Our Journey : JD & KL

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JD&KL
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Our Journey : JD & KL

Postby JD&KL » Sun Jan 09, 2011 6:46 am

this is our journal, about our journey. we are a family of four, two boys in elementary school, and i am 36, my wife is 32.

i guess i should start by outlining my poor management and other mistakes that led me to this site.

last year i realized that i was struggling to make payments on credit cards. how did i get there? i was struggling, but it was because i was spending money left and right, a lot of it on things i didn't need. we had slowly fallen into this pattern of spending more and more money over the past few years, since we didn't have any car payments anymore, and we had been paying extra on or mortgage. we felt really good about ourselves.

then came our mistakes.

i (JD) spent money on a motorcycle, then a snowmobile, and snowmobile trips, and last year a cruise for our family. i knew i was spending more money, but hey, i was making $65,000/year, my wife worked part time, and hey "i deserved to have fun." my wife thought so too. credit cards we owned just for points, were turning into a regular habit. (more on that in a minute)

by summer of 2010, i had given up on making extra mortgage payments, and was often making minimum payments on our credit cards. all these weekend trips snowmobiling and motorcycling had made my wife feel like she deserved to spend money too, and she was floating a few department store credit cards that i was pretty much unaware of. our little agreement was the i didn't have to see the money she made, but she was not supposed to come begging for money for clothes for the family or for groceries. this was a bad idea, because we had no accountability, and every time i suggested we had a problem, we ended up fighting about who's fault it was.

i knew i was heading in the wrong direction, but i didn't know where to start.

to be continued...

JD&KL
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Re: Our Journey : JD & KL

Postby JD&KL » Mon Jan 10, 2011 3:41 am

as stated above, by mid 2010, i knew we had to make some changes. i wasn't sure how to go about it because any discussion of money took us to an argument. she blamed me for my big purchases, and i was upset because i knew that we could afford what we had, we were just spending too much on a day to day basis.

one day i decided that reading about personal finance would be a good course of action. i googled "top selling personal finance books" and spotted Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. two days later i decided to buy a copy for my wife. this book spoke to me very directly. i knew most of what i was doing wrong, but i didn't want to admit it. Dave Ramsey stopped me in my tracks, and made me realize that i was only hurting myself and my family if i continued to make foolish decisions with my money.

we immediately started his Baby Steps program.

once we set up a budget, i realized that we were spending more than we needed to in almost every area. i had been eating on the road, spending about $10-$15/ day. i little habit that i had fallen into. when we sat down and put all our debt on the table, i was shocked to see that we had about $25,000 of consumer debt, including a line of credit to pay for some home improvements, which had been maxed out at $10,000. also included was a unsecured loan that had been used to buy my toys. considering what we had, $25,000 really wasn't a terrible number, but we own two cars that are quickly climbing in mileage, with no plan for replacing them.

we quickly sold a thing or two and put away $1000 in the first month for emergency fund. since then we have managed to start working at our debt snowball. since 11/1/2010 we have managed to pay $2800 off our debt, and drop the minimum payments from around $600 to about $500. it feels really good right now to know that we have $1000 just in case. we had been living good, but always burning through each paycheck, and that security is really nice. with a tax return, and a bonus just around the corner, i expect to give that debt snowball another good boost!

i'm now a daily reader on this site. it's often a good way to start my day. i hope you all enjoyed reading my story, and i will continue to record my progress here.

fantasma
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Re: Our Journey : JD & KL

Postby fantasma » Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:30 am

Welcome! Are both of you on board with the debt repayment?
Be what you want to attract.

JD&KL
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Re: Our Journey : JD & KL

Postby JD&KL » Mon Jan 10, 2011 5:21 am

yes we are!

i cannot overstate how important that is. after reading Ramsey's book, my wife was convinced as well that we needed to make a lifestyle change. we now put ALL our income together and sit down to go over our budget every two weeks (that's how often i get paid).

DoingHomework
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Re: Our Journey : JD & KL

Postby DoingHomework » Mon Jan 10, 2011 1:49 pm

Congratulations on the positive steps and welcome to the forums!

Tightwad
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Re: Our Journey : JD & KL

Postby Tightwad » Mon Jan 10, 2011 6:25 pm

Welcome aboard. Congrats on the lifestyle change. Don't be afraid to ask questions or for help as you progress.

JD&KL
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Re: Our Journey : JD & KL

Postby JD&KL » Fri Feb 04, 2011 6:06 am

we are grinding away. eating packed lunches is my new habit. i feel better and i'm more productive at work when i pack a lunch and i'm really starting to enjoy it. just like finances, you just plan ahead and pack your lunch the night before.

i also adjusted my car insurance for a much better rate. our debt snowball continues to snowball, and we have a little money in various spending categories, and our life is much less stressful. i used to check my checking account balance all the time, now, i just balance the checkbook every other week. spending less has given us more freedom!

suzwantstobefree
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Re: Our Journey : JD & KL

Postby suzwantstobefree » Sat Feb 05, 2011 7:09 am

Congratulations on a big step in the right direction!!! It is amazing how much less stress there is when your debt is under control. I am so glad you and your wife are on the same program. One of the big things contributing to my divorce was the big differences in our financial goals and spending habits.

JD&KL
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Re: Our Journey : JD & KL

Postby JD&KL » Sun Feb 06, 2011 5:05 am

Thanks suzwantstobefree!

i feel as though our long term goals may vary at times, but i'm understanding now how important written goals are. we have tried to put into writing some short and long term goals that we agree on. i'm sure they may change with time, but if you have a list of goals in front of you, you always know what the next task will be.

i'm sorry your marriage didn't weather the storm. i know how hard things can be even when you agree, it is so much harder when you don't agree.

JD&KL
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Re: Our Journey : JD & KL

Postby JD&KL » Mon Feb 28, 2011 8:40 am

another update on our debt snowball

we have paid off $7500 of our debt. with a tax return showing up the end of this week, we will have paid off $10,000! not only that, we will have $1000 in our emergency fund. the important thing is that we no longer are tempted with credit cards, and we are putting more energy into improving our lifestyle while spending LESS money.

Ramsey's formula of a zero budget, that labels every dollar you make, has been working quite well for us. we pull cash from our checking account and sit down and together put it in envelopes. when the envelope is empty, there is nothing more to spend on that category. This also makes us more accountable to each other.

I also used the emergency fund this week for the first time. i had some plumbing repairs that needed immediate attention, and i was able to do it myself. about $200 to Lowes took care of it, and with the tax return coming, it will hardly be noticed.

Kate1
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Re: Our Journey : JD & KL

Postby Kate1 » Mon Feb 28, 2011 3:03 pm

Wow, that's awesome! Was that the bonus you were expecting that allowed you to pay down so much already? Either way good for you for using it for debt repayment.
Kate

JD&KL
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Re: Our Journey : JD & KL

Postby JD&KL » Wed May 18, 2011 5:08 pm

yes kate, i put the entire bonus and tax return towards our debt snowball. that was a big boost!

update on the debt snowball. we are over halfway! we've paid over $13,000 off since November!! and have under $12,000 to go.

it is hard sometimes to remember what is important, and that is when i look at my goal list. it helps keep us going. the summer is a lean time for us, so it will be challenging. my wife teaches part time, so that extra money dries up during the summer months. we will have to work a little harder to stay on course, and not give in to temptation. it's fun not spending money whe n you can see results, but working hard to break even can be trying. i have faith that we will be able to find ways to add extra money to our income each month.


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