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July Update

July 20th, 2011 at 07:18 pm

Is it really almost the end of July? I have no idea how that happened. The summer has been crazy with two extra kids being here during the day and I am very happy when the end of the day comes around each day.

Money wise, things have been very weird. I had planned on having a bunch of additional income this summer since I would be having the daycare kids more hours with school being out. However, their hours have been much fewer than I anticipated and it has but my income back significantly. Then we got hit with a large medical bill when the payment plan we had worked out was suddenly revoked (long story) and we were told to pay it within the next 3 months. But we were able to add it to the snowball and get it rolling again. The best news is that June was a 3 paycheck month of my husband (paid every 2 weeks) and we sent that extra paycheck directly to the credit card as planned, even though we knew we were going to be tight on cash for July & August. Instead of frittering away the money we did what we had planned and took a HUGE bite out of the credit card we are paying down. That big payment brought the balance down to half of what we started with in January! Victory! Happy dance!

So as of the end of July (six months of progress) we have paid off $8900 in debt while not accruing any more. Yippee! We are over the moon excited. We still have a long way to go but we are starting to breathe again after a very long time.

I just saved $596!

March 17th, 2011 at 09:38 am

First a little background: we decided to sell our paid for Jeep Grand Cherokee this past August in order to buy a much larger Chevy Suburban. It was mostly a business decision since I needed to be able to put 5 car seats in a vehicle and the Suburban was the only thing big enough. I do in-home daycare and needed to be able to transport the kids to/from pre-school, but couldn't justify a vehicle this big as being solely a work vehicle so it would have to double as our family vehicle. We found a great used truck but it still set us back $23k @ 5.25% and added a $443 car payment that we didn't have before.

That was 8 payments ago. Today, I noticed on our credit union's website that they are offering a special low interest rate of 3.99% for used cars; our interest rate from August was 5.25% so I called to see if we could refinance the loan to the lower rate and how much it would cost. Good news! For a 1-time fee of $85 we could "buy down" the rate keeping our term AND payments the same, so we would just be paying off the loan faster. Over the remaining payments this will save us $681 in interest and get the loan paid off in 2 fewer months! Less the $85 fee, that puts us $596 ahead and cuts 2 months off the snowball without have to put more money in each month.

February Summary

February 28th, 2011 at 08:48 am

I know it has been a while since I posted an update, but a couple of my posts got eaten by being auto logged out and I was pretty frustrated. Decided not to redo them right away.

February has been a great month for us! We paid off $999.57 worth of debt and managed to save $1000 for our baby e-fund as well as almost $500 toward future known expenses (i.e. property taxes, water bill, kids activities, etc). We managed all that and had money left in our account at the end of the pay cycle! We didn't use overdraft protection AT ALL! We stayed within our grocery budget and our eating out budget and managed to squeeze out $150 extra to pay toward the credit cards. And tomorrow we will be paying off the second of our 4 credit cards!

I can't wait to see what March is going to bring, however, I have a feeling that a bunch of our potential extra savings will be going toward putting gas in our vehicles since the gas prices jumped up $0.35/gallon this weened. Ouch! It already took about $100 to fill my truck at $3.09 a gallon. Thank goodness I only have to fill it about once a month!

Switching topics for a minute, I came across a suggestion of making your own laundry detergent to save a bunch of money. This sounds like genius but maybe a little too good to be true. Does anyone here do this? Do you use the powder or liquid version? Do you see good results with this? With a family of 4 including one toddler, this could be a SIGNIFICANT place for savings for us, to the tune of $25 per month or more! Nervous about jumping in with both feet though. We use a "scent free" version do to skin sensitivity and wonder if the homemade stuff will cause a possible reaction. Thoughts?

Starting Over and Digging out of a deep hole

January 24th, 2011 at 06:38 pm

Wow! I did not realize it had been 3 years since my last post. I am sure no one will remember me, but I am going to update you anyway. Smile So much has happened in the last 3 years that I don't quite know where to begin. Three years ago we were well on our way to being out of debt. We had a road map to freedom and then the worst happened. In April of 2008 I lost my job. Needless to say, I was completely blindsided by it. I was told on a Friday afternoon that I was being transferred to a new team and the following Friday I was told my job didn't exist anymore. That same week I found out we were pregnant with our second child, which was wonderful news but the timing was hard. The emotional fallout has been intense and I am still not back to being "fully employed". Working in a male dominated field that is closely linked to the housing market made it impossible for me to find a job while pregnant. There were very few jobs to go around and no one wanted to hire some one who would be taking leave shortly after being hired. We survived on unemployment for a while and once that ran out I decided to start watching my friends children to bring in extra money. I am still doing this, but find it extremely soul-sucking. While I enjoy being a mom, I do not enjoy being a stay-at-home-mom.

We did/do have an emergency fund, but we never touched it. Seems counter-intuitive, but we didn't think this was bad enough of an emergency. What would happen if we were already strapped and had a medical emergency? Or my DH lost his job too? THESE seemed like the worst case scenario once we were in what we once thought was our worst case. We were doing OK, but looking back on things we were using credit cards to plug the gaps in our budget which just made the gaps in our budget bigger. We are back up to $23,000 in credit card debt and unfortunately had to take on a $22,000 vehicle loan this summer. Grand total of $45,000 in debt makes me want to cry and scream because we were so close to getting off the debt roller coaster just a couple years ago.

As of this week we are back on track. We are plugging away at the debt and embracing the Dave Ramsey "baby steps". We are using YNAB to keep us on track and both my husband and I are on the same page for the first time in a very long time. We are ready to take this debt done NOW! Each little step we take feels like we have reached an enormous milestone, just by getting our debt moving in the right direction.

Been a while

January 7th, 2008 at 02:37 pm

OK, so I haven't posted since the end of August. What have I been doing all this time? I am not really sure, but I definitely wasn't posting on here. Smile I did go through a miscarriage in October and haven't felt like doing much of anything since then, but I am coming around slowly.

Debt wise we seem to be doing really well. We decided to take money out of our long term savings to pay off our truck, with the understanding that we will increase our investment amount by equal to what the car payment was each month. This way we own the truck, save the interest payments each month and have a smaller debt load. Win-win all the way around.

We have continued to make the snowball payments that we had committed to. We are down to the last 2 debts and it is all paid off (besides the mortgage). Took a big chunk out of it at the end of December with my insurance opt-out check and my DH's bonus.

The dirty little secret is that we have managed to put way too much onto the "everyday" credit card. Things that we don't have the money to pay right that second, like swim lessons, have gone on there and it just keeps snowballing in a bad way. Once the original snowball plan is done we have to attack that in a big way, but one step at a time.

I have managed to sell quite a few things on half.com so that has helped supplement things very slightly, but every little bit helps.

So, moral of the story is that we are continuing to make progress, but have a ways to go.

6 months of progress

August 9th, 2007 at 08:37 am

We started this journey out of debt just shy of six months ago in the middle of February. When we realized that we were thinking about expanding our family and realized that we couldn't afford to pay for daycare for a second child with the amount of monthly debt payments we were under.

So I started doing a little research on the internet. Found out about the "snowball method" and knew that it was something we could stick to. As you can see at the left, we have paid off over $4000 in debt and are almost done paying off the THIRD of four outstanding revolving debt accounts. The best part is we have a PLAN and (for the most part) are sticking to it. There have been more downs than ups and most of the time I feel like I am in this battle alone, but I am determined that we will get there.

As for the birthday party update (see previous post) we have decided to go with the party at the local Children's Museum. To compensate for the money we will be spending, the party will be our present to Caleb and we will just tighten our belts in a few other areas. Thank you to everyone for the great advice and helpful hints! The biggest factor for me in making this decision was the fact that it will be a LOT less stress for me and at this point in time, that is what I really need.

In other news, Scott and I have made the decision to actually use some of the money we have been socking away into our vacation fund and go away for a long weekend together without Caleb. This will be our first time that we have been away together since Caleb was born, almost 3 years ago. We have each tended to get away for separate weekend things, but one of us has always been there to stay with Caleb. He will be staying with my parents so I know he will be fine, I just hope he knows it.

Anyway, we have decided to take a trip down memory lane and go back to our university town for the first time in almost 9 years. That is where we met and we will soon be celebrating our 9th wedding anniversary. It is located in the middle of no where (Houghton, Michigan; google it and you will see what I mean) and there has been no REASON to go back to visit, but we both realized how much we miss the area. Plus, we are going in the middle of September when the fall colors should be almost at their peak (did I mention we will be as far north in Michigan as you can go without a boat?). Can't wait!

And the best part is that we have enough in the vacation fund to pay for the hotel, meals and gas (as long as we don't go crazy) so we won't be putting ourselves further into debt to do it. Now THAT is what I call progress....

Forever and then some

July 31st, 2007 at 02:57 pm

It has been a LOOOOOOOONG time since I felt like posting on here, but I am going to try and be a little more frequent. I have fallen off the debt bandwagon a wee bit but am in the process of getting back on. Don't get me wrong, we never quit paying down debt like we have planned, we just haven't been as diligent about not charging the debt back up. I updated the amount of debt paid off on the left if you want to take a look.

Looks like my fiscal year end bonus will be given out 8/11 but that will go to pay down the credit card debt that we charged back up in the past few months. This bonus was never figured into the debt paydown plan as it was intended to be used as part of the YNAB buffer....guess that is going to be delayed a while longer.

Our biggest problem right now seems to be getting a handle on cash flow. We have enough to meet all of our commitments, just not WHEN we need to meet them. I have dreams of developing a full month's buffer needed for YNAB, but that just isn't happening. I find myself dipping into and then replenishing our savings several times during the month. How do I get away from that? It is very nerve wracking and drives me crazy.

On the personal front, I have broken my Mt Dew free streak. I had gone almost 1.5 years without a Mt Dew, but one day I decided I could have just one. Well, several weeks later, I am having at least one per day and hiding the fact from my DH. Shameful and unhealthy addictive behavior, but at this point I don't care.

More about my other failures later....

Blah blah blah

May 8th, 2007 at 08:18 am

Even though the days are getting longer, my time seems to be getting shorter. Scott was gone last night to Grand Rapids so of course I didn't get anything done around the house. We didn't get home until almost 7 due to chiropractor appointments and having to stop to pick up dog food, and of course it was tough dragging Caleb into the house, but I can't leave a 2 YO outside alone while I cook dinner. So there was much screaming and yelling and scratching....and that was just me! (ba da bum) But seriously, the evening went really fast.

Now for my big confession. I arrived at work yesterday to find 2 emails saying that OD protection had been advanced for my account to the tune of $1000 total. Ugh. Guess I wasn't paying as close attention as I originally thought. There is nothing I can do about it until pay day at the end of the week, so we are just going to have to pray for a miracle between now and then. I momentarily went back to my old ways and now we are paying the price. I will be able to pay back the OD this week, but we are not going to have ANY discretionary spending for the rest of the month. Scott is leaving for New Zealand in a few days and won't be back until June, so it will be up to me to keep things under control.

Yup, 2.5 weeks as a single mom. I am not really looking forward to it, but I am not as terrified as I thought I would be either. Originally, I was planning on going along with DH to New Zealand, but I just feel uncomfortable leaving DS for that long. I just hope that I have the chance to go there in the future. Has always been a dream of mine, I just hope I didn't squander my only opportunity.

I updated the total debt numbers on the side yesterday. Our credit card payment date is much earlier in the month now, so we are all of a sudden below 5 digits on your main credit card. Yippee! And we are quickly approaching the $2000 mark for payoff. That feels great for sure.

Savings for our "buffer" (equal to one months expenses) are completely non-existent. However, I have moved all of the money in our EF from our credit union to ING, so now I have a savings account that I can use to store the money until it is full. At this pace, it could take forever to get the account full. *sigh* One day at a time, right?

A little bit of everything

April 18th, 2007 at 03:42 pm

This week has been a whirlwind. I can't believe it is already the end of Monday because it feels like I have been running non-stop. Work has been crazy and will only get crazier in the coming weeks. The weather is finally getting nicer so now I have stuff that I need to do outside in the yard and garden. One more thing that I don't have time to do.

Money wise things have been up and down. I did open an ING savings account yesterday. I will be transferring all the "short term" money that we have been saving. You know, those Freedom Account things. Did an initial transfer of $300 and will be sending about $900 more in a few days.

However, when doing my forecasting for the new week or so, I noticed we are going to be short on cash in a hurry. Even if we don't spend ANY unplanned money, we are going to be $100 in the hole come next pay day. Yikes! Oh, how I wish we already had a buffer in place! That would make this a whole lot easier. I have no idea how people can put together a buffer equal to one months expenses in just a couple of months. Oh wait...those people probably don't have to pay $900 per month in daycare expenses. So far I have not been able to put one penny into the buffer. But I have been able to pay back a lot of the money we owe ourselves due to overdraft transfers. I have paid back $700 in 2 months, which means we are only down $1500. Could be a LONG time before we are operating at full capacity again.

I have made a decision about our cell phones, now I just have to get DH to agree. We can pay the same price that we are paying now and get 300 more minutes by dropping from the national plan to the local plan. The local plan includes 45 minutes of roaming for the times when Scott is out of the calling area on business or something. With the extra minutes we should be able to keep from going over as often as we have the last few months. We have spent over $150 in EXTRA minutes. At 0.49 per minute, it really adds up fast.

The car payment processed through this afternoon, which means we have paid off $157 more on the debt. We have now paid off a total of $1442.30 since March 1st to our outstanding consumer debt. I am happy with this progress, but the total is still scary. We are currently paying $861 per month just to pay off debt. I can think of a thousand things I would rather do with that money.

A little more progress

April 12th, 2007 at 03:12 pm

DH's payday was today and every penny of it has been given a job. And every penny of my paycheck tomorrow has also been given a job. Unfortunately, most of it is going out the door right away. However, for the first time in a while, we are not spending MORE than we are earning. That is the important part. Even though that is a common sense thing, we haven't been doing that in a while which can be evidenced by the debt balance on the left.

I updated the total debt balance to reflect the money that left our account today to pay down the Slumberland and MTU CC. Pretty good payoff for only 6 weeks! Also going out tomorrow is the payment for the Jeep loan, but I won't know the principal paid on that for about 10 days. They only take paper checks and I can't check my balances online; definitely in the dark ages.

Not shown there is the money that I sent to payoff the Wells Fargo card Scott used for traveling a couple weeks ago. Now that card is locked up and won't ever be used again. It will sit dormant or we will cancel it. Haven't quite decided which yet.

My parents arrived in town last night and Caleb has been having a blast playing with them. Everyone went to bed early so I was able to get a ton of stuff done. I re-updated our budget to reflect the latest income and outgo, cleaned up the kitchen, sorted a bunch of papers and avoided shoveling snow. I also listed more than 30 books on half.com. Nothing has sold and I really don't expect much of it to go quickly, but I will have to wait and see.

I am actually considering having a rummage sale this spring to get rid of some of the crap we have been collecting. Usually I just send everything to Goodwill because I don't want the hassle, but I might be able to make a little bit of money that can help fill up our YNAB buffer account. Can't get rid of all the dang baby stuff yet, but when we can that will be the mother lode.

Debt Tracker, March 2007

April 2nd, 2007 at 10:33 am

Here are the totals for the month of March, 2007:

Current balance as of 3/31/07:
MTU Master Card = $10300
American Furniture = $385
Slumberland = $581
Circuit City = $805
Jeep loan = $9234
2nd Mortgage = $13050

Total = $34355

$35104-$34355 = $749 paid off since 3/1/07!

WOW! It didn't feel like we were making any progress this past month, but I guess we did. Also, what doesn't show up there is that I have scheduled the payment to PAY OFF the American Furniture loan IN FULL tomorrow.

If all goes well, we will have paid off another $1100 by the end of April (inc. American loan payoff). If I could do cartwheels, I would.

Debt Tracker

March 22nd, 2007 at 02:11 pm

I am hoping to list my debt payments and totals periodically so that I can visually see the progress I am making. Here goes:

Original Balance as of 3/01/07:
UWCU CC = $10285
American Furniture = $648
Slumberland = $631
Circuit City = $1055
Jeep Loan = $9389
2nd Mortgage = $13162

Total = $35104

Current balance as of 3/22/07:
UWCU CC = $10285
American Furniture = $516
Slumberland = $581
Circuit City = $855
Jeep loan = $9234
2nd Mortgage = $13095

Total = $34566

$35104-$34566 = $538 paid off!

Also, since this is an extra paycheck month for us, I hope to be able to payoff the American Furniture debt completely next week and then pay our savings back for what we had to "borrow" due to shortages that last few months. Of course, that was the whole reason I started getting serious about getting out of debt. Being short every month was not my idea of a good thing.

Off and running...

March 21st, 2007 at 11:23 am

I have been blogging for my family for a little while, but I keep finding that what I have talking about recently is our personal finances. I have recently gotten my DH and I on the path to debt freedom and it is nice to be able to hash things out in print, but I am going to try to focus on that here and my family on the other blog. At least for now. Smile

Where to start. I guess I will start with the present and move backwards a little from there. Currently we have the following debt short term/revolving debt:

* Credit card: $10300
* Truck loan: $ 9600
* Furniture loans: $2096
* Second mortgage: $13100

For a grand total of more than $35,000 in debt. That is the number scared the crap out of me. We also have a first mortgage of $189,000, but for purposes of this blog I am only going to focus on the debts listed above. These are the scariest to look at and the easiest to work on.

The good news is that we have been working on putting money into an investment account for the last 9 years. We put the money in automatically each month and then promptly forgot about it. As of the end of the year, that fund had $26,000 in it. Wow! So we are skipping the emergency fund step that most gurus advise because we already have it.

My plan:
Step 1) I am working at implementing the Debt Snowball along with using the You Need A Budget (YNAB) program. YNAB works best when you have a buffer equal to 1 months expenses in your checking account so that you are using last months money to pay this months bills. That way we won't be living paycheck to paycheck anymore. Obviously, we aren't anywhere close to that, but I am going to work towards that while using the debt snowball, just not paying anything EXTRA to the snowball until the buffer is in place.

Step 2) Once buffer is funded, aggressively paydown debt with snowball method. Maintain this to get out of revolving debt in 12 months, car debt in 24 months and second mortgage in 33 months.

Step 3) Make maximum contributions to IRAs and other retirement funds, fully fund savings for planned future purchases (i.e. car, etc) then pay rest to first mortgage.

Step 4) Start breathing easier.

I know we are not as bad off as some, but as the daughter of 2 accountants, I am ashamed of where we have landed. We have been doing some things right, but we have also been doing a lot of things wrong. That stops right now. We are done using credit cards forever (with the exception of DH's travel for work) and once we have worked to pay off the debt we are not going back.

A word of caution: I tend to be long winded. Read this blog with caution! Smile