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Debt Free: Paid off $115k

June 14th, 2012 at 08:48 pm

Well folks we did it...we will make our final debt payment tomorrow. We started our debt free plan in January 2011 and had just under $115 THOUSAND in debt not including the house. We got on the Dave Ramsey plan and went to work with getting our emergency fund in place and starting our snowball. We managed to make good progress pretty quickly by paying off $20k in 3 months. Then I made a decision to sell my car (which I still miss but don't want the payment) and that further propelled us. We stayed on a really strict budget which is very hard to do with a family of 5. Lots of grumblings and eye rolls, lots of "why can't we??!!" and every other remark you can imagine from young kids. I even felt like I was dragging my husband along at several times having to remind him of our goals. And I even found myself wanting to give up at times but I immediately realized that the alternative sucks worse than what we were going through. I am really done with consumer debt, no more. I have had enough of that to last me a lifetime and I am so glad to have that monkey off my back. I am in the technology industry and it seems like jobs are easily lost these days. While I don't want to be unemployed, I don't quite fear it like I used to. Before it meant disaster bc we had tons of debt and barely any savings. Now it means cutting back and some discomfort sure, but not as scary as before. I won't be sued or harassed by anyone bc there are no bills to pay other than for my basic needs.

We sold our house last month and made a pretty decent profit given the market. That money will go towards making our final debt payments in the morning. We are leasing right now and will be saving up for our emergency fund and a down payment on our next house. We plan to relocate out of this immediate area so we made the decision to sell now, get out of debt, save and maybe even have enough to pay for HALF of our next home....that would be awesome but not something I'm hanging my hat on at this point. We will see what we can do once we get about $30k in place for our EF.

So for now I am basking in our newfound freedom....but it will be back to the drawing board soon with getting a plan in place to save for our EF. I don't plan to be quite the task master and will probably loosen the purse strings a bit but I do want to create a plan so I can estimate how long it will take us vs when we hope to move and buy again, etc. I don't really look forward to this next leg of the journey but I know it has to be done. Question for you guys, WHERE do you put an emergency fund? I've heard it needs to where you can access it but probably not TOO easy to access so you won't be filching money from it, etc. any suggestions? Money markets or some ore type of savings vehicle?

Thanks for the support! I haven't posted much but I do read these blogs regularly and have gained a ton of inspiration and ideas, etc.

Financial Planner

June 30th, 2011 at 09:37 pm

I have been kicking the tire around meeting with a financial planner for a while now. I finally decided to make an appointment for my husband and I to meet with one to have a consultation. He told us the initial consultation was free and they determine how much they charge you based on how much money you make. I asked him what I needed to bring and he said to just bring a few figures like debit, mortage, salary, etc. And I assumed he would be interested in my budget too...but that wasnt the case. I haven't been to one before so I wasn't sure what to expect...but I was a little disappointed when I left. So we were told everything that would be part of his package, which sounded good but then I was told the fee was going to be $850....which shocked me. While I didnt expect it to be free or 'cheap' necessarily but I wasn't expecting that much money!! I could see maybe $50 +/- an hour/per session or something along those lines but not a flat fee of that much money!! On top of that, we didn't even really discuss my situation at all -- which I would have thought he could have atleast done some sort of mini-assessment or SOMETHING that would make me think I would be getting a good value on my money. But it wasn't to be - it was a very short session to tell me what I would get and what it would cost and that was it. Soooooo....I'm thinking I will pass and it makes me a little sad. I was looking forward to the experience and insight. Maybe I just need to find someone else and interview a couple of people to find one I like.

any of you have experience with financial planners? and what makes a good one??

Budgeting and Debt

June 22nd, 2011 at 08:46 pm

Still plucking along with our budget spreadsheet...we started using a rigorous budget in January of this year and it has made a world of difference in our money management process. I was never really against a budget but I've never been taught to use one or even how to use one so I just assumed I was budgeting by balancing a checkbook and 'seeing' where my money was going. LOL -- that was clearly a massive failure b/c I was only 'seeing' my money fly out the window! Anyway, we are doing good and I am proud of our progress. We've been able to get serious about paying off debt and we've paid off everything except the cars and house. I am hoping to have 2 of the cars gone by next year but this topic keeps me on the fence. I am all for selling my car but my husband is not sold on the idea. He did drive the beater car for a couple of years and was sick of the 'issues' that come with a beater car. We aren't the type of people who need to have 'nice' cars but he would rather pay for them if we can, and not buy new again. Sigh....I'm more interested in getting that debt gone quicker so we continue to go back and forth on this topic.

Anyway, I am the planner and worrier of the family so this is something that throws a wrench in my budgeting plans. The fact of the matter is we could be getting our 6 month EM in place much sooner and begin saving/investing for retirement much sooner as well if the cars were gone now. I am 34 so I feel like I have to have these things firmly in place by the time I'm 35 and that just isn't going to happen until I'm closer to 36. I feel 'behind' and that is what is unsettling. He hasn't said "NO" don't sell your car but he is more concerned with us having to come up with the negative balance to pay off the loan (it is upside down) and find/buy an older car...and then deal with the older car issues that are inveitable. We would still have to get a loan to do that and while that is not ideal, we would be trading a higher car loan for a much smaller loan. I would be willing to do it - the new loan would probably be around $10-$12K (including buying a replacement car) and I could probably pay that off in a couple months.

I'm going to keep 'gently' discussing the topic -- but not nag him about it. He gets annoyed with me for worrying about our finances. He is onboard with doing the right thing with our money but he thinks I'm hyper-sensitive about the situation and impatient....which is true. I do need to relax and be patient...find more peacefulness and tranquility in my life. Stop worrying about 'stuff' and the future and whether or not we will be 'saving & investing' by the time I'm 35 LOL. These are normal things that I should be concerned about but I can't let them dominate my life and thoughts.

So I've already started making 'people edits' in my life and now I'm going to start making 'thought edits' as well. I will spend a small amount of time each day tending to our finances but I will no longer keep it on the brain and harass my husband about it regularly! :-) He loves me -- he knows it!!

And by the way -- I'm a relatively new blogger on this website and I was under the impression it was supposed to be about saving money, reducing debt, paying stuff off, etc., etc. Why are people on here talking about applying for credit cards and buying stuff using their credit cards? That is just strange to me...? Not judging -- to each his own, but it is strange given the context of this website...? agreed?

Money to burn...

June 19th, 2011 at 09:24 pm

hahah -- NOT. just kidding, there is no intentional money burning going on at my house, although sometimes it feels like it with my not-so-frugal husband and kids.

Just got back from a long weekend for the middle daughter's softball tournament. This trip required a hotel stay for 3 nights so we racked up some expenses. Fortunately we knew this was coming so we planned and budgeted for the weekend. Between gas, hotel, only 1 eat-out meal a day, we spent right at $500 for 4 people. I was actually hoping we could bring some extra money home but ended up spending the $500 which was ok. We even had a trip to the local urgent care facility on the first night -- DD took a line drive shot the wrist that she had previously broken and we were concerned she had re-broken the wrist. No break - good news. Paid $25 for the copay so there is a possibility we will get another bill in the mail - I am not 100% sure how my insurance covers the urgent care facilities (not the ER). Anyway, I have a pre-paid Health Spending Account so I can get that money back from that account...hopefully it won't be much more than the $25. No meds/shots/treatments involved - just the x-ray. The family savings & finances are on track for now so I'm hoping I don't get any suprises in the mail from this urgent care trip!!

Aside from that, I'm needing to do some personal 'editing' of some people in my life. I've known there are certain people who drive me freakin' bonkers and really trigger my anger. For some reason I've done nothing to rid myself of these people. What have I been waiting for?? These people are thoughtless, egotistical maniacs who will do anything, including hurting others, to get what they think they deserve. And if they don't get it - they belittle and attack those who do get whatever these morons are desparately after. But I don't know who is the bigger moron, me or them. Why the heck have I let this situation get to this point?? If I haven't done what I need to do by my next post, you can all take your turn in kicking me in the backside and then laughing at my face b/c I've been so spineless!! jk - please don't do that. I'm going to do the right thing and resolve this situation peacefully. I have been seriously praying for peace, calmness and tranquility for my life and this is the next natural step for me. I'm just so suprised I haven't done this sooner. Praying can definitely put things into perspective and God certainly answers those prayers too. If you haven't done it, I encourage you to give it a try.

Hope all you FATHERS had a good Father's Day. take care and take it easy :-)

My budget smokes crack...sometimes.

June 5th, 2011 at 07:52 pm

Just went through my budget (for the 100th time) b/c as I'm busy doing something during the day, I will think of tweaking this or moving that to improve cash flow & savings, etc.

Well, today I was happily rearranging stuff and I started looking at my 'savings' tab on my spreadsheet that is linked to the budget tab. Turns out I had some of my formulas messed up and I won't be saving as much as I planned for 2011!! So frustrating and disheartening....I had planned to get some major debt paid down with the money I was saving and now that will not be possible until more like early 2012.

With that annoying find today, I started thinking about ways to make some extra money to supplement our income. My husband is already got stuff lined up to bring in some extra money this summer but now I think I will need to find something to do too.

Does anyone have any ideas -- I might be able to pull off another garage sale but I'm not holding my breath on that being ultra productive. We have construction in front of our house right now and the road is torn up -- folks have to "find" the detour to get to my drive way and I'm not sure if it would be a waste of time. Anyway -- any other thoughts from anyone out there in the blogosphere?

Easy on Paper, Harder in Real Life

June 4th, 2011 at 09:18 am

I do all my budgeting on paper and it appears to look/sound/smell/taste good but in real life it is a lot harder to make it work. I suspect it is b/c I'm not allocating enough money in addition to the fact that we ALWAYS have something pop up for that month. These little suprises have thrown my debt reduction plan off track b/c I'm regularly saving LESS to put towards debt. But I have a new plan now -- a 'take no prisioners' plan that will help me say NO b/c the money will NOT be there.

Original plan - stockpile money. I thought to save up about $3700 a month in my savings account to pay off the car in Sept/Oct timeframe -- in one lump sum. The problem is b/c that money is just 'sitting there' it is easy to pilfer from it. No more my friends -- that money will now go as a 'car payment' and it will be OUT of the JMONEY household system so we can no longer take $50 here, $100 there, etc.

I will only keep the $1,000 emergency fund and that will put things in very real perspective for me. You see, drastic measures are almost always necessary for me to get with the Gosh Darn plan that I put together.

wish me luck :-)

Stopping by for some friendly advice.

May 30th, 2011 at 09:51 pm

I've not posted in a while, I've been a busy girl! Things are going ok on the finance side but we've had quite the ordeal on animal side. I'll save that post for another time.

Question for all of you -- each pay period (2 per month) I load all my expenses into an excel file and pretty much budget my entire pay period. I have my standard house expenses - phone, water, electric, house payment...etc. Then I have a savings deduction and lastly I have cash allotments for food, church, gas, lunch money and a misc fund. I do a fairly good job of sticking to the budgeted plan but I do wonder if I'm loseing budget perspective when I start adding in stuff that we need that doesn't really fall into those categories...it is usually stuff like school pictures, vet bills, a dress for this or that, or SOMETHING...something always comes up. Does that mean you are falling off your budget or just budgeting those items into your budget?? I'm not sure if this is a stupid question but I do wonder if I'm doing this right...haven't really done the budget thing before so while I think I'm going OK, I do wonder if 'adding stuff' every month is normal or am I breaking the budget?

Royalty...

April 28th, 2011 at 10:08 pm

I am super exicited to watch the wedding festivities tomorrow! I am an American who is semi-obsessed with the British Royalty, especially Diana and her boys and now Kate! Apparently tomorrow and Monday have been declared as 'bank' holidays for the UK so people are off!! Must be nice -- I am definitiely envious! While I get 'tired head' when I think of the crowds that will be swarming London, I just MIGHT be tempted to join them to try & get a glimpse of someTHING or someONE royal. Good luck to those of you who will be in the crowds but more importantly, good luck to the young couple William & Kate...may your union be blessed by God Almighty :-)

Good night everyone, I have more to say on "good news & bad news" but I'm too tired tonight. Here's a hint: the good news is my budget is working, the bad news is my budget is working. more to come on that later.

The latest installment...

April 24th, 2011 at 08:30 pm

My sweet baby kitty is still missing. I'm beginning to doubt he will return home to us :-( We did post several MISSING signs around our small town with his cute little pic...but no one has called us. I just hope someone has decided to keep him rather than something bad happening to him. He's so dang cute and sweet, I would probably keep him too.

Moving on but not forgetting....evertything else is very busy this time of year. For some reason I didn't budget for easter goodies for the kiddos....I don't know why. I don't usualy spend a lot but it just sort of slipped my mind this year. So I had to dip into other budgeted items to cover the 'stuff' I picked up for the kids. We also have a lot of other expenses to cover this time of year...we find our selves in need of lots of dresses! We are a family of mostly girls but hardly any of us dress up on a regular basis so when we need something nice, we don't have a dress or shoes. So we needed something for easter that we could also wear to the sports banquet, something for the graduation 'Tea Party' my mother-in-law is hosting for my daughter and we also need something for the actual graduation. You might be asking, can't 1 dress cover all that...no, it can't. We shopped around, found some good deals and cute stuff they could use again. I'm fine with spending the money if it is good quality and can be versitile and used for other things. So not only do we have all these dress needs, we are also trying to prepare for 2 proms this year. The oldest DD has her high school prom and her boyfriend's prom who lives in another town. So we bought her dress for her HS prom but she borrowed a dress for the boyfriend's prom. Worked out pretty good and she's happy with both dresses...and I'm happy b/c I didn't have to refinance my house LOL.

Just kidding - I don't go nuts on stuff like this. I don't go 'cheap' either so I am all about shopping around & finding good deals online. I also don't mind spending the money on these dresses b/c I have 2 other daughters who may find they need a fancy dress some day....hopefully they will still be in style.

We are also in full 'getting ready for college' mode too -- or atleast I am. The DD is lucky enough to have a scholarshop to an awesome college but obviously there will still be some expenses to cover. According to my budget, I should be able to cashflow those expenses but we went ahead & filled out the FAFSA application to see if she could qualify for any other monies. Haven't heard anything back on that yet -- anyone out there have experience with FAFSA? Just curious how it will be handled...?

I'm off to bed now - hope you guys & gals have a good week :-)

my kitty is missing :-(

April 18th, 2011 at 09:34 pm

My youngest daughter got a pair new kittens for christmas and one of them has turned up missing today. She got a boy & girl - the boy is an orange tabby and the girl has the mixed pattern of a tabby and a tortoise so they called her a tabby-tort or a torty-tab. Anyway, it is the little boy who is missing. He was here this morning and no one has seen him since then. I've checked every room of the house, closets, under the house, etc. I've looked in the bushes, trees, ditches, creeks, neighbor's bushes/trees/ditches, fields, the side of the road, no sign at all. He is the sweeter of the two, very loving, cuddly, chubby and so cute. His personality is so laid back - you just want to snuggle with him all the time. I'm actually quite heart broken he is missing but I'm not letting my daughter know! My husband is going to check the animal shelter tomorrow but I would be shocked if he turns up there -- he is so small and I doubt someone would have called the pound on him. They barely even go outside muchless wonder out of our yard which is quite large. Anyway, I hope he's ok but I can't help but fear the worst.

please come home - we miss you fat kitty :-(

On the financial side of things -- I'm feeling 'plateau-ed'. At this point we just have the cars to pay off and instead of me sending the extra cash as a payment every month, I'm putting it all in savings to pay off when I get enough saved up. Kinda takes the momentum out of my sails a little bit...not sure if this is the right thing to do or not? I really wish I hadn't been such a moron with money in my 20's.

feeling depressed today....?

April 13th, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Not my typical topic but I am 'down and out' today. While my life isn't perfect it is pretty good so I really can't put my finger on exactly what is dragging me down. I'm sure it is a combination of things and they all sort of culminated today...making me want to bury my head in the sand and stay there for a while.

My middle child is giving me stress too...she has failed her spanish class and is now ineligible for the rest of the highschool softball season. AND did I mention they are going into the playoffs next week? Softball is not the important issue of course but it is a BIG factor since my husband (her step dad) is the coach!! I've been all over her like a cheap suit over this grade and she adamantly reassured me she 'has it covered.' Not so much.

She is also in trouble for cussing at me so getting the news she has failed a class on top of this issue has compounded the situation. She sounds like an "out-of-control, her parents are losers" kid but she's not.

Anyway, little bit of a rough week and now with this latest stuff with my daughter just kinda 'hit' me today. AND, I caught the extreme couponing show on TLC, that was a little depressing to watch. So much money saved using those coupons but those ladies spend more time strategizing and planning than I'm AWAKE every day. Super impressive for them but kinda crazy...how can they really use that much stuff and store it? Some of those families had food in every room of their house. I can see going on a "shopping with coupons bonanza" every month or so but not multiple times a week. Overwhelming and I would be so nervous about stuff expiring!!

I'm off to bed now. Looking forward to tomorrow being a better day :-)

the good, bad & ugly

April 10th, 2011 at 10:00 pm

hello, i've been away for a bit but i thought I would drop a quick note.

The good: The new $0 budget thing is working out pretty good - very easy to relax and not worry about my bank account or any transactions that my husband may have made but forgot to mention. We basically don't use the debit card at all now. The bills are paid using the BoA online payment feature (the only redeeming quality BoA has to offer) and I draw out cash for everything else, putting it in the envelops for the various expenses. TOTALLY helps me to spend less for sure b/c I'm more reluctant to let go of cash...which is weird b/c the money is coming out of the same place anyway. O-well, I've just noticed I'm less inclined to spend a few dollars here & there when you SEE the CASH DWINDLE...very good system for me. Glad I found it.

The bad: The lawn mower deck broke this weekend so we will have to spend so money to get it fixed. Why you say? b/c we have over 3 acres that we have to mow...can't just let it go crazy. Not really sure how much this will cost - the husband isn't sure if he can fix it himself either so we may be out parts + labor or at the minimum, just parts. who knows.

The ugly: I'm going to try & NOT paint my toe nails this summer. For some reason, my right big toe nail HATES toe nail polish and throws a big hissy fit every year. So this year I'm going to try & lay off the toe nail polish and that leaves me with ugly, boring toes. I'm not looking forward to you...and you shouldn't either. In fact, if any of you have any suggestions on "toe friendldy" or "sensitive toe" nail polish, I would pay some good money to hear it right about now....sooooo, speak up!!

have a good week everyone!! :-)

I got to talk to Dave Ramsey today!!

March 21st, 2011 at 09:36 pm

Well....I have been struggling back and forth with a financial question and I thought I would try to see if I could get in touch with Dave Ramsey on his radio show and I DID! I don't know why but I was so shocked when they answered my call and began to ask my question, name and location, etc. So I thought maybe they would do some kind of "question validation" to see if my question was worth putting on the air...and I guess it was b/c she said she was putting me on hold and would tell me when I was up next. My heart IMMEDIATELY went into crazy mode and I got SO nervous without even uttering one word to the guy. I was on hold for about 10 mins and my mind was racing about how I should best frame my question to him and how much detail I should share, etc. I had a pretty good idea of what he would recommend but I kinda wanted that validation anyway so the idea would LEAVE my head. My question is about cashflowing college tuition for my daughter this fall. Because I'm in the middle of my debt snowball and I still have some debt to pay off, an idea popped into my head to have her set up a student loan so we could defer the payments and then pay it all off after everything else. The thought process is to put that "cashflow tuition" money towards the debt instead of pulling it out of my snowball. But I couldn't fully rationalize it either way b/c I would be paying it off either way...just at different timeframes. Dave's recommendation was to go with my current plan and cashflow the tuition NOW so I don't run into issues later. I agree with this advise and will follow it...but it is tempting to put the extra $11,000 each year towards the SNOWBALL! Hopefully you are able to follow my explanation.

Anyway, I know he can be a little harsh sometimes on how people have gone into debt and WHAT was bought....I was scared to death he was going to ask me what kind of debt I had left. And with it primarily being car debt, I was so worried he was going to SCOLD ME and point out the fact that I would be the WORST MOTHER ALIVE if I 'borrowed' money to pay for my kid's education so I could have my stupid cars. I can honestly say "had I known then (when I got the cars) what I know now" I would never have purchased new cars. BUT we do have them, we are not interested in selling, getting a loan for the payoff difference AND then buying new "used" cars. We can make our payments today comfortably so the plan is to keep them, pay them off and not buy new again. For some reason I was terrified of explaining that plan to Dave...

Hope you are all having a great week - mine is off to a good start :-)