this even though he has agreed many times that he feels it is what's best for us as well. That in order to feel like partners in it, I needed to just be able to talk strategy with him sometimes so that we could figure out how to best prioritize things together. I didn't say it all quite that nicely, but I did my best.

He didn't take it all that well at the time (it had been a long day and perhaps was not the best time to bring it up in retrospect). But later that night he did seem to come around some. And since then he has actually been much better. He even offered to put off getting the new laptop he so wants until the fridge payoff is done. We talked about how we might generate a report for him to look over after each paycheck so that he has a better understanding of how the numbers are moving (we're nerds like that). I told him that I was actually frustrated about it all the time too, and that if I didn't have my spreadsheet to look over and fiddle with almost daily I would probably be a wreck. Simple tasks like changing box shading from yellow to green to show it's completed do wonders for keeping me sane.

So, hopefully that was the talk that will finally change things. And we are so, so close. One more paycheck (don't talk to me about the fridge yet). It's really hard to not fixate on it. To a level of being unhealthy probably, but it's just been soooo long and part of me just can't believe that we're really about to frickin' do this. I keep checking and re-checking because it seems surreal. As if any moment a large, unforeseen expense will rise up and swallow us whole. But so far, the spreadsheet says we're on track. It says we're okay. Just one more paycheck...



[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 5 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [102651] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) ) [entry_id] => 102651 [entry_title] => So Close, Yet So Far [entry_stub] => so-close-yet-so-far [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/05/15/so-close-yet-so-far_102651/ [entry_date] => 1368590064 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-05-14 22:54:24 [entry_text] => We are so, so close to our credit card debt payoff. Only $1482 more to go! (Not counting the new fridge, as discussed). Our expected payoff date is June 7th but the closer we get, the more things that seem to be creeping up. Frown Our printer has stopped working, and our router is acting up and has to be restarted multiple times a day. We have 3 medical bills that came in at once and only enough money in the HSA for 2 of them (even after setting up payment plans). Our family car's air conditioner seems to need recharging. We have a plumbing issue with the water line to our new fridge. And to top it all off, we just found out our home has moderately high levels (6.2 pCi/L) of radon gas (common in this area) and that we need to install a mitigation system, which is going to run about $1600. We have $1000 in our emergency fund.

Hubby is chomping at the bit for the new lap top he's been promised when our last credit card is taken care of. And it would really help him with the side job he does that has helped pay down this debt faster. I don't think he's going to take no for an answer again if we have to push that last payment off a bit longer. But I really don't want to add anything else to credit. We need to take care of the new fridge still as it is.

I'm trying to decide what we can put off, and what we must do. I never pay bills late, so I think I will have an anxiety attack if I don't take care of the dental bill. Though I am going to call tomorrow and beg for a later due date (sad). As long as we don't start hitting 90's constantly it seems like we should be able to squeak by on the car's air conditioner for another month or so. My 2 year old boys sure looked hot back there today though. They were so flushed I was worried about over heating.

If hubby is going to demand the lap top then maybe he will have to wait on the fridge water line instead. We managed to get water from the sink for the last how many years. Shouldn't kill us to go a little longer. Hopefully we can figure out what's wrong with the printer and as long as the router doesn't completely die, we can deal with restarting it constantly a month or so longer. The radon mitigation system is the one that has me stuck though.

My daughter's bedroom is in the basement where the concentration is the highest. If she hadn't just gotten home for the summer from college then I think we would definitely put this off a few months. But she is home, and she sleeps down there (well, when she's not at her boyfriend's at least.) Long term exposure to radon increases your chances of lung cancer. 3 months isn't really that long of exposure (though this must have been a problem before too). To be honest, her risk of getting colon cancer from not eating any fruits and vegetables is probably higher, but I just don't feel good about it. Whether or not we take care of that right away though will probably be the difference between finishing the debt payoff in June or not.

Need to have a discussion with hubby I think. Hopefully one that entails more problem solving than whining.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 7 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [102443] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21491] => Array ( [category_id] => 21491 [category_name] => Food / Groceries [category_stub] => food-groceries ) ) [entry_id] => 102443 [entry_title] => Inching Ever Closer & A New Fridge! [entry_stub] => inching-ever-closer-a-new-fridge [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/05/01/inching-ever-closer-a-new-fridge_102443/ [entry_date] => 1367376476 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-04-30 21:47:56 [entry_text] => One more month of operation wipe out credit card/car debt completed. And as long and tedious as it has been, we are in the final stretch now. Only $3341 left. In fact, we have an estimated payoff date of June 7th! Just gotta keep putting one foot in front of the other for a little longer...

Actually, I have a confession. Two days ago, we bought a fridge. With a store credit card. So, to be completely honest about it, out debt total is actually at $5279.08 now. I know, I know, we maybe shouldn't have. We're so close. But- we were absolutely going to do this as soon as possible after we finished in June, and -the store had a sale on them this month that saved us $200, and- there's no interest for 6 months and we should have it paid off 3-4 months from now. And also- we were sick to death of that stupid drawer always falling down and pulverizing our fruit! And just to throw in one more good excuse, it was so ancient that I'm certain our energy bill will go down by a noticeable amount once the new eco-friendly one arrives. And it's bigger. It might actually fit all our stuff! Wink

This doesn't actually change our payment plan at all really because given there's no interest, we're still going to put all our focus into the last credit card first and then start paying for the new lap top and fridge we need. We'll finish paying it off in the same time we would have saved for it, but this way I get the new fridge while we're doing it. At this point, I trust myself to deal with this new debt ASAP, so I am not too worried about it. I don't plan on paying interest to credit card companies EVER again.

So, one more month down. And I keep wondering, what will it feel like when the last debt is paid? If we were planning on adding all the extra money we'll have to our regular spending, I'd probably assume it'd feel pretty awesome. Instead we're mostly going to be doing much more practical things with it, like starting a 401k, increasing contributions to our HSA and saving for a new family car. So in terms of spending, it won't feel that much different. But I would assume there will be a mental shift of some sort? A different feeling when you know you are finally creating a hill rather than digging out of a hole? I don't know for sure. I guess we'll see when we get there. I sure hope it feels different! Would love to hear how it was for others when they reached this turning point. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 1 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [101898] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21495] => Array ( [category_id] => 21495 [category_name] => Saving Money [category_stub] => saving-money ) ) [entry_id] => 101898 [entry_title] => Save Now, Live Later [entry_stub] => save-now-live-later [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/03/30/save-now-live-later_101898/ [entry_date] => 1364658384 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-03-30 10:46:24 [entry_text] => We're making awesome progress on our debt. In the last 6 months we have paid off $16,406 in credit cards/car loans and we now have only $5900 to go. On paper, it looks really good. In life- it looks kind of bleak.

I have always struggled with living my life more in the past or future than in the present. The Now. I am good at putting off short term reward for long term gain. Hubby has a harder time with this, which is one reason he is so good for me in this regard. He helps to balance me out and remind me that life IS now. In turn, I help to give him direction so that he moves towards his longer term goals. This tug of war plays out in our total money makeover all the time, as it does with most everything in our marriage.

Recently though, I have hit an emotional wall that makes me realize I need to start focusing more on the Now. To put it bluntly, I am not enjoying my life right now. I miss working and having space for intellectual pursuits in my life outside of two year old play dates and fish sticks. I feel that me being home is what's best for them and I love them to pieces. But I am coming to accept that it is not what's best for me. None the less, they don't have a lot of part-time options for women with PhDs in science fields, and I didn't like what I did much before anyways, and I will need to be retrained before I can begin a new career path. Which will only be affordable if we stick to our financial plan and cut expenses now. For now, and the next few years, I'm stuck here.

And hubby and I have been working our butts off for this money makeover. I run after our darling boys all day while he works his day job. And then by night, once the boys are tucked in, we both spend at least half the nights a week doing our side jobs, which has created the surplus for our finances. But we have almost no time for ourselves or each other. We've turned all date nights into at home affairs and cut all plans for family vacations. We don't buy clothes, or toys or really anything that's not required. We stick to the plan. And it blows.

Part of why we have felt the need to push this hard in the short term is that we have been treading water financially for years now. With every increase in funds getting eaten up by something else unplanned for, I watched my goal of going back to school slip further and further away. We were always barely making ends meet. Always "a little bit short this month but next month should be better." Looking into the near future we could already see the big raise hubby was expecting being eaten up by needing to replace the family car that is on its last leg. And we have nothing for retirement. We needed to do something Now.

So we're doing this. And the credit cards part of it is almost done. Which is awesome. But if we don't want to just replace all that work with another car loan then we need to start saving pretty aggressively for a car as well. And there are a whole ton a medical expenses that have crept up recently that I don't even want to think about factoring in to the plan yet. And yet - life is NOW. Not when we finish saving for a "new" car or finally start that retirement fund or get money pulled together for me to go back to school. But now. And Now - I am miserable.

Clearly there has to be some balance here. It does no good to live high on the hog now and just be miserable in the future instead. But it is not healthy to put off everything Now for a future that may never come either. They used to say money doesn't buy you happiness. Though they're finding that's not actually true! (

Text is http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/01/25/money-does-buy-happiness-we-were-shocked-too/ and Link is
http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/01/25/money-does-...,
Text is http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2019628,00.html and Link is
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2019628,00....,
Text is http://www.wired.com/business/2012/12/wealth-happiness/ and Link is
http://www.wired.com/business/2012/12/wealth-happiness/). Regardless, I have never been a collector of things for my happiness. But money does buy experiences. And experiences are the stuff of life in my opinion.

In times past, I know it has definitely made me happier to have a fun family vacation to look forward to, or a fancy night out with hubby taking in dinner, wine and a show somewhere. It made me happy when I was able to splurge on a massage or a special outing with the boys. Though these things are fleeting without knowing they are financially backed by having the longer term goals of ones life fully funded as well. Again, I recognize there must be balance. But right now the balance is clearly too far to the future game, and we need to adjust that.

In the very short term we are going to restart monthly date night outs, though nothing too fancy until the credit cards are done (only 3 more months!). Then, we'll have to decide what additional changes we can make at that point, and which ones we need to put off at least until a new car, and the increased emergency fund, and the 401K and all that have been saved for. I don't know what the right balance is here because all these things are important. But my emotional outlook is making it very clear to me that our current answer is not where it needs to be right now. I will be working on sorting that out this coming month.

PS Please, please, pretty please, do not respond to this post with a list of low cost entertainment options that I could "fix" my problem with. And no, we do not have good options with family or friends for child care swapping right now. I am aware that these options exist and we are considering them too, but we want to feel able to enjoy some of the "finer" things in life as well. This is really more about giving myself permission to enjoy than it is about the actual solution. Once I feel it's allowed, coming up with the options should be the fun part!
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 9 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 0 [contains_images] => 0 ) [101832] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21494] => Array ( [category_id] => 21494 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) ) [entry_id] => 101832 [entry_title] => March Madness Ends [entry_stub] => march-madness-ends [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/03/26/march-madness-ends_101832/ [entry_date] => 1364260552 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-03-25 20:15:52 [entry_text] => Well, probably not the March Madness you're thinking of. But our March madness - the one where all the money came in, that one is finally wrapping up. And we have *mostly* been very, very good.

As you'll recall, hubby got a $5K bonus in Feb, a raise that translates in to $250 extra per paycheck starting mid-March, and a tax return total around $6200. Yeah, it was pretty sweet. But, unlike every other year in prior history, we applied ALL this money towards our debts. The checks came in, and I mailed another out.

And now, that's it. No more extra money. But only ONE credit card left! Wow. And I think we have about an extra $1000 left over from this month's budget that I'll be able to put towards it at month's end. If we keep sticking to the plan, I believe we'll be done with baby step 2 finally come July. Thank. Goodness. Cause we are sooooo sick of this.

Granted, we're not out of the water yet. Before I feel good about where we're at, we're going to need to save up for a "new" family car (preferably BEFORE the old one dies), start contributing enough to hubby's 401K to take full advantage of the employer matching, and save up at least $15K into an emergency fund. I feel like those are the bare minimum financial things I need to feel like a financially respectable adult. Hubby agrees, and until we reach those goals, we are both willing to do some more sacrificing (some of us less reluctantly than others, but we're not naming names here!).

Really though, that's just the bottom line because eventually, when the boys are finally in school I want to go back to school myself and start a second career. And given that we've barely made a dent in my previous student loans, I'd rather not take out more if possible. And we want to pay off our mortgage. And before too terribly much longer hubby will need a newer car too. And it's going to take a lot more than just hubby's 401K to make up for the Absolutely Nothing we have saved for retirement yet.

But, all in good time. The good news is that I think we will actually have reached my bottom line by this time next year, and that will be amazing. Hubby and I do have a few rewards we will be giving ourselves along the way as we reach our intermediate goals. To start with, once the credit cards are finished, our monthly entertainment budget goes up. We get to start having real date nights again! Also, there will be a new refrigerator and a new lap top ASAP, both of which will replace objects that we are just praying will hold out until July right now. But for now, baby step 2 continues...

[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 2 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 0 [contains_images] => 0 ) [101411] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21494] => Array ( [category_id] => 21494 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) ) [entry_id] => 101411 [entry_title] => Making Progress [entry_stub] => making-progress [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/03/02/making-progress_101411/ [entry_date] => 1362265644 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-03-02 17:07:24 [entry_text] => I am frustrated that I have not been able to keep up with this blog very well lately due to some other projects I have been working on. I think it is a really good outlet for the stress this financial overhaul creates in our lives sometimes. And I think its a really good tool for keeping us accountable. Should be able to put more time into it again by the end of this month though I think, so I'll have to be content with that for now.

As for where we're at right now, do you see that side bar?! Talk about progress! Yes, the windfall has finally begun. Hubby got his bonus from work, which was about $5K after taxes got done with it. Originally, I had planned on paying off credit cards first with that, but after reading A LOT of material of financial planning recently, I decided a better use would be to pay off the car first, due to its higher interest rate. So, that one is done! And that payoff alone increases our monthly income by $198/month. Yay!

We also got our state return, a little under $500, and with that and some other surplus, I did pay off 1 of our 4 credit cards as well, though that one only increases out bottom line by about $30/month so not as exciting. But still progress! Supposedly, the IRS is going to finally start processing returns for people with mortgage interest credits within the next week. So hopefully, we will get that soon too (assuming no audit as discussed previously:
Text is http://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/02/09/death-and-taxes_100945/ and Link is
http://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/02/09/death-a...). And when we do, I plan to knock off a couple more cards, this raising our bottom line another $180/month. Wow, were we ever wasting a lot of money of this crap.

After that, it will just be the one big one left, which I'm hoping to have taken care of by the end of the summer, maybe sooner depending on how my business goes (summers tend to be slower). And then, we finally get to start the more fun part of personal finance: investing in ourselves.

Certainly we still have a lot of debt to pay off, between my student loans and our mortgage. Actually, even after paying off the the rest of the credit cards, I was disappointed to find that our net worth will still be around -$84K. Ouch. Though it is above the -$100K mark now for the first time in years. But as one financial planner I read stated, we're working really hard just to be worthless right now (ie $0 net worth).

None the less, after receiving some comments about how silly we are to not be taking advantage of the 401K matching hubby's company offers, I did a bit of research and decided in the end that, yes, we are being incredibly stupid not taking this free money and we need to get on that train ASAP, Dave Ramsey be damned. If we were being completely logical rather than emotional about it in fact, we would probably be prioritizing that even above our credit cards given that they have very low promotional interest rates. After much discussion though, we have decided we simply cannot bring ourselves to make this credit card thing go any slower. We feel spread much too thin as it is, and we need to be done with those debts and never use credit that way again. Our emotional sanity depends on it. Especially given how close we are.

If it were going to be something that was a few years away from being accomplished, like our mortgage and student loans, it might make sense to do it with more of a long view in mind. But we are literally within 3-5 months of our goal and our monthly income will increase by another $300 compared to now, once we sunset this. And that will certainly help our long term bottom line as well. That's our thinking at least. But at least we're almost there!

Anyways, very happy to be making some definite progress finally and looking forward to a 3 paycheck March this month as well! [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 0 [contains_images] => 0 ) [100947] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21491] => Array ( [category_id] => 21491 [category_name] => Food / Groceries [category_stub] => food-groceries ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) ) [entry_id] => 100947 [entry_title] => Feb Zero Dollar Budget [entry_stub] => feb-zero-dollar-budget [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/02/09/feb-zero-dollar-budget_100947/ [entry_date] => 1360431810 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-02-09 11:43:30 [entry_text] => Income:

Hubby's Job (after tax): $5271
Hubby's Hobby Income: $550*
My PT-WFH Job: $670*
Hubby's Bonus (after tax): $5104
(*subject to change, though usually for the better!)

Total Monthly Income: $11598 (umm...holy crap!)

Expenses:

Non-Fixed Expenses:
Groceries: $861
Gasoline: $188
Misc: $500
Entertainment: $250
Gifts: $10 (Valentine's Day Treat!)

Fixed Expenses:
Mortgage/Insurance: $1509
Student Loan: $619
Utilities (water/sewer, gas, electric, etc): $349
Services (phone, computer backup, garbage, cable*, etc.): $285
(*reimbursed through hubby's company)
Leftover Leaf Cleanup Bill: $150*
(*he still has not billed us and I'm not calling again. This is his last chance.)
Auto Insurance: $73
Credit Cards (minimum payments): $299
Auto Loan: $198
Early Childhood Program (spring session fee): $120

Total Expenses: $5525

Difference (to be applied towards credit cards): $6073 (woo hoo!)


Still need to do an accounting for how we did in Jan but I think I'm out of time this morning so it looks like it will have to wait again.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 2 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [100943] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) ) [entry_id] => 100943 [entry_title] => Hubby Got Promoted!!! [entry_stub] => hubby-got-promoted [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/02/09/hubby-got-promoted_100943/ [entry_date] => 1360428955 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-02-09 10:55:55 [entry_text] => The day we have been waiting for all year is finally here! Many of you pointed out previously that in the future we should probably not count so many of our eggs before they hatch so to speak. And yes, I know what you mean. I tend to always be about 5 years ahead of myself. That works well for some things in life, though not for others. This one was particularly hard because we *thought* this promotion was going to happen last year. His boss had suggested as much. Then we came to find that the company likes to get new managers feet wet for a year by giving them most of the new duties they will have, without the pay increase until the following year, after they see how it goes.

I get the logic that they don't want to end up promoting people who aren't going to be a good fit for management. But man that was an annoying year. We had thought it was already in the bag. And Hubby worked his butt off and understandably felt uncompensated for it. But no more! He broke the six figure income ceiling in fact! Well, more like scuffed it: he's getting exactly $100K now. But he also got a sweet $8000 bonus, though that'll be about $5100 once taxes get pulled out. Additionally, he gets an office and a garage parking spot. And he will now be eligible for even larger bonuses going forward. Possibly as much as 15% if he keeps "exceeding expectations".

But okay, okay, let's not go there yet. Let's let next years chickens come next year. How 'bout them eggs this year though! Wink We should be getting the bonus check next week. And once we do, CC#1 and #2 that you see on the side bar there should finally be gone! And just in time too, one of our balance txfr promotions is about to expire.

It may seem like a simple thing to send in a big check like this to a credit card that needs paying, but for us, this in and of itself is a debt victory. We were never disciplined enough to make that much headway before. We *might* have ended up paying off the smaller of the two. But we certainly wouldn't have knocked out that second one also (with some spare to throw at the third as well). So this is a big money management win for us.

Additionally, we should start seeing about $250 more each paycheck after taxes, and that will certainly help as well. Credit Card Free 2013, here we come!
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 5 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [100622] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) ) [entry_id] => 100622 [entry_title] => Parallel Lives [entry_stub] => parallel-lives [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/01/27/parallel-lives_100622/ [entry_date] => 1359316861 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-01-27 14:01:01 [entry_text] => For the most part, I like Dave Ramsey's TMM plan. We're working hard on baby step 2 (debt snowball for non-house/student loan debts) and are hoping to be on to baby step 3 (beef up the $1000 emergency fund from baby step 1) before the end of the year. This is our 4th month on this plan. Unfortunately, I feel like our accumulated debt snowball at this point could still easily fit in the palm of one hand. And just last month we had to regress to baby step 1 for a bit while we took care of some car/business income troubles we had.

And now this month yet again, one of our cars is going to keep us from being able to get traction on our debt snowball yet again. This is the 3rd month out of the last 4 that we have had car expenses over $800, and is already easily more than we paid the entire year before. WTF? We were long overdue though for 4 new tires that we were hoping to put off until next month's tax return came in. An unexpected flat (and consequent tow) made that happen this month instead though and altogether we are out another $850. The only good thing I can say about this is that we managed to trim enough excess off our spending this month that we did not have to tap in to the emergency fund to pay for that again. But I'm not sure how much extra there will be now to apply to our credit cards once again.

So we will probably continue to pay only slightly above the minimums on all our cards for yet another month. Luckily they are all on no interest promotional periods right now, but those will gradually expire this year and balance transfers cost 3-4% of the balance. In truth, it is not as bad as all that because we do have our big tax return and hubby's bonus coming our way soon, and once we get those we should be about 2/3 of the way done already. But I guess I feel like that's cheating.

I wanted this debt snowball to get started through our own budgeting successes and not just a once a year cash windfall. And I suppose one could argue that that's still true here. In a parallel life, one where we did not start our Total Money Makeover, I am certain hubby and I's straits would be much more dire right now. We would have spent a lot more money than we should have on other things and we would have ended up adding more to credit cards when the emergencies came in. We would have planned to throw and little at the credit cards with our tax return/bonus, but also prioritized a new fridge and laptop above our debt payoffs. We would have had a lot more fun going on monthly date night like we used to, but we'd also be a lot more in debt and certainly no closer to our long term financial goals.

At least that's what I like to tell myself. And its probably true. But who knows what my old self would have done for sure. I'm not a complete idiot, just a little desirous of short term rewards at the expense of long term gains. And I was a little fuzzy on the overall game plan long term. But still, on weeks like this, I wish there were a way to see my bank accounts in that parallel life next to this one, so I could know that we truly are making progress.

End of month accounting to follow soon.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [100520] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21495] => Array ( [category_id] => 21495 [category_name] => Saving Money [category_stub] => saving-money ) ) [entry_id] => 100520 [entry_title] => Pushing Too Hard [entry_stub] => pushing-too-hard [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/01/23/pushing-too-hard_100520/ [entry_date] => 1358913075 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-01-22 21:51:15 [entry_text] => Hubby has seemed down the past couple weeks. Just always tired and distant and with a shorter fuse than normal. Money things especially seemed to set him off, and it got me thinking...maybe he feels I'm pushing him too hard with this Money Makeover thing I've roped us into? Maybe he thinks that money is all I care about?

So last night I asked him whether something was wrong. And I got the usual answer about work being hard right now, but he also slipped in a single sentence about being worried he wouldn't get the promotion he should have coming next month. The one we've been looking forward to and planning for all year. The one I have financial forecast spreadsheets already built around. And I thought, hmmm, I haven't heard him say that before. Could this fear be behind the mood of late?

So I probed a bit further. And here's where I'll have to back up a bit and give you some detail on his work situation. Hubby works for a large fortune 500 company that has a policy of testing out new managers by generally giving them a small team to work with for a year and then officially promoting them (ie pay grade level raise) and expanding their team the following year if all goes well. Hubby started out last March with a team of 3 underneath him. One who turned out to be a rock star, one who's your average joe schmo, and one who is the devil incarnate.

His boss told him he was getting a lemon who was transferred to them because she had issues with her last manager already (and the one before that, and...) but he wanted him to see what he could do with her. He had no idea what was really in store. I can't even begin to go in to everything this woman did, it would just go on forever. All I will say is that she knew how to work the system of a large company, knew how to complicate things further with unverifiable health issues, and had the entire human resource department involved in her case besides themselves with dread. For hubby, this meant headache after headache as he jumped through all the hoops and appeals of the employee corrective action process, the end result being that something/someone which should have been maybe 10% the focus of his job became more like 60%. She was going to be out of his hair soon (more on that in a bit) but the months prior had taken their toll.

So hubby was concerned about his promotion status. He knew he had accomplished less in other areas than he would have without that situation. He knew his direct supervisor felt he was doing very well given the situation, but he didn't know who all needed to approve the promotion and he didn't know what criteria they would be using to evaluate that decision. And he knew how much I had been looking forward to that money. About my spreadsheets. About my assumptions. And he silently worried. Poor hubby.

It has been a long, tight few months for our budget since back child support ended in Dec, my home business floundered all Summer/Fall, the car broke down big time, and Xmas arrived. And that was all just after we had started getting our feet wet with this debt reduction stuff to begin with! It helped a lot during that time that hubby's hobby was steadily earning him some initially unexpected income as well. I kind of made it clear to him though that for Dec and Jan at least, as great as it was that he was getting paid for something he loved, we really needed the money as well. Although it had started out that way, it wasn't really optional anymore - at least not for those two months. He didn't like the fun that took out of it for him, though he understood the constraints we were under and he did what he needed to do to make that happen. With everything going on at work as well though, I think it was all just too much for him.

So, I've done my best to back off set his heart at ease. I reassured him that now that my business has picked up again, we don't need that money anymore, and if he stopped making another penny of it, it would only set us back two months in our debt plan. I also told him that whether or not his company is able to recognize his efforts this year, given the ridiculous situation he was put in, I know he did an amazing job with what he had to work with and in one more year without her in the picture, he was going to knock their socks off. And I truly believe this. My hubby is a very capable and competent man that is really good at what he does. It was just a crappy situation.

I think he felt some relief from that. I think he was happy to know I did care about more than just the money, though I think I need to work even harder in the future to make sure he knows that. It's just so much a focus of mine right now as we work through all this debt. I think he felt down right elated this morning though when he came in to find her letter or resignation in his inbox. Smile Truthfully, she was finally on a final warning and it was really only a matter of time one way or another, but that was probably the best outcome possible. Additionally, his boss mentioned at a team meeting later that day that all requests for promotions have been initially approved - and he knows he's one of them.

Its been a good day. Smile
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 6 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [100049] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21495] => Array ( [category_id] => 21495 [category_name] => Saving Money [category_stub] => saving-money ) ) [entry_id] => 100049 [entry_title] => Our Debt Snowball [entry_stub] => our-debt-snowball [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/01/05/our-debt-snowball_100049/ [entry_date] => 1357369587 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-01-05 01:06:27 [entry_text] => This is it! The year we're going to conquer our credit card and car loan debt. Time to layout the plan so I can hold myself to it!

We are still only 3 months in to our Total Money Makeover. So far, getting our debt "snowball" rolling has been really slow going due to a number of unfortunate factors. Child support back-pay ended last month, and as glad as I am to finally be done with my ex-husband, it left a new $500 hole in our budget. We knew this was coming though, and could have handled it alone, but unfortunately, it overlapped with a slow quarter for me in my home business. I have been making only about 1/3 of my usual profits for this time of year. And then to make matters worse, just a month before Xmas my normally biggest contract of the year cancelled on me due to going out of business. That left us short another $1600, and was pretty much our Xmas "budget" out the window. The same week our newer car need a $1000 repair. Needless to say, its been rough.

The amazing part of all this though, (as I tried to explain to hubby tonight when he got all forlorn about how little actual credit card progress we've made so far), is that we have not dug ourselves in any deeper for once! Had we not started a budget and drastically reduced our spending in recent months, these problems would have crept up on as as they always did. With us already overspent and not knowing where we were going to come up with these extra funds. I would not have been at all surprised if we ended up putting at least $1000 or so on a credit card, even after wiping our emergency fund out. Nor would we have had any plan to restock the emergency fund before our tax return came in late Feb. But that's not how we're doing things these days.

Today, I can honestly say that we have not used a credit card in over a year, even for emergencies. That's a first. And that as of this Monday, despite Xmas being barely over, our emergency fund will be restocked with $1000. And that even after all that, if we stick to our budget, we may still have about $50 extra to put towards credit cards in Jan. That may not be much, but it's a heck of a lot better than where we would have been before all this.

But then Feb is where the real fun begins. The month we finally start getting some momentum on this debt snowball. Because due to circumstances previously discussed, we will be getting a huge tax return. Probably around $8000. And then come March hubby should be getting his annual bonus, which will probably be around $4500. And then in Apr., hubby's new promotion raise will kick in and he should start bringing home about $500 more a month (which BTW, cancels out that child support that ended. Sweet.).

In the past, we would have initially *said* we were going to put a large amount of this extra towards our credit cards. But as it got closer, our wish list would have grown and grown. We may have ended up throwing $1500 towards it, but the rest would have gotten set aside for "in case" or spent this way or that. Our goal this year though, is to send no less than $13,000 to our credit cards for the months of Feb & March combined. Hold me to this!

By the end of all this fortune we should have wiped out three of our four credit cards and will already be about 2/3 of the way to our 2013 debt goal. From that point on it will be more slow and steady progress. If we stick to it though, that last credit card should be gone by the end of June, and our car loan will follow at the end of Sept. And that will be it! Almost one year after we started to the date. And then on to baby step 3 we'll go!

If we stick to this plan, about 28% of our take home pay over the course of a year will go towards our credit card and car loan debts. Compare that with the only 7% progress we were making before. (And we were wondering why we were never getting anywhere?) A four fold increase. Not too shabby for only 3 months of restructuring. And who knows what else we'll come up with by then?

All of this, of course, is subject to change. I'll feel a lot more confident once the tax return, bonus and raise are in hand. Until then, they are only projections, not realities. (At least the fiscal cliff is done!) Also, who knows what else will happen with cars and appliances and goodness knows what else in the months ahead. I have estimated my business income a little on the low side to help offset this, but it being on the low side has been a reality for me as well lately, though one that is starting to improve. If necessary, we still have a 3 month buffer to make it to the end of 2013 credit card/car loan debt free!

All said and done, we have a plan, and now its time to get to it.

[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 10 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 0 [contains_images] => 0 ) [99801] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21491] => Array ( [category_id] => 21491 [category_name] => Food / Groceries [category_stub] => food-groceries ) [21495] => Array ( [category_id] => 21495 [category_name] => Saving Money [category_stub] => saving-money ) [21496] => Array ( [category_id] => 21496 [category_name] => Shopping [category_stub] => shopping ) ) [entry_id] => 99801 [entry_title] => Post Christmas Update [entry_stub] => post-christmas-update [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2012/12/27/post-christmas-update_99801/ [entry_date] => 1356575464 [entry_date_mysql] => 2012-12-26 20:31:04 [entry_text] => Well, we managed to get through Dec., the month I projected to be the tightest in our near future, with less financial distress than anticipated. The new side work hobby and I both had come in helped a lot. Jan. will still be a little tight, but without Xmas (and hopefully not another $1000 car repair), certainly much easier. And then come Feb we should finally be able to start making some real headway of this credit card/car loan debt. Can't wait to knock the first of those cards to the ground! Assuming we don't jump off a national fiscal cliff for more than a week or so. I predict a deal within 2 weeks from today. Who's with me?

I got a lot of great tips for cutting Christmas expenses in my blog comments. Unfortunately, the posts they referred to were old (from my old blog) and by the time I received them, we had already purchased everything but for the stockings. We did manage to keep within the budget we allotted ourselves though. And we also managed to temper costs a little by purposely asking family members who wanted gift suggestions for items that would have normally come out of the miscellaneous budget. So hubby got a not very exciting, but quite practical and needed belt, while I got sports bra and dust proof pillow cases (among other more fun things as well), and we were both pretty happy with it.

So strange to remember that as recently as 4 years ago, we were still willing to break out the credit cards for Christmas purchases this time of year, citing plans to pay it off "some time later". The idea of going further into to debt for something so non-essential is incredibly disturbing to me now. I am not entirely sure when this point of view changed for me but I am glad to realize it has. Now I just need to work more on better prioritizing the spending of money I do have as well.

As for our tapped out emergency fund...I don't want to get too ahead of myself given that the end of the month is still a few days away. I feel like this just invites disaster to come. But I *think*, that maybe, just possibly, if luck continues to shine upon us, we will be able to put about $650 back into it next week. And I feel fairly confident (but in a not at all cocky way fairies of fate!) that we will be able to put the remaining $350 back in by the end of Jan. as well. And once that's out of the way we are back to baby step 2 again! (Please forgive my paranoid ravings. There's just been too many bad turns of late.)

I'm interested to see what our grocery bill will be this week as well given it will be our first shopping trip at our superstore instead of the grocery delivery service. And given that I have put on at least 3 lbs in Xmas cookies alone over the past two weeks, perhaps we should go light on supplies this coming week anyways. Though not until after the annual family fondue dinner next week! Gosh I love the food this time of year. Smile

Hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday!
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 5 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [99748] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21491] => Array ( [category_id] => 21491 [category_name] => Food / Groceries [category_stub] => food-groceries ) [21495] => Array ( [category_id] => 21495 [category_name] => Saving Money [category_stub] => saving-money ) [21496] => Array ( [category_id] => 21496 [category_name] => Shopping [category_stub] => shopping ) ) [entry_id] => 99748 [entry_title] => Grocery Reckoning Day [entry_stub] => grocery-reckoning-day [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2012/12/23/grocery-reckoning-day_99748/ [entry_date] => 1356236562 [entry_date_mysql] => 2012-12-22 22:22:42 [entry_text] => This past week, I spent most of my free time either physically shopping for groceries (or xmas), comparison shopping for groceries, or entering data about my comparison shopping into a spread sheet. I swear, besides taking care of two sick kids and eating way too many Christmas cookies, that's ALL I did. I may have piles of boxes downstairs left to wrap for the kids, but I have grocery price data compiled for you dear readers!

I won't bore you all to tears though by listing things like the price of bananas and greek yogurt at 3 different stores. Instead, I'll just tell you the bottom line. We could reduce our weekly grocery bill by about 30% if we stop getting our groceries delivered. Thirty. Percent. That is a weekly savings of almost $50 or around $200/month. Or in other words, this single act alone would move us from the USDA's
Text is http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/FoodPlans/2012/CostofFoodJan2012.pdf and Link is
http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/FoodPlans/2012/CostofF... liberal to moderate food cost budget (a previously stated goal of mine). Sigh. And now what to do with this new knowledge?

I must admit, I knew we were paying a premium for our grocery delivery service. I figured the convenience cost was probably around 10-15%, and my husband and I both felt that with twins boys under the age of 3, that extra cost was worth it. But looking at the numbers, it is clear now that it is costing us at least double, possibly triple what we had assumed. And I hate to even think about how much more than that it was costing us before we started using our discount warehouse store for frozen and non-perishable items. Holy. Crap.

The idea of adding another hour to hour and a half of shopping into my week makes me want to gag though. I loath shopping, especially for something boring like groceries. But 30% is just too much. In fact, the amount that we could save by me spending that extra time each week is roughly equivalent to the amount I would make if I put that much extra time into my home business. So if it pays as well as what I do for a living pays anyway, how could it not be worth it?

I still, however, can not wrap my head around the idea of bringing twin toddler boys with me during these weekly expeditions. I know some people do manage this somehow. If it were the difference between me eating or not I suppose I would too...maybe. If they were aged 3 and 1, where one could be in the child seat while the other held on to the cart, I think it could work. Or if they were even just a little older, 3 instead of 2, so that I could trust them to stay next to me instead of both running in opposite directions at the same time (or just plain sitting down and refusing to move anywhere), then it might work. But right now, they no longer both fit in the seat and they do NOT stay by the cart. It takes forever to dig one of those double seater carts they never have enough of out of the cart return bins (all the while blocking traffic) and its almost impossible to push them through the snow anyways. Our discount warehouse store has huge, two child cart seats that I love, and that I do manage with the boys occasionally. But these new weekly trips at the local super store -not possible yet.

Hubby, however, after looking over the numbers, has agreed to watch them for me on the weekends while I go. Normally this is the absolute last way I would like to be spending our precious family and personal down time on the weekends. But we have almost no money allotted for family outings during this year of debt reduction anyways, and the boys right now are at the age where during the winter they are almost as often sick as not, so many weeks (like this one) we can't do anything anyways. And by this time next year when we're out of this mess, I might finally be able to trust them to stay by the cart and hold mommy's hand.

So thank you everyone for this kick in the pants I needed to come to this difficult decision. It will probably save us over $2500 this coming year, and that gets us to our debt goal all the sooner.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 8 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 0 [contains_images] => 0 ) [99544] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21496] => Array ( [category_id] => 21496 [category_name] => Shopping [category_stub] => shopping ) ) [entry_id] => 99544 [entry_title] => Taking the Bad with the Good [entry_stub] => taking-the-bad-with-the-good [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2012/12/13/taking-the-bad-with-the-good_99544/ [entry_date] => 1355427405 [entry_date_mysql] => 2012-12-13 13:36:45 [entry_text] => (Last old entry!)

I haven't posted our month's end update yet because our financial situation this past week has been so in flux. In a recent post I talked a bit about hoping our Xmas shortfall might "magically" fix itself. And believe it or not, we actually have had a fair bit of good fortune magic come our way recently in terms of income.

Hubby's writing/website management hobby is really taking off! He's just landed a new deal that should pay a minimum of $300/month starting next week, and possibly up to $500 or more. And that's in addition to the $220 he was already making through another deal, plus some smaller bits on the side. All together that is more than enough to make up for the back pay child support that is now ending (last check tomorrow!) and also enough to bridge the income gap we were expecting for Dec/Jan.

Additionally, I've had a little bit of work come my way as well! My worse case budget scenario was assuming I would continue to have only about $140/month of income (that used to be more like $600). For at least Dec/Jan though, I think I can count on that being around $400 instead, so that's another extra $260 that also kind of feels like it just magically appeared in time for Christmas.

Were in not for the car repair that suddenly fell into our laps as well then, we would probably feel we were raking in the dough. But alas, this was no ordinary car repair. This was a $992 doosey. I'm not even sure we've paid that much for a car repair before. Usually when the repairs start getting that expensive and close together, the car is old enough that we decide its probably not worth it and time for a newer one instead. But this is hubby's car and we are still making car payments on it as it is. It's also the newer of our two vehicles and therefore not allowed to reach the end of its life first!

Anyways, that completely cleaned out the emergency fund. All but $10.17. So that's a little scary. Cause it's a good two and a half months until tax rebate season. Additionally, our discretionary account has only $4.81 in it, while even our fixed checking, which we use for things like the mortgage, has only $728.42. Not cool. Luckily, hubby gets paid tomorrow, though there are still lots more gifts to get. I should point out here that the order these fluctuations came in as was: my income increase (Oh, good, that will help a little), then the car (Oh, f**k. We're screwed again.), then hubby's income increase (Woo hoooo!!! We're saved!). It's been a long week.

We ended last month with about $260 surplus, which we would have liked to use to pay down our credit card debts given that that is the point of this whole thing. Unfortunately, as the month ended, we were projecting a $750 shortfall for Dec./Jan., so I felt I needed to hold on to that extra to help somehow bridge the gap. When my extra income came in, we had high hopes that end of Dec or at least Jan. might afford us some surplus after all. But then the car crapped out, and Dave Ramsey says our first priority now should be going back to baby step 1 to replenish the emergency fund. I'm not quite sure yet where that puts us in terms of catching up again, but it may well be Feb still. In the meantime, we will continue making our roughly $500/month in minimum payments.

More good news; some very preliminary numbers I ran in the newly released 2012 Turbotax seem to predict that we will be getting back around $8000 this year! Holy s**t! I think that's even bigger than when we got our first time home buyer's credit, though I might be wrong about that. We only claimed 4 deductions rather than 5 on hubby's W-4, so as to cancel out my estimated business taxes, but I didn't make very much compared to normal, so it ending up being a lot more withholding than we really needed. Plus, we get some kind of a $2000 education credit for my daughter starting college, since she is still a dependent on our taxes for this year. Yay!! Until the car died, we were considering buying a new fridge with some of that. But at this point, we may just muddle through and try to just get done with this ASAP. Hopefully by next Xmas we'll be on baby step 3!
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [99542] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21496] => Array ( [category_id] => 21496 [category_name] => Shopping [category_stub] => shopping ) ) [entry_id] => 99542 [entry_title] => Cancelling Christmas (Except Not!) [entry_stub] => cancelling-christmas-except-not [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2012/12/13/cancelling-christmas-except-not_99542/ [entry_date] => 1355427101 [entry_date_mysql] => 2012-12-13 13:31:41 [entry_text] => (Only a couple old ones left...)

So bad news this week. That big job I usually get this time of year that has paid for the last couple Christmases will not be happening this year. Or anymore at all actually; it appears they have gone out of business. And given how much we were counting on it, that is quite a bummer.

The net effect of this is that Dec and Jan are not going to be just tight as I've mentioned, they are going to be negative in terms of cash flow. Even putting off getting the new tires we need, and even adding in the savings we scraped out of this month, I estimate we are still going to be about $500 short by the end of Jan. And given that bonuses and tax returns won't come in until the later half of Feb, the first half of that month is not going to be pretty either. Things have already felt so tight on this Total Money Makeover that it's hard for me to even picture how much more this is going to suck now.

Given all this, and in the spirit of maintaining gazelle intensity for our debts (I mentioned I hated that phrase, right?), it seems we probably should cancel Xmas this year. Or presents at least, that is. In fact, that would simple act alone would about take care of that $500 shortfall we have (so would winning that $500 million Powerball right now, but I digress). But we are not going to do that. Does this mean we are not really serious about our Total Money Makeover? I don't know, perhaps. But I just can't. It would be too sad for me and I think my husband would just lose it. We would lose our drive to do this because it just wouldn't feel worth it anymore. We're going to be smart about it and stick to our budget, but we're going to have Xmas, so tough.

So where is this $500 going to magically appear from then you ask? That's a good question. Cause we do have $1000 sitting in our emergency fund still, but we all know how Dave Ramsey feels about acting as if Xmas is an emergency. Well, one solution is that it might magically appear. Okay, okay, not magically. But so far hubby's side writing hobby has been bringing in a little more money than expected each month. I think its quite possible we could end up with up to $250 more from that then I currently have budgeted. Also, I could get another job through my business (hah!). I mean, probably not this month, but it could happen. At one time, I made over $20K/yr with this little side gig. (Will probably be lucky to hit even $6K this year.)

Other, less magical avenues include the possibility of me getting a very part-time job in the evenings. I'm looking into this and will in fact be putting in an application by the end of the week I hope. Not sure I will do it for any longer than necessary, but I feel I must do something. It just sucks because I will probably make only a quarter as much per hour for my efforts doing that then for my business. But a quarter as much still meets the gap my business is just not producing right now. I really hope that changes again eventually. Frown

If worse comes to worse though and none of those things pan out, I guess we will be tapping into the emergency fund. All I can say in our defense is that I promise we will pay it back in February. Needless to say, there will be no extra credit card/car payments for the next 3 months. Our minimum payments total to almost $500/month though, and our credit cards are all no interest promotions, so as long as we don't use those, we'll still be chipping away at it. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 2 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [99541] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21490] => Array ( [category_id] => 21490 [category_name] => Education [category_stub] => education ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21494] => Array ( [category_id] => 21494 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) ) [entry_id] => 99541 [entry_title] => My Student Loan Baggage [entry_stub] => my-student-loan-baggage [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2012/12/13/my-student-loan-baggage_99541/ [entry_date] => 1355427008 [entry_date_mysql] => 2012-12-13 13:30:08 [entry_text] => One of the few topics in Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover that really irks me is his discussion of student loan debt. I'm not saying his points are all without merit. But when he talks about credit cards, he seems to understand that the mental/emotional game is just as important, perhaps even more important, than the financial one. And so he recommends paying off your lowest balance card before your highest interest card, purely so you can see results sooner. And I totally get that. But he does not allow for the same types of emotional weakness when it comes to student loans. Consider the rant of his in this link for instance:
Text is http://www.daveramseyfan.com/dave-ramsey-rants-stupid-on-education/ and Link is
http://www.daveramseyfan.com/dave-ramsey-rants-stupid-on-edu... Ouch. That's all I can say. And since I am one of those previously professional, now stay-at-home mom's with over $100K in debt he's ranting about, it can't get much more personal than that.

When I look back over my life, there is only place I can think of that I maybe should/would have made a different decision about my education. And that was when I chose to keep pursuing a PhD in a field I wasn't sure was a good fit for me, instead of being willing to start graduate school over, or at least stop with a masters. Given that my graduate tuition was paid for, however, and that I was receiving a stipend for most of my living expenses, cutting out that leg of the journey wouldn't have changed that much. Maybe $20K less at best.

Growing up, we were poor. Like free school lunch, hand me down clothes from cousins, can't afford a school yearbook poor. I vividly remember my mom dividing one family size can of spaghettios between the 4 of my sisters and I, plus a glass of milk, for lunch. I was a small, hungry, skinny and very active kid, who hung out a lot at my friend's houses bumming snacks. My mom and dad fought constantly, and would have no matter what, but certainly a major theme of their blowouts was money. There was never enough of it, and it seemed that would never change. My mom often grew wistful in private about how, despite how smart she had been, she had dropped out of college after only a year or so at her first husband's insistence (my father) and never found her way back once the babies started coming with her second. And worse, how she could never leave her abusive second husband because she could never support the 5 of us on her own.

I'm not sure how directly it was ever stated, but I grew up with the clear impression that it was absolutely imperative that I go to college some day so that I would be able to support myself without a man. But that there would be absolutely no financial help for me to do so. This was further complicated by my step-father's abusive put downs of me compared to my sisters, and his continuous proclamations that I was never going to be good enough for anything.

Given the trouble I was often into growing up in a home like that, there were many years it seemed like he was right. There were many years I didn't bother with homework. For a period of time, I was suicidal. And I was pregnant before I was out of high school. But I harbored a deep, driving need to prove him wrong as well. And despite his insults otherwise, I was actually quite intelligent. And seriously driven to believe that there was a way out of my childhood and into the type of future I had always dreamed of. Halfway through high school, I turned over a new leaf and started to show what I was capable of academically, though my new daughter senior year complicated things a bit.

When I was applying to colleges, the last thing on my mind was the amount of money I was taking out in student loans. Certainly I qualified for every need based option possible, not to mention a few merit based ones as well. Imagining what that payback would look like 5 to 10 years down the road when I finally had a real job and was out of this mess seemed besides the point. My burning questions were: Am I really capable of this? A 4 year degree at a respectable university with a child? What if they see only what my step-dad saw? What if I am doomed to repeat the same life for my daughter as the one that was given to me?

But I got in and I did my best. My first year I did outstanding actually, but the second year my young marriage began to fall apart and afterwards, it took a couple years of struggle before my daughter and I found a new equilibrium. My last two years of undergrad I did much better for the most part, and somewhere during that time, I realized that to become anything more than a lab rat with my degree, I would need to apply for graduate school. In this sense, Dave's rant doesn't completely apply to me. I did understand that I needed to be highly marketable to pay for all this.

At that point in life, I was pretty clear that I wanted to be a working mother. I loved my daughter dearly, and was very much looking forward to being done with school and having more time eventually. But I was the kind of person who got depressed without something intellectual to pursue. Something for myself separate from my role as a mother. Perhaps partly because I had become a mother before I had gotten time to be just myself. As exhausting as it was during the semesters, school holidays were often worse because I just got so depressed with nothing to work towards.

If you had told me that I would one day choose to be a stay at home mom, I would have laughed in your face. Dave can say that young women without kids yet have no idea how they're going to feel when they do, but I think that's overly simplistic and implies we all want to stay at home deep down. I'm a stay at home mom now, and I'm still not always sure its what I want to be doing. Furthermore, I already had a child at that point. I did know what it was like. If I could have had the option to work only part time with a young family, that probably would have been my first choice. But that is not a realistic possibility in most fields, least of all mine, and I was not unrealistic. I figured with a PhD, I could make enough that my future husband could stay home if we wanted.

Graduate school was hard though. Really hard. My fears about not being good enough were constantly at an edge when surrounded by so many other brilliant people. I had developed a fuzzy, idealistic picture of my doctoral field while leisurely pursuing undergraduate research with lower expectations I had no trouble meeting. This vision was shattered to make room for the more brutal and difficult reality of what higher academia really was. The relationship with my advisor slowly went from love to hate. Somewhere along the way, I began to question whether I was really doing this for myself, or just to prove that I could. Some days, I began to acknowledge that despite how far I had come, it was possible I was moving in the wrong direction.

That is the one point in my academic journey I regret. If I had been brave, or maybe even just less tired, I would have thrown in my first 2 1/2 years of research and allowed myself to start again in a new field. If I had done this, perhaps I would be happily pursuing my new career even now? I had an inkling of what at least some of those other possibilities could have been. It wouldn't have set me back more than a couple years (though that would have added even more to my debt!). But that light at the end of the tunnel I had been impossibly chasing for so long was finally so close. I had already passed my preliminary doctoral exam. I had my project all mapped out. I just needed to buckle down for 3 more years and do it.

And so that's what I did. I figured when I was done I could work on re-branding myself in an area of research I was more interested in for the job hunt. Instead, I found myself perfectly trained to do exactly the type of research I did not want to pursue. But it sure payed well. Even if it did necessitate moving halfway across the country.

It seemed like that would be enough, eventually. But it wasn't even close. And despite my husband (then boyfriend) being brave enough to come along with my daughter and I and start this new life together out west, it just never felt right there. We just couldn't get settled. We couldn't get to a place where the future we had pictured together seemed possible. We couldn't define what needed to shift. And despite crossing the 30's threshold, we couldn't possibly imagine starting a family in that life and place.

Through all of this, my daughter moved into her teenage years, and despite being very close when she was younger, she suddenly wanted nothing to do with me. It became painfully obvious that though my school was finally done and I was ready to focus more fully on her, she no longer had any interest in focusing on me. That ship had sailed, so to speak, and I had missed my boat. That was hard. That was very hard. And it made me reflect a lot on my plans to start a family again soon. The role I wanted to play in my new children's life and the type of mother I wanted to be. As my regret grew, I also stopped giving a crap what other people thought about how capable I was. I had gotten a PhD for cripe sakes. What more could they expect of me? And it was my right to decide what I wanted to do with that degree from that point on. Obviously, it was always my right. But that was when I finally realized it.

So anyways, long story short, with my boyfriend's blessing, I quit my high paying job and decided to become a stay at home mother with over $100K in student loans instead. It was a rough few years of transition. At this point, my husband finally makes a pretty decent income. Almost as much as I used to (and adjusted for the midwest, probably a lot more). But with three kids, primarily one income, and a student loan payment of over $600/month, it never goes as far as it seems like it should. It's going to take us a while to get out of this mess. And though we are now over 4 years into this new life path, it's hard sometimes to accept where we are now compared to where we used to be. Hard to know that we will probably never live in a beautiful home/location like that one ever again. That it will be years, eons, before we can afford another fancy trip. That given the realities of our budget, money is going to continue to feel like a struggle for probably at least another 5 or so years until I'm working again. My husband and I find that hard. And depressing. And Dave would probably just say "What did you expect!?!"

...A chance to live a life much different than the one my parent's gave me I guess. A chance to feel like I had enough money to never be trapped in a relationship that was bad for me. A certainty that my children would always have enough to eat, as well as year books and new clothes and maybe even stories about trips to Disney World with our family last summer. I probably didn't need a $100K education to secure all those things, but it was an emotional journey for me that took a while to figure out.

For now, I comfort myself with the fact that though this is not always the life of my dreams, it is finally the life of my choice. I am choosing to be much poorer than I could be. I am choosing to temporarily give up most personal and intellectual pursuits (though I did start a secret blog!) so that I will have fewer regrets next time about the mother I am to my children. I could do it differently, and from time to time I check in and make sure this is what I still want. So far it is. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 0 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [99540] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21490] => Array ( [category_id] => 21490 [category_name] => Education [category_stub] => education ) [21494] => Array ( [category_id] => 21494 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) ) [entry_id] => 99540 [entry_title] => How We Got Into This Mess [entry_stub] => how-we-got-into-this-mess [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2012/12/13/how-we-got-into-this-mess_99540/ [entry_date] => 1355426916 [entry_date_mysql] => 2012-12-13 13:28:36 [entry_text] => Sometimes Iím a little surprised to find myself with debt troubles, because back when my husband (then boyfriend) and I were both working 6 years ago, there was a point where we were making quite a bit of money. During that two year period, we managed to pay off all the credit cards we had at that time (due to divorces and our big move west for my job) as well as the remainder of hubbyís student loan. We did not, however, manage to save a dime towards retirement or anything else. And we went on at least two fancy trips. And ate out a lot. And didn't even look at price tags in certain stores. We also did not own a home at that point, and were paying a small fortune to rent a very nice one (we needed one with with space for our huge dog to run!), while paying only the minimum on my student loans.

Each month we wondered how we could possibly make so much money (some months we brought in more than $10K total - after taxes) and still have nothing left to save towards a house or retirement by the end of the month. I have a few defenses for this. One is that I was less than two years out of graduate school (finally!) and after having been a young, poor, and mostly single mom for that difficult 11 year period, I had a big wish list for life. I needed some fun time. Additionally, my field was very specialized, and required us to live in a very expensive area on the west coast. We were both completely shell shocked by the cost of living adjustment our first year. The price of things like cheese always floored me. Plus, Hubby and I weren't actually married yet at that point, and despite entering our 30's, we were simply not ready yet to buckle down and get serious about financial planning.

So thatís my list of reasons, minus a lot of things I could say about hind sight that you can fill in for me if you like. That period of my life ended almost 5 years ago when hubby and I made the difficult, but long coming decision for me to quit my job (or really career in this case) and move back to our hometown in the Midwest. At that point, we did begin to reign it in a bit in preparation for the 60% reduction in income we would be undergoing in a few short months. We stop planning for the next big vacation and started planning for the journey home instead. We cut back on spending, and put a little away each month for the huge moving expenses we knew from experience that we would be racking up soon. Not nearly enough, but it helped. And I began to look into information on starting a new home business.

We made a mix of good and bad financial decisions over the next few years, but also worked very hard. That first year back, I often spent upwards of 50 hours a week laying the groundwork to get my business up and running, and even took on housecleaning jobs in the meantime until my cash flow became more regular. Thankfully, hubby's job was able to come with him on our move, but the recession had just kicked in and there would be no cost of living raises that year. We had a few thousand in credit card debt again from the move we had to pay on, but we put my student loans on temporary forbearance (which sadly wiped out all progress we had made thus far). My daughter had hit the difficult teenage years, and no matter how much we made, it could never be enough to acquire all the things she was certain she needed (and that every other person she knew already had). Additionally, I felt bad downgrading her too much from what she had become used to at that point, given that the second move was hard enough on her, and certainly not what she had wanted or expected. In all honesty, we had a bit of a hard time adjusting to all of that ourselves actually, and though our rent was much cheaper than it had been out west, it was still much more expensive that what we probably should have taken on. But we felt we needed to step into our new cost of living situation gradually, so as not to give up everything we'd had all at once.

Now that we were back in the much more affordable and homey midwest, we finally felt able to settle down and begin working towards our future together. We got officially engaged and started looking into homes and saving for a down payment. I settled in to my new work routine and despite how much tighter things were, we managed to put away at least $700/month during most of that first year. And though I feel our wedding was perfect, it was a small, elegant but inexpensive, at home affair that did not set us back too much more. Can't say the same for my amazing ring though. (I made it clear there was no way we were spending less than he spent on his ex and I still do not regret that!) We also had a short, but sweet honeymoon that added a little more. And within two months of all that shenanigans, we dropped all our saving and then some into our new house.

Despite putting a little more on the cards to get all settled in, I think our house was a good purchase. A huge step down from what we'd had out west, and more than $1000 per month less than our rent had been even after moving back to the midwest. But a respectable, comfortable, suburban home in a good neighborhood none the less, with a payment we could afford. We bought it at what was the market low (at that point) and with a great fixed interest rate, and it has plenty of room for a family. Therefore, we immediately jumped into the next stage of our long term life plan - babies! And what with that first "Holy Shit" ultrasound, and the later preterm birth that twins tend to bring, less than 12 mos after we said "I do" we had two of them! Not to mention a lot of unexpected time off from work (and savings) on my part due to bed rest.

Somewhere in all of that, there was also a long distance wedding trip, a number of car issues and more than one or two home owner issues as well. We did not have an emergency fund yet at that point, so anything extra was a problem. Plus, my daughter had turned 16 and began driving, and no matter how crappy a car you give them, the insurance still sucks. Its no secret that kids tend to be the most expensive at the bookends of your 18 years with them, and unfortunately we had some on each end. I had to keep my work hours while I was breastfeeding (and not sleeping) to less than half of what they had been pre-baby. We started getting a grocery delivery service rather than shopping ourselves, despite the extra expense, cause we couldn't figure out how to manage life without hating each other otherwise. And as thankful as we were for hubby's work from home job that came with us on our big move, it was far from competitive in pay (though excellent in health coverage thank goodness), and yet we just didn't feel like we could manage him finding something out of the home until we got closer to the boys first birthday.

Lest I mislead you, there were some toys in there too. We got a new flat screen tv, and we had cable, netflix and audible subscriptions. We both got iPhone 3's when the 4's came out and have since upgraded. We got a new laptop when the old one died. We ate out a couple times a week at least. We took a couple modest vacations. We purchased memberships to the zoo and museum. We weren't partying, but we weren't suffering.

None the less, fast forward to about 18 mos. later and we have finally begun to catch our breath again. Hubby did find a new job outside the home that pays much better (though that required me to cut my hours even more initially, and necessitated another car purchase). We stopped hemorrhaging expenses and started simply treading water instead. I think its been over a year since we even used a credit card,which means we have mostly gotten the hang of living within our means (pre-child support loss at least!). And we did finally get an emergency fund going. But its been pretty clear that we haven't made much of any real progress towards wiping out the debt we accumulated either. And as we slowly inch towards the end of our 30's, it is clear that the time to start planning for our financial future is now. Like, so right now, its yesterday.

So that's how we got here. Nothing completely stupid I don't think (well, maybe the ring. But since I'd do that one again, I don't think it counts), though lots of things we could have done a bit better. And today, on this Thanksgiving Day 2012, I am thankful that hubby and I have both the means and dedication to tackle this massive financial overhaul, so that our future can be a bright one.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 0 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [99539] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21495] => Array ( [category_id] => 21495 [category_name] => Saving Money [category_stub] => saving-money ) [21496] => Array ( [category_id] => 21496 [category_name] => Shopping [category_stub] => shopping ) ) [entry_id] => 99539 [entry_title] => Apparently We're Good at This [entry_stub] => apparently-were-good-at-this [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2012/12/13/apparently-were-good-at-this_99539/ [entry_date] => 1355426799 [entry_date_mysql] => 2012-12-13 13:26:39 [entry_text] => I keep trying to find more things we can do, something we must be missing, to make this debt thing go faster. So far, no luck. If anything, the book I checked out from the library recently (did you hear that, the library not the book store) called "Your Money: The Missing Manual" made me feel like we're taking this more seriously than I sometimes feel we are. Consider all these recommended measures we have implemented:

Cancelling cable: As of last week, Check! My husband's company pays for the internet portion of our bill already. And our recent purchase of an Apple tv will pay for itself in less than two months of not paying for cable.

Get rid of home phone: We got rid of our home phone line a couple months ago since we were really only using our cell phones anyways. This has been causing us to use more of our cell phone roll over minutes though, so I'm hoping we won't have to up that eventually.

Cancel monthly subscriptions: To my surprise when we began this, hubby volunteered to cancel his Audible subscription until our debt was paid off and just re listen to old favorites instead. We also cancelled our Netflix a few months ago since we hardly ever used it and I've already decided not to renew Newsweek this coming year. Half the issues never get read anyways.

Make a Unit Price Grocery Spreadsheet: Still working on that but I have started to collect that info and I'm already getting the hang of when something is a good price. I have also learned to...

Use Coupons Wisely: I do not fall for buying things with coupons that a) I wouldn't usually get anyways b) are still more expensive than the store brand or another location. This also meets his suggestion to...
Discard Brand Loyalties: Even for toilet paper, I got over it.

Buy In Bulk - When it Makes Sense: Hello new big box warehouse store membership. Can't believe how much money we've saved there (per unit price at least!) so far.

Waste Not: Finally plugged in the big freezer downstairs again and started labeling and storing all left over canned and other items. I've even started buying things like yogurt in bulk, freezing it before it goes bad and then thawing it as needed. Its a little more liquidy than it would have been but still tastes fine (the boys don't know the difference!).

Shop Less: Not a problem. There's no money anyways and neither hubby or I were ever big shoppers. Probably the biggest success in this area though was when we separated our checking account into discretionary and non-discretionary expenses and then limited ourselves to a budgeted discretionary amount. In theory we were doing that before, but since I didn't track where each individual purchase went, it was hard to know how well we were sticking to it. I still don't always track it that closely. But now, when the discretionary money's gone, its gone. And so that takes care of that.

Replace Light Bulbs w/ Florescent: Done! We even got a Groupon for a home energy checkup a month or so ago in which we also got some weather stripping applied to a couple doors and well as thermometers to check refrigerator/freezer and water heater temps. We would have gotten more but they said we were already doing great on most everything else! Especially considering our gas energy company gave us a rebate to get our attic re-insulated this past summer which has already significantly impacted our energy bills.

Increase/decrease the setting on your programmable thermostat: We haven't made any huge sacrifices here compared to people I hear setting their winter thermostat to 65F or waiting until Halloween to even turn on heat but we have lowered our winter setting from 75F to 72F and raised our summer setting from 72F to 74F. It not much I know, but we do have two year old boys and I don't want them to be too cold or not sleep well. Bedroom space heaters make me nervous with such little ones (and I don't think they could be trusted with them once we switch to "big kid" beds), and we haven't had the money yet to invest in summer ceiling fans.

Play Board Games for Fun: We don't always play board games, but hubby and I have completely let go of our monthly night outs for the next year and turned all our date nights into at home affairs instead. We always make a nice dinner together after the boys are in bed and then talk or watch a movie or something.


So those are all the things we're doing right. Perhaps I will devote my next entry to all the things we could still improve though I worry it will just turn into a big excuse fest! Wink
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 0 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [99538] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21491] => Array ( [category_id] => 21491 [category_name] => Food / Groceries [category_stub] => food-groceries ) [21496] => Array ( [category_id] => 21496 [category_name] => Shopping [category_stub] => shopping ) ) [entry_id] => 99538 [entry_title] => Mid-month Checkup [entry_stub] => mid-month-checkup [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2012/12/13/mid-month-checkup_99538/ [entry_date] => 1355426698 [entry_date_mysql] => 2012-12-13 13:24:58 [entry_text] => (Another old one from Nov)

We're half way though November and so I figured it'd be a good time to check in and see how on track we are. We're doing okay. The highlights:

Shopping: $454/$500
Entertainment: $109/$300
Groceries+ (includes misc things too): $626/$1200

While not included in the total above, we just finished grocery shopping for the week of Thanksgiving and still managed to keep the weekly total within $200 (no big box warehouse visit this week) so that's a good sign! I eventually want to lower the grocery budget a bit, but next month just happens to be another month with 5 grocery days instead of 4, plus Xmas, so I don't think it will be happening that month. Jan. for sure though!

Our shopping budget looks a little sad but it should be clarified that about $120 of that is for the Apple tv and antennae that have allowed us to cancel our cable service as of last Thurs. (Woo hoo!) Still a splurge, but one that will pay for itself within two month. Also, another $214 of it was from hubby's new iPhone 5 splurge, which he got $98 back for by selling his old phone. Though only as an amazon credit so we'll be using that for Xmas rather than credit cards.

The only number of here that really irks me is the entertainment budget. Despite that being the only flexible category we're not over in. What irks me is that hubby and I are each supposed to get $100/month individually do do with as well will ($20/wk), plus another $100 for joint splurges. Its half way though the month so that should be about $50 each individually at this point. Looking over the transactions though, I would say about $8 of that is mine, maybe $30 is joint and the rest is his. And that's just the things that weren't paid with by cash. And I wouldn't say this is atypical. I minded less when we weren't being so serious about this. But despite how pissy he gets sometimes about lack of funds, clearly I am sacrificing more here than he is.

Regardless, these next two months are going to be a lot of sacrifice for both of us. I have only 1 1/2 child support back pay checks left! That is about $500 less a month we are going to have to adjust to during a period when my home business is making about $500 less per month than usual as well. I have one big job that often comes in just before Xmas which I am anxiously waiting to hear on next week. If that doesn't come through though, Xmas is going to be rough this year and we may not be getting new tires for the SUV after all. I may even get a second part-time job soon. Just not sure how to meet the Dec/Jan gap otherwise. Gonna be a rough couple months until the tax return comes in, but we are not giving up!
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 0 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [99522] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21490] => Array ( [category_id] => 21490 [category_name] => Education [category_stub] => education ) [21492] => Array ( [category_id] => 21492 [category_name] => Investing [category_stub] => investing ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21494] => Array ( [category_id] => 21494 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) [21495] => Array ( [category_id] => 21495 [category_name] => Saving Money [category_stub] => saving-money ) ) [entry_id] => 99522 [entry_title] => The Big Picture [entry_stub] => the-big-picture [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2012/12/13/the-big-picture_99522/ [entry_date] => 1355371250 [entry_date_mysql] => 2012-12-12 22:00:50 [entry_text] => This may be simply an exercise in idealistic dreaming, but I want to paint for you (or maybe mostly just me) a picture of how I see this new financial plan unfolding for us in the coming years. Cause I have big, unrealized but hopefully not unrealistic, dreams. In Dave Ramsey's book, he tells you that it takes most people about seven years to reach Baby Step 7: Build Wealth. Longer still to get to the Pinnacle Point where your money finally starts working harder than you have to. Certainly, that is the long term goal. And the short term goal is the credit card/car payment debt payoff I've already outlined. But it'd be nice to have a picture of our mid-term plan as well. Especially given that I don't think we will be following the Baby Steps precisely.

So, one year out, give or take a few months, and hopefully our small debts (non-mortgage/student loan) will be paid off. At that point we will hopefully be more used to getting by with a lot less monthly discretionary income. Maybe we can at least add enough back in to be able to go on monthly date nights again though. But I don't want to get too slack because we still have a lot or work to do. Baby Step 3 is to Finish the Emergency Fund, which he defines as 3-6 mos. worth of expenses. For us, that would roughly be $15K-$30K.

Projecting out both raises and expenses, once we get our small debts paid off, I think we could save roughly $25K/yr. So, that should take us 7-14 mos. depending on how much cushion we want. My thought is that we should save as much as possible, setting aside the minimum $15K to touch only for emergencies, but then factor in the fact that our family SUV will be 15 years old (already has 223K miles) by then. I am fine with driving it until it dies, but its pretty much a given that that is going to be before too much longer (please, please, please not this year!). I am also fine with not getting a new car when it does die. But I would prefer to get something gently used with at least a few more bells and whistles than our current one has. I think we could probably get something 5-6 years old for between $15-$20K.

That's not the only big ticket item we need to save for though. In a few more years, the boys will be ready to start school and I will be more than ready to jump back on the career train. But that is probably going to require a bit of retraining on my part, and I am not willing to take out any more student loans. (Above and beyond the $105K I already put my foot down on of course). So, if I want to go back, which I very much do right now, we will need to save for that too. I am conservatively estimating about $20K for that right now, plus after school daycare (maybe $5K? Though that will be more of an on-going expense), but given the rising cost of education these days, who knows?

The point of all this speculating is to point out that with these extra purchases, the time it takes up to save about $30K for an emergency fund is going to be more like 2-3/4 to 3 years rather than 14 mos. That's a long time. And who knows how many set backs there might be in the meantime. At some point, hubby's car will need to be replaced as well, though it is 5 years newer than the SUV at least. But I guess I'm okay with it as long as we get to Baby Step 4: Retirement Investing, by the time I re-graduate, which I am predicting will be in 5-6 years. If we get to that step before I graduate, then I guess we will start putting at least the company matching amount into hubby's 401K. Actually, if we don't get to that step before 40, we probably should do a lot more than that, and I kind of doubt we will. Once I do graduate and start working again though, we are going to kick step 4's butt.

And then we get to Baby Step 5: College Funding for the kids. Except we're going to re-package that one as college payoff for the adults. By then my daughter will be done with college (or darn well better be at least). Until we get fabulously wealthy, I have done the best I can for her by insisting that she go to a school where she would graduate with a maximum of $40K in debt. Still a lot I know, but less than half as much than me, and within the amount considered reasonable by the income to debt calculators. She hated me for it at the time, but now seems mostly happy.

I am hoping that with a new masters degree I will be able to make at least $50K, although about half of that will probably have to go towards retirement, and the rest will get taxed. But lets just say that after stocking up our emergency fund, we have about $25K/yr extra from hubby's income and $25K/yr from mine. So $50K/yr extra after I start working to do with what we will. (OMG, is that really possible?) What to do with all that cash?? Pay off my damn student loans!! If we stick to the plan, that should take us only two more years. At that point, we can look into some minimal investing for the boys' college (and maybe some back pay for my daughter). But they are going to be expected to chip in as well because we are heading off to...

...Baby Step 6: Pay Off the Mortgage! Honestly, not quite sure what's going to happen when we get to this step because you see, before we focus on paying off the mortgage, we'd like to focus instead of getting the house we'd really like to have. The exciting thing is, once the student loan is paid off, we could afford about $600 more per month for a mortgage without changing anything else. Assuming the market continues to improve, we should also have a fair amount of equity at this point, having lived here for about 11 years. I am not sure yet whether we would rather buy or remodel. It will probably depend a lot on the location of our jobs at that point. There are some things I really like about both this home and this area, but our home was built in the 1960's and it really needs some updating. I think it would take between $175K-$200K to get it to where we want it, and only about 60% of that could be recouped in re-sale value. Whether or not that's worth it will depend largely on what we could get for the same value given the housing market at the time.

I also really like Dave Ramsey's idea of taking out only a 15 year mortgage and keeping your mortgage payment to less than 25% of your take home pay. Whether we decide to buy or remodel, I do very much want to keep those rules in mind. After all our hard work, I certainly do not want to end up house poor. It will be hard to feel like we can't afford just about whatever we want once we've taken care of all that other debt. And I do love big, pretty homes. Nonetheless, regardless of what we choose to do, at that point it should be a maximum of 15 years until we are entirely debt free, and if we continue with the $50K/yr rule, I think we could take that down to 6 years.

Which means this is more like a 14 year than a 7 years plan for us, but by the time we enter our 50's, it is very possible we will have no debt remaining (maybe we'll bump up the boys college fund at that point) and hopefully by the time we hit our 60's we will have reached that fabled Pinnacle Point which will leave us set for a long, happy retirement. Its certainly not a get rich quick scheme. which makes it seem somewhat more believable. Though it will certainly require a lot of dedication and sacrifice. But it seems like by the time the boys graduate from high school, we will finally have both the time AND money to do all sorts of things.

So that's the big picture. And now back to Baby Step 2.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 6 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) ) -->

Trying to get a handle on things

November 9th, 2014 at 05:58 pm

Our Total Money Makeover is in need of a makeover itself. It's been a pretty crazy year for us financially speaking. We started off 2014 with a lot of monthly surplus after having finally paid off all our credit cards in 2013. A surplus we may have gotten a bit too used too because it didn't last for long.

I started back to college (approx $2000/semester), we bought a "new" car (approx $175/month), we got slammed with unexpected medical bills after our identical twin boys' autism diagnosis (approx $8000/yr), and most importantly, we finally started a 401K for retirement (approx $500/month+match). All said and done, we're spread pretty thin these days, but we're still spending discretionary money as if that were not the case.

In fact, although we haven't yet had to carry an interest bearing balance from one month to the next on the card we use for most discretionary purchases (due to the 3% cash back we get), we've certainly come close. And at this point I'd say we're actually carrying about $1500 in credit that just hasn't come due before we could pay it yet. In short, we've jumped back on to that dangerous spiral of spending slightly more than we make each month.

Additionally, Xmas is around the corner, next semester's tuition is due in a month, and we're pretty sure that this is the winter we're finally going to have to buck up and buy a new furnace. It's feeling a little overwhelming at the moment.

It's time to reign it in and accept the financial reality of our current situation. After talking about it, hubby and I have decided that despite having less surplus than before, we should still be aiming to save at least enough per month to replenish our $5000/yr emergency fund (ie about $415/month). Unfortunately, we haven't been doing that these past few months, and after I pay this next tuition bill (my aunt is no longer helping me), the EF will be pretty much empty. We'll restock it when hubby gets his bonus in Feb, but that will be a big chunk of the bonus, and we certainly won't be paying off the car too like we had once planned.

We're going to make paying off that current $1500 credit debt a priority, and we're going to cut our Xmas budget in half too. I'm going to start printing out weekly reports of where we're at in our spending categories so that we can see if we're on track or not. And since we haven't been sticking very well to those limits the past few months, that's going to feel like a big cut at first. We've done it before though, we can do it again.

Hopefully hubby will get a nice raise this March, like he's been promised, and things will get a little less tight, but we can't wait for (or count on) that to fix it. Thankfully, in only two more years I should be done with school and we can finally kick our TMM into high gear again. In the meantime, home prices rising is at least helping our net worth to look less depressing. Still negative, but not nearly so much as in the past. Will be so exciting to get to an even $0 some day!
Feb 2014
Start 6% 401K withdrawals: Sept 2013----->Feb/Mar 2014
Save for/Pay off "new" car: May 2014----->Feb 2015

As I said: Ugh.

A new reflection though: I saw on FB recently that an old friend of mine I've lost touch with the past few years, is selling her house. She has been dying for a bigger house for years, and her husband had a well paying job. But they also had a lot of debt and not the best of spending habits, and with the housing market crash they felt completely stuck.

About 4 months back, her husband's department was downsized and he was laid off. He had a few months severance though and lots of job interview lined up, so they weren't too concerned at the time. Thus, when I saw her recent FB posting, I at first assumed he had found something even better and that with the housing market upswing they were finally able to afford the new home they have been wanting.

But then I read further. Turns out, they are not buying a new one, just selling the old one. She didn't elaborate more but a quick check on LinkedIn confirmed what I feared; her husband has been out of work since Oct. Now I am purely speculating at this point, but given what I know of their past financial situation, it's not at all hard to draw a line that without a high paying job, the large debts have are going to sink them once the severance pay ends, and they are trying to find a source for more funds.

I say all this not to gossip or point fingers (presumably, you have no idea who I'm even talking about), and I actually feel very bad for her, though not really close enough anymore to question her about such a personal matter. But for me, she is such a stunning reminder of why hubby and I are doing all this.

Our financial situations were close enough at one time that it is easy for me to picture how something very similar could have happened to us, had we not begun to exercise financial restraint. But I admit that it was very hard for me to hear about their fancy trips, and see their pretty new cars and how beautifully decorated the inside of her home was. I wanted those things too. I wanted to look that good as well. But we were pouring all our extra cash into debt and had nothing visual to show for it.

We are still a long way from where we want to be. And without more savings, we are still not even insulated from going through something similar ourselves were hubby to lose his job. But we have no credit card or car debt dragging us down anymore. And we have a very clear picture of our budget and of the steps we need to take to get from A to B. So, even though this is a total drag, and even though I feel like it's taking way longer than it should, reflecting on where we could be instead leaves me still feeling thankful about where we are. Maybe not happy, but thankful. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 3 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [105872] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21490] => Array ( [category_id] => 21490 [category_name] => Education [category_stub] => education ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21494] => Array ( [category_id] => 21494 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) [21495] => Array ( [category_id] => 21495 [category_name] => Saving Money [category_stub] => saving-money ) ) [entry_id] => 105872 [entry_title] => Commencing Baby Step 3 [entry_stub] => commencing-baby-step-3- [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/11/24/commencing-baby-step-3-_105872/ [entry_date] => 1385315344 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-11-24 11:49:04 [entry_text] => We've finally finished wading through all the home maintenance projects (including an unexpected $1000 repair on the roof a couple weeks ago) and even set aside $1000 for Christmas. We've reached our family health deductible for the year and are scheduling appts like mad for these next few weeks to take full advantage of paying only 20% rather than 100% for the rest of the year. And we were also incredibly blessed to have my aunt unexpectedly send me a check to cover my first semester of tuition and books for the community college I will be starting at in Jan. And so, with that all finally behind us, it's time to commence on our TMM baby step 3 (beef up emergency fund to cover 3-6 months of expenses).

It has been almost 4 months since we finished baby step 2, so I am relieved to finally be getting back on track again. We made a lot of prudent purchases and repairs, but as the money kept flowing out rather than in, I worried that our financial plan had become derailed. Apparently though, even without CC debt, we do still have some motivation and dedication to this plan after all. And it's time to buckle down again.

My main goal for this coming financial year is to see our next worth begin to rise finally. Although given it is currently -$46K, it might be more accurate to say we want to see our gaping net worth hole begin to be filled in. It's actually much better now that it was a year ago. Partly because of paying off the CC's and car loan. But also in a large part due to home values bouncing back again finally, and we can't really take credit for that. Plus that part could go again as easy as it came.

But I was realizing the other day that we are at an exciting point none that less because from here on out, we will mainly be investing in ourselves. Even the $25K we hope to save for a "new" vehicle over the next year and a half will be savings converted into an asset, rather than simply blown out the window. And yes, yes, I know their will be depreciation, but you get my point. We're finally investing in our own net worth. And that is exciting!

Plus, during the open enrollment period this year we made sure to max out our HSA contribution for next year, as well as bump up the life insurance and disability policies a little bit. And it feels wonderful to know we are getting an adequate financial safety net into place. Almost like we're becoming real adults finally!

From this point on though, we're going to be breaking a bit from strict compliance to the TMM plan. For instance, we're going to start baby step 4 (retirement savings) as soon as we get $5000 towards baby step 3. Which should be by the end of Jan if we practice restraint over Xmas. We are way too old to be putting it off any longer and we're going to be doing baby step 3 for quite some time. We want our final emergency fund to be around $20K, but we need to buy a car along the way, so almost as soon as we get it we're going to empty it out and start again.

I consider this an EF worthy purchase though because, as discussed previously, our current family vehicle is a 1999 and has over 225K miles. It's just not going to be around much longer, and when it does finally die, it will certainly be an emergency. After doing a lot of research we decided that the most financially wise options were to either buy a cheap 7-8 year old car in decent condition and plan to cover fairly regular repairs until we can afford an upgrade. Or to buy a reliable low mileage 1-2 year old vehicle that shouldn't need much work for a few years, and which would be just as affordable as long as we keep driving it at least 10 years. And given how very tired we are of highly used vehicles at this point, we have decided to go for the 2nd option.

We're going to save as much as we can for it until May and then get a loan for the remainder. We want to give the old one to our daughter when she comes home from college for the summer so that she will have her own vehicle to get to and from her summer job. And then we're going to pay off the car loan as fast as possible, though right now it's looking like Feb 2015 before we get there.

So that's the plan right now. Hubby is in the process of applying for new jobs that pays more though, and if one of them pans out, maybe we can even do this without a car loan. Hoping for the best!

[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 3 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [105329] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21494] => Array ( [category_id] => 21494 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) ) [entry_id] => 105329 [entry_title] => TMM Year 2 [entry_stub] => tmm-year-2 [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/10/20/tmm-year-2_105329/ [entry_date] => 1382288284 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-10-20 11:58:04 [entry_text] => It's been forever, I know. Not sure what the deal is with all this crazy /// nonsense in my info section since I left either. Anywho...

This Oct marks the beginning of the second year for hubby and I's Total Money Makeover. And how far have we gotten in a year? Well, considerably farther than we pictured ourselves one year ago for sure. We originally thought we'd be nearing the end of our credit card payments about now, and just starting to work on the car loan. The was before we discovered what the power of a budget and willpower can actually do. So instead we finished both by the end of July.

On the other hand...we are considerably less far than we had pictured ourselves being by now last June. Our revised goal was to have the initial $5000 for our emergency fund fully stocked by now, as well as kicking off the retirement 401k we need so badly and also making headway towards the "new" car we need. Instead we are in a much more dangerous no man's land somewhere between Baby Step 2 and Baby Step 3. I don't feel we are derailed from our TMM, but we do need to start getting this show on the road again soon.

So what have we been doing instead of all those June goals? Well, a lot of home stuff actually. Things we put off forever while dealing with our CC debt. We finally got a new toilet for downstairs (which lowered out water bill by $35/month!). We got a few trees cut down that had died and got our gutters cleaned out. We are also getting a large rip in our kitchen linolium repaired as well as some baseboards re-added that we never replaced after our mold damage issue a couple years ago.

We're getting our radon remitigation system installed this week ($1200). And we also had to take care of a couple big car repairs as well as buying hubby a new suit for job interviewing after all the weight he lost. Additionally, we finally replaced a few items that were wearing out. Like hubby's desk chair that was held together by duct tape and the kitchen rug that was coming apart at the seams. And we also spent more than typical on entertainment too, given it was summer and we had more family outings than usual.

Some of that stuff qualifies as emergency fund type things. Some doesn't. But it's all stuff we've been wanting to take care of forever and I'm glad we did it. By the end of this month we should be done with all that and ready to begin on Baby Step 3 for real. Trouble is, the boys are finally in preschool and I am finally going back to school myself to begin a second career. My first tuition/books payment will be due this Dec (just in time for Xmas) and is probably going to be around $2000. Long story short, I don't think we're going to be able to start the 401k until about Jan instead of Sept like we had planned and that sucks.

Regardless, compared to where we saw ourselves a year ago, we are doing much, much better indeed. Hopefully by this time next year we will be finished with Baby Step 4 and be looking ahead to a bright financial future!
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 3 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [103651] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21492] => Array ( [category_id] => 21492 [category_name] => Investing [category_stub] => investing ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21494] => Array ( [category_id] => 21494 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) ) [entry_id] => 103651 [entry_title] => Closing In [entry_stub] => closing-in [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/07/13/closing-in_103651/ [entry_date] => 1373733962 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-07-13 11:46:02 [entry_text] => Almost at the finish line for TMM baby step 2: debt snowball. Actually, we could have been there on July 19th, but, the laptop hubby has been wanting for so long went on sale for the 4th of July week. We saved $100 by buying it now and pushing the fridge payoff out one more paycheck (Aug 2). Which I think is fine given it's no interest for 3 more months and definitely will be paid off on the 2nd. We chose snail speed shipping though to save on that part, so it will still be another week or so before he gets it, but I'm sure he will be very happy when it finally arrives!

We are starting to look into what the next financial steps are. Dave Ramsey says baby step 3 should be saving a 3-6 month emergency fund (building on the $1000 one from baby step 1). That would be about $18,000 for us and would take quite some time. And in the meantime, we would still not be taking advantage of the 3% 401K matching hubby's company offers (not to mention just plain starting to save for retirement period, even though we're both entering our late 30's.) Additionally, our '99 SUV is probably not going to last much longer and certainly will be an emergency when it dies. And we want our next car purchase to be a slightly used, reliable family vehicle with low miles that we can count on driving for at least 8-10 years.

So, we're thinking of taking a middle of the road approach. I've opened a money market account with Ally bank and transferred our $1000 emergency fund there. As soon as the fridge is done we are going to work on building that up to $5000 as fast as possible. After that, we have some home maintenance issues we have been putting off forever that we need to take care of. Getting all of that accomplished is going to push us well into the end of Oct.

But once we're there, we are going to start putting 6% of hubby's paychecks into the company 401K (the maximum matching amount). And come open enrollment in Nov we are also going to up our HSA/FSA medical contributions to the max for the coming year. That's going to take quite a dent out of our monthly income, but with all the debt we've now paid off (as well as the decrease in taxable income from the 401K/HSA/FSA), we should still be able to raise our entertainment budget from what it has been these past 9 months, and still work towards saving for a new vehicle.

We originally wanted to save for it completely before purchasing, which would have taken about a year, but our daughter really needs a car for the college internship she wants to do next summer. Assuming the SUV is still running then, we'd like to pass it off to her by next May so she can do that. That said, we should be 80% of the way there by May with hubby's bonus, so it shouldn't be too bad to take out a small loan at that point and pay it off in 4-6 months.

At that point, I will be starting school again (just a few classes at a community college to begin with) so there will be some tuition to take care of. But we will also need to start kicking up our savings as well. I'm looking into a Roth IRA for that, and Ally bank seems like a good place to help us with it. Given that you can withdraw contributions without penalty if needed, I feel like this could double with retirement and most of our remaining 3-6 month emergency fund. Short of job loss, I doubt we will ever need more than the $5K we will already have set aside in the money market (which I will keep separate). And $18K seems like too much money to just have sitting in a low interest account, when it will likely never be used, while we make no progress on retirement. Dave Ramsey would not approve, and I'm still looking into the details, but right now that's the plan. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 7 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [103317] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) ) [entry_id] => 103317 [entry_title] => End of Month Slow Down [entry_stub] => end-of-month-slow-down [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/06/24/end-of-month-slow-down_103317/ [entry_date] => 1372097929 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-06-24 13:18:49 [entry_text] => The end of this month has been a bit of a let down in terms of the last leg of our debt payoff plan. We did make a $592 payment at the beginning of the month towards our last old credit card. But between the plumbing issues and car issues we had mid-month, there isn't anything left to do more. We just barely succeeded in not having to tap the emergency fund for the repairs, and now we're wiped. But even that is a success compared to our old way of life.

Still though, I think we will be able to send in another big chunk towards the fridge on the 5th of July. And our new estimated final payoff day is Aug 2. And then hubby can finally get that laptop he's been pining over for so long. Wink

Another bit of good news; we canceled 3 old credit cards this month and are about to close another as well. We applied for one new one with our warehouse discount store so that we can get the cash back on our purchases there. And we are keeping one other one to make sure we have enough available credit to keep our credit score rating up should something befall us before our souped up emergency fund is fully formed. But the plan from this point out is to pay them off at the end of each billing cycle and never carry a balance.

Now to just keep on trucking...
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 1 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [103087] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) ) [entry_id] => 103087 [entry_title] => We Did It!!! [entry_stub] => we-did-it [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/06/11/we-did-it_103087/ [entry_date] => 1370976855 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-06-11 13:54:15 [entry_text] => Just a quick note to say: We Paid Off Our LAST Credit Card last week!! We reached our goal a full 7 months early! I am so happy to be done!!

Of course, now that the old debt is done, it is time to acknowledge the new debt for the fridge we purchased on store credit. It has no interest for 6 months and we plan to be done in half that time. I have updated my debt stats accordingly. This debt milestone would feel a lot more exciting though if we didn't now have this to take care of that debt too. But at least it's debt for only one physical object that we use literally every day, rather than for a whole bunch of things transferred from card to card for so long that we had no idea what it was we were even paying for anymore. It is also nice to look at my wedding ring now and know that it is completely paid for. Smile

We may or may not make much headway on the fridge debt this month. Depends how my home business goes this month; this tends to be a slow time of year. Our car was in need of a $675 repair this week and we have a plumbing issue too now that is probably going to be at least $300. But guess what? For the first time, we don't have to tap into our emergency fund to pay for that. The mechanic told us the amount and we just sighed and said, well, at least we know we've got it. That is a very nice feeling.

Really looking forward to the end of the summer when we will have taken care of the back log of expenses we put off forever while doing our debt payoff. Because that's when the real fun begins. The accumulation phase that will (finally!) prepare us for our future.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 12 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [102806] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) ) [entry_id] => 102806 [entry_title] => A Talk with Hubby [entry_stub] => a-talk-with-hubby [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/05/27/a-talk-with-hubby_102806/ [entry_date] => 1369628147 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-05-26 23:15:47 [entry_text] => Many of you have pointed out to me that my hubby seems to be a reluctant partner in this Total Money Makeover of ours. To which I could not agree more. And it's certainly not as if that's something he and I haven't discussed. But its been a difficult topic for him. He feels like he works and works and works and yet has nothing to show for it (there's some truth to that right now). And generally speaking, since he lets me decide how to spend most of the money even though he makes most of the money, I try not to be too hard on him.

I did get annoyed enough the other night to bring it up again though. I was trying to have just a strategic, non-emotional discussion about what we should prioritize first once we finish paying off the last* credit card next month (*please ignore the fridge for now. I need that to be separate so I can be done, or I will implode.) But it once again turned in to a whine fest.

I managed to mostly keep my cool and said that while this certainly is hard, and there certainly is reason to whine about it occasionally, that shouldn't have to be the case every time money is discussed. That it made me feel like I was making him do this even though he has agreed many times that he feels it is what's best for us as well. That in order to feel like partners in it, I needed to just be able to talk strategy with him sometimes so that we could figure out how to best prioritize things together. I didn't say it all quite that nicely, but I did my best.

He didn't take it all that well at the time (it had been a long day and perhaps was not the best time to bring it up in retrospect). But later that night he did seem to come around some. And since then he has actually been much better. He even offered to put off getting the new laptop he so wants until the fridge payoff is done. We talked about how we might generate a report for him to look over after each paycheck so that he has a better understanding of how the numbers are moving (we're nerds like that). I told him that I was actually frustrated about it all the time too, and that if I didn't have my spreadsheet to look over and fiddle with almost daily I would probably be a wreck. Simple tasks like changing box shading from yellow to green to show it's completed do wonders for keeping me sane.

So, hopefully that was the talk that will finally change things. And we are so, so close. One more paycheck (don't talk to me about the fridge yet). It's really hard to not fixate on it. To a level of being unhealthy probably, but it's just been soooo long and part of me just can't believe that we're really about to frickin' do this. I keep checking and re-checking because it seems surreal. As if any moment a large, unforeseen expense will rise up and swallow us whole. But so far, the spreadsheet says we're on track. It says we're okay. Just one more paycheck...



[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 5 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [102651] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) ) [entry_id] => 102651 [entry_title] => So Close, Yet So Far [entry_stub] => so-close-yet-so-far [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/05/15/so-close-yet-so-far_102651/ [entry_date] => 1368590064 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-05-14 22:54:24 [entry_text] => We are so, so close to our credit card debt payoff. Only $1482 more to go! (Not counting the new fridge, as discussed). Our expected payoff date is June 7th but the closer we get, the more things that seem to be creeping up. Frown Our printer has stopped working, and our router is acting up and has to be restarted multiple times a day. We have 3 medical bills that came in at once and only enough money in the HSA for 2 of them (even after setting up payment plans). Our family car's air conditioner seems to need recharging. We have a plumbing issue with the water line to our new fridge. And to top it all off, we just found out our home has moderately high levels (6.2 pCi/L) of radon gas (common in this area) and that we need to install a mitigation system, which is going to run about $1600. We have $1000 in our emergency fund.

Hubby is chomping at the bit for the new lap top he's been promised when our last credit card is taken care of. And it would really help him with the side job he does that has helped pay down this debt faster. I don't think he's going to take no for an answer again if we have to push that last payment off a bit longer. But I really don't want to add anything else to credit. We need to take care of the new fridge still as it is.

I'm trying to decide what we can put off, and what we must do. I never pay bills late, so I think I will have an anxiety attack if I don't take care of the dental bill. Though I am going to call tomorrow and beg for a later due date (sad). As long as we don't start hitting 90's constantly it seems like we should be able to squeak by on the car's air conditioner for another month or so. My 2 year old boys sure looked hot back there today though. They were so flushed I was worried about over heating.

If hubby is going to demand the lap top then maybe he will have to wait on the fridge water line instead. We managed to get water from the sink for the last how many years. Shouldn't kill us to go a little longer. Hopefully we can figure out what's wrong with the printer and as long as the router doesn't completely die, we can deal with restarting it constantly a month or so longer. The radon mitigation system is the one that has me stuck though.

My daughter's bedroom is in the basement where the concentration is the highest. If she hadn't just gotten home for the summer from college then I think we would definitely put this off a few months. But she is home, and she sleeps down there (well, when she's not at her boyfriend's at least.) Long term exposure to radon increases your chances of lung cancer. 3 months isn't really that long of exposure (though this must have been a problem before too). To be honest, her risk of getting colon cancer from not eating any fruits and vegetables is probably higher, but I just don't feel good about it. Whether or not we take care of that right away though will probably be the difference between finishing the debt payoff in June or not.

Need to have a discussion with hubby I think. Hopefully one that entails more problem solving than whining.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 7 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [102443] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21491] => Array ( [category_id] => 21491 [category_name] => Food / Groceries [category_stub] => food-groceries ) ) [entry_id] => 102443 [entry_title] => Inching Ever Closer & A New Fridge! [entry_stub] => inching-ever-closer-a-new-fridge [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/05/01/inching-ever-closer-a-new-fridge_102443/ [entry_date] => 1367376476 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-04-30 21:47:56 [entry_text] => One more month of operation wipe out credit card/car debt completed. And as long and tedious as it has been, we are in the final stretch now. Only $3341 left. In fact, we have an estimated payoff date of June 7th! Just gotta keep putting one foot in front of the other for a little longer...

Actually, I have a confession. Two days ago, we bought a fridge. With a store credit card. So, to be completely honest about it, out debt total is actually at $5279.08 now. I know, I know, we maybe shouldn't have. We're so close. But- we were absolutely going to do this as soon as possible after we finished in June, and -the store had a sale on them this month that saved us $200, and- there's no interest for 6 months and we should have it paid off 3-4 months from now. And also- we were sick to death of that stupid drawer always falling down and pulverizing our fruit! And just to throw in one more good excuse, it was so ancient that I'm certain our energy bill will go down by a noticeable amount once the new eco-friendly one arrives. And it's bigger. It might actually fit all our stuff! Wink

This doesn't actually change our payment plan at all really because given there's no interest, we're still going to put all our focus into the last credit card first and then start paying for the new lap top and fridge we need. We'll finish paying it off in the same time we would have saved for it, but this way I get the new fridge while we're doing it. At this point, I trust myself to deal with this new debt ASAP, so I am not too worried about it. I don't plan on paying interest to credit card companies EVER again.

So, one more month down. And I keep wondering, what will it feel like when the last debt is paid? If we were planning on adding all the extra money we'll have to our regular spending, I'd probably assume it'd feel pretty awesome. Instead we're mostly going to be doing much more practical things with it, like starting a 401k, increasing contributions to our HSA and saving for a new family car. So in terms of spending, it won't feel that much different. But I would assume there will be a mental shift of some sort? A different feeling when you know you are finally creating a hill rather than digging out of a hole? I don't know for sure. I guess we'll see when we get there. I sure hope it feels different! Would love to hear how it was for others when they reached this turning point. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 1 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [101898] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21495] => Array ( [category_id] => 21495 [category_name] => Saving Money [category_stub] => saving-money ) ) [entry_id] => 101898 [entry_title] => Save Now, Live Later [entry_stub] => save-now-live-later [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/03/30/save-now-live-later_101898/ [entry_date] => 1364658384 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-03-30 10:46:24 [entry_text] => We're making awesome progress on our debt. In the last 6 months we have paid off $16,406 in credit cards/car loans and we now have only $5900 to go. On paper, it looks really good. In life- it looks kind of bleak.

I have always struggled with living my life more in the past or future than in the present. The Now. I am good at putting off short term reward for long term gain. Hubby has a harder time with this, which is one reason he is so good for me in this regard. He helps to balance me out and remind me that life IS now. In turn, I help to give him direction so that he moves towards his longer term goals. This tug of war plays out in our total money makeover all the time, as it does with most everything in our marriage.

Recently though, I have hit an emotional wall that makes me realize I need to start focusing more on the Now. To put it bluntly, I am not enjoying my life right now. I miss working and having space for intellectual pursuits in my life outside of two year old play dates and fish sticks. I feel that me being home is what's best for them and I love them to pieces. But I am coming to accept that it is not what's best for me. None the less, they don't have a lot of part-time options for women with PhDs in science fields, and I didn't like what I did much before anyways, and I will need to be retrained before I can begin a new career path. Which will only be affordable if we stick to our financial plan and cut expenses now. For now, and the next few years, I'm stuck here.

And hubby and I have been working our butts off for this money makeover. I run after our darling boys all day while he works his day job. And then by night, once the boys are tucked in, we both spend at least half the nights a week doing our side jobs, which has created the surplus for our finances. But we have almost no time for ourselves or each other. We've turned all date nights into at home affairs and cut all plans for family vacations. We don't buy clothes, or toys or really anything that's not required. We stick to the plan. And it blows.

Part of why we have felt the need to push this hard in the short term is that we have been treading water financially for years now. With every increase in funds getting eaten up by something else unplanned for, I watched my goal of going back to school slip further and further away. We were always barely making ends meet. Always "a little bit short this month but next month should be better." Looking into the near future we could already see the big raise hubby was expecting being eaten up by needing to replace the family car that is on its last leg. And we have nothing for retirement. We needed to do something Now.

So we're doing this. And the credit cards part of it is almost done. Which is awesome. But if we don't want to just replace all that work with another car loan then we need to start saving pretty aggressively for a car as well. And there are a whole ton a medical expenses that have crept up recently that I don't even want to think about factoring in to the plan yet. And yet - life is NOW. Not when we finish saving for a "new" car or finally start that retirement fund or get money pulled together for me to go back to school. But now. And Now - I am miserable.

Clearly there has to be some balance here. It does no good to live high on the hog now and just be miserable in the future instead. But it is not healthy to put off everything Now for a future that may never come either. They used to say money doesn't buy you happiness. Though they're finding that's not actually true! (

Text is http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/01/25/money-does-buy-happiness-we-were-shocked-too/ and Link is
http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/01/25/money-does-...,
Text is http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2019628,00.html and Link is
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2019628,00....,
Text is http://www.wired.com/business/2012/12/wealth-happiness/ and Link is
http://www.wired.com/business/2012/12/wealth-happiness/). Regardless, I have never been a collector of things for my happiness. But money does buy experiences. And experiences are the stuff of life in my opinion.

In times past, I know it has definitely made me happier to have a fun family vacation to look forward to, or a fancy night out with hubby taking in dinner, wine and a show somewhere. It made me happy when I was able to splurge on a massage or a special outing with the boys. Though these things are fleeting without knowing they are financially backed by having the longer term goals of ones life fully funded as well. Again, I recognize there must be balance. But right now the balance is clearly too far to the future game, and we need to adjust that.

In the very short term we are going to restart monthly date night outs, though nothing too fancy until the credit cards are done (only 3 more months!). Then, we'll have to decide what additional changes we can make at that point, and which ones we need to put off at least until a new car, and the increased emergency fund, and the 401K and all that have been saved for. I don't know what the right balance is here because all these things are important. But my emotional outlook is making it very clear to me that our current answer is not where it needs to be right now. I will be working on sorting that out this coming month.

PS Please, please, pretty please, do not respond to this post with a list of low cost entertainment options that I could "fix" my problem with. And no, we do not have good options with family or friends for child care swapping right now. I am aware that these options exist and we are considering them too, but we want to feel able to enjoy some of the "finer" things in life as well. This is really more about giving myself permission to enjoy than it is about the actual solution. Once I feel it's allowed, coming up with the options should be the fun part!
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 9 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 0 [contains_images] => 0 ) [101832] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21494] => Array ( [category_id] => 21494 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) ) [entry_id] => 101832 [entry_title] => March Madness Ends [entry_stub] => march-madness-ends [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/03/26/march-madness-ends_101832/ [entry_date] => 1364260552 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-03-25 20:15:52 [entry_text] => Well, probably not the March Madness you're thinking of. But our March madness - the one where all the money came in, that one is finally wrapping up. And we have *mostly* been very, very good.

As you'll recall, hubby got a $5K bonus in Feb, a raise that translates in to $250 extra per paycheck starting mid-March, and a tax return total around $6200. Yeah, it was pretty sweet. But, unlike every other year in prior history, we applied ALL this money towards our debts. The checks came in, and I mailed another out.

And now, that's it. No more extra money. But only ONE credit card left! Wow. And I think we have about an extra $1000 left over from this month's budget that I'll be able to put towards it at month's end. If we keep sticking to the plan, I believe we'll be done with baby step 2 finally come July. Thank. Goodness. Cause we are sooooo sick of this.

Granted, we're not out of the water yet. Before I feel good about where we're at, we're going to need to save up for a "new" family car (preferably BEFORE the old one dies), start contributing enough to hubby's 401K to take full advantage of the employer matching, and save up at least $15K into an emergency fund. I feel like those are the bare minimum financial things I need to feel like a financially respectable adult. Hubby agrees, and until we reach those goals, we are both willing to do some more sacrificing (some of us less reluctantly than others, but we're not naming names here!).

Really though, that's just the bottom line because eventually, when the boys are finally in school I want to go back to school myself and start a second career. And given that we've barely made a dent in my previous student loans, I'd rather not take out more if possible. And we want to pay off our mortgage. And before too terribly much longer hubby will need a newer car too. And it's going to take a lot more than just hubby's 401K to make up for the Absolutely Nothing we have saved for retirement yet.

But, all in good time. The good news is that I think we will actually have reached my bottom line by this time next year, and that will be amazing. Hubby and I do have a few rewards we will be giving ourselves along the way as we reach our intermediate goals. To start with, once the credit cards are finished, our monthly entertainment budget goes up. We get to start having real date nights again! Also, there will be a new refrigerator and a new lap top ASAP, both of which will replace objects that we are just praying will hold out until July right now. But for now, baby step 2 continues...

[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 2 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 0 [contains_images] => 0 ) [101411] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21494] => Array ( [category_id] => 21494 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) ) [entry_id] => 101411 [entry_title] => Making Progress [entry_stub] => making-progress [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/03/02/making-progress_101411/ [entry_date] => 1362265644 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-03-02 17:07:24 [entry_text] => I am frustrated that I have not been able to keep up with this blog very well lately due to some other projects I have been working on. I think it is a really good outlet for the stress this financial overhaul creates in our lives sometimes. And I think its a really good tool for keeping us accountable. Should be able to put more time into it again by the end of this month though I think, so I'll have to be content with that for now.

As for where we're at right now, do you see that side bar?! Talk about progress! Yes, the windfall has finally begun. Hubby got his bonus from work, which was about $5K after taxes got done with it. Originally, I had planned on paying off credit cards first with that, but after reading A LOT of material of financial planning recently, I decided a better use would be to pay off the car first, due to its higher interest rate. So, that one is done! And that payoff alone increases our monthly income by $198/month. Yay!

We also got our state return, a little under $500, and with that and some other surplus, I did pay off 1 of our 4 credit cards as well, though that one only increases out bottom line by about $30/month so not as exciting. But still progress! Supposedly, the IRS is going to finally start processing returns for people with mortgage interest credits within the next week. So hopefully, we will get that soon too (assuming no audit as discussed previously:
Text is http://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/02/09/death-and-taxes_100945/ and Link is
http://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/02/09/death-a...). And when we do, I plan to knock off a couple more cards, this raising our bottom line another $180/month. Wow, were we ever wasting a lot of money of this crap.

After that, it will just be the one big one left, which I'm hoping to have taken care of by the end of the summer, maybe sooner depending on how my business goes (summers tend to be slower). And then, we finally get to start the more fun part of personal finance: investing in ourselves.

Certainly we still have a lot of debt to pay off, between my student loans and our mortgage. Actually, even after paying off the the rest of the credit cards, I was disappointed to find that our net worth will still be around -$84K. Ouch. Though it is above the -$100K mark now for the first time in years. But as one financial planner I read stated, we're working really hard just to be worthless right now (ie $0 net worth).

None the less, after receiving some comments about how silly we are to not be taking advantage of the 401K matching hubby's company offers, I did a bit of research and decided in the end that, yes, we are being incredibly stupid not taking this free money and we need to get on that train ASAP, Dave Ramsey be damned. If we were being completely logical rather than emotional about it in fact, we would probably be prioritizing that even above our credit cards given that they have very low promotional interest rates. After much discussion though, we have decided we simply cannot bring ourselves to make this credit card thing go any slower. We feel spread much too thin as it is, and we need to be done with those debts and never use credit that way again. Our emotional sanity depends on it. Especially given how close we are.

If it were going to be something that was a few years away from being accomplished, like our mortgage and student loans, it might make sense to do it with more of a long view in mind. But we are literally within 3-5 months of our goal and our monthly income will increase by another $300 compared to now, once we sunset this. And that will certainly help our long term bottom line as well. That's our thinking at least. But at least we're almost there!

Anyways, very happy to be making some definite progress finally and looking forward to a 3 paycheck March this month as well! [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 0 [contains_images] => 0 ) [100947] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21491] => Array ( [category_id] => 21491 [category_name] => Food / Groceries [category_stub] => food-groceries ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) ) [entry_id] => 100947 [entry_title] => Feb Zero Dollar Budget [entry_stub] => feb-zero-dollar-budget [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/02/09/feb-zero-dollar-budget_100947/ [entry_date] => 1360431810 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-02-09 11:43:30 [entry_text] => Income:

Hubby's Job (after tax): $5271
Hubby's Hobby Income: $550*
My PT-WFH Job: $670*
Hubby's Bonus (after tax): $5104
(*subject to change, though usually for the better!)

Total Monthly Income: $11598 (umm...holy crap!)

Expenses:

Non-Fixed Expenses:
Groceries: $861
Gasoline: $188
Misc: $500
Entertainment: $250
Gifts: $10 (Valentine's Day Treat!)

Fixed Expenses:
Mortgage/Insurance: $1509
Student Loan: $619
Utilities (water/sewer, gas, electric, etc): $349
Services (phone, computer backup, garbage, cable*, etc.): $285
(*reimbursed through hubby's company)
Leftover Leaf Cleanup Bill: $150*
(*he still has not billed us and I'm not calling again. This is his last chance.)
Auto Insurance: $73
Credit Cards (minimum payments): $299
Auto Loan: $198
Early Childhood Program (spring session fee): $120

Total Expenses: $5525

Difference (to be applied towards credit cards): $6073 (woo hoo!)


Still need to do an accounting for how we did in Jan but I think I'm out of time this morning so it looks like it will have to wait again.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 2 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [100943] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) ) [entry_id] => 100943 [entry_title] => Hubby Got Promoted!!! [entry_stub] => hubby-got-promoted [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/02/09/hubby-got-promoted_100943/ [entry_date] => 1360428955 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-02-09 10:55:55 [entry_text] => The day we have been waiting for all year is finally here! Many of you pointed out previously that in the future we should probably not count so many of our eggs before they hatch so to speak. And yes, I know what you mean. I tend to always be about 5 years ahead of myself. That works well for some things in life, though not for others. This one was particularly hard because we *thought* this promotion was going to happen last year. His boss had suggested as much. Then we came to find that the company likes to get new managers feet wet for a year by giving them most of the new duties they will have, without the pay increase until the following year, after they see how it goes.

I get the logic that they don't want to end up promoting people who aren't going to be a good fit for management. But man that was an annoying year. We had thought it was already in the bag. And Hubby worked his butt off and understandably felt uncompensated for it. But no more! He broke the six figure income ceiling in fact! Well, more like scuffed it: he's getting exactly $100K now. But he also got a sweet $8000 bonus, though that'll be about $5100 once taxes get pulled out. Additionally, he gets an office and a garage parking spot. And he will now be eligible for even larger bonuses going forward. Possibly as much as 15% if he keeps "exceeding expectations".

But okay, okay, let's not go there yet. Let's let next years chickens come next year. How 'bout them eggs this year though! Wink We should be getting the bonus check next week. And once we do, CC#1 and #2 that you see on the side bar there should finally be gone! And just in time too, one of our balance txfr promotions is about to expire.

It may seem like a simple thing to send in a big check like this to a credit card that needs paying, but for us, this in and of itself is a debt victory. We were never disciplined enough to make that much headway before. We *might* have ended up paying off the smaller of the two. But we certainly wouldn't have knocked out that second one also (with some spare to throw at the third as well). So this is a big money management win for us.

Additionally, we should start seeing about $250 more each paycheck after taxes, and that will certainly help as well. Credit Card Free 2013, here we come!
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 5 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [100622] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) ) [entry_id] => 100622 [entry_title] => Parallel Lives [entry_stub] => parallel-lives [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/01/27/parallel-lives_100622/ [entry_date] => 1359316861 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-01-27 14:01:01 [entry_text] => For the most part, I like Dave Ramsey's TMM plan. We're working hard on baby step 2 (debt snowball for non-house/student loan debts) and are hoping to be on to baby step 3 (beef up the $1000 emergency fund from baby step 1) before the end of the year. This is our 4th month on this plan. Unfortunately, I feel like our accumulated debt snowball at this point could still easily fit in the palm of one hand. And just last month we had to regress to baby step 1 for a bit while we took care of some car/business income troubles we had.

And now this month yet again, one of our cars is going to keep us from being able to get traction on our debt snowball yet again. This is the 3rd month out of the last 4 that we have had car expenses over $800, and is already easily more than we paid the entire year before. WTF? We were long overdue though for 4 new tires that we were hoping to put off until next month's tax return came in. An unexpected flat (and consequent tow) made that happen this month instead though and altogether we are out another $850. The only good thing I can say about this is that we managed to trim enough excess off our spending this month that we did not have to tap in to the emergency fund to pay for that again. But I'm not sure how much extra there will be now to apply to our credit cards once again.

So we will probably continue to pay only slightly above the minimums on all our cards for yet another month. Luckily they are all on no interest promotional periods right now, but those will gradually expire this year and balance transfers cost 3-4% of the balance. In truth, it is not as bad as all that because we do have our big tax return and hubby's bonus coming our way soon, and once we get those we should be about 2/3 of the way done already. But I guess I feel like that's cheating.

I wanted this debt snowball to get started through our own budgeting successes and not just a once a year cash windfall. And I suppose one could argue that that's still true here. In a parallel life, one where we did not start our Total Money Makeover, I am certain hubby and I's straits would be much more dire right now. We would have spent a lot more money than we should have on other things and we would have ended up adding more to credit cards when the emergencies came in. We would have planned to throw and little at the credit cards with our tax return/bonus, but also prioritized a new fridge and laptop above our debt payoffs. We would have had a lot more fun going on monthly date night like we used to, but we'd also be a lot more in debt and certainly no closer to our long term financial goals.

At least that's what I like to tell myself. And its probably true. But who knows what my old self would have done for sure. I'm not a complete idiot, just a little desirous of short term rewards at the expense of long term gains. And I was a little fuzzy on the overall game plan long term. But still, on weeks like this, I wish there were a way to see my bank accounts in that parallel life next to this one, so I could know that we truly are making progress.

End of month accounting to follow soon.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [100520] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21495] => Array ( [category_id] => 21495 [category_name] => Saving Money [category_stub] => saving-money ) ) [entry_id] => 100520 [entry_title] => Pushing Too Hard [entry_stub] => pushing-too-hard [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/01/23/pushing-too-hard_100520/ [entry_date] => 1358913075 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-01-22 21:51:15 [entry_text] => Hubby has seemed down the past couple weeks. Just always tired and distant and with a shorter fuse than normal. Money things especially seemed to set him off, and it got me thinking...maybe he feels I'm pushing him too hard with this Money Makeover thing I've roped us into? Maybe he thinks that money is all I care about?

So last night I asked him whether something was wrong. And I got the usual answer about work being hard right now, but he also slipped in a single sentence about being worried he wouldn't get the promotion he should have coming next month. The one we've been looking forward to and planning for all year. The one I have financial forecast spreadsheets already built around. And I thought, hmmm, I haven't heard him say that before. Could this fear be behind the mood of late?

So I probed a bit further. And here's where I'll have to back up a bit and give you some detail on his work situation. Hubby works for a large fortune 500 company that has a policy of testing out new managers by generally giving them a small team to work with for a year and then officially promoting them (ie pay grade level raise) and expanding their team the following year if all goes well. Hubby started out last March with a team of 3 underneath him. One who turned out to be a rock star, one who's your average joe schmo, and one who is the devil incarnate.

His boss told him he was getting a lemon who was transferred to them because she had issues with her last manager already (and the one before that, and...) but he wanted him to see what he could do with her. He had no idea what was really in store. I can't even begin to go in to everything this woman did, it would just go on forever. All I will say is that she knew how to work the system of a large company, knew how to complicate things further with unverifiable health issues, and had the entire human resource department involved in her case besides themselves with dread. For hubby, this meant headache after headache as he jumped through all the hoops and appeals of the employee corrective action process, the end result being that something/someone which should have been maybe 10% the focus of his job became more like 60%. She was going to be out of his hair soon (more on that in a bit) but the months prior had taken their toll.

So hubby was concerned about his promotion status. He knew he had accomplished less in other areas than he would have without that situation. He knew his direct supervisor felt he was doing very well given the situation, but he didn't know who all needed to approve the promotion and he didn't know what criteria they would be using to evaluate that decision. And he knew how much I had been looking forward to that money. About my spreadsheets. About my assumptions. And he silently worried. Poor hubby.

It has been a long, tight few months for our budget since back child support ended in Dec, my home business floundered all Summer/Fall, the car broke down big time, and Xmas arrived. And that was all just after we had started getting our feet wet with this debt reduction stuff to begin with! It helped a lot during that time that hubby's hobby was steadily earning him some initially unexpected income as well. I kind of made it clear to him though that for Dec and Jan at least, as great as it was that he was getting paid for something he loved, we really needed the money as well. Although it had started out that way, it wasn't really optional anymore - at least not for those two months. He didn't like the fun that took out of it for him, though he understood the constraints we were under and he did what he needed to do to make that happen. With everything going on at work as well though, I think it was all just too much for him.

So, I've done my best to back off set his heart at ease. I reassured him that now that my business has picked up again, we don't need that money anymore, and if he stopped making another penny of it, it would only set us back two months in our debt plan. I also told him that whether or not his company is able to recognize his efforts this year, given the ridiculous situation he was put in, I know he did an amazing job with what he had to work with and in one more year without her in the picture, he was going to knock their socks off. And I truly believe this. My hubby is a very capable and competent man that is really good at what he does. It was just a crappy situation.

I think he felt some relief from that. I think he was happy to know I did care about more than just the money, though I think I need to work even harder in the future to make sure he knows that. It's just so much a focus of mine right now as we work through all this debt. I think he felt down right elated this morning though when he came in to find her letter or resignation in his inbox. Smile Truthfully, she was finally on a final warning and it was really only a matter of time one way or another, but that was probably the best outcome possible. Additionally, his boss mentioned at a team meeting later that day that all requests for promotions have been initially approved - and he knows he's one of them.

Its been a good day. Smile
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 6 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [100049] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21495] => Array ( [category_id] => 21495 [category_name] => Saving Money [category_stub] => saving-money ) ) [entry_id] => 100049 [entry_title] => Our Debt Snowball [entry_stub] => our-debt-snowball [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/01/05/our-debt-snowball_100049/ [entry_date] => 1357369587 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-01-05 01:06:27 [entry_text] => This is it! The year we're going to conquer our credit card and car loan debt. Time to layout the plan so I can hold myself to it!

We are still only 3 months in to our Total Money Makeover. So far, getting our debt "snowball" rolling has been really slow going due to a number of unfortunate factors. Child support back-pay ended last month, and as glad as I am to finally be done with my ex-husband, it left a new $500 hole in our budget. We knew this was coming though, and could have handled it alone, but unfortunately, it overlapped with a slow quarter for me in my home business. I have been making only about 1/3 of my usual profits for this time of year. And then to make matters worse, just a month before Xmas my normally biggest contract of the year cancelled on me due to going out of business. That left us short another $1600, and was pretty much our Xmas "budget" out the window. The same week our newer car need a $1000 repair. Needless to say, its been rough.

The amazing part of all this though, (as I tried to explain to hubby tonight when he got all forlorn about how little actual credit card progress we've made so far), is that we have not dug ourselves in any deeper for once! Had we not started a budget and drastically reduced our spending in recent months, these problems would have crept up on as as they always did. With us already overspent and not knowing where we were going to come up with these extra funds. I would not have been at all surprised if we ended up putting at least $1000 or so on a credit card, even after wiping our emergency fund out. Nor would we have had any plan to restock the emergency fund before our tax return came in late Feb. But that's not how we're doing things these days.

Today, I can honestly say that we have not used a credit card in over a year, even for emergencies. That's a first. And that as of this Monday, despite Xmas being barely over, our emergency fund will be restocked with $1000. And that even after all that, if we stick to our budget, we may still have about $50 extra to put towards credit cards in Jan. That may not be much, but it's a heck of a lot better than where we would have been before all this.

But then Feb is where the real fun begins. The month we finally start getting some momentum on this debt snowball. Because due to circumstances previously discussed, we will be getting a huge tax return. Probably around $8000. And then come March hubby should be getting his annual bonus, which will probably be around $4500. And then in Apr., hubby's new promotion raise will kick in and he should start bringing home about $500 more a month (which BTW, cancels out that child support that ended. Sweet.).

In the past, we would have initially *said* we were going to put a large amount of this extra towards our credit cards. But as it got closer, our wish list would have grown and grown. We may have ended up throwing $1500 towards it, but the rest would have gotten set aside for "in case" or spent this way or that. Our goal this year though, is to send no less than $13,000 to our credit cards for the months of Feb & March combined. Hold me to this!

By the end of all this fortune we should have wiped out three of our four credit cards and will already be about 2/3 of the way to our 2013 debt goal. From that point on it will be more slow and steady progress. If we stick to it though, that last credit card should be gone by the end of June, and our car loan will follow at the end of Sept. And that will be it! Almost one year after we started to the date. And then on to baby step 3 we'll go!

If we stick to this plan, about 28% of our take home pay over the course of a year will go towards our credit card and car loan debts. Compare that with the only 7% progress we were making before. (And we were wondering why we were never getting anywhere?) A four fold increase. Not too shabby for only 3 months of restructuring. And who knows what else we'll come up with by then?

All of this, of course, is subject to change. I'll feel a lot more confident once the tax return, bonus and raise are in hand. Until then, they are only projections, not realities. (At least the fiscal cliff is done!) Also, who knows what else will happen with cars and appliances and goodness knows what else in the months ahead. I have estimated my business income a little on the low side to help offset this, but it being on the low side has been a reality for me as well lately, though one that is starting to improve. If necessary, we still have a 3 month buffer to make it to the end of 2013 credit card/car loan debt free!

All said and done, we have a plan, and now its time to get to it.

[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 10 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 0 [contains_images] => 0 ) [99801] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21491] => Array ( [category_id] => 21491 [category_name] => Food / Groceries [category_stub] => food-groceries ) [21495] => Array ( [category_id] => 21495 [category_name] => Saving Money [category_stub] => saving-money ) [21496] => Array ( [category_id] => 21496 [category_name] => Shopping [category_stub] => shopping ) ) [entry_id] => 99801 [entry_title] => Post Christmas Update [entry_stub] => post-christmas-update [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2012/12/27/post-christmas-update_99801/ [entry_date] => 1356575464 [entry_date_mysql] => 2012-12-26 20:31:04 [entry_text] => Well, we managed to get through Dec., the month I projected to be the tightest in our near future, with less financial distress than anticipated. The new side work hobby and I both had come in helped a lot. Jan. will still be a little tight, but without Xmas (and hopefully not another $1000 car repair), certainly much easier. And then come Feb we should finally be able to start making some real headway of this credit card/car loan debt. Can't wait to knock the first of those cards to the ground! Assuming we don't jump off a national fiscal cliff for more than a week or so. I predict a deal within 2 weeks from today. Who's with me?

I got a lot of great tips for cutting Christmas expenses in my blog comments. Unfortunately, the posts they referred to were old (from my old blog) and by the time I received them, we had already purchased everything but for the stockings. We did manage to keep within the budget we allotted ourselves though. And we also managed to temper costs a little by purposely asking family members who wanted gift suggestions for items that would have normally come out of the miscellaneous budget. So hubby got a not very exciting, but quite practical and needed belt, while I got sports bra and dust proof pillow cases (among other more fun things as well), and we were both pretty happy with it.

So strange to remember that as recently as 4 years ago, we were still willing to break out the credit cards for Christmas purchases this time of year, citing plans to pay it off "some time later". The idea of going further into to debt for something so non-essential is incredibly disturbing to me now. I am not entirely sure when this point of view changed for me but I am glad to realize it has. Now I just need to work more on better prioritizing the spending of money I do have as well.

As for our tapped out emergency fund...I don't want to get too ahead of myself given that the end of the month is still a few days away. I feel like this just invites disaster to come. But I *think*, that maybe, just possibly, if luck continues to shine upon us, we will be able to put about $650 back into it next week. And I feel fairly confident (but in a not at all cocky way fairies of fate!) that we will be able to put the remaining $350 back in by the end of Jan. as well. And once that's out of the way we are back to baby step 2 again! (Please forgive my paranoid ravings. There's just been too many bad turns of late.)

I'm interested to see what our grocery bill will be this week as well given it will be our first shopping trip at our superstore instead of the grocery delivery service. And given that I have put on at least 3 lbs in Xmas cookies alone over the past two weeks, perhaps we should go light on supplies this coming week anyways. Though not until after the annual family fondue dinner next week! Gosh I love the food this time of year. Smile

Hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday!
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 5 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [99748] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21491] => Array ( [category_id] => 21491 [category_name] => Food / Groceries [category_stub] => food-groceries ) [21495] => Array ( [category_id] => 21495 [category_name] => Saving Money [category_stub] => saving-money ) [21496] => Array ( [category_id] => 21496 [category_name] => Shopping [category_stub] => shopping ) ) [entry_id] => 99748 [entry_title] => Grocery Reckoning Day [entry_stub] => grocery-reckoning-day [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2012/12/23/grocery-reckoning-day_99748/ [entry_date] => 1356236562 [entry_date_mysql] => 2012-12-22 22:22:42 [entry_text] => This past week, I spent most of my free time either physically shopping for groceries (or xmas), comparison shopping for groceries, or entering data about my comparison shopping into a spread sheet. I swear, besides taking care of two sick kids and eating way too many Christmas cookies, that's ALL I did. I may have piles of boxes downstairs left to wrap for the kids, but I have grocery price data compiled for you dear readers!

I won't bore you all to tears though by listing things like the price of bananas and greek yogurt at 3 different stores. Instead, I'll just tell you the bottom line. We could reduce our weekly grocery bill by about 30% if we stop getting our groceries delivered. Thirty. Percent. That is a weekly savings of almost $50 or around $200/month. Or in other words, this single act alone would move us from the USDA's
Text is http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/FoodPlans/2012/CostofFoodJan2012.pdf and Link is
http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/FoodPlans/2012/CostofF... liberal to moderate food cost budget (a previously stated goal of mine). Sigh. And now what to do with this new knowledge?

I must admit, I knew we were paying a premium for our grocery delivery service. I figured the convenience cost was probably around 10-15%, and my husband and I both felt that with twins boys under the age of 3, that extra cost was worth it. But looking at the numbers, it is clear now that it is costing us at least double, possibly triple what we had assumed. And I hate to even think about how much more than that it was costing us before we started using our discount warehouse store for frozen and non-perishable items. Holy. Crap.

The idea of adding another hour to hour and a half of shopping into my week makes me want to gag though. I loath shopping, especially for something boring like groceries. But 30% is just too much. In fact, the amount that we could save by me spending that extra time each week is roughly equivalent to the amount I would make if I put that much extra time into my home business. So if it pays as well as what I do for a living pays anyway, how could it not be worth it?

I still, however, can not wrap my head around the idea of bringing twin toddler boys with me during these weekly expeditions. I know some people do manage this somehow. If it were the difference between me eating or not I suppose I would too...maybe. If they were aged 3 and 1, where one could be in the child seat while the other held on to the cart, I think it could work. Or if they were even just a little older, 3 instead of 2, so that I could trust them to stay next to me instead of both running in opposite directions at the same time (or just plain sitting down and refusing to move anywhere), then it might work. But right now, they no longer both fit in the seat and they do NOT stay by the cart. It takes forever to dig one of those double seater carts they never have enough of out of the cart return bins (all the while blocking traffic) and its almost impossible to push them through the snow anyways. Our discount warehouse store has huge, two child cart seats that I love, and that I do manage with the boys occasionally. But these new weekly trips at the local super store -not possible yet.

Hubby, however, after looking over the numbers, has agreed to watch them for me on the weekends while I go. Normally this is the absolute last way I would like to be spending our precious family and personal down time on the weekends. But we have almost no money allotted for family outings during this year of debt reduction anyways, and the boys right now are at the age where during the winter they are almost as often sick as not, so many weeks (like this one) we can't do anything anyways. And by this time next year when we're out of this mess, I might finally be able to trust them to stay by the cart and hold mommy's hand.

So thank you everyone for this kick in the pants I needed to come to this difficult decision. It will probably save us over $2500 this coming year, and that gets us to our debt goal all the sooner.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 8 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 0 [contains_images] => 0 ) [99544] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21496] => Array ( [category_id] => 21496 [category_name] => Shopping [category_stub] => shopping ) ) [entry_id] => 99544 [entry_title] => Taking the Bad with the Good [entry_stub] => taking-the-bad-with-the-good [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2012/12/13/taking-the-bad-with-the-good_99544/ [entry_date] => 1355427405 [entry_date_mysql] => 2012-12-13 13:36:45 [entry_text] => (Last old entry!)

I haven't posted our month's end update yet because our financial situation this past week has been so in flux. In a recent post I talked a bit about hoping our Xmas shortfall might "magically" fix itself. And believe it or not, we actually have had a fair bit of good fortune magic come our way recently in terms of income.

Hubby's writing/website management hobby is really taking off! He's just landed a new deal that should pay a minimum of $300/month starting next week, and possibly up to $500 or more. And that's in addition to the $220 he was already making through another deal, plus some smaller bits on the side. All together that is more than enough to make up for the back pay child support that is now ending (last check tomorrow!) and also enough to bridge the income gap we were expecting for Dec/Jan.

Additionally, I've had a little bit of work come my way as well! My worse case budget scenario was assuming I would continue to have only about $140/month of income (that used to be more like $600). For at least Dec/Jan though, I think I can count on that being around $400 instead, so that's another extra $260 that also kind of feels like it just magically appeared in time for Christmas.

Were in not for the car repair that suddenly fell into our laps as well then, we would probably feel we were raking in the dough. But alas, this was no ordinary car repair. This was a $992 doosey. I'm not even sure we've paid that much for a car repair before. Usually when the repairs start getting that expensive and close together, the car is old enough that we decide its probably not worth it and time for a newer one instead. But this is hubby's car and we are still making car payments on it as it is. It's also the newer of our two vehicles and therefore not allowed to reach the end of its life first!

Anyways, that completely cleaned out the emergency fund. All but $10.17. So that's a little scary. Cause it's a good two and a half months until tax rebate season. Additionally, our discretionary account has only $4.81 in it, while even our fixed checking, which we use for things like the mortgage, has only $728.42. Not cool. Luckily, hubby gets paid tomorrow, though there are still lots more gifts to get. I should point out here that the order these fluctuations came in as was: my income increase (Oh, good, that will help a little), then the car (Oh, f**k. We're screwed again.), then hubby's income increase (Woo hoooo!!! We're saved!). It's been a long week.

We ended last month with about $260 surplus, which we would have liked to use to pay down our credit card debts given that that is the point of this whole thing. Unfortunately, as the month ended, we were projecting a $750 shortfall for Dec./Jan., so I felt I needed to hold on to that extra to help somehow bridge the gap. When my extra income came in, we had high hopes that end of Dec or at least Jan. might afford us some surplus after all. But then the car crapped out, and Dave Ramsey says our first priority now should be going back to baby step 1 to replenish the emergency fund. I'm not quite sure yet where that puts us in terms of catching up again, but it may well be Feb still. In the meantime, we will continue making our roughly $500/month in minimum payments.

More good news; some very preliminary numbers I ran in the newly released 2012 Turbotax seem to predict that we will be getting back around $8000 this year! Holy s**t! I think that's even bigger than when we got our first time home buyer's credit, though I might be wrong about that. We only claimed 4 deductions rather than 5 on hubby's W-4, so as to cancel out my estimated business taxes, but I didn't make very much compared to normal, so it ending up being a lot more withholding than we really needed. Plus, we get some kind of a $2000 education credit for my daughter starting college, since she is still a dependent on our taxes for this year. Yay!! Until the car died, we were considering buying a new fridge with some of that. But at this point, we may just muddle through and try to just get done with this ASAP. Hopefully by next Xmas we'll be on baby step 3!
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [99542] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21496] => Array ( [category_id] => 21496 [category_name] => Shopping [category_stub] => shopping ) ) [entry_id] => 99542 [entry_title] => Cancelling Christmas (Except Not!) [entry_stub] => cancelling-christmas-except-not [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2012/12/13/cancelling-christmas-except-not_99542/ [entry_date] => 1355427101 [entry_date_mysql] => 2012-12-13 13:31:41 [entry_text] => (Only a couple old ones left...)

So bad news this week. That big job I usually get this time of year that has paid for the last couple Christmases will not be happening this year. Or anymore at all actually; it appears they have gone out of business. And given how much we were counting on it, that is quite a bummer.

The net effect of this is that Dec and Jan are not going to be just tight as I've mentioned, they are going to be negative in terms of cash flow. Even putting off getting the new tires we need, and even adding in the savings we scraped out of this month, I estimate we are still going to be about $500 short by the end of Jan. And given that bonuses and tax returns won't come in until the later half of Feb, the first half of that month is not going to be pretty either. Things have already felt so tight on this Total Money Makeover that it's hard for me to even picture how much more this is going to suck now.

Given all this, and in the spirit of maintaining gazelle intensity for our debts (I mentioned I hated that phrase, right?), it seems we probably should cancel Xmas this year. Or presents at least, that is. In fact, that would simple act alone would about take care of that $500 shortfall we have (so would winning that $500 million Powerball right now, but I digress). But we are not going to do that. Does this mean we are not really serious about our Total Money Makeover? I don't know, perhaps. But I just can't. It would be too sad for me and I think my husband would just lose it. We would lose our drive to do this because it just wouldn't feel worth it anymore. We're going to be smart about it and stick to our budget, but we're going to have Xmas, so tough.

So where is this $500 going to magically appear from then you ask? That's a good question. Cause we do have $1000 sitting in our emergency fund still, but we all know how Dave Ramsey feels about acting as if Xmas is an emergency. Well, one solution is that it might magically appear. Okay, okay, not magically. But so far hubby's side writing hobby has been bringing in a little more money than expected each month. I think its quite possible we could end up with up to $250 more from that then I currently have budgeted. Also, I could get another job through my business (hah!). I mean, probably not this month, but it could happen. At one time, I made over $20K/yr with this little side gig. (Will probably be lucky to hit even $6K this year.)

Other, less magical avenues include the possibility of me getting a very part-time job in the evenings. I'm looking into this and will in fact be putting in an application by the end of the week I hope. Not sure I will do it for any longer than necessary, but I feel I must do something. It just sucks because I will probably make only a quarter as much per hour for my efforts doing that then for my business. But a quarter as much still meets the gap my business is just not producing right now. I really hope that changes again eventually. Frown

If worse comes to worse though and none of those things pan out, I guess we will be tapping into the emergency fund. All I can say in our defense is that I promise we will pay it back in February. Needless to say, there will be no extra credit card/car payments for the next 3 months. Our minimum payments total to almost $500/month though, and our credit cards are all no interest promotions, so as long as we don't use those, we'll still be chipping away at it. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 2 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [99541] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21490] => Array ( [category_id] => 21490 [category_name] => Education [category_stub] => education ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21494] => Array ( [category_id] => 21494 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) ) [entry_id] => 99541 [entry_title] => My Student Loan Baggage [entry_stub] => my-student-loan-baggage [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2012/12/13/my-student-loan-baggage_99541/ [entry_date] => 1355427008 [entry_date_mysql] => 2012-12-13 13:30:08 [entry_text] => One of the few topics in Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover that really irks me is his discussion of student loan debt. I'm not saying his points are all without merit. But when he talks about credit cards, he seems to understand that the mental/emotional game is just as important, perhaps even more important, than the financial one. And so he recommends paying off your lowest balance card before your highest interest card, purely so you can see results sooner. And I totally get that. But he does not allow for the same types of emotional weakness when it comes to student loans. Consider the rant of his in this link for instance:
Text is http://www.daveramseyfan.com/dave-ramsey-rants-stupid-on-education/ and Link is
http://www.daveramseyfan.com/dave-ramsey-rants-stupid-on-edu... Ouch. That's all I can say. And since I am one of those previously professional, now stay-at-home mom's with over $100K in debt he's ranting about, it can't get much more personal than that.

When I look back over my life, there is only place I can think of that I maybe should/would have made a different decision about my education. And that was when I chose to keep pursuing a PhD in a field I wasn't sure was a good fit for me, instead of being willing to start graduate school over, or at least stop with a masters. Given that my graduate tuition was paid for, however, and that I was receiving a stipend for most of my living expenses, cutting out that leg of the journey wouldn't have changed that much. Maybe $20K less at best.

Growing up, we were poor. Like free school lunch, hand me down clothes from cousins, can't afford a school yearbook poor. I vividly remember my mom dividing one family size can of spaghettios between the 4 of my sisters and I, plus a glass of milk, for lunch. I was a small, hungry, skinny and very active kid, who hung out a lot at my friend's houses bumming snacks. My mom and dad fought constantly, and would have no matter what, but certainly a major theme of their blowouts was money. There was never enough of it, and it seemed that would never change. My mom often grew wistful in private about how, despite how smart she had been, she had dropped out of college after only a year or so at her first husband's insistence (my father) and never found her way back once the babies started coming with her second. And worse, how she could never leave her abusive second husband because she could never support the 5 of us on her own.

I'm not sure how directly it was ever stated, but I grew up with the clear impression that it was absolutely imperative that I go to college some day so that I would be able to support myself without a man. But that there would be absolutely no financial help for me to do so. This was further complicated by my step-father's abusive put downs of me compared to my sisters, and his continuous proclamations that I was never going to be good enough for anything.

Given the trouble I was often into growing up in a home like that, there were many years it seemed like he was right. There were many years I didn't bother with homework. For a period of time, I was suicidal. And I was pregnant before I was out of high school. But I harbored a deep, driving need to prove him wrong as well. And despite his insults otherwise, I was actually quite intelligent. And seriously driven to believe that there was a way out of my childhood and into the type of future I had always dreamed of. Halfway through high school, I turned over a new leaf and started to show what I was capable of academically, though my new daughter senior year complicated things a bit.

When I was applying to colleges, the last thing on my mind was the amount of money I was taking out in student loans. Certainly I qualified for every need based option possible, not to mention a few merit based ones as well. Imagining what that payback would look like 5 to 10 years down the road when I finally had a real job and was out of this mess seemed besides the point. My burning questions were: Am I really capable of this? A 4 year degree at a respectable university with a child? What if they see only what my step-dad saw? What if I am doomed to repeat the same life for my daughter as the one that was given to me?

But I got in and I did my best. My first year I did outstanding actually, but the second year my young marriage began to fall apart and afterwards, it took a couple years of struggle before my daughter and I found a new equilibrium. My last two years of undergrad I did much better for the most part, and somewhere during that time, I realized that to become anything more than a lab rat with my degree, I would need to apply for graduate school. In this sense, Dave's rant doesn't completely apply to me. I did understand that I needed to be highly marketable to pay for all this.

At that point in life, I was pretty clear that I wanted to be a working mother. I loved my daughter dearly, and was very much looking forward to being done with school and having more time eventually. But I was the kind of person who got depressed without something intellectual to pursue. Something for myself separate from my role as a mother. Perhaps partly because I had become a mother before I had gotten time to be just myself. As exhausting as it was during the semesters, school holidays were often worse because I just got so depressed with nothing to work towards.

If you had told me that I would one day choose to be a stay at home mom, I would have laughed in your face. Dave can say that young women without kids yet have no idea how they're going to feel when they do, but I think that's overly simplistic and implies we all want to stay at home deep down. I'm a stay at home mom now, and I'm still not always sure its what I want to be doing. Furthermore, I already had a child at that point. I did know what it was like. If I could have had the option to work only part time with a young family, that probably would have been my first choice. But that is not a realistic possibility in most fields, least of all mine, and I was not unrealistic. I figured with a PhD, I could make enough that my future husband could stay home if we wanted.

Graduate school was hard though. Really hard. My fears about not being good enough were constantly at an edge when surrounded by so many other brilliant people. I had developed a fuzzy, idealistic picture of my doctoral field while leisurely pursuing undergraduate research with lower expectations I had no trouble meeting. This vision was shattered to make room for the more brutal and difficult reality of what higher academia really was. The relationship with my advisor slowly went from love to hate. Somewhere along the way, I began to question whether I was really doing this for myself, or just to prove that I could. Some days, I began to acknowledge that despite how far I had come, it was possible I was moving in the wrong direction.

That is the one point in my academic journey I regret. If I had been brave, or maybe even just less tired, I would have thrown in my first 2 1/2 years of research and allowed myself to start again in a new field. If I had done this, perhaps I would be happily pursuing my new career even now? I had an inkling of what at least some of those other possibilities could have been. It wouldn't have set me back more than a couple years (though that would have added even more to my debt!). But that light at the end of the tunnel I had been impossibly chasing for so long was finally so close. I had already passed my preliminary doctoral exam. I had my project all mapped out. I just needed to buckle down for 3 more years and do it.

And so that's what I did. I figured when I was done I could work on re-branding myself in an area of research I was more interested in for the job hunt. Instead, I found myself perfectly trained to do exactly the type of research I did not want to pursue. But it sure payed well. Even if it did necessitate moving halfway across the country.

It seemed like that would be enough, eventually. But it wasn't even close. And despite my husband (then boyfriend) being brave enough to come along with my daughter and I and start this new life together out west, it just never felt right there. We just couldn't get settled. We couldn't get to a place where the future we had pictured together seemed possible. We couldn't define what needed to shift. And despite crossing the 30's threshold, we couldn't possibly imagine starting a family in that life and place.

Through all of this, my daughter moved into her teenage years, and despite being very close when she was younger, she suddenly wanted nothing to do with me. It became painfully obvious that though my school was finally done and I was ready to focus more fully on her, she no longer had any interest in focusing on me. That ship had sailed, so to speak, and I had missed my boat. That was hard. That was very hard. And it made me reflect a lot on my plans to start a family again soon. The role I wanted to play in my new children's life and the type of mother I wanted to be. As my regret grew, I also stopped giving a crap what other people thought about how capable I was. I had gotten a PhD for cripe sakes. What more could they expect of me? And it was my right to decide what I wanted to do with that degree from that point on. Obviously, it was always my right. But that was when I finally realized it.

So anyways, long story short, with my boyfriend's blessing, I quit my high paying job and decided to become a stay at home mother with over $100K in student loans instead. It was a rough few years of transition. At this point, my husband finally makes a pretty decent income. Almost as much as I used to (and adjusted for the midwest, probably a lot more). But with three kids, primarily one income, and a student loan payment of over $600/month, it never goes as far as it seems like it should. It's going to take us a while to get out of this mess. And though we are now over 4 years into this new life path, it's hard sometimes to accept where we are now compared to where we used to be. Hard to know that we will probably never live in a beautiful home/location like that one ever again. That it will be years, eons, before we can afford another fancy trip. That given the realities of our budget, money is going to continue to feel like a struggle for probably at least another 5 or so years until I'm working again. My husband and I find that hard. And depressing. And Dave would probably just say "What did you expect!?!"

...A chance to live a life much different than the one my parent's gave me I guess. A chance to feel like I had enough money to never be trapped in a relationship that was bad for me. A certainty that my children would always have enough to eat, as well as year books and new clothes and maybe even stories about trips to Disney World with our family last summer. I probably didn't need a $100K education to secure all those things, but it was an emotional journey for me that took a while to figure out.

For now, I comfort myself with the fact that though this is not always the life of my dreams, it is finally the life of my choice. I am choosing to be much poorer than I could be. I am choosing to temporarily give up most personal and intellectual pursuits (though I did start a secret blog!) so that I will have fewer regrets next time about the mother I am to my children. I could do it differently, and from time to time I check in and make sure this is what I still want. So far it is. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 0 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [99540] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21490] => Array ( [category_id] => 21490 [category_name] => Education [category_stub] => education ) [21494] => Array ( [category_id] => 21494 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) ) [entry_id] => 99540 [entry_title] => How We Got Into This Mess [entry_stub] => how-we-got-into-this-mess [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2012/12/13/how-we-got-into-this-mess_99540/ [entry_date] => 1355426916 [entry_date_mysql] => 2012-12-13 13:28:36 [entry_text] => Sometimes Iím a little surprised to find myself with debt troubles, because back when my husband (then boyfriend) and I were both working 6 years ago, there was a point where we were making quite a bit of money. During that two year period, we managed to pay off all the credit cards we had at that time (due to divorces and our big move west for my job) as well as the remainder of hubbyís student loan. We did not, however, manage to save a dime towards retirement or anything else. And we went on at least two fancy trips. And ate out a lot. And didn't even look at price tags in certain stores. We also did not own a home at that point, and were paying a small fortune to rent a very nice one (we needed one with with space for our huge dog to run!), while paying only the minimum on my student loans.

Each month we wondered how we could possibly make so much money (some months we brought in more than $10K total - after taxes) and still have nothing left to save towards a house or retirement by the end of the month. I have a few defenses for this. One is that I was less than two years out of graduate school (finally!) and after having been a young, poor, and mostly single mom for that difficult 11 year period, I had a big wish list for life. I needed some fun time. Additionally, my field was very specialized, and required us to live in a very expensive area on the west coast. We were both completely shell shocked by the cost of living adjustment our first year. The price of things like cheese always floored me. Plus, Hubby and I weren't actually married yet at that point, and despite entering our 30's, we were simply not ready yet to buckle down and get serious about financial planning.

So thatís my list of reasons, minus a lot of things I could say about hind sight that you can fill in for me if you like. That period of my life ended almost 5 years ago when hubby and I made the difficult, but long coming decision for me to quit my job (or really career in this case) and move back to our hometown in the Midwest. At that point, we did begin to reign it in a bit in preparation for the 60% reduction in income we would be undergoing in a few short months. We stop planning for the next big vacation and started planning for the journey home instead. We cut back on spending, and put a little away each month for the huge moving expenses we knew from experience that we would be racking up soon. Not nearly enough, but it helped. And I began to look into information on starting a new home business.

We made a mix of good and bad financial decisions over the next few years, but also worked very hard. That first year back, I often spent upwards of 50 hours a week laying the groundwork to get my business up and running, and even took on housecleaning jobs in the meantime until my cash flow became more regular. Thankfully, hubby's job was able to come with him on our move, but the recession had just kicked in and there would be no cost of living raises that year. We had a few thousand in credit card debt again from the move we had to pay on, but we put my student loans on temporary forbearance (which sadly wiped out all progress we had made thus far). My daughter had hit the difficult teenage years, and no matter how much we made, it could never be enough to acquire all the things she was certain she needed (and that every other person she knew already had). Additionally, I felt bad downgrading her too much from what she had become used to at that point, given that the second move was hard enough on her, and certainly not what she had wanted or expected. In all honesty, we had a bit of a hard time adjusting to all of that ourselves actually, and though our rent was much cheaper than it had been out west, it was still much more expensive that what we probably should have taken on. But we felt we needed to step into our new cost of living situation gradually, so as not to give up everything we'd had all at once.

Now that we were back in the much more affordable and homey midwest, we finally felt able to settle down and begin working towards our future together. We got officially engaged and started looking into homes and saving for a down payment. I settled in to my new work routine and despite how much tighter things were, we managed to put away at least $700/month during most of that first year. And though I feel our wedding was perfect, it was a small, elegant but inexpensive, at home affair that did not set us back too much more. Can't say the same for my amazing ring though. (I made it clear there was no way we were spending less than he spent on his ex and I still do not regret that!) We also had a short, but sweet honeymoon that added a little more. And within two months of all that shenanigans, we dropped all our saving and then some into our new house.

Despite putting a little more on the cards to get all settled in, I think our house was a good purchase. A huge step down from what we'd had out west, and more than $1000 per month less than our rent had been even after moving back to the midwest. But a respectable, comfortable, suburban home in a good neighborhood none the less, with a payment we could afford. We bought it at what was the market low (at that point) and with a great fixed interest rate, and it has plenty of room for a family. Therefore, we immediately jumped into the next stage of our long term life plan - babies! And what with that first "Holy Shit" ultrasound, and the later preterm birth that twins tend to bring, less than 12 mos after we said "I do" we had two of them! Not to mention a lot of unexpected time off from work (and savings) on my part due to bed rest.

Somewhere in all of that, there was also a long distance wedding trip, a number of car issues and more than one or two home owner issues as well. We did not have an emergency fund yet at that point, so anything extra was a problem. Plus, my daughter had turned 16 and began driving, and no matter how crappy a car you give them, the insurance still sucks. Its no secret that kids tend to be the most expensive at the bookends of your 18 years with them, and unfortunately we had some on each end. I had to keep my work hours while I was breastfeeding (and not sleeping) to less than half of what they had been pre-baby. We started getting a grocery delivery service rather than shopping ourselves, despite the extra expense, cause we couldn't figure out how to manage life without hating each other otherwise. And as thankful as we were for hubby's work from home job that came with us on our big move, it was far from competitive in pay (though excellent in health coverage thank goodness), and yet we just didn't feel like we could manage him finding something out of the home until we got closer to the boys first birthday.

Lest I mislead you, there were some toys in there too. We got a new flat screen tv, and we had cable, netflix and audible subscriptions. We both got iPhone 3's when the 4's came out and have since upgraded. We got a new laptop when the old one died. We ate out a couple times a week at least. We took a couple modest vacations. We purchased memberships to the zoo and museum. We weren't partying, but we weren't suffering.

None the less, fast forward to about 18 mos. later and we have finally begun to catch our breath again. Hubby did find a new job outside the home that pays much better (though that required me to cut my hours even more initially, and necessitated another car purchase). We stopped hemorrhaging expenses and started simply treading water instead. I think its been over a year since we even used a credit card,which means we have mostly gotten the hang of living within our means (pre-child support loss at least!). And we did finally get an emergency fund going. But its been pretty clear that we haven't made much of any real progress towards wiping out the debt we accumulated either. And as we slowly inch towards the end of our 30's, it is clear that the time to start planning for our financial future is now. Like, so right now, its yesterday.

So that's how we got here. Nothing completely stupid I don't think (well, maybe the ring. But since I'd do that one again, I don't think it counts), though lots of things we could have done a bit better. And today, on this Thanksgiving Day 2012, I am thankful that hubby and I have both the means and dedication to tackle this massive financial overhaul, so that our future can be a bright one.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 0 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [99539] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21495] => Array ( [category_id] => 21495 [category_name] => Saving Money [category_stub] => saving-money ) [21496] => Array ( [category_id] => 21496 [category_name] => Shopping [category_stub] => shopping ) ) [entry_id] => 99539 [entry_title] => Apparently We're Good at This [entry_stub] => apparently-were-good-at-this [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2012/12/13/apparently-were-good-at-this_99539/ [entry_date] => 1355426799 [entry_date_mysql] => 2012-12-13 13:26:39 [entry_text] => I keep trying to find more things we can do, something we must be missing, to make this debt thing go faster. So far, no luck. If anything, the book I checked out from the library recently (did you hear that, the library not the book store) called "Your Money: The Missing Manual" made me feel like we're taking this more seriously than I sometimes feel we are. Consider all these recommended measures we have implemented:

Cancelling cable: As of last week, Check! My husband's company pays for the internet portion of our bill already. And our recent purchase of an Apple tv will pay for itself in less than two months of not paying for cable.

Get rid of home phone: We got rid of our home phone line a couple months ago since we were really only using our cell phones anyways. This has been causing us to use more of our cell phone roll over minutes though, so I'm hoping we won't have to up that eventually.

Cancel monthly subscriptions: To my surprise when we began this, hubby volunteered to cancel his Audible subscription until our debt was paid off and just re listen to old favorites instead. We also cancelled our Netflix a few months ago since we hardly ever used it and I've already decided not to renew Newsweek this coming year. Half the issues never get read anyways.

Make a Unit Price Grocery Spreadsheet: Still working on that but I have started to collect that info and I'm already getting the hang of when something is a good price. I have also learned to...

Use Coupons Wisely: I do not fall for buying things with coupons that a) I wouldn't usually get anyways b) are still more expensive than the store brand or another location. This also meets his suggestion to...
Discard Brand Loyalties: Even for toilet paper, I got over it.

Buy In Bulk - When it Makes Sense: Hello new big box warehouse store membership. Can't believe how much money we've saved there (per unit price at least!) so far.

Waste Not: Finally plugged in the big freezer downstairs again and started labeling and storing all left over canned and other items. I've even started buying things like yogurt in bulk, freezing it before it goes bad and then thawing it as needed. Its a little more liquidy than it would have been but still tastes fine (the boys don't know the difference!).

Shop Less: Not a problem. There's no money anyways and neither hubby or I were ever big shoppers. Probably the biggest success in this area though was when we separated our checking account into discretionary and non-discretionary expenses and then limited ourselves to a budgeted discretionary amount. In theory we were doing that before, but since I didn't track where each individual purchase went, it was hard to know how well we were sticking to it. I still don't always track it that closely. But now, when the discretionary money's gone, its gone. And so that takes care of that.

Replace Light Bulbs w/ Florescent: Done! We even got a Groupon for a home energy checkup a month or so ago in which we also got some weather stripping applied to a couple doors and well as thermometers to check refrigerator/freezer and water heater temps. We would have gotten more but they said we were already doing great on most everything else! Especially considering our gas energy company gave us a rebate to get our attic re-insulated this past summer which has already significantly impacted our energy bills.

Increase/decrease the setting on your programmable thermostat: We haven't made any huge sacrifices here compared to people I hear setting their winter thermostat to 65F or waiting until Halloween to even turn on heat but we have lowered our winter setting from 75F to 72F and raised our summer setting from 72F to 74F. It not much I know, but we do have two year old boys and I don't want them to be too cold or not sleep well. Bedroom space heaters make me nervous with such little ones (and I don't think they could be trusted with them once we switch to "big kid" beds), and we haven't had the money yet to invest in summer ceiling fans.

Play Board Games for Fun: We don't always play board games, but hubby and I have completely let go of our monthly night outs for the next year and turned all our date nights into at home affairs instead. We always make a nice dinner together after the boys are in bed and then talk or watch a movie or something.


So those are all the things we're doing right. Perhaps I will devote my next entry to all the things we could still improve though I worry it will just turn into a big excuse fest! Wink
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 0 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [99538] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21491] => Array ( [category_id] => 21491 [category_name] => Food / Groceries [category_stub] => food-groceries ) [21496] => Array ( [category_id] => 21496 [category_name] => Shopping [category_stub] => shopping ) ) [entry_id] => 99538 [entry_title] => Mid-month Checkup [entry_stub] => mid-month-checkup [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2012/12/13/mid-month-checkup_99538/ [entry_date] => 1355426698 [entry_date_mysql] => 2012-12-13 13:24:58 [entry_text] => (Another old one from Nov)

We're half way though November and so I figured it'd be a good time to check in and see how on track we are. We're doing okay. The highlights:

Shopping: $454/$500
Entertainment: $109/$300
Groceries+ (includes misc things too): $626/$1200

While not included in the total above, we just finished grocery shopping for the week of Thanksgiving and still managed to keep the weekly total within $200 (no big box warehouse visit this week) so that's a good sign! I eventually want to lower the grocery budget a bit, but next month just happens to be another month with 5 grocery days instead of 4, plus Xmas, so I don't think it will be happening that month. Jan. for sure though!

Our shopping budget looks a little sad but it should be clarified that about $120 of that is for the Apple tv and antennae that have allowed us to cancel our cable service as of last Thurs. (Woo hoo!) Still a splurge, but one that will pay for itself within two month. Also, another $214 of it was from hubby's new iPhone 5 splurge, which he got $98 back for by selling his old phone. Though only as an amazon credit so we'll be using that for Xmas rather than credit cards.

The only number of here that really irks me is the entertainment budget. Despite that being the only flexible category we're not over in. What irks me is that hubby and I are each supposed to get $100/month individually do do with as well will ($20/wk), plus another $100 for joint splurges. Its half way though the month so that should be about $50 each individually at this point. Looking over the transactions though, I would say about $8 of that is mine, maybe $30 is joint and the rest is his. And that's just the things that weren't paid with by cash. And I wouldn't say this is atypical. I minded less when we weren't being so serious about this. But despite how pissy he gets sometimes about lack of funds, clearly I am sacrificing more here than he is.

Regardless, these next two months are going to be a lot of sacrifice for both of us. I have only 1 1/2 child support back pay checks left! That is about $500 less a month we are going to have to adjust to during a period when my home business is making about $500 less per month than usual as well. I have one big job that often comes in just before Xmas which I am anxiously waiting to hear on next week. If that doesn't come through though, Xmas is going to be rough this year and we may not be getting new tires for the SUV after all. I may even get a second part-time job soon. Just not sure how to meet the Dec/Jan gap otherwise. Gonna be a rough couple months until the tax return comes in, but we are not giving up!
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 0 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [99522] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21490] => Array ( [category_id] => 21490 [category_name] => Education [category_stub] => education ) [21492] => Array ( [category_id] => 21492 [category_name] => Investing [category_stub] => investing ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21494] => Array ( [category_id] => 21494 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) [21495] => Array ( [category_id] => 21495 [category_name] => Saving Money [category_stub] => saving-money ) ) [entry_id] => 99522 [entry_title] => The Big Picture [entry_stub] => the-big-picture [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2012/12/13/the-big-picture_99522/ [entry_date] => 1355371250 [entry_date_mysql] => 2012-12-12 22:00:50 [entry_text] => This may be simply an exercise in idealistic dreaming, but I want to paint for you (or maybe mostly just me) a picture of how I see this new financial plan unfolding for us in the coming years. Cause I have big, unrealized but hopefully not unrealistic, dreams. In Dave Ramsey's book, he tells you that it takes most people about seven years to reach Baby Step 7: Build Wealth. Longer still to get to the Pinnacle Point where your money finally starts working harder than you have to. Certainly, that is the long term goal. And the short term goal is the credit card/car payment debt payoff I've already outlined. But it'd be nice to have a picture of our mid-term plan as well. Especially given that I don't think we will be following the Baby Steps precisely.

So, one year out, give or take a few months, and hopefully our small debts (non-mortgage/student loan) will be paid off. At that point we will hopefully be more used to getting by with a lot less monthly discretionary income. Maybe we can at least add enough back in to be able to go on monthly date nights again though. But I don't want to get too slack because we still have a lot or work to do. Baby Step 3 is to Finish the Emergency Fund, which he defines as 3-6 mos. worth of expenses. For us, that would roughly be $15K-$30K.

Projecting out both raises and expenses, once we get our small debts paid off, I think we could save roughly $25K/yr. So, that should take us 7-14 mos. depending on how much cushion we want. My thought is that we should save as much as possible, setting aside the minimum $15K to touch only for emergencies, but then factor in the fact that our family SUV will be 15 years old (already has 223K miles) by then. I am fine with driving it until it dies, but its pretty much a given that that is going to be before too much longer (please, please, please not this year!). I am also fine with not getting a new car when it does die. But I would prefer to get something gently used with at least a few more bells and whistles than our current one has. I think we could probably get something 5-6 years old for between $15-$20K.

That's not the only big ticket item we need to save for though. In a few more years, the boys will be ready to start school and I will be more than ready to jump back on the career train. But that is probably going to require a bit of retraining on my part, and I am not willing to take out any more student loans. (Above and beyond the $105K I already put my foot down on of course). So, if I want to go back, which I very much do right now, we will need to save for that too. I am conservatively estimating about $20K for that right now, plus after school daycare (maybe $5K? Though that will be more of an on-going expense), but given the rising cost of education these days, who knows?

The point of all this speculating is to point out that with these extra purchases, the time it takes up to save about $30K for an emergency fund is going to be more like 2-3/4 to 3 years rather than 14 mos. That's a long time. And who knows how many set backs there might be in the meantime. At some point, hubby's car will need to be replaced as well, though it is 5 years newer than the SUV at least. But I guess I'm okay with it as long as we get to Baby Step 4: Retirement Investing, by the time I re-graduate, which I am predicting will be in 5-6 years. If we get to that step before I graduate, then I guess we will start putting at least the company matching amount into hubby's 401K. Actually, if we don't get to that step before 40, we probably should do a lot more than that, and I kind of doubt we will. Once I do graduate and start working again though, we are going to kick step 4's butt.

And then we get to Baby Step 5: College Funding for the kids. Except we're going to re-package that one as college payoff for the adults. By then my daughter will be done with college (or darn well better be at least). Until we get fabulously wealthy, I have done the best I can for her by insisting that she go to a school where she would graduate with a maximum of $40K in debt. Still a lot I know, but less than half as much than me, and within the amount considered reasonable by the income to debt calculators. She hated me for it at the time, but now seems mostly happy.

I am hoping that with a new masters degree I will be able to make at least $50K, although about half of that will probably have to go towards retirement, and the rest will get taxed. But lets just say that after stocking up our emergency fund, we have about $25K/yr extra from hubby's income and $25K/yr from mine. So $50K/yr extra after I start working to do with what we will. (OMG, is that really possible?) What to do with all that cash?? Pay off my damn student loans!! If we stick to the plan, that should take us only two more years. At that point, we can look into some minimal investing for the boys' college (and maybe some back pay for my daughter). But they are going to be expected to chip in as well because we are heading off to...

...Baby Step 6: Pay Off the Mortgage! Honestly, not quite sure what's going to happen when we get to this step because you see, before we focus on paying off the mortgage, we'd like to focus instead of getting the house we'd really like to have. The exciting thing is, once the student loan is paid off, we could afford about $600 more per month for a mortgage without changing anything else. Assuming the market continues to improve, we should also have a fair amount of equity at this point, having lived here for about 11 years. I am not sure yet whether we would rather buy or remodel. It will probably depend a lot on the location of our jobs at that point. There are some things I really like about both this home and this area, but our home was built in the 1960's and it really needs some updating. I think it would take between $175K-$200K to get it to where we want it, and only about 60% of that could be recouped in re-sale value. Whether or not that's worth it will depend largely on what we could get for the same value given the housing market at the time.

I also really like Dave Ramsey's idea of taking out only a 15 year mortgage and keeping your mortgage payment to less than 25% of your take home pay. Whether we decide to buy or remodel, I do very much want to keep those rules in mind. After all our hard work, I certainly do not want to end up house poor. It will be hard to feel like we can't afford just about whatever we want once we've taken care of all that other debt. And I do love big, pretty homes. Nonetheless, regardless of what we choose to do, at that point it should be a maximum of 15 years until we are entirely debt free, and if we continue with the $50K/yr rule, I think we could take that down to 6 years.

Which means this is more like a 14 year than a 7 years plan for us, but by the time we enter our 50's, it is very possible we will have no debt remaining (maybe we'll bump up the boys college fund at that point) and hopefully by the time we hit our 60's we will have reached that fabled Pinnacle Point which will leave us set for a long, happy retirement. Its certainly not a get rich quick scheme. which makes it seem somewhat more believable. Though it will certainly require a lot of dedication and sacrifice. But it seems like by the time the boys graduate from high school, we will finally have both the time AND money to do all sorts of things.

So that's the big picture. And now back to Baby Step 2.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 6 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) ) -->

A Quick Check-In

August 23rd, 2014 at 04:05 am

I was feeling a bit lonely and neglected today, but then hubby brought me home flowers (most unlike him) and it made the whole rest of my day better. Just needed to tell someone that. Smile Things have been so busy lately and I've just been stressed.

Got the final medical insurance refund check today from all the crazy bills we had to pay before the TEFRA coverage for our twin boys' autism disability came through. We're still going to have to plan for fairly high medical expenses. Probably about $5000/yr for the TEFRA and at least another $2K/yr for hubby and I, if not $5K to max it out and be safe. This is in addition to our regular monthly insurance premium mind you. But at least we know everything is covered now, and the payments will be more spread out and manageable. Additionally, the refunds will allow us to payoff the balance transfer we did in Jan of this year in order to max out our HSA.

Tuition for fall semester is paid, though I still have one text book left to buy. My aunt hasn't said anything yet about helping us out again with it like she has the last two times. I'm guessing she will, but I would never ask. Regardless, we had to dip into our emergency fund to cover it which is why it's still looking pretty tepid. If you count our slowly growing 401(k) though it looks a little better!

We had a series of misfortunate plumbing issues this past Aug, almost all of which were related to one of our "darling" boys. All said and done we spent over $700 on repairs. Ugh. It seems like such a paradox to me that at the same time in a child's life that you would prefer to keep the bathroom off limits, you also need to be teaching them independence in potty training. No bueno.

I calculated out that even if we apply my hubby's entire after tax bonus this winter to the car loan we got in May, we will still be $1000 short of paying it off. We probably still will but this bums me out as it means the payments won't be done like I had hoped. What with tuition around every corner though, I just can't see how to do it any faster right now. And with my student loans on deferment right now, we should really take advantage of any "extra" cash to pay that primary down. Will reaccess come Jan though.

Also have been really bummed about the dive our home price is taking again lately. We have a couple new foreclosures in our neighborhood which is probably why, but it still makes my net worth look sad(er). Easy come, easy go.

That's all for now!
Feb 2014
Start 6% 401K withdrawals: Sept 2013----->Feb/Mar 2014
Save for/Pay off "new" car: May 2014----->Feb 2015

As I said: Ugh.

A new reflection though: I saw on FB recently that an old friend of mine I've lost touch with the past few years, is selling her house. She has been dying for a bigger house for years, and her husband had a well paying job. But they also had a lot of debt and not the best of spending habits, and with the housing market crash they felt completely stuck.

About 4 months back, her husband's department was downsized and he was laid off. He had a few months severance though and lots of job interview lined up, so they weren't too concerned at the time. Thus, when I saw her recent FB posting, I at first assumed he had found something even better and that with the housing market upswing they were finally able to afford the new home they have been wanting.

But then I read further. Turns out, they are not buying a new one, just selling the old one. She didn't elaborate more but a quick check on LinkedIn confirmed what I feared; her husband has been out of work since Oct. Now I am purely speculating at this point, but given what I know of their past financial situation, it's not at all hard to draw a line that without a high paying job, the large debts have are going to sink them once the severance pay ends, and they are trying to find a source for more funds.

I say all this not to gossip or point fingers (presumably, you have no idea who I'm even talking about), and I actually feel very bad for her, though not really close enough anymore to question her about such a personal matter. But for me, she is such a stunning reminder of why hubby and I are doing all this.

Our financial situations were close enough at one time that it is easy for me to picture how something very similar could have happened to us, had we not begun to exercise financial restraint. But I admit that it was very hard for me to hear about their fancy trips, and see their pretty new cars and how beautifully decorated the inside of her home was. I wanted those things too. I wanted to look that good as well. But we were pouring all our extra cash into debt and had nothing visual to show for it.

We are still a long way from where we want to be. And without more savings, we are still not even insulated from going through something similar ourselves were hubby to lose his job. But we have no credit card or car debt dragging us down anymore. And we have a very clear picture of our budget and of the steps we need to take to get from A to B. So, even though this is a total drag, and even though I feel like it's taking way longer than it should, reflecting on where we could be instead leaves me still feeling thankful about where we are. Maybe not happy, but thankful. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 3 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [105872] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21490] => Array ( [category_id] => 21490 [category_name] => Education [category_stub] => education ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21494] => Array ( [category_id] => 21494 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) [21495] => Array ( [category_id] => 21495 [category_name] => Saving Money [category_stub] => saving-money ) ) [entry_id] => 105872 [entry_title] => Commencing Baby Step 3 [entry_stub] => commencing-baby-step-3- [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/11/24/commencing-baby-step-3-_105872/ [entry_date] => 1385315344 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-11-24 11:49:04 [entry_text] => We've finally finished wading through all the home maintenance projects (including an unexpected $1000 repair on the roof a couple weeks ago) and even set aside $1000 for Christmas. We've reached our family health deductible for the year and are scheduling appts like mad for these next few weeks to take full advantage of paying only 20% rather than 100% for the rest of the year. And we were also incredibly blessed to have my aunt unexpectedly send me a check to cover my first semester of tuition and books for the community college I will be starting at in Jan. And so, with that all finally behind us, it's time to commence on our TMM baby step 3 (beef up emergency fund to cover 3-6 months of expenses).

It has been almost 4 months since we finished baby step 2, so I am relieved to finally be getting back on track again. We made a lot of prudent purchases and repairs, but as the money kept flowing out rather than in, I worried that our financial plan had become derailed. Apparently though, even without CC debt, we do still have some motivation and dedication to this plan after all. And it's time to buckle down again.

My main goal for this coming financial year is to see our next worth begin to rise finally. Although given it is currently -$46K, it might be more accurate to say we want to see our gaping net worth hole begin to be filled in. It's actually much better now that it was a year ago. Partly because of paying off the CC's and car loan. But also in a large part due to home values bouncing back again finally, and we can't really take credit for that. Plus that part could go again as easy as it came.

But I was realizing the other day that we are at an exciting point none that less because from here on out, we will mainly be investing in ourselves. Even the $25K we hope to save for a "new" vehicle over the next year and a half will be savings converted into an asset, rather than simply blown out the window. And yes, yes, I know their will be depreciation, but you get my point. We're finally investing in our own net worth. And that is exciting!

Plus, during the open enrollment period this year we made sure to max out our HSA contribution for next year, as well as bump up the life insurance and disability policies a little bit. And it feels wonderful to know we are getting an adequate financial safety net into place. Almost like we're becoming real adults finally!

From this point on though, we're going to be breaking a bit from strict compliance to the TMM plan. For instance, we're going to start baby step 4 (retirement savings) as soon as we get $5000 towards baby step 3. Which should be by the end of Jan if we practice restraint over Xmas. We are way too old to be putting it off any longer and we're going to be doing baby step 3 for quite some time. We want our final emergency fund to be around $20K, but we need to buy a car along the way, so almost as soon as we get it we're going to empty it out and start again.

I consider this an EF worthy purchase though because, as discussed previously, our current family vehicle is a 1999 and has over 225K miles. It's just not going to be around much longer, and when it does finally die, it will certainly be an emergency. After doing a lot of research we decided that the most financially wise options were to either buy a cheap 7-8 year old car in decent condition and plan to cover fairly regular repairs until we can afford an upgrade. Or to buy a reliable low mileage 1-2 year old vehicle that shouldn't need much work for a few years, and which would be just as affordable as long as we keep driving it at least 10 years. And given how very tired we are of highly used vehicles at this point, we have decided to go for the 2nd option.

We're going to save as much as we can for it until May and then get a loan for the remainder. We want to give the old one to our daughter when she comes home from college for the summer so that she will have her own vehicle to get to and from her summer job. And then we're going to pay off the car loan as fast as possible, though right now it's looking like Feb 2015 before we get there.

So that's the plan right now. Hubby is in the process of applying for new jobs that pays more though, and if one of them pans out, maybe we can even do this without a car loan. Hoping for the best!

[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 3 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [105329] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21494] => Array ( [category_id] => 21494 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) ) [entry_id] => 105329 [entry_title] => TMM Year 2 [entry_stub] => tmm-year-2 [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/10/20/tmm-year-2_105329/ [entry_date] => 1382288284 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-10-20 11:58:04 [entry_text] => It's been forever, I know. Not sure what the deal is with all this crazy /// nonsense in my info section since I left either. Anywho...

This Oct marks the beginning of the second year for hubby and I's Total Money Makeover. And how far have we gotten in a year? Well, considerably farther than we pictured ourselves one year ago for sure. We originally thought we'd be nearing the end of our credit card payments about now, and just starting to work on the car loan. The was before we discovered what the power of a budget and willpower can actually do. So instead we finished both by the end of July.

On the other hand...we are considerably less far than we had pictured ourselves being by now last June. Our revised goal was to have the initial $5000 for our emergency fund fully stocked by now, as well as kicking off the retirement 401k we need so badly and also making headway towards the "new" car we need. Instead we are in a much more dangerous no man's land somewhere between Baby Step 2 and Baby Step 3. I don't feel we are derailed from our TMM, but we do need to start getting this show on the road again soon.

So what have we been doing instead of all those June goals? Well, a lot of home stuff actually. Things we put off forever while dealing with our CC debt. We finally got a new toilet for downstairs (which lowered out water bill by $35/month!). We got a few trees cut down that had died and got our gutters cleaned out. We are also getting a large rip in our kitchen linolium repaired as well as some baseboards re-added that we never replaced after our mold damage issue a couple years ago.

We're getting our radon remitigation system installed this week ($1200). And we also had to take care of a couple big car repairs as well as buying hubby a new suit for job interviewing after all the weight he lost. Additionally, we finally replaced a few items that were wearing out. Like hubby's desk chair that was held together by duct tape and the kitchen rug that was coming apart at the seams. And we also spent more than typical on entertainment too, given it was summer and we had more family outings than usual.

Some of that stuff qualifies as emergency fund type things. Some doesn't. But it's all stuff we've been wanting to take care of forever and I'm glad we did it. By the end of this month we should be done with all that and ready to begin on Baby Step 3 for real. Trouble is, the boys are finally in preschool and I am finally going back to school myself to begin a second career. My first tuition/books payment will be due this Dec (just in time for Xmas) and is probably going to be around $2000. Long story short, I don't think we're going to be able to start the 401k until about Jan instead of Sept like we had planned and that sucks.

Regardless, compared to where we saw ourselves a year ago, we are doing much, much better indeed. Hopefully by this time next year we will be finished with Baby Step 4 and be looking ahead to a bright financial future!
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 3 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [103651] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21492] => Array ( [category_id] => 21492 [category_name] => Investing [category_stub] => investing ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21494] => Array ( [category_id] => 21494 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) ) [entry_id] => 103651 [entry_title] => Closing In [entry_stub] => closing-in [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/07/13/closing-in_103651/ [entry_date] => 1373733962 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-07-13 11:46:02 [entry_text] => Almost at the finish line for TMM baby step 2: debt snowball. Actually, we could have been there on July 19th, but, the laptop hubby has been wanting for so long went on sale for the 4th of July week. We saved $100 by buying it now and pushing the fridge payoff out one more paycheck (Aug 2). Which I think is fine given it's no interest for 3 more months and definitely will be paid off on the 2nd. We chose snail speed shipping though to save on that part, so it will still be another week or so before he gets it, but I'm sure he will be very happy when it finally arrives!

We are starting to look into what the next financial steps are. Dave Ramsey says baby step 3 should be saving a 3-6 month emergency fund (building on the $1000 one from baby step 1). That would be about $18,000 for us and would take quite some time. And in the meantime, we would still not be taking advantage of the 3% 401K matching hubby's company offers (not to mention just plain starting to save for retirement period, even though we're both entering our late 30's.) Additionally, our '99 SUV is probably not going to last much longer and certainly will be an emergency when it dies. And we want our next car purchase to be a slightly used, reliable family vehicle with low miles that we can count on driving for at least 8-10 years.

So, we're thinking of taking a middle of the road approach. I've opened a money market account with Ally bank and transferred our $1000 emergency fund there. As soon as the fridge is done we are going to work on building that up to $5000 as fast as possible. After that, we have some home maintenance issues we have been putting off forever that we need to take care of. Getting all of that accomplished is going to push us well into the end of Oct.

But once we're there, we are going to start putting 6% of hubby's paychecks into the company 401K (the maximum matching amount). And come open enrollment in Nov we are also going to up our HSA/FSA medical contributions to the max for the coming year. That's going to take quite a dent out of our monthly income, but with all the debt we've now paid off (as well as the decrease in taxable income from the 401K/HSA/FSA), we should still be able to raise our entertainment budget from what it has been these past 9 months, and still work towards saving for a new vehicle.

We originally wanted to save for it completely before purchasing, which would have taken about a year, but our daughter really needs a car for the college internship she wants to do next summer. Assuming the SUV is still running then, we'd like to pass it off to her by next May so she can do that. That said, we should be 80% of the way there by May with hubby's bonus, so it shouldn't be too bad to take out a small loan at that point and pay it off in 4-6 months.

At that point, I will be starting school again (just a few classes at a community college to begin with) so there will be some tuition to take care of. But we will also need to start kicking up our savings as well. I'm looking into a Roth IRA for that, and Ally bank seems like a good place to help us with it. Given that you can withdraw contributions without penalty if needed, I feel like this could double with retirement and most of our remaining 3-6 month emergency fund. Short of job loss, I doubt we will ever need more than the $5K we will already have set aside in the money market (which I will keep separate). And $18K seems like too much money to just have sitting in a low interest account, when it will likely never be used, while we make no progress on retirement. Dave Ramsey would not approve, and I'm still looking into the details, but right now that's the plan. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 7 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [103317] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) ) [entry_id] => 103317 [entry_title] => End of Month Slow Down [entry_stub] => end-of-month-slow-down [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/06/24/end-of-month-slow-down_103317/ [entry_date] => 1372097929 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-06-24 13:18:49 [entry_text] => The end of this month has been a bit of a let down in terms of the last leg of our debt payoff plan. We did make a $592 payment at the beginning of the month towards our last old credit card. But between the plumbing issues and car issues we had mid-month, there isn't anything left to do more. We just barely succeeded in not having to tap the emergency fund for the repairs, and now we're wiped. But even that is a success compared to our old way of life.

Still though, I think we will be able to send in another big chunk towards the fridge on the 5th of July. And our new estimated final payoff day is Aug 2. And then hubby can finally get that laptop he's been pining over for so long. Wink

Another bit of good news; we canceled 3 old credit cards this month and are about to close another as well. We applied for one new one with our warehouse discount store so that we can get the cash back on our purchases there. And we are keeping one other one to make sure we have enough available credit to keep our credit score rating up should something befall us before our souped up emergency fund is fully formed. But the plan from this point out is to pay them off at the end of each billing cycle and never carry a balance.

Now to just keep on trucking...
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 1 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [103087] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) ) [entry_id] => 103087 [entry_title] => We Did It!!! [entry_stub] => we-did-it [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/06/11/we-did-it_103087/ [entry_date] => 1370976855 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-06-11 13:54:15 [entry_text] => Just a quick note to say: We Paid Off Our LAST Credit Card last week!! We reached our goal a full 7 months early! I am so happy to be done!!

Of course, now that the old debt is done, it is time to acknowledge the new debt for the fridge we purchased on store credit. It has no interest for 6 months and we plan to be done in half that time. I have updated my debt stats accordingly. This debt milestone would feel a lot more exciting though if we didn't now have this to take care of that debt too. But at least it's debt for only one physical object that we use literally every day, rather than for a whole bunch of things transferred from card to card for so long that we had no idea what it was we were even paying for anymore. It is also nice to look at my wedding ring now and know that it is completely paid for. Smile

We may or may not make much headway on the fridge debt this month. Depends how my home business goes this month; this tends to be a slow time of year. Our car was in need of a $675 repair this week and we have a plumbing issue too now that is probably going to be at least $300. But guess what? For the first time, we don't have to tap into our emergency fund to pay for that. The mechanic told us the amount and we just sighed and said, well, at least we know we've got it. That is a very nice feeling.

Really looking forward to the end of the summer when we will have taken care of the back log of expenses we put off forever while doing our debt payoff. Because that's when the real fun begins. The accumulation phase that will (finally!) prepare us for our future.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 12 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [102806] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) ) [entry_id] => 102806 [entry_title] => A Talk with Hubby [entry_stub] => a-talk-with-hubby [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/05/27/a-talk-with-hubby_102806/ [entry_date] => 1369628147 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-05-26 23:15:47 [entry_text] => Many of you have pointed out to me that my hubby seems to be a reluctant partner in this Total Money Makeover of ours. To which I could not agree more. And it's certainly not as if that's something he and I haven't discussed. But its been a difficult topic for him. He feels like he works and works and works and yet has nothing to show for it (there's some truth to that right now). And generally speaking, since he lets me decide how to spend most of the money even though he makes most of the money, I try not to be too hard on him.

I did get annoyed enough the other night to bring it up again though. I was trying to have just a strategic, non-emotional discussion about what we should prioritize first once we finish paying off the last* credit card next month (*please ignore the fridge for now. I need that to be separate so I can be done, or I will implode.) But it once again turned in to a whine fest.

I managed to mostly keep my cool and said that while this certainly is hard, and there certainly is reason to whine about it occasionally, that shouldn't have to be the case every time money is discussed. That it made me feel like I was making him do this even though he has agreed many times that he feels it is what's best for us as well. That in order to feel like partners in it, I needed to just be able to talk strategy with him sometimes so that we could figure out how to best prioritize things together. I didn't say it all quite that nicely, but I did my best.

He didn't take it all that well at the time (it had been a long day and perhaps was not the best time to bring it up in retrospect). But later that night he did seem to come around some. And since then he has actually been much better. He even offered to put off getting the new laptop he so wants until the fridge payoff is done. We talked about how we might generate a report for him to look over after each paycheck so that he has a better understanding of how the numbers are moving (we're nerds like that). I told him that I was actually frustrated about it all the time too, and that if I didn't have my spreadsheet to look over and fiddle with almost daily I would probably be a wreck. Simple tasks like changing box shading from yellow to green to show it's completed do wonders for keeping me sane.

So, hopefully that was the talk that will finally change things. And we are so, so close. One more paycheck (don't talk to me about the fridge yet). It's really hard to not fixate on it. To a level of being unhealthy probably, but it's just been soooo long and part of me just can't believe that we're really about to frickin' do this. I keep checking and re-checking because it seems surreal. As if any moment a large, unforeseen expense will rise up and swallow us whole. But so far, the spreadsheet says we're on track. It says we're okay. Just one more paycheck...



[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 5 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [102651] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) ) [entry_id] => 102651 [entry_title] => So Close, Yet So Far [entry_stub] => so-close-yet-so-far [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/05/15/so-close-yet-so-far_102651/ [entry_date] => 1368590064 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-05-14 22:54:24 [entry_text] => We are so, so close to our credit card debt payoff. Only $1482 more to go! (Not counting the new fridge, as discussed). Our expected payoff date is June 7th but the closer we get, the more things that seem to be creeping up. Frown Our printer has stopped working, and our router is acting up and has to be restarted multiple times a day. We have 3 medical bills that came in at once and only enough money in the HSA for 2 of them (even after setting up payment plans). Our family car's air conditioner seems to need recharging. We have a plumbing issue with the water line to our new fridge. And to top it all off, we just found out our home has moderately high levels (6.2 pCi/L) of radon gas (common in this area) and that we need to install a mitigation system, which is going to run about $1600. We have $1000 in our emergency fund.

Hubby is chomping at the bit for the new lap top he's been promised when our last credit card is taken care of. And it would really help him with the side job he does that has helped pay down this debt faster. I don't think he's going to take no for an answer again if we have to push that last payment off a bit longer. But I really don't want to add anything else to credit. We need to take care of the new fridge still as it is.

I'm trying to decide what we can put off, and what we must do. I never pay bills late, so I think I will have an anxiety attack if I don't take care of the dental bill. Though I am going to call tomorrow and beg for a later due date (sad). As long as we don't start hitting 90's constantly it seems like we should be able to squeak by on the car's air conditioner for another month or so. My 2 year old boys sure looked hot back there today though. They were so flushed I was worried about over heating.

If hubby is going to demand the lap top then maybe he will have to wait on the fridge water line instead. We managed to get water from the sink for the last how many years. Shouldn't kill us to go a little longer. Hopefully we can figure out what's wrong with the printer and as long as the router doesn't completely die, we can deal with restarting it constantly a month or so longer. The radon mitigation system is the one that has me stuck though.

My daughter's bedroom is in the basement where the concentration is the highest. If she hadn't just gotten home for the summer from college then I think we would definitely put this off a few months. But she is home, and she sleeps down there (well, when she's not at her boyfriend's at least.) Long term exposure to radon increases your chances of lung cancer. 3 months isn't really that long of exposure (though this must have been a problem before too). To be honest, her risk of getting colon cancer from not eating any fruits and vegetables is probably higher, but I just don't feel good about it. Whether or not we take care of that right away though will probably be the difference between finishing the debt payoff in June or not.

Need to have a discussion with hubby I think. Hopefully one that entails more problem solving than whining.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 7 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [102443] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21491] => Array ( [category_id] => 21491 [category_name] => Food / Groceries [category_stub] => food-groceries ) ) [entry_id] => 102443 [entry_title] => Inching Ever Closer & A New Fridge! [entry_stub] => inching-ever-closer-a-new-fridge [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/05/01/inching-ever-closer-a-new-fridge_102443/ [entry_date] => 1367376476 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-04-30 21:47:56 [entry_text] => One more month of operation wipe out credit card/car debt completed. And as long and tedious as it has been, we are in the final stretch now. Only $3341 left. In fact, we have an estimated payoff date of June 7th! Just gotta keep putting one foot in front of the other for a little longer...

Actually, I have a confession. Two days ago, we bought a fridge. With a store credit card. So, to be completely honest about it, out debt total is actually at $5279.08 now. I know, I know, we maybe shouldn't have. We're so close. But- we were absolutely going to do this as soon as possible after we finished in June, and -the store had a sale on them this month that saved us $200, and- there's no interest for 6 months and we should have it paid off 3-4 months from now. And also- we were sick to death of that stupid drawer always falling down and pulverizing our fruit! And just to throw in one more good excuse, it was so ancient that I'm certain our energy bill will go down by a noticeable amount once the new eco-friendly one arrives. And it's bigger. It might actually fit all our stuff! Wink

This doesn't actually change our payment plan at all really because given there's no interest, we're still going to put all our focus into the last credit card first and then start paying for the new lap top and fridge we need. We'll finish paying it off in the same time we would have saved for it, but this way I get the new fridge while we're doing it. At this point, I trust myself to deal with this new debt ASAP, so I am not too worried about it. I don't plan on paying interest to credit card companies EVER again.

So, one more month down. And I keep wondering, what will it feel like when the last debt is paid? If we were planning on adding all the extra money we'll have to our regular spending, I'd probably assume it'd feel pretty awesome. Instead we're mostly going to be doing much more practical things with it, like starting a 401k, increasing contributions to our HSA and saving for a new family car. So in terms of spending, it won't feel that much different. But I would assume there will be a mental shift of some sort? A different feeling when you know you are finally creating a hill rather than digging out of a hole? I don't know for sure. I guess we'll see when we get there. I sure hope it feels different! Would love to hear how it was for others when they reached this turning point. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 1 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [101898] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21495] => Array ( [category_id] => 21495 [category_name] => Saving Money [category_stub] => saving-money ) ) [entry_id] => 101898 [entry_title] => Save Now, Live Later [entry_stub] => save-now-live-later [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/03/30/save-now-live-later_101898/ [entry_date] => 1364658384 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-03-30 10:46:24 [entry_text] => We're making awesome progress on our debt. In the last 6 months we have paid off $16,406 in credit cards/car loans and we now have only $5900 to go. On paper, it looks really good. In life- it looks kind of bleak.

I have always struggled with living my life more in the past or future than in the present. The Now. I am good at putting off short term reward for long term gain. Hubby has a harder time with this, which is one reason he is so good for me in this regard. He helps to balance me out and remind me that life IS now. In turn, I help to give him direction so that he moves towards his longer term goals. This tug of war plays out in our total money makeover all the time, as it does with most everything in our marriage.

Recently though, I have hit an emotional wall that makes me realize I need to start focusing more on the Now. To put it bluntly, I am not enjoying my life right now. I miss working and having space for intellectual pursuits in my life outside of two year old play dates and fish sticks. I feel that me being home is what's best for them and I love them to pieces. But I am coming to accept that it is not what's best for me. None the less, they don't have a lot of part-time options for women with PhDs in science fields, and I didn't like what I did much before anyways, and I will need to be retrained before I can begin a new career path. Which will only be affordable if we stick to our financial plan and cut expenses now. For now, and the next few years, I'm stuck here.

And hubby and I have been working our butts off for this money makeover. I run after our darling boys all day while he works his day job. And then by night, once the boys are tucked in, we both spend at least half the nights a week doing our side jobs, which has created the surplus for our finances. But we have almost no time for ourselves or each other. We've turned all date nights into at home affairs and cut all plans for family vacations. We don't buy clothes, or toys or really anything that's not required. We stick to the plan. And it blows.

Part of why we have felt the need to push this hard in the short term is that we have been treading water financially for years now. With every increase in funds getting eaten up by something else unplanned for, I watched my goal of going back to school slip further and further away. We were always barely making ends meet. Always "a little bit short this month but next month should be better." Looking into the near future we could already see the big raise hubby was expecting being eaten up by needing to replace the family car that is on its last leg. And we have nothing for retirement. We needed to do something Now.

So we're doing this. And the credit cards part of it is almost done. Which is awesome. But if we don't want to just replace all that work with another car loan then we need to start saving pretty aggressively for a car as well. And there are a whole ton a medical expenses that have crept up recently that I don't even want to think about factoring in to the plan yet. And yet - life is NOW. Not when we finish saving for a "new" car or finally start that retirement fund or get money pulled together for me to go back to school. But now. And Now - I am miserable.

Clearly there has to be some balance here. It does no good to live high on the hog now and just be miserable in the future instead. But it is not healthy to put off everything Now for a future that may never come either. They used to say money doesn't buy you happiness. Though they're finding that's not actually true! (

Text is http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/01/25/money-does-buy-happiness-we-were-shocked-too/ and Link is
http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/01/25/money-does-...,
Text is http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2019628,00.html and Link is
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2019628,00....,
Text is http://www.wired.com/business/2012/12/wealth-happiness/ and Link is
http://www.wired.com/business/2012/12/wealth-happiness/). Regardless, I have never been a collector of things for my happiness. But money does buy experiences. And experiences are the stuff of life in my opinion.

In times past, I know it has definitely made me happier to have a fun family vacation to look forward to, or a fancy night out with hubby taking in dinner, wine and a show somewhere. It made me happy when I was able to splurge on a massage or a special outing with the boys. Though these things are fleeting without knowing they are financially backed by having the longer term goals of ones life fully funded as well. Again, I recognize there must be balance. But right now the balance is clearly too far to the future game, and we need to adjust that.

In the very short term we are going to restart monthly date night outs, though nothing too fancy until the credit cards are done (only 3 more months!). Then, we'll have to decide what additional changes we can make at that point, and which ones we need to put off at least until a new car, and the increased emergency fund, and the 401K and all that have been saved for. I don't know what the right balance is here because all these things are important. But my emotional outlook is making it very clear to me that our current answer is not where it needs to be right now. I will be working on sorting that out this coming month.

PS Please, please, pretty please, do not respond to this post with a list of low cost entertainment options that I could "fix" my problem with. And no, we do not have good options with family or friends for child care swapping right now. I am aware that these options exist and we are considering them too, but we want to feel able to enjoy some of the "finer" things in life as well. This is really more about giving myself permission to enjoy than it is about the actual solution. Once I feel it's allowed, coming up with the options should be the fun part!
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 9 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 0 [contains_images] => 0 ) [101832] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21494] => Array ( [category_id] => 21494 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) ) [entry_id] => 101832 [entry_title] => March Madness Ends [entry_stub] => march-madness-ends [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/03/26/march-madness-ends_101832/ [entry_date] => 1364260552 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-03-25 20:15:52 [entry_text] => Well, probably not the March Madness you're thinking of. But our March madness - the one where all the money came in, that one is finally wrapping up. And we have *mostly* been very, very good.

As you'll recall, hubby got a $5K bonus in Feb, a raise that translates in to $250 extra per paycheck starting mid-March, and a tax return total around $6200. Yeah, it was pretty sweet. But, unlike every other year in prior history, we applied ALL this money towards our debts. The checks came in, and I mailed another out.

And now, that's it. No more extra money. But only ONE credit card left! Wow. And I think we have about an extra $1000 left over from this month's budget that I'll be able to put towards it at month's end. If we keep sticking to the plan, I believe we'll be done with baby step 2 finally come July. Thank. Goodness. Cause we are sooooo sick of this.

Granted, we're not out of the water yet. Before I feel good about where we're at, we're going to need to save up for a "new" family car (preferably BEFORE the old one dies), start contributing enough to hubby's 401K to take full advantage of the employer matching, and save up at least $15K into an emergency fund. I feel like those are the bare minimum financial things I need to feel like a financially respectable adult. Hubby agrees, and until we reach those goals, we are both willing to do some more sacrificing (some of us less reluctantly than others, but we're not naming names here!).

Really though, that's just the bottom line because eventually, when the boys are finally in school I want to go back to school myself and start a second career. And given that we've barely made a dent in my previous student loans, I'd rather not take out more if possible. And we want to pay off our mortgage. And before too terribly much longer hubby will need a newer car too. And it's going to take a lot more than just hubby's 401K to make up for the Absolutely Nothing we have saved for retirement yet.

But, all in good time. The good news is that I think we will actually have reached my bottom line by this time next year, and that will be amazing. Hubby and I do have a few rewards we will be giving ourselves along the way as we reach our intermediate goals. To start with, once the credit cards are finished, our monthly entertainment budget goes up. We get to start having real date nights again! Also, there will be a new refrigerator and a new lap top ASAP, both of which will replace objects that we are just praying will hold out until July right now. But for now, baby step 2 continues...

[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 2 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 0 [contains_images] => 0 ) [101411] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21494] => Array ( [category_id] => 21494 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) ) [entry_id] => 101411 [entry_title] => Making Progress [entry_stub] => making-progress [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/03/02/making-progress_101411/ [entry_date] => 1362265644 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-03-02 17:07:24 [entry_text] => I am frustrated that I have not been able to keep up with this blog very well lately due to some other projects I have been working on. I think it is a really good outlet for the stress this financial overhaul creates in our lives sometimes. And I think its a really good tool for keeping us accountable. Should be able to put more time into it again by the end of this month though I think, so I'll have to be content with that for now.

As for where we're at right now, do you see that side bar?! Talk about progress! Yes, the windfall has finally begun. Hubby got his bonus from work, which was about $5K after taxes got done with it. Originally, I had planned on paying off credit cards first with that, but after reading A LOT of material of financial planning recently, I decided a better use would be to pay off the car first, due to its higher interest rate. So, that one is done! And that payoff alone increases our monthly income by $198/month. Yay!

We also got our state return, a little under $500, and with that and some other surplus, I did pay off 1 of our 4 credit cards as well, though that one only increases out bottom line by about $30/month so not as exciting. But still progress! Supposedly, the IRS is going to finally start processing returns for people with mortgage interest credits within the next week. So hopefully, we will get that soon too (assuming no audit as discussed previously:
Text is http://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/02/09/death-and-taxes_100945/ and Link is
http://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/02/09/death-a...). And when we do, I plan to knock off a couple more cards, this raising our bottom line another $180/month. Wow, were we ever wasting a lot of money of this crap.

After that, it will just be the one big one left, which I'm hoping to have taken care of by the end of the summer, maybe sooner depending on how my business goes (summers tend to be slower). And then, we finally get to start the more fun part of personal finance: investing in ourselves.

Certainly we still have a lot of debt to pay off, between my student loans and our mortgage. Actually, even after paying off the the rest of the credit cards, I was disappointed to find that our net worth will still be around -$84K. Ouch. Though it is above the -$100K mark now for the first time in years. But as one financial planner I read stated, we're working really hard just to be worthless right now (ie $0 net worth).

None the less, after receiving some comments about how silly we are to not be taking advantage of the 401K matching hubby's company offers, I did a bit of research and decided in the end that, yes, we are being incredibly stupid not taking this free money and we need to get on that train ASAP, Dave Ramsey be damned. If we were being completely logical rather than emotional about it in fact, we would probably be prioritizing that even above our credit cards given that they have very low promotional interest rates. After much discussion though, we have decided we simply cannot bring ourselves to make this credit card thing go any slower. We feel spread much too thin as it is, and we need to be done with those debts and never use credit that way again. Our emotional sanity depends on it. Especially given how close we are.

If it were going to be something that was a few years away from being accomplished, like our mortgage and student loans, it might make sense to do it with more of a long view in mind. But we are literally within 3-5 months of our goal and our monthly income will increase by another $300 compared to now, once we sunset this. And that will certainly help our long term bottom line as well. That's our thinking at least. But at least we're almost there!

Anyways, very happy to be making some definite progress finally and looking forward to a 3 paycheck March this month as well! [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 0 [contains_images] => 0 ) [100947] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21491] => Array ( [category_id] => 21491 [category_name] => Food / Groceries [category_stub] => food-groceries ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) ) [entry_id] => 100947 [entry_title] => Feb Zero Dollar Budget [entry_stub] => feb-zero-dollar-budget [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/02/09/feb-zero-dollar-budget_100947/ [entry_date] => 1360431810 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-02-09 11:43:30 [entry_text] => Income:

Hubby's Job (after tax): $5271
Hubby's Hobby Income: $550*
My PT-WFH Job: $670*
Hubby's Bonus (after tax): $5104
(*subject to change, though usually for the better!)

Total Monthly Income: $11598 (umm...holy crap!)

Expenses:

Non-Fixed Expenses:
Groceries: $861
Gasoline: $188
Misc: $500
Entertainment: $250
Gifts: $10 (Valentine's Day Treat!)

Fixed Expenses:
Mortgage/Insurance: $1509
Student Loan: $619
Utilities (water/sewer, gas, electric, etc): $349
Services (phone, computer backup, garbage, cable*, etc.): $285
(*reimbursed through hubby's company)
Leftover Leaf Cleanup Bill: $150*
(*he still has not billed us and I'm not calling again. This is his last chance.)
Auto Insurance: $73
Credit Cards (minimum payments): $299
Auto Loan: $198
Early Childhood Program (spring session fee): $120

Total Expenses: $5525

Difference (to be applied towards credit cards): $6073 (woo hoo!)


Still need to do an accounting for how we did in Jan but I think I'm out of time this morning so it looks like it will have to wait again.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 2 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [100943] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) ) [entry_id] => 100943 [entry_title] => Hubby Got Promoted!!! [entry_stub] => hubby-got-promoted [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/02/09/hubby-got-promoted_100943/ [entry_date] => 1360428955 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-02-09 10:55:55 [entry_text] => The day we have been waiting for all year is finally here! Many of you pointed out previously that in the future we should probably not count so many of our eggs before they hatch so to speak. And yes, I know what you mean. I tend to always be about 5 years ahead of myself. That works well for some things in life, though not for others. This one was particularly hard because we *thought* this promotion was going to happen last year. His boss had suggested as much. Then we came to find that the company likes to get new managers feet wet for a year by giving them most of the new duties they will have, without the pay increase until the following year, after they see how it goes.

I get the logic that they don't want to end up promoting people who aren't going to be a good fit for management. But man that was an annoying year. We had thought it was already in the bag. And Hubby worked his butt off and understandably felt uncompensated for it. But no more! He broke the six figure income ceiling in fact! Well, more like scuffed it: he's getting exactly $100K now. But he also got a sweet $8000 bonus, though that'll be about $5100 once taxes get pulled out. Additionally, he gets an office and a garage parking spot. And he will now be eligible for even larger bonuses going forward. Possibly as much as 15% if he keeps "exceeding expectations".

But okay, okay, let's not go there yet. Let's let next years chickens come next year. How 'bout them eggs this year though! Wink We should be getting the bonus check next week. And once we do, CC#1 and #2 that you see on the side bar there should finally be gone! And just in time too, one of our balance txfr promotions is about to expire.

It may seem like a simple thing to send in a big check like this to a credit card that needs paying, but for us, this in and of itself is a debt victory. We were never disciplined enough to make that much headway before. We *might* have ended up paying off the smaller of the two. But we certainly wouldn't have knocked out that second one also (with some spare to throw at the third as well). So this is a big money management win for us.

Additionally, we should start seeing about $250 more each paycheck after taxes, and that will certainly help as well. Credit Card Free 2013, here we come!
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 5 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [100622] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) ) [entry_id] => 100622 [entry_title] => Parallel Lives [entry_stub] => parallel-lives [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/01/27/parallel-lives_100622/ [entry_date] => 1359316861 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-01-27 14:01:01 [entry_text] => For the most part, I like Dave Ramsey's TMM plan. We're working hard on baby step 2 (debt snowball for non-house/student loan debts) and are hoping to be on to baby step 3 (beef up the $1000 emergency fund from baby step 1) before the end of the year. This is our 4th month on this plan. Unfortunately, I feel like our accumulated debt snowball at this point could still easily fit in the palm of one hand. And just last month we had to regress to baby step 1 for a bit while we took care of some car/business income troubles we had.

And now this month yet again, one of our cars is going to keep us from being able to get traction on our debt snowball yet again. This is the 3rd month out of the last 4 that we have had car expenses over $800, and is already easily more than we paid the entire year before. WTF? We were long overdue though for 4 new tires that we were hoping to put off until next month's tax return came in. An unexpected flat (and consequent tow) made that happen this month instead though and altogether we are out another $850. The only good thing I can say about this is that we managed to trim enough excess off our spending this month that we did not have to tap in to the emergency fund to pay for that again. But I'm not sure how much extra there will be now to apply to our credit cards once again.

So we will probably continue to pay only slightly above the minimums on all our cards for yet another month. Luckily they are all on no interest promotional periods right now, but those will gradually expire this year and balance transfers cost 3-4% of the balance. In truth, it is not as bad as all that because we do have our big tax return and hubby's bonus coming our way soon, and once we get those we should be about 2/3 of the way done already. But I guess I feel like that's cheating.

I wanted this debt snowball to get started through our own budgeting successes and not just a once a year cash windfall. And I suppose one could argue that that's still true here. In a parallel life, one where we did not start our Total Money Makeover, I am certain hubby and I's straits would be much more dire right now. We would have spent a lot more money than we should have on other things and we would have ended up adding more to credit cards when the emergencies came in. We would have planned to throw and little at the credit cards with our tax return/bonus, but also prioritized a new fridge and laptop above our debt payoffs. We would have had a lot more fun going on monthly date night like we used to, but we'd also be a lot more in debt and certainly no closer to our long term financial goals.

At least that's what I like to tell myself. And its probably true. But who knows what my old self would have done for sure. I'm not a complete idiot, just a little desirous of short term rewards at the expense of long term gains. And I was a little fuzzy on the overall game plan long term. But still, on weeks like this, I wish there were a way to see my bank accounts in that parallel life next to this one, so I could know that we truly are making progress.

End of month accounting to follow soon.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [100520] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21495] => Array ( [category_id] => 21495 [category_name] => Saving Money [category_stub] => saving-money ) ) [entry_id] => 100520 [entry_title] => Pushing Too Hard [entry_stub] => pushing-too-hard [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/01/23/pushing-too-hard_100520/ [entry_date] => 1358913075 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-01-22 21:51:15 [entry_text] => Hubby has seemed down the past couple weeks. Just always tired and distant and with a shorter fuse than normal. Money things especially seemed to set him off, and it got me thinking...maybe he feels I'm pushing him too hard with this Money Makeover thing I've roped us into? Maybe he thinks that money is all I care about?

So last night I asked him whether something was wrong. And I got the usual answer about work being hard right now, but he also slipped in a single sentence about being worried he wouldn't get the promotion he should have coming next month. The one we've been looking forward to and planning for all year. The one I have financial forecast spreadsheets already built around. And I thought, hmmm, I haven't heard him say that before. Could this fear be behind the mood of late?

So I probed a bit further. And here's where I'll have to back up a bit and give you some detail on his work situation. Hubby works for a large fortune 500 company that has a policy of testing out new managers by generally giving them a small team to work with for a year and then officially promoting them (ie pay grade level raise) and expanding their team the following year if all goes well. Hubby started out last March with a team of 3 underneath him. One who turned out to be a rock star, one who's your average joe schmo, and one who is the devil incarnate.

His boss told him he was getting a lemon who was transferred to them because she had issues with her last manager already (and the one before that, and...) but he wanted him to see what he could do with her. He had no idea what was really in store. I can't even begin to go in to everything this woman did, it would just go on forever. All I will say is that she knew how to work the system of a large company, knew how to complicate things further with unverifiable health issues, and had the entire human resource department involved in her case besides themselves with dread. For hubby, this meant headache after headache as he jumped through all the hoops and appeals of the employee corrective action process, the end result being that something/someone which should have been maybe 10% the focus of his job became more like 60%. She was going to be out of his hair soon (more on that in a bit) but the months prior had taken their toll.

So hubby was concerned about his promotion status. He knew he had accomplished less in other areas than he would have without that situation. He knew his direct supervisor felt he was doing very well given the situation, but he didn't know who all needed to approve the promotion and he didn't know what criteria they would be using to evaluate that decision. And he knew how much I had been looking forward to that money. About my spreadsheets. About my assumptions. And he silently worried. Poor hubby.

It has been a long, tight few months for our budget since back child support ended in Dec, my home business floundered all Summer/Fall, the car broke down big time, and Xmas arrived. And that was all just after we had started getting our feet wet with this debt reduction stuff to begin with! It helped a lot during that time that hubby's hobby was steadily earning him some initially unexpected income as well. I kind of made it clear to him though that for Dec and Jan at least, as great as it was that he was getting paid for something he loved, we really needed the money as well. Although it had started out that way, it wasn't really optional anymore - at least not for those two months. He didn't like the fun that took out of it for him, though he understood the constraints we were under and he did what he needed to do to make that happen. With everything going on at work as well though, I think it was all just too much for him.

So, I've done my best to back off set his heart at ease. I reassured him that now that my business has picked up again, we don't need that money anymore, and if he stopped making another penny of it, it would only set us back two months in our debt plan. I also told him that whether or not his company is able to recognize his efforts this year, given the ridiculous situation he was put in, I know he did an amazing job with what he had to work with and in one more year without her in the picture, he was going to knock their socks off. And I truly believe this. My hubby is a very capable and competent man that is really good at what he does. It was just a crappy situation.

I think he felt some relief from that. I think he was happy to know I did care about more than just the money, though I think I need to work even harder in the future to make sure he knows that. It's just so much a focus of mine right now as we work through all this debt. I think he felt down right elated this morning though when he came in to find her letter or resignation in his inbox. Smile Truthfully, she was finally on a final warning and it was really only a matter of time one way or another, but that was probably the best outcome possible. Additionally, his boss mentioned at a team meeting later that day that all requests for promotions have been initially approved - and he knows he's one of them.

Its been a good day. Smile
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 6 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [100049] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21495] => Array ( [category_id] => 21495 [category_name] => Saving Money [category_stub] => saving-money ) ) [entry_id] => 100049 [entry_title] => Our Debt Snowball [entry_stub] => our-debt-snowball [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/01/05/our-debt-snowball_100049/ [entry_date] => 1357369587 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-01-05 01:06:27 [entry_text] => This is it! The year we're going to conquer our credit card and car loan debt. Time to layout the plan so I can hold myself to it!

We are still only 3 months in to our Total Money Makeover. So far, getting our debt "snowball" rolling has been really slow going due to a number of unfortunate factors. Child support back-pay ended last month, and as glad as I am to finally be done with my ex-husband, it left a new $500 hole in our budget. We knew this was coming though, and could have handled it alone, but unfortunately, it overlapped with a slow quarter for me in my home business. I have been making only about 1/3 of my usual profits for this time of year. And then to make matters worse, just a month before Xmas my normally biggest contract of the year cancelled on me due to going out of business. That left us short another $1600, and was pretty much our Xmas "budget" out the window. The same week our newer car need a $1000 repair. Needless to say, its been rough.

The amazing part of all this though, (as I tried to explain to hubby tonight when he got all forlorn about how little actual credit card progress we've made so far), is that we have not dug ourselves in any deeper for once! Had we not started a budget and drastically reduced our spending in recent months, these problems would have crept up on as as they always did. With us already overspent and not knowing where we were going to come up with these extra funds. I would not have been at all surprised if we ended up putting at least $1000 or so on a credit card, even after wiping our emergency fund out. Nor would we have had any plan to restock the emergency fund before our tax return came in late Feb. But that's not how we're doing things these days.

Today, I can honestly say that we have not used a credit card in over a year, even for emergencies. That's a first. And that as of this Monday, despite Xmas being barely over, our emergency fund will be restocked with $1000. And that even after all that, if we stick to our budget, we may still have about $50 extra to put towards credit cards in Jan. That may not be much, but it's a heck of a lot better than where we would have been before all this.

But then Feb is where the real fun begins. The month we finally start getting some momentum on this debt snowball. Because due to circumstances previously discussed, we will be getting a huge tax return. Probably around $8000. And then come March hubby should be getting his annual bonus, which will probably be around $4500. And then in Apr., hubby's new promotion raise will kick in and he should start bringing home about $500 more a month (which BTW, cancels out that child support that ended. Sweet.).

In the past, we would have initially *said* we were going to put a large amount of this extra towards our credit cards. But as it got closer, our wish list would have grown and grown. We may have ended up throwing $1500 towards it, but the rest would have gotten set aside for "in case" or spent this way or that. Our goal this year though, is to send no less than $13,000 to our credit cards for the months of Feb & March combined. Hold me to this!

By the end of all this fortune we should have wiped out three of our four credit cards and will already be about 2/3 of the way to our 2013 debt goal. From that point on it will be more slow and steady progress. If we stick to it though, that last credit card should be gone by the end of June, and our car loan will follow at the end of Sept. And that will be it! Almost one year after we started to the date. And then on to baby step 3 we'll go!

If we stick to this plan, about 28% of our take home pay over the course of a year will go towards our credit card and car loan debts. Compare that with the only 7% progress we were making before. (And we were wondering why we were never getting anywhere?) A four fold increase. Not too shabby for only 3 months of restructuring. And who knows what else we'll come up with by then?

All of this, of course, is subject to change. I'll feel a lot more confident once the tax return, bonus and raise are in hand. Until then, they are only projections, not realities. (At least the fiscal cliff is done!) Also, who knows what else will happen with cars and appliances and goodness knows what else in the months ahead. I have estimated my business income a little on the low side to help offset this, but it being on the low side has been a reality for me as well lately, though one that is starting to improve. If necessary, we still have a 3 month buffer to make it to the end of 2013 credit card/car loan debt free!

All said and done, we have a plan, and now its time to get to it.

[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 10 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 0 [contains_images] => 0 ) [99801] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21491] => Array ( [category_id] => 21491 [category_name] => Food / Groceries [category_stub] => food-groceries ) [21495] => Array ( [category_id] => 21495 [category_name] => Saving Money [category_stub] => saving-money ) [21496] => Array ( [category_id] => 21496 [category_name] => Shopping [category_stub] => shopping ) ) [entry_id] => 99801 [entry_title] => Post Christmas Update [entry_stub] => post-christmas-update [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2012/12/27/post-christmas-update_99801/ [entry_date] => 1356575464 [entry_date_mysql] => 2012-12-26 20:31:04 [entry_text] => Well, we managed to get through Dec., the month I projected to be the tightest in our near future, with less financial distress than anticipated. The new side work hobby and I both had come in helped a lot. Jan. will still be a little tight, but without Xmas (and hopefully not another $1000 car repair), certainly much easier. And then come Feb we should finally be able to start making some real headway of this credit card/car loan debt. Can't wait to knock the first of those cards to the ground! Assuming we don't jump off a national fiscal cliff for more than a week or so. I predict a deal within 2 weeks from today. Who's with me?

I got a lot of great tips for cutting Christmas expenses in my blog comments. Unfortunately, the posts they referred to were old (from my old blog) and by the time I received them, we had already purchased everything but for the stockings. We did manage to keep within the budget we allotted ourselves though. And we also managed to temper costs a little by purposely asking family members who wanted gift suggestions for items that would have normally come out of the miscellaneous budget. So hubby got a not very exciting, but quite practical and needed belt, while I got sports bra and dust proof pillow cases (among other more fun things as well), and we were both pretty happy with it.

So strange to remember that as recently as 4 years ago, we were still willing to break out the credit cards for Christmas purchases this time of year, citing plans to pay it off "some time later". The idea of going further into to debt for something so non-essential is incredibly disturbing to me now. I am not entirely sure when this point of view changed for me but I am glad to realize it has. Now I just need to work more on better prioritizing the spending of money I do have as well.

As for our tapped out emergency fund...I don't want to get too ahead of myself given that the end of the month is still a few days away. I feel like this just invites disaster to come. But I *think*, that maybe, just possibly, if luck continues to shine upon us, we will be able to put about $650 back into it next week. And I feel fairly confident (but in a not at all cocky way fairies of fate!) that we will be able to put the remaining $350 back in by the end of Jan. as well. And once that's out of the way we are back to baby step 2 again! (Please forgive my paranoid ravings. There's just been too many bad turns of late.)

I'm interested to see what our grocery bill will be this week as well given it will be our first shopping trip at our superstore instead of the grocery delivery service. And given that I have put on at least 3 lbs in Xmas cookies alone over the past two weeks, perhaps we should go light on supplies this coming week anyways. Though not until after the annual family fondue dinner next week! Gosh I love the food this time of year. Smile

Hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday!
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 5 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [99748] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21491] => Array ( [category_id] => 21491 [category_name] => Food / Groceries [category_stub] => food-groceries ) [21495] => Array ( [category_id] => 21495 [category_name] => Saving Money [category_stub] => saving-money ) [21496] => Array ( [category_id] => 21496 [category_name] => Shopping [category_stub] => shopping ) ) [entry_id] => 99748 [entry_title] => Grocery Reckoning Day [entry_stub] => grocery-reckoning-day [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2012/12/23/grocery-reckoning-day_99748/ [entry_date] => 1356236562 [entry_date_mysql] => 2012-12-22 22:22:42 [entry_text] => This past week, I spent most of my free time either physically shopping for groceries (or xmas), comparison shopping for groceries, or entering data about my comparison shopping into a spread sheet. I swear, besides taking care of two sick kids and eating way too many Christmas cookies, that's ALL I did. I may have piles of boxes downstairs left to wrap for the kids, but I have grocery price data compiled for you dear readers!

I won't bore you all to tears though by listing things like the price of bananas and greek yogurt at 3 different stores. Instead, I'll just tell you the bottom line. We could reduce our weekly grocery bill by about 30% if we stop getting our groceries delivered. Thirty. Percent. That is a weekly savings of almost $50 or around $200/month. Or in other words, this single act alone would move us from the USDA's
Text is http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/FoodPlans/2012/CostofFoodJan2012.pdf and Link is
http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/FoodPlans/2012/CostofF... liberal to moderate food cost budget (a previously stated goal of mine). Sigh. And now what to do with this new knowledge?

I must admit, I knew we were paying a premium for our grocery delivery service. I figured the convenience cost was probably around 10-15%, and my husband and I both felt that with twins boys under the age of 3, that extra cost was worth it. But looking at the numbers, it is clear now that it is costing us at least double, possibly triple what we had assumed. And I hate to even think about how much more than that it was costing us before we started using our discount warehouse store for frozen and non-perishable items. Holy. Crap.

The idea of adding another hour to hour and a half of shopping into my week makes me want to gag though. I loath shopping, especially for something boring like groceries. But 30% is just too much. In fact, the amount that we could save by me spending that extra time each week is roughly equivalent to the amount I would make if I put that much extra time into my home business. So if it pays as well as what I do for a living pays anyway, how could it not be worth it?

I still, however, can not wrap my head around the idea of bringing twin toddler boys with me during these weekly expeditions. I know some people do manage this somehow. If it were the difference between me eating or not I suppose I would too...maybe. If they were aged 3 and 1, where one could be in the child seat while the other held on to the cart, I think it could work. Or if they were even just a little older, 3 instead of 2, so that I could trust them to stay next to me instead of both running in opposite directions at the same time (or just plain sitting down and refusing to move anywhere), then it might work. But right now, they no longer both fit in the seat and they do NOT stay by the cart. It takes forever to dig one of those double seater carts they never have enough of out of the cart return bins (all the while blocking traffic) and its almost impossible to push them through the snow anyways. Our discount warehouse store has huge, two child cart seats that I love, and that I do manage with the boys occasionally. But these new weekly trips at the local super store -not possible yet.

Hubby, however, after looking over the numbers, has agreed to watch them for me on the weekends while I go. Normally this is the absolute last way I would like to be spending our precious family and personal down time on the weekends. But we have almost no money allotted for family outings during this year of debt reduction anyways, and the boys right now are at the age where during the winter they are almost as often sick as not, so many weeks (like this one) we can't do anything anyways. And by this time next year when we're out of this mess, I might finally be able to trust them to stay by the cart and hold mommy's hand.

So thank you everyone for this kick in the pants I needed to come to this difficult decision. It will probably save us over $2500 this coming year, and that gets us to our debt goal all the sooner.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 8 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 0 [contains_images] => 0 ) [99544] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21496] => Array ( [category_id] => 21496 [category_name] => Shopping [category_stub] => shopping ) ) [entry_id] => 99544 [entry_title] => Taking the Bad with the Good [entry_stub] => taking-the-bad-with-the-good [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2012/12/13/taking-the-bad-with-the-good_99544/ [entry_date] => 1355427405 [entry_date_mysql] => 2012-12-13 13:36:45 [entry_text] => (Last old entry!)

I haven't posted our month's end update yet because our financial situation this past week has been so in flux. In a recent post I talked a bit about hoping our Xmas shortfall might "magically" fix itself. And believe it or not, we actually have had a fair bit of good fortune magic come our way recently in terms of income.

Hubby's writing/website management hobby is really taking off! He's just landed a new deal that should pay a minimum of $300/month starting next week, and possibly up to $500 or more. And that's in addition to the $220 he was already making through another deal, plus some smaller bits on the side. All together that is more than enough to make up for the back pay child support that is now ending (last check tomorrow!) and also enough to bridge the income gap we were expecting for Dec/Jan.

Additionally, I've had a little bit of work come my way as well! My worse case budget scenario was assuming I would continue to have only about $140/month of income (that used to be more like $600). For at least Dec/Jan though, I think I can count on that being around $400 instead, so that's another extra $260 that also kind of feels like it just magically appeared in time for Christmas.

Were in not for the car repair that suddenly fell into our laps as well then, we would probably feel we were raking in the dough. But alas, this was no ordinary car repair. This was a $992 doosey. I'm not even sure we've paid that much for a car repair before. Usually when the repairs start getting that expensive and close together, the car is old enough that we decide its probably not worth it and time for a newer one instead. But this is hubby's car and we are still making car payments on it as it is. It's also the newer of our two vehicles and therefore not allowed to reach the end of its life first!

Anyways, that completely cleaned out the emergency fund. All but $10.17. So that's a little scary. Cause it's a good two and a half months until tax rebate season. Additionally, our discretionary account has only $4.81 in it, while even our fixed checking, which we use for things like the mortgage, has only $728.42. Not cool. Luckily, hubby gets paid tomorrow, though there are still lots more gifts to get. I should point out here that the order these fluctuations came in as was: my income increase (Oh, good, that will help a little), then the car (Oh, f**k. We're screwed again.), then hubby's income increase (Woo hoooo!!! We're saved!). It's been a long week.

We ended last month with about $260 surplus, which we would have liked to use to pay down our credit card debts given that that is the point of this whole thing. Unfortunately, as the month ended, we were projecting a $750 shortfall for Dec./Jan., so I felt I needed to hold on to that extra to help somehow bridge the gap. When my extra income came in, we had high hopes that end of Dec or at least Jan. might afford us some surplus after all. But then the car crapped out, and Dave Ramsey says our first priority now should be going back to baby step 1 to replenish the emergency fund. I'm not quite sure yet where that puts us in terms of catching up again, but it may well be Feb still. In the meantime, we will continue making our roughly $500/month in minimum payments.

More good news; some very preliminary numbers I ran in the newly released 2012 Turbotax seem to predict that we will be getting back around $8000 this year! Holy s**t! I think that's even bigger than when we got our first time home buyer's credit, though I might be wrong about that. We only claimed 4 deductions rather than 5 on hubby's W-4, so as to cancel out my estimated business taxes, but I didn't make very much compared to normal, so it ending up being a lot more withholding than we really needed. Plus, we get some kind of a $2000 education credit for my daughter starting college, since she is still a dependent on our taxes for this year. Yay!! Until the car died, we were considering buying a new fridge with some of that. But at this point, we may just muddle through and try to just get done with this ASAP. Hopefully by next Xmas we'll be on baby step 3!
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [99542] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21496] => Array ( [category_id] => 21496 [category_name] => Shopping [category_stub] => shopping ) ) [entry_id] => 99542 [entry_title] => Cancelling Christmas (Except Not!) [entry_stub] => cancelling-christmas-except-not [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2012/12/13/cancelling-christmas-except-not_99542/ [entry_date] => 1355427101 [entry_date_mysql] => 2012-12-13 13:31:41 [entry_text] => (Only a couple old ones left...)

So bad news this week. That big job I usually get this time of year that has paid for the last couple Christmases will not be happening this year. Or anymore at all actually; it appears they have gone out of business. And given how much we were counting on it, that is quite a bummer.

The net effect of this is that Dec and Jan are not going to be just tight as I've mentioned, they are going to be negative in terms of cash flow. Even putting off getting the new tires we need, and even adding in the savings we scraped out of this month, I estimate we are still going to be about $500 short by the end of Jan. And given that bonuses and tax returns won't come in until the later half of Feb, the first half of that month is not going to be pretty either. Things have already felt so tight on this Total Money Makeover that it's hard for me to even picture how much more this is going to suck now.

Given all this, and in the spirit of maintaining gazelle intensity for our debts (I mentioned I hated that phrase, right?), it seems we probably should cancel Xmas this year. Or presents at least, that is. In fact, that would simple act alone would about take care of that $500 shortfall we have (so would winning that $500 million Powerball right now, but I digress). But we are not going to do that. Does this mean we are not really serious about our Total Money Makeover? I don't know, perhaps. But I just can't. It would be too sad for me and I think my husband would just lose it. We would lose our drive to do this because it just wouldn't feel worth it anymore. We're going to be smart about it and stick to our budget, but we're going to have Xmas, so tough.

So where is this $500 going to magically appear from then you ask? That's a good question. Cause we do have $1000 sitting in our emergency fund still, but we all know how Dave Ramsey feels about acting as if Xmas is an emergency. Well, one solution is that it might magically appear. Okay, okay, not magically. But so far hubby's side writing hobby has been bringing in a little more money than expected each month. I think its quite possible we could end up with up to $250 more from that then I currently have budgeted. Also, I could get another job through my business (hah!). I mean, probably not this month, but it could happen. At one time, I made over $20K/yr with this little side gig. (Will probably be lucky to hit even $6K this year.)

Other, less magical avenues include the possibility of me getting a very part-time job in the evenings. I'm looking into this and will in fact be putting in an application by the end of the week I hope. Not sure I will do it for any longer than necessary, but I feel I must do something. It just sucks because I will probably make only a quarter as much per hour for my efforts doing that then for my business. But a quarter as much still meets the gap my business is just not producing right now. I really hope that changes again eventually. Frown

If worse comes to worse though and none of those things pan out, I guess we will be tapping into the emergency fund. All I can say in our defense is that I promise we will pay it back in February. Needless to say, there will be no extra credit card/car payments for the next 3 months. Our minimum payments total to almost $500/month though, and our credit cards are all no interest promotions, so as long as we don't use those, we'll still be chipping away at it. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 2 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [99541] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21490] => Array ( [category_id] => 21490 [category_name] => Education [category_stub] => education ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21494] => Array ( [category_id] => 21494 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) ) [entry_id] => 99541 [entry_title] => My Student Loan Baggage [entry_stub] => my-student-loan-baggage [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2012/12/13/my-student-loan-baggage_99541/ [entry_date] => 1355427008 [entry_date_mysql] => 2012-12-13 13:30:08 [entry_text] => One of the few topics in Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover that really irks me is his discussion of student loan debt. I'm not saying his points are all without merit. But when he talks about credit cards, he seems to understand that the mental/emotional game is just as important, perhaps even more important, than the financial one. And so he recommends paying off your lowest balance card before your highest interest card, purely so you can see results sooner. And I totally get that. But he does not allow for the same types of emotional weakness when it comes to student loans. Consider the rant of his in this link for instance:
Text is http://www.daveramseyfan.com/dave-ramsey-rants-stupid-on-education/ and Link is
http://www.daveramseyfan.com/dave-ramsey-rants-stupid-on-edu... Ouch. That's all I can say. And since I am one of those previously professional, now stay-at-home mom's with over $100K in debt he's ranting about, it can't get much more personal than that.

When I look back over my life, there is only place I can think of that I maybe should/would have made a different decision about my education. And that was when I chose to keep pursuing a PhD in a field I wasn't sure was a good fit for me, instead of being willing to start graduate school over, or at least stop with a masters. Given that my graduate tuition was paid for, however, and that I was receiving a stipend for most of my living expenses, cutting out that leg of the journey wouldn't have changed that much. Maybe $20K less at best.

Growing up, we were poor. Like free school lunch, hand me down clothes from cousins, can't afford a school yearbook poor. I vividly remember my mom dividing one family size can of spaghettios between the 4 of my sisters and I, plus a glass of milk, for lunch. I was a small, hungry, skinny and very active kid, who hung out a lot at my friend's houses bumming snacks. My mom and dad fought constantly, and would have no matter what, but certainly a major theme of their blowouts was money. There was never enough of it, and it seemed that would never change. My mom often grew wistful in private about how, despite how smart she had been, she had dropped out of college after only a year or so at her first husband's insistence (my father) and never found her way back once the babies started coming with her second. And worse, how she could never leave her abusive second husband because she could never support the 5 of us on her own.

I'm not sure how directly it was ever stated, but I grew up with the clear impression that it was absolutely imperative that I go to college some day so that I would be able to support myself without a man. But that there would be absolutely no financial help for me to do so. This was further complicated by my step-father's abusive put downs of me compared to my sisters, and his continuous proclamations that I was never going to be good enough for anything.

Given the trouble I was often into growing up in a home like that, there were many years it seemed like he was right. There were many years I didn't bother with homework. For a period of time, I was suicidal. And I was pregnant before I was out of high school. But I harbored a deep, driving need to prove him wrong as well. And despite his insults otherwise, I was actually quite intelligent. And seriously driven to believe that there was a way out of my childhood and into the type of future I had always dreamed of. Halfway through high school, I turned over a new leaf and started to show what I was capable of academically, though my new daughter senior year complicated things a bit.

When I was applying to colleges, the last thing on my mind was the amount of money I was taking out in student loans. Certainly I qualified for every need based option possible, not to mention a few merit based ones as well. Imagining what that payback would look like 5 to 10 years down the road when I finally had a real job and was out of this mess seemed besides the point. My burning questions were: Am I really capable of this? A 4 year degree at a respectable university with a child? What if they see only what my step-dad saw? What if I am doomed to repeat the same life for my daughter as the one that was given to me?

But I got in and I did my best. My first year I did outstanding actually, but the second year my young marriage began to fall apart and afterwards, it took a couple years of struggle before my daughter and I found a new equilibrium. My last two years of undergrad I did much better for the most part, and somewhere during that time, I realized that to become anything more than a lab rat with my degree, I would need to apply for graduate school. In this sense, Dave's rant doesn't completely apply to me. I did understand that I needed to be highly marketable to pay for all this.

At that point in life, I was pretty clear that I wanted to be a working mother. I loved my daughter dearly, and was very much looking forward to being done with school and having more time eventually. But I was the kind of person who got depressed without something intellectual to pursue. Something for myself separate from my role as a mother. Perhaps partly because I had become a mother before I had gotten time to be just myself. As exhausting as it was during the semesters, school holidays were often worse because I just got so depressed with nothing to work towards.

If you had told me that I would one day choose to be a stay at home mom, I would have laughed in your face. Dave can say that young women without kids yet have no idea how they're going to feel when they do, but I think that's overly simplistic and implies we all want to stay at home deep down. I'm a stay at home mom now, and I'm still not always sure its what I want to be doing. Furthermore, I already had a child at that point. I did know what it was like. If I could have had the option to work only part time with a young family, that probably would have been my first choice. But that is not a realistic possibility in most fields, least of all mine, and I was not unrealistic. I figured with a PhD, I could make enough that my future husband could stay home if we wanted.

Graduate school was hard though. Really hard. My fears about not being good enough were constantly at an edge when surrounded by so many other brilliant people. I had developed a fuzzy, idealistic picture of my doctoral field while leisurely pursuing undergraduate research with lower expectations I had no trouble meeting. This vision was shattered to make room for the more brutal and difficult reality of what higher academia really was. The relationship with my advisor slowly went from love to hate. Somewhere along the way, I began to question whether I was really doing this for myself, or just to prove that I could. Some days, I began to acknowledge that despite how far I had come, it was possible I was moving in the wrong direction.

That is the one point in my academic journey I regret. If I had been brave, or maybe even just less tired, I would have thrown in my first 2 1/2 years of research and allowed myself to start again in a new field. If I had done this, perhaps I would be happily pursuing my new career even now? I had an inkling of what at least some of those other possibilities could have been. It wouldn't have set me back more than a couple years (though that would have added even more to my debt!). But that light at the end of the tunnel I had been impossibly chasing for so long was finally so close. I had already passed my preliminary doctoral exam. I had my project all mapped out. I just needed to buckle down for 3 more years and do it.

And so that's what I did. I figured when I was done I could work on re-branding myself in an area of research I was more interested in for the job hunt. Instead, I found myself perfectly trained to do exactly the type of research I did not want to pursue. But it sure payed well. Even if it did necessitate moving halfway across the country.

It seemed like that would be enough, eventually. But it wasn't even close. And despite my husband (then boyfriend) being brave enough to come along with my daughter and I and start this new life together out west, it just never felt right there. We just couldn't get settled. We couldn't get to a place where the future we had pictured together seemed possible. We couldn't define what needed to shift. And despite crossing the 30's threshold, we couldn't possibly imagine starting a family in that life and place.

Through all of this, my daughter moved into her teenage years, and despite being very close when she was younger, she suddenly wanted nothing to do with me. It became painfully obvious that though my school was finally done and I was ready to focus more fully on her, she no longer had any interest in focusing on me. That ship had sailed, so to speak, and I had missed my boat. That was hard. That was very hard. And it made me reflect a lot on my plans to start a family again soon. The role I wanted to play in my new children's life and the type of mother I wanted to be. As my regret grew, I also stopped giving a crap what other people thought about how capable I was. I had gotten a PhD for cripe sakes. What more could they expect of me? And it was my right to decide what I wanted to do with that degree from that point on. Obviously, it was always my right. But that was when I finally realized it.

So anyways, long story short, with my boyfriend's blessing, I quit my high paying job and decided to become a stay at home mother with over $100K in student loans instead. It was a rough few years of transition. At this point, my husband finally makes a pretty decent income. Almost as much as I used to (and adjusted for the midwest, probably a lot more). But with three kids, primarily one income, and a student loan payment of over $600/month, it never goes as far as it seems like it should. It's going to take us a while to get out of this mess. And though we are now over 4 years into this new life path, it's hard sometimes to accept where we are now compared to where we used to be. Hard to know that we will probably never live in a beautiful home/location like that one ever again. That it will be years, eons, before we can afford another fancy trip. That given the realities of our budget, money is going to continue to feel like a struggle for probably at least another 5 or so years until I'm working again. My husband and I find that hard. And depressing. And Dave would probably just say "What did you expect!?!"

...A chance to live a life much different than the one my parent's gave me I guess. A chance to feel like I had enough money to never be trapped in a relationship that was bad for me. A certainty that my children would always have enough to eat, as well as year books and new clothes and maybe even stories about trips to Disney World with our family last summer. I probably didn't need a $100K education to secure all those things, but it was an emotional journey for me that took a while to figure out.

For now, I comfort myself with the fact that though this is not always the life of my dreams, it is finally the life of my choice. I am choosing to be much poorer than I could be. I am choosing to temporarily give up most personal and intellectual pursuits (though I did start a secret blog!) so that I will have fewer regrets next time about the mother I am to my children. I could do it differently, and from time to time I check in and make sure this is what I still want. So far it is. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 0 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [99540] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21490] => Array ( [category_id] => 21490 [category_name] => Education [category_stub] => education ) [21494] => Array ( [category_id] => 21494 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) ) [entry_id] => 99540 [entry_title] => How We Got Into This Mess [entry_stub] => how-we-got-into-this-mess [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2012/12/13/how-we-got-into-this-mess_99540/ [entry_date] => 1355426916 [entry_date_mysql] => 2012-12-13 13:28:36 [entry_text] => Sometimes Iím a little surprised to find myself with debt troubles, because back when my husband (then boyfriend) and I were both working 6 years ago, there was a point where we were making quite a bit of money. During that two year period, we managed to pay off all the credit cards we had at that time (due to divorces and our big move west for my job) as well as the remainder of hubbyís student loan. We did not, however, manage to save a dime towards retirement or anything else. And we went on at least two fancy trips. And ate out a lot. And didn't even look at price tags in certain stores. We also did not own a home at that point, and were paying a small fortune to rent a very nice one (we needed one with with space for our huge dog to run!), while paying only the minimum on my student loans.

Each month we wondered how we could possibly make so much money (some months we brought in more than $10K total - after taxes) and still have nothing left to save towards a house or retirement by the end of the month. I have a few defenses for this. One is that I was less than two years out of graduate school (finally!) and after having been a young, poor, and mostly single mom for that difficult 11 year period, I had a big wish list for life. I needed some fun time. Additionally, my field was very specialized, and required us to live in a very expensive area on the west coast. We were both completely shell shocked by the cost of living adjustment our first year. The price of things like cheese always floored me. Plus, Hubby and I weren't actually married yet at that point, and despite entering our 30's, we were simply not ready yet to buckle down and get serious about financial planning.

So thatís my list of reasons, minus a lot of things I could say about hind sight that you can fill in for me if you like. That period of my life ended almost 5 years ago when hubby and I made the difficult, but long coming decision for me to quit my job (or really career in this case) and move back to our hometown in the Midwest. At that point, we did begin to reign it in a bit in preparation for the 60% reduction in income we would be undergoing in a few short months. We stop planning for the next big vacation and started planning for the journey home instead. We cut back on spending, and put a little away each month for the huge moving expenses we knew from experience that we would be racking up soon. Not nearly enough, but it helped. And I began to look into information on starting a new home business.

We made a mix of good and bad financial decisions over the next few years, but also worked very hard. That first year back, I often spent upwards of 50 hours a week laying the groundwork to get my business up and running, and even took on housecleaning jobs in the meantime until my cash flow became more regular. Thankfully, hubby's job was able to come with him on our move, but the recession had just kicked in and there would be no cost of living raises that year. We had a few thousand in credit card debt again from the move we had to pay on, but we put my student loans on temporary forbearance (which sadly wiped out all progress we had made thus far). My daughter had hit the difficult teenage years, and no matter how much we made, it could never be enough to acquire all the things she was certain she needed (and that every other person she knew already had). Additionally, I felt bad downgrading her too much from what she had become used to at that point, given that the second move was hard enough on her, and certainly not what she had wanted or expected. In all honesty, we had a bit of a hard time adjusting to all of that ourselves actually, and though our rent was much cheaper than it had been out west, it was still much more expensive that what we probably should have taken on. But we felt we needed to step into our new cost of living situation gradually, so as not to give up everything we'd had all at once.

Now that we were back in the much more affordable and homey midwest, we finally felt able to settle down and begin working towards our future together. We got officially engaged and started looking into homes and saving for a down payment. I settled in to my new work routine and despite how much tighter things were, we managed to put away at least $700/month during most of that first year. And though I feel our wedding was perfect, it was a small, elegant but inexpensive, at home affair that did not set us back too much more. Can't say the same for my amazing ring though. (I made it clear there was no way we were spending less than he spent on his ex and I still do not regret that!) We also had a short, but sweet honeymoon that added a little more. And within two months of all that shenanigans, we dropped all our saving and then some into our new house.

Despite putting a little more on the cards to get all settled in, I think our house was a good purchase. A huge step down from what we'd had out west, and more than $1000 per month less than our rent had been even after moving back to the midwest. But a respectable, comfortable, suburban home in a good neighborhood none the less, with a payment we could afford. We bought it at what was the market low (at that point) and with a great fixed interest rate, and it has plenty of room for a family. Therefore, we immediately jumped into the next stage of our long term life plan - babies! And what with that first "Holy Shit" ultrasound, and the later preterm birth that twins tend to bring, less than 12 mos after we said "I do" we had two of them! Not to mention a lot of unexpected time off from work (and savings) on my part due to bed rest.

Somewhere in all of that, there was also a long distance wedding trip, a number of car issues and more than one or two home owner issues as well. We did not have an emergency fund yet at that point, so anything extra was a problem. Plus, my daughter had turned 16 and began driving, and no matter how crappy a car you give them, the insurance still sucks. Its no secret that kids tend to be the most expensive at the bookends of your 18 years with them, and unfortunately we had some on each end. I had to keep my work hours while I was breastfeeding (and not sleeping) to less than half of what they had been pre-baby. We started getting a grocery delivery service rather than shopping ourselves, despite the extra expense, cause we couldn't figure out how to manage life without hating each other otherwise. And as thankful as we were for hubby's work from home job that came with us on our big move, it was far from competitive in pay (though excellent in health coverage thank goodness), and yet we just didn't feel like we could manage him finding something out of the home until we got closer to the boys first birthday.

Lest I mislead you, there were some toys in there too. We got a new flat screen tv, and we had cable, netflix and audible subscriptions. We both got iPhone 3's when the 4's came out and have since upgraded. We got a new laptop when the old one died. We ate out a couple times a week at least. We took a couple modest vacations. We purchased memberships to the zoo and museum. We weren't partying, but we weren't suffering.

None the less, fast forward to about 18 mos. later and we have finally begun to catch our breath again. Hubby did find a new job outside the home that pays much better (though that required me to cut my hours even more initially, and necessitated another car purchase). We stopped hemorrhaging expenses and started simply treading water instead. I think its been over a year since we even used a credit card,which means we have mostly gotten the hang of living within our means (pre-child support loss at least!). And we did finally get an emergency fund going. But its been pretty clear that we haven't made much of any real progress towards wiping out the debt we accumulated either. And as we slowly inch towards the end of our 30's, it is clear that the time to start planning for our financial future is now. Like, so right now, its yesterday.

So that's how we got here. Nothing completely stupid I don't think (well, maybe the ring. But since I'd do that one again, I don't think it counts), though lots of things we could have done a bit better. And today, on this Thanksgiving Day 2012, I am thankful that hubby and I have both the means and dedication to tackle this massive financial overhaul, so that our future can be a bright one.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 0 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [99539] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21495] => Array ( [category_id] => 21495 [category_name] => Saving Money [category_stub] => saving-money ) [21496] => Array ( [category_id] => 21496 [category_name] => Shopping [category_stub] => shopping ) ) [entry_id] => 99539 [entry_title] => Apparently We're Good at This [entry_stub] => apparently-were-good-at-this [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2012/12/13/apparently-were-good-at-this_99539/ [entry_date] => 1355426799 [entry_date_mysql] => 2012-12-13 13:26:39 [entry_text] => I keep trying to find more things we can do, something we must be missing, to make this debt thing go faster. So far, no luck. If anything, the book I checked out from the library recently (did you hear that, the library not the book store) called "Your Money: The Missing Manual" made me feel like we're taking this more seriously than I sometimes feel we are. Consider all these recommended measures we have implemented:

Cancelling cable: As of last week, Check! My husband's company pays for the internet portion of our bill already. And our recent purchase of an Apple tv will pay for itself in less than two months of not paying for cable.

Get rid of home phone: We got rid of our home phone line a couple months ago since we were really only using our cell phones anyways. This has been causing us to use more of our cell phone roll over minutes though, so I'm hoping we won't have to up that eventually.

Cancel monthly subscriptions: To my surprise when we began this, hubby volunteered to cancel his Audible subscription until our debt was paid off and just re listen to old favorites instead. We also cancelled our Netflix a few months ago since we hardly ever used it and I've already decided not to renew Newsweek this coming year. Half the issues never get read anyways.

Make a Unit Price Grocery Spreadsheet: Still working on that but I have started to collect that info and I'm already getting the hang of when something is a good price. I have also learned to...

Use Coupons Wisely: I do not fall for buying things with coupons that a) I wouldn't usually get anyways b) are still more expensive than the store brand or another location. This also meets his suggestion to...
Discard Brand Loyalties: Even for toilet paper, I got over it.

Buy In Bulk - When it Makes Sense: Hello new big box warehouse store membership. Can't believe how much money we've saved there (per unit price at least!) so far.

Waste Not: Finally plugged in the big freezer downstairs again and started labeling and storing all left over canned and other items. I've even started buying things like yogurt in bulk, freezing it before it goes bad and then thawing it as needed. Its a little more liquidy than it would have been but still tastes fine (the boys don't know the difference!).

Shop Less: Not a problem. There's no money anyways and neither hubby or I were ever big shoppers. Probably the biggest success in this area though was when we separated our checking account into discretionary and non-discretionary expenses and then limited ourselves to a budgeted discretionary amount. In theory we were doing that before, but since I didn't track where each individual purchase went, it was hard to know how well we were sticking to it. I still don't always track it that closely. But now, when the discretionary money's gone, its gone. And so that takes care of that.

Replace Light Bulbs w/ Florescent: Done! We even got a Groupon for a home energy checkup a month or so ago in which we also got some weather stripping applied to a couple doors and well as thermometers to check refrigerator/freezer and water heater temps. We would have gotten more but they said we were already doing great on most everything else! Especially considering our gas energy company gave us a rebate to get our attic re-insulated this past summer which has already significantly impacted our energy bills.

Increase/decrease the setting on your programmable thermostat: We haven't made any huge sacrifices here compared to people I hear setting their winter thermostat to 65F or waiting until Halloween to even turn on heat but we have lowered our winter setting from 75F to 72F and raised our summer setting from 72F to 74F. It not much I know, but we do have two year old boys and I don't want them to be too cold or not sleep well. Bedroom space heaters make me nervous with such little ones (and I don't think they could be trusted with them once we switch to "big kid" beds), and we haven't had the money yet to invest in summer ceiling fans.

Play Board Games for Fun: We don't always play board games, but hubby and I have completely let go of our monthly night outs for the next year and turned all our date nights into at home affairs instead. We always make a nice dinner together after the boys are in bed and then talk or watch a movie or something.


So those are all the things we're doing right. Perhaps I will devote my next entry to all the things we could still improve though I worry it will just turn into a big excuse fest! Wink
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 0 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [99538] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21491] => Array ( [category_id] => 21491 [category_name] => Food / Groceries [category_stub] => food-groceries ) [21496] => Array ( [category_id] => 21496 [category_name] => Shopping [category_stub] => shopping ) ) [entry_id] => 99538 [entry_title] => Mid-month Checkup [entry_stub] => mid-month-checkup [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2012/12/13/mid-month-checkup_99538/ [entry_date] => 1355426698 [entry_date_mysql] => 2012-12-13 13:24:58 [entry_text] => (Another old one from Nov)

We're half way though November and so I figured it'd be a good time to check in and see how on track we are. We're doing okay. The highlights:

Shopping: $454/$500
Entertainment: $109/$300
Groceries+ (includes misc things too): $626/$1200

While not included in the total above, we just finished grocery shopping for the week of Thanksgiving and still managed to keep the weekly total within $200 (no big box warehouse visit this week) so that's a good sign! I eventually want to lower the grocery budget a bit, but next month just happens to be another month with 5 grocery days instead of 4, plus Xmas, so I don't think it will be happening that month. Jan. for sure though!

Our shopping budget looks a little sad but it should be clarified that about $120 of that is for the Apple tv and antennae that have allowed us to cancel our cable service as of last Thurs. (Woo hoo!) Still a splurge, but one that will pay for itself within two month. Also, another $214 of it was from hubby's new iPhone 5 splurge, which he got $98 back for by selling his old phone. Though only as an amazon credit so we'll be using that for Xmas rather than credit cards.

The only number of here that really irks me is the entertainment budget. Despite that being the only flexible category we're not over in. What irks me is that hubby and I are each supposed to get $100/month individually do do with as well will ($20/wk), plus another $100 for joint splurges. Its half way though the month so that should be about $50 each individually at this point. Looking over the transactions though, I would say about $8 of that is mine, maybe $30 is joint and the rest is his. And that's just the things that weren't paid with by cash. And I wouldn't say this is atypical. I minded less when we weren't being so serious about this. But despite how pissy he gets sometimes about lack of funds, clearly I am sacrificing more here than he is.

Regardless, these next two months are going to be a lot of sacrifice for both of us. I have only 1 1/2 child support back pay checks left! That is about $500 less a month we are going to have to adjust to during a period when my home business is making about $500 less per month than usual as well. I have one big job that often comes in just before Xmas which I am anxiously waiting to hear on next week. If that doesn't come through though, Xmas is going to be rough this year and we may not be getting new tires for the SUV after all. I may even get a second part-time job soon. Just not sure how to meet the Dec/Jan gap otherwise. Gonna be a rough couple months until the tax return comes in, but we are not giving up!
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 0 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [99522] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21490] => Array ( [category_id] => 21490 [category_name] => Education [category_stub] => education ) [21492] => Array ( [category_id] => 21492 [category_name] => Investing [category_stub] => investing ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21494] => Array ( [category_id] => 21494 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) [21495] => Array ( [category_id] => 21495 [category_name] => Saving Money [category_stub] => saving-money ) ) [entry_id] => 99522 [entry_title] => The Big Picture [entry_stub] => the-big-picture [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2012/12/13/the-big-picture_99522/ [entry_date] => 1355371250 [entry_date_mysql] => 2012-12-12 22:00:50 [entry_text] => This may be simply an exercise in idealistic dreaming, but I want to paint for you (or maybe mostly just me) a picture of how I see this new financial plan unfolding for us in the coming years. Cause I have big, unrealized but hopefully not unrealistic, dreams. In Dave Ramsey's book, he tells you that it takes most people about seven years to reach Baby Step 7: Build Wealth. Longer still to get to the Pinnacle Point where your money finally starts working harder than you have to. Certainly, that is the long term goal. And the short term goal is the credit card/car payment debt payoff I've already outlined. But it'd be nice to have a picture of our mid-term plan as well. Especially given that I don't think we will be following the Baby Steps precisely.

So, one year out, give or take a few months, and hopefully our small debts (non-mortgage/student loan) will be paid off. At that point we will hopefully be more used to getting by with a lot less monthly discretionary income. Maybe we can at least add enough back in to be able to go on monthly date nights again though. But I don't want to get too slack because we still have a lot or work to do. Baby Step 3 is to Finish the Emergency Fund, which he defines as 3-6 mos. worth of expenses. For us, that would roughly be $15K-$30K.

Projecting out both raises and expenses, once we get our small debts paid off, I think we could save roughly $25K/yr. So, that should take us 7-14 mos. depending on how much cushion we want. My thought is that we should save as much as possible, setting aside the minimum $15K to touch only for emergencies, but then factor in the fact that our family SUV will be 15 years old (already has 223K miles) by then. I am fine with driving it until it dies, but its pretty much a given that that is going to be before too much longer (please, please, please not this year!). I am also fine with not getting a new car when it does die. But I would prefer to get something gently used with at least a few more bells and whistles than our current one has. I think we could probably get something 5-6 years old for between $15-$20K.

That's not the only big ticket item we need to save for though. In a few more years, the boys will be ready to start school and I will be more than ready to jump back on the career train. But that is probably going to require a bit of retraining on my part, and I am not willing to take out any more student loans. (Above and beyond the $105K I already put my foot down on of course). So, if I want to go back, which I very much do right now, we will need to save for that too. I am conservatively estimating about $20K for that right now, plus after school daycare (maybe $5K? Though that will be more of an on-going expense), but given the rising cost of education these days, who knows?

The point of all this speculating is to point out that with these extra purchases, the time it takes up to save about $30K for an emergency fund is going to be more like 2-3/4 to 3 years rather than 14 mos. That's a long time. And who knows how many set backs there might be in the meantime. At some point, hubby's car will need to be replaced as well, though it is 5 years newer than the SUV at least. But I guess I'm okay with it as long as we get to Baby Step 4: Retirement Investing, by the time I re-graduate, which I am predicting will be in 5-6 years. If we get to that step before I graduate, then I guess we will start putting at least the company matching amount into hubby's 401K. Actually, if we don't get to that step before 40, we probably should do a lot more than that, and I kind of doubt we will. Once I do graduate and start working again though, we are going to kick step 4's butt.

And then we get to Baby Step 5: College Funding for the kids. Except we're going to re-package that one as college payoff for the adults. By then my daughter will be done with college (or darn well better be at least). Until we get fabulously wealthy, I have done the best I can for her by insisting that she go to a school where she would graduate with a maximum of $40K in debt. Still a lot I know, but less than half as much than me, and within the amount considered reasonable by the income to debt calculators. She hated me for it at the time, but now seems mostly happy.

I am hoping that with a new masters degree I will be able to make at least $50K, although about half of that will probably have to go towards retirement, and the rest will get taxed. But lets just say that after stocking up our emergency fund, we have about $25K/yr extra from hubby's income and $25K/yr from mine. So $50K/yr extra after I start working to do with what we will. (OMG, is that really possible?) What to do with all that cash?? Pay off my damn student loans!! If we stick to the plan, that should take us only two more years. At that point, we can look into some minimal investing for the boys' college (and maybe some back pay for my daughter). But they are going to be expected to chip in as well because we are heading off to...

...Baby Step 6: Pay Off the Mortgage! Honestly, not quite sure what's going to happen when we get to this step because you see, before we focus on paying off the mortgage, we'd like to focus instead of getting the house we'd really like to have. The exciting thing is, once the student loan is paid off, we could afford about $600 more per month for a mortgage without changing anything else. Assuming the market continues to improve, we should also have a fair amount of equity at this point, having lived here for about 11 years. I am not sure yet whether we would rather buy or remodel. It will probably depend a lot on the location of our jobs at that point. There are some things I really like about both this home and this area, but our home was built in the 1960's and it really needs some updating. I think it would take between $175K-$200K to get it to where we want it, and only about 60% of that could be recouped in re-sale value. Whether or not that's worth it will depend largely on what we could get for the same value given the housing market at the time.

I also really like Dave Ramsey's idea of taking out only a 15 year mortgage and keeping your mortgage payment to less than 25% of your take home pay. Whether we decide to buy or remodel, I do very much want to keep those rules in mind. After all our hard work, I certainly do not want to end up house poor. It will be hard to feel like we can't afford just about whatever we want once we've taken care of all that other debt. And I do love big, pretty homes. Nonetheless, regardless of what we choose to do, at that point it should be a maximum of 15 years until we are entirely debt free, and if we continue with the $50K/yr rule, I think we could take that down to 6 years.

Which means this is more like a 14 year than a 7 years plan for us, but by the time we enter our 50's, it is very possible we will have no debt remaining (maybe we'll bump up the boys college fund at that point) and hopefully by the time we hit our 60's we will have reached that fabled Pinnacle Point which will leave us set for a long, happy retirement. Its certainly not a get rich quick scheme. which makes it seem somewhat more believable. Though it will certainly require a lot of dedication and sacrifice. But it seems like by the time the boys graduate from high school, we will finally have both the time AND money to do all sorts of things.

So that's the big picture. And now back to Baby Step 2.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 6 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) ) -->

The Wind in Our Sails

June 28th, 2014 at 04:09 pm

Gosh it's been forever since I wrote! Actually, I did write a post a few months back, but it got deleted accidentally and I was too annoyed to retype it (don't know why, but I always have to post a new entry twice for it to work correctly). Going to be more careful this time!

Part of why I haven't written for a while is that, to be honest, we haven't been working very hard on our TMM since April. We started hubby's 401K at the end of March and are adding the full amount each month to get the maximum company max (6% for us, 4.5% for them). It feels great to have started that, and with the matching it is growing nicely. But it is also untappable money that has really lowered how much extra we have to throw at other goals each month, and that has slowed some of our momentum.

The other thing that has taken some wind out of our sales is medical related, which is what the post that got deleted was about. Basically, our identicals twins have been diagnosed with asperger's (ASD) and we suddenly have very high medical costs that were not factored in to our original planning. Long story short, despite our medical insurance, back in April we thought we were going to start needing about twice as much as we had budgeted for medical expenses each year (including 2013, which we were still getting bills for). So, $10K/yr instead of $5K budgeted. And what with the prior year, the current year, and trying to better prepare for the coming year (2015), we were trying to figure out where the hell to come up with $15K all of a sudden.

We started by getting a no monthly interest balance txfr on a CC for one year (though the txfr itself cost 3% that we paid off right away). Our thinking being that while, yes, it is a credit card, we have regular payroll deductions deposited to our HSA that can be used to pay it off over the course of the year. We also started setting aside an additional $315 each month to be more ready for next year. Which still left us short $5K, but we downgraded our expected May car purchase by $10K to help it all work out better eventually.

The good news, come May we found out that due to having a certified "mental disability", the boys qualify for some federal medical disability funding that is going to help us out. I'm still not sure how it's all going to work out eventually, since everything takes a year and a day to get "processed", but my best guess is that it will be better than our worst fears, but worse than before this all started. In the meantime, we are still working on paying off the CC balance txfr and saving for next year, but we're assuming that the money from the gov't will at least cover last year's extra medical expenses (about $5,900).

Unfortunately, this all began to balloon as we were preparing to make the "new" car purchase we've been planning for over a year now (to replace our 1999 family SUV). Had it not been for already promising my daughter the old SUV come this summer, so that she could look for a summer job over her college break, and sign for a new lease for housing next year without having to be limited by bus transportation issues, we may have tried to put that off for another year. Though in the end, it's probably good that we didn't because within a month of our purchase, the SUV came up with another $1800 in repairs it could use (only $600 of which was decided was worth it, and which has been a good lesson in helping our daughter plan for financial emergencies!).

Anyways, another long story short, we love our new car (which is actually 3 years old, but that's the newest car I've ever owned!). It was about $15K total and we had save about $4K prior to purchase. We also dipped into our emergency fund a little to get our monthly payments down to about $175, which felt safe and doable. We're working on restocking our emergency fund (still about $1800 to go) and plan to pay off whatever balance is remaining on the car come Feb 2015 when hubby gets his annual bonus. The car we got is rated as very reliable and is in great running condition (pre-certified even, and with a 7 year warranty), and I feel like it will be great family car for years to come.

So, it's been a pretty financially disorienting few months. Really hard to gain traction when we're still dealing with some medical unknowns. Looking ahead to about $2350 in tuition/books that will be due in a couple months too for my fall term of school. We have enough if we dip into our emergency fund again, (and I certainly don't want to be taking out any more school loans at this point when we still have $100K of them that we've barely make a dent in), but in all likelihood we will have to, at least a little bit. Hoping that by the end of the summer we'll have a better sense of our financial position again so that we can feel more confident about where we're steering.
Feb 2014
Start 6% 401K withdrawals: Sept 2013----->Feb/Mar 2014
Save for/Pay off "new" car: May 2014----->Feb 2015

As I said: Ugh.

A new reflection though: I saw on FB recently that an old friend of mine I've lost touch with the past few years, is selling her house. She has been dying for a bigger house for years, and her husband had a well paying job. But they also had a lot of debt and not the best of spending habits, and with the housing market crash they felt completely stuck.

About 4 months back, her husband's department was downsized and he was laid off. He had a few months severance though and lots of job interview lined up, so they weren't too concerned at the time. Thus, when I saw her recent FB posting, I at first assumed he had found something even better and that with the housing market upswing they were finally able to afford the new home they have been wanting.

But then I read further. Turns out, they are not buying a new one, just selling the old one. She didn't elaborate more but a quick check on LinkedIn confirmed what I feared; her husband has been out of work since Oct. Now I am purely speculating at this point, but given what I know of their past financial situation, it's not at all hard to draw a line that without a high paying job, the large debts have are going to sink them once the severance pay ends, and they are trying to find a source for more funds.

I say all this not to gossip or point fingers (presumably, you have no idea who I'm even talking about), and I actually feel very bad for her, though not really close enough anymore to question her about such a personal matter. But for me, she is such a stunning reminder of why hubby and I are doing all this.

Our financial situations were close enough at one time that it is easy for me to picture how something very similar could have happened to us, had we not begun to exercise financial restraint. But I admit that it was very hard for me to hear about their fancy trips, and see their pretty new cars and how beautifully decorated the inside of her home was. I wanted those things too. I wanted to look that good as well. But we were pouring all our extra cash into debt and had nothing visual to show for it.

We are still a long way from where we want to be. And without more savings, we are still not even insulated from going through something similar ourselves were hubby to lose his job. But we have no credit card or car debt dragging us down anymore. And we have a very clear picture of our budget and of the steps we need to take to get from A to B. So, even though this is a total drag, and even though I feel like it's taking way longer than it should, reflecting on where we could be instead leaves me still feeling thankful about where we are. Maybe not happy, but thankful. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 3 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [105872] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21490] => Array ( [category_id] => 21490 [category_name] => Education [category_stub] => education ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21494] => Array ( [category_id] => 21494 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) [21495] => Array ( [category_id] => 21495 [category_name] => Saving Money [category_stub] => saving-money ) ) [entry_id] => 105872 [entry_title] => Commencing Baby Step 3 [entry_stub] => commencing-baby-step-3- [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/11/24/commencing-baby-step-3-_105872/ [entry_date] => 1385315344 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-11-24 11:49:04 [entry_text] => We've finally finished wading through all the home maintenance projects (including an unexpected $1000 repair on the roof a couple weeks ago) and even set aside $1000 for Christmas. We've reached our family health deductible for the year and are scheduling appts like mad for these next few weeks to take full advantage of paying only 20% rather than 100% for the rest of the year. And we were also incredibly blessed to have my aunt unexpectedly send me a check to cover my first semester of tuition and books for the community college I will be starting at in Jan. And so, with that all finally behind us, it's time to commence on our TMM baby step 3 (beef up emergency fund to cover 3-6 months of expenses).

It has been almost 4 months since we finished baby step 2, so I am relieved to finally be getting back on track again. We made a lot of prudent purchases and repairs, but as the money kept flowing out rather than in, I worried that our financial plan had become derailed. Apparently though, even without CC debt, we do still have some motivation and dedication to this plan after all. And it's time to buckle down again.

My main goal for this coming financial year is to see our next worth begin to rise finally. Although given it is currently -$46K, it might be more accurate to say we want to see our gaping net worth hole begin to be filled in. It's actually much better now that it was a year ago. Partly because of paying off the CC's and car loan. But also in a large part due to home values bouncing back again finally, and we can't really take credit for that. Plus that part could go again as easy as it came.

But I was realizing the other day that we are at an exciting point none that less because from here on out, we will mainly be investing in ourselves. Even the $25K we hope to save for a "new" vehicle over the next year and a half will be savings converted into an asset, rather than simply blown out the window. And yes, yes, I know their will be depreciation, but you get my point. We're finally investing in our own net worth. And that is exciting!

Plus, during the open enrollment period this year we made sure to max out our HSA contribution for next year, as well as bump up the life insurance and disability policies a little bit. And it feels wonderful to know we are getting an adequate financial safety net into place. Almost like we're becoming real adults finally!

From this point on though, we're going to be breaking a bit from strict compliance to the TMM plan. For instance, we're going to start baby step 4 (retirement savings) as soon as we get $5000 towards baby step 3. Which should be by the end of Jan if we practice restraint over Xmas. We are way too old to be putting it off any longer and we're going to be doing baby step 3 for quite some time. We want our final emergency fund to be around $20K, but we need to buy a car along the way, so almost as soon as we get it we're going to empty it out and start again.

I consider this an EF worthy purchase though because, as discussed previously, our current family vehicle is a 1999 and has over 225K miles. It's just not going to be around much longer, and when it does finally die, it will certainly be an emergency. After doing a lot of research we decided that the most financially wise options were to either buy a cheap 7-8 year old car in decent condition and plan to cover fairly regular repairs until we can afford an upgrade. Or to buy a reliable low mileage 1-2 year old vehicle that shouldn't need much work for a few years, and which would be just as affordable as long as we keep driving it at least 10 years. And given how very tired we are of highly used vehicles at this point, we have decided to go for the 2nd option.

We're going to save as much as we can for it until May and then get a loan for the remainder. We want to give the old one to our daughter when she comes home from college for the summer so that she will have her own vehicle to get to and from her summer job. And then we're going to pay off the car loan as fast as possible, though right now it's looking like Feb 2015 before we get there.

So that's the plan right now. Hubby is in the process of applying for new jobs that pays more though, and if one of them pans out, maybe we can even do this without a car loan. Hoping for the best!

[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 3 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [105329] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21494] => Array ( [category_id] => 21494 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) ) [entry_id] => 105329 [entry_title] => TMM Year 2 [entry_stub] => tmm-year-2 [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/10/20/tmm-year-2_105329/ [entry_date] => 1382288284 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-10-20 11:58:04 [entry_text] => It's been forever, I know. Not sure what the deal is with all this crazy /// nonsense in my info section since I left either. Anywho...

This Oct marks the beginning of the second year for hubby and I's Total Money Makeover. And how far have we gotten in a year? Well, considerably farther than we pictured ourselves one year ago for sure. We originally thought we'd be nearing the end of our credit card payments about now, and just starting to work on the car loan. The was before we discovered what the power of a budget and willpower can actually do. So instead we finished both by the end of July.

On the other hand...we are considerably less far than we had pictured ourselves being by now last June. Our revised goal was to have the initial $5000 for our emergency fund fully stocked by now, as well as kicking off the retirement 401k we need so badly and also making headway towards the "new" car we need. Instead we are in a much more dangerous no man's land somewhere between Baby Step 2 and Baby Step 3. I don't feel we are derailed from our TMM, but we do need to start getting this show on the road again soon.

So what have we been doing instead of all those June goals? Well, a lot of home stuff actually. Things we put off forever while dealing with our CC debt. We finally got a new toilet for downstairs (which lowered out water bill by $35/month!). We got a few trees cut down that had died and got our gutters cleaned out. We are also getting a large rip in our kitchen linolium repaired as well as some baseboards re-added that we never replaced after our mold damage issue a couple years ago.

We're getting our radon remitigation system installed this week ($1200). And we also had to take care of a couple big car repairs as well as buying hubby a new suit for job interviewing after all the weight he lost. Additionally, we finally replaced a few items that were wearing out. Like hubby's desk chair that was held together by duct tape and the kitchen rug that was coming apart at the seams. And we also spent more than typical on entertainment too, given it was summer and we had more family outings than usual.

Some of that stuff qualifies as emergency fund type things. Some doesn't. But it's all stuff we've been wanting to take care of forever and I'm glad we did it. By the end of this month we should be done with all that and ready to begin on Baby Step 3 for real. Trouble is, the boys are finally in preschool and I am finally going back to school myself to begin a second career. My first tuition/books payment will be due this Dec (just in time for Xmas) and is probably going to be around $2000. Long story short, I don't think we're going to be able to start the 401k until about Jan instead of Sept like we had planned and that sucks.

Regardless, compared to where we saw ourselves a year ago, we are doing much, much better indeed. Hopefully by this time next year we will be finished with Baby Step 4 and be looking ahead to a bright financial future!
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 3 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [103651] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21492] => Array ( [category_id] => 21492 [category_name] => Investing [category_stub] => investing ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21494] => Array ( [category_id] => 21494 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) ) [entry_id] => 103651 [entry_title] => Closing In [entry_stub] => closing-in [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/07/13/closing-in_103651/ [entry_date] => 1373733962 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-07-13 11:46:02 [entry_text] => Almost at the finish line for TMM baby step 2: debt snowball. Actually, we could have been there on July 19th, but, the laptop hubby has been wanting for so long went on sale for the 4th of July week. We saved $100 by buying it now and pushing the fridge payoff out one more paycheck (Aug 2). Which I think is fine given it's no interest for 3 more months and definitely will be paid off on the 2nd. We chose snail speed shipping though to save on that part, so it will still be another week or so before he gets it, but I'm sure he will be very happy when it finally arrives!

We are starting to look into what the next financial steps are. Dave Ramsey says baby step 3 should be saving a 3-6 month emergency fund (building on the $1000 one from baby step 1). That would be about $18,000 for us and would take quite some time. And in the meantime, we would still not be taking advantage of the 3% 401K matching hubby's company offers (not to mention just plain starting to save for retirement period, even though we're both entering our late 30's.) Additionally, our '99 SUV is probably not going to last much longer and certainly will be an emergency when it dies. And we want our next car purchase to be a slightly used, reliable family vehicle with low miles that we can count on driving for at least 8-10 years.

So, we're thinking of taking a middle of the road approach. I've opened a money market account with Ally bank and transferred our $1000 emergency fund there. As soon as the fridge is done we are going to work on building that up to $5000 as fast as possible. After that, we have some home maintenance issues we have been putting off forever that we need to take care of. Getting all of that accomplished is going to push us well into the end of Oct.

But once we're there, we are going to start putting 6% of hubby's paychecks into the company 401K (the maximum matching amount). And come open enrollment in Nov we are also going to up our HSA/FSA medical contributions to the max for the coming year. That's going to take quite a dent out of our monthly income, but with all the debt we've now paid off (as well as the decrease in taxable income from the 401K/HSA/FSA), we should still be able to raise our entertainment budget from what it has been these past 9 months, and still work towards saving for a new vehicle.

We originally wanted to save for it completely before purchasing, which would have taken about a year, but our daughter really needs a car for the college internship she wants to do next summer. Assuming the SUV is still running then, we'd like to pass it off to her by next May so she can do that. That said, we should be 80% of the way there by May with hubby's bonus, so it shouldn't be too bad to take out a small loan at that point and pay it off in 4-6 months.

At that point, I will be starting school again (just a few classes at a community college to begin with) so there will be some tuition to take care of. But we will also need to start kicking up our savings as well. I'm looking into a Roth IRA for that, and Ally bank seems like a good place to help us with it. Given that you can withdraw contributions without penalty if needed, I feel like this could double with retirement and most of our remaining 3-6 month emergency fund. Short of job loss, I doubt we will ever need more than the $5K we will already have set aside in the money market (which I will keep separate). And $18K seems like too much money to just have sitting in a low interest account, when it will likely never be used, while we make no progress on retirement. Dave Ramsey would not approve, and I'm still looking into the details, but right now that's the plan. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 7 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [103317] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) ) [entry_id] => 103317 [entry_title] => End of Month Slow Down [entry_stub] => end-of-month-slow-down [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/06/24/end-of-month-slow-down_103317/ [entry_date] => 1372097929 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-06-24 13:18:49 [entry_text] => The end of this month has been a bit of a let down in terms of the last leg of our debt payoff plan. We did make a $592 payment at the beginning of the month towards our last old credit card. But between the plumbing issues and car issues we had mid-month, there isn't anything left to do more. We just barely succeeded in not having to tap the emergency fund for the repairs, and now we're wiped. But even that is a success compared to our old way of life.

Still though, I think we will be able to send in another big chunk towards the fridge on the 5th of July. And our new estimated final payoff day is Aug 2. And then hubby can finally get that laptop he's been pining over for so long. Wink

Another bit of good news; we canceled 3 old credit cards this month and are about to close another as well. We applied for one new one with our warehouse discount store so that we can get the cash back on our purchases there. And we are keeping one other one to make sure we have enough available credit to keep our credit score rating up should something befall us before our souped up emergency fund is fully formed. But the plan from this point out is to pay them off at the end of each billing cycle and never carry a balance.

Now to just keep on trucking...
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 1 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [103087] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) ) [entry_id] => 103087 [entry_title] => We Did It!!! [entry_stub] => we-did-it [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/06/11/we-did-it_103087/ [entry_date] => 1370976855 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-06-11 13:54:15 [entry_text] => Just a quick note to say: We Paid Off Our LAST Credit Card last week!! We reached our goal a full 7 months early! I am so happy to be done!!

Of course, now that the old debt is done, it is time to acknowledge the new debt for the fridge we purchased on store credit. It has no interest for 6 months and we plan to be done in half that time. I have updated my debt stats accordingly. This debt milestone would feel a lot more exciting though if we didn't now have this to take care of that debt too. But at least it's debt for only one physical object that we use literally every day, rather than for a whole bunch of things transferred from card to card for so long that we had no idea what it was we were even paying for anymore. It is also nice to look at my wedding ring now and know that it is completely paid for. Smile

We may or may not make much headway on the fridge debt this month. Depends how my home business goes this month; this tends to be a slow time of year. Our car was in need of a $675 repair this week and we have a plumbing issue too now that is probably going to be at least $300. But guess what? For the first time, we don't have to tap into our emergency fund to pay for that. The mechanic told us the amount and we just sighed and said, well, at least we know we've got it. That is a very nice feeling.

Really looking forward to the end of the summer when we will have taken care of the back log of expenses we put off forever while doing our debt payoff. Because that's when the real fun begins. The accumulation phase that will (finally!) prepare us for our future.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 12 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [102806] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) ) [entry_id] => 102806 [entry_title] => A Talk with Hubby [entry_stub] => a-talk-with-hubby [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/05/27/a-talk-with-hubby_102806/ [entry_date] => 1369628147 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-05-26 23:15:47 [entry_text] => Many of you have pointed out to me that my hubby seems to be a reluctant partner in this Total Money Makeover of ours. To which I could not agree more. And it's certainly not as if that's something he and I haven't discussed. But its been a difficult topic for him. He feels like he works and works and works and yet has nothing to show for it (there's some truth to that right now). And generally speaking, since he lets me decide how to spend most of the money even though he makes most of the money, I try not to be too hard on him.

I did get annoyed enough the other night to bring it up again though. I was trying to have just a strategic, non-emotional discussion about what we should prioritize first once we finish paying off the last* credit card next month (*please ignore the fridge for now. I need that to be separate so I can be done, or I will implode.) But it once again turned in to a whine fest.

I managed to mostly keep my cool and said that while this certainly is hard, and there certainly is reason to whine about it occasionally, that shouldn't have to be the case every time money is discussed. That it made me feel like I was making him do this even though he has agreed many times that he feels it is what's best for us as well. That in order to feel like partners in it, I needed to just be able to talk strategy with him sometimes so that we could figure out how to best prioritize things together. I didn't say it all quite that nicely, but I did my best.

He didn't take it all that well at the time (it had been a long day and perhaps was not the best time to bring it up in retrospect). But later that night he did seem to come around some. And since then he has actually been much better. He even offered to put off getting the new laptop he so wants until the fridge payoff is done. We talked about how we might generate a report for him to look over after each paycheck so that he has a better understanding of how the numbers are moving (we're nerds like that). I told him that I was actually frustrated about it all the time too, and that if I didn't have my spreadsheet to look over and fiddle with almost daily I would probably be a wreck. Simple tasks like changing box shading from yellow to green to show it's completed do wonders for keeping me sane.

So, hopefully that was the talk that will finally change things. And we are so, so close. One more paycheck (don't talk to me about the fridge yet). It's really hard to not fixate on it. To a level of being unhealthy probably, but it's just been soooo long and part of me just can't believe that we're really about to frickin' do this. I keep checking and re-checking because it seems surreal. As if any moment a large, unforeseen expense will rise up and swallow us whole. But so far, the spreadsheet says we're on track. It says we're okay. Just one more paycheck...



[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 5 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [102651] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) ) [entry_id] => 102651 [entry_title] => So Close, Yet So Far [entry_stub] => so-close-yet-so-far [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/05/15/so-close-yet-so-far_102651/ [entry_date] => 1368590064 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-05-14 22:54:24 [entry_text] => We are so, so close to our credit card debt payoff. Only $1482 more to go! (Not counting the new fridge, as discussed). Our expected payoff date is June 7th but the closer we get, the more things that seem to be creeping up. Frown Our printer has stopped working, and our router is acting up and has to be restarted multiple times a day. We have 3 medical bills that came in at once and only enough money in the HSA for 2 of them (even after setting up payment plans). Our family car's air conditioner seems to need recharging. We have a plumbing issue with the water line to our new fridge. And to top it all off, we just found out our home has moderately high levels (6.2 pCi/L) of radon gas (common in this area) and that we need to install a mitigation system, which is going to run about $1600. We have $1000 in our emergency fund.

Hubby is chomping at the bit for the new lap top he's been promised when our last credit card is taken care of. And it would really help him with the side job he does that has helped pay down this debt faster. I don't think he's going to take no for an answer again if we have to push that last payment off a bit longer. But I really don't want to add anything else to credit. We need to take care of the new fridge still as it is.

I'm trying to decide what we can put off, and what we must do. I never pay bills late, so I think I will have an anxiety attack if I don't take care of the dental bill. Though I am going to call tomorrow and beg for a later due date (sad). As long as we don't start hitting 90's constantly it seems like we should be able to squeak by on the car's air conditioner for another month or so. My 2 year old boys sure looked hot back there today though. They were so flushed I was worried about over heating.

If hubby is going to demand the lap top then maybe he will have to wait on the fridge water line instead. We managed to get water from the sink for the last how many years. Shouldn't kill us to go a little longer. Hopefully we can figure out what's wrong with the printer and as long as the router doesn't completely die, we can deal with restarting it constantly a month or so longer. The radon mitigation system is the one that has me stuck though.

My daughter's bedroom is in the basement where the concentration is the highest. If she hadn't just gotten home for the summer from college then I think we would definitely put this off a few months. But she is home, and she sleeps down there (well, when she's not at her boyfriend's at least.) Long term exposure to radon increases your chances of lung cancer. 3 months isn't really that long of exposure (though this must have been a problem before too). To be honest, her risk of getting colon cancer from not eating any fruits and vegetables is probably higher, but I just don't feel good about it. Whether or not we take care of that right away though will probably be the difference between finishing the debt payoff in June or not.

Need to have a discussion with hubby I think. Hopefully one that entails more problem solving than whining.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 7 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [102443] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21491] => Array ( [category_id] => 21491 [category_name] => Food / Groceries [category_stub] => food-groceries ) ) [entry_id] => 102443 [entry_title] => Inching Ever Closer & A New Fridge! [entry_stub] => inching-ever-closer-a-new-fridge [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/05/01/inching-ever-closer-a-new-fridge_102443/ [entry_date] => 1367376476 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-04-30 21:47:56 [entry_text] => One more month of operation wipe out credit card/car debt completed. And as long and tedious as it has been, we are in the final stretch now. Only $3341 left. In fact, we have an estimated payoff date of June 7th! Just gotta keep putting one foot in front of the other for a little longer...

Actually, I have a confession. Two days ago, we bought a fridge. With a store credit card. So, to be completely honest about it, out debt total is actually at $5279.08 now. I know, I know, we maybe shouldn't have. We're so close. But- we were absolutely going to do this as soon as possible after we finished in June, and -the store had a sale on them this month that saved us $200, and- there's no interest for 6 months and we should have it paid off 3-4 months from now. And also- we were sick to death of that stupid drawer always falling down and pulverizing our fruit! And just to throw in one more good excuse, it was so ancient that I'm certain our energy bill will go down by a noticeable amount once the new eco-friendly one arrives. And it's bigger. It might actually fit all our stuff! Wink

This doesn't actually change our payment plan at all really because given there's no interest, we're still going to put all our focus into the last credit card first and then start paying for the new lap top and fridge we need. We'll finish paying it off in the same time we would have saved for it, but this way I get the new fridge while we're doing it. At this point, I trust myself to deal with this new debt ASAP, so I am not too worried about it. I don't plan on paying interest to credit card companies EVER again.

So, one more month down. And I keep wondering, what will it feel like when the last debt is paid? If we were planning on adding all the extra money we'll have to our regular spending, I'd probably assume it'd feel pretty awesome. Instead we're mostly going to be doing much more practical things with it, like starting a 401k, increasing contributions to our HSA and saving for a new family car. So in terms of spending, it won't feel that much different. But I would assume there will be a mental shift of some sort? A different feeling when you know you are finally creating a hill rather than digging out of a hole? I don't know for sure. I guess we'll see when we get there. I sure hope it feels different! Would love to hear how it was for others when they reached this turning point. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 1 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [101898] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21495] => Array ( [category_id] => 21495 [category_name] => Saving Money [category_stub] => saving-money ) ) [entry_id] => 101898 [entry_title] => Save Now, Live Later [entry_stub] => save-now-live-later [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/03/30/save-now-live-later_101898/ [entry_date] => 1364658384 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-03-30 10:46:24 [entry_text] => We're making awesome progress on our debt. In the last 6 months we have paid off $16,406 in credit cards/car loans and we now have only $5900 to go. On paper, it looks really good. In life- it looks kind of bleak.

I have always struggled with living my life more in the past or future than in the present. The Now. I am good at putting off short term reward for long term gain. Hubby has a harder time with this, which is one reason he is so good for me in this regard. He helps to balance me out and remind me that life IS now. In turn, I help to give him direction so that he moves towards his longer term goals. This tug of war plays out in our total money makeover all the time, as it does with most everything in our marriage.

Recently though, I have hit an emotional wall that makes me realize I need to start focusing more on the Now. To put it bluntly, I am not enjoying my life right now. I miss working and having space for intellectual pursuits in my life outside of two year old play dates and fish sticks. I feel that me being home is what's best for them and I love them to pieces. But I am coming to accept that it is not what's best for me. None the less, they don't have a lot of part-time options for women with PhDs in science fields, and I didn't like what I did much before anyways, and I will need to be retrained before I can begin a new career path. Which will only be affordable if we stick to our financial plan and cut expenses now. For now, and the next few years, I'm stuck here.

And hubby and I have been working our butts off for this money makeover. I run after our darling boys all day while he works his day job. And then by night, once the boys are tucked in, we both spend at least half the nights a week doing our side jobs, which has created the surplus for our finances. But we have almost no time for ourselves or each other. We've turned all date nights into at home affairs and cut all plans for family vacations. We don't buy clothes, or toys or really anything that's not required. We stick to the plan. And it blows.

Part of why we have felt the need to push this hard in the short term is that we have been treading water financially for years now. With every increase in funds getting eaten up by something else unplanned for, I watched my goal of going back to school slip further and further away. We were always barely making ends meet. Always "a little bit short this month but next month should be better." Looking into the near future we could already see the big raise hubby was expecting being eaten up by needing to replace the family car that is on its last leg. And we have nothing for retirement. We needed to do something Now.

So we're doing this. And the credit cards part of it is almost done. Which is awesome. But if we don't want to just replace all that work with another car loan then we need to start saving pretty aggressively for a car as well. And there are a whole ton a medical expenses that have crept up recently that I don't even want to think about factoring in to the plan yet. And yet - life is NOW. Not when we finish saving for a "new" car or finally start that retirement fund or get money pulled together for me to go back to school. But now. And Now - I am miserable.

Clearly there has to be some balance here. It does no good to live high on the hog now and just be miserable in the future instead. But it is not healthy to put off everything Now for a future that may never come either. They used to say money doesn't buy you happiness. Though they're finding that's not actually true! (

Text is http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/01/25/money-does-buy-happiness-we-were-shocked-too/ and Link is
http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/01/25/money-does-...,
Text is http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2019628,00.html and Link is
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2019628,00....,
Text is http://www.wired.com/business/2012/12/wealth-happiness/ and Link is
http://www.wired.com/business/2012/12/wealth-happiness/). Regardless, I have never been a collector of things for my happiness. But money does buy experiences. And experiences are the stuff of life in my opinion.

In times past, I know it has definitely made me happier to have a fun family vacation to look forward to, or a fancy night out with hubby taking in dinner, wine and a show somewhere. It made me happy when I was able to splurge on a massage or a special outing with the boys. Though these things are fleeting without knowing they are financially backed by having the longer term goals of ones life fully funded as well. Again, I recognize there must be balance. But right now the balance is clearly too far to the future game, and we need to adjust that.

In the very short term we are going to restart monthly date night outs, though nothing too fancy until the credit cards are done (only 3 more months!). Then, we'll have to decide what additional changes we can make at that point, and which ones we need to put off at least until a new car, and the increased emergency fund, and the 401K and all that have been saved for. I don't know what the right balance is here because all these things are important. But my emotional outlook is making it very clear to me that our current answer is not where it needs to be right now. I will be working on sorting that out this coming month.

PS Please, please, pretty please, do not respond to this post with a list of low cost entertainment options that I could "fix" my problem with. And no, we do not have good options with family or friends for child care swapping right now. I am aware that these options exist and we are considering them too, but we want to feel able to enjoy some of the "finer" things in life as well. This is really more about giving myself permission to enjoy than it is about the actual solution. Once I feel it's allowed, coming up with the options should be the fun part!
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 9 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 0 [contains_images] => 0 ) [101832] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21494] => Array ( [category_id] => 21494 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) ) [entry_id] => 101832 [entry_title] => March Madness Ends [entry_stub] => march-madness-ends [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/03/26/march-madness-ends_101832/ [entry_date] => 1364260552 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-03-25 20:15:52 [entry_text] => Well, probably not the March Madness you're thinking of. But our March madness - the one where all the money came in, that one is finally wrapping up. And we have *mostly* been very, very good.

As you'll recall, hubby got a $5K bonus in Feb, a raise that translates in to $250 extra per paycheck starting mid-March, and a tax return total around $6200. Yeah, it was pretty sweet. But, unlike every other year in prior history, we applied ALL this money towards our debts. The checks came in, and I mailed another out.

And now, that's it. No more extra money. But only ONE credit card left! Wow. And I think we have about an extra $1000 left over from this month's budget that I'll be able to put towards it at month's end. If we keep sticking to the plan, I believe we'll be done with baby step 2 finally come July. Thank. Goodness. Cause we are sooooo sick of this.

Granted, we're not out of the water yet. Before I feel good about where we're at, we're going to need to save up for a "new" family car (preferably BEFORE the old one dies), start contributing enough to hubby's 401K to take full advantage of the employer matching, and save up at least $15K into an emergency fund. I feel like those are the bare minimum financial things I need to feel like a financially respectable adult. Hubby agrees, and until we reach those goals, we are both willing to do some more sacrificing (some of us less reluctantly than others, but we're not naming names here!).

Really though, that's just the bottom line because eventually, when the boys are finally in school I want to go back to school myself and start a second career. And given that we've barely made a dent in my previous student loans, I'd rather not take out more if possible. And we want to pay off our mortgage. And before too terribly much longer hubby will need a newer car too. And it's going to take a lot more than just hubby's 401K to make up for the Absolutely Nothing we have saved for retirement yet.

But, all in good time. The good news is that I think we will actually have reached my bottom line by this time next year, and that will be amazing. Hubby and I do have a few rewards we will be giving ourselves along the way as we reach our intermediate goals. To start with, once the credit cards are finished, our monthly entertainment budget goes up. We get to start having real date nights again! Also, there will be a new refrigerator and a new lap top ASAP, both of which will replace objects that we are just praying will hold out until July right now. But for now, baby step 2 continues...

[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 2 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 0 [contains_images] => 0 ) [101411] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21494] => Array ( [category_id] => 21494 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) ) [entry_id] => 101411 [entry_title] => Making Progress [entry_stub] => making-progress [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/03/02/making-progress_101411/ [entry_date] => 1362265644 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-03-02 17:07:24 [entry_text] => I am frustrated that I have not been able to keep up with this blog very well lately due to some other projects I have been working on. I think it is a really good outlet for the stress this financial overhaul creates in our lives sometimes. And I think its a really good tool for keeping us accountable. Should be able to put more time into it again by the end of this month though I think, so I'll have to be content with that for now.

As for where we're at right now, do you see that side bar?! Talk about progress! Yes, the windfall has finally begun. Hubby got his bonus from work, which was about $5K after taxes got done with it. Originally, I had planned on paying off credit cards first with that, but after reading A LOT of material of financial planning recently, I decided a better use would be to pay off the car first, due to its higher interest rate. So, that one is done! And that payoff alone increases our monthly income by $198/month. Yay!

We also got our state return, a little under $500, and with that and some other surplus, I did pay off 1 of our 4 credit cards as well, though that one only increases out bottom line by about $30/month so not as exciting. But still progress! Supposedly, the IRS is going to finally start processing returns for people with mortgage interest credits within the next week. So hopefully, we will get that soon too (assuming no audit as discussed previously:
Text is http://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/02/09/death-and-taxes_100945/ and Link is
http://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/02/09/death-a...). And when we do, I plan to knock off a couple more cards, this raising our bottom line another $180/month. Wow, were we ever wasting a lot of money of this crap.

After that, it will just be the one big one left, which I'm hoping to have taken care of by the end of the summer, maybe sooner depending on how my business goes (summers tend to be slower). And then, we finally get to start the more fun part of personal finance: investing in ourselves.

Certainly we still have a lot of debt to pay off, between my student loans and our mortgage. Actually, even after paying off the the rest of the credit cards, I was disappointed to find that our net worth will still be around -$84K. Ouch. Though it is above the -$100K mark now for the first time in years. But as one financial planner I read stated, we're working really hard just to be worthless right now (ie $0 net worth).

None the less, after receiving some comments about how silly we are to not be taking advantage of the 401K matching hubby's company offers, I did a bit of research and decided in the end that, yes, we are being incredibly stupid not taking this free money and we need to get on that train ASAP, Dave Ramsey be damned. If we were being completely logical rather than emotional about it in fact, we would probably be prioritizing that even above our credit cards given that they have very low promotional interest rates. After much discussion though, we have decided we simply cannot bring ourselves to make this credit card thing go any slower. We feel spread much too thin as it is, and we need to be done with those debts and never use credit that way again. Our emotional sanity depends on it. Especially given how close we are.

If it were going to be something that was a few years away from being accomplished, like our mortgage and student loans, it might make sense to do it with more of a long view in mind. But we are literally within 3-5 months of our goal and our monthly income will increase by another $300 compared to now, once we sunset this. And that will certainly help our long term bottom line as well. That's our thinking at least. But at least we're almost there!

Anyways, very happy to be making some definite progress finally and looking forward to a 3 paycheck March this month as well! [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 0 [contains_images] => 0 ) [100947] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21491] => Array ( [category_id] => 21491 [category_name] => Food / Groceries [category_stub] => food-groceries ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) ) [entry_id] => 100947 [entry_title] => Feb Zero Dollar Budget [entry_stub] => feb-zero-dollar-budget [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/02/09/feb-zero-dollar-budget_100947/ [entry_date] => 1360431810 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-02-09 11:43:30 [entry_text] => Income:

Hubby's Job (after tax): $5271
Hubby's Hobby Income: $550*
My PT-WFH Job: $670*
Hubby's Bonus (after tax): $5104
(*subject to change, though usually for the better!)

Total Monthly Income: $11598 (umm...holy crap!)

Expenses:

Non-Fixed Expenses:
Groceries: $861
Gasoline: $188
Misc: $500
Entertainment: $250
Gifts: $10 (Valentine's Day Treat!)

Fixed Expenses:
Mortgage/Insurance: $1509
Student Loan: $619
Utilities (water/sewer, gas, electric, etc): $349
Services (phone, computer backup, garbage, cable*, etc.): $285
(*reimbursed through hubby's company)
Leftover Leaf Cleanup Bill: $150*
(*he still has not billed us and I'm not calling again. This is his last chance.)
Auto Insurance: $73
Credit Cards (minimum payments): $299
Auto Loan: $198
Early Childhood Program (spring session fee): $120

Total Expenses: $5525

Difference (to be applied towards credit cards): $6073 (woo hoo!)


Still need to do an accounting for how we did in Jan but I think I'm out of time this morning so it looks like it will have to wait again.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 2 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [100943] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) ) [entry_id] => 100943 [entry_title] => Hubby Got Promoted!!! [entry_stub] => hubby-got-promoted [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/02/09/hubby-got-promoted_100943/ [entry_date] => 1360428955 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-02-09 10:55:55 [entry_text] => The day we have been waiting for all year is finally here! Many of you pointed out previously that in the future we should probably not count so many of our eggs before they hatch so to speak. And yes, I know what you mean. I tend to always be about 5 years ahead of myself. That works well for some things in life, though not for others. This one was particularly hard because we *thought* this promotion was going to happen last year. His boss had suggested as much. Then we came to find that the company likes to get new managers feet wet for a year by giving them most of the new duties they will have, without the pay increase until the following year, after they see how it goes.

I get the logic that they don't want to end up promoting people who aren't going to be a good fit for management. But man that was an annoying year. We had thought it was already in the bag. And Hubby worked his butt off and understandably felt uncompensated for it. But no more! He broke the six figure income ceiling in fact! Well, more like scuffed it: he's getting exactly $100K now. But he also got a sweet $8000 bonus, though that'll be about $5100 once taxes get pulled out. Additionally, he gets an office and a garage parking spot. And he will now be eligible for even larger bonuses going forward. Possibly as much as 15% if he keeps "exceeding expectations".

But okay, okay, let's not go there yet. Let's let next years chickens come next year. How 'bout them eggs this year though! Wink We should be getting the bonus check next week. And once we do, CC#1 and #2 that you see on the side bar there should finally be gone! And just in time too, one of our balance txfr promotions is about to expire.

It may seem like a simple thing to send in a big check like this to a credit card that needs paying, but for us, this in and of itself is a debt victory. We were never disciplined enough to make that much headway before. We *might* have ended up paying off the smaller of the two. But we certainly wouldn't have knocked out that second one also (with some spare to throw at the third as well). So this is a big money management win for us.

Additionally, we should start seeing about $250 more each paycheck after taxes, and that will certainly help as well. Credit Card Free 2013, here we come!
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 5 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [100622] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) ) [entry_id] => 100622 [entry_title] => Parallel Lives [entry_stub] => parallel-lives [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/01/27/parallel-lives_100622/ [entry_date] => 1359316861 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-01-27 14:01:01 [entry_text] => For the most part, I like Dave Ramsey's TMM plan. We're working hard on baby step 2 (debt snowball for non-house/student loan debts) and are hoping to be on to baby step 3 (beef up the $1000 emergency fund from baby step 1) before the end of the year. This is our 4th month on this plan. Unfortunately, I feel like our accumulated debt snowball at this point could still easily fit in the palm of one hand. And just last month we had to regress to baby step 1 for a bit while we took care of some car/business income troubles we had.

And now this month yet again, one of our cars is going to keep us from being able to get traction on our debt snowball yet again. This is the 3rd month out of the last 4 that we have had car expenses over $800, and is already easily more than we paid the entire year before. WTF? We were long overdue though for 4 new tires that we were hoping to put off until next month's tax return came in. An unexpected flat (and consequent tow) made that happen this month instead though and altogether we are out another $850. The only good thing I can say about this is that we managed to trim enough excess off our spending this month that we did not have to tap in to the emergency fund to pay for that again. But I'm not sure how much extra there will be now to apply to our credit cards once again.

So we will probably continue to pay only slightly above the minimums on all our cards for yet another month. Luckily they are all on no interest promotional periods right now, but those will gradually expire this year and balance transfers cost 3-4% of the balance. In truth, it is not as bad as all that because we do have our big tax return and hubby's bonus coming our way soon, and once we get those we should be about 2/3 of the way done already. But I guess I feel like that's cheating.

I wanted this debt snowball to get started through our own budgeting successes and not just a once a year cash windfall. And I suppose one could argue that that's still true here. In a parallel life, one where we did not start our Total Money Makeover, I am certain hubby and I's straits would be much more dire right now. We would have spent a lot more money than we should have on other things and we would have ended up adding more to credit cards when the emergencies came in. We would have planned to throw and little at the credit cards with our tax return/bonus, but also prioritized a new fridge and laptop above our debt payoffs. We would have had a lot more fun going on monthly date night like we used to, but we'd also be a lot more in debt and certainly no closer to our long term financial goals.

At least that's what I like to tell myself. And its probably true. But who knows what my old self would have done for sure. I'm not a complete idiot, just a little desirous of short term rewards at the expense of long term gains. And I was a little fuzzy on the overall game plan long term. But still, on weeks like this, I wish there were a way to see my bank accounts in that parallel life next to this one, so I could know that we truly are making progress.

End of month accounting to follow soon.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [100520] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21495] => Array ( [category_id] => 21495 [category_name] => Saving Money [category_stub] => saving-money ) ) [entry_id] => 100520 [entry_title] => Pushing Too Hard [entry_stub] => pushing-too-hard [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/01/23/pushing-too-hard_100520/ [entry_date] => 1358913075 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-01-22 21:51:15 [entry_text] => Hubby has seemed down the past couple weeks. Just always tired and distant and with a shorter fuse than normal. Money things especially seemed to set him off, and it got me thinking...maybe he feels I'm pushing him too hard with this Money Makeover thing I've roped us into? Maybe he thinks that money is all I care about?

So last night I asked him whether something was wrong. And I got the usual answer about work being hard right now, but he also slipped in a single sentence about being worried he wouldn't get the promotion he should have coming next month. The one we've been looking forward to and planning for all year. The one I have financial forecast spreadsheets already built around. And I thought, hmmm, I haven't heard him say that before. Could this fear be behind the mood of late?

So I probed a bit further. And here's where I'll have to back up a bit and give you some detail on his work situation. Hubby works for a large fortune 500 company that has a policy of testing out new managers by generally giving them a small team to work with for a year and then officially promoting them (ie pay grade level raise) and expanding their team the following year if all goes well. Hubby started out last March with a team of 3 underneath him. One who turned out to be a rock star, one who's your average joe schmo, and one who is the devil incarnate.

His boss told him he was getting a lemon who was transferred to them because she had issues with her last manager already (and the one before that, and...) but he wanted him to see what he could do with her. He had no idea what was really in store. I can't even begin to go in to everything this woman did, it would just go on forever. All I will say is that she knew how to work the system of a large company, knew how to complicate things further with unverifiable health issues, and had the entire human resource department involved in her case besides themselves with dread. For hubby, this meant headache after headache as he jumped through all the hoops and appeals of the employee corrective action process, the end result being that something/someone which should have been maybe 10% the focus of his job became more like 60%. She was going to be out of his hair soon (more on that in a bit) but the months prior had taken their toll.

So hubby was concerned about his promotion status. He knew he had accomplished less in other areas than he would have without that situation. He knew his direct supervisor felt he was doing very well given the situation, but he didn't know who all needed to approve the promotion and he didn't know what criteria they would be using to evaluate that decision. And he knew how much I had been looking forward to that money. About my spreadsheets. About my assumptions. And he silently worried. Poor hubby.

It has been a long, tight few months for our budget since back child support ended in Dec, my home business floundered all Summer/Fall, the car broke down big time, and Xmas arrived. And that was all just after we had started getting our feet wet with this debt reduction stuff to begin with! It helped a lot during that time that hubby's hobby was steadily earning him some initially unexpected income as well. I kind of made it clear to him though that for Dec and Jan at least, as great as it was that he was getting paid for something he loved, we really needed the money as well. Although it had started out that way, it wasn't really optional anymore - at least not for those two months. He didn't like the fun that took out of it for him, though he understood the constraints we were under and he did what he needed to do to make that happen. With everything going on at work as well though, I think it was all just too much for him.

So, I've done my best to back off set his heart at ease. I reassured him that now that my business has picked up again, we don't need that money anymore, and if he stopped making another penny of it, it would only set us back two months in our debt plan. I also told him that whether or not his company is able to recognize his efforts this year, given the ridiculous situation he was put in, I know he did an amazing job with what he had to work with and in one more year without her in the picture, he was going to knock their socks off. And I truly believe this. My hubby is a very capable and competent man that is really good at what he does. It was just a crappy situation.

I think he felt some relief from that. I think he was happy to know I did care about more than just the money, though I think I need to work even harder in the future to make sure he knows that. It's just so much a focus of mine right now as we work through all this debt. I think he felt down right elated this morning though when he came in to find her letter or resignation in his inbox. Smile Truthfully, she was finally on a final warning and it was really only a matter of time one way or another, but that was probably the best outcome possible. Additionally, his boss mentioned at a team meeting later that day that all requests for promotions have been initially approved - and he knows he's one of them.

Its been a good day. Smile
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 6 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [100049] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21495] => Array ( [category_id] => 21495 [category_name] => Saving Money [category_stub] => saving-money ) ) [entry_id] => 100049 [entry_title] => Our Debt Snowball [entry_stub] => our-debt-snowball [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2013/01/05/our-debt-snowball_100049/ [entry_date] => 1357369587 [entry_date_mysql] => 2013-01-05 01:06:27 [entry_text] => This is it! The year we're going to conquer our credit card and car loan debt. Time to layout the plan so I can hold myself to it!

We are still only 3 months in to our Total Money Makeover. So far, getting our debt "snowball" rolling has been really slow going due to a number of unfortunate factors. Child support back-pay ended last month, and as glad as I am to finally be done with my ex-husband, it left a new $500 hole in our budget. We knew this was coming though, and could have handled it alone, but unfortunately, it overlapped with a slow quarter for me in my home business. I have been making only about 1/3 of my usual profits for this time of year. And then to make matters worse, just a month before Xmas my normally biggest contract of the year cancelled on me due to going out of business. That left us short another $1600, and was pretty much our Xmas "budget" out the window. The same week our newer car need a $1000 repair. Needless to say, its been rough.

The amazing part of all this though, (as I tried to explain to hubby tonight when he got all forlorn about how little actual credit card progress we've made so far), is that we have not dug ourselves in any deeper for once! Had we not started a budget and drastically reduced our spending in recent months, these problems would have crept up on as as they always did. With us already overspent and not knowing where we were going to come up with these extra funds. I would not have been at all surprised if we ended up putting at least $1000 or so on a credit card, even after wiping our emergency fund out. Nor would we have had any plan to restock the emergency fund before our tax return came in late Feb. But that's not how we're doing things these days.

Today, I can honestly say that we have not used a credit card in over a year, even for emergencies. That's a first. And that as of this Monday, despite Xmas being barely over, our emergency fund will be restocked with $1000. And that even after all that, if we stick to our budget, we may still have about $50 extra to put towards credit cards in Jan. That may not be much, but it's a heck of a lot better than where we would have been before all this.

But then Feb is where the real fun begins. The month we finally start getting some momentum on this debt snowball. Because due to circumstances previously discussed, we will be getting a huge tax return. Probably around $8000. And then come March hubby should be getting his annual bonus, which will probably be around $4500. And then in Apr., hubby's new promotion raise will kick in and he should start bringing home about $500 more a month (which BTW, cancels out that child support that ended. Sweet.).

In the past, we would have initially *said* we were going to put a large amount of this extra towards our credit cards. But as it got closer, our wish list would have grown and grown. We may have ended up throwing $1500 towards it, but the rest would have gotten set aside for "in case" or spent this way or that. Our goal this year though, is to send no less than $13,000 to our credit cards for the months of Feb & March combined. Hold me to this!

By the end of all this fortune we should have wiped out three of our four credit cards and will already be about 2/3 of the way to our 2013 debt goal. From that point on it will be more slow and steady progress. If we stick to it though, that last credit card should be gone by the end of June, and our car loan will follow at the end of Sept. And that will be it! Almost one year after we started to the date. And then on to baby step 3 we'll go!

If we stick to this plan, about 28% of our take home pay over the course of a year will go towards our credit card and car loan debts. Compare that with the only 7% progress we were making before. (And we were wondering why we were never getting anywhere?) A four fold increase. Not too shabby for only 3 months of restructuring. And who knows what else we'll come up with by then?

All of this, of course, is subject to change. I'll feel a lot more confident once the tax return, bonus and raise are in hand. Until then, they are only projections, not realities. (At least the fiscal cliff is done!) Also, who knows what else will happen with cars and appliances and goodness knows what else in the months ahead. I have estimated my business income a little on the low side to help offset this, but it being on the low side has been a reality for me as well lately, though one that is starting to improve. If necessary, we still have a 3 month buffer to make it to the end of 2013 credit card/car loan debt free!

All said and done, we have a plan, and now its time to get to it.

[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 10 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 0 [contains_images] => 0 ) [99801] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21491] => Array ( [category_id] => 21491 [category_name] => Food / Groceries [category_stub] => food-groceries ) [21495] => Array ( [category_id] => 21495 [category_name] => Saving Money [category_stub] => saving-money ) [21496] => Array ( [category_id] => 21496 [category_name] => Shopping [category_stub] => shopping ) ) [entry_id] => 99801 [entry_title] => Post Christmas Update [entry_stub] => post-christmas-update [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2012/12/27/post-christmas-update_99801/ [entry_date] => 1356575464 [entry_date_mysql] => 2012-12-26 20:31:04 [entry_text] => Well, we managed to get through Dec., the month I projected to be the tightest in our near future, with less financial distress than anticipated. The new side work hobby and I both had come in helped a lot. Jan. will still be a little tight, but without Xmas (and hopefully not another $1000 car repair), certainly much easier. And then come Feb we should finally be able to start making some real headway of this credit card/car loan debt. Can't wait to knock the first of those cards to the ground! Assuming we don't jump off a national fiscal cliff for more than a week or so. I predict a deal within 2 weeks from today. Who's with me?

I got a lot of great tips for cutting Christmas expenses in my blog comments. Unfortunately, the posts they referred to were old (from my old blog) and by the time I received them, we had already purchased everything but for the stockings. We did manage to keep within the budget we allotted ourselves though. And we also managed to temper costs a little by purposely asking family members who wanted gift suggestions for items that would have normally come out of the miscellaneous budget. So hubby got a not very exciting, but quite practical and needed belt, while I got sports bra and dust proof pillow cases (among other more fun things as well), and we were both pretty happy with it.

So strange to remember that as recently as 4 years ago, we were still willing to break out the credit cards for Christmas purchases this time of year, citing plans to pay it off "some time later". The idea of going further into to debt for something so non-essential is incredibly disturbing to me now. I am not entirely sure when this point of view changed for me but I am glad to realize it has. Now I just need to work more on better prioritizing the spending of money I do have as well.

As for our tapped out emergency fund...I don't want to get too ahead of myself given that the end of the month is still a few days away. I feel like this just invites disaster to come. But I *think*, that maybe, just possibly, if luck continues to shine upon us, we will be able to put about $650 back into it next week. And I feel fairly confident (but in a not at all cocky way fairies of fate!) that we will be able to put the remaining $350 back in by the end of Jan. as well. And once that's out of the way we are back to baby step 2 again! (Please forgive my paranoid ravings. There's just been too many bad turns of late.)

I'm interested to see what our grocery bill will be this week as well given it will be our first shopping trip at our superstore instead of the grocery delivery service. And given that I have put on at least 3 lbs in Xmas cookies alone over the past two weeks, perhaps we should go light on supplies this coming week anyways. Though not until after the annual family fondue dinner next week! Gosh I love the food this time of year. Smile

Hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday!
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 5 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [99748] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21491] => Array ( [category_id] => 21491 [category_name] => Food / Groceries [category_stub] => food-groceries ) [21495] => Array ( [category_id] => 21495 [category_name] => Saving Money [category_stub] => saving-money ) [21496] => Array ( [category_id] => 21496 [category_name] => Shopping [category_stub] => shopping ) ) [entry_id] => 99748 [entry_title] => Grocery Reckoning Day [entry_stub] => grocery-reckoning-day [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2012/12/23/grocery-reckoning-day_99748/ [entry_date] => 1356236562 [entry_date_mysql] => 2012-12-22 22:22:42 [entry_text] => This past week, I spent most of my free time either physically shopping for groceries (or xmas), comparison shopping for groceries, or entering data about my comparison shopping into a spread sheet. I swear, besides taking care of two sick kids and eating way too many Christmas cookies, that's ALL I did. I may have piles of boxes downstairs left to wrap for the kids, but I have grocery price data compiled for you dear readers!

I won't bore you all to tears though by listing things like the price of bananas and greek yogurt at 3 different stores. Instead, I'll just tell you the bottom line. We could reduce our weekly grocery bill by about 30% if we stop getting our groceries delivered. Thirty. Percent. That is a weekly savings of almost $50 or around $200/month. Or in other words, this single act alone would move us from the USDA's
Text is http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/FoodPlans/2012/CostofFoodJan2012.pdf and Link is
http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/FoodPlans/2012/CostofF... liberal to moderate food cost budget (a previously stated goal of mine). Sigh. And now what to do with this new knowledge?

I must admit, I knew we were paying a premium for our grocery delivery service. I figured the convenience cost was probably around 10-15%, and my husband and I both felt that with twins boys under the age of 3, that extra cost was worth it. But looking at the numbers, it is clear now that it is costing us at least double, possibly triple what we had assumed. And I hate to even think about how much more than that it was costing us before we started using our discount warehouse store for frozen and non-perishable items. Holy. Crap.

The idea of adding another hour to hour and a half of shopping into my week makes me want to gag though. I loath shopping, especially for something boring like groceries. But 30% is just too much. In fact, the amount that we could save by me spending that extra time each week is roughly equivalent to the amount I would make if I put that much extra time into my home business. So if it pays as well as what I do for a living pays anyway, how could it not be worth it?

I still, however, can not wrap my head around the idea of bringing twin toddler boys with me during these weekly expeditions. I know some people do manage this somehow. If it were the difference between me eating or not I suppose I would too...maybe. If they were aged 3 and 1, where one could be in the child seat while the other held on to the cart, I think it could work. Or if they were even just a little older, 3 instead of 2, so that I could trust them to stay next to me instead of both running in opposite directions at the same time (or just plain sitting down and refusing to move anywhere), then it might work. But right now, they no longer both fit in the seat and they do NOT stay by the cart. It takes forever to dig one of those double seater carts they never have enough of out of the cart return bins (all the while blocking traffic) and its almost impossible to push them through the snow anyways. Our discount warehouse store has huge, two child cart seats that I love, and that I do manage with the boys occasionally. But these new weekly trips at the local super store -not possible yet.

Hubby, however, after looking over the numbers, has agreed to watch them for me on the weekends while I go. Normally this is the absolute last way I would like to be spending our precious family and personal down time on the weekends. But we have almost no money allotted for family outings during this year of debt reduction anyways, and the boys right now are at the age where during the winter they are almost as often sick as not, so many weeks (like this one) we can't do anything anyways. And by this time next year when we're out of this mess, I might finally be able to trust them to stay by the cart and hold mommy's hand.

So thank you everyone for this kick in the pants I needed to come to this difficult decision. It will probably save us over $2500 this coming year, and that gets us to our debt goal all the sooner.
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 8 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 0 [contains_images] => 0 ) [99544] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21496] => Array ( [category_id] => 21496 [category_name] => Shopping [category_stub] => shopping ) ) [entry_id] => 99544 [entry_title] => Taking the Bad with the Good [entry_stub] => taking-the-bad-with-the-good [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2012/12/13/taking-the-bad-with-the-good_99544/ [entry_date] => 1355427405 [entry_date_mysql] => 2012-12-13 13:36:45 [entry_text] => (Last old entry!)

I haven't posted our month's end update yet because our financial situation this past week has been so in flux. In a recent post I talked a bit about hoping our Xmas shortfall might "magically" fix itself. And believe it or not, we actually have had a fair bit of good fortune magic come our way recently in terms of income.

Hubby's writing/website management hobby is really taking off! He's just landed a new deal that should pay a minimum of $300/month starting next week, and possibly up to $500 or more. And that's in addition to the $220 he was already making through another deal, plus some smaller bits on the side. All together that is more than enough to make up for the back pay child support that is now ending (last check tomorrow!) and also enough to bridge the income gap we were expecting for Dec/Jan.

Additionally, I've had a little bit of work come my way as well! My worse case budget scenario was assuming I would continue to have only about $140/month of income (that used to be more like $600). For at least Dec/Jan though, I think I can count on that being around $400 instead, so that's another extra $260 that also kind of feels like it just magically appeared in time for Christmas.

Were in not for the car repair that suddenly fell into our laps as well then, we would probably feel we were raking in the dough. But alas, this was no ordinary car repair. This was a $992 doosey. I'm not even sure we've paid that much for a car repair before. Usually when the repairs start getting that expensive and close together, the car is old enough that we decide its probably not worth it and time for a newer one instead. But this is hubby's car and we are still making car payments on it as it is. It's also the newer of our two vehicles and therefore not allowed to reach the end of its life first!

Anyways, that completely cleaned out the emergency fund. All but $10.17. So that's a little scary. Cause it's a good two and a half months until tax rebate season. Additionally, our discretionary account has only $4.81 in it, while even our fixed checking, which we use for things like the mortgage, has only $728.42. Not cool. Luckily, hubby gets paid tomorrow, though there are still lots more gifts to get. I should point out here that the order these fluctuations came in as was: my income increase (Oh, good, that will help a little), then the car (Oh, f**k. We're screwed again.), then hubby's income increase (Woo hoooo!!! We're saved!). It's been a long week.

We ended last month with about $260 surplus, which we would have liked to use to pay down our credit card debts given that that is the point of this whole thing. Unfortunately, as the month ended, we were projecting a $750 shortfall for Dec./Jan., so I felt I needed to hold on to that extra to help somehow bridge the gap. When my extra income came in, we had high hopes that end of Dec or at least Jan. might afford us some surplus after all. But then the car crapped out, and Dave Ramsey says our first priority now should be going back to baby step 1 to replenish the emergency fund. I'm not quite sure yet where that puts us in terms of catching up again, but it may well be Feb still. In the meantime, we will continue making our roughly $500/month in minimum payments.

More good news; some very preliminary numbers I ran in the newly released 2012 Turbotax seem to predict that we will be getting back around $8000 this year! Holy s**t! I think that's even bigger than when we got our first time home buyer's credit, though I might be wrong about that. We only claimed 4 deductions rather than 5 on hubby's W-4, so as to cancel out my estimated business taxes, but I didn't make very much compared to normal, so it ending up being a lot more withholding than we really needed. Plus, we get some kind of a $2000 education credit for my daughter starting college, since she is still a dependent on our taxes for this year. Yay!! Until the car died, we were considering buying a new fridge with some of that. But at this point, we may just muddle through and try to just get done with this ASAP. Hopefully by next Xmas we'll be on baby step 3!
[entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 4 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [99542] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21487] => Array ( [category_id] => 21487 [category_name] => Budgeting [category_stub] => budgeting ) [21488] => Array ( [category_id] => 21488 [category_name] => Credit Cards [category_stub] => credit-cards ) [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21496] => Array ( [category_id] => 21496 [category_name] => Shopping [category_stub] => shopping ) ) [entry_id] => 99542 [entry_title] => Cancelling Christmas (Except Not!) [entry_stub] => cancelling-christmas-except-not [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2012/12/13/cancelling-christmas-except-not_99542/ [entry_date] => 1355427101 [entry_date_mysql] => 2012-12-13 13:31:41 [entry_text] => (Only a couple old ones left...)

So bad news this week. That big job I usually get this time of year that has paid for the last couple Christmases will not be happening this year. Or anymore at all actually; it appears they have gone out of business. And given how much we were counting on it, that is quite a bummer.

The net effect of this is that Dec and Jan are not going to be just tight as I've mentioned, they are going to be negative in terms of cash flow. Even putting off getting the new tires we need, and even adding in the savings we scraped out of this month, I estimate we are still going to be about $500 short by the end of Jan. And given that bonuses and tax returns won't come in until the later half of Feb, the first half of that month is not going to be pretty either. Things have already felt so tight on this Total Money Makeover that it's hard for me to even picture how much more this is going to suck now.

Given all this, and in the spirit of maintaining gazelle intensity for our debts (I mentioned I hated that phrase, right?), it seems we probably should cancel Xmas this year. Or presents at least, that is. In fact, that would simple act alone would about take care of that $500 shortfall we have (so would winning that $500 million Powerball right now, but I digress). But we are not going to do that. Does this mean we are not really serious about our Total Money Makeover? I don't know, perhaps. But I just can't. It would be too sad for me and I think my husband would just lose it. We would lose our drive to do this because it just wouldn't feel worth it anymore. We're going to be smart about it and stick to our budget, but we're going to have Xmas, so tough.

So where is this $500 going to magically appear from then you ask? That's a good question. Cause we do have $1000 sitting in our emergency fund still, but we all know how Dave Ramsey feels about acting as if Xmas is an emergency. Well, one solution is that it might magically appear. Okay, okay, not magically. But so far hubby's side writing hobby has been bringing in a little more money than expected each month. I think its quite possible we could end up with up to $250 more from that then I currently have budgeted. Also, I could get another job through my business (hah!). I mean, probably not this month, but it could happen. At one time, I made over $20K/yr with this little side gig. (Will probably be lucky to hit even $6K this year.)

Other, less magical avenues include the possibility of me getting a very part-time job in the evenings. I'm looking into this and will in fact be putting in an application by the end of the week I hope. Not sure I will do it for any longer than necessary, but I feel I must do something. It just sucks because I will probably make only a quarter as much per hour for my efforts doing that then for my business. But a quarter as much still meets the gap my business is just not producing right now. I really hope that changes again eventually. Frown

If worse comes to worse though and none of those things pan out, I guess we will be tapping into the emergency fund. All I can say in our defense is that I promise we will pay it back in February. Needless to say, there will be no extra credit card/car payments for the next 3 months. Our minimum payments total to almost $500/month though, and our credit cards are all no interest promotions, so as long as we don't use those, we'll still be chipping away at it. [entry_active] => 1 [total_comments] => 2 [contest] => 0 [ever_published] => 1 [contains_images] => 0 ) [99541] => Array ( [journal_id] => 5267 [journal_url] => annereesedebtblog [author_photo] => 0 [journal_name] => Another Family Debt Blog [journal_author] => Anne Reese [journal_author_email] => annereese76@gmail.com [category_ids] => [categories] => Array ( [21489] => Array ( [category_id] => 21489 [category_name] => Debt [category_stub] => debt ) [21490] => Array ( [category_id] => 21490 [category_name] => Education [category_stub] => education ) [21493] => Array ( [category_id] => 21493 [category_name] => Personal Finance [category_stub] => personal-finance ) [21494] => Array ( [category_id] => 21494 [category_name] => Retirement [category_stub] => retirement ) ) [entry_id] => 99541 [entry_title] => My Student Loan Baggage [entry_stub] => my-student-loan-baggage [entry_url] => https://annereesedebtblog.savingadvice.com/2012/12/13/my-student-loan-baggage_99541/ [entry_date] => 1355427008 [entry_date_mysql] => 2012-12-13 13:30:08 [entry_text] => One of the few topics in Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover that really irks me is his discussion of student loan debt. I'm not saying his points are all without merit. But when he talks about credit cards, he seems to understand that the mental/emotional game is just as important, perhaps even more important, than the financial one. And so he recommends paying off your lowest balance card before your highest interest card, purely so you can see results sooner. And I totally get that. But he does not allow for the same types of emotional weakness when it comes to student loans. Consider the rant of his in this link for instance:
Text is http://www.daveramseyfan.com/dave-ramsey-rants-stupid-on-education/ and Link is
http://www.daveramseyfan.com/dave-ramsey-rants-stupid-on-edu... Ouch. That's all I can say. And since I am one of those previously professional, now stay-at-home mom's with over $100K in debt he's ranting about, it can't get much more personal than that.

When I look back over my life, there is only place I can think of that I maybe should/would have made a different decision about my education. And that was when I chose to keep pursuing a PhD in a field I wasn't sure was a good fit for me, instead of being willing to start graduate school over, or at least stop with a masters. Given that my graduate tuition was paid for, however, and that I was receiving a stipend for most of my living expenses, cutting out that leg of the journey wouldn't have changed that much. Maybe $20K less at best.

Growing up, we were poor. Like free school lunch, hand me down clothes from cousins, can't afford a school yearbook poor. I vividly remember my mom dividing one family size can of spaghettios between the 4 of my sisters and I, plus a glass of milk, for lunch. I was a small, hungry, skinny and very active kid, who hung out a lot at my friend's houses bumming snacks. My mom and dad fought constantly, and would have no matter what, but certainly a major theme of their blowouts was money. There was never enough of it, and it seemed that would never change. My mom often grew wistful in private about how, despite how smart she had been, she had dropped out of college after only a year or so at her first husband's insistence (my father) and never found her way back once the babies started coming with her second. And worse, how she could never leave her abusive second husband because she could never support the 5 of us on her own.

I'm not sure how directly it was ever stated, but I grew up with the clear impression that it was absolutely imperative that I go to college some day so that I would be able to support myself without a man. But that there would be absolutely no financial help for me to do so. This was further complicated by my step-father's abusive put downs of me compared to my sisters, and his continuous proclamations that I was never going to be good enough for anything.

Given the trouble I was often into growing up in a home like that, there were many years it seemed like he was right. There were many years I didn't bother with homework. For a period of time, I was suicidal. And I was pregnant before I was out of high school. But I harbored a deep, driving need to prove him wrong as well. And despite his insults otherwise, I was actually quite intelligent. And seriously driven to believe that there was a way out of my childhood and into the type of future I had always dreamed of. Halfway through high school, I turned over a new leaf and started to show what I was capable of academically, though my new daughter senior year complicated things a bit.

When I was applying to colleges, the last thing on my mind was the amount of money I was taking out in student loans. Certainly I qualified for every need based option possible, not to mention a few merit based ones as well. Imagining what that payback would look like 5 to 10 years down the road when I finally had a real job and was out of this mess seemed besides the point. My burning questions were: Am I really capable of this? A 4 year degree at a respectable university with a child? What if they see only what my step-dad saw? What if I am doomed to repeat the same life for my daughter as the one that was given to me?

But I got in and I did my best. My first year I did outstanding actually, but the second year my young marriage began to fall apart and afterwards, it took a couple years of struggle before my daughter and I found a new equilibrium. My last two years of undergrad I did much better for the most part, and somewhere during that time, I realized that to become anything more than a lab rat with my degree, I would need to apply for graduate school. In this sense, Dave's rant doesn't completely apply to me. I did understand that I needed to be highly marketable to pay for all this.

At that point in life, I was pretty clear that I wanted to be a working mother. I loved my daughter dearly, and was very much looking forward to being done with school and having more time eventually. But I was the kind of person who got depressed without something intellectual to pursue. Something for myself separate from my role as a mother. Perhaps partly because I had become a mother before I had gotten time to be just myself. As exhausting as it was during the semesters, school holidays were often worse because I just got so depressed with nothing to work towards.

If you had told me that I would one day choose to be a stay at home mom, I would have laughed in your face. Dave can say that young women without kids yet have no idea how they're going to feel when they do, but I think that's overly simplistic and implies we all want to stay at home deep down. I'm a stay at home mom now, and I'm still not always sure its what I want to be doing. Furthermore, I already had a child at that point. I did know what it was like. If I could have had the option to work only part time with a young family, that probably would have been my first choice. But that is not a realistic possibility in most fields, least of all mine, and I was not unrealistic. I figured with a PhD, I could make enough that my future husband could stay home if we wanted.

Graduate school was hard though. Really hard. My fears about not being good enough were constantly at an edge when surrounded by so many other brilliant people. I had developed a fuzzy, idealistic picture of my doctoral field while leisurely pursuing undergraduate research with lower expectations I had no trouble meeting. Thi