The Savings

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I received several questions about the $200 budget item towards savings that I listed in my last post.    The answer is a bit complicated.   We currently have have several savings accounts that are for irregular expenses…with the idea that we could also use those accounts as an emergency fund in a true emergency.   These funds are currently auto-drafted into the savings accounts every payday.  Each category receives $20 a month added to it.  However, the original thought was that some categories are close to being “fully funded” and then that money could be reallocated to other categories until they need “refilled”.    Here’s how I have things divided:

Savings 
Work expenses100.03
Home improvements133.00
fun/holidays55.00
Gifts5.00
clothing85.00
pets70.00
replacements55.00
Auto185.02
Irregular expenses (auto registration/costco/ AAA)39.53
Yard/garden/pest control70.00

Total: $802.58

In explanation:

  • The work expenses category covers things like continuing education, licensing and replacement items for Hubby’s work.  Once we reach $500 this will be considered fully funded.
  • Home improvements will never be considered fully funded.
  • The Fun/holiday fund covers everything from fireworks on the fourth of July, extra grocery expenses for Christmas baking, campground fees, and the occasional movie date night.This will be considered fully funded at $100 while we are still reducing debt
  • Gifts are a hard one.  I will have to think about what I would consider fully funded.
  • Clothing I will consider fully funded at $100, mostly because we do not have expensive clothing needs.
  • Whereas we have an older dog and an older cat that at some point in the future will need a greater amount of vet care, I would not consider this fully funded until we reached $1000
  • The replacements category is actually very new to our budgeting, inspired by needing to finance a fridge when ours died.  This is meant to be money for when an appliance dies, or a new mattress etc. is needed.  I am not sure where I would consider this fully funded, most likely at $1000+
  • The auto category is pretty self explanatory.  We currently own one vehicle out right and have a loan on our second.   These funds are used for maintenance and hopefully will eventually grow enough that we can replace a vehicle by paying cash.
  • The Annual expenses category covers things like AAA and costco memberships, and car registration.  I would like to grow this to be able to pay for six months of auto insurance at a time in order to receive the prepay discounts.
  • The final category is yard/garden.  I LOVE veggie gardening.  We just moved into our home last summer, so this will cover soil amendments, hardscaping, seeds and repairing the disaster of a sprinkler system that currently exists.   It also covers pest control to come out four times a year to treat for voles and the giant wolf spiders that we get here.  After this coming summer, the amount going into this account should be able to be reduced significantly as some of the much need landscaping is completed.

Obviously, If I wanted to keep putting money into these categories until they were all fully funded, I would be saving forever, and that would impact my debt payoff.   I am currently leaning towards continuing to save in them at my current speed until I reach a total of $2000 across all the accounts.   At that point I would simply add to the accounts if I had used the funds.

What do you think?  Am I making a mistake by combining my savings categories and emergency fund?  Is there something I should be saving for that I am not?

 

 

 

 

 


Christmas on a Shoestring Budget

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Today we leave to stay at my grandmother’s in Georgia for a month.  I cannot wait! I get to sleep in a bed, have heat day and night and have indoor plumbing (have to go over to the trailer to use the bathroom where we are at now.)  It is going to be joyous.  These are things I will never take for granted again!

I have less income now than I’ve had all year with the cut in the twins’ adoption assistance and being informed yesterday that there would be no work hours until Dec. 14th and I didn’t have any the last two weeks either.  Needless to say, Christmas is going to be almost non-existent.  Almost…

Princess and I learned to knit in the last month.  This is something I have wanted to do for YEARS!  A new store opened up here locally and offered $10 beginning classes along with 10% off the supplies.  We’ve taken off like gang-busters.  She has become a whiz at making hats, teaching herself after learning the two basic stitches, and I’m quite adept at knitting straight lines now.  We’ve both been working on making presents for anyone we could think of who would enjoy them.

A couple of the hats Princess has knitted as presents.

A couple of the hats Princess has knitted as presents.

The little ones dad sent them both $50 at the end of September for the state fair, and both of them managed to save some of it.  Gymnast cleaned my car for another $10 this week, so I took him shopping last night.  He managed to buy thoughtful, practical gifts that I think everyone will enjoy staying within his budget.  (He shopped at $5 and Below and got some really great presents if I do say so myself.)  He has also gotten creative with reusing some canvases he had previously painted.  Painting over them and creating new masterpieces to give as gifts.

Original paintings that have now been repurposed to Christmas presents.

Original paintings that have now been re-purposed to Christmas presents.

I have not had quite as much luck in figuring out what to do for gifts for the kids, but at this point am planning to try and fill their stockings with goodies and that will be it. I’ve been collecting free samples of soaps (not hotel kinds, but more homemade stuff,) notebooks and anything else I can find. This is the first year that we will not be in our own space for Christmas. No Christmas decorations, no menu planning, no traditions from the past. I did dig out the stockings and will be taking them with us (the kids don’t know.) I think it will be nice to have something from our old life with this new Christmas. I have been thinking that I could create a certificate for a “mom and child” date so when I do have some money I could take each child out to eat at a favorite restaurant. Thought that might be kind of special and something to look forward to.

I’m not going to pretend and say it’s been easy to be so broke especially with the holidays here, but we have more than enough and in the end, it truly is being together that counts the most, not the material things. We are blessed that we don’t have needs, just wants. There are many who truly need.

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The Budget

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I have to apologize for not getting this post up sooner, we had a stomach bug ravage the house, and I have been behind ever since!

I have told you about our debt here and now it’s time to reveal our budget!  Honestly, I really don’t know how doable this budget is.  I know that we typically eat out a ton, but I am planning to cut that out completely for budget and health reasons.   I also have cut back on what we typically spend on groceries.  I think with some careful planning I can make that one work.    This projected income also does not reflect what we save in the 401k or HSA every month.

Projected income:  3800.00

Payments:

December budget 
Mortgage850.00
Electricity (equal payment) 192.00
Natural Gas (equal payment plan)44.00
Water/trash68.00
Internet95.00
Phones92.00
Amy student loan
(income based)
0.00
Hubby student loan (income based)25.00
Amy Student loans (income based)187.00
Hubby student loans (income based)124.00
Big credit card (27%)150.00
small credit card (7%)75.00
Appliance card (0%)175.00
Groceries300.00
Petrol150.00
Savings200.00
auto insurance150.00
Auto loan141.00
Personal spending (split between Hubby and I)80.00

If my math is right, that gives us about $700 to put into debt this month…..except for the fact that we are not done Christmas shopping!  I think that we should be able to finish all the holiday shopping for about $200, which leaves us with some money to put towards debt.

After the Christmas season (possibly before), I will be looking into cheaper phone and internet plans as well as cheaper auto insurance.   Thoughts?

 

 


Ashleys November 2016 Debt Update

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Another month is over – time for another debt update!

November was a good month! In some regards it was pretty pricey (hello, new house!!!), but in other ways we were able to be thrifty and save. In the end, we had a decent debt-payment in November and are expecting an even BIGGER one in December! Our first mortgage payment isn’t due until January and rather than let the “extra” money float away (or be absorbed into holiday/Christmas stuff), hubs and I have purposely budgeted to make a big debt payment this month.

Here’s how we did in November:

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date Original debt, March 2014
Navient$686846.55%$2000November$82433
Balance Transfer Student Loan #2$40000% (through April 2017)$600November$7650
Medical Bills$56610%$25November$9000
Balance Transfer student loan #1$00% -Paid off in March 2016$5937
PenFed Car Loan$02.49%-Paid off in January 2016$24040
License Fees$02.5%-Paid off in April 2015$5808
BoA CC$07.24%-Paid off in June 2014$2220
Mattress Firm$00%-Paid off in May 2014$1381
Wells Fargo CC$013.65%-Paid off in May 2014$7697
Capital One CC$017.9%-Paid off in March 2014$413
Totals$78,345 (Oct balance = 80,712)$2625Starting Debt = $145,472

YOU GUYS!!!! Not only are we finally in a new digit (in the $70,000’s instead of $80’000s), but we are THISCLOSE to reaching the half-way mark in our debt journey!!! We started at about $145,000 so when our total debt reaches $72,000 we’ll officially be HALF WAY to debt-freedom! It’s only a few thousand away!

Our debt reduction journey began when I was selected to start blogging here in March 2014. My goal is to have officially hit our half-way point by my 3-year bloggiversary in March 2017. I can’t believe I’ve been around so long! Initially when I began here I thought I’d only be blogging until our credit card debt was gone…but then I ended up hitting it out of the park and eradicated our credit card debt in just THREE months (I thought it would take a year or longer!)! I wasn’t done yet, so I decided to stick around for the long-haul. So glad to have so many of you as readers for this entire time (and welcome to new readers!)

It’s also time to begin thinking about 2017 financial goals. Goal-setting has always been one of my “things.” I really enjoy setting goals in different aspects of life (e.g., financial, work, personal, etc.) and I frequently take stock to see how things are going. I’ll be working on a post soon where I discuss the outcome of 2016’s financial goals and I lay out a plan of goals for 2017 moving forward. I’m excited to start seeing this debt really melt away as we near the half-way mark. Can’t wait!

What financial goals did you make for 2016?  How are you doing on them?


Different Priorities

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Hello BAD community, thank you for your inquiries.  I thought I would pop in and share a quick update.

Debt

My sole debt at this point are my $32K-ish student loans which are in Income Based Repayment requiring $0 per month.

Income

I am still on the hunt for work, chasing any and all leads.  It’s been very frustrating and I can’t explain why this has been such a challenge.  It’s been a year since I had full time income.  It’s been challenging but a very enlightening experience.  Most recently, I was turned down by Amazon Customer Service which is work from home for $10.  I just can’t explain it.  Someone asked me why I wasn’t getting work…I could only answer that it’s my age, my weight or I’m just not in God’s will.  So I keep plugging along.  I do still have two part time jobs equaling about 15 hours a week.

The twins turned 18, so the adoption subsidy ended.  That was a hit because I was assured it would carry them through high school.  But despite it all, we are doing well.  We are fed, have shelter and even a few extras.

Housing

We continue to live in our free housing situation.  We have painted the front and back decks and continued to assist on the farm.  It makes me feel a bit better, but my pride has definitely taken a hit.  There is limited heat, and it can’t seem to keep up very well.  The nights are cold.  I am grateful for down comforters, wool socks and sweatsuits.

Challenges and Upcoming Changes

Remember when we moved out of our apartment we put stuff in storage.  It was costing me $78 month.  We went in October to get some winter clothes out and some more school materials.  And it had been leaking!  We lost a ton of stuff…violin, most all the winter clothes and more. I am in the process of getting rid of my car, downsizing to just the twins car (’96 Honda Accord) in order to save the insurance and property tax money.  I hope to save enough over a few months to buy another older used car which won’t cost as much in insurance or taxes.  Hoping to do this mid-January.

Holidays

We will be leaving next week to stay with family for a month over the holidays.  We are looking forward to sleeping in real beds, not having to go outside to go to the bathroom and having heat regularly.  We will be spending 10 days with my parents, which will be hard based on our history, but I am really working on forgiveness.  It will be the first time since I had kids that I won’t be in my own space for Christmas. I am really struggling with that, but the kids are looking forward to an airplane ride to Texas and time with family.  (I was able to get round trip tickets for all 5 of us for $391 by being flexible with my dates, buying early and my dad’s generosity with his points.)

Gymnast

I have really tried hard to stay where we are at in large part due to Gymnast training and my bartered arrangement for his training.  It seems to be paying off.  He is competing as a Level 6 gymnast this year, and his first meet was a week ago.  He placed 1st on vault, 2nd on floor, 2nd on high bar and 4th overall.  He competes again this weekend, and then we will leave for the holidays.  He is training 5 days a week, 4 hours a day.

Princess

She finished up volleyball season and has decided to take up TKD again.  (She got her black belt when she was 10 years old.)  A local studio is offering $25 per month per child for two classes a week.  I can afford that.  She and Sea Cadet will begin in January.  She continues to excel at school, working on most of the same classes as her twin brothers (seniors) with the exception of math.  She has learned how to knit and it making massive amounts of Christmas presents with her skills.

History Buff

He is applying early admission to the college of his choice.  Please send a prayer up that he will be accepted.  That would be a huge relief for me and joy for him.  He continues to work at the movie theatre and is also now a attendant for a special needs young man a couple nights a week.  He plans to study criminology and recently began participating in the Police Explorers program.  He is on track to graduate from high school in June, but has serious senioritis!

Sea Cadet

He has another year of high school, which we have known for some time.  We are calling it his super senior year.  Math is a BIG challenge for him.  He wavers a bit now between military, college or just working at a camp year round for his future.  He continues to work at the move theatre and has also picked up a part time job in the kitchen of the camp where he worked as a camp counselor this summer.  He is applying to be a senior counselor this next summer.  He and History Buff share a car and pay their own insurance and phone bills.  I can tell that watching History Buff get ready to leave the nest bothers him a bit, but I think it will be healthy for both of them.  I continue to think that the military route is the best one for him, but will support whatever he decides.  We are going to try out community college for his super senior year to give college a test run.

Me

Most days I feel like I have no idea what I am doing and feel like I am failing my children.  Then others, I am just grateful for the opportunities we have had as a result of this hardship.  We have gotten to raise chickens, live in a camper, live in the country on a farm, be completely free.  I long for a stable home, comfortable bed and a recliner to relax in.  But I am so grateful for all the extra time I have gotten to spend with the kids and my grandmother.

We are spending a great deal of time volunteering.  It gets us out of the house and feels good to give back. I have no idea what the future holds.  I’m just taking it a day at a time.

The Home School Foundation did a feature on us as part of their Single Parents who Homeschool grant program.  I thought you might like to see it, you can watch it here.

 

 


The Debt

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(*Update*  I just updated this post with a few more exact balances and interest rates)

First off, I want to thank everyone for the warm welcomes that they have given me! I really do appreciate having someone in my corner cheering me on!

It’s time for the nitty gritty details of our debt and I can honestly say that I am embarrassed about admitting how much debt we have, however, I am even more embarrassed to admit that I had NO idea how much we had until I started adding this up! In fact, I still don’t have an exact amount because I am waiting for a few statements to come in. I am going to include a rough estimate until I get final numbers, just so that we can have an idea of where I am at. I will then update the info!

CC#1 $43.30 (this will be payed off on Friday!)

CC#2 (7.24% interest) $ 2,999.84

CC#3 (27% interest ouch!) $4,833.17

Auto loan (6.99% interest) $5,695.29

Appliance loan (0% until Oct 2017) $2,072.79

Student loans-Amy (5.8% average interest) $34,392.19

Student loans-Hubby (5.7%  average Interest) $18,060.61

Student loans-Amy (3.25% Interest) $1,800.00 (estimate)

Student Loans-Hubby (4.725% average Interest) $3,111.46

$73,008.65

Wow. That is a lot of debt.  I really had no idea that we were carrying such a high debt load. This doesn’t even include the mortgage! I can’t describe the emotions that I am feeling right now as I look at that number.  Overwhelmed, shamed, sadness, frustration…they are all emotions that are fluttering about.

Here are the details on what each debt is about:

CC#1: This is a credit card that I have been working on paying off for the last couple months. I thought about leaving it off the list since it will be paid off on Friday and the balance is so small, but I decided that total honesty was required. If I start fudging numbers..it would be easier to continue doing so, which contributed to me getting here in the first place!

CC#2: This is a credit card through our credit union. I have no idea what we used it for.

CC#3: This is a credit card that we got because “the rewards are so great”…and they would have been if we had used the card responsibly! We used this card for some home improvements and fertility treatments.  We have already paid off a ton of this debt.

Auto Loan: This is for an older Prius that the hubby uses to commute.

Appliance Loan: This is the debt that I want to tackle first. Simply because it annoys me! We bought a used fridge a year ago trying to save money….but when it suddenly died we decided to finance a new one so we didn’t end up going through the same hassle.

Student loans: The first two loans with the large balance are federal loans from both hubby and I, while the second two with small balances are state level loans for the both of us. The student loans are lower on my priority list to pay off because we are on income based repayments and have been for a several years.  However, we are also paying the most interest on them because the balances are so high, so perhaps I should reconsider that.  What do you think?

When you started working on your debt did you know how bad it was, or were you surprised like me?


My Loan Request Was DENIED!!!

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First thing’s first. Welcome, Amy! I’m so excited to have another blogger up in the mix! I was a reader long before I was a contributor here so I’m super pumped to be able to follow another blogger on their debt journey! Yay!!! I can’t wait to get to “know” Amy as we share this debt-reduction journey together!

(Side Note:  I’ve also seen many people ask about Hope in recent comments. I don’t have any updates, but I’ll send her a quick email today just to pass along our warm thoughts and kind regards. I honestly don’t have any additional information at this time but I wanted to address it because I know lots of have asked about her recently).

I hope all our American readers had a lovely Thanksgiving this past week! It was JUST what I needed! Quiet, low-key, relaxing, etc. We spent a solid 3 days in a row at home (we had friends over for play dates on Friday & Saturday so we weren’t all alone), and it was GLORIOUS to just hang out and relax. This was our first Thanksgiving in a very long time where we were just at home – we didn’t go anywhere and we didn’t have any guests here, either. I used it as an excuse to go super easy for Thanksgiving. We just had meat, 2 sides, and a single dessert. That’s it. I have to admit that I kind of missed not having a ton of Thanksgiving leftovers (my favorite is a thanksgiving sandwich with cranberry sauce, stuffing, and turkey – but we didn’t even do ANY of those foods this year! Our main was ham and our sides were green beans & sweet potato casserole). We did buy a mini (2 lb) butterball turkey that I’ll probably cook sometime this week, but hubs had specifically requested ham for our main meat for Thanksgiving so that’s what we had.

And then I applied for a student loan consolidation….and I was DENIED!!!!!

I couldn’t even believe it.

According to Credit Karma, my credit is in the “excellent” range. They have my credit at a 760 or 785, depending on the site (Equifax & Transunion, respectively).

What possible reason would they have for denying me a line of credit?

An outstanding collection.

That’s what they said. The thing is, I’ve literally only had one “derogatory” mark on my credit in my life. It was from when I was 18 or 19 (nearly 15 years ago now) for not paying for those 10 DVD’s for 1 penny thing (mine was via Columbia House, but surely you’re familiar with those programs – there were several in that time-frame). It was a legitimate debt that I owed and, funny thing is, I even tried to pay for it a few years after-the-fact, but I couldn’t get the creditor to send me a letter stating that the debt would be settled in full after payment, so I never sent the payment. It aged until it fell off my credit and I haven’t even thought about it in years.

According to Credit Karma, I have no derogatory marks/late payments/etc (like I said, due to its age, this one negative mark long-ago fell off my credit report). I’m telling you, I’m kind of a stellar client from a lender’s perspective. I’m conscientious, pay on time, more than the minimum, etc. etc. Plus the lender who denied me also had me link my different bank accounts so they could see that I had lots of assets available (not only from my EF, but also my retirement, and I’m listed as a joint account holder on my Dad’s account, too, so although  I don’t consider his money “mine”, its a lot of additional liquid assets that are mine from a legal perspective since it’s a joint account). Soooo…what the heck? I don’t get it. But that’s that.

So this lender is out. I still have other options, but I was just shocked about this denial. Truly, genuinely shocked.

Have you ever been caught off-guard about an unexpected credit denial?

How did you spend your Thanksgiving holiday? What’s your favorite Thanksgiving food?


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