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Life After Credit Card Debt – Ups and Downs

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Hello everyone! It’s Tricia here with an update. I know some of you have been wondering how things have been going for my family. Now that Beks has basically paid off her debt, it is the perfect time for an update. Next month we get to meet the next blogger. I don’t know about you, but I am very excited!

First things first…are we still credit card debt free? It pains me to say this. Unfortunately, no. I could easily lie and say we don’t have any credit card debt but that wouldn’t be right. It will be paid off next month, but it’s still there. I can log into our account online right now and see a balance on our card that we can’t pay off. It hurts and I’m embarrassed to have an update with this news. We were doing fine, then I made a big mistake.

We decided that we were going to go on our first ever family vacation. I planned everything down to what we were going to be doing at 8:00PM on Friday night. All costs were carefully calculated on a spreadsheet and we saved up the money to cover our trip. My husband commented that maybe I should be a travel planner. I was pretty proud of myself until we got home. We overspent. I knew we overspent by a few hundred dollars because a week or so before our trip I added a show to our agenda. But the damage was more than that. All the little things added up. Trust me, I will not be pursuing a career as a travel planner anytime soon.

On the bright side, we had a fantastic time during our vacation. We made a scrapbook for our trip (the material for that was another expense I didn’t consider) that I look at a few times a week. It brings so much joy to my heart. Our life was becoming routine the shake-up that a vacation provides rejuvenated all of us. It will be the event in our lives that we will always talk about. No matter what, we’ll always have that experience.

Getting into credit card debt again shouldn’t have happened. We should have waited a while longer before going on vacation and saved up more money. I could have saved 50% on our tickets to the show but I wanted to be close to the action and paid the higher price. There were a lot of could haves and should haves to go around. The bottom line is that we didn’t immediately pay off what we spent so we had credit card debt again. At least next month it will be paid off. While I would love to go on a vacation again, it’s not going to happen anytime soon. Next time we’re going to save up way more than we think we will spend so this doesn’t happen again.

Now that the embarassing part is out of the way, here are some other updates:

  • We added a new member to our family. He is an adorable mutt that was on death-row. We knew there was something special about him when we met him. Sometimes the heart doesn’t talk to the brain. There have been added expenses (like taking him to the vets twice in the first two weeks we had him since I was worried about every little thing!). He’s also chewed four pairs of pants, countless socks, two wallets (including the contents!), numerous rolls of toilet paper, a Wii remote and other things I can’t think of at the moment. I could add up the monetary damage, but I won’t. The joy he has brought us is priceless.
  • Our son is now homeschooled. I won’t go into details, but my son’s school experience became less than ideal so we made the decision to homeschool him. We made an expensive mistake of enrolling him in a online private school. We were nervous about homeschooling by ourselves so we thought that would help and we’d try it out for a year. We were not impressed with the instruction or curriculum so we cut our losses and said goodbye to our deposit on the year’s tuition. After researching, I became more confident that we could develop a curriculum and teach our son ourselves. The materials haven’t been too expensive except for text books and some science kits. The internet has so much available for free. The added costs to homeschool have been worth it. Our son has improved leaps and bounds and we believe he’s caught up enough to go back into a brick and mortar school (more about that later).
  • We still keep our heat low in the house. It became painfully obvious when my son’s friend came over and decided to keep his winter jacket on with his hood up. I had to chuckle as I turned up the heat a little bit. My son comfortably roams around the house with no socks and shorts on. I guess the rest of us are used to it! As an experiment, I put the heat up to 68 degrees one day. My husband and son were both complaining that it was too hot!
  • I changed jobs twice since my last update! I left one job for a nice pay raise and then left that job for another job and took a pay cut. It seems a little crazy, but sometimes you have to take a step back to get on the path you are looking for. I’m pretty sure I’m right where I need to be for a while now.
  • We still live in our small 100+ year old home. It’s been a great starter home, but it’s time to move on soon. I don’t think we need a home that is bigger. I’d love one with a better layout and a larger yard. We would also like to get our son back into school this fall which means a move closer to different school. We have our sights set on an area closer to our families and if all goes well we’ll have a nice down payment saved up by mid-summer (we decided to not dip into our savings to pay off our credit card debt from our vacation). The first time we purchased a home we made a lot of newbie mistakes and we didn’t wheel and deal as much as we could have. I’m ready for the next opportunity.
  • Our son was diagnosed with a probable allergy to food dyes. As a result, many of the cheap foods we ate were now off-limits. Cheap mac & cheese (which my son loved)? It has yellow dye. What doesn’t have yellow dye? The expensive sauce packet mac & cheese. I don’t like to deny our son from all of his favorite foods or I feel he is going to sneak them in behind my back. I want to show him he has a choice and he is an active participant in making that choice so we do purchase more expensive foods without the coloring. This past Halloween he sorted through his candy himself and even looked at the ingredients. He didn’t want the candy with the food dyes. I was, and continue to be, so proud of him.
  • Our business stalled. We made a few mistakes in the beginning and stretched areas of the business and ourselves too thin. Things became really rough once we started homeschooling since that took up a lot of time, especially at first when we were getting the hang of it. We’ve since restructured our schedules and made the business more automated. Things are already turning around – 2012 is looking to be an excellent year.
  • We purchased an HDTV. Those of you who have followed us on our journey know how badly I wanted an HDTV. In a way the TV became the prize at the end of our journey. We didn’t purchase one right away. We shopped around for over a year and finally found the perfect one for us for at a great price. The picture was everything I had hoped for and it was paid for with cash.
  • I realized how much this blog impacted our debt reduction. Now that it’s been almost two years since I stopped blogging, I look back and think about what we were able to accomplish in three years with paying off our credit card debt. The intensity we had back then was way higher than it is now. This blog held me accountable. I truly believe blogging away debt or blogging about your finances is an excellent motivational tool. It may not work for everyone, but it definitely helped me and it has helped others.

That’s enough about my life. It’s time for more celebration for Bek’s debt pay-off and it’s time to wish her and her family well during their life after debt. Congratulations, Beks! I am proud of you! ๐Ÿ™‚


10 Comments

  • Reply Meg |

    Thanks for the update Tricia! It’s been a long time since we’ve heard from you. I agree about vacations, always have more than you think you’ll need because there is always something that comes up.

  • Reply jolie |

    SO good to hear from you Tricia. Sounds like you have had quite a few adventures and you still have that wonderful sense of humour and zest for life.

    I think your message is important to all of us out here. Paying off your debt doesn’t take away all the curveballs life throws at us. There will still be unplanned expenses. There will still be unexpected changes to our world that require different money focuses. All those great habits and skills gave you what you needed to handle so many of the curve balls that came at you, even if there is still a balance on the CC. Hope we still get to hear from you from time to time. Enjoy your search for your new home.

  • Reply Alexandria |

    Thank you for such an honest update. I didn’t start following this blogs until some time after Beks took over, but I get the feeling being “debt free” is just the beginning of a long journey. IT strikes me are almost irresponsible (for lack of a better word) to say the second you are “debt free” that life is all roses. I think it would be more interesting to see through to the other side, when one minor setback will likely put you right back into debt. Which is probably a very high risk at least the first year or so after getting out of debt. Until you build up savings and move forward with your life. Of course, your update reminds us it could take years. Staying out of debt will *always* be work. That’s true for anyone.

    Good luck on your upcoming move!

  • Reply emmi |

    Great to hear from you, Tricia! Don’t beat yourself up too much, sounds like only a hiccup. The day you stop learning is the day you die.

  • Reply Beks |

    Thanks for the update Tricia! Always glad to hear from an ‘old friend’. Also glad to hear about your decision to homeschool – even temporarily. My mother taught me at home (graduated high school under her teaching as well)and it was the best decision for me. I went to college and graduated Cum Laude. It’s a hard road but so VERY worth it.

  • Reply Nicole |

    Thank you for the update Tricia! After reading your blog for so long, it felt like I personally knew you. It is wonderful to hear you and your family are doing well.

    Don’t be too embarrassed about saying you’re in credit card debt. It seems to me the only reason you are in debt is your admirable high ethics and honesty…it sounds like you have plenty in savings that you could have used to pay off the debt, you just chose not to do that.

  • Reply Janelle |

    Tricia its great to hear from you! You know life throws us ups and downs – don’t beat yourself up for them. You are doing great and I’m sure you’ll continue to.

    We also homeschool our 4 children and always have. It can be done at a very low cost, as it seems you have discovered.

    I hope you find the perfect house! Its a buyers market, that is for sure! Again congrats and thanks for checking in.

  • Reply Him |

    Hey Tricia! I’m glad to see that you’re doing well. Good luck with the handful of adventures you’re taking on!

  • Reply margot |

    Congrats on adopting a dog. What a wonderful thing to save a life and to provide it such a good home after someone else left the dog to die in a shelter.

    Regarding the food issues, the allergies did you a favor. You’re literally cutting your child’s life short by feeding him unhealthy, processed foods that are dyed and come in a box. Healthy food is NOT more expensive. Real, whole foods are dirt cheap… beans, legumes, lentils, rice, quinoa, in-season fruits and vegetables. And when you eat real foods, you don’t have to worry about any dyes. Stop buying him “packets” of any kind of mac and cheese. If he wants to eat that, it barely takes any more time to make it from scratch with some whole wheat pasta, cheese and milk. And it’s cheaper.

    How depressing regarding the credit card debt. After getting out of debt, I can’t imagine ever wanting anything enough to go back into debt or to bring myself even close to it. I’d never even think of vacationing (other than a “staycation”) unless I had Dave Ramsey’s suggested 3-6 months of expenses in the bank plus lots and lots of extra money saved for luxuries.

  • Reply Alex |

    Awesome job here with all of the encouragement! I know from personal experience just how liberating it can be to get out of debt after being stuck in that hell for what seemed like forever. Today being responsible and living within my means is very important, however I am learning to not live in fear either that I will one day be back in financial bondage. I am holding the key to my future success. Thank you so much for your encouraging words.

So, what do you think ?