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Archive for November, 2023

Payday High to Next Day Low

November 28th, 2023 at 05:33 pm

Our finances are always in a better place when we pay attention to them, which makes perfect sense. What doesn’t make perfect sense is that we aren’t always on top of our finances. Anyway, the one downside I always feel when we are paying strict attention to our finances is the whole “payday high to next day low”.

Every payday that comes around brings with it this high of financial success. Paying bills, paying down debt, cash stuffing envelopes, tallying totals. I love all of it! But, then the next day, there is nothing going on with our finances for a week or two, and I feel this incredible low. That low is the part of our finances that makes it hard to stay the course.

I know we are making great strides financially. We are paying down debt at a pretty good rate. We are slowly building our savings back up to (what we consider) an acceptable amount. We are adequately funding our sinking funds, we contribute 20% to our retirement, and we are making plans for our future, but after payday I’m always so sad that there is nothing I can do to better our financial situation until the next payday.

It's so hard to only feel like you are making progress a few days a month. I know that in reality, every step we take towards financial freedom is a step in the right direction, I just wish the feeling could last longer than payday.

I check my credit card and bank account balances almost daily and most days I don’t see any movement, but when I do, it’s truly the best feeling. For that moment, I feel like I will get out of debt and that I’m making great progress. Inevitably, the feeling fades and I have to wait until payday to feel it again. I can’t be the only person who feels like this, right?

Staying the course is the hardest part of debt payoff… but I am in it for the long haul, and we are making progress… even on the days it doesn’t feel like it!

November Debt Update

November 17th, 2023 at 07:16 pm

This debt update is based on our most recent credit card statement which posted on 11/16/23. I do these mid-month because our credit card closes on teh 15th. I can't wait until we are credit card debt free!

As always, we are not paying off our debt as fast as I would like, but I am happy to say that our debt decreased! It actually went down by a pretty good chunk, and by more than I was expecting this month!

Here is our current credit card debt totals:

            $10,761.64 at 19.99% interest  

Our total credit card debt stands at: $10,761.64 That’s still a lot of debt, but we have seen more progress in the last 15 months than we have seen in the last 8 years. All we can do is just keep plugging away. We dug our hole one shopping trip at a time and all we can do is pay it back one month at a time. We are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and the light is getting bigger and brighter every month.

Plus side: Our debt decreased! We have the least amount of credit card debt that we have had in several years! This is the first time our credit card debt has been below $11,000 since before we moved in 2017! That is a major plus! We paid off $1145.85 of credit card debt (after interest); that amounted to 9.6% of our current debt! And we have paid off 57% of our total debt from our high of almost $25,000! The amount of interest we pay monthly has decreased by over $127 per month!

Down side: No matter how much debt we pay off, it’s never enough. Of course, I hate that a couple hundred dollars went towards interest on our debt instead of towards the principal! We are heading into the holiday season and we always increase our debt, so I am afraid of that. I understand our progress will be slowed, but I am hoping and praying for discipline and the continued decrease of our debt!

Looking forward to: getting our credit card debt below $10,500 by our next statement and keeping it that way. It’s looking like we will actually meet our short-term goal of being under $10,500 in credit card debt by the end of the year! I’m also excited to make a new short-term goal! There is a slight chance that we might be under $10,000 on our next statement. It’s going to be close and I’m going to keep chugging along and doing the best I can! And whether or not that happens on our next statement, I’m super excited to drop a number on our debt in the near future!

I hope your debt freedom journey is smooth, uneventful, and beyond successful!

Money is a Tool

November 14th, 2023 at 04:43 pm

In our fast paced, crazy, celebrity driven world, money is seen as the be all and end all and we lose sight of the fact that money is just a tool. We can use the tool the right way or we can use the tool the wrong way. That’s completely up to us, but it’s still just a tool.

For many years, my husband and I used the tool not only the wrong way, but on the “wrong” things”. We were very irresponsible with our money and that lasted for about 20 years! (It kills me to see that and to know how much time and money we wasted!) We were busy collecting “things” we didn’t need with money we didn’t have, so when it came time for needs, we were putting them on our credit card. We often had to charge food and gas because we literally didn’t have the cash to pay for them.

We had periods of time where we were using the tool of money well and “correctly”, but those periods were few and far between and they never really lasted very long. The last time we were credit card debt free it was because we used a loan to pay it off. But we didn’t learn anything and before long were right back in the same debt boat.

This time, though, I think we’ve finally got a handle on it. And we are working to get out of debt and to change our lifestyle. We have paid off nearly 50% of our total credit card debt from when it was at its highest point of almost $25,000.

My husband always talks about using the right tool for the right job, but we were never doing that with money. We are finally using money wisely. We are paying off debt, saving for the future, and using sinking funds to keep us from falling farther into debt. I think we’ve finally figured it out!

Extra Money

November 7th, 2023 at 04:59 pm

As a public school teacher, there aren’t a ton of ways to earn extra money at my job. (I could make extra money tutoring or creating pages for Teachers Pay Teachers, but I mean actually at my job.) One way I can make a little extra money is for class coverage. If a teacher is out and we don’t get a sub, the students still have to go somewhere. We call that class coverage. Up until last year, if I covered a class for a teacher, we received pennies on the dollar of subs or of teachers at the comprehensive high schools (I teach at a continuation high school). I would cover 5 classes in a month and I would get checks of $1.52… You read that right one dollar and fifty-two cents. Last year, our union negotiated for us to get $48 per class for class coverage. (That is still well below what the teachers at the comprehensive school get, but way better than what we were getting.)

We were short subs a lot last month! I had to cover classes 9 times. At $48 per class, that works out to $432 extra before deductions. I am anticipating getting around $300 after all is said and done. All extra pay is paid out on the 10th of each month in my district so on November 10, I’m expecting about $300.

I am planning to put $100 into savings, $100 towards some expensive purchases we have coming up for our kids, and $100 towards debt. I feel like that is a good division of the money.

I am not happy with the low amount of our savings right now. However, with savings plus cash on hand and our sinking funds, we have about two months of bare bones expenses. But I do want to beef that up and I would like to have one month bare bones in our savings. (That is my mid-term financial goal.) I figure adding $100 from unexpected monies was a good use of extra money.

In the near future, we have an expensive purchase planned for each of our kids.* Neither of our kids have chosen to go the traditional college route and we are okay with that. Each kid has a big purchase for their chosen career coming up on the horizon. We are going to help each kid by paying half. Coincidentally, each purchase will be about $1200, so our half will be $600 for each. We adjusted our budgets for October, November, and December to save for these purchases. We increased the amount we will contribute to our “kids” sinking fund so that we should have the full amount we need by the end of December. The $100 I am adding from the extra monies will act as insurance.

The remaining $100 will go towards our credit card debt. The money will come at the perfect time as our payment is due by the 12th of each month. I am happy to have an extra $100 to throw at our debt. I would love to use it all towards our debt, but although that would feel better, I don’t think it would be the wisest thing to do. I think it is far wiser to designate the money as we have and stick to the plan. Otherwise, we would charge the expenses for the kids and be right back where we started.

I’m super excited for the chance to earn a little extra money. Every little bit helps and small things compound to be big things.

*Disclaimer: I know we don’t have to help our children, but we are choosing to do so. That’s why we adjusted our budget and are making sure to have the money saved as opposed to just putting it on the credit card with no plan. It is worth it to us to be in debt a little longer to give our kids some financial help. But it is not worth it to us to go deeper into debt to help them.

Frugal-ish Wins

November 3rd, 2023 at 07:29 pm

A couple months ago I decided to try to keep track of my frugal wins. I don’t consider myself particularly frugal so sometimes it’s hard for me to come up with any ideas. In this edition I have included some frugal wins and some extra money-making opportunities we’ve had.

I challenged myself to have 10 no-spend days in October. I wanted it to be a day where we didn’t buy anything, didn’t pay any bills, didn’t buy gas, nothing. And we were successful… barely! Our 10th day was Halloween, 10/31/23, but I’ll take it! I’m giving myself the same challenge for November!

I am a teacher so I dress up for Halloween every year. A couple people on my staff wanted us to do matching costumes, but I declined. I chose to reuse a costume from my costume box that I haven’t worn in years. It was new to the kids and free for me!

I was able to earn some extra money doing class coverage. Teaching is not a job where you can make a lot of extra money so I am always happy when I can make a little extra!

We attend the Charles Dickens Christmas Fair in San Francisco every year. The tickets are pretty expensive! This year, we planned ahead and were able to buy early bird tickets! We saved $50 by buying early! (Sidenote – we bought these with my BINGO winnings! Double win!)

We throw a large Christmas party open house every year. Anywhere from 60-80 people attend. We budget for it and plan all year and it is one of my favorite days of the year! On our last Costco trip, several of the foods we serve at the party were on sale. Although they weren’t on our list, we saved $62.50 by buying the items now while they were on sale as opposed to waiting 6 weeks and buying them the week of our party. (All the items are frozen, freezable, or have sell-by dates well after our party). I still have plenty to purchase but saving over $60 was worth it!

My son spent the last 6 months working on my cousin’s husband’s farm in Oregon and my husband went up there so he could make the drive home with my son. They raise animals for 4H. They had a ton of pork meat. My husband came home with 4 hams, several packages of pork chops and pork steaks, ham hocks, several pounds of sausage, and a couple pork loin roasts. All given to us for free! My husband estimates it’s close to half a pig! Our freezers are full to the gills but all with food we will eat! Between the half a cow we bought and all this pork, we won’t have to buy meat, other than chicken, for a while! What a savings!

Over time, small wins fuel big results.