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Move = Complete

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Hi friends!

I hope you had a great weekend! We arrived back in Tucson yesterday after a whirlwind of a trip and I have never been more thankful to sleep in my own bed!

Initially, my brother was going to go assist my Dad with loading a moving truck a month or so ago but, due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, that didn’t happen. My sister and I were both unable to go for the originally scheduled move date but I decided to go over my Thanksgiving break since I had a few days off from work (though one is never really “off” in academia – I monitored my email daily).  At first I had booked a flight to go alone:  fly out on Monday, load on Tuesday, then fly back on Wednesday so I could spend Thanksgiving with my own family. But after some thought and discussion, we decided to make a family trip of it. I’m so grateful it worked out that way because I really needed the emotional support of having someone else there with me. Moves are stressful enough (one of the top 5 life stressors according to here), but I think things were exacerbated a bit being that this move was not exactly a happy, exciting, or even desired thing. It was more a chore of necessity to get my Dad somewhere closer to family where he can be helped and watched over better.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t leave town until Wednesday because hubs’ work had him busy all the way through Tuesday evening (he worked late to finish up on time). So we made a 14-hour drive on Wednesday (some of it in snow driving only 20 mph). It was nice that we got to spend all day Thursday hanging out, enjoying good food, and visiting with extended family that I don’t get to see too often. On Friday we had movers, so we fortunately didn’t have to do any heavy lifting, but we still had to direct things which was rife with stress given that not everything could go (my Dad is downsizing), and this was quite troubling for him to see things get left behind.

After the truck was all packed, my family went and checked into a hotel (there was still a guest bedroom set that was left behind in my Dad’s house so he still had someplace to sleep but his other bedroom set was packed). We all took a long family nap, and then met back up with my Dad that evening to go see the Christmas lights at Temple Square. Besides it being the coldest weather the girls had ever experienced (bundled up in 4+ layers and still complaining of the cold in 23 degrees), they really enjoyed seeing all the lights! I can’t wait for Christmas this year – it’s going to be such a fun holiday with them!

We left town on Saturday morning, but split the return drive into two days so it wasn’t quite as grueling. Still not what I would consider pleasant by any stretch of the imagination, but far preferable to our 14-hour one-day drive. Plus – the girls got to see and play in snow!!! They’re obsessed with Frozen (they were late to the Frozen game because we didn’t let them watch movies until just relatively recently), and they kept pointing at the snowy mountains saying, “Look!!! Elsa’s ice castle!!!” Pretty adorable!

Financially speaking, the trip didn’t cost us anything since my Dad covered our costs for gasoline, lodging, and food (all of which was pretty minimal. It actually saved my Dad money for us to all drive compared to what my plane ticket had cost). The only other cost incurred was that of missed work for hubs. Yes, no one really works on Thanksgiving Day, but he could have worked over the weekend and was unable to since we were out of town.

Speaking of….I’ll be posting a debt update later today. I have to maintain a positive attitude and realize and acknowledge that November is always a relatively down month for hubs’ business. But, of course, it’s a bit disappointing to not have earned as much as we would have liked/needed in order to make our astronomically large planned debt payment (we’d planned for a $4500 debt payment and didn’t come anywhere near that). Those numbers will be up later.

But to end on a happy note, I’m so thankful that the first phase of this move is complete. My sister will be meeting the movers in Texas and overseeing as things are unloaded. She will also be the person to help actually set things up once they come off the truck. And, just like that, the burden has shifted off my shoulders and onto hers. I’ll still be primarily responsible for paying my Dad’s bills, but all the day-to-day things will surely fall to my sister now that he’s close to her.

Right now my Dad does NOT want to sell his old Utah house. We’re trying to take things in baby steps so, rather than pushing him too far, we decided it could just sit for now. I’ll be hiring a lawn-care company, his brother (my uncle) will check up on it regularly, and we will revisit the issue in the Spring or Summer. It’s likely we’ll make another family trip up there at that time so hubs can do some general handyman work around the house and we can finish clearing it out of its leftover contents.

I have to say – my Mom has been caring for her aging mother (my grandmother) for a half decade. My grandmother did not do a great job at planning for retirement so the financial burden of her care has fallen directly to my Mom as the only child. It pains me to see the stress it has caused my mother and the financial toll is not trivial (over $4,000/month). I hate that my siblings and I are in the caregiver role for our father, especially at such a young age. That being said, I am beyond grateful that my father took better precautions than my grandmother had, and that he actually has assets (both liquid and real estate) to help pay for his care. As stressful as the situation has been for us, I cannot begin to fathom how much worse it could be if all of these costs were falling directly onto our shoulders. My heart goes out to anyone who has had to financially take over caring for their parents. This has definitely been a lesson to me to get our financial house in order so we never leave our children with the burden that’s been placed on my mother in financially caring for my grandmother. It’s hard enough to take over as caregiver. The least we can do is make sure that we have ample money available to pay for whatever care we may need as aging adults.

Food for thought on this Monday morning. Have a good one!


Skating on Thin Ice

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Since I’ve started working full time (and having the steady full-time paychecks that come along with it), I’ve noticed one BIG change in hubs’ and my mentality toward debt payments:  We’re a lot more eager than we used to be.

Now, don’t get me wrong. We’ve always been eager to get out of debt! But what I mean is that we aren’t taking as many precautions and have a little bit dangerously low safety net in place currently.

Prior to landing the full-time job, we had extremely variable income. In hubs’ job, alone, he’s had months where he’s made nothing and months where he’s made nearly $10,000! That’s a huge fluctuation! While my income was always a little bit more stable (in terms of the same amount of money almost every month), it was an adjunct position so there was no stability in terms of long-term job security. I sign a semester-by-semester contract so I only ever have a guarantee for just a few months at a time.

My full time job now fills that void. It offers safety and security. I know that, no matter what, I’ll be getting a paycheck every two weeks for $X amount (of course, this is assuming I fulfill my job duties…I’ve never heard of anyone being fired mid-semester but I presume it could happen if one were to just drop off the face of the Earth or something drastic happened). But you get my point. This steady money provides a bit of a safety net that, otherwise, we had to do ourselves through savings.

So, although I don’t like how thin we’re running on money right now, we’ve been making some much riskier financial decisions than we have in the past.

All of our savings accounts are dangerously low. Under a thousand in our emergency fund. Only a couple hundred in our car repair fund, a couple hundred in our health/dental/vision fund, a couple hundred in our annual expenses fund. All of our savings are grossly under-funded right now. Plus, we’re slipping into a limbo of living on last month’s income. Basically, I still use my full-time paycheck to live on last month’s income, but all of my part-time pay I’ve started using toward the current month to boost up our debt payment figures. Same thing with hubs. He had a no-income month in August and, since then, I’ve been using his pay for the current month simply out of necessity! It’s a slippery slope and I know that we’re sliding a little bit.

I know all of these factors combined (very small EF and other savings, smaller safety net through “last month’s income”) can come back to bite us in the butt. But my thought process is this:

I really want to pay off our car. Like….I really, REALLY want to pay it off.

There are two ways that this could go:

  1. We have a super small safety net until the car is paid off. Then we bulk back up our savings and everything is fine. No big deal.
  2. We have a super small safety net and something happens that requires immediate money and attention (e.g., big car repair, unexpected health issue, etc.). We divert the money we WOULD have put toward car debt toward the new issue. The car isn’t paid off as quickly, but we all survive.

Maybe I’m missing something, but this is how it seems to me. Even if (knock on wood) we suffered some unforeseen financial blow, we have the funds to deal with it…it would just require us to put less toward debt. So it would blow the goal of paying off the car by December, but we would still be able to weather the storm.

To try to make sure this is the case, I’ve been putting off debt payments until late in the month when I know, for sure, exactly what hubs’ income is for the month, how much money we’ve got for the next month (from our now modified living on last month’s income fund), etc.

It certainly feels risky at times, but my hope is that this is only for three months. By the time the new year rolls around I hope and pray that we’ll be consumer debt-free (meaning, the car has been paid off). If that’s the case, then we may take January “off” of debt-payments (aside from minimum obligations) so we can re-stock some of these savings that really should be funded at a higher level.

That’s the plan anyway. We’ll see what curves life throws our way.

Have you ever lived with a super-low financial safety net for a period of time in order to try to meet some financial goals? If so, did it work for you?

We’ve done this once before. Back when we paid off our Wells Fargo credit card (in May 2014), I made a a giant payment (like $3500) to pay off the card in full before I even knew if we had the money available. To clarify, that’s when we had a 100% variable income (no steady pay), so we literally had the money in a checking account but I didn’t know if we’d have enough money coming in to cover the rest of our bills for the month! I made a giant leap and just paid the bill in full and crossed my fingers that it would all work out. Thankfully, it did. We earned enough to cover the rest of our bills and all was fine. I’m hoping for a repeat situation now. I want this car loan debt gone NOW!