Family Trip Coming…

And yes, that also translates to a setback in our goals to get out of credit debt. A $2500 one (counting plane tickets and hotel stay, but not counting baggage claim, cost to keep the dog in the kennel, expenses we incur while on the trip, etc.). Husband was insistent on us taking this trip, and when he makes up his mind to something, he usually gets his way. 

I didn’t have much of an argument against it, really. We’re going to Washington, DC with our son, and it’s one of the most economical trips around. The tours are cheap, it costs nothing to see the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, the Capitol, etc. Plus, it is an educational trip.

While I’m a little disheartened by this financial setback, am I trying to have a positive attitude about it. They are a lot of obviously positive things about our taking this trip. For one thing, it will at least be covered on my husbands credit cards, not mine!

Also, the trip motivates me to do something I’ve been procrastinating on for a while… exercise. I am the WORST at making myself exercise; I always find more value in doing something other than taking care of myself. I thought, however, about all the walking we will probably have to do on this trip, how overweight I am, and how huffing and puffing all over the place because I’m out of shape is going to put a major damper on the whole affair. So now I have a new motivation, at least. 

I also have a new motivation to scrimp and save where I can to make sure my goals of paying off debt are not derailed. As I’ve said, I’ve made it my goal to make sure my line of credit and credit card are paid off. I will be working more aggressively to get this done now… and this time, my husbands credit cards are going to be the LAST thing that will get paid off.

Staying the Course

This is been a pretty interesting journey… this paying off of our debts. Even my husband has been getting more and more excited. He asks me often what account I’ve been working on paying off next, how many accounts we’re down to, etc. It seems like he has not been missing his credit cards and he has not asked me for them. He usually checks with me to see how much is in our bank accounts before making a purchase. 

I think my husband is really amazed at how far we are coming along in getting out of debt, that it’s changing him. Perhaps he wasn’t as interested in it before because he didn’t know it was possible. He just accepted debt as a way of life. 

We started off with about $55,000 in debt. We’ve paid off nine credit accounts, amounting in about a $20,000 payoff. We have now brought our debt down to about $35-36K. 

My latest project has been my personal line of credit. There’s another account I owe a little less on, but I’m working on my line of credit first because it belongs solely to me and I feel like I deserve to have it paid off next, since I’ve bailed out our business several times by using this account. I just made a $1000 payment today, which brought the balance down to about $3700. 

Depending on the jobs we do and the revenues we can bring in, I’d guess that, if we are able to pay 1K towards this account every two weeks, we can have it paid off in about 6-8 weeks (about 2 months). 

I like to pay these things off aggressively, especially when I look at the havoc interest wreaks on our monthly bills.

Just Paid Off Another One!

#9! We paid off my husband’s Capital One Card. Unlike the other cards, though, I did not cut up this one. It’s good to maintain one credit card and use it responsibly. For example, I could purchase some gas on the card monthly and make sure it’s paid off before the due date every month. 

Yes, you heard me right. It’s my husband’s credit card, but it’s in my possession and I alone would be making the purchases. My husband knows this and seems okay with it… he shrugged his shoulders when I told him what I would be doing with it. 
My husband’s credit score has now improved a great deal. When I met him, it was crap. Since then, I have been very proactive in taking over the responsibility of “house bookkeeper”. I have kept a binder of every bill that arrives in chronological order according to due date. I mark when those bills are due on my desk calendar. I make every payment on time. 

Tonight he told me that, if it were not for my taking over the finances and being this proactive, he’d still be in bad financial shape. 

At least now he’s listening to me and not fighting me on these things so much now. 

I sound like I’m tooting my horn a lot, and I suppose I am. So to counterbalance that, I will admit that I am the one who is still saddled with the heavy balances. I owe about $8000 on my credit card, and about $5500 on my line of credit. I also have about $10,000 left in student debt. Why is this?

The student debt is self-explanatory, especially to those who have shared that same experience. The $5500 balance on my line of credit is due to all the financial bailouts I’ve given to our business when it was newer and struggling to get off the ground. The $8000 balance was due to a combination of factors… a fender bender that insurance didn’t completely cover, possibly another business bailout, and some unwise purchases my husband encouraged me to make so I could “live a little”.

A lot of times, we used my credit for things because I was the one who always had the “excellent” credit and the higher credit limits. 

Now one of my husband’s credit scores (probably the Transunion one) has now crossed over the “excellent” cusp, while both of mine are hovering just under that. At least I still have “good” credit… but I find myself fighting a little envy and bitterness. 

Like the elder brother in the story of The Prodigal Son, I sometimes feel self-righteous and bitter. I’d been working hard to do the right thing all along, and I tend to feel like my husband doesn’t deserve to have the higher credit score, or to have all his credit cards paid off, while mine are still bloated with oppressively high balances. 

Yes, I am bitter, arrogant, and self-righteous. That’s on me, and I have to humble myself and go to God with that. 

But my husband’s attitudes about money have are changing. He’s not fighting against me as I have taken over the finances. He has been willing, for the most part, to get on board with me in paying our debt off. He was not proud of his financial situation before, but now we can all breathe a bit easier, for if one of us has a lesser financial burden, both of us benefit in the long run. Also, now that my husband’s accounts have been taken care of, that means it is now time to turn my attention to my own financial health! I’ve taken care of others for a while, and now it’s time to take care of myself!

5-Minute Project: Replacing Pantry Doors with Curtains

I used to have these white, wooden pantry doors which would slide open accordion-style. The problem with them was that the top halves of the doors were a pain to clean because they had individual “slats” on them like window shutters do, and they also had grease stains on them. They also had little creases and detailing on them where dust and dirt liked to collect, and it was hard to scrub it all out. I hate it when things get old, nasty and discolored, and painting is a pain. 

Yesterday I was “minimalizing” and found some old, basic taupe curtains. Then today I went to Big Lots and purchased an adjustable shower curtain rod for $8. So I took off the pantry doors and put up the taupe curtains in their place. That way, if the curtains get dirty (as they will in the kitchen, all I have to do is take them off the rod and throw them in with the rest of the laundry. It’s a LOT simpler to deal with, and I think it looks great!

Minimizing My Time on Facebook

Yes, Facebook is so yesterday, it’s somewhat pathetic. But it’s a deeply-ingrained habit with me. Like TV is often accused of doing, I wonder if FB is beginning to rot my brain. 

In my last post, I briefly mentioned that I was giving away some books that didn’t serve me at this point in my life. I left behind some books that I have been wanting to read but haven’t gotten around to them yet. I thought about the time I waste on FB, and how I could possibly read and complete an educational book about every week (or month) instead and feed my mind some healthy stuff. I think I will. 

Reducing My Stuff (and My Fluff) Again

Tonight I went into the spare bedroom, where we keep our exercise equipment, to make some sort of attempt to lift weights (after an excessively long hiatus from being physically fit; any kind of movement is a victory for me). 

While I went through my short exercise routine, I looked throughout the small room at some of the items hanging on the wall to the left of me, then at the items stowed in the closet to the right of me. On the wall on the left hung a small, terra cotta ocarina (a small, Native American wind instrument which served as a souvenir from my honeymoon in Colorado), a basket that someone gave me that I never really liked or knew what to do with, and a harmonica holder that I never really used (I intended to learn to play the harmonica while playing my guitar, like a sort of female Bob Dylan. Hope springs eternal). 

To the right in the closet, some kind of junk-metal decorative art piece shaped like a guitar resided there, along with a junky, generic-brand 12-string guitar purchased for us by a well-meaning relative at–where else?–a garage sale. We never used it, seeing as my husband and I both have our own guitars that we love… yet that guitar sat in the closet for about three years. Other residents of the closet included a doumbek (an Egyptian hand drum) and a Native American rain stick (another Colorado honeymoon artifact)… both of which my husband and I never use either.

I got inspired. After finishing my workout tonight, I took these items out to place them in the hatchback of my Honda CRV. I’ll be taking them to Goodwill tomorrow on my lunch break. 

I also went through my own DVD collection and set aside those movies that I didn’t love well. Those are in the back of my SUV now too. 

I forgot to take before and after pictures, but I’m not giving away enough of the DVD’s for it to matter anyway. I was going to give away some of the movies I thought my stepson might have outgrown by now. He objected. Guess I was wrong. 

Next, I weeded through some books that didn’t seem to serve much purpose for me anymore. I have a stack that need to be taken to the car. 

So I’ll be carting all this stuff away tomorrow. Perhaps if I could do something like this about once a week, I will be fairly clutter-free after a little while. 

Just Paid Off Number 8!

We just paid off a Chase card with about $2500 on it. I’m delighted. 

It seems like we’ve been making a lot of progress with paying off stuff, but we still have a long way to go. My husband and I have been somewhat financially blessed for the past two weeks; however, it might be time to ease up on paying credit accounts off at such a rapid pace and focus, at this time, on saving money. We work very hard every day, but the amount of revenues we make per week can ebb and flow based on the types of electrical jobs we get. We might have a tight week coming up. A large chunk of money also goes out to cover payroll every week as well. 

We will still continue to make the minimum monthly payments on each account, while paying off larger chunks of one account till it’s paid off. Snowballing is working really well for us. But I am learning that balance is key; it’s better for me to pace myself and devote a period of time to save as much funds as possible, while progressively paying off accounts as it becomes feasible to do so. 

I keep a three-ring binder of monthly invoices in chronological order according to when they’re due. It’s so satisfying to see the amount of those monthly invoices become smaller and smaller, knowing that it means we are on the way to saving money in the long run by not making monthly credit card payments with interest and by not living beyond our means.