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!
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