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Credit Card Debt

June 17th, 2022 at 03:31 pm

 

Two months ago, our credit card debt was the highest it has ever been! In fact, we were over $1100 over our credit limit! We had NEVER gone over our credit limit before. We'd gotten close to it, but never over, and certainly not by more than $1000. 

It was a much needed wake up call for us. Since then, we have topped off our emergency fund savings account (2 months of bare bones expenses), rejigged our budget to send more money to debt, and decreased our debt by $3278.26. I don't know what took us so long!

In our first month of serious debt payoff, we decreased our debt by $640.55, after interest, and were still over our credit limit. But it was a decrease. The first time our debt had decreased in months. In our second month of serious debt payoff, we decreased our debt by $2637.71. (This was an abnormal, but exceptional month!) We are firmly below our credit limit and still making progress.

Our goal is to decrease our debt by $1000, after interest, every month. In order to do that, we have to send at least $1300 towards our credit card debt every month and account for any charges we may make on our credit card in our budget. I think this is doable. It will just take planning and discipline. We have to pay attention to our "extra" expenses every month and actually account for them in our budget. It would be better to send less money towards debt and pay cash for all of our expenses than to forget and charge expenses on the credit card.

Every month has irregular expenses; those expenses that crop up once in while but aren't monthly deals. We need to pay attention to what they will be each month and make sure we set aside money for them in our budget spread sheet.

I’m very happy to be under our credit limit again and to be making some progress on our debt. $3200 is a great decrease and a great start! Now we just need to keep it going!

 

 

Starbucks Habit

June 8th, 2022 at 06:30 pm

One good thing that came out of the pandemic for me was kicking the Starbucks habit.

Before the pandemic, I only had Starbucks as a treat.

At least that is what I told myself and anybody else who asked.

However, after 2+ years of Covid, I see that in reality, Starbucks had become part of my routine. I went every Monday and every Friday and the occasional weekend trip when we would walk there or head there on our way out of town somewhere.

I routinely added $100 a month to my Starbucks gift card. That wasn't a treat. I can also see now that I didn't really appreciate the times I did go to Starbucks because it was no longer "special".

I don't drink cofee. I order chai tea lattes, which they make from a syrup that you can add milk to. They sell the same syrup at the grocery store. With the onset of the pandemic, I started buying it from the grocery store and making my own at home. For LESS than the price of one drink at Starbucks, I was able to make 4 for myself at home.

Now I rarely add money to my Starbucks card and I really only do have Starbucks as a treat. I can't even remember the last time I had to add my own money to my card. I get a small gift card here or there and we add those to the balance, so I don't hardly ever have to spend my own money.

This has saved me money and time. I no longer need to detour on my way to work or anywhere else, not to mention my drink was rarely ready when the app said it would be so I had to wait around for it. Now I have chai tea lattes whenever I want for a fraction of the cost I was paying.

I'm so glad I am not spending my money on Starbucks anymore! (That's not so say it was a waste, but the value for money was no longer there for me. If you value spending money that way, it's just another example of personal finance being personal!)

May was Expensive

June 7th, 2022 at 02:43 pm

May is always a very expensive month for us and this year was no exception.

In a normal year, we have two birthdays, mother's day, an anniversary, and the end of the school year. This year we added an out-of-state wedding that included an out-of-state bridal shower the week before, and a high school graduation.

This month showed me more than anything else how we have been living outside of our means! Even with all the added expenses, we were able to decrease our debt and cash flow all of our extra expenses, which were many!

Our billing cycle on our credit card doesn't close until closer to mid-month, but so far we have decreased our debt by $1400 (before interest) this month and still have one paycheck left to go that has money budgeted towards debt. In addition to that, we cash flowed two hotel stays ($520) and food for 70 people and decorations for The Son's graduation party ($500). To be fair, The Husband did have some overtime on his last paycheck that helped us from having to dip into savings, but it was only about $300.

The Husband's next paycheck will actually have a lot of overtime. Almost all of it is allocated to go towards debt. I should be getting a small "extra services" paycheck in a few days. So far, the money is unallocated because I have no idea how much it will be. We are thinking of splitting it 50/50 between debt and savings.

I am very excited we were able to pay all of our bills, cash flow all our extra expenses, and decrease our debt. Hopefully, we can keep the momentum going!

Baby Steps

May 19th, 2022 at 06:23 pm

I’m still not quite ready to share our debt total, but I am ready to talk about it.

We only have one credit card. (For pretty obvious reasons as we aren’t responsible with credit.) For the first time in our adult lives, however, we have exceeded our credit limit. And we have a very high credit limit!

Our April statement was $1105.68 over our credit limit. Sad to say, I think it might just have been the kick in the pants we needed. We are not proud of it, but it shocked us in a way nothing else has! By our May statement, we were still $465.13 over our limit. Still over, but after interest, we paid off $640.55. We have continued to make progress. With the payments we have already made this month, we are below our credit limit. We aren’t below it by much, but we are making progress. Currently, we are $124.88 under our credit limit.

Throughout this billing cycle, we have 3 more opportunities to put money towards our debt. We have budgeted another $1784 to go towards our debt by the time this cycle ends. (May is a very expensive month for us! We have 2 birthdays, an anniversary, a high school graduation, and an out-of-town wedding.)

I’m just happy we are back under our credit limit. And hoping that we will continue to make decent progress each month.

YAY!!!

May 13th, 2022 at 05:02 pm

The Husband’s payday is today, and he had a couple of unexpected hours of overtime on his check! I also received a paycheck from my childcare work at my church to the tune of $50.

In our original budget, we were only able to send $140 of this paycheck towards our credit card debt, but with the overtime we were able to send $400 plus my little paycheck of $50, for a total of $450 towards our debt!

I know it is not much, but every little bit helps! And if we were able to send an extra $310 every month, we would pay our debt off a full 3 months sooner. I don’t know how often we will be able to find an extra $300+ in our budget to put towards our credit card, but I am going to celebrate EVERY small win we have! We need all the motivation we can get as this is going to be a long haul!

Debt

May 11th, 2022 at 05:21 pm

Our debt is ENOURMOUS! We currently have the highest credit card debt we have EVER had! I’m too insecure to share the amount right now, but I am working up the courage to do so. Having said that, we think we will be able to send between $1100 - $1500 per month towards our credit card. (Varying amounts depending on what other expenses we have each month).

Our billing cycle runs “funny”. We are thinking about asking them to change our closing date and billing cycle but want to pay some down before we do that.

During our last billing cycle, we sent $1270 to our credit card debt. Not too bad, and more than we usually send. If we have to charge on the account for any reason, that is factored into our budget, so this $1270 is what went towards our debt. (Of course, not all of it because we have to pay stupid tax…. Interest.)

During our next billing cycle, we have $1924 earmarked to go towards our debt. I am super happy with this number! This is not a normal month and I’m hoping we are able to meet it! Two things in particular helped bump this month up. First, we have a pause on our daughter’s dance tuition so I’m anticipating not having to pay tuition this month. Secondly, I should receive my “extra pay” paycheck and it should have 2 months of extra pay. I’m anticipating about $400 of extra take home pay.

If we can send north of $1400 per month, I feel like we will start to see some progress. I know it will be slow at first and a lot of that money will get eaten up by interest, especially at the beginning, but we will start to see results.

Because we are irresponsible with credit cards, we have switched to mainly using our debit cards when needed, which as we all know is money we actually have!  We really like to use cash envelopes but fell off the wagon with Covid and banks being closed. We are trying to get back to cash. Last week I went to the bank with my withdrawal slip and my post-it note with my denominations breakdown and the teller actually asked me what I was doing? (She was nice about it, just curious why I wanted so many $20’s, $10’s, and $5’s.)

I always try to remind myself; we didn’t dig our hole in a day, we won’t fill it in a day. We are trying to make small changes that will add up to big rewards later.

Playing Catch Up

May 4th, 2022 at 06:00 pm

As I talked about in my last post, the last several weeks were expensive! Now we are in recovery mode.

In the last three weeks, we went through a good chunk of our emergency fund, just upwards of $3000. Now, we are only $400 away from filling it back up. Once our emergency fund is back up to our comfort level, I will stop putting money in savings and send everything to our credit card debt.

We have been very lucky to be able to refill our EF so quickly! First, April was a three paycheck month for The Husband. Originally the bulk of that extra paycheck was slated to go towards debt, but we diverted the extra money to help refill our EF.

Second, we also had some regularly schedule deposits that totaled over $1000. (Going forward, those will all go towards our credit card debt unless we need to top off our EF due to use.) It’s super important to us to have a healthy savings account. We really believe in the Dave Ramsey method, but with all our responsibilities, we don’t think $1000 is enough, so we always want more in savings.

I also make small amounts helping with childcare at my work. I received a $100 check that went right into savings. (Once our EF is funded to our satisfaction, that extra money will become my “fun” money, but it is more important to me to have a funded EF.)

Lastly, The Daughter injured herself dancing so she is not currently practicing and hasn’t been for a few weeks. Due to that, the director of her studio paused her tuition. It was a total shock to us and we didn’t know it was happening. That was another $400 we were able to put back into our emergency fund.

I don’t anticipate much extra money coming in during the month, so I don’t think we will reach our EF goal until the end of May. Then, we will start aggressively sending money towards our debt.

Bleeding Money

April 25th, 2022 at 08:00 pm

Sorry in advance for the super long post!

This last week was EXPENSIVE! We were on spring break, and I feel like we were hemorrhaging money!

During spring break, our whole family had eye appointments. The Kids had never been to see the eye doctor prior to this appointment and had only had their vision checked at their yearly physical. I haven’t had my eyes checked since before our daughter was born about 18 years ago and The Husband went about 4 years ago. 3 out of the 4 of us are getting glasses. The Daughter is getting glasses to see far. She has been having a difficult time seeing the board at school, which is actually what prompted us to go to the optometrist. The Husband is getting a pair of sunglasses and a pair of glasses to use when he is on the computer. I need glasses to see far. At least at the beginning, I am only going to wear them for driving (especially at night). Our son has perfect vision and is very proud to not need glasses! We do have vision insurance and are, in fact, double covered, but we still had to pay about $415 out of pocket for the 4 pairs of glasses.

We had to buy 4 new bathroom faucets as 3 out of 4 were leaking. (Technically, we could have only bought 3 but we have a double vanity in both bathrooms, and I did want the faucets to match.) In our master bath, my faucet started leaking just a few months after we moved in, on the cold side only. The Husband turned off water to the cold and I just used the hot side for years. But about 6 months ago, that started leaking too. Since then, we have just used one faucet. However, unfortunately, about 4 weeks ago, The Husband’s faucet started leaking too. In our kids’ bathroom, our daughter’s faucet has a leak when she turns it on. Some seal must be broken. That was $400 for four new faucets. (2 at $110 and 2 at $80). We chose faucets that were a little over the middle of the road price. We could have chosen cheaper faucets but figured if we were going to spend the money, we might as well get something we liked and that would (hopefully) last. Luckily, The Husband is very handy and is able to install them all himself!

Yesterday, The Husband went to get a new battery, air filter, and spark plugs for one of our cars. That was another $200. It’s money well spent, as we do try to maintain our cars well, but still another expense! Again, The Husband will be able to do all the work. He already changed the battery and air filter and will get to the spark plugs next weekend (we think). Our son is the primary driver of this car and said he can already tell a difference in how the car starts!

Tonight, The Husband and Son are heading to America’s Tires for new tires for our truck… to the tune of $600. We have a 1960 Chevy Truck. The Husband has been working on it nights and weekends for the last couple of months to get it running again (new radiator, cleaned out gas tank, new hoses, new battery, rewired the electrical, new seatbelts, etc.). It’s this close to being drivable, but it needs new tires. We have had this truck since before we were married, for almost 25 years, so I am happy he is working on it and getting it running! I’m just not happy about the timing of it all.

Our last super pricey expense is not a necessity, but it is worth it to us! Our niece is getting married next month out of state, and we are traveling to the wedding. We booked our hotel today and the final price was $468 for three nights, including taxes and fees. We are staying in a 2 queen-bed room. Our daughter is in the wedding, so she is staying at the house of the bride. Staying in the hotel will be my husband and me, our son, and our daughter’s boyfriend. Gas is already budgeted for. Food shouldn’t be too expensive because we will be eating many meals with the wedding party. We will spend the day before the wedding at my brother’s house (his daughter is getting married) as it’s my daughter’s birthday. We will have breakfast and lunch at their home. Dinner on Friday will be at the rehearsal dinner. Saturday is the wedding. We will be on our own for breakfast and then the wedding will be a late lunch/early dinner. And then we will have to worry about Sunday breakfast before we head home. Because most of the weekend will be taken up with wedding related events, other than the hotel room, it shouldn’t be too expensive.

I pray that our expenses level out and we don’t have to keep shelling out so much money! Our savings have taken a huge hit this week and we need to build it back up a little before we can start tackling our debt again!

Washer/Dryer Fund?

March 9th, 2022 at 05:33 pm

I read another blog that has an idea I love… I would like to start doing it too, but I don’t actually know how to start.

Every time she does a load of laundry, she adds $1.50 into a fund for a new washer/dryer. I’m not sure if she has a separate savings account for it or if she just keeps it on a spreadsheet, but I think it’s something worth considering.

For myself, I feel like I would need a separate account for it because I feel like it would be too easy to spend the money if I just kept it in my general savings account. Another idea would be to physically put the cash in a jar each month. I would just have to keep track of how many loads were done each month and then pull that amount of money out.

I think this would be a great thing to do, but then I wonder where would I get the money from? We barely have enough money at the end of each month to meet our obligations to pull another $30 - $50 out a month.

We make plenty of money but for many years, we lived above our means, which we are paying for now in credit card debt! It’s no one’s fault but our own, but it makes finding an extra $30 - $50 difficult! Definitely something to mull over though and to try to work into our budget.

Still Raining

March 2nd, 2022 at 06:18 pm

To continue on my last depressing post, I have more bad (for my bank account) news.

When we moved into our home almost 5 years ago, the dishwasher was brand new, but it never really worked very well. We have always washed dishes on “high heat” and “pots and pans” and the dishes still didn’t always come out clean.

So, of course, in the middle of our car saga, our dishwasher decided now was the best time to give up the ghost!

The Husband opened the dishwasher the other day and the bottom was filled with water. He assumed that the hose was clogged so he took everything out, pulled the dishwasher out and flushed the pipes and hoses. He ran the dishes again… and the same thing happened. Apparently, the pump went out on our dishwasher. This isn’t a tragedy in that we never really liked this dishwasher anyway. However, the timing couldn’t have been worse.

Obviously, we could handwash dishes; but with 5 people living in our home and 2 of them there nearly all day, every day, we go through a lot of dishes! We run the dishwasher daily and sometimes more than once a day. (Sometimes I don’t know how we go through so many dishes, but we manage to! We eat almost all meals at home and pack lunches most every day.)

After a few days, once we had a chance to get to the store, we bought a new dishwasher. HOLY COW! Dishwashers aren’t cheap! The least expensive model they had was $500, on sale! We opted for a $900 dishwasher. It was on sale $100 off from $1000. We also needed to buy the install kit which was about $30. After taxes, we paid $1002… for a dishwasher! It seems absurd to me, and we didn’t even buy a top-of-the-line model. We bought distinctly middle of the road!

We were very glad that the dishwasher we chose was in-stock and we were able to go pick it up at their warehouse only 15 minutes away. We have seen horror stories of products ordered and never delivered or backordered for months. We were very glad to be able to pick it up and start getting it installed right away.

The Husband is very handy and able to tackle most home projects himself! He has installed windows, microwaves, dishwashers, and fans so we thought this would be a piece of cake. It didn’t go smoothly. There were a few bumps in the road, but luckily my brother is a plumber, so The Husband was able to ask him some questions and get it figured out. After a couple days, it was installed and functional!

Of course, all this came on top of our car drama, as if we weren’t stressed enough! However, again we had so much to be thankful for in this process. We are so fortunate to have money in the bank to pay for this “emergency”. We were lucky the store had them in-stock. We are lucky my brother was able to answer any questions we had, and that we had a truck to pick up the dishwasher with.

It’s so easy to get mired in the muck and negative of these cruddy things happening, so I need to try to be grateful for all the blessings in our life.

When it Rains it Pours

February 28th, 2022 at 04:43 pm

This is going to be super long and convoluted so I will probably break it up into at least 2 posts, but we'll see where my rambling takes me.

We are currently in the "when it rains it pours" stage of life; and I can't say I'm happy about it.

In December, driving home from a family day, about 1.5 away from home, our check engine light came on, the car started dinging at us and the dash said "loss of engine power". At the time, we were 2 miles away from where we were going to dinner, so we were able to get there and have dinner.  The Husband keeps an error code reader thingy (that's the technical term, LOL) in the car so he was able to figure out what the error was. It wasn't good! It had something to do with the pistons. (Again, I don't know much about cars!)

We have a very good friend who is a mechanic and The Husband called him and asked him what we should do. He said at this point, we were in survival mode so just try to limp the car home. (He also told us to call him at any point and he would come get us if we couldn't get home! He is a very good friend!) After an arduous trek home at about 40 miles an hour, we made it. (It's a very long story and quite honestly a blog post can't do it justice, but in reality, we felt like God was looking out for us and it happened in the best way it could have!)

Because of the holiday season, we were unable to get the car looked at until the first week in January.  My car is old but has been reliable and a great vehicle and we didn't want a new car payment, so we were hoping to have it repaired. The estimate was $1600. We debated and decided to go with it. We figured if we got only 4 more months out of the car, it would be the same as if we had a $400 per month car payment. 

We got the car back and everything was fine for about 10 days. Then, the check engine light came on again. I cried, The Husband swore, and we were both stressed! This time, the reader said it was emissions problem. For $100, The Husband replaced the O2 sensor. And the car was good for about 5 days. The check engine light came on AGAIN! Out mechanic friend old us if it wasn't the O2 sensor, it was probably the catalytic converter. 

Of course, the catalytic converter is a super expensive fix and our registration was due in March and it was a SMOG year. (In California, you only have to SMOG your car every other year.)

We were both super bummed, mostly because we had chosen to fix the car and it didn't even look like we were going to get the 4 more months out of it that we were hoping to get.

For the next several weeks, the car mostly sat in the driveway. (We are very fortunate that my mom lives with us and we were able to use her car!) However, last week The Husband took my car to his Daddy and Me dance class and when he got home, he told me that while he was driving, the check engine light turned off! (I understand this does not mean my car is fixed.) So this past weekend we decided to see if it would pass SMOG... and IT DID! We actually took it to an "official testing site" and it passed just fine.

We know something is still going on with my car, but its passing SMOG gives us a little more time to figure things out, pay off some more debt, and save up some more for a down payment of a new (or new to us) car.

Unfortunately, even after this whole car saga, it's still "raining" on us. But, as expected, because this turned into a super long post, I'll write about our other storms sometime this week. But not to totally sound like a whiner, I want to add that we are so lucky in so many ways! We had my mom's car to use, we paid cash to fix the car, we still have money in emergency savings, and we were offered cars to use (temporarily) by multiple family members. We are blessed beyond measure and even when we feel like things aren't going our way, we really are very fortunate!

Getting a Month Ahead

February 8th, 2022 at 06:00 pm

We are super lucky to have some money in the bank. We have about 4 months of bare bones expenses plus close to another month's expenses in cash on hand. However, my car is on the fritz in a BIG way so we are going to need to buy a new one soon. Our down payment will come from the money we have in the bank (we do not have a separate down payment savings, though I wish we did!) 

We will use about half of our current total savings to use as a down payment on a car. We are very lucky in another way, too. My mom lives with us so I am able to use her car until we get a new one, so we don't have to make any rash decisions and buy one quickly, but we still need to figure things out.

All of this to say... I want to try to get a month ahead on my bills, in addition to our emergency fund!

One of my children needed money for something the other day and when I was getting it out for them, I found a $100 bill in my wallet. I have no idea where it came from or what it was for, so I decided to start my "month ahead" envelope with it. I use the envelope system so it is very weird for me to have money floating around in my wallet without a home.

I know $100 isn't much towards our whole month's budget, but it is a start and since it's "found" money, I thought it was a good place to start. I also found an envelope with $20 in it. It was supposed to be a birthday gift, but we ended up getting something else, so the money is extra, too! (It was from months ago!)

I have a goal to save $5500 to get a month ahead in all bills and I am $120 (a little over 2%) of the way there! The goal to get a month ahead is in addition to my regular savings goals, bills, and debt payoff and will probably take me 18 months (or more) to complete. To be able to be a month ahead and have an emergency fund would be awesome!!!

Going forward, I am going to try to put little bits of found money and a tiny sliver of our monthly budget towards that goal. I know I'm not the only one who always feels like there are more bills and goals than there is money, but we will get there! 

401k Loan

February 4th, 2022 at 04:48 pm

When we decided to move 5 years ago, we took out a $15,000, 5-year loan from The Husband's 401k. We were living in a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom house with a 12 year old boy and an 11 year old girl... we had to do something!

I am so happy to say that the loan will be paid off very soon! One month from today (2 paychecks) and we will be 401k loan free! I'm super excited about it being paid off! Because it is a 401K loan, that is obviously through no extra effort of our own, but it will still be paid off!

Once it is paid off, The Husband is going to adjust his 401k contributions to increase by 1% so that he will max out at the full $20,500 limit. He maxed out last year at $19,500 and that small adjustment should have him maxing out again. We are very lucky that he works for a company that also gives a 3% match and 6% profit sharing. All told, he (and his company) are contributing about 28% of his yearly salary to retirement. 

The rest of the 401k payment will just be absorbed into our every day budget. And truth be told, we can use an extra $100 a month or so! With one senior and one junior in the house, school costs are crazy!

The Husband's yearly review is coming up soon too. He generally gets at least a 3% raise. We are actually hoping for a little more this year. Any increase he does receive will most likely go towards increasing contributions to my 403b. I contribute $1400 above and beyond what is taken out for my pension every month.  My school district runs on an 11 month cycle so I put away $15,400 towards retirement and would love to increase that if The Husband gets a raise! We are slowly trying to inch our way up to maxing me out, too!

I'm so excited to have this loan paid off and to increase contributions towards our future! I have said before that we are super far behind and trying to play catch up, so every little increase helps!

Christmas

December 16th, 2021 at 10:46 pm

Wow, I can't believe it's almost Christmas! I am very far behind! I have been so much busier than I thought I would be! I thought the Christmas season would be slower, but I guess people are getting back to life in spite of the pandemic.

Both The Kids participate in extra-curriculars and those are just about back to normal. They may need to show proof of a negative test or wear a mask, but they have been able to practice and compete without many restrictions. That has definitely added to our crazy schedule.

We host Christmas at our house and my family is huge! We do get some help, but it's still a lot to do the shopping, get the house ready, and prepare the (majority) of the food. And all that is in addition to the "normal Christmas stuff" we need to do. However, I feel very blessed that my family gets together with us and I wouldn't change it for anything!

We are almost done shopping; I only have a couple gifts still need to buy, but I am nowhere near done wrapping! I have probably only wrapped about 30% of what I need to do. So, when I am off school next week, I will be a busy bee!

We set aside money every month, starting in January, to pay for Christmas. I have mostly stayed in budget this year, but more importantly, I haven't put anything on credit. When I haven't had enough actual cash, I have used my ATM card for purchases! That's a small win! For most of my family I made homemade soap (two different kinds), a lotion bar, and a homemade lip balm. I have been working on my Christmas presents all year! I'm excited about them!

This year, both The Boy and The Girl children have "significant" others... a first for us. We wanted to give them some gifts too. We got each of them 4 gifts, but only spent about $25 on each of them. We are giving them soaps, little credit card pocket knives (we've had these for years and have just been waiting for the "right" people to give them to), for the girlfriend we also got a blanket and another small gift, and for the boyfriend we got him two flannels and another small gift! Nearly everything we purchased for them we got on sale... score!

As I said earlier, I am looking forward to my time off work. Work this year is extra stressful, for various reasons (ironically very few of those reasons are COVID related). I'm excited to get caught up for Christmas, finishing our Christmas shopping, wrapping gifts, watching Christmas movies, and getting caught up on laundry! Plus spending quality time with The Husband and Kids! 

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and the happiest of new years!

Dave Ramsey... Again

December 8th, 2021 at 11:06 pm

Many years ago, The Husband and I took Dave Ramsey's FPU through our (old) church.  We worked the steps, got out of debt, and started aggressively contributing to our retirement. Then we decided to remodel the kitchen at our old house. We fell deeply into debt, all on our credit card and haven't been able to get out of debt since then. Not only that, but our debt has increased. 

Like most people, I am so ashamed of our debt! And although I have had nothing but support from this blog and site, I'm still uncomfortable disclosing the actual amount of our debt because I am so ashamed.

However, today as I was reading different blogs and articles about getting out of debt, I remembered that we have done it before and we can do it again! I'm feeling motivated to get out of debt in a way I haven't felt motivated for years!

This time will look a little different for many reasons. First of all, we have much older (and more expensive) kids. Secondly, we make a lot more money. Thirdly, we aren't comfortable with a $1000 emergency fund, so ours will be larger. (Sidenote: we already have our emergency fund saved up, so we pretty much get to start at Baby Step #2.) We also give to our church regularly (and have for three years!!!) and we have felt so blessed being able to do that that isn't something we would ever change! (This is the first time in our married life that we have given to our church REGULARLY and we are so glad that we can!) And lastly, we are choosing not to stop contributions to our retirement accounts. We have done that before and already feel like we are playing catch up, so we don't want to fall farther behind as we aren't getting any younger.

As far as point three goes, we do have an emergency fund, but we do have some upcoming expenses, so we still need to add to our savings. We need to add $2500 to cover some costs we have coming up and then we will stop adding to our emergency fund/short term savings account and put that money towards our debt. 

Regarding my last point, we contribute a lot towards retirement. As I am a teacher in California, I contribute 10% automatically towards my pention, but I contribute and additional 15% on top of that. The Husband contributes 17% and his employer gives a 3% match plus 6% profit sharing. Totally, we contribute about 25% of our pre-tax dollars towards retirement, but we are playing catch up!

Even while adding to our savings we will be paying off debt. We should be able to save the money we need for some upcoming expenses by The Husband's last paycheck in February (2/18/22) and then we can start aggressively paying off debt.

I have not had anything but positive feedback and support from this site so please wish us luck and send all the good thoughts our way as we tackle getting out of debt following Dave Ramsey... again!

Falling into a Trap

October 5th, 2021 at 09:30 pm

I feel like I'm falling into a trap. We have an emergency fund. We also have an additional $3000 saved above our emergency fund goal.

And. I. Don't. Want. To. Spend. It.

As I talked about a few posts ago, we have savings goals above and beyond our emergency fund and paying off debt. And now that we have the money, I don't want so use it. 

I got such joy this weekend out of using Amazon gift cards for our new fireplace so that I didn't need to transfer any money from savings. And then I was so happy that we sold some things to make the cash for the fireplace surround so that we wouldn't have to touch our savings.

It feels like a trap. Work hard to build you savings. Save cash money for things you want to buy. Then, cry and pout because you feel like your savings account took a hit when you do use the money.

We currently have the most money in savings that we have ever had in our married life. And it feels good! For the first time in our lives, we aren't living paycheck to paycheck and I love it! But then I feel sad and guilty when I want to use our planned savings... It feels like there is no middle ground!

I'm so glad to have money in savings! It's awesome to have an emergency fund! It's awesome to have extra savings for things we want to accomplish! But it sucks that it feels like failure when we use that savings! In my head I know it's not failure to use the money for what it was intended for, but my heart isn't on the same page.

Okay, rant over! I'm trying to look on the bright side and just be glad we actually have money saved for the first time in our lives! Money for an emergency AND money for planned spending!

Fireplace Insert and Some Extra Money

October 4th, 2021 at 05:14 pm

We ordered the fireplace insert for our bedroom over the weekend. It should be here in 4-10 days. Out of pocket, it only cost us $90!

We participate in a wellness program through The Husband's work. We get points for completing different wellness activities, working out, seeing a doctor/dentist regularly, etc. The points can be redeemed for lots of different things; we almost always choose Amazon gift cards. Apparently, we haven't redeemed the points in a while. We had enough points to redeem $375 in Amazon gift cards, which paid for the majority of our insert!

The insert is 36 inches wide by 27 inches tall and about 8 inches deep. It can be used for heat or just for ambiance. I'm super excited to get this process started! I can't wait for it to come so The Husband can start building the mantle.

Also, over the weekend, The Husband listed some items on Facebook Marketplace to sell. We were given a backyard awning 6 or 7 years ago that we have NEVER used. It has actually never even left the box. We also had a drywall lift that we had bought when we were remodeling our old house that has also been sitting in our backyard since we moved 5 years ago. Lastly, he listed The Boy's basketball hoop. Our son hasn't used the hoop in 2 years probably, it was time. All three items sold relatively quickly and painlessly! We listed the awning for $200 and sold it for $160 to a young couple that had just bought their first house. The drywall lift sold for $140 and I was beyond happy to get it out of my backyard! And the basketball hoop sold for $50!

It was all "found" money to us and none of these things were being used and were actually taking up space! The money from the awning and the drywall lift is going to be used to buy the lumber for the mantle for the fireplace in my bedroom! Although we saved the money for the fireplace, I'm so happy that we won't have to use much of it. We used gift cards for the insert itself and have about $300 from items we sold to use towards the wood!

The money for the basketball hoop we gave to The Boy. It was his hoop, so we figured the money should be his. We have our kids split their money up into three categories: tithe, spend, save. They have to tithe 10%, they get 50% for spending, and 40% goes into savings. 

It was a good and productive weekend.

Retirement

September 9th, 2021 at 05:10 pm

Thank you all so much for all the support and great ideas on my last post!

One of the comments made me realize I haven't talked much about retirement savings.

We have a couple different accounts for retirement. As I am a teacher, I have a pension, so about 10% of my gross pay is automatically taken out of my paycheck monthly. I also have a 403b which I contribute an additional $900 a month towards. (We are looking to bump that up soon... just as soon as I print and fill out the paperwork.) The Husband has a 401k with a 3% match. He is currently maxing out his contributions. And in addition to the match, his company dumps 6% profit sharing in on the first paycheck of every year. He has been with the company over 10 years and is fully vested.

All told we are socking away about 23% of our gross income annually. Pretty good numbers but we are in our early (almost mid) 40s and feel like we are behind the 8 ball in planning for our retirement. We don't have any other retirement accounts at this time. We are working to max out my retirement next. We are probably about 3 years away from me being totally maxed out too.

Our retirement accounts currently stand at about $500,000 altogether. Much of that is due to the current market we are in. It is going like gang busters, though I'm not sure how long that can/will be sustained. But we are in it for the long haul. Retirement is a marathon, not a sprint.

My goal is to retire at 55, or at least stop working. We are hoping I won't have to draw from my retirement right away and will be able to wait a couple of years. With my retirement, age at drawing funds is the biggest factor in how much money you receive each month. The plan is for The Husband to work until he is 65; one, because he makes more money and two because insurance is EXPENSIVE!

These are all just plans at this point. But you know the saying, "if you want to see God laugh, tell him your plans", so we are just doing our best to be prepared for whatever the future holds.

Savings Goals

September 8th, 2021 at 07:14 pm

We have debt... but we also have goals. One of the hardest things for us to do is to balance those two things.

We have a decent emergency fund saved up. We have enough saved for two months of bare bones expenses. I know that money could be used towards debt, but then where would we be if an emergency hit? We are still living during a pandemic and still unsure of the future, (not that you can ever be sure of the future, but I think you know what I mean).

We actually have more than two months saved, we have an additional $2000, and growing, that we are putting towards some of our savings goals. I know it's counterintuitive to have savings goals when we still have so much consumer debt, but there are still things we want/need.

The last thing we were saving for was ring repair for a bunch of my rings. That has been taken care of. I am awaiting the completion of the work, but it has been paid in full, with cash!

On our list currently is:

New TV's (X2) The TV in our family room is 12 years old and actually "broke" the other day. Its screen went completely blank, though the sound continued to work. The Husband tried troubleshooting the problem and can't get it to work, so we are going to replace it. The TV in our spare room (actually my mom's bedroom now) also has a "dark area" down the middle third of the screen.  This TV is only 4 years old as it was purchased when we moved into the house. Not too happy about that!

New mattress: our current mattress will be 20 years old in December. We really need a new mattress! We bought both The Kids new (bigger) mattresses when we moved, and they finally got their own room. We bought a new mattress for us too, but I hated it, so we put it in the spare room and brought the old mattress back into our room. We will do some serious research before purchasing anything!

Fireplace insert: I want a fireplace in my bedroom! I am totally aware that this can wait, but it is something I really want, so we have decided to save for it. We have priced them out and we are going to be able to get everything we want for $500. I realize that this is in no way a need, but we are willing to save for it in order to have it before we are out of debt.

New (used) car: Again, this is not a need, but a convenience for us. The Daughter has started driving and will take her test in the next few months. It would make our lives so much easier if she had a car to drive. She does not need one, we do not need for her to have one, but it will be worth it for us if she has a car to drive so we don't have to chauffeur her around every day! (Between school, extra-curriculars, and competitive dance, her schedule is crazy busy sometimes!) We will not buy a car as soon as she gets her license, but probably 3-4 months after. Since our last car was paid off, almost 3 years ago, we have continued to put $400 into savings every month as a "car payment". We bought a used truck for The Boy to drive with that money and will buy a used car, probably a Honda Civic or the like, for The Girl to drive. We are hoping that by the time we are actually ready to buy, used car prices will have come down.

With the money we already have saved towards these items, and what we plan to save in the next 6 months, we think we will be able to purchase all these things, with cash.  How they are listed is probably the order we will purchase them in.  All of this savings is on top of our emergency fund. We won't be using our emergency fund to purchase any of these items. This is new/additional savings.

There are other things we would love to buy but are waiting until we get out of debt to do those: new floors, remodeling the bathrooms in our house, new light fixtures, a new car for me. But those things can wait.

Three Months

August 31st, 2021 at 05:15 pm

Wow! How has it been three months since I blogged? I had no idea it had been so long until I looked at the date of my last entry!

Things have been slowly chugging along. We have made barely a dent in our debt over the summer, but it hasn't increased, so that's a small win.

As I am a teacher, I had summer off, which was really nice. However, I only had my whole family together for 10 days all summer, 5 of which both of the kids were recovering from having their wisdom teeth pulled. The Boy has learned that he loves farming, so he spent 6 weeks of his summer on my cousin's farm in Oregon. The Daughter attended church camp and a couple of dance conventions and was just generally busy, busy, busy!

We are back to school now, in person, which I love! We have to wear masks all day but it is 100% worth it to have students back in the classroom!

My own children are a junior and senior this year, so I expect the next couple of years to be very busy and expensive! We have already paid for The Boy's senior portraits, letterman jacket, yearbook, prom ticket down payment and ASB card. For the Girl we have paid for powderpuff football, yearbook, prom ticket down payment and ASB card too. Historically we only put $100 a month into our "school" envelope, but in July we started allotting $200 per month, and I'm not sure that's going to be enough. With what we've shelled out, we are already behind and have had to juggle money around to finance everything. I'm hoping we will have a small reprieve and will be able to build our sinking fund back up a bit before we need to shell out more money for things school related.

Two weeks ago I took 9 rings into a jeweler to have them fixed. Some were mine, some were The Girl's, and some were my mom's. Some needed to be sized, some just needed to be soldered together, and some required major repairs like replacing missing stones. That was an expensive trip! $1500 to get them all fixed, but we have been saving money towards getting them all fixed and it actually cost less than we expected and had saved for, so a small win!

The Girl has been invited to be in two weddings in the next year. Two of her older cousins are getting married. As she is only 16, we are paying for all the wedding related expenses.  So far we have bought the bridesmaid dresses for both weddings. We have not yet gotten shoes or jewelry needed. We will have to pay for hair and makeup on the days of the events. (Too bad she isn't older as then she would need to pay for these expenses herself!) We are going to make her purchase a wedding gift for each couple with her own money. (We will also buy a wedding gift from us!)

I think that is most of our major financial updates from over the summer... Hopefully I won't wait 3 months to write again!

 

 

New Washer...

May 27th, 2021 at 04:36 pm

Our washer just went out. The bearings on it went out. The last load of laundry I did left our house smelling like smoke so we decided no more laundry in that machine! Our washer was 12 years old and a floor model when we bought it, so I'm not too unhappy with its lifespan, although I would have loved if it had lasted longer.

We bought basically the same model that we had, just upgraded by 12 years. I feel like this new washer is so high tech! It has bluetooth so you can start it from your phone. I told my husband, unless the laundry grows legs and can sort and load itself, I don't need bluetooth on my washer! 

Good news/bad news on the new washer. Good news is we have a savings account for just this type of thing and The Husband earned a lot of overtime that will be showing up on his next paycheck! Bad news is most of his overtime will go to paying for our washer now instead of going towards debt. I'm trying to be positive and remember that at least the washer isn't adding to our debt!

We were totally without a washer for only 5 days but were limping it along for about a week before that. Boy does laundry pile up! Since The Husband got it installed yesterday, it has been going non-stop! 5 people and two pool parties create a lot of laundry!

We paid $699 for washer, on sale. We had to buy a new hose for another $30 and tax brought the total up to about $790. Again, bright side is that we have the money to pay for it! 

This and That

May 18th, 2021 at 05:57 pm

I mailed my taxes over the weekend. 

Our taxes were already completed and filed, but we owed taxes to the federal government so decided to wait until they were actually due to mail the payment. We received a refund from the state that exceeded the amount of what we owed to the federal, so overall, we came out on top.

The Husband has been exceedingly busy at work! On his last paycheck, he had over $400 of overtime. He will have close to three times that on his next paycheck. Although I hate how stressed out he has been and how much he has been working, the extra money is nice. Some of it will go into savings (I took money out for taxes, so we were below our savings comfort threshhold), some of it will go to paying random expenses, and the remainder will go towards debt.

May is a busy month for our family! It's my birthday, mother's day, The Daughter's birthday, our anniversary, and the end of the school year. It can get spendy. The Daughter is going to be 16 so we are throwing her a "big" party. It's not actually too big or too expensive (sort of). She is having 11 friends over to swim, watch an outdoor movie, and spend the night. The only part that might be expensive is that we are going to heat the pool. We've lived in this house for 4 years and never heated the pool. I'm a little nervous about the cost. The Daughter loves succulents so I am going to make succulent cupcakes and she is giving out succulents for her favors.  We are borrowing an outdoor projector and movie screen so only have to pay to purchase a movie.

The end of the school year is busy for anyone with kids in school or who are teachers. But man, is it exhausting! I cannot wait to get this school year in the books, and I hope and pray I never see another like it!

Pay Day

April 30th, 2021 at 04:57 pm

Today was payday for both The Husband and myself. I felt very flush for all of 30 minutes until I paid all of our bills and parcelled all the money out to where it needed to go!

I have talked about the way we budget in a previous post. With this payday, we put money into several different envelopes: gas, food, car repair, pet, and Christmas.  We also had to pay a car registration this month. We were "behind" on giving to our church. (This is our choice on how much we want to give every year/month and with an extra paycheck this month, we were able to get "caught up". We usually tithe monthly, but had some unexpected expenses come up the last couple months; and we are glad we are able to donate to our church!)

Due to some large expenses we had made over the last six months, our savings was lower than we are comfortable with. We bought a used truck (paid cash) that we then needed to insure. We also bought a new "garage" fridge. Although we paid cash for both items, we took the money out of our savings. We have been building our savings back up. Because of our refinance, we don't have to make a mortgage payment for the month of May. We took our usual mortgage payment and put it into savings, which brought us back up to the threshhold we are comfortable with.

The husband also had about 10 hours of overtime on this paycheck. All the "extra" money went towards debt. We have some monthly subscriptions that get put on our credit card and those were all paid today as well.

We have a couple of checks waiting to clear and payments waiting to process, but when all is really said and done, we will have parcelled out all the money towards one goal or another! 

I'm happy our bills are paid for the month. I'm happy we were able to get our savings back up to the point where we feel comfortable. And I'm happy to put money towards our debt. All in all, it was a productive 30 minutes! Hahaha! I feel a lot like FocusedinmyForties talks about feeling when they pay bills and then they have to wait around for two weeks until the next payday!

Random Update

April 26th, 2021 at 06:45 pm

It’s been a couple of months since my last entry and I feel like a lot has gone on! This is probably going to be a long post!

A big part of the reason that I fell off the face of the blogosphere is because we started back hybrid in my district. First of all, as a teacher, it is EXHAUSTING! It’s been a lot but I finally feel like I am starting to get into a rhythm. My kids went back to school two days a week and sports resumed as well. The Boy plays both football and baseball and this year, they were played in the same season and kids could play two sports concurrently, which is not allowed in a “normal” school year. It has made for a crazy schedule. He had 6 hours of practice or games a day and we were attending anywhere from 2-5 games in a given week. We’ve done really well planning dinners through this time and have only bought fast food once. That was a small win for sure! Along with the football and baseball seasons came some costs: pictures, new baseball bag, and some other small (mostly forgotten at this time) purchases. Nothing was too expensive and we had enough money in our “school” or “kids activities” envelopes to cover any costs.

We did make one very costly purchase for school, however: a letterman jacket. The Boy has talked about getting his letterman jacket since he started high school. He would have gotten it last summer or at the beginning of last school year, but due to Covid he didn’t earn a varsity letter. With playing two varsity sports, he earned it this spring. We ordered his jacket, to the tune of $340!!! Ouch! And that doesn’t count the embroidery on the back. We were lucky enough to have enough money in the school envelope to pay for it and still have some money left over for various expenses, including embroidery when the jacket comes in.

We filed out taxes. We have to pay federal and got a refund from state. We have extra taken out for federal and still have to pay every year! It’s very frustrating! We have decided not to readjust our withholdings, however, because the refund from state offsets what we have to pay.

We refinanced our house. We actually refinanced our house about 18 months ago, but the rates are so low right now that it was worth it for us to do it again. We started the process back in January and we didn’t finalize our loan until the middle of April. It was a long process for no reason in particular. Even though it took a long time, we locked our interest rate in back in January. We are happy with our interest rate of 2.7%. We lowered our monthly payment by $200 a month and took a little over a year off of our loan. Unless rates were to drop considerably (which is very unlikely) I don’t see us refinancing again, but I’m very glad we were able to take advantage of the low rates.

Our high schools have elected not to hold prom this year so I thought that was another thing that kids in general, and The Boy in particular, was going to lose out on; but one of his friends since kindergarten is holding a backyard prom. Formal, catered, with a DJ and a photobooth. I’m happy he gets to have that experience. For him we had to rent a tux, buy a corsage, and pay for the tickets at $50 per person. More money. The churches in our city also got together and are holding a city-wide prom for all high schoolers. Our daughter is a sophomore and we didn’t anticipate her going, but she was asked by a junior to attend… more money. We only had to get her a dress and buy her ticket. (Her date was going to purchase her ticket, but because parents need to sign a waiver, he could only buy one ticker and he offered to give us money for hers, (we declined) which we thought was incredibly sweet!) So far, we have been able to cash flow all of these expenses between our clothes, school, and kids activities envelopes so I’m happy we didn’t add to our debt with them!

I'm sure we have had a lot of other financial news during this time, but these are the things that stick out to me!

The Best Laid Plans

February 17th, 2021 at 05:46 pm

We had such plans to save money and pay off debt. We still do, but some things have conspired against us.

We have an outside fridge/freezer in our garage. And it's going out. As a family, we go through a lot of milk! We average a gallon a day. We generally buy 10 gallons at a time and that doesn't all fit in our inside fridge, hence the fridge in the garage.

We were given that fridge free over 10 years ago so we more than got "our moneys" worth. Now we need to replace it. For the last two months, The Husband has been filling up 2 liter bottles and freezing them and then rotating them in the fridge to keep it cold. We finally decided to purchase a new fridge.

We found one that is almost the same size as our current fridge. It is less than 1 cubic foot smaller. It is a freezer/fridge combo with the freezer on top (which is our preference). It does not have an ice maker or water dispenser as it is a fridge for our garage and it still cost us $750 plus tax and a $25 fee to take away our old fridge.

It was on sale for President's Day, but was still about $200 more than we wanted to spend. When our old fridge started to go out, we were hoping we could hold out until prices went back down, but we decided to go ahead and buy a fridge as we were too worried that something would happen and the freezer would go out too and then all the food we had out there would spoil.

I am also having car issues. It has a leak (power steering fluid, we think). It also does something funny when shifting gears every once in a while.  I love NOT having a car payment and am not looking forward to having to make one. 

We also recently recieved an "unexpected" (more accurately, forgotten) car insurance bill.  When The Son got his license, we obviously added him to our insurance. They did not bill us right away and told us they will bill us when what we have "prepaid" is up. We pay our policy in full each year, so we forgot we had an extra bill coming. 

Happily we have the money to pay for the fridge and our insurance, but using that money to pay for these things means it doesn't go towards debt. BOO!

Okay, rant over. I just wanted to complain and now I feel a bit better. 

2021 Goals

January 12th, 2021 at 07:31 pm

These are a little late in coming. First of all, I couldn't finalize what I wanted my goals to be. Secondly, our world went a little crazy. Lastly, I was procrastinating.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post with some potential goals and those are mostly what I am going to go with for the year.

1. Decrease credit card debt by $8000. I would love to completely pay off my credit card debt but I'm not sure that's going to happen this year. I think an $8000 decrease is doable but will still be work for us. I also want to be realistic.

2. Add $5000 to our EF savings. For various reasons, our EF took a hit this year. I want to get it back up to $10,000 by the end of the year. I found a Pinterest savings challenge that has you save a certain amount each week that ends up being $5000 in a year. I modify it and only do one deposit monthly. I did this last year and it was a great motivator for me. (I know you are supposed to pay yourself first, but I'm not very good at that. However, putting a line item in our budget encouraged me to put more in savings.)

3. Give montly to our church. And increase the amount from 2020 to 2021. (I don't care if we only give $50 more next year, but I want to make sure that number goes up year to year!)

4. Increase my 403b contributions. (We were late getting on the "retirement savings band wagon", so we are trying to make up for lost time. The Husband contributes 16% of his salary (with a 3% match and 6% profit sharing) and I contribute an additional 10% above my CalSTRS requirement.)

5. Split any "found" money evenly between savings and debt. (This could be stimulus money, if The Husband gets overtime, overages pay for me, etc.) Usually this money gets frittered away so I want to give it a purpose.

I know it seems like some of my goals are working against eachother (saving and paying off debt) but we need to do both to improve our financial situation.

I also know most people would say it's more financially sound to pay off debt than it is to save/save for retirement. And while mathematically speaking, that may be true, it does nothing for my peace of mind. So, we are going to split our focus.

We don't have a lof of goals, but successfully completing each one will help put us in a better financial positions than we are in now.

Good luck to everyone on their 2021 goals! And may 2021 be a better year!

2021 Goals?

December 17th, 2020 at 09:14 pm

As we are getting closer to ending this hellish year and starting fresh with 2021, I have been thinking about what my financial goals should be in the new year.

I know I want to get out of credit card debt.

I know I want to complete a $5000 savings challenge. (This would probably be conucurrent with getting out of debt.)

I know I want to increase my 403b contributions.

I know we want to continue monthly contributions to our church.

But other than that, I don't know what we want to do or accomplish. Even those are vague. We need to sit down and flush out our financial goals. We can't achieve them if we don't define them.

Goals are always so hard for me because I feel pulled in so many different directions. I want to get out of debt. I want to save for short term goals. I want to save for long term goals. I want to give generously. But there never seems to be enough money to do it all. 

Last year, I had 20 financial goals for 2020. It was too many! We met about 65% (13 out of 20), but it was too much to keep track of and to try to meet them all. This year, I know I want to pare down my goals and focus in on what is the most important to us.

I'm looking forward to seeing everybody's goals and hoping maybe they can inspire mine.

Time Flies

December 7th, 2020 at 08:29 pm

I can't believe it's been over a month since my last post. Time certainly flies during the holiday season.

Not too much has gone on financially in the past month. We are just chugging away.

Our debt has actually stayed pretty stagnant. Most of our debt payment has been divereted to Christmas. However stagnant is better than increasing, but not as good as decreasing.

We had a nice Thanksgiving with family and are looking forward to Christmas.

Because 2020 has been such a difficult year, I was able to persuade my husband to allow me to decorate for Christmas extra early this year! He likes to wait until after Thanksgiving, but to me, the earlier the better! With the exception of our real tree, my house was all decorated by Veteran's day. 

The day after Thanksgiving, we drove up to the mountains and, for the first time in my life, cut down a tree. The daughter really wanted to do that so we did and had a great time. The husband picked out the tree and then the daughter cut it down almost all by herself. It was a great day.

Like many people, Christmas is my FAVORITE time of year. I love the cheer, the happiness, the excitement, and celebrating the birth of our Lord and savior. We decorate our whole house: bedrooms, bathrooms, inside and outside. This year we put up 10 Christmas trees. Every year we have a huge open house style Christmas party where anywhere from 75 -100 people come throughout the day. Due to Covid we are not having it this year and I'm so sad about it. I do believe the sacrifice is totally worth it, but it still breaks my heart. As we are all so busy there are some people I see only once a year at our party. Oh well, hopefully we can have a blowout shindig next year!

How We Budget

November 3rd, 2020 at 07:15 pm

I've already talked about the debt we have... and we know how we got ourselves into debt: living above our means. We both make good salaries but we used the excuse of living in an expensive area to spend more than we made. 

For the last couple of years, we've been trying to correct that. To help us budget, we use an envelope system. (This was much easier before Covid when you could actually go to the bank and withdraw cash in any denomination. We have had to modify the way we budget the last several months.) We have several sinking funds where we literally store the cash in an envelope until it's needed.

I have been told before that we have too many envelopes, but we have determined these are the categories that work for us. 

Here they are in no particular order.

     Car Repair - this is almost all things care related: repaires, parts, tires, etc.       It does not include insurance.

     Food - Self explanatory

     Gas - Self explanatory

     Clothes - clothes, underclothes, socks, pajamas, etc.  

     Hair/Self-Care - Hair cuts, (occasional) manicures/pedicures

     Essentials - Things like toilet paper, shampoo/conditioner, deoderant,           cleaning supplies, etc.

     Kids' Activities - Sports and dance expenses

     School - PE uniforms, pictures, yearbooks, field trips, sports fees, ASB             cards, etc.

     Pet - Dog food, shots, vet bills

     Christmas - gifts, food, Christmas tree

We have health insurance through The Husband's work (dental and vision insurance are through my employer) and we set aside a small amount for medical costs in an HSA at the beginning of the year through The Husband's work.

We also have a separate account where money is deposited from each paycheck to cover our yearly car insurance, giving to our church, and some small extras. We do plan for these expenses, but they aren't part of our envelope system.

For the most part, we carry money over month-to-month. Some months we don't need all of the money we put in the envelope and some months we need more than our monthly allottment. This has worked pretty well for us. 

We are still in debt, but since we have been using the envelope system, our debt has decreased and we have done better at managing our money and living within our means.

We also continue to contribute to our retirement. (I know a lot of people are against that when you are in debt, but we feel it's what is right for us.) I will do an entire post about our retirement contributions in the near future.       

Thank you!

October 21st, 2020 at 04:32 pm

Thank you all so much for the warm welcome! I read all your comments, thoughts, and suggestions! They were very appreciated!

I actually wrote this last week and tried posting it several times, but with all the issues the site was having, it got lost somewhere in the interwebs.

After reading some of the comments I was a little concerned that I painted too dire a picture of our financial situation.

 

Although I HATE our debt, I want to be clear that we are not struggling or living totally paycheck to paycheck (although we have in the past).

 

We do have savings. In the bank we have 3 months of bare bones expenses: mortgage, utilities, gas, and food. I know conventional wisdom says we should take that money and pay off our credit card debt, but it brings us peace of mind during this crazy time.

 

The Husband and I have both been very lucky during this pandemic and we have been working the whole time. However, we know that things could change very quickly in this economic climate.  My job is pretty secure. I am a public school teacher, but The Husband works in the private sector and we want to be as prepared as possible for any sort of job loss. That is part of the reason we are trying to get rid of our credit card debt so badly. To clarify, we do not anticipate anything happening to his job, (in fact he was asked to work overtime this weekend) but we want as many of our ducks in a row as possible, just in case.

 


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