I have a love/hate relationship with my car

I’ll fully admit that I waver between loving and hating my car in the last year. It is a 7+ year old Saturn, and it’s been paid off for over 2 years. It ran just fine, only needing brake replacements (it’s a stick shift and we live in LA – it is expected) and regular maintenance for the first five years…but then…

Of course repairs started coming after the last payment was made, because that seems the be the natural order of the universe. It’s become way more of a burden this year, especially since we cancelled the cards that we would usually use for big car repairs – now the impact is much more painful, because it comes out of our cash flow, meaning that we have to adjust somewhere.

This week, we had to replace the radiator in our car to the tune of $490. Ow. Now that just hurts.

However, since we had built up some money in our emergency fund, we were able to move the money out of savings and pay the bill. There was no credit card required. How about that?!? We’ve never really experienced that before, and though it was painful to know that we’ll have to build that fund up again, we can take some pride in knowing that the *better* decisions we are making now are starting to counteract the *bad* decisions we had made before.

So we don’t have a little chunk of cash to use to celebrate our 11th Wedding Anniversary this weekend, but at least we will be able to rest easier about the immediate cash flow, and that’s something to celebrate, too.

Regrets…I’ve had a few

The last couple of weeks have been spent contemplating and thinking about what the next post should share about this journey, so even though I haven’t been posting new content, I have been thinking of you, dear readers.

As long as I can remember, I’ve been determined that I had no interest in ever owning a house and that I would be just fine with moving around the rest of my life nomad-style. I married an artistic type, and he seemed agreeable to that and the only time that we really brought up owning a house was when we had the “If we win the lotto…” conversations.

Part of this is the fact that I grew up in a military household and the wanderlust that was instilled in my formative years took root – to date, I have moved 25 times. Yes, 25.

I can’t identify what has made me turn a corner on this issue, but in the last few weeks, I have  started watching HGTV (specifically My First Home and House Hunters) with my husband and we’ve started talking about what we would like in a house. The market in Los Angeles is truly a buyers market at this point (I think it has fallen at least 25% in the last year or so) and there are some amazing properties out there that are way more reasonably priced than they were 3 years ago.

Here’s the irony: with the $60K that we are going to pay off in this process, we could have had a great down-payment and be set up to actually afford house payments, especially in this market.

I had always felt the weight of this debt in other ways, but it has never been tied to the idea that we are going to miss out on getting a house in LA when they are more affordable. I’m not a person that has many true regrets – but this is going to be one of them.

I guess that we can take comfort in knowing that we’ve never been closer to freedom than we are right now. And every day we get closer.

Have any of your financial decisions caused you to have regret? How have you addressed this or changed the situation?

Success :: Update 7.10.2009

Today is another day to celebrate as we paid off one of our cards today, and since I haven’t even activated the one they sent a *year* ago, I think we’ll be pretty safe from using it. This is a little success, but each step helps us to feel like we’re getting closer and closer to our goal.

So now we just have 8 cards left to pay off, 2 loans and 2 tax liabilities. One loan will be paid off this month, and one of the tax liabilities will be completely paid next month – it feels great to get some traction on this debt reduction.

Of course, kudos and thanks are in order to my mother as she is the one who helped us to get a little boost in our reduction, as well as put some money aside in our emergency funds. She gave us a nice gift as a “good job” in paying off our first settlement (see Success :: Update 6.15.09), so we were able to put some aside and we’re half-way to our monthly goal of $535 in emergency savings (we’re at $280). This is remarkable for us, especially since we have been salivating over the Wii Fit for about 10 months now. We could have taken the money and purchased it, for full retail, but instead, we paid off debt and put it in savings.

Maybe we’ll get a Wii for Christmas… 🙂

July 2009 :: Goals

June was not the most successful month – money got tight at the end, and we had to pull back on some of our payments, which was discouraging, but this is a process, right?

Our goal for July is to pay $2,395 toward our debt. Of course, there is interest ($470) , so it won’t be a net reduction of $2,2950, but it should be around $1,925 – we’re getting really close to the $10,000 worth of debt paid off!

So our totals at the end of July should be:

Credit Card Debt  ::  $41,383.18
Taxes Owed           ::   $  3,368.50
Personal Loans    :: $  5,120.00

Total Debt*            ::  $49,871.68

*does not include school loans

It will be great to get past that $50,000 mark!!

PLUS, I’m going to start adding Savings Goals, so at the end of July, we hope to have:

Regular Savings  :: $  180
Paternity Leave  :: $  165
Emergency           :: $  535

Total Savings       :: $ 880

June 2009 :: Report

Debt Reduction

Here is what our goals for June were:

Credit Card Debt  ::  $41,699.18
Taxes Owed           ::   $   4,053.83
Personal Loans    :: $  5,349.00

Total Debt*            ::  $51,103.01

And here is where we were after 6.30.09:

Credit Card Debt  ::  $42,186.12
Taxes Owed            ::   $   4,196.49
Personal Loans    ::   $   5,399.83

Total Debt*            ::  $51,782.44

Our goal was that we would pay $3,144 toward debt, with a net reduction of $2,696. We were  $680 short of that goal this month – owing to a big clothing purchase, annual fees and a few payments that are going out in July instead of June. That brings us to over $9,500 in debt reduction since 2.26.09!

Budget

We spent $371 more than we had budgeted ($50 due to annual fee on cc and 140 due to overdraft charges due to an autopay issue – more on that soon), but we also has $292 more come in than we had budgeted for, so we are technically only $78 “in the hole” for the month. We are still struggling with the food planning – it’s better than it has ever been, but there is a lot of room for improvement. I’d love it if we could come under each month and put that money toward a great dinner our on our anniversary or such.

Savings

We’ve got over $235 in savings this month, up from $120 last month. I anticipate that July will bring even more and we may have a true Emergency Savings account established.