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Archive for February, 2024

Financial Growth

February 27th, 2024 at 07:13 pm

I have been blogging on here since 2020, but I blogged on a google site for a few years before that and I kept a financial journal even longer than that. Recently, I was cleaning up some documents in my financial folder and I found my old e-journal. It was from 2015 and even though I don’t feel like we’ve had any growth in our financial situation, I can now see that we have.

These are some snippets from where we stood about 9 years ago:

We haven’t had enough money for gas or food and to pay our bills and right now our emergency fund is sitting at $6.  Plus, going into the holiday season is very expensive and we are struggling to pay for it.

We currently have no emergency fund and we need to build it back up. Plus, with borrowing the kids’ money, we don’t even have that small cushion to fall back on. I’m very sad I had to borrow their money again, but I am going to work quickly to pay it back.

We have $450 in savings, $300 in our Safeamerica account, and another $400 in cash scattered around our house. (With no money in sinking funds.)

 Right now we are in the “stealing from Peter to pay Paul” cycle and I hate it.


This is what I owe: (2015)

                            Bank of America: $944.70 ($4600 bill paid 2/10/14)

                            VFCU credit card: $7067.10

                            VFCU car loan: $842.59

This is how much we have:

                            Checking: $75.20

                            Savings: $3.83

                            Savings (Jaron): $3.95

                            Savings (Presley): $2.55

Not only did we have credit card debt (less than now, but we are working on it), but we had no money in savings, no cash savings at home, and were borrowing money from our kids’ bank accounts. To see that we only had $3.83 in our savings account is scary, especially because we had no cash on hand to act as a cushion.

Although we are not in a great financial situation today, we are better off than 9 years ago. We have $1500 (and growing) in cash in the bank plus an additional $1400 in a sinking fund savings account. We don’t owe our kids any money. They each have over $7000 in their accounts.  We have around $5500 (one month’s BARE BONES expenses) in cash on hand that we can access at will. We also have an additional $4500 earmarked for a future car purchase, which we will be using sooner rather than later, now. Any way you slice it, we are in a much better position.

We are not out of the woods yet, as far as our finances go, but we do have money in the bank, money in hand, and have steadily been decreasing our credit card debt. More importantly, I am not in a constant state of anxiety about paying our bills or our lack of security. (Admittedly, I am not happy with the low number in out savings, but we are working to increase it this year.)


Counting Chickens

February 20th, 2024 at 05:13 pm

Lately I’ve been counting my chickens before they’re hatched… which is never a good thing. I’m so sick of this monkey called debt on my back and I’m working out all the scenarios I can to pay it off! We have some money coming in from various places over the next few months and if it all comes in as expected and when expected, we could possibly be credit card debt free by the end of May. But that is only if all the stars align.

Teachers in my district have not been working under a contract for salary since August. Our union reached a tentative agreement last week for a 6.25% raise (retroactive to July 1st) and 2% one-time monies. With that check I would net between $4500 - $5000 after retirement contributions and taxes.

I am also the soccer coach at my school. When I get paid after the season, I will net $1750, again after retirement contributions and taxes.

March is a three-paycheck month for my husband, one of two every year. We will put a chunk of the extra paycheck into savings and fund our gas and food envelopes like normal. However, retirement and benefits are not taken out of his third paycheck, so we should have an extra $1100 to put towards debt in March.

Lastly, I am selling one of my rings to my daughter’s boyfriend to be used as an engagement ring. (We gave him a good deal, but since the ring is already paid for, it’s all profit for us.) That will be another $1000 to go towards our credit card debt.

The extra monies alone add up to $8350! But, again, as of right now, these are all speculative funds, they haven’t hit our bank account yet.

All of these “extras” are in addition to our normal debt payments which range anywhere from $750 – 1000 a month depending on what expenses we have each month.

I don’t know if everything will pan out as planned but sometimes, it’s good to dream!

February Debt Update

February 16th, 2024 at 05:55 pm

This debt update is based on our most recent credit card statement which posted on 2/16/24. I do this mid-month because our credit card closes on the 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 more than I was expecting this month because we have had some unexpected expenses pop up!

Here is our current credit card debt total:

            $10,000.30 at 19.99% interest  

Our total credit card debt stands at: $10,000.30 That’s still a lot of debt, but we have seen more progress in the last 18 months than we have seen in the last 8 years. All we can do is just keep plugging away. 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 $10,000 since before we moved in 2017! (Although it’s not technically, I’m counting it because when our car was stolen, they drove over a bridge and that triggered a $25 charge on our FastTrack. Since the charge wasn’t ours, and will be reimbursed, I am counting it as our debt is below $10,000, because without that charge, we would have been under $10,000!) That is a major plus! We paid off $760.66 of credit card debt (after interest); that amounts to 7% of our current debt! And we have paid off 60% of our total debt from our high of almost $25,000! The amount of interest we pay monthly has decreased by over $150 per month from its peak! I’m super happy that I received an expected paycheck at an unexpected time to push us past the $10,000 threshold!

Down side: No matter how much debt we pay off, it’s never enough. I’m a little bitter about the stolen car triggering an automatic purchase so we aren’t technically under $10,000, but all I can do is roll with it! Of course, I hate that nearly two hundred dollars went towards interest on our debt instead of towards the principal! We still have a ways to go before we are out of credit card debt!

Looking forward to: continued progress on our debt. I’m excited for March because it has an extra payday for my husband (which won’t actually affect our debt until our April statement, but I’m still excited for it).

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

Murphy... Again. And in a Big Way!

February 14th, 2024 at 06:16 pm

One step forward, two steps back! That’s how I feel right now. We are making good progress on out debt. We are budgeting and saving money in our sinking funds. But life keeps throwing us curve balls!

Last night my husband’s car was stolen. My son had to drive over an hour to work so they traded cars that day. It was stolen off the street in broad daylight. There is video surveillance of it being stolen, but all we could do was file a police report. (It could have been worse. I’m so glad it’s just a stolen car and wasn’t a carjacking or worse! And I’m so thankful that my son is safe!)

It was our “reliable” car and our car that got the best gas mileage. It was a 2015 Hyundai Sonata. We have two remaining vehicles, a 1990 Chevy Silverado and a 2001 Ford Ranger. (Full disclosure, my mom lives with us and graciously allows us to use her 2017 Subaru Forrester which is also very reliable and gets good gas mileage but isn’t OURS.)

Luckily, we have full coverage on that vehicle so we will call insurance and go from there. We should get around $7000 from insurance. We have started a new car fund, but we haven’t saved as much as we would like because we are having to buy a new vehicle earlier than expected.

We will have $12,000 to work with. We haven’t decided if we will buy the best car we can for $12,000 or buy new and have a car payment. (I know the math and I’m not asking for suggestions, just sharing where we are.)

We tend to prefer new cars but then we drive them until they die (or get stolen in this case). We have purchased 4 new cars in our 23 years together: 2001 Honda Civic (drove for 9 years when it was totaled in a hit and run accident), 2003 Santa Fe (daily driver for 12 years (7 with me, 5 with my husband) and kept as our “Home Depot” car for another 4 years), 2010 Chevy Traverse (driven for 12 years and 230,000 miles until the repairs started to become too frequent and costly), and our 2015 Hyundai Sonata (driven for 9 years and 170,000 until it was stolen).

Last night and today have been rough, but I am a glass half-full person so I am looking at the bright side. Everybody is safe, no one was hurt, and my husband’s work is very understanding and working remotely indefinitely won’t be a problem.

It just sucks but it could always be worse. Whine over.

Extra Paycheck

February 13th, 2024 at 03:52 pm

I AM SO EXCITED!!! I got an expected paycheck at a very UNexpected time.

I was the assistant flag football coach at my school this year. It is a paid position (that I did NOT want, but 3 different people asked me to take the job… long story involving lots of work drama!). I knew I was going to be paid as a coach, but I thought the check would come in summer. I was, and still am, the head soccer coach at my school and I was paid in July last year. Anyway, unexpectedly, this paycheck came on 2/9.

After taxes, I received just over $900. I put one third, $300 into savings and the remaining $600+ went towards our credit card debt.

Our credit card cycle closes on the 14th and I think and am hoping, this extra payment will push me past the $10,000 threshold. It has been so hard to get below $10,000 and we are so close.  

I was tempted to put the entire amount towards our debt, but I am happier splitting it up and adding some towards our savings. Security is a big deal to me, and I am trying to grow our savings while at the same time paying down debt. We have two main goals right now: decrease debt and increase savings. Splitting this extra paycheck helps us to address both of them.

I’m so thankful this extra paycheck came when it did! I will know in a couple of days if it was enough to bring us below $10,000 in credit card debt! But even if it isn't, it's another step in the right direction!

Wish us luck!

Financial Binder

February 9th, 2024 at 06:14 pm

With everything, I find the more organized I am, the less stressed I am. My finances are no exception. So, I decided to make a “financial binder”. The nerdy, Type A person in me is LOVING it! In general, I am pretty organized. I’ve talked about the fact that even though we are in debt, we have never missed or been late on a bill. I’m a credit card company’s dream customer. I always pay (at least) the minimum payment and I always pay it on time.

I created a binder to keep everything together and in order. I scoured Pinterest to find different budget forms I would need then I created them to my own preferences. By making it myself, as opposed to buying someone else’s premade Budget Binder, I was able to use only the forms I wanted and make them in a way that would be most beneficial to me! I picked fonts I liked. I set the forms up the way I liked. It’s all mine… and I love it!

I decided on 5 different dividers for my financial binder: Budgeting, Debt, Savings, Goal Setting, and Planning. I used a regular 2 inch binder and colorful dividers. Many of the pages are in plastic sleeves, but the pages that are accessed and written on regularly are just hole-punched and put in the binder. In the front of the binder, I have a pencil pouch that holds pens, pencils, highlighters, and post-it notes.

My “Budgeting” divider holds:

a list of our monthly recurring expenses with a check-off sheet for each month

a budget categories list that lists everything we budget for in a month

blank calendars for each month of the year to be used as bill payment calendars

completed monthly budget sheets for each month of the year (I only print out 3 months at a time to leave a little room for change. However, our wages are very predictable.)

My “Debt” divider holds:

a debt worksheet where all my debts (including my mortgage) are listed

debt payoff charts where I fill in squares with the amount of debt paid off each month (each one is $2000 of debt erased!)

My “Savings” divider holds:

sinking fund trackers for each of my sinking funds

savings charts (I currently have two savings goals)

increase our emergency fund savings to $3000

repay $2000 to a savings account we have set aside for possibly moving

no spend challenge calendars to track how many no spend days I have a month

My “Goal Setting” divider holds:

a monthly goal check-in where I put my goals for the month (be they personal or financial) and can track my progress

an immediate goal (to be accomplished in 30 days or less)

a short-term goal (to be accomplished in 3-6 months)

a long-term goal (to be accomplished in 1-2 years)

My “Planning” divider holds:

bank account information

credit card information

a charitable donations tracker

a Christmas list

It’s such a little thing, but it actually makes me excited to pay bills and track my spending and saving. It’s fun coloring in the squares on my savings chart and my debt pay-off tracker. And anything that makes paying bills fun is a win in my book!


I Need a New Cell Phone

February 6th, 2024 at 06:27 pm

I need a new cell phone. My phone is an Apple 10. I am trying so hard to limp my cell phone along until we can get out of credit card debt. Some days, my phone works fine and there are no issues. Other days, it freezes for minutes at a time and no matter how many times I click on an app, nothing happens.

I don’t upgrade my phones very often. I try to use them until they die. The phone before my 10 was an iphone 4. I don’t’ want to use my (already small) emergency fund for a phone. I also don’t want to slow our debt payoff to fund a phone. Lastly, I DON’T want to go into more debt by trading in my phone and then adding the payment to my phone bill for two years.

When my phone is working well, I think “I might be able to sneak by with this phone for another 12-18 months. But when my phone is glitching, I think I can’t get by with another 12-18 minutes! In all honestly, my phone works way more often than it doesn’t, but it does glitch a couple of times a week. The glitches are usually less than 5 minutes long, but they are still so frustrating!

Lately, however, I haven’t been getting text or call notifications. My phone doesn’t go off. I see the notification on the screen afterwards, but I am missing texts and calls. This is proving to be more problematic than an app not opening.

In my opinion, phones are so expensive. I don’t understand people who upgrade every time a new phone is released. My brother-in-law does that. EVERY TIME.  He upgrades for himself and his two teenaged children. I just don’t understand it. It is so expensive to get a new phone, plus you have to learn all the new nuances and work out all the kinks. The hassle and cost just aren’t worth it to me.

I am so hoping I can make this phone work for another year or so. Once our credit card debt is paid off, we will be able to buy me a new phone outright within a month or two. Then we will be able to get serious about saving. But… one step at a time. First we just need to keep plugging away at our debt!