It’s the most, spendiest time of the year…

…everyone sing-along!

I will soon post a long description of the last few weeks of activity, dear readers. I’m sorry for my lack of communication over the last month – I’m afraid I’ll have to blame the holidays and the house guests.

But I wanted to say a few quick things:

  • I hope you have had a wonderful holiday season and were able to enjoy time with friends and family
  • We made some mis-steps this month, so if you are feeling bad about any financial “ooops” you might have made, rest assured that you are not alone
  • Try to take some time in the next few days to look over the last year and celebrate financial success that you might have had, no matter how small. Any progress is progress and we need to remember that, even in the face of failure
  • If you haven’t taken steps to address a bad financial situation, I encourage you to start now – all it takes is one step to begin a journey

Lastly – thanks to all who have supported us in the last year. It has been really hard at points, but I appreciate knowing that we all have each other to push, prod, congratulate and support one another on this journey.

I’ve got the car repair blues…

Well, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend, only to return to $800 of truck repairs (clutch) when we returned. This has bummed me out.

Why?

It’s not that we couldn’t find the cash flow, because we have emergency money now and we were able to make it happen. No, it is because I really would have loved to have a little extra for Christmas presents this year, and now our tiny Christmas got even smaller.

I’m not trying to sound whiny, but after spending about $1,800 in car repairs and maintenance since the beginning of the year, I’m feeling a little blue.

But my husband can get to work, so I’m thankful for that!

I hope everyone is pleased with home-baked bread for Christmas this year 🙂

December 2009 :: Goals

Our goal for December is to pay $1,260 toward our debt. Of course, there is interest ($362) , so the net will be $898.

So our totals at the end of December should be:

Credit Card Debt  ::  $ 38,275.93
Taxes Owed         ::  $    2,771.70
Personal Loans    ::   $           0.00

Total Debt*           ::  $ 41,047.62

*does not include school loans

And now for the Savings Goals – at the end of December, we aim to have:

Regular Savings  :: $    100
Family Leave       :: $ 1,080
Emergency           :: $    550

Total Savings       :: $ 1,730

According to MSN Money, our debt-free date is still :: June 24, 2012

But I think we can get it all paid off by February 2012, which is 5 months earlier, so we have June as our goal and February as our “push” goal.

November 2009 :: Report

Debt Reduction

Our goals for November were:

Credit Card Debt  ::  $ 38,889.55
Taxes Owed         ::  $    2,940.23
Personal Loans    ::   $           0.00

Total Debt*           ::  $ 41,826.78

And here is where we were after 11.30.09:

Credit Card Debt  ::  $38,983.92
Taxes Owed          ::   $   2,961.70
Personal Loans    ::   $       00.00

Total Debt*            :: $41,945.62

*does not include school loans

Good month in the debt reduction department!!! Our goal was that we would pay $1,260 toward debt, with a net reduction of $896. Our total reduction for the month was $780. This was a little lower because of two late payment fees (which I’ll fight because they are due to the card companies moving dates to get in compliance for Feb 2010), so that is disappointing, but we still went another month without using a credit card (whoo-hoo!) so we do feel accomplished.

Budget

I am so proud of us for staying closer to our budget this month. My hubby and I really worked on keeping food costs down, and that made a huge difference.  We had about $200 extra for household items because of the move, and there will be few more of those popping up in the next month, too, but overall, it was a better month.

Savings

Savings Goals for November:

Regular Savings  :: $    300
Family Leave       :: $ 1,250
Emergency           :: $    535

Total Savings       :: $ 2,085

Where we landed at the end of November:

Regular Savings  :: $  437
Family Leave       :: $  605
Emergency           :: $  533

Total Savings      :: $  1,575

This is lower than we wanted to be, but that is because we used part of our Family Leave budget for a family medical procedure (for which part of what this budget was designed). Still, we are glad we have so much in savings, because the beginning of December started with a $700+ car repair (gulp)…

A Different Kind of Christmas

Today I received an e-mail from my friend which included a holiday dinner invitation and a tentative question which I have been pondering all day.

She asked if we could consider having a no-gift exchange Christmas this year, as she simply can’t incur more debt. I haven’t responded, because I haven’t talked to my husband about it, yet, but I applaud her gumption to ask a hard question. In the past, we had given each other limits on our presents (around $25 to 30) or, for two years, we did “Poor Christmas” where we agreed to only purchase things after Christmas when it was on sale and that no item in our baskets could be more than $5.

I enjoyed those times, and I am sure that we will accept her request, but I do find it interesting that last year, when my husband and I hit our major wall right before Christmas, we didn’t make the same request. As it was, we ended up accidentally outspending her by a factor of 4 to 1, because we didn’t make any limits that year (which was silly in retrospect), and I know that there was discomfort when it came time for the present opening at our annual gathering.

But it has made me think about how much more we should be open to having these agreements when people are in positions that require they make wise financial decisions.