Two weeks ago we sent in our final payment on our car, making our goal of being debt-free by our final Financial Peace University class! I know that if we had not had the concrete goal we would still be paying on it. It was so nice to celebrate with everyone at our closing dinner.
We had a potluck dinner before viewing the final lesson together. My husband has a co-worker that makes cakes so we asked her to make us a credit card cake that everyone could cut a piece out of for dessert. Everyone loved it! Here's the cake:
It sort of seems anti-climatic to be debt-free now. Maybe it hasn't sunk in because I haven't had the chance to enjoy NOT writing that monthly check.
We are now started on our fully funded emergency fund. We have a little over half of a month's worth of expenses so far. I'm anxious to watch that balance grow.
Well, once again it's been several months since I've been here. It's been a busy time. I'm still taking classes toward an accounting degree. This semester has been particularly tough.
A couple of weeks ago DH and I chaperoned our youth group on a trip to NYC to work with The Relief Bus. It's a mobile soup kitchen based out of Newark, NJ that provides soup, bread and clothing to the poor and homeless in NYC. They also refer them to shelters, job opportunities, health care and counseling centers. It was a really neat few days. It was awesome to see the youth in our group (2 of them our own) step out of their comfort zone and reach out to those less fortunate than themselves. We were all blessed, probably far more than those to whom we ministered.
And some exciting news for us: In 3 weeks DH and I will be facilitating our first Financial Peace University class at our church! This has been a dream of mine for a long time and I'm so excited to finally be getting to do it. We have 20 families signed up so far. I am really looking forward to it. If it changes one family's life as much as it has ours, it will be so worth it!
We are getting so close to being debt-free (except the house)! I can't wait!!!
We added a new member to our family in March. His name is Ramsey and he has really livened up our household. He's a 4-pound Yorkshire Terrier. When we got him he was only 1.6 pounds, so he's really filled out since then!
I have always wanted a Yorkie and so when DS#3's girlfriend's dog had puppies and they said they'd only charge us half-price, I started saving my blow money. Slowly, but surely, it added up until I had just enough by the time the puppies were ready to come home.
I couldn't make up my mind which of them I wanted. There were 2 girls and a boy in the litter. I was pretty sure I wanted a girl, but which one? On the way home from church one night DS#3 mentioned that he really liked the boy puppy and if we didn't take him, his girlfriend's parents were going to keep him just because he was so lovable. I told him that I didn't have a name for a boy though. I had a couple of names picked out for a girl. DH replied that I should name him Dave Ramsey since I listen to him all the time. And so that is how Ramsey became a part of our family.
Last week I started teaching Dave Ramsey's "Generation Change" curriculum to the teen Sunday School class. Now, if you knew me, it would be a big surprise that I would volunteer to do this because I am a very quiet person that rarely, if ever, speaks up in class. But this is such an important topic that most kids are not being taught at school or at home, that I had a burden to do it. I am hoping that they will finish this class with a sense of how to manage their finances while in college and as adults.
So far, the kids seem to be enjoying the class. The first lesson focuses on materialism and how we are more than just what we own. Next week we will get into the basics of personal finance and budgeting.
Last week I was extremely nervous, but this week I was surprised to find that I was fine. It doesn't make much sense since last week the class time was taken up mostly with the video part of the lesson and this week I had to talk the entire time. I'm hoping that each week gets easier. It's a subject I feel passionate about, so I think that helps tremendously. I am hoping to help just one teen avoid learning lessons the hard way, like we had to.
DH and I have stumbled upon a new hobby that we enjoy. It's even better because we can do it together and it's not very expensive.
I was wracking my brain for a birthday gift for him last spring and a friend suggested a GPS unit so we could go geocaching. I had never heard of geocaching until about a year ago. I thought it sounded interesting so I did a little bit of research. Now, I am a big fan of the TV show Amazing Race, but we could never do that together because we would either kill each other or get divorced. Too much pressure! But, geocaching I thought we could handle.
So I found someone that wanted to upgrade to a better GPS unit and bought their used one from them for us to give this a try. We are now hooked! All it costs us is our gasoline and money for a meal if we decide to eat out.
For those that don't know what geocaching is, it's a sort of treasure hunt. We go to geocaching.com and download coordinates for the caches we want to find into our GPS unit and off we go. We drive to the area where the cache is hidden and then follow the GPS to within a few feet and then the hunt begins.
A cache can be very small (think medicine container) or rather large. Quite often they are in ammunition boxes. When you find the cache, there is a log to sign and goodies that you can trade. We carry a bag with odds and ends in it to leave in the caches. Quite often, I get a Happy Meal at McDonald's so that I can leave the toy that comes in it.
We have found 75 geocaches so far. Right now we are working on a series of caches for which we will earn medallions when we are done.
A few of the kids have gone geocaching with us when they were able and have enjoyed it also. It's a great recreational activity for the whole family. It gets you out to places that you might not otherwise ever see and you get exercise while doing it.
LuxLiving tells me that I need to update, so here I am. :-) I do mean to post here more often, but it just doesn't seem to happen.
We are doing fairly well. We did have some excitement this past Tuesday. Son # 2 (of course!) called and asked us to come pick him up. He was on the interstate and his engine blew! He said that oil sprayed everywhere and the compartment filled up with black smoke so that he couldn't see to pull over. He slowed and edged over until he felt the rumble strip and managed to get off the road. By the time we'd gotten to where he was stranded, he had the car at a salvage yard and made arrangements to send them the title to scrap it. So he is without a car once again. This was the 6th car since he started driving 3 years ago that has bit the dust!
We are still whittling away at debt. We have just over $6,000 left on the car and then we will be on to working on a fully-funded emergency fund.
I did quit my 2 evening jobs. It was getting to be too much with taking 2 classes and DD's volleyball season starting up. I got to figuring that by the time I bought my dinner those nights and took into account how much I spent on gasoline, I really wasn't making anything anyway. It's been a huge relief. I am still doing bookkeeping for one library as a side job though.
Guess that's all I can think of that's happened lately. Hopefully I'll get back here before Lux has to tell me it's time. :-)
Thanks to LuxLiving for checking on me. We are alive and well. Last month was a bit of a strain, mostly emotionally.
On July 2nd our middle son (19), who is an EMT in a city 2.5 hours from us, was cleaning some basement walls in his fiance's house and ended up spilling ammonia in both eyes. He had set the bottle up on a pillar above him and when he grabbed the bottle it tilted and poured in his face. He was alone but managed to flush his eyes and dial 911. The ER sent him to a specialist who assured him that the vision would return in 48 hours. 48 hours later the vision was worse. The vision in the right eye was totally gone and the left eye could only see vague shapes. He was referred to a 2nd specialist who also could not find any reason that the vision had not returned.
Finally, on the 3rd week the vision did start to come back slowly. They still wanted to know why it was taking so long to heal so we made a trip to the Cleveland Clinic to be seen at the Vision Clinic. By the time we made that trip the vision was back to 20/20 and only some cloudiness remained on the cornea, which we were told would clear up. I'm thrilled to say that it is all totally clear now. Some of you may remember the accident this same son had a month before his high school graduation when he fell asleep at the wheel, rolled his vehicle 5 times and was lifeflighted to a major trauma center. If anything is going to happen in our family, it will be this child to whom it will happen.
The funny thing is that at the time of the accident he already had an interview set up with the ambulance service that took him to the ER for the following week. He went to the interview BLIND and they HIRED HIM to drive ambulance! I told him that he is the only person I know who could pull that off! By the time he was scheduled to begin work his sight was back.
Now for our 2nd Murphy visit: On July 8th someone hacked into my email and from there, got into my Paypal and Ebay accounts which I haven't used in years. They proceeded to order an iphone and a Louis Vuitton wallet for a combined total of $1500. The Paypal account was hooked directly to both of our checking accounts, but I found out just in time to put freezes on them so that no money was ever removed from our accounts. The crazy thing is that the Louis Vuitton wallet was actually mailed to me from Australia! I refused the package and sent it right back on its way to Australia. I filed a police report but hear that they seldom actually ever do anything. We had the address where they requested the iphone be delivered. It was a medical building in Memphis, TN.
I am happy to report that, besides the mortgage, we are working on our last debt. We owe just a bit over $7,000 and hope to have it paid off early next year, if not before. I am working 2 nights a week and applying all of that income toward this debt. I can't wait to start on a fully-funded emergency fund.
Thanks to Aleta for the nice comment you left on my last post. That made me decide I needed to drop in here and do an update.
I am excited to announce that we should be debt-free by the end of this year!!! We will be paying off the little mortgage this month. I am really excited to do that. Then we'll be whittling away at the car.
Is anyone planning on attending Dave Ramsey's Town Hall for Hope on April 23rd? Our church is hosting it. I am in charge of getting it all together. I've never done anything like this before, so I hope I'm doing everything I need to do. I have no idea how many to expect. I just hope it's more than just my husband and me. LOL
I'm still working on my accounting degree. I only have another month left of this semester. It will be nice to have a summer break.
My last post expressed my frustration over not being able to snowball as much as we thought we could from the beginning of this year. Well, I decided tonight to run the numbers I am going to be able to apply toward our 2 debts and found out that we should still be out of debt (except the big mortgage) at the end of next year. That really encouraged me. That's not THAT far away!
DH and I are going through FPU and we had decided that we are finally ready to take the step of stopping our retirement contributions temporarily so we can apply that money to the debt snowball. I had no problem stopping mine at work since I'm the one that does the payroll. DH went into his payroll department and was told that he can't stop his contributions until the beginning of the next quarter.
It's just very frustrating to finally have him on board and now we can't do this. It will really slow the debt snowball down. I guess I'm just anxious to get it done and get a fully-funded emergency fund.
Wow, has it been a long time since I've written on this blog! Lots of changes for us in the past 7 months.
DS#1 is in his last semester of college. He is pursuing an art degree. DD#1 is taking a semester off of college and working to save money. DS#2 graduated high school and is now in paramedic school. He's working as an EMT and loves it. DS#3 is a junior in high school and working on getting his driver's license. DD#2 is in the 8th grade and is growing up way too fast!
DH and I are going through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. We bought the home kit and just finished the Dumping Debt lesson. We are no longer using credit cards. We should have mortgage #1 paid off this year and the car paid off next year. DH is really getting into it now that he sees it's not boring and it does work.
Our 24th anniversary is this Sunday. We celebrated by buying Walmart's cheapest DVD player ($30) because the Playstation 2 that we'd been using will not play the newer DVDs. We'll go out for dinner on Sunday and use gift cards that we received for Christmas.
I completed 2 more semesters towards my accounting degree. I have 6 more to go. This past semester I took 2 classes instead of just a single and it really worked out well so I'm doing the same this semester.
I have also met my weight goal with Weight Watchers in June and became a Lifetime member in July. Soon after I began working for them as a receptionist. I normally work one meeting a week, but sometimes substitute for others an manage to earn a bit more money. I really enjoy helping other people meet their weight goals.
All in all, 2008 was a pretty good year for our family. I'm hoping 2009 brings a lot of financial advances for us as we strive to pay off the debt.
I found my access key to download YNAB to my laptop. I thought I'd give this another try. I like the concept of it, but just never stuck with it long enough to make it work.
I have my budget entered and now I guess I need to go back and enter in my transactions for at least the month of February. It probably would be wise to spend the extra time and do the entire year so far so that I have a more accurate view of our finances.
I have to wait up for DS#3 to get back from a date anyway. Might as well make the time productive!
Today was not my day. It started out by me forgetting to take my lunch to work so I had to end up buying a slice of pizza while I was on the road doing a delivery.
Got to the library. Got out of the car and slipped on the ice and fell flat on my left side. Both hands were full so I couldn't even break my fall. Get into the library, and since it's Thursday and the library director works, our lights were not on. (She can't be bothered to flip on the 2 switches at the end of the row that she turns on). Marched up front and turned the lights on and told her I'd fallen. She laughed. That really made me happy. It is her responsibility to call the borough and get them out to sand. She didn't bother.
On my delivery I came around a bend and was face to face with a semi. A state truck was pulled off the road on the opposite side with it's 4-ways on so the semi had come into my lane to go around it. Thank goodness the System Jeep has good brakes!
Get to my delivery place, unload all the books and audio books onto my cart. Start up the ramp into the library and get halfway up and slip on ice. Managed to catch myself so that I and the cart didn't go sliding to the bottom.
Yes, it was an exciting day. Not one I'd care to repeat again. I hope I'm able to get out of bed tomorrow. I'm already feeling the effects of the fall.
I did have to sort of chuckle at my one delivery stop. I was checking in the books and realized that the radio station that was on was playing Bad Day by Daniel Powter. Couldn't have been more appropriate.
As I was working in Quicken tonight with DH's profit share check I was listening to my songs I've bought on ITunes and Casting Crowns song, "American Dream", came on. I had to put aside what I was doing for a while and listen to it.
What we discuss here about personal finance is all very important, but there are more important things in life. How many of us are so busy trying to get out of debt that we tend to neglect our families? Just something to think about.
Take a look at the video on YouTube:
American Dream. I think it will give you something to think about.
Today DH received his spring profit share check. I am sending half of it to our gift savings account to cover gifts for the year and the rest is going in the house repair fund toward the new roof.
I would much rather apply the entire thing to the mortgage, but I know that we would then be in trouble later on and be tempted to borrow. So for now, it will sit in our ING account and earn some interest.
I had mentioned e-mealz in a previous post. It is a site that, for $5 a month, provides you with menus and a grocery list for your dinners for a week. You pay for 3 months at a time and a new meal plan is posted once a week. My plan is available on Friday so when I log in I print out 2 copies of the menu and grocery list. One I place in a sheet protector in a 3-ring binder for future use and the other is the one I write on and mark up.
They have several plans to choose from. I chose the Point system meals for any grocery store, since I am counting Weight Watchers points to lose weight.
This will be our 3rd week using the plan and it appears that our average expense is $120 per week. That's about what we were spending before for a family of 5 and not having nearly as nice of meals as we are now.
Everyone in the family is really enjoying the meals. There is a lot of variety and the side dishes are wonderful. Our side dishes before amounted to opening a can of corn or beans. Now we have mandarin orange salad, honey-kissed slaw, oven roasted veggies, etc. Much tastier and healthier.
I think the thing that makes it most worth it to me is that I no longer have the dilemma of "what is for dinner?" and then wondering if I have all of the ingredients. It is a huge load off of my mind. That alone makes it worth it for me.
I like having a list of exactly what I need for each meal when I enter the grocery store. I am not a shopper so, for me, the grocery store is a mission. Get what we need and get out in as short a time as possible.
My grocery bill could be considerably less if we didn't drink as much milk as we do!!!
I think I finally figured out DH's retirement website. What a pain that thing is! I see when I logged on that they are in the process of developing a new site. Thank goodness!!!
I have been wanting to reallocate his investments for ages, but each time I finally managed to log onto the site, I was so confused that I had no idea what to do. And I would get so frustrated that I'd just about be in tears, so I'd just give up. Today I finally took the time to sift through everything and saw the link I needed to do the changes.
He has had this plan since 1991 and the money seems to do absolutely nothing with the only allocations that were available to us until recently. Just this year they finally added some more options and I knew that I wanted to get his investments out of where they were and into a targeted fund account.
So now everything (I think) is in the targeted fund account. We'll see how that does. I sure hope it does better than what it has been doing all these years!
Last night I took the plunge and upgraded to Quicken 2008. I had been using the 2006 version. It's going to take me some time to get used to the newer version, but so far I really like it. I like to be able to access different pages through the tabs. Reports are easier to access.It has a sleeker look than the old version.
2 days ago the motor for our coal stove's exhaust fan seized up. So last night after work DH stopped by to pick up another. Almost $300 later we now have a functioning coal stove again without fear of a houseful of smoke.
I can't complain because it's the first repair we've had for the coal stove, unlike the pellet stove which we've fixed several times and doesn't heat nearly as well.
I'm really glad that we have a house repair fund! Still don't like to spend the money, but that's what it's there for.
As of tonight, I have officially lost exactly (and I mean to the 10th of a pound!)......35 pounds!!! I needed to lose .6 this week to get there and that's exactly what I've lost. I have gone from a size 18W to a size 8/10, depending on the make of the pants. I still have 22 pounds to go to make it to my Weight Watchers goal, but I will get there, slowly but surely.
I've decided to switch from the Flex plan to the Core plan for the next 3 weeks to see if that jump starts my weight loss. It's really slowed down lately and I've read that many that switch from one plan to another seem to rev up their metabolism again.
So I sat down tonight and entered my emealz for the week into the Food Planner to see if this will work with the meals I've planned, and it does. I still have 11.5 weekly points left to use as I like for other meals. And I can earn more with the exercise I do.
So this will be a new phase of weight loss for me. I'll be learning to be more in tune with my body and it's hunger and fullness levels and eating accordingly from the list of Core foods and counting those that aren't on the Core list.
I'm getting a little nervous about only having $1000 in my emergency fund. I know the reason that Dave Ramsey recommends that amount is because most emergencies will be under $1000. But with the car repairs (if the insurance hadn't covered them) being over $500 just for struts, that's a little too close for comfort for me.
I also think he recommends the $1000 so that it will spur you on to getting baby step #2 (pay off debts) done faster. I just feel like we're not really making much headway there because there always seems to be something else coming up.
I would really like to save another $1000 just to have a higher comfort level, but then it would be putting off getting the mortgage paid off even longer.
Last weekend I worked on ours and the 4 kids' taxes so that we can get our refunds back. Each of the kids, except DD#1 made out well and are getting quite a bit back. DD#1 owes more than her federal return will be because she worked in one state, but lives in another. They didn't withhold enough to cover her home state tax and didn't take her 1% wage tax out at all. Of all the kids, she's the one that needs money the most!
We aren't getting nearly as much back this year because we could only claim 2 of the kids for the credit and we aren't getting the Hope credit this year. But that's okay. That's the reason we changed DH's withholding, so that we got more money through the year. What we are getting back will most likely be saved for a new roof.
I called and talked to the car repair shop today and my part is in and it IS the correct one this time. The claims adjustor from our car insurance company also came out and looked at the damaged parts today and they will cover both struts and the bent strut plate. Yippee!!! That's over a $500 savings for us! A huge relief.
I have had my Equinox to the shop at least 5 times over the past 3 weeks. It has a bad strut that they believe is a result of my accident several months ago. Well, each time I've taken it up and left it, the strut that they are going to put on it hasn't fit. After trying to force 2 of them to fit and ruining them in the process, they finally contacted the manufacturer. They had tried to make them universal so that they would fit either side. Someone wasn't thinking too clearly because the place where they fasten on is on the wrong side if you are trying to do the driver's side. So now they have recalled ALL of those struts!
The shop found one factory strut in a dealership near us, but the cost is over twice as much as after-market struts. They are trying to turn this into my car insurance and get it covered since they also found that the strut plate was bent and it's on the side that ended up in the ditch. So we are waiting to hear whether it will be covered or not. If not, it's going to cost us over $500 if they have to put the factory strut on! That's about what I have in the car repair budget, but that was being saved to get DH's paint job done on his truck that keeps getting put off.
I have Suze Orman's Yahoo column listed on my homepage so that I can see whenever she writes a new article. Today's column is Stash it, Don't Cash It. She advises using that check the government is sending you to either pay off high interest credit card debt, build your emergency fund or put it in a long-term investment.
Glad to know that Suze approves my plan!
I am trying something new for our meal planning that should benefit my Weight Watchers lifestlye and our family time.
While listening to Dave Ramsey early mornings in the office, I've heard ads for e-mealz. I decided on Friday to check into it and see what it was all about. After reading through their website and looking at their sample menus and grocery lists, I decided to sign up for a 3 month subscription and give it a try.
I chose the Point-System meal plans since I'm following the Weight Watchers Flex plan. I then decided to get the menus for any grocery store. Our area has a Super Walmart coming soon, so I'll probably switch to that choice once it's open. The cost is $5 a month, but I was able to find a coupon code that gave me a $2.50 discount.
Once I registered, I had access to 2 weeks' worth of menus and grocery lists. I really like that there is a dinner menu for 7 days of the week. That is the hardest point of cooking for me, deciding what to make.
So tomorrow after work I'll be going grocery shopping and picking up the needed items to begin using the menus. I am anxious to see if I do save money as they claim, but even more anxious just to have a plan all laid out for me.
I still have my change box in which I collect any change I receive. That includes change back from purchases, any coins found around the house, and most important of all, my "pay" for doing laundry from those who aren't wise enough to empty their pockets.
I rolled change yesterday and came up with $8.00. That is being deposited today and will go as extra on the mortgage payment at the end of the month.
The past few weeks I have felt a sense of urgency to get out of debt that I have not felt before.
I have been working on it steadily for about a year and a half now, but the crisis in the housing market and other economic indicators have really gotten me focused on getting out of debt as soon as possible.
The more I observe what is going on around me and hear the horror stories of couples hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, the more thankful I am that our debt is only $65,000.
I really want to get the debt out of the way and get a fully funded emergency fund built up, just in case.
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