Tag Archives: finances

Monday 109: Surprises, Pleasant & Unpleasant

Monday, 5 June 2017

Just when progress seems good, you get a surprise that warns you that you are not quite where you think you are.  It is humbling, and forces you to re-think what you have been doing.  This is what happened when I decided to do a bit of research on our debt reduction since I started this blog.

The bad news is that we have maintained even ground on one of our credit cards . . . the one connected to Amazon.  As a result, it has not really seen a shift in its balance for the past year.  This was the shocker.  I have been paying the bills, focusing on saving, but never really paid that much attention to the actuality of what was happening there.  To save money, our mobile bill is also on the same credit card, and that has added to our maintaining a balance rather than reducing our balance.  I had not given thought to this automatic debit to our credit card!

The good news is that we have paid off $41,414.28 in debt since January 2016.  This includes everything – house, student loan, credit cards, car.

Preparing for retirement has been the carrot for our financial focus, as well as changing habits with regard to how we manage our money.  It’s been hard work.  It also requires daily assessment of our financial situation if we want to reach our goal in a couple of years with everything but a small student loan and house payment remaining.  Looking ahead, unless something bizarro happens, my retirement income will be similar to what I make now, and I do think we will be comfortable.  I could pick up something part time if I wanted and still get full social security benefits and benefits from my pension, without penalty.

Looking ahead, that credit card will now include the payment for the phone and other routine debits on top of the regular payment while I continue to focus on reducing the other one . . .

Monday 142: Thoughts on Our Sunday Conversation

Running

Monday, 17 October 2016

I’d be lying if I said our conversation on finances yesterday was easy.

It wasn’t difficult.

It was frustrating and rather tiring.

The truth is, it is really difficult to sit still and listen to another person talk about his perspective on our financial situation.

Listening is really hard.  I had to bite my tongue.

Being heard is hard.  Speaking about frustrations and hearing about frustrations is really difficult.  Hearing “We need to make more money and spend less” is hard to hear because I want to say “Let’s work at not upgrading things and focus on paying things off without having to work more.”

We had to clarify things with each, such as coming to agreement on common terminology, such as what I mean by “savings account” and what he means by “savings account.”  Little things like that to clean up communication.

I am not sure what we got out of this.  It’s all a bit of a mystery to me.  I do know that I need to believe it is for the best, even when right now it is more depressing than inspiring.  I also know that oftentimes when we begin on new adventures, there is discomfort and confusion simply because things are new and unknown.  I do have faith that things will improve – I always do – but it is hard to believe that at times.

So?  

What did we do so far this month?

Well . . . Amazon has not taken a lot of money, which has been good for Credit Card #3, and Credit Card #2 is down another $700.00, for a total of $1300.00 for September and October, which does not include that hideous interest rate.  (I am still debating about the 0% transfer.)

 We are not likely to be too far over our monthly food budget of $350.00.

What?

The question is still up in the air as to how much the consolidated student loan payment is going to be.

And?

And, despite feeling rather depressed as I write this, even if we don’t add to our income, we need to continue to pare away at debt and be conscious in our spending.  It’s as simple as that.

Monday 144: A Discussion

discussion

Monday, 3 October 2016

This post is a bit late, just because I wanted to think about it.

DH and I had a very serious conversation about money after an outburst about having to put $200.00 into our old Acura (which is 11), and the knowledge that the air compressor could go and cost $1000.00 to replace or repair.  In a way, it was an emotional meltdown without thought, but it was not violent or insulting to either of us.  In fact, what it did bring about was more willingness on his part to become involved with the finances.

We have one new car, and two old ones – the Acura, and a diesel truck which has been completely rebuilt.  The Honda is only now hitting 6,000 miles.  Because he works at home, the DH doesn’t need a commuter car; I do as I drive about 20 miles round trip 4 days a week, in an area without decent public transportation.  The thought of losing the Acura is not pleasant – the truck is huge, and used for transportation of big things, not a casual drive for cookies from the grocery store.  The real question on the line is would it be worthwhile to keep the Acura or get rid of it at sometime in the future?

Up ahead, there are student loans which will be needing to start payment on for The Student’s education; the final payment(s) remain unknown at this point.  A new car, with payments, is not feasible or desirable.

We discussed everything – money, feelings, frustrations.  Our conversation ended with the DH becoming more willing to look at our money on a regular basis.  This means every two weeks when I do the bills.  For the first time in 25 years is he willing to walk into the checkbook to see what is on the line, what is in the budget, and other financial plans.  And talk about it and be part of the decision-making process.

This is a very big step as we are now facing the reality of our finances together, not alone.  I won’t be alone pondering this and that and making all the decisions, and he won’t be alone and feeling guilty about buying a book.  As with all new endeavors, it is unlikely to be comfortable, but it will be productive for both of us.

Hooray!

Monday 152: Thirty Mondays And What Have We Accomplished?

Try

Monday, 8 August 2016

And so it has happened:  We decided to try, and we have begun to accomplish.

Sometimes we succeed majorly, sometimes we don’t.

Overall, in 30 weeks, we have managed to pay off nearly $6000.00 in credit card debt in about 8 months. We had to buy a new car, but put $5000.00 down. We have saved for special occasions, such as graduation for The Student, planned the funding for vacation this next week, and several family events that, while not super expensive, did put a good hole into the monthly food budgets.  We do manage our money better in the big picture, but the convenience of Amazon is a problem.  We also have hobbies, and those do sometimes require money; still, we manage to allocate money and wait (most of the time!) for our bigger purchases.  And, we have money in the bank, and are saving $1000.00 / month.

We are off on vacation for a week, one we were debating about doing, but the fact is a change of scenery is very refreshing.  Time alone, away from the phone and work, time to rekindle our relationship, time away from the daily grind.

See you next week!

Monday 178: Seeds for the Future

Choices_(9639918937)Monday, 1 February 2016

Planning ahead is something I am good at, if I want a vacation.  I research places to stay and things to do.  In fact, I am always ready with Plan B, Plan C, and Plan D.

But, it has never occurred to me that I am really rotten at making long term – really long term – decisions.

This is why we are in this financial mess.  We can “handle it” but can we “afford” it?

No, we cannot afford it.  We cannot afford it short term or long term.  Neither of us tend to really have any great stick-to-it-iveness, and have a “take care of it tomorrow” attitude.  We could blame it on mom and dad, but that is so lame.  Let’s just lay the blame on ourselves and move forward.

Short Term, Long Term

There really is a big difference in mindsets here.  Tomorrow is so near, it is easy to think about.  We need groceries, let’s plan tomorrow’s trip.

I want to retire in 179 more Mondays.  That is long term thinking.  Really long term thinking.  LIke, thinking about infinity.  That takes discipline.  It means saying “no, we cannot buy that right now” when the other half wants a particular bottle of whisky on sale.”  It means saying “no, we cannot afford that right now” when I want to get a really great camera at a really great price.

LIke I said in an earlier post, “No” has a lot of power.

“No” to unnecessary spending.

“Yes” has a lot of power, but it is, in some ways, harder to do when the goal is in a galaxy far, far away.

 “Yes” to necessary saving.  “Yes” to remembering the goals.  “Yes” to the future in a way I probably cannot imagine.

February Finances

And what does February bring?  It brings a pay raise for me, a substantial one.   And a pay raise for the other half, and a bonus.

This means more money every month, and it also means that it would be so, so easy to slide into spending it.  Now is the time to really think about things . . . and to keep a lid on it, too.  And say “no” and say “yes.”

 These are seeds for the future.  It is up to us to see if they take root and bloom.