I have made a decision the BAD community is not going to like. Rest assured that I did not make it lightly or without reason…the latter I will explain. But for the next four months, other than my car payment this month. I am going to pay the minimum on everything and spend money on my house.
I am not going to go crazy. I will still DIY a bunch of it. But I am going to buy some stuff and pay for help when I need it. But I am going to complete a bunch of small projects that will 1) make me happy, 2) add up in cost and 3) improve my day to day life.
My goal is to build a life I love and I am really getting there. The gratitude and pride in my day to day life is refreshing after years and years of struggle. The relief is palpable every single day. And I do not forget the hardships. I cherish every day of this new life I am living.
Home Projects to Complete in the Next 4 Months
Here a sample of the projects I plan to complete (this is not a complete list but it’s a good start):
- New blinds in the front windows – labor DIY
- Paint all the trim – labor DIY
- Trim out living room doorway which we expanded – labor DIY
- Install kitchen backsplash – labor DIY
- Center and install ceiling fan in kitchen – pay for help
- Change out dining room light fixture – labor DIY?
- Install kitchen light fixture – labor DIY?
- Paint existing switch covers and reinstall – labor DIY
- Upcycle existing 5 interior doors – labor DIY
- Create some focal walls – labor DIY (I priced out the stick on rustic wood look, whoa, that stuff is expensive so looking for more affordable alternatives other than just paint, ideas?)
- Clean, rearrange and decorate Princess’ room – labor DIY and will use existing furniture (she’s onboard with this plan)
- Furnish deck
- Upcycle some old doors that I’ve had for ages to use as decoration/cast iron storage hangers – labor DIY
- Build barn door for hall bath – labor DIY
- Hang new curtains in the living room – labor DIY
- Complete upgrades to hall bath & hang bar door – pay for help (already have a quote for this)
- Build myself a closet of sorts – labor DIY? (have a paid labor quote for this but may attempt myself)
Now I don’t think any single project is going to be that expensive. The deck furniture will probably be the biggest purchase, but I do want a table and chairs for out there. And some the project’s material cost will be in the hundreds. It will add up.
First, if I can get my “house to dos” done, it will greatly free up my time. I seem to spend almost every weekend and evening doing something. Or being exhausted from doing something. I’ve cut back on my personal clients as a result which is weird for me and I truly miss designing and maintaining websites. But the house is my number one goal. If I can get the house to a state where I am satisfied, I can once again schedule time to work on paid projects = $$$
Second, the cooler weather is coming and that is the ideal time for me to do manual labor. This heat has about killed me. And several of these projects will help with the heat of summer next year – new blinds and curtains for sure! I can be much more efficient when I’m not poring sweat so feel like I can knock these out on weekends and after hours from my full time job.
Third, I’ve got my eye on the prize of being debt free AND having savings to get the kids through college debt free. But after YEARS of living in poverty and paycheck to paycheck, I need a breather. It’s time to do something for me. An investment in my own future. Getting this house right will pay off in the long run. And this will also lead to my next big challenge.
The Debt Free Goal
My goal for the next two years…while Gymnast is in high school is to become completely debt free. Yes, that includes not only my student loans and hearing aids but also my $98K mortgage. When he graduates, I want every paycheck to be 100% my own. And I know I won’t focus on that with these house projects hanging around my neck.
So for the next four months, I am going to spend money on my house. Not focus on debt.
But January 1, 2022, it’s a completely different story. I will tighten my belt so much that it will hurt to meet this final goal: When Gymnast walks the high school graduation stage in May, 2023, I fully intend to have absolutely $0 in debt. Every single dollar I earn will be mine from that day forward!
(By the way, I received a 5% raise effective yesterday. I would see it in my next paycheck, but have already bumped my 401K contribution up that much so nothing should change in my take home pay, I don’t believe. And I still anticipate a bonus payout in the not so distant future that should be at minimum $10,000 but not sure when or the amount.)
Hope is a digital marketing manager and foster/adoptive single mom to five kids. She has run her own consulting company for over 15 years and took a leap of faith returning to the corporate world in 2021 to a job and team she loves! Hope began sharing her journey with the BAD community in the Spring of 2015 and feels like she has finally mastered the balance between family first and wise financial decisions.
Doesn’t bother me – I’m just glad you thought it thru and have a plan! And there’s a lot of DIY there which is a huge savings!
Welcome to home ownership. There will always be projects. You will never be done. And I’ve just got to say it: I hate barn doors (and pocket doors). Maybe they’d be ok for a den/study/dining room/something that isn’t opened and closed all the time, but when in a bathroom I want easy, secure privacy without having to move a huge plank along a track.
Like personal finance, I guess house design is also personal. I love the barn door on my master bathroom and so do my kiddos. Not to mention, they are super easy to build and go with the theme of my house ‘rustic farmhouse meets industrial.’
Do the home projects if you wish as I know you won’t be convinced otherwise. Although the list is long, a lot of the projects don’t seem to be too expensive. But paying off your mortgage, especially with these historic low rates is not the best use of your money. Please, please reconsider this. It’s more of a “feel good” goal.
The sp500 historically increases 7% a year on long term average (it almost 20% this year already, and even more last year). Your mortgage is maybe 3.5%. So every extra dollar on your mortgage is saving you 3.5% in interest, But it could be EARNING you 7% in stock market gains instead. These earnings only keep compounding year on year and could make a significant difference in your overall net worth (and therefore retirement security). I took this approach with my extra student loan payments, putting the extra payments in a brokerage account instead of towards the loans. Now 6-7 years later, I’ve earned nearly 60k by having it invested, but only paid around 10k more in interest on my loans. The difference will only keep going up. Please run a few scenarios and reconsider. You can’t easily take extra principal payments out of your mortgage once it has been paid. But you’ll always have access to the brokerage account in case of emergency.
I remember this being mentioned back when I was buying the house. And I will be honest, I am completely ignorant regarding the stock market.
Are you saying just open some sort of account and put money there instead of my mortgage to earn more interest than I’d be saving by paying my mortgage off. I have to admit though, having no (or at least really limited monthly financial obligations) is my ultimate goal. Just having to cover yearly taxes and insurance on my house is really appealing psychologically.
How many times have you said you are going to be debt free in two years? And now you are adding a mortgage to that list, while trying to cash fund your daughter’s college. You are setting yourself up for failure with a goal you can’t meet.
You are certainly right on this…life happens. And mine has certainly been a roller coaster ride.
But I am confident that I can meet it.
To Whoever Owns this Blog,
It is time to get some new bloggers!
A Bored Reader
Okay, I’ll bite. What would you find more interesting? I write here so I’m curious about what you’re looking for in an article. Keep in mind this is Hope’s story above so this isn’t an open invitation to open fire on her experience. My name is Lindsey if you want to critique my work, specifically.
A Mildly-Intrigued Writer
You’ve been writing here and we know nothing about you? Your posts read like a bot wrote them, just looking for clicks. Nothing like the readers of this blog are looking for sorry. Readers here are looking for real numbers
You’re commenting under the title Anonymous AND complaining because you know nothing about me. Maybe you’re a bot and are deflecting by accusing me of being a bot. Are you a FreudBot? They are excellent deflectors.
Anon isn’t a contributor here. You are. You wanted feedback, we gave it.
If the feedback is someone thinks I’m a bot, then okay, message received. It so doesn’t matter. My point is let’s try to be nicer to each other – that’s all. It’s not about me lecturing you, putting you in your place, or keeping score – just be kind when you can. Some of you can come across as impolite, so I’m letting you know. If you are worried that you might have been rude, it’s probably not you. If you’re feeling angry and defensive, maybe there’s something to think about.
Personally, I’ve (verbally) pushed people around because I wasn’t sensitive to the fact that I’m an intense, opinionated person who can cut down another human being without being aware I’m doing it. I have to work hard to stay above the fray, and I’m not always successful. Maybe none of this applies to you and your friend Not-so-Anonymous, but there’s no prize for having the last word. At least, no prize I want to win.
Wow it would have been great if you stopped after the first couple sentences.
I certainly don’t feel that if you feel I was being critical that coming down with the directives was the best way to handle my comment.
I have followed Hope and every blogger before her dating back to Beks first writing. I found her on her final posting days.
I come to this blog not to read “articles” but to cheer, coach, share with others their lives that are tangled in financial decisions . I am looking for someone who is willing to share, willing to listen openly, willing to give things a shot, willing to be uncomfortable, and willing to share stumbles and learn from them. I think there is a skill to writing that lends itself to readers wanting to interact with the blogger and other commenters. You write articles. You are an excellent writer. I know nothing about you. I am not invested. Your writing like your comments here come off very confidant with no need for input.
Articles are in magazines. I have read blogs for at least twenty years. I enjoy them because they are far more interactive than reading an “article”.
I think this blog gets traffic yet the commenting is very low, much lower than what past bloggers generated here.
1) I didn’t write this with you expressly in mind, Jennifer. I addressed it generally to capture the handful of people who tend to behave a certain way. I didn’t realize I was “replying” to you when I wrote my comment so I am sorry for that mistake.
2) In regards to the last couple of lines of my paragraph, it was to underscore that the person commenting is not the one writing this post (Hope). Sometimes that requires capturing people’s attention and I grabbed it by being controversial.
3) I actually love your feedback. Thank you for reminding me this is a blog – I’ve done lots of writing on tons of platforms but I forget that blogs are about conversations – not necessarily content (if that makes sense).
4) And I totally get why you’re not invested in me. I haven’t put too much out there yet and some of that is sussing out where the readers are at before developing a strategy. Reading comments helps me understand this so thank you for taking the time to respond.
5) My invitation to readers to critique my posts was not intended this all about me – I just wanted to deflect criticism from Hope as she asked for none of this. Thanks again for your thoughtful feedback and maybe I’ll see you around.
“Clean, rearrange and decorate Princess’ room” – isn’t she living in the dorms? Close the door on whatever mess there is now and have Princess do this when she’s home on break.
“Furnish deck” – sorry to say you probably missed the boat on end-of-summer patio furniture sales (the year I moved in mid-August we had to buy a floor model bc everything else was already sold out)
“Build barn door for hall bath” is only a good idea if you want to experience every sound and smell from that room. Get a door that closes fully for the sake of privacy.
She is living in the dorm. And I want the room to be in order. It’s full of furniture since both Princess and Beauty were crammed in there. And I want it to be in order. I don’t see anything wrong with that. It brings me joy and will have less than a $100 financial impact as long as I can find more blinds at the Habitat for Humanity store.
And this right here is why you need a budget. You do realize that you could make significant headway on the debt WHILE you do home improvement projects, don’t you? It doesn’t need to be minimums to debt while every other penny goes to lifestyle improvement. It’s understandable that you are chafing under the restrictions of debt repayments. But you are fooling yourself with all these pretextual justifications. You have found something you want to spend money on, and you are pushing debt repayments to the back of the line, again.
I do have a budget…
If you have a budget, you can see that you could fit both reasonable debt repayment and reasonable home repairs into it. Life always happens. You are either serious about getting out of debt, or you aren’t.
You did read that I’m just delaying going back into full debt payoff mode for 3 months.
And I do have a budget, always have.
Not three months, four months, “But for the next four months, other than my car payment this month. I am going to pay the minimum on everything and spend money on my house.”
And this after a year that you admitted yourself was far from stellar in reducing debt. But instead of getting serious about clearing your debts you decide to take the last third of the year to do nothing but lifestyle upgrades. Are those the actions of someone eager to get out of debt?
You say you forecast that you **will** be able to get out of debt in two years. But you don’t get out if debt by starting in four months, you get out of debt by starting now.
I don’t mean to get into a struggle with you. Only you can decide if you want to get out of debt and how badly. But readers of this blog can be forgiven for thinking the answer is – not that much.
My spending plan for September is published, I’m living it. And paying $9,000+ in debt payments this month alone – student loans $300, mortgage $1,000, car payoff $7,900 and hearing aids $110.
So for October through December, I am giving myself permission to spend some money on my home without feeling guilty about it.
Agree. This is another cycle of feast/famine with debt payoff and spending.
To Some of Our Commenters
I love the give and take on this site. BAD clearly has a devoted and engaged following and I love that you take the time to invest. Unfortunately, the tone of some of these comments is kind of weird. I can practically see the eye-rolling through the words and it’s not cool. Critiquing is good but criticizing is less so.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the honesty but that’s not what’s happening with a few of these comments. Hope is sharing part of her story with you – not offering a mea culpa to her priest. So please stop behaving badly.
Right now, I’m offering some of you feedback on your behavior without robbing you of your self-respect. I expect you to do the same thing here.
Nobody asked for your feedback
As the great philosopher Jagger once said, you can’t always get what you want.
Most of us have been following Hope since the beginning. Why don’t you read a while before obnoxiously lecturing the commenters.
Right! Because what we want is interesting content and you ain’t it, sis
You do know you’re not actually anonymous, right? Of course, I will never reveal any of your information but I can see it. Stop behaving badly, I offered an opinion you don’t agree with and that’s all it is. Leave it there. No harm, no foul.
Threatening to “reveal” me because I don’t like your content? Um..ok?
Dude, I very specifically said I would never publish your information. I made a super-special point of mentioning it just in case there were any misunderstandings.
Wow Lindsey, you are very defensive in this comment section, but this one takes the cake. Threatening a commenter? Because of their opinion? Seems like you are the one behaving badly. Your posts are simply SEO traffic generators. Nothing about what you write has been inviting, nor engaging to readers. Perhaps you should take the time to read the archives and see what BAD started as….loyal readers are looking for connection to the writers debt journey. Not a broken record of poor decision making or bot-level SEO garbage.
I didn’t threaten anyone – I informed them they weren’t anonymous when I saw their information pop up when I went to reply. I’m not interested in hunting down anyone’s information because it’s a childish power play and wrong.
To your other point, you completely trashed my writing and I am not defending myself. It’s okay that you hate my stuff – it’s even kind of cool you cared enough to mention it.
Isn’t everyone commenting here anonymous? Using a “name” doesn’t make anyone more known to you, so this conversation is just bizarre. No not bizarre. Creepy.
Tasking a satellite to surveil you is creepy and bizarre. Seeing your email address and IP when I went to reply is not.
Either way, it doesn’t matter because you’re just another troll. People like that post incel jokes on Reddit and make TikTok girls feel fat.
Reading a troll comment is like finding a big turd in a public bathroom – people choose another stall or they flush it. It’s not helpful, interesting, or uplifting because it’s just crap.
That’s one way to try to build readership, I guess.
Readership is great but it’s not helpful if people can’t take a risk because there’s a bunch of eye-rollers standing ready with sarcastic remarks. Call me out. Call me out hard. But there’s a line there somewhere between holding me accountable and general jerkiness. I love lively debate but not if it leaves someone feeling crappy about themselves.
Put it this way, if you are telling me about something I can only fix with a time machine – it’s not helpful. An example would be: “Oh look, you’ve screwed up your budget again. You do this every time, Why do you even bother trying?” Do you know what I mean?
Nobody is telling YOU anything. We are interested in Hope, this has nothing to do with you. Not sure why you’re here in Hope’s comments
Look Anonymous, I am not trying to start World War III with you. I have provided feedback on some of the things I read here and responded to people’s comments and questions. My intent is to remind people that everyone is entitled to a certain level of respect. I’ve apologized for the real possibility that I am misunderstanding a certain kind of relationship between writer and reader my point still stands. Asking people to be a little bit mindful about what they say is not a bad thing so why are we arguing?
1. Glad to see you’re a real person. I assumed you were a bit from the random impersonality of your posts.
2. You must be new here. Many of us have been following Hope for YEARS, seeing the same posts about being debt free in a year, then making terrible decisions, plus a lack of transparency on her actual financial situation (income, EF, retirement).
3. You “expect” us to behave the way you, with like zero cred with the readers, want to? Get out of here with that nonsense.
Hi Kim, I do understand. I am some random person parachuting into the middle of a five-year-long conversation that Hope is having with her readers – and vice versa. Who knows? Maybe this is exactly what everyone is looking for in this arrangement. And if so, you have my sincerest apologies.
On the flip side, why do I need street cred with you when asking for a reasonable-ish level of respect. Does the Starbucks barista serving you coffee need “street cred” before you are civil to them? I’m thinking probably not.
I’m not asking you for a Christmas present or free money – just the digital equivalent of not spitting in my face. Again, if you and Hope have this level of comfort with each other, please know that I’m sorry for stomping all over that. I totally get why you’d be mad. If it’s not, my point stands.
Let’s see. Lecturing readers. Wading, blissfully ignorant, into the comments of another poster who doesn’t seem to share your outrage. Threatening to dox posters. Yeah, I’ll skip your posts, Lindsey. You sound like a caricature of a mean elementary school teacher.
I didn’t look for anything, the information is all there when I reply to someone’s post through WP’s back-end. I didn’t even realize that was possible until saw it in my “reply” box.
If I wanted to threatened someone with hunting dow their private information – I would have said it. Either way, I wouldn’t do that because it’s not ethical.
I told the other commenter that her information isn’t anonymous on the off chance she doesn’t realize she isn’t anonymous.
Would it have been better to ignore the fact that I saw that person’s information and let them continue on? I told them and now they can choose how to proceed with that information. Who that person is whoever she or he is – me knowing that doesn’t change anything.
On the flip side, the practice of anonymous commenting is frowned upon with most sites for some good reasons. And if someone comments on one of my articles while running anonymous, I will trash it. If you can’t say it with a name attached, you’re not saying it at all.
I have to agree with you. I read a lot of blogs, and have my own, and I have to say that the comments on this particular one are very harsh compared to any others that I read. I’m not sure if the other sites just censor out the meaner comments or what. If you don’t like the posts on a particular blog then I’m not sure why you wouldn’t just move onto another one.
Yeah, I’ve been reading a lot of comments on here to get a feel for the audience. Many of us seem to value clear communication, accountability, and the hard numbers that come with budgeting. But there seems to be a small but vocal minority that pushes the boundary just a little bit farther.
To be fair, maybe there’s a relationship between the writer and many of us that’s been built over time. A certain level of comfort and familiarity that I didn’t pick up on as a newer writer and reader of this blog. And if that’s the case, that makes this none of my business.
But sometimes I like to throw a metaphorical firecracker into the middle of a crowded room just to see what happens. I did that and now I’ve learned some stuff about who we are and how we respond to things. Thanks for coming out, Holly. Hope to see you around.
I think you’re scared to be debt free. You’ve wrapped your identity around being in debt.
Ummm, no, I’m anxious to be debt free as I look toward the future. If I can pay my house off, that will be a huge weight off me when I think about my future.
Walnut is exactly right. You’re self-sabotaging under the guise of “it will make me happy.” You’re STILL not transparent in your budget, savings, retirement…. but you’re prioritizing your “launched” daughter’s room because it will bring you joy.
You know, rearranging my daughters room, maybe some new sheets and paint…I don’t understand why that’s such a bone of contention for visitors. It is more my time and effort than anything else. Why is that such an issue?
It’s a “bone of contention” because it seems totally unnecessary. You say “it will make me happy.” Does carrying your debt around make you happy? Have you made any progress on retirement savings (you seem confused by a posters comment about S&P funds above). What’s your EF? Do ALL of these items need to be done at the expense (ha!) of your debt repayment?
Both my 401K and ROTH are being maxed out this year.
My ROTH was maxed out last year.
My EF is $10K+
All these items are listed in previous posts…
As for cleaning up and rearranging my now empty, daughter’s bedroom…you might find it unnecessary, I don’t. And yes, a few hours of my time, a can of paint and some new sheets will make me happy. There’s nothing wrong with that. Nor will this type of investment delay my debt payoff journey. If anything it keeps me hyper-focused on staying in, instead of going out where I could be tempted to spend money…shopping, eating out, etc.
Another example of how personal finance is personal.
How does this fit into the long detailed September budget you put out saying where the money is going? As it stood that September list did not seem to have a hearing aid payment either. You make good money and I doubt anyone would say you should not have funding for home improvements in your budget. My largest issue is that you tend to do things like this. You don-t have something in your budget so you have to shift things around to pay for your new priority and this community has no idea how or what is happening financially. Fortunately you now have a great job that allows for flex in your budget so we are less worried that you will end up homeless. However, I do worry that you may be using emergency funding for impulse expenses instead of telling yourself to wait and budget.
I also think you are being optimistic to expect yourself to pay off 98,000 house+ 4500 hearing aid + 20,000 in student loan in less than 3 years while also helping Princess go through college debt free, helping the twins, traveling to see family that includes a mom in declining health and giving gymnast some of the same experiences you gave your daughter as she got closer to leaving for college(prom, senior pictures, extracurriculars). Next year when you start tell yourself you will finish the hearing aid, pay $5000 on student loans and pay x amount of dollars on principle of mortgage. Make a game out of reducing that 9 in front to an 8 instead of saying you are going to pay off over 100,000 in debt in less than 2 years.
September remains the same money wise. I have paint and wood here for several of the projects and actually already have 3 sets of blinds for the living room from the Habitat for Humanity store. (I hadn’t received a bill for the hearing aids yet so that wasn’t available when I did my spend plan for September.)
I have been running the numbers for the debt payoff over the next two years and it will definitely be a tight squeeze, but it is doable, bearing all you mentioned in mind.
Definitely check out Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist for the deck furniture. You may be able to score some great deals! I ended up picking up a table and chairs for free! All they needed was a little bit of black spray paint and they were good to go. I then found some cheap cushions and you would never know.
I definitely will. I have become a big fan of FB marketplace for selling my own items.
These posts are becoming delusional. “I will be debt free including mortgage in two years while remodeling the whole house and supporting a college kid and a high schooler! At least the older two are out of my hair.”
Hope, you are parceling out your budget and plans in bits and pieces – please put them together into a coherent whole of total income, current debts, and other financial goals (mortgage, college, projects). BAD, if this doesn’t happen, please find a new blogger who is actually committed to getting out of debt.
Those are your words, not mine. And frankly, I think the goal is for kids to launch into independence, not live off their parents. The twins are 23 and independent, what is wrong with that? I graduated from college at 21 and began supporting myself that October. I believe that is the goal of most families.
Retirement, retirement, retirement.
You cannot take out loans for your older age living. You have inadequately prepared for that part of your life, and are way behind. That should be your primary focus, rather than paying off your mortgage. And, make a real budget, not this pie-in-the-sky thinking.
Also, find yourself a fee-only financial planner. They aren’t there to sell you products. For you, a small basket of index funds would be easy, along with a setup of automatic payments.
I hear this and definitely need to educate myself further.
And though it may be wrong, I keep thinking that if my housing is paid for, that’s a good way to being secure in my older age. My housing has always been my largest expense. If that is eliminated…
Well, that’s my reasoning. But I get that maybe I can make more via investments than I spend on mortgage interest. Another education point me.
Even when the house is paid off you will still need to pay for insurance, taxes, and upkeep. And it’s an old house that will need upkeep. My advice would be focus on all your other debt and retirement. When retirement funds are where they should be then start paying extra on the mortgage.
I think most readers will not be surprised at this decision, and Hope is free to make it and do whatever she wants with her money. However, I also think she is a no longer suitable contributor for a blog about getting out of debt when she states her plan for the foreseeable future is to NOT pay down her debt other than minimums so that she can spend elsewhere. What is relevance of her posts to this blog then? This isn’t a home renovations blog or lifestyle blog.
It is my plan for 3 months. I personally do not equate that to foreseeable future…just 3 months.
Does anyone know how to contact someone who administers this blog? They really need to be made aware of Lindsey’s behavior. This level of vitriol is beyond unacceptable. I have made a complaint to “District Media” but I doubt that will go anywhere. Hope, do you have a contact?
Hi Mary Beth, my apologies for the late reply – I believe your comment might have been lost in the shuffle. Yes, the administrators are aware and things that needed doing have been done. Thanks for caring about the Blogging Away Debt community and sharing your concerns.