Thursday, November 19, 2015

November Update

So it was pointed out to me that I was long overdue for update. It is a nice thing though, when updates are few and far between not because of stressful setbacks... but because things are good, and there's just not as much to update about!

As of this summer, we are officially OUT of credit card debt. Zero credit card debt. (as she pauses and waits for the cheers and adulation to die down) We have one card - just one - that we continue to use for groceries, gas, and daily expenses, and faithfully pay it completely off every paycheck. It makes life (and keeping up with the checkbook) so much easier to use a card for everything, and, bonus, we rack up Amazon points like crazy! Having no standing credit card debt is the. best. feeling. ever.  

Current debt includes:

My car - $19,000 Which sounds like a lot, but it's worth much more than that, so that's a plus. We pay more than the minimum every month. AND, barring any unforeseen circumstances like last time (RIP Sparkle), I fully intend to keep driving it long after it is paid off. It's a Toyota, so it'll run for 17 trillion miles.  I love this car.

Our primary mortgage - $156,000 Since we were able to refinance, we are no longer upside down on our mortgage, and will be in a good position to sell (if that's what we choose to do) in a couple of a years.

Our secondary mortgage - $31,000.  This is currently our targeted debt.  We increased our monthly payments recently so that it will be completely paid off before a balloon payment is due.

And... that's it!  My one concern for next year, money-wise, is that we have an expensive roof repair coming up (is there any other kind?) that we can't put off much longer.   But it's one of those inevitable joys of home ownership that just come, no matter how hard you try to will them away.  So I know that there's zero point in stressing about it.

Otherwise, we're feeling good about our financial plans in general, have saved up for Christmas, and are looking forward and ahead to the new year.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

2015: Numbers, Goals, and Baggage

A long overdue update:

As of February, 2015.... our house is worth more than we owe, so hurray for that! We took out a car loan about six months ago (for the first in quite awhile) after my car was totaled in an accident, but it's a payment we can make easily every month. And the car too is worth more than we owe on it.

We are down to a balance on ONE credit card, and it's a small balance. Well, at the time of this writing, it's around 5K... which I realize isn't a small balance, but it feels small when you've dealt with balances across several cards in the tens of thousands each.

Interestingly, my biggest and most increasingly frequent money frustration at the moment is a mental one.  It seems that over the years, as we've made more money, paid down more debt, become comfortable financially, it's brought to light all the issues I developed surrounding money when we didn't have any.  Unlike so many of the people around us, we don't talk about how much money we make.  We don't aspire to "keep up with the Joneses."  We live simply, and don't feel any sort of need to upgrade our houses or cars or lifestyles just because we can.  And because of it, we're looked down upon, and we're treated as if we're less-than in some way.  It's condescending and it's frustrating and it's exhausting as all hell.    I recognize that it's my issue though, and beyond making different choices about what kind of energy we allow in our lives, it has nothing to do with anyone else.

Money baggage aside, all is well.  We just increased our payment on our second mortgage so it will be paid off before the balloon payment is due.  Next step is to pay off the last of the credit cards.

Monday, June 9, 2014

May Update: Slow Going

Even though we're stilling steadily coming down, I'm starting to feel like we've been in a holding pattern, and that we've been holding back a dam that is going to burst (if not burst, at least leak, trickling all over our best laid plans for the next couple of months) Some big expenses coming up over the next several weeks, and we're trying to figure out how best to take care of them without completely derailing all our progress.

The little victories are encouraging, but dang is it hard not to get frustrated and discouraged sometimes.

Still, another month down. Another dent made. On to June we go.

Total debt for May:
Down by $1706.33

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

April Update, and Catching Up

Once again, life took over and I got behind on my updates. We've kept plugging though, and haven't forgotten what we're doing here. And really, when you're in debt, is it ever far from your mind? Unless you're purposely burying your head, with your fingers in your ears, I submit that it is not. It's the cloud that never leaves.

We have made some HUGE strides over the past couple of months: We paid off (OFF. ZERO.) a Chase credit card that for many years had a five figure balance.

Which means that we're down to only two cards, one of which we've managed to knock down to under $5000.  Which means that in a couple of months, that one will be zero too.   Which means, that after all this time, I can see a light at the end of the tunnel.

We're buckling down right now.  While our friends are asking about summer plans, and going to exciting places like Hawaii and Europe... we're staying home this summer.  We're taking little (re:cheap) camping trips.  We're saving our money, we're putting off big purchases, we're being mindful of what we're spending. Our answer is the same, again and again:

"We're focused on paying off our debt right now."

God-willing, it will pay off, and we'll be debt-free with the exception of the mortgage by the end of 2014. Until then, it's still plug plug plug.

Total debt for April:
Down by $1226.96

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

January Update

Month one of a new year. We made the decision to shuffle some things around so that we can get our target card paid of sooner rather than later (yay!), which means that in just a few months, we should be down to just two cards with balances. Even though we'll still be paying the same amount to debt each month - just rearranged in a different way - the prospect of having an entire card paid off soon is HUGELY motivating.

February is an expensive month for us. Every year. Every single year. So I'm not anticipating a huge reduction for the next month. But January was fine (good even, since we celebrated my birthday, had two sets of out-town-visitors, and generally had a good time and still saw a decent reduction). One more month down, and that much closer to becoming debt-free.

Total debt for January:

Down by $821.73

Monday, December 30, 2013

December Update, 2013 Update, and The Goal for 2014

First: We're through the Christmas season, and while our reduction was modest, the holiday is paid for, and it's onward and upward into the new month and the new year.

Total debt for December: 
Down by $265.09

And for 2013... It was a strange year for us financially.  We didn't reach our goal for our credit cards.  Not even close.  Like with anything else, there are many factors for sure, but I think the biggest issue we're facing is continually trying to walk the line between trying to focus on paying off our debt without tightening the belt so much that we feel restricted and overcompensate by then spending too much.  It is a constant balance, and one we're always trying to figure out.

"But we deserve a vacation!"

"But we're trying to pay off our debt!"

"But we can afford to go out to eat more often than we are!"

"But.... debt!"

And on and on and around and around.

Still, we're plugging away, and our credit cards did come down, if just a fraction of what we'd planned.

Total Credit Card Debt for 2013:
Down by $4,266.06

The really interesting thing about 2013 though was that we re-financed our house, and took advantage of a program for people like us... people who'd been hit particularly hard by the market crash and were subsequently extremely upside-down in their mortgages.  It basically excused $60,000 of what we owed, as long as we agreed to stay in the house for 5 more years.

So our total debt for the year is down by $80,044.88.

Our total debt at the time of this writing is $212,950.61.  And because the market finally did start to show some returns, our house is finally valued over $200K once again.  Which means, for the first time in years, we're actually in the black, or very very close to it.  So yay for that!!

At some point, I'll sit down and put together a detailed list of financial goals for 2014, but for now I'll start with this:  To pay off one more credit card.  Just one, out of three.  It has a balance of $5900, which works out to $500 a month.  We can do that.  We can.  We can.

Here's to a happy, blessed, and prosperous 2014.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

November Update

November turned out to be an expensive month for us, but thankfully it also happened to be one of two times a year that we get an "extra" paycheck, so we were covered. Christmas is paid for, and we even have $60+ on our Fresh and Easy card that we're saving to go towards our Christmas day feast.  So we're feeling good about moving into December.

Still, I'm.... frustrated, I guess you could say.  For the first time in the eight years that we've lived here, I'm finding myself desperately missing the small NH town we moved from, where everyone was pretty much living the same middle middle-class life, and there wasn't the division that I feel here.  I wasn't surrounded by neighborhoods and people who live an entirely different lifestyle, and through no real fault of their own just can't relate.   I feel very out of place.

It's a powerful thing to be able to talk to other people who get it, and in "real life" I just don't have that. Thankful today for the internet.

Total debt for November:
Down by $1343.62