:::: MENU ::::
Browsing posts in: Successes

The Car is Sold! – $30K in Debt – Gone!

by

The van has sold! The money part won’t be done til early next week with the holiday and all, but the buyer and I have come to an agreement. The bank and I have come to an agreement. And instructions for getting everything done has been sent to the buyer.

I know I’m not supposed to count my chickens before they hatch, but guys, this is HUGE! Almost $30K of my debt will be GONE!

I will definitely be posting a numbers update next week when all the dust settles, but I wanted to share this AMAZING news with you.

I will be driving a DEBT free car, with minimal insurance and gas costs for the forseeable future. I know you only know me via posts here, but I have to tell you, that this is a HUGE step for me. I will be adding AAA this week to help with my security issues as far as driving an older used car, and if you hear of major traffic jams due to inexperienced stick shift driver…well, that’s me.

But I can already feel the HUGE weight coming off my shoulders, and I simply can’t wait to redo my budget WITHOUT the costs of this car.

Ok, enough rambling. I’m going to go spend the rest of my Christmas Eve with my kiddos…we’ve been saving for a special meal out and I’ve got a family gift that we will open tonight that I think will be a blast.

We’ll talk soon, okay?

Merry Christmas!


How I Reduced My Debt by $10,000 in 6 Months

by

By Alan Helman

Chances are incredibly high that, at some point in your life, you will have to deal with debt. Thanks to increasing tuition rates and decreasing summer employment, students are leaving college and university saddled with large amounts of debt. Then add in the costs of starting a family and buying a house and a car and…well, you see the problem. A lot of people who had dreamed of a life as an artist or a designer find themselves having to switch gears in order to handle this debt, and then falling into a depression when they look at the seeming impossibility of becoming debt-free.

When I graduated, the first thing I had to establish was that it wasn’t possible to pay off all my student debt at once, and looking at the full amount due almost gave me a heart attack. I told myself not to freak out; paying off the debt was possible. It would take some creativity on my part, and might require I change my way of living a bit, but the thrill of realizing that I wasn’t so deep in debt was certainly worth the life change.

Build a Budget

After a lot of research, talking to friends and professionals, I found that the best way to reduce (and eventually get rid of) my debt is to set a good budget and follow it. I determined how much money I brought in each month, then figured out what percentage of that absolutely had to go to standing bills like my mortgage, car payments, debt payments, etc. The money that was left over could then be apportioned to my remaining monthly purchases. I started with the most important areas: figuring out an amount to devote to food, an amount for gas (and transit fees, for when I took the train or might need a cab), and an amount for entertainment. I tried to leave myself with extra money in the kitty, because I knew a few things already:

1. Chances were high that I would break my budget in one area or another, especially when just starting out.
2. The extra money could be used to pay down more of my debt.
3. It’s always a good idea to try to accumulate a bit of a savings to safeguard against emergency situations.

There are plenty of online systems that can help create a budget, so I took advantage of that in my planning. The New York Times suggested some great apps such as LevelMoney or Billguard–these systems often come with fees attached, and that money would have to come out of the budget, but it was worth it in the long run. Apps like this provide a valuable service and, for me, were 100 percent worth the money. It might not be the same for you, so make sure you know what you’re getting into before you jump for a service.

Search for Sales

I found one of the best things about the Internet is that it makes looking for deals much easier. I no longer had to scour the newspapers and local flyers for the right coupons or stand in line for the huge sales at stores; everything was online where I could access it easily. Since I’d already budgeted for my Internet bill, it was simple. I discovered coupon apps, which led to some pretty great savings (or refunds and rebates) once I uploaded my receipt to the app. Other coupons could be saved on my iPhone, and then shown to the cashier to be scanned. Though the amount saved on each coupon seemed pretty small, it added up quickly. For beginners, the Toronto Star has a great list of sites and advice from people who are quite successful at utilizing this method.

If I needed a new electronic device or piece of computer hardware, I just made sure I found the best deals online. This simple act saved me hundreds, possibly even thousands of dollars. I was amazed at the plethora of things I could find coupons for on the net.

Increasing Income Creatively

I didn’t have the time or the energy to take on a second job, but this didn’t mean I couldn’t increase the amount of money I was bringing in. This is actually where I found I could draw on that creative side that I’d come to fear was lost forever. Thanks to online eCommerce sites like Shopify, I found I could create an online store of my own to sell my art, design and products bearing them. I was able to set up a shop that held my unique designs, choosing a price that I felt was fair while still competitive.

While I worked to pay the bills, my designs were finally online for millions to discover. With a little bit of effort in my spare time (dealing with the orders, creating product), I found I could actually, at least in part, live my artistic dream — and still pay the bills. I never had to be a starving artist.

If you think the idea sounds like a silly fantasy, like I did at first, you should know something: this is actually how new designers are approaching the market. Cutting out the retail store middleman allowed both for increased profit but also increased creative control, and even beyond that I came to the realization that the online market is much bigger than single retail stores. It’s quite serious; the Wall Street Journal has touted this method as “the new black.” Online sales are always on the rise, so this was the ideal opportunity to live my dream while still keeping a foot in the regular working world.

Very few people will live a life of complete leisure, never worrying about their income. But having a budget didn’t mean I couldn’t have nice things (or, you know, things). It just meant I needed to be a little more creative when it came to choosing how to buy things, and left me to explore other ways to make money. The biggest thing I learned was that it doesn’t actually have to be a huge effort, thanks to the wonders of the Internet and current technology. Six months later, and I’m that much closer to living debt-free. You could be too.


The House

by

My house sold!  The signed contract isn’t in hand yet, but we got the offer on Monday and on Thursday we came to terms.  It will close next month.

What a total and complete blessing!

For those of you into numbers, this means the house sold in 1 week and we got almost what we asking for it.  I have no idea what this means for me monetarily, and am not ready to ask my dad that question but in terms of psychology and stress, this has lifted a huge burden off my shoulders.  Now I can look forward without worrying about how my decisions affect anyone but me and my kids.

Thank you for all your support and encouragement and even gentle nudges to do better as I walk this path.

I will be posting a new budget this week, but in reality it won’t really take affect until December since I need to finish paying bills from getting the house ready, etc.  More on that later…just wanted to share this exciting news.


Barter Win – Homeschool Tuition

by

Sorry, I was MIA last week.  I woke up last Wednesday just simply overwhelmed at the amount of work I/we still had to get done and facing working both jobs plus approximately 3 hours in the car with kid chauffeuring duties.  I made an executive decision and called in to my part time job and then got all the kids up super early and got down to business.  That day turned the corner for me in terms of this move and now I’m in a much better place mentally!  There is definitely something to be said for “mental health” days, that’s for sure.

So moving past that I wanted to tell about a recent financial win.  As I have mentioned I barter for almost all of my kids activities.  But one thing I’ve never been able to to barter for was our homeschool co op tuition, and this year with four kids going it was over $2000.  Ugh!  This is the first year that I’ve had all four homeschooling year round so the first time for this large of a bill.  Not to mention the older two are taking more advanced, thus more expensive courses.

Typically my little one’s dad comes up with at least 1/2 of theirs, but this year he is in a transition phase and is short on money.  He did help but nearly so much as he normally does.  (Note: We do not have a formal financial arrangement of any kind.  I tell him when the kids need things and if he can, and most of the time he can, he helps out.  I have no complaints at all about his contribution and while it is not viewed as the traditional child support arrangement it works for us and takes the financial stress out of an already stressful relationship.)

So I was facing a really large bill at an already stressful time.  (This tuition is lumped into the monthly line item of my budget of Kid’s Activities in case you were wondering.)  Ok, so what to do.  Well, as you know, we are minimizing like no body’s business over here.  Our garage sale was an overwhelming success and I have been advertising on Facebook and Craigslist, etc.  So my win…

One of the teachers who teaches three of my children year long just so happened to need a couple of pieces of furniture that I had…and voila, like that a barter deal was worked out, my furniture for a full years tuition for 3 children, 1 class each…SCORE!  For those who want numbers this equates to about $600 in tuition.  SCORE!


Our Trash May be Someone’s Treasure!

by

Won’t have a ton of posts today, this past week we have been working crazily to continue the purge.  The deadline is Friday morning when our garage sale opens!

I never considered myself a hoarder until last night when we started getting to the last nooks and crannies of places in the house.  OMG…I have not 1, not 2, not 3, but 7 sets of oil pastels.  And no, I am not an art teacher nor trained as an artist and we rarely use those types of art supplies in school  Why in the world do I have 7 almost never touched sets.  And that’s just one of the many things like that!

I was telling someone that if I received tax deductions on the WEIGHT of what I donate, I would be rolling in it, wouldn’t need to pay taxes for decades probably.  And despite all the donating, trashing and garage stuffed with things for the sale, our house is still full.  Just shows me how much more I have to go and truly how much “stuff” we have.  I’ve really enjoyed the blogs people have recommended regarding the minimalist lifestyle.  My daughter and I are going to try the Project333 route with our clothing.

So just a brief money update…want guess how much we’ve made thus far with selling stuff?  Okay, I won’t make you wait.

$735

And that’s without the garage sale monies that we will hopefully earn this weekend.  Woohoo!  Just a reminder, these monies are being split between debt pay off and savings for replacement items that will happen once we find a new permanent living space, estimated at a year plus down the road.

I am so grateful for the all the garage sale hints.  Just by starting the advertising with pictures this week on our local Craigslist, Facebook groups and my personal page, we’ve got people picking things up tonight and shopping early tomorrow evening as we set up.  I am so excited for this stuff to be gone as we move closer to this new phase of our lives….T-Minus 3 weeks to move day.


Found a Cheat!

by

As of yesterday we are a book free house…at least temporarily.  We gathered every single book in the house and sorted them into four piles…

  1. Goes to the apartment – mostly schoolbooks but a few personal books
  2. Goes to donation
  3. Schoolbooks to sell – homeschoolers have lots of sites they sell/trade used curriculum so I’ll try that route with my old stuff before just giving it away
  4. Book Exchange (this is a link to their Facebook page in case you wanted to check them out and maybe find one near you.  It is NOT an affiliate link of any kind.)

The fourth one is my new cheat…I knew there were used bookstores, but I’m such a fan of the library that I rarely buy books.  But over the years we have amassed quite a collection between gifts, etc.  So a few weeks ago as we headed into this transition I drove by this place and thought to give them a call.  They will take our books and based on their inventory and the condition of the book, will give us store credit for the books.  That way, down the road and as a treat, we can go in and “shop” without actually spending any money. (When I dropped them off, they even offered to donate the books they didn’t want to keep for me so I didn’t have to do that…score!)

We dropped off four huge boxes of books to them yesterday…dropped two more at the local thrift store and put four more boxes into storage so it’s ready for the apartment without being in the way.  Our house is now book free. (Ok, the schoolbooks to sell are still here, but they will be gone soon and are neatly stacked out of the way.)

It would have been great if they actually gave us cash for our books, but I think this is a great alternative to that and will be a neat treat down the road when we have the “shopping” itch!

As the principal, administrator and only teacher in our homeschool, I made the executive decision that we will delay starting our new school routine until after the move.  Since we school year round and I believe that the kids will learn many lessons from this move, I am certain it will not affect the overall scheme of things and it takes a lot of pressure off both me and the kids as we have daily tasks pertaining to the move.  It also made putting all our books in storage for this last month a possibility.

 


Small Win

by

Today my Sea Cadet graduates from his “boot camp” in Pennsylvania.  The old me would have driven up the night before, gotten a hotel room…etc.  The new me, well, I got up at 3:30am this morning, got dressed, got kids in the car and hit the road.  Giving myself 30 extra minutes to get there based on estimated drive time.

I am planning on lunch out before we head back, because I know he’s going to have lots to tell and I want to focus on him rather than on driving before we start the 5 1/2 hour drive home.

11 hours of drive time today with a short break for his graduation and lunch, but no hotel or extra meal costs.  Yahoo for the small wins, especially making hard choices for this debt payoff journey!

Wrote this earlier this week, but by the time this publishes we’ll have been on the road for almost two hours.  Please send thoughts and prayers for safe travels today.