Been such a long time!

I have a kind of sad history with this blog in that I have had some long periods where I have fallen off the face of the earth and have neglected to record what is going on. It has actually caused me to feel some guilt, which is kind of silly, because what I write here may cause someone to think, but it isn’t the life and death work with which I have been involved with while I have been away.

So, I decided I won’t feel guilty, but I will share what has been going on for the last 15+ months. 

Family

Our two daughters moved in with us in July of 2011. They were in the foster care system and we fostered them for a long time until we were finally allowed to adopt them. They were older and had experienced a lot of trauma, which meant that there were some significant challenges to come for all of us. I am NOT whining, but I can tell you that this has been the most costly and difficult thing that I have ever done. My husband and I have both had to leave jobs, lost friends, income and have found ourselves isolated on several occasions. This is a tough spot to be in when you are trying to reduce debt. When the rest of your life feel constricted, the last think you want is to feel like you can’t provide yourself some self-care because you wanted to pay that bill down by $20 extra. But we still managed to, even if it wasn’t as much as we had originally planned.

School

Well, after 7.5 years of slogging along part-time, I finally (!!!!!!) finished my masters degree! It has been great not to have to pay for tuition any more. And the last two years, we decided not to apply for another student loan, but to pay out of pocket. Which hurt. A lot. But we didn’t incur any additional student debt, which is good, because that bad boy bill is HIGH. 

Work

This has been the biggest area of change. When I was last “current” on the blog, my husband had finally gotten a new job after being fired from his last job when his performance at work was affected by the special needs of our children. He found a position at an organization that really understood where he was coming from and that supported his focus on family over work. His 10 months of unemployment was PAINFUL. But then, when he went back to work, we discovered that our youngest was disintegrating at school. Eventually, the school asked us to come in for a meeting in the Spring of 2013 to let us know that they didn’t want our little 2nd grader there because she was too disruptive for the class. And this is the best school in the district (and they would not give us a permit to go to another district), so my husband and I had to talk and pray about the whole thing. Eventually, we came to conclusion that we would homeschool for the 2013-2014 school year to address the emotional and psychological needs of our little one. Which meant a 58% reduction in income. In your head, remember what E.T. said to Elliot when he cut his finger on the saw blade – “OOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCH!”  Yes, that is what that felt like.

I’ll write more about some of the things that we did to replace income, but it should be clearer that I was away for a good reason and that while it kept me so drained that I couldn’t write, it didn’t stop our debt journey. 

Thanks for reading and I look forward to sharing more soon!

June 2014 :: Report

Debt Reduction

Here is where we were after 6.30.2014:

Credit Card Debt               :: $    16,294.96
Taxes Owed                   :: $            00.00
Car Loan  #1                    :: $      4,829.69
Car Loan  #1                    :: $     11,744.76
Tuition                           :: $             00.00
Personal Loans                 :: $           00.00

Total Debt*                        ::  $ 32,869.41

*does not include school loans

We have come down a little bit since last time, but as you’ll see in my post later this week, I haven’t had a full-time job for almost a year, so that’s to be expected.

Budget

We didn’t have a budget for this last month, but we will have some information about what we are doing for July!

Savings

Where we landed at the end of June:

Regular Savings  :: $     171
Emergency        :: $      00

Total Savings      :: $   171

We had over $1000 in this earlier this year, but a vet bill for major surgery wiped it all out. So now we have a little. But a little is better than nothing!

April 2013 :: Goals

Our goal for April is to pay $2,700 toward our debt. Taking into account the interest that will be charged ($412) , the net will be $2,298.

So our totals at the end of  April should be:

Credit Card Debt $  17,141.96
Taxes Owed $        00.00
Car Loan #1 $    8,829.19
Car Loan #2 $  14,709.19
Tuition $      705.66
Personal Loans $        00.00
Total Debt * $ 41,386.00

*does not include school loans

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

Regular Savings    :: $   325
Emergency           :: $   550

Total Savings      :: $   875

According to Quicken, our debt-free date is :: October 2015.

March 2013 :: Report

Debt Reduction

Here is where we were after 3.31.2013:

Credit Card Debt               :: $    17,924.96
Taxes Owed                   :: $            00.00
Car Loan  #1                    :: $       9,381.81
Car Loan  #1                    :: $     14,949.50
Tuition                           :: $       1,705.66
Personal Loans                 :: $           00.00

Total Debt*                        ::  $ 43,683.62

*does not include school loans

Yes. It is difficult to watch that total go up. But we really did our best to get every last mile out of my old car (yay for getting past 190K miles!) and it was time. So, now I have a safe car, with good gas mileage to get us around. This is life.

Budget

Guess which category we struggled with? Yup. Food. Sigh…

We also had a lot of pre-summer camp fees to pay for registration, so there was a bit of spending there, but we’ve got that budgeted, so it isn’t like we weren’t prepared.

Savings

Where we landed at the end of March:

Regular Savings  :: $     165
Emergency        :: $      00

Total Savings      :: $   165

That’s $25 less than we wanted and a lot less than we wanted for the Emergency Fund, but the new car purchase impacted quite a bit of that.

Well, Old Bessie died…

I didn’t really name my old Saturn Bessie, but the name always invokes thoughts of an old, tired workhorse who has gone out to pasture. That’s my car…. (or, WAS my car).

I received a text from my husband as I was on the way home from work on the second week of March. It said, “the Saturn is stuck in 2nd. Luckily, I am almost home.” [CLARIFICATION: This is after two years of constant repairs and the last major issue being that the computer was no longer talking to the cooling system (a $1,500 repair) and the car was overheating every time it was turned on and it kept blowing holes in the radiator and cooling tank . We were filling it full of water every day just to get it to run, and there were some transmission issues cropping up at the same time, but we were trying to eke out every last mile because we knew that the repairs were hovering around $4,000 and we just didn’t have the cash.]

Yup. It was truly stuck in gear and after arduously pushing it in reverse down our driveway, we finally got it to the mechanic and awaited the call…

…time of death 12:57pm.

When the mechanic says, “We had to restart the diagnostic computer two times to get all of the error and repair codes from your car because there were so many that it overloaded the system. We’re not going to do any work on your car because there really is no point,” it is time to turn off the machine and say good-bye.

After 10 years, 11 months, 190,000+ miles, we wish you well Bessie!

And HELLO Sage!

I DID name the new (to me) car this time. My kids thought it would be cool 🙂

We shopped and did research for 4 days and Carmax was the one who came through for us again. We got a low-mileage, older car (still under warranty, though) for under $15,000. It doesn’t have a lot of frills compared to most cars out there, but it is the nicest car I have ever had (Power windows!!!), so I am pleased. So, please welcome our new arrival, our 2009 Hyundai Sonata.

And $15,000 of new debt (pppfffffffftt)…

UPDATE: Thanks to Beth, I realized that I hadn’t given the full picture about the state of the car. It had no trade in value and it had major electrical, transmission and cooling system issues that were beyond what we could afford to repair. I’ve clarified above – thank you, Beth! 🙂

We missed the halfway point!

Yesterday, after getting caught up on my numbers, I noticed something that bears mentioning…

We are at 51% paid-off!

Wait, what?!? We rolled right past the 50% celebration! Oh, no!

Well, the great news is that we’ve reached this milestone. I’m a little “sad” that it has taken us 4 years to reach this point, but I’m still thankful. It isn’t like we haven’t had some set backs during this time and there was that whole year where we were just in survival mode as we were adjusting to our new family reality. That being said, my spreadsheet and Quicken seem to think we can knock the rest of this out in 20 months, so LET’S DO THIS THING!!!

I’m back, but without the stabby…

Hey there!

I can’t ever hear the words “I’m back” without seeing Jack Nicholson’s face at the door, so I wanted to clarify that my declaration was not of the murderous variety, but just to let you know that while I’m not going to be able to blog up to the level that I want, I can am going to try to do the monthly updates AT A MINIMUM.

Here are the updates:

  • My husband got a job at the beginning of the year after 10 months of not working! (slightly more income than unemployment, lol)
  • Our adoptions were finalized! (losing our foster care payments, but gaining two special needs kids)
  • I’m on track to graduate this year!
  • Our car is breaking down (my husband is the total champ, filling it with water everyday, instead of paying the $2,000 to get our 11-year-old, 190,000 mile Saturn repaired).
  • We’re hoping to move this summer to a place that has storage and a yard (rental – we’re in no position to buy).

There’s the brief update – thanks for hanging in there if you are still reading!