:::: MENU ::::
Posts tagged with: cruise

Cruise 2016 Planning

by

In February we made our final payment for Cruise 2016. At this point our cruise has been paid in full, my plane ticket has been paid in full, and a few cruising essentials have been purchased with cash (e.g., new swimsuit, floppy sun hat, and a snorkel set so far). In addition to these, the remaining items for us to pay include transportation for hubs and the girls, all cruise-related gratuities, and a few more clothing items for the fam. Plus, I’d still like to have a nice little big stack of cash for while we’re actually on the cruise. All food is included in the cruise price, as well as water, tea, and lemonade. But if we want any other drinks, any souvenirs, want to gamble, etc. etc. etc….all that costs money.  My mom generously paid for a couple excursions for all of us as our Christmas gift in 2015, so the actual excursions have been paid (but, again, possibility of off-boat meals or souvenirs).  All in all, though, I think we’re in pretty good shape.

Even after paying for the things listed above, we still currently have $2400 in our Cruise 2016 savings (I save for different goals in various Capital One 360 savings accounts < refer a friend link). I’d anticipate maybe $200-$300 in our remaining expenses (things like new swimsuits and sandals for the girls, and I’d like us each to have at least one new outfit, plus the obligatory trashy magazines and some snacks for our room, etc.). And there’s still 1 month until our sail date so there’s still time to save up some more.

My goal is to have plenty of money for our trip, and still have plenty leftover at the end. I really want to just have a good time and enjoy our vacation while we’re there without worrying about money so I’m not imposing strict limits on spending (with the caveat that, obviously, we’re paying cash so we can’t go over our cash limit). I hope to still have plenty of money leftover once the trip ends so we can throw it toward our debt and play a little catch-up since the first part of this year is going to be spent mostly in savings-mode (building back up our EF and saving for a house down payment).

But even though this is a get-out-of-debt blog, I just can’t feel guilty about this trip. We’ve been planning and saving for it for over a year (since February 2015). This was NOT a light-hearted decision made on a whim. We’ve carefully carved a little money from our budget every single month to make this goal a reality. The trip comes at a great time, as we finally declared our freedom from consumer debt! But, really, the point of the trip was to celebrate my Mom’s 60th birthday. Having lived through the completely unexpected turn of events in the past year that ended up with my Dad being laid off from his job, declared permanently disabled, and being diagnosed with frontotemporal degeneration (a rare form of dementia), I’ve really stopped to reflect on my life and my relationship with my family. It’s hard not living near them and having them in my daily life. And there’s no promise of how much time we’ll have together. So as much as this trip is a celebration of our passing the critical consumer debt-free threshold, it’s also a celebration of family, love, and life. An opportunity to cherish the moment, even when we still have a lot of work to do on the get-out-of-debt front. Basically, it’s my way of claiming some balance in this crazy life of mine; one that’s totally changed in the past 2 years while I’ve been blogging. I wouldn’t change a minute, but I don’t take it for granted either.

I know that many readers are still deep in the trenches of debt reduction and I’d hate to feel like I’m bragging or rubbing our success in others’ faces. So I won’t spend a lot of time talking about the cruise, but I do want to acknowledge that it’s coming up in a few weeks and to talk a little about how we’ve been able to scrimp and save and actually afford the trip by paying in all cash (Cliff’s Note version:  basically, we planning and saved for a looooong time).

Hubs and I used to love to travel. Since our wedding in 2010 we haven’t traveled anywhere other than to visit family (which is still travel since we live out-of-state, but it’s not the exotic, beach-laying or mountain-skiing type of travel/vacations of the past). I’m so excited to have our first vacation as a family of 4 (+ extended family) and to build some memories that will hopefully last a lifetime.

I can’t wait!


What’s Next

by

If you missed my post earlier this week, I announced the exciting news that we are officially consumer debt-free! YAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!! (insert happy dance emoticon)

What’s funny is almost immediately after making the final payment on the car….it broke. Ha!

A bit of euphemism. It didn’t break down. Just a piece of it broke off. Check this out.

IMG_1575

Nothing even happened to cause it to break! I was just driving down the road to get to work, minding my own business, when out of the corner of my eye I saw a piece of our car just flapping in the wind! I immediately exited the highway but on the exit ramp the piece fully fell off and broke into several pieces.

Hubs looked it up and thinks he can get the part for relatively cheap ($100ish) and do the install himself. So all is well, just kind of funny that the second it becomes OURS….it breaks. Ha!

At any rate, I’ve had a couple people comment and ask what’s next now that the car is finally paid in full.

It’s tough because #1) I’d love to start punching Navient in the face, taking out loans left and right, and #2) I have a relatively small balance transfer loan (just over $2100) from what was originally a student loan that I’d love to pay off next month.

BUT…

I’m trying to use my head and not just my heart (which says to start stomping the student loans NOW), and make our first priority re-building our emergency fund.

If you don’t remember, our EF was slowly whittled away the second part of 2015. As was our “living on last month’s income” fund. Hubs’ business wasn’t doing so hot in 2015, so whenever I needed that extra little boost for paying debts, I’d “borrow” here and there. First from the “last month’s income” fund, and then when hubs had a no income month I used our EF and, well, now we’re down to basically nada in either of those accounts (note:  not entirely true…we still have a few hundred in the EF, but not nearly what we’d like to have).

We have 3 big goals for 2016:

  1. Save up $10,000 for a house down payment.
  2. Save $5,000 for an emergency fund.
  3. Put $30,000 toward debt.

Starting in February, we’ll begin chipping away at items #1 and #2. We’ll still be paying toward debt, too, of course. But we’ll be doing so at a much less aggressive rate as we, instead, try to restock some money in the bank.

The plan is to put nearly $2,000 a month into savings. This will be $1250/month toward the house down payment fund (our goal is to buy by the end of summer, so we need to save heavily the first half of the year), and another $500/month into our dedicated Emergency Fund.

In addition to that, we’ll still be making debt payments in the range of $1500-$2000 per month.

It’s going to be tough. That’s a pretty aggressive rate of savings and debt payment. We’re talking about $3500/month between the two, which is more than what our average monthly debt payments were last year (see here for a quick-view breakdown of the majority of last year).

But when you have something so meaningful that you’re working toward, it definitely helps put the fire under your pants. That, plus this will be our first full year both working full-time (and I still have the part-time job, too). It’s just going to be astronomical earnings compared to 2 years ago. Even compared to the first half of last year. So I think we can do it.

The first half of the year will, admittedly, be a little heavy on the savings side of things. Then the second half of the year we’ll make up some ground and really start making some good headway with the student loan debt.

But it won’t be all savings and no debt until then! It wouldn’t make sense to blog for a getting out of debt blog if I wasn’t actively working on the debt!

I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve to try to make some good progress even while in savings mode! I’ve GOT to have the balance transfer student loan paid in fully by April (that’s when the interest sky rockets from 0% to 13%!!!) But right now my projections show it being paid in full by March. Then I plan to initiate a second balance transfer to do it all over again (they still have the deal with 0% APR for a year, and only a 2% initiation fee; this is half the initiation fee of other offers I’ve received).

I also may consider some type of consolidation program a little bit down the road. I like having my loans separated currently because it gives me a big psychological boost every time I pay off one of the loans (and I target them one-by-one, paying minimums on all others). However, I hate Navient with such a fiery passion that it may be worth it to consolidate with an outside company just to get them out of my life. We’ll see. I’m not jumping on anything now, but keeping my mind open to the possibility down the road.

Anyway, that’s it for now. I just wanted to dedicate a post to the question I’ve been seeing, “What’s next?”

Also…counting down the days until the all-cash paid Cruise 2016 vacation in April! We’ve been planning and saving for it since February 2015 (over a year!!!), so we’re beyond ready! I can’t wait! Whoever said you can’t have a little bit of fun while in debt-repayment mode certainly never read here! It may be a controversial stance, but I’m a believer in balance in life. We’ve worked HARD the past two years to dig ourselves out of the giant debt hole we were stuck in. Yes, we have a long way to go. But it’s precisely because this is a MARATHON (and not a sprint) that I think it makes sense to build some fun into the budget. Otherwise it’d just be impossible to stick to for so long! That’s my view on the matter.

What are your plans once you get out of consumer debt? Tackle student loans? Your mortgage? Get your savings up to snuff? Or are you going to go beyond? Perhaps save enough to retire early? Do some traveling, etc? I’d love to hear YOUR plans!