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

Monday, November 4, 2013

October Update

A few weeks ago, we got back from another 2 1/2 week, cross-country road trip.  We drove some 6700 miles, through 31 states, and we saw a lot of people.    And just as I did two years ago when we took a similar trip, I'm asking myself the questions:  

Was it irresponsible for us to take such a trip?

Should we be taking ANY trips?

What kind of business do we have spending $4K + on travel to anywhere when we're still trying to pay off our debt?

Was it worth it?

And with the exception of that last question (Yes.  Yes, it was worth it), I don't know the answers.  I do know that I don't regret the trip.  At all.  Experiences like that are too important to regret.  

But the fact remains that once again, we made a choice that put our debt repayment on a temporary back burner.  So maybe next year we don't take a vacation.  Maybe we take a smaller one.  Maybe we find a way to bring in even more money to get the debt paid off that much quicker.  I don't know.  I just know that it's making me tired, this big black cloud that too often feels like it's Never.  Going.  Away.  

November is another month.

Total Debt For October:
Up By $288.93

Friday, August 30, 2013

August Update

Two things for some perspective before I give numbers for this month:

1) We just got back from our four day mini-vacation in Vegas. It was awesome, and a very much needed getaway. We saw some shows, walked through the ridiculous hotels, and otherwise just enjoyed a few days of uninterrupted family time, hotel pools, happy hours, and nice dinners out. And,

2) Mike is paid bi-weekly, and the way the paychecks and due dates fall every month, one check goes almost entirely to the mortgage, utilities, etc, and the other allows us the "extra" money to make a big payment towards our debt, and to pay off any out-of-the-ordinary expenses for that month. We haven't yet received that paycheck since we've returned from Vegas.

One plus two equals:

Total Debt for August: 
Up by 1031.07

In one week, we'll pay off the rest of our little trip, AND be able to take another good chunk off our debt in general (thanks in part to Mike's just-received bonus and raise, woooo!)  Then we're taking off again for just over two weeks, to take another cross country trip... with the goal of being totally back on track debt-wise by the end of October - mid November.  Onward and upward.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

July Update

A few setbacks in July. My car needed new shocks... totaling almost $500. And our trip next month has fallen through (which will ultimately save us money in the long run, but in the meantime is tying up $550 that we may or may not see refunded) We decided to take a long weekend up to Vegas instead, so we booked the hotel, and bought some tickets for entertainment there as well.

We also spent more than usual on groceries this month, because we decided to try a 40 meals in 4 hours crockpot freezer plan. It meant an approximately $600 shopping spree, but should reduce our regular weekly trip down to $100 or less for the next several weeks.

All in all though, our debt still came down, and it's very encouraging to know that even on the not-so-great months, we can still see at least a modest reduction.

Total debt for July:
Down by $738.34

Monday, July 1, 2013

June Update

June is - thankfully - over, which means so ends our month of no extra spending.  It ended up being both easier and harder than I thought, and it was a good month to choose to do it too... our debt would have barely come down otherwise.  We managed to pay off a few stragglers, and are left with exactly four debts:

A mortgage, a second mortgage, and two credit cards. 

That's it!  We can do this, right?! 

Next order of business is to get in as good a shape as possible for two back-to-back trips:  One to a conference in Texas at the end of August, and one a two-week long road trip at the end of September.  They will of course prove to be setbacks as far as debt reduction (even road-trips are NOT CHEAP) but the goal is to do it with as small amount of financial impact as possible... while still having an excellent time.  We've done it before, and I know we can do it again.

Total debt for June:
Down by $1572.57

Monday, June 3, 2013

May Update

Look at me, posting twice in a week!

April was a very expensive month for us, and May was not a whole lot better... so it was with great excitement (and relief) that I did the numbers for May and found that we were regaining ground, and that our debt had still come down.  I'm actually really looking forward to our next paycheck on the 14th, because it will mean  three (count em.  THREE) outstanding little debts that have been hanging over our heads will be paid off, freeing up more money for our next targeted credit card:  a checking account credit line for $515, a personal line of credit of $159, and a Visa card with a balance of $750. 

Total debt for May:

Down by $2147.23

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Long Overdue Update.... And a Challenge

Staring at a blank screen, more than a year since my last update.

I'd very much like to report that we are now debt-free (or at the very least, in a much better position than we were a year ago) which is why I haven't been updating... but alas, that's not the case.  We're still here, still in debt, and still plugging away.

Some positives first:

1)  We have paid off both car loans, so YAY for that.

2)  We're down to three credit cards with balances, one of which is due to be paid off in a matter of weeks.

3) I am bringing in a bit of money through teaching yoga, and most exciting of all:

4)  We refinanced our house through a new AZ program for people who like us who were so ridiculously upside down on our mortgages.  It has saved us about $700 a month, AND we are no longer upside down!  In fact, our overall net worth is actually in the black for the first time in forever.  One condition of the refi was that we need to stay in the house for another five years, which I've come to terms with.  We never really made it a home, because we never intended to stay here.  But now we are, so a home it shall become.

Finally, after a few months in a row of a lot of expenses - the kind of months where it felt like money was just leaking from our pockets - we decided to take a 30-day "no extra money challenge" in the month of June.  No going out to eat, no "extras", no running to the grocery store if there's something we can already make in our cupboard/fridge/freezer, no new clothes or shoes or anything that's not absolutely necessary.  Just for 30 days.  Partly because I want the challenge of just doing it, and partly because I know that a month of belt-tightening will surely help us get back on track debt-repayment-wise.

So, here we go.  Again.