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New Numbers for June 2012!


I am so excited to report that we managed to get our emergency savings right back to the amount we started with at the beginning of May!  Given the hurdles that the month presented–my excel error and the big chunk that had to go to childcare–I am feeling good about that!

The debt paydown numbers are still pretty small–but no new debt is no small feat!  I’ve also managed to save near $150 of the $400 “cash” over the last two weeks!  I MUST confess though that I succumbed to Whataburger today!  So, I COULD have $166 saved…but that cost me $16 for 3 of us.  Ask me tomorrow if I regret it because as of right now…it was worth it!  :-\   I might turn around and send my $150 savings to that small $162 card but then again I like having the little set aside growing.

I also want to tell you that tomorrow I will be making a $1,600 payment to the card with the $2422 balance!  WOW!  This is so exciting!  For at least the last 2 years as I hid in shame about my debt I never thought I’d pay more than the minimums….for the rest of my life.  It was in that darkness and shame that I found new ways to use credit to just continue to mask the issue…to get the quick fix.  I know that sounds dramatic, but what a huge weight off of my shoulders to have the money to pay well over half of a credit card balance! 

Thank you for joining me in now 3 months on this blog journey.  I definitely feel like we have turned a corner and in many ways I envision myself peeking around a corner and instead of seeing a train coming at me…I see wide open spaces with room to run!  Room to breathe!  What a wonderful feeling to build upon in the months to come!


Born and raised in Texas.I've at least driven through every state in the US courtesy of a roadtrip loving Dad.

I'm single with two children and a good parenting relationship with their father.

I am a "life is just half full of funny" kinda gal.Humor is my saving grace and I am thankful for it every single day.I have a strong Catholic faith and am thankful for that foundation.
I read a lot for a living but still enjoy a good book.I love biographies but in recent years have found the need for fun fictional books--sadly, for a long time I just didn't enjoy fiction!
I love live theatre of any kind--from local productions to Broadway.
I love to scrapbook and pride myself in my kids' albums.
I love being a mom but also love my career.I'm blessed to have found a balance allowing me to be at everything my kids need and want me to be at--while also having a career.
Favorite Quotes:Well behaved women rarely make history.
Behold the turtle.He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out. -James Bryant Conant

Latest posts by Claire (see all)


  • Reply Phaedra |

    Congratulations! I am so excited for you. It is amazing how much better you feel when you stop fearing money!

  • Reply Cathy C. |

    Yay for you!!! I always love the first of the month when we make that large payment on our debt! You guys are making great progress!

  • Reply scarr |

    Great work, Claire!!! It is wonderful to see you taking control of your debt instead of letting it control you! Keep up the great work!!!

  • Reply Cissy |

    Yay for you!

    Don’t sit on the 150 though- that’s what the emergency fund is for. You don’t want to start squirreling away little pockets of money here and there. It’s false security, and makes you trust less in your plan and the process.

    In fact, I think you should push yourself even more- find 12.00 more and pay off the entire 162.00 card. Think about how good it will feel to add another zero to that account list!

    • Reply Cissy |

      In fact, if you hadn’t gone to Whattaburger you wouldn’t HAVE to find another 12 bucks- you would have already had what you needed to pay off Credit Card 2 in full. This isn’t to make you feel bad, but to point out that every dollar really does count!

      • Reply Cathy C. |

        I get what you’re saying here and I believe you when you say you aren’t trying to make Claire feel bad, but sometimes I get really frustrated when I see this kind of extreme mentality towards debt payoff.
        I’m a firm believer that if you don’t make room for a little fun every once in awhile on this journey, you will eventually fail. I think Claire is striking a good balance between living her life now and paying for her poor choices in the past. No need for her to feel as if she’s continuing to make poor choices by simply treating herself to Whataburger every now and then.

        • Reply Cissy |

          And I’m a firm believer in understanding the results of the choices you make. I didn’t label Claire’s decision to eat out as a poor choice. I put no value judgement on it at all. All I am suggesting is that all money should be viewed in context of the plan and the end goal. Make it a concious choice to spend that 12 dollars on a meal, or on paying off the credit card. As Another Reader pointed out, if you get in the habit of doing this it will become second nature, and the debt will melt away.

      • Reply Claire |

        Thanks Cissy! I see your point and it isn’t lost on me….but it has been 24 hours and I still don’t regret that burger! 😉

  • Reply Kim |

    Isn’t it great, it is a long journey, but this blog helps. It really helps me. I know I am going to have to be accountable to others and to myself. I am proud of your efforts.

    • Reply Claire |

      Glad to hear that Kim! That is motivating to me–thank you for sharing.

  • Reply Sue |

    That’s awesome! I am curious though…why not payoff card 2 and 3 with the $1,600 and then put the remaining amount on card 7? It would feel great to change two credit cards to a $0 balance.

    • Reply Liz |

      The same thought crossed my mind. It might be nice to just rid yourself of those two debts!

      • Reply emmi |

        From her earlier post, she is paying off high interest first. Which is the best long-term method.

  • Reply Another Reader |

    Since this is $150 saved from “your” spending money, find the additional $12 and pay off that card. Get into the habit of putting all found money towards the debt, and it will become easier. Developing a habit of paying down debt and then saving/investing with “extra” money will serve you well over the long term.

    • Reply Claire |

      I hear you loud and clear. I’m not looking to create a $1000 side fund at all—but I like the idea of having additional emergency funds available of this nature. I won’t be going above $200 but I like that cushion just like I like the E-fund cushion.

  • Reply Dorothy |

    Any reason you aren’t using the 1600 payment for the card with the 1785 balance? That will nearly free up the minimum payment on that card to apply to your next one.

    • Reply Claire |

      I’ve probably said this enough by now but we are not doing the snowball method. We are paying the highest interest first.

  • Reply Diane |

    Great job!! I’m wondering about your emergency fund. Since you have a rental home, shouldn’t that emergency fund be higher in case there is something you need to fix at the rental home? I would put that $150 into the emergency fund.

    • Reply Claire |

      Our goal is $1600 for the emergency fund. The rental property is–thankfully–a pretty new property. That doesn’t mean something can’t or won’t happen but it is something to consider when figuring out the balance of emergency fund vs. debt payoff.

  • Reply Adam |

    Why not pay the cards off in order? Can’t remember if there’s a reason you are choosing the card you did but it seems you could get rid of 2 more accounts and most of a third if you went in order?

    • Reply Claire |

      Adam–I hope you see my response to Sissy. The highest interest approach got me and Steve on the same page immediately…and you know from reading the other posts that sometimes that does not happen quickly! 🙂

  • Reply Adam |

    That said, it always brings a rush to see the progress at the end of the month. Congrats On keeping your e-fund intact! Keep pushing with intensity and you’ll see those balances fall off.

    Are you applying former minimum payments to current cards (snowball)? Or are those dollars slipping away?

    • Reply diane |

      Claire, maybe you can clarify: Were you meeting the minimum requirements to begin with so that you can snowball? or were you having trouble making the minimums?

      • Reply Claire |

        Dianne—we never had trouble making the minimums and we are doing a highest interest approach.

  • Reply Holly |

    Congrats Claire! It’s so exciting to see your progress….and your humanness on this journey!

  • Reply Sissy |

    Great job of keeping on track…I am a very visual person and to me paying off CC 2 & 3 and putting the rest towards 6 would give me payoff rush. 🙂 Also less bills to keep up with. I know you have written about selling items, also. How is that coming along? I have been doing this since April just to see how much of a difference it makes…in April I made $168.00 and May $306.50. This amount goes directly towards a debt…the payment is actually walked into the store and put on the account. It feels good to see these numbers dwindle as well as the feeling of getting rid of clutter (literally and figurtively). It’s amazing to me the things people need…I had a collection of bunnies and one lady bought them all because her daughter was born in the “year of the bunny”. Whatever works. LOL Keep up the good work and thanks for your complete honesty. You have taken some hits but have taken it all very gracefully! Have a wonderful weekend!!!

    • Reply Claire |

      Sissy–my first item on ebay did not sell but I knew I was off season with the item. I’m not discouraged and have a few others that do have bids on them. I’m only looking at making maybe $40 but that is more than the stuff was making me in the closet. I won’t get discouraged by the no sell and will continue to work to increase my monthly income from this source. “Year of the Bunny.” Now that is hilarious! As for those small cards…I am (and my husband is) more motivated by the high interest pay off route. I can’t really tell you what made us click on that one but when we ran the numbers in mint.com and that is what was suggested…we were immediately on board. Keep in mind we have struggled with being on the same page at the same time on the $$ front so to have that moment was worth more than seeing piddly balanced cards go away. Thanks for the comment and keep on reading! 🙂

      • Reply Sissy |

        It is so important to be “on the same page at the same time”…there is no one size fits all. It is truly whatever works for you guys. Keep it up…as my husband and I say, “at least we’ve stopped digging…now to fill this hole”. One shovel at a time…or in some cases – teaspoon – but eventually it’ll get there. Thanks for inviting your readers along on your journey. It helps us all.

  • Reply Deb |

    Great job! Every step forward is worth a big smile! Keep it up! (rah-rah-rah! **pom-poms waving**)

  • Reply Elizabeth |

    Good job, Claire. And I think you are wise to put that $1600 toward the credit card with the highest interest rate. It doesn’t make sense to waste money on extra interest just to let us see the debts in the sidebar get paid off in numerical order. LOL.

  • Reply Walnut |

    Awesome job, Claire! I paid $1050 to my student loan yesterday. I have paid off 75% of my debt since starting my mission last August. My plan is to pay off my student loan exactly one day before that one year anniversary. Goodness knows was I can do with my extra $1300+ dollars per month I’m currently paying toward debt!

  • Reply Sarah |

    Is the $150 going to stay as cash in your house or are you going to add that amount to your emergency fund and increase the amount on your balances list above?

  • Reply Tally |

    Claire, I am enjoying reading your blog for many reasons. My dh and I have been working on debt reduction for awhile–with most of the debt centering around a child with special health needs and the complex process we had to go through to save his life with unconventional but successful treatment. We have had made some significant progress and had some setbacks in the experience. My personal setback that I had control of came from my shortcomings and the denial I had felt for a long time of giving myself wholly to my son’s illness, his day-night treatment, and staying afloat financially. With distance, I was able to analyze myself and know why I faltered. It was then I decided that I needed to give myself a cushion for myself, so that I could splurge on something if I wanted it–like clothing that was not planned for or whatever else I might find when I least expected it.

    The way I have built my fund is by skimming the top of my pay check to an even $100. So, hypothetically, if my pay check is 1,224.68, I put in $24.68 into my own personal savings. I have built up a nice little amount beyond our emergency fund that is not subject to the strict rules everything else is. For me, this is a way of paying myself first. Since my pay varies at different points of the year, it’s always kind of a fun surprise to see how much I add. I have added as little as 14 cents and as much as $92.

    I am doing so much better with this fund than I did without it. The rest of my money has strict rules for the budget. So far, I have only used the fund once. My family had the opportunity to go on a major but relatively cheap vacation (stayed with relatives, ate in, decided on one major tourist attraction, and then went to free/very low cost places the rest of the week). Still, the trip cost us a little more than expected, and I used most of my fund to cover the difference. Funny how the money still went to the family, but I felt so good about the decision. I have since replenished the fund through the same ways. I have no plans to spend the money. But, knowing I have some money without strict rules provides a great deal of empowerment and relief.

    Sorry this got so long … I probably should start my own blog :-). But, I just wanted to offer a voice of support rather than criticism for a personal fund.

  • Reply Mags |

    Congratulations Claire! (and hubby, and kids too as it’s definitely a family effort I’m assuming).

    After reading all the “debt snowball vs. high interest strategy” questions you may have already decided to do this for next month’s update … but if you haven’t maybe on your monthly update posts you can include a one-sentence, very quick blurb at the beginning of the post of your high interest payoff first strategy? Doesn’t need to be fancy, just a quick, standard blurb that you can cut and paste and just include at the beginning of the month when you discuss your monthly progress. I’m sure it will save a lot of questions/comments by readers who may join you on your journey halfway through and don’t read all of your previous posts.

    Congratulations again on your progress.

  • Reply Alexandria |

    Good Job!

    I totally agree with paying the high-interest cards first. BUT, somewhere down the road when you get an extra bonus or a raise or some windfall, I’d definitely knock out those 2 small cards. There is also a lot to be said for simplicity. Not a priority, but so easy to be done with those cards in that case. Maybe you have already thought about this. Imagine 2 less payments to make every month – 2 less loans to keep track of.

  • Reply diane |

    Claire, I forgot to ask, but don’t you have to make payments on the $11,000 loan? I don’t see the balance diminishing each month?

    • Reply Claire |

      Great timing Diane. The first payment is due tomorrow. The minimum is $290 but we are set to pay $660 so it too will be paid off in Dec 2013. We decided to pay this particular loan in half the time bc this is our lender of choice. Their rates cannot be beat. This loan and the autos are the first credit in our shared names and it was important to both of us to show this credit union that we pay back loans early. We want a mortgage through them down the road. That said, in the back of my mind I am wondering if we would be better served by sending the extra $370 to the Bank of America card that is at $23k. Im killing time at the airport right now so I am going to do a check at mint.com. Thanks for accidentally reminding me to look into this!

  • Reply Megan |

    So awesome and encouraging to read. It is such an exciting feeling to make big payments like this. And sometimes, with your WhataBurger, its necessary to treat yourself! And $16 meal for three people isn’t bad, you deserve a treat!

  • Reply Krys |

    I hope you really look into selling your vehicles. That accounts for roughly 42% of your debt load. Just think of how much traction you would have on your remaining debt (whether it be high interest or debt snowball).

So, what do you think ?