I don't blame you for not wanting to read the whole thread! I have a couple times and I see alot of me rationalizing stupid things
So the plan, I believe I should have about $2,200 in debt after we do the payments today. In the next month or two I will be getting my first quarter bonus at work (usually between $600-$800). And I am turning in a bill for another $1,500 in sidework. This sidework should be paid pretty promptly since it is being funded by a grant that has to be closed out in the next month, so they will have to pay me before the grant is closed. Those two things will take care of the rest of the debt +/- a couple hundred, and I can make up the difference pretty easily I think.
Oh, the one card being higher is because I got hit with a late fee (my own stupidity, didn't see the bill come in, wasn't intelligent to realize it).
The plan going forward. As soon as I pay off the last card I am going to have work redirect $400/month of my paycheck to my savings account at ING, that is roughly what I was paying on the credit card bills, and I don't want to see it in my normal account and think I have access to spend it.
The first couple things we intend to do 1) get a $1,000 emergency fund. 2) save up to buy my wife the car we have been needing to get her. 3) pad the emergency fund up to hopefully 3-5k, haven't really set the goal yet.
The next big thing we want to do is save up for a down payment on a cheaper home, currently we have a home we paid $130k for, I would like to cut that in half at least, we don't like this place and it really costs us alot, we don't feel we are getting the value for the money we spend.
We have a long range dream that I haven't discussed here before because we can't even start to work on it until we got our finances under control. I will just make reference to it now to let you know where we would like to get to. In the next 5-10 years we would like to buy a large chunk of land out in the country and build a place on it, we may end up doing it in conjunction with some friends of ours (each in separately buying their own land, we would just end up as neighbors). We have several things we would like to do, I would like to teach courses on alternative energy, aquaponics, etc (I have a pretty broad listing of things I could teach weekend courses on). And my wife would like to run a bed and breakfast on the property.
I know that sounds like a lot, this is something we have been discussing for about 3-4 years so far, we have a pretty detailed plan for what we would like to do, as well as some models we have seen working already. One of the main tenets of this project for everyone involved though is that we want to do it by paying for everything 100% in cash, we know the project has a much better chance of success if we don't start with large debt payments.
Also one last thought, the plans for this property and what we hope to do, will probably take our working career to accomplish, its not something I think we can just show up and do, but it is what I truly love and I want to find a way to make it happen.