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Closing out the year

December 23rd, 2009 at 03:50 am

Wow....I have fallen off the blogging wagon. I logged in to update my accomplishments on the 2009 goals - where did 2009 go?!?

I have to say we did EXCELLENT. We beat our goals on 2 of our debts - they are both completely gone as of last Friday!! Wahoo!!! The only thing I didn't do was make Lifetime at Weight Watchers. I am resolved to put myself on my priority list moving forward and I start a new WW session on January 6. I only have 18 pounds to go to make it to my goal and to hit lifetime.

I need to start thinking about 2010 goal publishing. I'll want to keep the emergency fund maintained, 15% to 401(k)and ultimately, pay off this last $26K on my Federal Student Loan. If we could do all we did this year, we can have hope of being debt free by this time next year.

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Paid My Bonus to Debt

March 27th, 2009 at 02:06 am

I just updated the sidebars to reflect paying all of my annual bonus to our debt! Well, all but $742. I used that to pay one of the hospital bills for the birth of my son in January. Once I get that money reimbursed from my Flexible Spending Account the $742 will be heading off as well.

April is going to have about half the debt snowball we aim for - we want to send at least $700 extra to debt each month. As the "geek," I put together our initial written budget each month and April has a couple of additional line items - summer clothes for the family (limited amount & shopping on sales), $110 for one last hospital bill for my oldest son from December 2008 (just now due), and minor planned expenses for a weekend away for my husband for an organization that he volunteers for (a convention).

We still haven't found a newer vehicle to replace my husband's 1990 Jeep Cherokee. We have been passively looking since we don't *have* to replace his car. We are now starting to consider buying a newer Cherokee (1999-2001) and only spending part of what we have saved up in our car fund. That will be that much more money to go toward debt this year. I would love to have our car & my smaller student loan paid off THIS YEAR!

Updated Progress

March 18th, 2009 at 10:21 pm

I updated my debt tracking in the side bar area...everything is on track though my goal for the year on the car loan seems far away. I did receive my bonus last week so I made a big additional payment to the car loan and will pay the rest of my bonus (down to the penny!) to that debt next week. I'll be so excited to update again by the end of the month.

We've been doing pretty good with snowflaking this month as well, mostly finding money consistently in the gas budget. I haven't done as well on squeezing money out of the grocery budget as we've been feeding 2 extra people (brother & sister) a couple times a week.

I also just put together the budget for April. I budgeted very frugally for spring/summer clothes & shoes for the family during that month. I find a lot of good stuff for my son at thrift/consignment shops, but between Garanimals at Target and $4 sales at Target & Kohl's, I can sometimes do just as well buying new.

I've been addicted to walmart.com lately - I purchased a jersey dress with birthday money and found a pair of black dress pants for $5. The site to store feature is nice. I go back to work next Thursday, and my body has a way to go, so I've been pulling together work clothes. I borrowed a couple of dresses from my sister as well. It's so great that she lives here now - we even have the same shoe size! I also used the walmart.com photo service to order birth announcements for under $10 - I thought that was pretty good for 30 custom photo announcements with envelopes.

--Chrissy

March Goals & A Road Trip

March 1st, 2009 at 01:36 am

I'm spending my Saturday night preparing for a spontaneous trip to Michigan! We talked about going to see our family during my maternity leave and made the decision late Thursday night. We're leaving in the late afternoon Monday and will drive into the night, stay in a hotel (I'll post if we get our favorite hotel in Kentucky for $25 on priceline) and finish the trip Tuesday morning.

Today is the last day of February and Baby #2 is 1 month old! Hubby did a photo shoot this afternoon and I'm planning on ordering about 25 birth announcements from walmart.com (33-cents each) since that costs less than me handmaking them.

And since March begins tomorrow (where is 2009 going??!!), here are some goals for the month:
1. Send bonus check to debt.
2. Find $50 in snowflakes this month to send to debt.
3. Continue my good progress on Weight Watchers and lose 5 additional pounds.
4. Exercise consistently at least 3 days per week.

.............................

February accomplishments:
- We accumulated $73 in snowflakes for debt
- To date we have paid off 27% of our total debt

.............................

To remind us to be intense on paying off our debt I was silly and created a paper chain. I wrote each month from February 2009-March 2011 on the links and strung it up on the refrigerator. I look forward to watching that chain shrink!! If we pay things off faster I'll remove links from the pay off end and on the last day of each month I'll remove that month's link - today I ripped of February 2009!

The cool thing is that as we've had company at our house they ask about the chain and it gives us an opportunity to explain what we're doing. People really understand when we tell them how many rings would be up there if we weren't so aggressive to keep it to those 24 months we're up against.

9 Days In & Used Car Buying Ramblings...

January 9th, 2009 at 02:19 am

Ugh, I'm getting antsy - 9 days into the month and I haven't been able to update debt progress. Tomorrow is budget committee day so we'll see if I can count up any decent snowflakes for the week.

I mentioned before my sister & brother-in-law are moving here to Atlanta next week. They are taking a big risk and making the move without jobs, but have saved up a few months of expenses as a back-up plan. I know this is risky, but I'm proud of them for taking the leap in leaving Michigan for the possibility of a brighter future. Hopefully with them here we will be able to help coach them on the journey to debt freedom as well.

Lately it's been frustrating because some of our "friends" don't understand what we're doing in trying to be debt free. We just live in a culture where a car payment is the norm and so sometimes people think you're weird for wanting to buy something that you can pay cash for. We started looking at used minivans last night. We have about $6K in the bank and planned on adding our tax refund (between 3-4K...which is why I mentioned I need to change my withholdings) to purchase a 4-5 year old Honda Odyssey. My husband challenged me to consider us NOT using the tax refund and purchasing an '01 Odyssey with the money we have now, then taking the tax money and paying that directly to our debt - this equates to us being debt free about 4 months faster. He had a lot of fun playing with my amortization spreadsheets Smile

So we tried to look at one van which was a bust, though there are 5 in our price range listed with specs we're fine with (mileage, year & price). It wasn't even that the van didn't meet expectations - we didn't even get that far because the car lot was shady and so we left. So we are going to keep our eyes peeled for a while longer (hubby's current car is trucking along, just not as safe - it's a 1990). We've always found that patience pays off, so we're going to look at many, many vans over the next couple of months between $5,500 & $8,500 and see where God leads us. I am excited at the prospect at spending less...we've got no one to impress with our car anyway!

Just give me the patience not to blow my top when I tell someone I'm going to spend less than $10K for a car and they 1) think that's crazy - the car could break, so I better buy a brand new one or 2) if I just go to my bank I can just get a loan for a new one!!!

Give me the strength!!!

Progress to Date

December 27th, 2008 at 10:20 pm

Aside from a modest mortgage, our debt consists of 2 student loans - both mine for college & grad school, plus a used Honda we purchased earlier this year. All in all, the total originally incurred for all 3 of these debts was over $70K.

If we had continued the status quo payments (we had always added a couple hundred a month to pay extra on our debts) I calculated it wouldn't be until 2014 that we'd be rid of all of these debts.

I'm so excited at the conservative prospect of being debt free (except mortgage) by the end of 2011. I'm gonna push that goal as hard as I can!!

Note: we started this new journey back in September - a couple of weeks later our baby was badly burned (he has healed so well!) and we incurred about $2800 in medical bills. Thanks to our efforts these bills have been paid in full as of 2 weeks ago and we are excited about getting back to attacking our debt in the new year.

Excited to join in!

December 27th, 2008 at 10:06 pm

I've been reading most of the PF blogs here on savingadvice for a while now. I think that being able to interact with all of you will contribute to my focus and intensity in getting out of debt.

I always considered myself a pretty frugal person. I don’t buy things I can’t pay cash for using my credit card and I love to bargain hunt. I don’t have a single thing in my house financed and still have furniture from college. Fortunately I do have a really good paying job and a great husband that stays home with our son (make that sons in January!). We thought we were getting ahead because we can afford all of our bills and still have money left over each month for things we’d like to purchase or do.

When we got married 7 years ago, my hubby had just graduated college and I had a year to go. Somehow he began listening to Dave Ramsey, and even read Financial Peace before we got married. We both are really good at budgeting, so I read the book as well and we decided we do a modified envelope system - a carefully tracked electronic envelope system using our debit card. This has worked pretty well for the last 7 years. We even still only give ourselves $20/week of spending money each - same as back in 2001! I guess the bad thing is that the only thing we really internalized from reading that book was the budgeting approach.

Over the last year my husband has been listening to Dave Ramsey on a daily basis. He and our son listen to the show archive each morning over breakfast. When he heard Dave was coming to Atlanta to speak on the Total Money Makeover, he encouraged us to go. We got a sitter and went in September.

Well, since then I’m angry with us! I always considered myself a smart person, but I am not savvy in the ways of investments and certainly not in challenging the cultural norm of debt. We are OVER IT!