Wednesday, December 19, 2012

**Queue Superhero Music**

With our finances combined...

we have achieved...

a positive net worth!

This is the first time in my financial life that my net worth has not been red! Perry's townhouse helped a lot.  Especially since it has gone up in value since my husband (No, the novelty of that word has not yet worn off  :) ) purchased it a little over two years ago.  Assets!!  We have assets!

As mentioned in my previous post, our payments lost momentum as we planned our wedding.  Now that the wedding is done, we're on to the next goal: Saving up $3,500.  Until then, creditors get minimum payments.  Given that this is overtime season for me and freelance season for Perry, we should have our savings built up in relatively short order.
I'm in the process of switching from my big chain bank to Perry's small credit union.  I'm so excited to be rid of my bank.  The credit union has people that answer the phone rather than machines!

Here is the big ol' list of debts and their payoff statuses:

Direct Deposit Advance - $0/$550
Store Card 1 - $0/$323
Credit Card 1 - $0/$400
Line of Credit 1 - $0/$510
Credit Card 2 - $0/$685
Store Card 2 - $0/$2,798
Auto Loan 1 - $0/$4,140
Student Loan 1 - $797/$1,951
Student Loan 2 - $1,167/$3,148
Credit Card 5 - $1,878/$1,700
Credit Card 4 - $2,845/$4,577
401k Loan (Tuition) - $1,958/$2,400
Line of Credit 2 - $3,226/$5,000
Student Loan 3 - $3,438/$5,614
Credit Card 3 - $4.853/$5,150
Student Loan 4 - $4,925/$6,048
Auto Loan 2 - $5,553/$10,000

TOTAL REMAINING - $30,639/$54,944

There is something about seeing a balance below $1,000 that gets me excited to pay off some debt.  I guess balances without commas just seem far less daunting.  We've got some things coming up that will very likely affect our finances in a positive direction.  We'll see what the new year brings.  I can't wait to cross off more of those lines!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Beginning the Next Chapter

We did it!  We survived wedding planning and we got hitched!  And we did it all without adding to our debt!  It was incredibly stressful at times, but mostly we had a lot of fun creating a day that was purely "us."  We threw convention out the window and wrote a ceremony that was meaningful for our family and created a reception that was relaxed and fun.  It couldn't have gone better.

Now that our nuptials have been completed, we're working toward combining our finances.  I'm finally leaving my big chain bank and moving everything to Perry's credit union.  We've worked through our monthly budget expectations and September is the first month that we're using a joint budget.  We planned not only for all of our living expenses, bills, and debts, but also for Christmas gifts, Perry's annual month of unemployment, and a small family trip next summer.  We underestimated our income (we didn't count overtime) and overestimated the things we need to pay.  We both have additional income from overtime and freelance projects, so we feel like we've set ourselves up to be successful.

Perry works at the local high school, but is not technically a teacher (more like an assistant teacher and AV tech).  He has been financially strapped every July/August because his contract includes 11 months of employment.  Unlike regular teachers, he cannot distribute his pay over 12 months.  Every July, he is off work without pay.  While he has always gotten by, his month off from work has required spending less money on fun than he normally would rather than taking full advantage of the time off.  Next year will be different.  We'll have enough saved to replace his income and we're taking the kids camping.

We've prioritized our saving and spending and have decided that it makes the most sense for us to save not only our $1,000 emergency fund, but also enough to replace his July income before we delve back into debt repayment.  We'll aim to have $3,500 in our savings account at all times.  We'll have to dip into it every July, but we'll continue to contribute to it monthly so that by the following July, it is replenished.

I'm really excited to dig into our finances and work toward long-term financial stability.  Perry isn't excited quite yet, but he's not unwilling.  Seeing some progress is what got me excited, but he hasn't yet been a part of those exciting moments when the final payment is made on a debt that has been a part of the family for years.  I'm sure that he'll love seeing the numbers drop and the bills dwindle despite not a big nerd about math and spreadsheets like me.

I'll update soon with our combined debt load.  Eek!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

To the future!

Apologies for my lengthy absence.  Debt repayment has been taking small steps forward and large steps backward in the last year and it has frustrated me to the point that I haven't wanted to blog about it.  I should blog about it though, because this is how debt repayment goes.  You think you're making great progress climbing out of the hole and some unforeseen circumstance knocks you back down into the chasm. It has happened before and it will very likely happen again.  I need to prepare as best I can and handle these things as they come.

Kindergarten expenses took a huge toll.  The initial plan was to split the girls' $8,000 worth of kindergarten tuition expenses 50/50 with their dad (he would pay for one child and I would pay for the other), but I found out with just a few weeks left of the school year that he hadn't made any payments.  I scraped together enough debt to cover her $4,000 tuition and promptly filed the child support modification request that I had intended to hold onto until after the wedding.  We'll see how that turns out.  I read through it a dozen times making sure I was being objective and fair in asking for a modification.  Ugh... I hate drama.

So, on to happier things!

We've got less than six weeks to the wedding!  We've managed to cash-flow everything.  We've shopped around and found deals on things we love.  We've asked to borrow things rather than buy them.  We've DIYed a LOT.  We've recruited a team of friends and family to help us make our wedding happen.  Will our wedding be featured on a wedding blog for other couples to fawn over?  Probably not.  But we're going to get married and celebrate and we're going to start our marriage without any wedding-related financial stress. I'll give up all the short-term fuss in exchange for meeting some long-term goals, thankyouverymuch.  We're not fancy people and I'd rather not fake it on such an important day.

All three of the kids have finished kindergarten and are excited about the wedding.  They've had a great summer so far.  It is now clear that putting the girls in separate classrooms has been good for them because they're getting really tired of each other already and can't wait for school to start again so they can get some time apart.

It's sometimes strange living in our little sociology project.  Reagan was diagnosed with ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder partway through kindergarten.  We suspected the ADHD long before, but put off having her screened by a professional.  We've learned a lot about how her brain functions differently than our other two kids (and our own) and she's doing just fine most of the time.  All three kids have their own bedrooms now and I think having her own space where is free to be alone if she so chooses has helped her immensely.  She is also responsible for that space and takes a lot of pride in organizing her new desk to make room for drawing.
Cow in a Thunderstorm - by Reagan

We have issued a reading challenge for the kids this summer.  We've asked them to read at least two hours per week.  Every week that they meet their goal, they each get to choose a new book to buy for their personal library.  At the end of the summer, provided they have met their challenge consistently, we are going to go to a theme park as a family.  They've really taken to it.  Those weekly trips to the bookstore are a lot of fun.  Kieran picked out Mercy Watson to the Rescue when we went book shopping on Sunday and she has already read it twice!
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