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Posts tagged with: dave ramsey

Extended Warranty to the Rescue!!!

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Back when we bought our new-to-us (then only 1-year-old) car, we added all the warranties on top of the sales price and financed it all together.

Remember, this was back before any debt-reduction mission or such. After listening to Dave Ramsey, I’ve now learned that the majority of extended warranties are a total waste of money (disclaimer: I don’t blindly believe everything Ramsey says, but I do believe this one).

Even so, when we finally paid off the car this past January I never took any steps to cancel the extended warranty so I could be reimbursed for the pricey policy. I just paid it off and went on about my life.

Fast forward to this month. Out of nowhere, we’ve experienced some random electrical issues. Unfortunately, a lot of the car’s displays are electronic. At this point, the entire dash is out. That means I cannot control A/C, we have no radio, there’s no time display, no backup camera, and more. Though most of it is just an inconvenience, some of it actually poses health and safety hazards. For instance, I’ve been driving my girls around this week and they’re crying in the backseat that they’re all sweaty (here in Tucson we’re still over 100 degrees every day). The A/C was on when the dash electronics went out, but it was set to low. Without the electric display, I have no way to change the A/C to be higher or lower and the heat is so all-encompassing that it literally feels borderline-dangerous to be driving the kiddos around without proper air.

After calling a couple shops and discovering that this is most likely a dealership issue (= $$$), I remembered that we had bought an extended warranty that specifically covers the electrical components on the vehicle.

“There’s no way the warranty is still effective”, I thought. We’ve owned the car for just at 3 years now, but we’ve already hit over 100,000 miles. I was imagining the warranty was probably nullified right around the 3-year and 100,000 mile mark.

So, imagine my surprise (and joy!) when I called and discovered that the extended warranty actually covers up to 5 years or 125,000 miles!!! We’re still under warranty, baby!!!

The other issue is that when I was calling around to shops, I was not only stressed about the money, but also the logistics. From what I was told, vehicle electrical work can take quite awhile. So either I’m stuck at the mechanics shop all day, or they can bring me back to my house. But that means it has to be a day we have the babysitter (because they can’t transport me + 2 kids in carseats). However, I’ve already determined that it’s tough to work while the kids are at home. So…stuck at the mechanics shop, then?  I know this is total 1st world problems and not really a big deal, but these are the logistics I’m grappling with. HOWEVER, our extended warranty (purchased through CarMax) includes FREE LOANER CAR while they’re doing the repair work!!!

They’ve said they may need to send the car to the dealership (which sounds likely after speaking to several local mechanics shops), but either way CarMax still provides me with a loaner. PLUS, I’ve had 2 recall-related issues pop up within the past few months that I’ve been putting off forever. So I can actually get those issues handled as well. All for $0 out-of-pocket.

My appointment is scheduled for next Thursday so I still don’t know the full amount of time it will take or even the full scope of what the issue is and what needs to be done to repair it. I’m just happy that this dumb (and super $$$) extended warranty is coming in handy! And, I may be wrong, but I believe I could still cancel at any time and receive a partial reimbursement for whatever time is remaining in the warranty. So there’s a chance I may get this stuff taken care of, then cancel the warranty in a month or so, and still end up with money leftover! I don’t want to get my hopes up (because I don’t know for sure if they’ll do partial reimbursements), but it’s an exciting prospect.

Three cheers for an extended warranty that actually came in handy and hopefully saves us some money!

What are your thoughts on extended warranties? Do you buy them? Why or why not?


Ashley’s December 2015 Debt Update

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Here we are on the last day of the month/year. How has your December been?

Aside from a couple little financial hiccups, ours has been fabulous! During the school break I’ve actually unplugged for full days at a time (a rarity, especially when you work online!) and its been great to just be around and enjoy family without constantly checking email!

But let’s not forget why we’re here. We had some lofty goals in terms of debt repayment that I wasn’t sure we’d meet this month (in fact, I have said several times we probably would not meet our goals).

After all the dust settled and the paychecks had been cashed, let’s see how things shaped up this month.

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date Original debt, March 2014
Capital One CC-17.9%-Paid off in March 2014$413
Mattress Firm-0%-Paid off in May 2014$1381
Wells Fargo CC-13.65%-Paid off in May 2014$7697
BoA CC-7.24%-Paid off in June 2014$2220
License Fees-2.5%-Paid off in April 2015$5808
Navient$82,1776.55%-8.25%$277December$80761
ACS Student Loans$85966.55%$20December$8215
PenFed Car Loan$31812.49%$1800December$24040
Balance Transfer student loan (Former Navient 1-01)$26120% (through April 2016)$400December$5937
Medical Bills$59360%$25December$9000
Totals$102,502 (Nov balance = 104,704)$2522Starting Debt = $145,472

After all was said and done, we ended up paying just over $2500 in debt this month. Our initial debt payment was actually about $300 lower than this, but I squeezed every spare penny out of the budget and was able to make an additional last-minute (December 30th) extra payment to the car loan.

Our final consumer-related debt, the car, is now at a balance of $3,181. And our overall debt balance is at $102,502. So we did NOT make our goals of paying off the car or dipping below $100k in debt this month as we had hoped. 

That being said, come hell or high water, we will meet both of these goals in January. So we’ll be a few weeks behind the initial goal, but not by much.

Another one of our 2015 Financial Goals included paying $30,000 total toward debt during the year. Here’s where our final debt payment numbers landed:

January $1678
February $1822
March $653
April $1796
May $1708
June $725
July $2125
August $2250
September $2575
October $5513
November $2751
December $2522
Total $26118

So, again, we didn’t quite meet our goal, but we weren’t terribly far off either.

Overall, I’m quite proud of how well we’ve done in 2015. Let’s not forget that hubs’ business has had a bit of a rough year. His income wasn’t as high as it was in 2014 (and he had a couple months with no income whatsoever). Plus, I didn’t start my full-time job until the end of summer, so my income didn’t increase until the second half of the year.

When I set our goals, I always like to set “reaching” goals. This means they’re not easily attainable in-the-bag type goals. They’re goals where the numbers don’t quite work and, yet, I set the goals anyway because I want something to reach for and work toward. So the fact that we didn’t quite make our goals doesn’t bother me as much as one might think (though, don’t get me wrong, I would have LOVED to reach our goals!). My point is simply that I think the goals did their job. They made us work hard to try to do something crazy – something the numbers said wouldn’t or couldn’t work. And we made incredible progress, so that’s something to be proud of.

And, I have a mini-secret up my sleeve. My “ace in the hole”, if you will.

Just as former blogger Adam posted that he and Emily are effectively debt free (see their update here), I have similar news to share. You know how every month I’ve reported that I’ve been saving money toward Cruise 2016? Well, guess what…

As of this month (December 2015), I have $3,300 in one of my Capital One 360 savings accounts for the cruise. But the next cruise payment isn’t due until February 2016. So what I’m saying is that we actually have enough liquid cash available to be entirely consumer debt-free today.

In fact, I had initially planned to “steal” from myself (from the cruise fund), pay off the car in full, and then spend January/February re-saving that money for the cruise. However, after the unexpected extra expenses this month coupled with the fact that we really have little-to-no additional savings to speak of right now (not to mention we’re still in Texas so if we encountered any problems on the trip back to Arizona, etc.) I wanted to err on the side of caution and keep that money in the bank.

That being said, mark my words:  We will be consumer debt-free in January 2016. Hopefully we’ll be able to do it the old fashioned way (i.e., using our pay to finish paying off the last consumer debt). But even if something crazy happened, we had extra expenses or whatever, and we didn’t have enough money to quite cover the full amount of debt, I fully intend to use all our available capital (including the cruise fund) to MAKE SURE our consumer debts are fully eradicated before the end of January.

So we are effectively consumer debt-free now (in the sense that we have the money to pay off the last of our consumer debt), but we will become actually consumer debt-free within the next couple of weeks.

You can imagine that this is one of the biggest things on the forefront of my mind and I basically can’t shut up about it. My family has asked if it feels amazing and, although it feels pretty good, I still think there will be a big difference once I actually transfer the funds and see zeros on the balance owed of our vehicle. Just thinking about it makes me smile. And now I’m totally “that person” because I bought both my sister & my brother a copy of Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover for Christmas (during their $10 sale! Couldn’t pass it up!) Edited to add:  This is totally creepy, but the link to Ramsey’s book automatically appears, perhaps since it’s tagged to this post. I did NOT link it myself, nor is the link an affiliate link. In fact, it seems like I cannot remove the link without changing the wording of the post to not include the book’s name. Really weird/creepy, and I don’t particularly like that, but just wanted to be transparent that the link appears to be an auto-generated thing and I do NOT make any type of money or kick-back if you buy the book.

Just to be clear, I don’t blindly follow everything Ramsey says (as you can tell from my 2016 financial goals), but I do credit him (and Bobby Bones!) with jump-starting my mission to become debt-free. And I want to spread the message to those I love! What better gift to give than the gift of financial freedom? LOL. A bit of hyperbole (it’s not like I’m paying off anyone else’s debt), but it’s like giving a roadmap that can help others, so of course I want to share that information!

Anyway, this post has become entirely too long and I’ve got to run! New Years Eve is my birthday and I have lots of fun plans for family time, getting my hair professionally cut/colored (gift from my Mom and the first professional job in a really long time), lunch with my Dad, sparklers with the kids, etc. etc. etc.

I wish everyone a safe and happy New Years! I’ll catch you on the flip side! 😉


Summer Book Club Review: Complete Guide To Money

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It’s time for our first summer book club review!

Did you read Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money with me?

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If not, no worries! I’ll be announcing the next book club read at the end of the post! And read my review anyway – maybe you’ll get something from it even without reading the whole book.

Let’s get started….

My general thoughts are that the book basically rehashes a lot of his other books that I’ve read (I’ve read Total Money Makeover and EntreLeadership). Even so, his writing is fun and engaging. He’s definitely a charismatic speaker and it comes through in his books, too. There are a lot of repeat stories that I’ve heard before on the radio (and/or read in previous books), but there are certainly some new ones too. Also, he’s pretty honest and open about the fact that the book covers all the same stuff he talks about on a regular basis. So you go into it almost expecting a bit of a review (at least that’s the case if you’re a regular Ramsey reader or radio show listener).

One of the things I enjoy is that Ramsey includes “We Did It” stories throughout the book as a motivating tool to read about real life people who applied his principles to reach their financial goals. I also like that he pulls in Twitter and Facebook posts as an added connection to readers.

Here are some quotations (some are direct quotes some are paraphrased) of things that jumped out at me as I read through the book:

  • If you start at age 16 and never have a car payment, but instead invest the difference, you’d retire a multi-millionaire just by avoiding car payments. Why not teach THAT in school?
  • Debt is a product. It’s the most successfully marketed product in all of history.
  • Dave’s grandma always said: “There’s a great place to go when you’re broke….. To Work!” (<<<my personal favorite quote from the book!)
  • Most families going through Financial Peace University program are debt free except their house in 18 months!!!
  • How would it feel to have absolutely no debt hanging over you?
  • How much of your income is currently going out in the form of payments every month (e.g., credit cards, home equity loan, mortgage, car loan, student loan, etc.)? What could you do if you actually got to keep that money?

While reading the book I also jotted down a couple of my own personal stories that related to things Dave mentioned in his book.

  • When I was a kid (not even 18 yet), I got a membership to Columbia House. They send you a bunch of free DVDs, but then start mailing you random DVDs every couple weeks which they bill you for in-full until you send notice to cancel your membership. I’d gotten caught up in the program and hadn’t canceled in time and owed money that I never paid and, eventually, it went on my credit. Again…we’re talking about something from nearly 15 years ago. The debt was small (under a hundred dollars), but it stayed on my credit forever – well past the 7 year mark – because creditors can do an account inquiry, which counts as account activity. Eventually I just paid the debt off so it would go away, but I was shocked to find out that the whole “it drops off your credit in 7 years” myth is NOT always the case. Columbia House showed me that by hanging around probably 12 years or so.
  • Ramsey talks a lot about how debt collectors have all kinds of terrible techniques to get you to pay THEM before any of your other bills. After my grandfather’s death, my maternal grandmother (who now lives in assisted living funded for by my mother) didn’t have a lot of income. She got behind on her bills and had credit card debt collectors calling her relentlessly. They convinced her to pay her credit card bill before her own mortgage and utility payments (which my mom was forced to step in and cover to keep the lights on). Obviously you shouldn’t be taking on debt you can’t afford to pay back. But you should also make sure you have a roof over your head and food in your fridge (and electricity to power the fridge) before paying back scummy credit card companies! No debt is the way to go!
  • Ramsey talked a lot about the power of marketing on buying decisions. I saw this come to light the most when I was planning our wedding 5 years ago. I swear, everything is marked up 10x just because its associated with a wedding. An identical product intended for a birthday party (instead of wedding) is so much cheaper! There’s something about weddings, specifically, that make people feel obligated to spend. I remember joking with friends at the time…. “if you truly love each other, you’ll order the specialty cocktail napkins with your personalized monogram! If you don’t upgrade but opt to stick with the regular napkins, you’re surely destined for divorce!!!” No, no one literally said those words to me. But that’s certainly how it felt!!!

Overall, I’d give the book 3.5 out of 5 stars. It never drew me in to where I just couldn’t put the book down. But its a quick and engaging read and has lots of helpful info, even if much of it is review.

What did you think?

What would you do with your extra money if you didn’t have any debts to pay?

And….drumroll please……..

Our next summer book club selection is:

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Your Money or Your Live:  9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence.

So pick it up from your local library. This will be our selection for the month of July. If you have another (financially-oriented) book you’d like to read, leave a comment with your opinion and I’ll select another one for August!

 


Dave Ramsey Motivation – New Income Streams

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Earlier this year I wrote about opening up some additional revenue streams and taking me out of the mix.  Well, I am excited to announce that I have successfully done one of the two (not the way I had originally hope, but that’s still on the horizon.)  I mentioned earlier that I had volunteered to start teaching a couple of classes for our homeschool co op.  We don’t have a computer teacher, and I certainly qualify for that, and the increasing costs of having four kids in co op classes about made me choke this year.  So I signed up and was accepted and now will be teaching two classes this fall.  Great!  That should cover all four kids’ tuition.

But as I’ve continually been seeking other ways to make more money…I applied to teach the same classes online.  And as of yesterday I was hired!!!!  So I will be teaching one class this summer and then two in the fall.  Yeah!  So I’m doubling my “teaching” income and only having to create one set of classes.  This kind of feels like deja vu since I know Ashley just wrote about doing the same thing.

I can’t say just how much money I will make with these two new sides gigs (in addition to this new job and this new job,) as I get paid by the student.    But I’m hoping it will be enough to cover the kids’ co op tuition and help speed up the Student Loan debt that I will be laser focused on when these two jobs start.

Okay, the reason for the title…I read this article I stumbled upon recently stating 5 6 things Dave Ramsey said you should do to get financial freedom and then voila this happened.  So I think that type of thinking being in my brain has helped me ferret out any and all new possibilities.

Ok, one more thing, hoping to pre-empt some questions…

How am I going to continue to homeschool my kids if I keep committing to more work? 

I hope to spend the summer prepping for the classes.  I only teach 1 hour per week and then grade projects for each class.  So if I have my lesson plans and projects all ready, I am hoping that each class will take no more then 3-4 hours per week. Thus the desire for the littles, in particular, to do some extra camps this summer so I get plenty of time to focus!

What about your existing clients?  How will this affect your work with them?

With the one client that I have dedicated hours for, I have already cleared the actual “teaching” time with them so they know I won’t be available during those hours. Since it’s max of 1 hour per day for teaching, it really just like requesting a regular lunch hour. And the grading, etc. I can do anytime, even weekends when needed so won’t bump into regular working hours.

Hope this helps.  I am pretty excited about this new side to my “career” since I’ve been doing technical training for clients for over a decades now, eek, can’t believe I can honestly say decade…and homeschooling for 6 years, I think I am ready to take this on!


Starting the Debt-Reduction Mission

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Today I want to talk about a little of the back-story that lead to me really kicking into high gear on our family’s debt-reduction mission. Check out my story and be sure to leave yours in the comments! I’d love to hear more about what caused you and your family to decide that you really needed to kick some debt booty!

If you’ve read my debt story then you know that I haven’t always lived my life with debt. It wasn’t until I started graduate school that I took out my first student loan, then another, and another. Meanwhile, I also financed basic life essentials by paying with credit cards (and never paying them off). In the span of just two short years I amassed over $70,000 in debt.

It was an overwhelming amount of debt so I kind of distanced myself from it, psychologically-speaking. I knew I wouldn’t be able to make any real progress on it until I was done with grad school so I just pushed it out of my mind until that time.

I graduated with a Ph.D. in August 2013. I was lucky to land a position the same month, but at that point I still wasn’t gung-ho about debt reduction.

Really buckling down with debt-reduction had been in the back of my mind for awhile, but I hadn’t felt a great sense of urgency. I was making over minimum payments, but didn’t have a set plan in place (like my debt attack plan of action), and although we had a budget, the spending categories were all set much higher than currently (specifically, a lot more went toward groceries and eating out each month).

But the seeds had been sown.

By Fall 2013 I was really starting to feel more of a need to get our finances in order. I was working full-time (side note just to clarify the job situation…..I was hired at my old alma mater and worked a full-time/in-person position. But only a few months later in December 2013, the faculty member with whom I worked moved to a new university. I continued to work for the new university through distance, but switched from being a full-time employee to a part-time contract employee. This is the “University B” I’ve referenced many times). I started putting big chunks of my paycheck toward debt.

During this time, I started to immerse myself in stories of debt reduction. I’d been reading BAD casually for awhile, but I went back and re-read entire bloggers’ stories. I did the same thing with No More Harvard Debt, Man Versus Debt, and Fun Cheap or Free.

In February 2014 I was listening to my favorite morning talk show, The Bobby Bones Show (it’s a syndicated radio show in several markets across the U.S., so check it out, it’s really good!) and they had Dave Ramsey on. I’d heard the name Dave Ramsey before (Beks even wrote about attending Financial Peace University), but had never googled him, read his books, heard his show, etc. Bobby Bones had him on the show that day to give financial advice to one of the show’s producers, a mid-20s guy named Ray. Ray had just bet (and lost) his truck in a Super Bowl bet (True story. He got money at a cash-for-title place and bet it all on the Super Bowl. He lost the bet, his money, and his truck. You can see the segment here if you’re interested)

Anyway, this was kind of a turning point for me. Hearing Ramsey on Bobby Bones really made me curious about this money guy. I looked up his show and downloaded some (free) podcasts. Hearing the callers’ success stories and debt free screams was so incredibly motivating. I’d already been actively working on debt reduction, but this was the point at which I decided we needed to really be gazelle intense about it (a term Ramsey frequently uses).

This all set the stage perfectly for when Adam and Emily decided to step down as bloggers, and new bloggers were selected (in late March 2014 – you can see my first post as an official blogger here).

That brings me to the beginning of my journey here.

I’ve been lucky. I’d already committed to debt reduction previously, but hearing Ramsey for the first time, and then starting to blog here (and the accountability and encouragement that comes with it) has been a real kick in the pants! I have no doubts that I’d still be on this debt-reduction journey regardless (even if I hadn’t been selected as a blogger here), but I also have no doubt that progress would have been much slower. So I’m very grateful I’ve had your support and encouragement along the way. There’s still a long road ahead, but it actually feels doable now (something I couldn’t say only 2 years ago).

How did you get started on your debt reduction journey?


Ashley’s January Debt Update

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I pre-wrote and scheduled a couple of posts for today because I’ll be doing my campus interview all day (my itinerary is from 9am-7pm)!!! I probably won’t have a chance to respond to any comments until tonight or tomorrow so I just wanted to give you a heads up on that. Please send me some good vibes, positive thoughts/energy, prayers, good juju, whatever works for you! I am trying to come off as confident (but not cocky), enthusiastic and likable (but not desperate), professional, and articulate. Remember – I’ve kinda got all my eggs in one basket on this one, so it feels like a BIG day for me! Wish me luck!!!

The numbers are in and here’s how my debt has been shaping up this month…

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date (original debt, March 2014)
Capital One CC-17.9%-Paid off in March ($413)
Mattress Firm-0%-Paid off in May ($1381)
Wells Fargo CC-13.65%-Paid off in May ($7697)
BoA CC-7.24%-Paid off in June ($2220)
License Fees$22082.5%250January ($5808)
PenFed Car Loan$159782.49%1000January ($24040)
Navient - Federal Student Loans$44448.25%16January ($4687)
Navient - Dept of Ed$722318.25-6.55%260January ($69191)
ACS Student Loans$210407.24%77December ($21035)
Medical Bills$64110%75January ($9000)
Totals$122,312 (Last month = 123,667)Total: $1,678Starting Debt = $145,472

Maybe it’s just because we’ve reached the 10-month mark so some of the newness and excitement has started to rub off a bit, but I’m just not as enthusiastic about my progress as I was early on in the debt-repayment process.

On one hand, we put over $1,600 toward debt this month! That’s great, right?!

On the other hand, my student loan balances went up. Again. (my minimum payments don’t cover the interest, so the balance keeps slooooowly growing).

And my total debt ($122,000+) is still so out-of-control. I cannot WAIT for the day that I break the $100,000 barrier and dip into the $99,999s.

Hubs ended up making an extra debt payment toward his license fees at the end of last month. So if you were to compare the balance this month to the one from last month, that’s why there’s a discrepancy (the table says $250 was applied this month, which is true, but hubs had made a payment of just over $250 at the end of last month, too, so it’s gone down by $500 compared to last month’s beginning balance).

Can I make a little confession that will become pretty apparent anyway real soon (when we talk about how the budget went this month)???

I ended up going a bit over on a couple categories this month. I think some of the holiday-spending spilled over into January and I was just a little too loosey-goosey on my spending. Nothing crazy or extravagant. Mostly just up to my old tricks again….spending too much on groceries and crap that we don’t really need because its oh-so-easy for me to justify grocery purchases as a necessity, even if they aren’t.

Anyway, my plan at the beginning of the month was to pay extra toward my student loans (above the minimums) so I could pay the interest in full and not have a growing balance. *Sigh* Having gone over on my grocery budget (by a lot, I should add), I re-allocated those funds to cover my frivolous food expenses and, alas, the student loan balances continue to grow. Very discouraging.

I will do better next month!

Another confession, since we’re on that train now…

Hubs and I have fallen off the wagon with our monthly finance talks, too.

For long time readers, you’ll know that hubs and I have a unique financial relationship (I talked about it here when I first started blogging). Some of it is changing (e.g., we’re adding each other to all of our accounts this month), but one of the big things is that I’ve always been the one to sit down and actually pay the bills. When I first started blogging we started loosely following a Dave Ramsey-esque type program where hubs and I would have a monthly budget discussion to decide exactly how to allocate that months’ funds.

Over the holidays we’ve sort of slipped back into our old patterns where hubs has simply given me money and I’ve put it where I think it should go. To be clear, I really am doing what I believe to be best with the money (in terms of debt allocations, etc.), but I do think it’s important for hubs to actually be in on these decisions rather than simply letting me handle the funds how I see fit. Things seemed to be moving faster and progress seemed to be better when we were working together. So that’s coming back at the end of this month as we discuss our plans for February.

Hopefully in the coming months we’ll see some stronger progress!

How’ve you been doing with your debt payments? How do you and your significant other handle finances/bills/etc?


Long Term Planning

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I am really proud of ourselves! When 2014 began, I made a full list of “goals” (I prefer the word “goal” over “resolution”). This is a technique I actually learned from a career workshop I took a few years back, called “Career Mapping” (but I applied the same principles to all aspects of my life).

Basically, you think of your longer term goals (can be 10 year, 5 year, or 1 year). I started with 1-year goals in categories such as: financial, family/relationships, career, hobbies, etc. The idea is that you first come up with concrete “long term” goals. Then you “map out” your entire year by breaking up the big goals into smaller chunks. For me, I broke down the goals by month so every month I know a small, reasonable goal that I want to attain (with the idea being that all the small goals ultimately lead to fulfillment of the bigger, long-term goal).

Anyway, when I first did my 2014 Goals (Life Mapping, if you will), I did not think we would be able to pay off our credit cards by the end of the year. With about $1,000 per month for debt payments, coupled with $10,000 of credit card debt, plus additional other debts to account for, I thought it was an impossible goal. We would be close, but not quite out of credit card debt yet.

When I started blogging here (in March) I set the official goal date: March 2015.

And here we are….the beginning of June 2014. And I can officially say “We are credit card debt-free!!!!!!”

It’s a fantastic feeling!

But being me, I’m always looking ahead. I wish the credit cards were our biggest obstacle, but unfortunately, that’s just the tip of the debt iceberg. The cold, hard truth is that we still have over $100,000 of debt. About $95,000 of student loans, $22,000 of car loan, and $8,000 of medical debt (note, these are approximate numbers that are being rounded off….my last “official” debt update was here and I’ll do another one probably next week).

With this amount of debt, its difficult to put everything on “hold” until the debt is gone, because we’re looking at YEARS worth of repayment.

So I want to submit a question to readers: At what point do we begin long-term savings for retirement?

I know the Dave Ramsey school of thought is not to begin retirement savings until one is debt-free. However, there seems to be some ambiguity, because I’ve also heard (on the radio show) Dave tell people that if their debt repayment is going to take a significant amount of time (though what constitutes “significant” is not clearly defined), that they should not forego retirement savings for the entire time.

Currently we are 30 and 31, respectively, and have a reasonable EF (approx. $11,000), but no official “retirement” savings – no 401K, Roth IRA, etc.

This also begs the question of what constitutes an EF versus retirement. Some of our funds (about $6,000), which I have considered part of our “EF” is actually tied up in money market mutual funds. Although technically liquid, if we were to dip into it we would have to pay taxes on money made from their sale (dividends are currently reinvested) and my plan has been to NOT touch the money. Given these circumstances, wouldn’t this be better referenced as “retirement” funds as opposed to an emergency fund?

Right now I think we would like to keep up our Gazelle intensity with debt repayment. We need to knock down some of our debts so that once my school loan deferment period ends (February 2015), we will comfortably be able to make the huge payments. But at that point, I’ve always said I don’t feel the same “intensity” to eradicate the student loans as I have with our other debts. Would it be wise, at that point, to begin saving some toward retirement?

What percentages would you be putting toward retirement versus debt? Obviously, we’ll have minimum payment obligations so we’ll have to abide by that, but anything above minimums – would you put 50% toward retirement and 50% toward extra debt payments (as an example)??

I’m just trying to think these things through and come up with some sort of long-term “game plan” for what to do with our money.

Advice and suggestions welcome!


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