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Posts tagged with: credit card rewards programs

A Proper Introduction!

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Greetings Blogging Away Debt readers!

I didn’t get a chance to introduce myself before the cross-posting from our sister site Our Debt Free Family started. We began in the middle of my story, so let’s catch up with a proper introduction.

First – my name is Amanda Blankenship! I’ve been writing for a little over 12 years. Most of my writing experience is actually for celebrity tabloid-style sites and personal finance blogs.

I started writing about my own personal finance journey back in 2017. At the time, my boyfriend (now husband) and I were homeless. We didn’t have all that much debt, but we had to do a number of things to get out of the mess we were in.

Why We Were Homeless

My husband and I met over the summer of 2016. At the time, he lived with his grandmother in the Tennessee mountains and I’d recently had a terrible breakup that moved me from rural Pennsylvania back down to Wingate, North Carolina where I went to college. I had an amazing roommate and was paying $500/month to stay there, including all utilities.

After dating long-distance for several months, I asked Drew if he wanted to move in with me. We wound up moving in with my mom in a two-bedroom apartment in Charlotte. She offered us a free place to stay to save up while we found a place to live, etc. At the time, my mom was struggling with substance abuse and addiction, which became evident once we moved in.

Eventually, we got a notice from the person mom was subletting the apartment from that they’d be moving back in and needed the apartment again. We had two weeks to figure out what to do. Upon applying for an apartment, I found out that a fee from a previous rental was on my credit, preventing me from renting anywhere else. This fee was also something my mom had assured me had been paid (it’s okay – all water under the bridge now).

Introduction - me and Drew

So, when the time came for us to leave, we didn’t have anywhere to go because I didn’t have the $2,500 out of pocket to pay what was owed. Drew hadn’t yet gotten a job and things were looking grim for us.

We wound up moving into a motel at $265 per week, staying there for about six months while we saved, paid off debt, and found Drew a job. It was in a really bad location and it didn’t feel safe, but it was better than living in the park.

Our Life Now

In February of 2017, we had enough money saved to pay off the apartment debt as well as deposits for a new place. Luckily, we found an apartment we loved and that we could afford within about a month. It was in a great location where I could walk to a lot of things (which was important because we only had one car). Best of all, they had free rent for the first month, which gave us a chance to stash away a little money.

Oh, and we can’t forget about Enzo being added to our family right around this time too!

Introduce - us with Enzo

We lived there for another two years before we got married and moved to Atlanta (I’ll have to tell you that story another time, it’s worth its own blog post).

Introduction - Wedding Photo

Then, we moved back to North Carolina in December 2020 – right in the middle of the pandemic – and we found out we were expecting our first child, Dahlia. Now, she’s 18 months old and as happy as can be. She’s really brought something special to our little family, but it has certainly changed our financial outlook once again. As you all probably know, babies can be expensive, but they are so worth it.

Introduction - Drew and Dahlia

My Current Debt Outlook

As you saw in the first post, we’ve taken on a little bit more debt recently. Specifically, we purchased a new car last fall. Our Golf was getting up there in miles and had a number of things that needed attention. On top of that, the car seat for our one-year-old barely fit in the back. So, right now, our debt numbers look something like this.

  • Credit cards: $1,108 (up from $0 last year)
  • Collections: $1,205
  • Car loans: $34,640 (up from $16K)
  • Student loans: $24,185

I say “something like this” because I’ve run into some medical issues recently. There are some bills piling up where that is concerned. We pay about $600/month through my husband’s employer for insurance for the family and have about a $3K deductible, which isn’t terrible, but coming up with that out of pocket is difficult with a baby constantly growing out of her clothes, and her needs changing nearly daily.

I’ve managed to flesh out some payment plans but I was in the hospital yesterday for chest x-rays and blood work. So, I can’t wait to see how that adds onto what I already owe (heavy sarcasm).

Additionally, the student loan amount is up in the air still as the Biden Administration seemingly forgave half of debt for people like me who received Pell grants for college. Unfortunately, many states are combating that. So, I’m waiting on the State of N.C. to figure out what’s going to happen with that.

What Will Updates Look Like?

A few folks have already asked about the posting schedule and what updates from me will look like. Some of it will be cross posts from the other site. However, I’ll also be coming straight here to blog and talk about my finances directly on Thursdays.

For now, I hope this introduction helps you all get to know a little more about me! I’d love to read your questions and other comments.

Confession: We’ve Taken On A Little More Debt

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This update isn’t one that I’ve been looking forward to sharing on the blog. In general, everyone here in the debt-free community is making strides to decrease their debt, no matter the cost. While I really have made some fantastic progress in our debt freedom journey, debt is sometimes necessary in today’s world. We’ve been trying to build our credit to buy a home – which requires taking on some debt. Additionally, we desperately needed a new car that fit our new family.

So, without further ado, here’s my confession and a look at the latest debt numbers.

Why We Took on More Debt

There are a number of reasons our family decided to take on more debt after we’d paid a generous amount off. First, I recently talked about how we’d like to buy a home this year. To do that, we need to have a good payment history. As you know, in the past, many of our bills went into collections before they were settled. So, keeping things current is relatively new for us.

It’s exciting because, after time, it will allow us to build the life we want. However, taking on more debt wasn’t ideal. It never is.

On top of needing to build up some credit, we also had some medical emergencies that needed to be paid for. That went on the credit card! Things are tight and that’s how it is sometimes.

We also desperately needed a new car. Our little hatchback Golf GTI was no longer cutting it, especially on road trips. Between the car seat, stroller, highchair, and any luggage we needed, the car was slammed full. If we wanted the dog to tag along, forget about it! So, we decided to upgrade to an Audi Q3. It’s nice, reliable, and something our family will be able to drive for some time. Most people will say we didn’t need to spend that amount on a car, but we’ve got a good plan for paying it off early.

A Look At The Numbers

Now, the moment you’ve been waiting for. Here’s a look at the updated numbers…

Credit cards: $1,108 (up from $0 last year)
Collections: $1,205
Car loans: $34,640 (up from $16K)
Student loans: $24,185

Two notes here – our credit card balances are higher right now due to paying for a medical emergency, as mentioned above. Additionally, I have not made any payments on my student loans as the Biden Administration is still figuring out what is going on there. Tentatively, I will have 50% of my loans forgiven, which would be fantastic. So, we are just waiting on the decision from the state of NC now.

Where the car loan is concerned, we are paying more than the required monthly payment. We will also be looking into getting it refinanced within a year or so.

Our Philosophy Moving Forward

We definitely have more debt than we did this time last year, but things have changed drastically for our family. Our new philosophy moving forward is to change with what our family unit needs. Whether that is a bigger, more reliable vehicle that is still under warranty, or it is buying our own home (hopefully later this year), we are willing to bend and change for whatever is needed.

Readers, have you ever found yourself taking on more debt when you didn’t expect to? Let me know about your experiences in the comments.

Read More

Valentine’s Day: Money and Marriage Reflection
How Much Money Do You Need To Put Down On A Home?
Bills Are Going Up And We Want To Move
My 30th Birthday: Reflections

The post Confession: We’ve Taken On A Little More Debt appeared first on Our Debt Free Family.

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