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Even Little Steps Count…

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Over the years as I have read about different people’s get out of debt journeys, there are always those little changes that make a big impact. For many it’s been giving up their daily Starbucks stop, for some it’s taking lunch to work every day and many more.

After I gave up soda a few years ago, I didn’t really have any of those little steady expenditures to give up. But I continue to monitor me spending on a daily basis and watch to make sure I’m not starting any new bad habits. And thankfully, thusfar, I haven’t noticed any “leaks.”

I Have a Problem

However, there is one area that I have a long history of being terrible about spending unnecessarily…and don’t laugh. It’s LIBRARY LATE FEES. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not a regular issue, but it has definitely been a habitual failure over the last few years…okay, more than a few years.

We have always been regulars at the library…both for our homeschooling years and since for our pleasure reading. But my notoriety at returning books let has caused me to often comment that I should “own stock in the library” as often as I have had to pay fines.

Started a New Streak

BUT…in continuing to make better financial decisions, I have been extremely diligent about 1) returning my stacks of books on time and 2) renewing my check out period when I want to keep a book longer. In fact, I’ve now gone two whole months with NO LATE FEES!

Ok, now before you jump down my throat, my fees over the years are typically no more than $1-3 each time. But I do know how that adds up. And I’m happy to report that I have finally broken my late fee streak. Go me!

I know  it’s a small win, but it is a win. What little bad habits do you have that you need to break? No shame how silly they sound…I mean, seriously, mine is library later fees. That is pretty pathetic.


Let There Be Air!!!!

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Happy August!

The kids are officially back to school and we’ve finally got our air back on!!!

In all, we were without A/C in 110+ degree weather for nearly 2 weeks. Thankfully, we’ve got our air back on (running at full throttle! lol) and doing great!

A/C Repair Costs

The “adventure” wasn’t as costly as it could have been if we didn’t have warranties on the parts, but it still cost a pretty penny.

  • A/C repair: $1200 (this was the cash discount price)
  • 2 window A/C units: $250
  • Total: $1450

I didn’t include the two nights in a hotel because my mom ended up graciously paying to cover those nights away. It was a great staycation and chance for a “time out” before developing a longer term game plan (with input from you guys – thanks for the recommendations to get window units!) I have another friend whose A/C went out at the same time and required a full replacement. She got hers fixed in 2 days (versus 2 weeks!!!), but she ended up spending $10,000!!!! Do they finance that stuff? If we’d had to do a total replacement I honestly do not know where we’d get the money?! We don’t even have $10,000 of available credit on credit cards so it’d HAVE to be some type of financing situation, right?? Scary thought.

Surviving the Heat

To survive, we stayed out of the house for much of the days. The girls were in camp 3/week for the month of July (the month of June we had them home full-time). So we’d send them to camp and I’d go to work, or when they were home we’d all go to the library or the indoor mall play area, etc. etc. I tried to plan crock-pot meals, or I would cook first thing in the morning (while the house was still cooler) and then save everything in the fridge. At meal-times, I’d just re-heat in the microwave so I wouldn’t heat up the entire kitchen. Food quality wasn’t as great, but you do what you gotta do. It wasn’t fun, but we survived.

Financial Evaluation

This whole situation has really put our finances front-and-center in the minds’ eye. It’s crazy that a $1450 situation had to be such a crisis (I mean…the heat played a role in seeing it as a “crisis”, too). But only eighteen months ago, a $1450 problem would have only been an inconvenience, not a crisis. We really let things get away from us, financially speaking.

I’m spending some time today writing up a full August budget and figuring out ways to continue saving again. I’ve been putting savings on the back-burner in favor of paying more toward debt but what good is it when a crisis comes up and we have to use debt again to cover our butts because we have no cash on-hand??? It’s a vicious cycle we’ve got to escape from.

What do you use and/or recommend for an Emergency Fund? I think I’d like to shoot for at least a thousand dollars in a dedicated EF, but I’ve also done separate savings in the past for specific things (e.g., semi-annual bills, car repairs/maintenance, etc.) and I’d like to do that too….. so maybe $1,000 in EF + other specific savings categories?

 

 


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