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Introduction to Elizabeth’s Debt Story

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Hi everyone! I’m Elizabeth, and I’m a new blogger here at BAD. I’m excited and nervous to come on board, as I’ve been a reader of this blog for a couple of years, and I know the readership is scrupulous. That’s part of the reason I’ve decided to share my story – I know readers will call me out when I need to be called out, and I want to be held accountable. I’ll write my first few posts sharing my full financial story, and I’d love to hear what you all think.

Why am I here? Well, I’m in debt. My parents raised my four siblings and me with financial sense and tried to teach me to save money. My dad was a teacher before he retired, and he had paper routes, taught summer school, and even did pharmaceutical experiments to pay for our extracurriculars. I got a job at 14 and haven’t stopped working since, but I’ve always spent everything I’ve earned.

I’m 32, single, and an IT manager at a medium-sized global company. I live in Toronto, the most expensive city in Canada. 1-bedroom apartments average over $2200, and housing insecurity is pervasive. I’ve rented an old house in a cheaper part of the city (meaning I have a long commute!) for five years now, and luckily I only pay $1350 for my three bedrooms, but I do all my own repairs and maintenance. It’s a good deal, and I’m pretty handy. My yard and spare bedrooms for visitors make me happy (my family lives far away), and seeing basement apartments posted in my neighborhood for over $1400 reinforces that I’m stuck here, anyway. I don’t know what I will do if I need to move sooner, which is why one of my goals is to save for my own house. 

I make 82k yearly with a 10% bonus. After taxes, retirement contributions, and other (mandatory) deductions, I take home $2193.22 bi-weekly. I have been interested in personal finance for a couple of years, and I’ve managed to improve my credit score with a lot of work, but I still have over $35k of debt and nothing left over each month. That’s right, I make 82k and have no savings. I have huge lifestyle changes to make. As a result, I’m looking at snowballing my credit card debts (paying off the lowest balances first, which also happen to have the highest interest rates). I’ll share the beginnings of my debt plans in my next post. From a high level, it looks like this: 

 

I’m making financial plans as a single person, but I don’t plan to be single forever. I’m recently out of a long relationship that was happy but financially incompatible. He didn’t care about money at all, and I became increasingly concerned about the future. I’m on my own now and don’t want to rely on anyone. Here’s what I’m saving for: 

  1. Emergency savings. I have $321 saved for an emergency right now
  2. Housing. If I’m thrust into the housing market soon (always a risk as a renter), I’m in trouble
  3. A family. I don’t want to close doors for myself, and I’m exploring adoption (for down the road, but since it can take many years, I am beginning the process now). I wouldn’t adopt a child for a few years, after building savings and moving to a low cost of living city. 

What would you like to see? I’m happy to share every detail. I’m working on a detailed budget right now. It’s funny, tools like mint.com have become so easy and automatic, I rarely sign in to check on things, and I don’t learn from ongoing trends. Consequently, I’m working on a manually-updated breakdown of my spending, but even the early numbers are scary. Does anyone have a great spreadsheet template to recommend? Bonus if it supports a bi-weekly paycheck (I’m paid every other Friday, and occasionally have months with a 3rd paycheck). I would love to be able to plug in my budget, spending, and debts all in one sheet. 

Next up: The mean, green numbers. My spending and lifestyle choices, broken down for you to see. Looking forward to hearing from you all!


Ashley’s Life Update

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Hi, friends!

Wow, it’s been awhile since I posted, huh?

Truth is, it’s only April 1st but 2019 has already been a BEAST of a year for me. I miss the support of this community! Would you indulge me in a little life update?

HEALTH

Unfortunately, I’ve had some major health problems in the past couple months that seemed to come out of nowhere. I’ve always been very healthy and, aside from some pregnancy-related issues when I was pregnant with my twin daughters, have never had any health complications before.

Back in February, I got sick. Like, really really ill. I thought it was the flu. I think it was God’s hand and will forever be grateful that the illness hit on the same exact day my Mom was flying into town for a visit. I was supposed to pick her up from the airport but texted that I couldn’t stop throwing up and there was no way I could leave the house. She took a taxi straight to my house, took one look at me, and told me we needed to go to the ER. It was 6pm. I thought she was crazy. I told her I just needed to rest and if I was still in bad shape the next day we could go in the morning. She practically lifted me out of bed, put me in the car, and drove me to the ER. My ex had the kids that night – it had been pre-planned that way so I could have one night solo with my mom before we had the girls, too. What was supposed to be a fun evening out together ended up with some bad news. I had sepsis. I was very ill. We’d gone to a stand-alone ER and the doctor said I’d need to be transported to the full-service hospital, so an ambulance was called and that’s exactly what happened.

First (and hopefully only) ambulance ride!

The true underlying diagnosis was kidney stones. Remember when I had kidney stones back in October? Well there had been no follow-up and my pain had gone away so I assumed I’d passed them. But nope. Looking at my CT-scan, the urologist said this was likely the same stone from October that had now grown to beast-like proportions. It was nearly 1cm (for reference, you generally can’t pass anything larger than 7mm). It had inflamed my kidney, causing a really bad kidney infection and then the resulting sepsis. 

I’ll skip all the sordid details, but I ended up inpatient in the hospital for 4 days and had to undergo 3 surgical procedures over a 6-week period, lived with chronic pain during that whole duration, and then had to pass a pea-sized stone that felt like peeing razor blades before the whole ordeal was finally over (note: the pea-sized stone is the reduced size stone that remained after they’d done lithotripsy). 

I’m just now barely on the mend. I feel more myself now than I have since early February, but I basically had to stop exercise overnight when all the health stuff flared up and I’m just barely dipping my toes back into the exercise realm, so I’m not “back to normal” quite yet, but I’m on my way.

FAMILY

Remember when I had to cancel my trip with the girls back to Texas in December because my kids got sick? We re-scheduled that trip to fall over my kids’ Spring Break, which was a couple weeks ago. I did have to alter it another time to accommodate one of my surgical procedures. We were going to be there from Monday through Saturday but the doctor needed to see me on Monday so we moved our flights to Tuesday through Saturday and crossed our fingers I’d be able to fly. Luckily everything was routine and I was cleared for travel.

The trip felt quick, but it was SO SO GOOD to get to see family and loved ones. I caught up with my high school best friend, saw my mom, stepdad, dad, brother, sister, two stepbrothers, all my nieces and nephews, etc. etc. etc. As a special bonus, it was my first time to be in Texas for bluebonnet season in over half a decade. One of my “MUST DO’S” was to get some bluebonnet pictures! My sister’s family, my family, and my mom and step dad all drove out to a big bluebonnet patch and took turns taking pictures of each other’s families. The pictures are priceless!

It was good for my soul to see my family – the first time I’ve seen any of them (except my Mom) since I moved out of my shared home last August. My life feels 100% different now than it was then (in a good way) and it felt wonderful to get to share hugs and laughs with some of my favorite people back in Austin.

DIVORCE

There are several reasons I haven’t been blogging frequently in the past few months (e.g., see health update, above), but probably the most prominent reason of all is the ongoing divorce litigation. Without giving any details I can say that things are still “ongoing” and that I cannot really talk about finances in a public forum like this for the time being. It’s tough to blog for a “getting out of debt” blog when you can’t talk about finances, you know? So I’ve been mostly silent.

That being said, I’m quite hopeful that things will be resolved soon. Please pray for me, y’all! Our house is (finally) under contract and we’re right in the middle of the inspection period currently. We’ve been under contract previously and the deal fell through during the inspection period (nothing major needs repair/replacing, but the house is 30-years old so there were a slew of small things and the buyers got cold feet). So this is our second time around and we’re hoping and praying and crossing fingers and toes that it closes on May 1st as was written in our contract. Everything hangs on the inspections. The offer we accepted was a cash deal, so we don’t have to worry about appraisals, etc.

Once the house officially closes, I anticipate things to move quickly with the finalization of the divorce. I anticipate having it finalized sometime this summer (but again, prayers accepted!) 🙂 We’ve been nearly a year in the process at this point as we’d first decided to separate last May, and I feel serious fatigue from the whole ordeal. Psychologically, I’m beyond ready for it to be officially/legally done.

WRAP UP

So there you go. I can’t make any promises about frequency with which I might be able to blog in the future. I do know that my financial picture will look very difference once the house closes and it’s proceeds have been split. Something I’d certainly like to talk about when I’m able. It was a good purchase. We gained a lot of equity in the few short years we owned it.

Thank you for the support of this community. It’s been appreciated more than you know!

~Ashley 

 


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