Monday, September 13, 2010

My Money Goals

In our little kingdom, we've had seasons of expansion, growth, prosperity, and famine (so to speak). The past few years have been years of expansion. I went back to school and finished my degree in 2007. Justin was accepted in grad school and got his Master's degree. We "bought" a house in the midst of this. And we adopted Jocelyn. All great things. But expensive things. And now we are in a season of stabilization after this expansion.

I hate how any kind of financial speak is so taboo. It breeds ignorance and disillusionment. I try to be open about it. I am going to try harder. And this is a forum where I am going to be a little more transparent. Judge me all you want for any financial mistakes. But maybe they will help shatter some disillusionments and empower others to be more financially savvy and make better choices.

2009 was a really bad financial year for us. Late in 2008, Justin was wrongly cited for drunk driving. We got it all figured out in court six months later, but we still had to pay bail, court fees, and attorney fees. Not to mention as a substance abuse counselor, Justin was on leave from his job until it got sorted out. He was about six months without income. And Jocelyn came along right in the middle of that. That entailed adoption fees, travelling fees, court fees, attorney fees, and twelve weeks of unpaid maternity leave for me. Our resources consisted of our tax return, a couple thousand dollars of savings (they were low due to lots of spending for fertility treatments), a couple credit cards, a personal line of credit, and a 401k loan.

2010 started off better. I got a sweet free lance writing gig. A great tax return with an adoption credit. A promotion and raise at work. And we've been working on paying things down. We've done pretty good, I think. We've already paid off around $15,000 in debt. Of course we accumulated another car loan much to my chagrin, but we'll survive.

We've been working on snowballing our efforts to pay down debt. We focus on the smallest debt, get it paid off while paying minimum payments on other debts. Once one debt is paid off, we just roll over all the money to the next debt.

I just read the Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey this weekend. As Mr. Ramsey says, none of his principles are new. Which is true. Nothing is new to me. I've learned to budget and how to pay down debt. And we have been making progress and I'm proud of that. But I want to get more focused about my financial goals. Make progress faster. And going public with goals always helps!

So I am going to follow the steps of the Total Money Makeover because it has some great suggestions. I've realized that I am diluting my efforts in a lot of ways. So our first step is to develop an emergency fund of $1,000 within one month.

So by October 15, we're going to have $1,000 in an emergency fund.

We are looking for ways to accelerate our progress. I went to the store today and I walked past the baby section without buying anything for Joci. I bought Suave Body Wash for $1.97 instead of the $4 stuff that was calling my name. I gave up my free range chicken eggs for the regular kind at half the price. I stuck to what was on my list. Justin has picked up basically a second job. He's doing on-call work for child protection services in our area once a month. It's a tough gig, but it pays well. And he's doing contract work at the criminal work center. Oh, and the biggest sacrifice yet? I've given up my daily Diet Coke at lunch. Even though it only costs $.67 cents, that's almost $250 a year. Ah, Coke, we will still be friends. Our trysts will just be farther between and oh, so much sweeter.

I'll keep you posted on my progress.


Jessica said...

We're in a similar boat, just trying to cut back on all those things that we don't really "need". Sticking to my grocery list has been my new challenge. Why I have never been able to do that before, I don't know?! But all the little things count. It can be scary, and tricky at first, but definitely worth it!

Alicia said...

Awesome! I love that book. I love your gazelle intensity! I listen to Dave's podcasts when I can and I can't wait until we can call in and scream, "We're debt free!" I have no idea when that will happen since Josh is attending a private medical school, but hopefully it will come before he retires!

Mom on the Go said...

You guys are awesome! I love how so many of us are in the same boat, but never know it because of how taboo it is to talk about money. I know how hard it is to do without the little things, but I'm hoping it will be worth it in the end!

Groff Family said...

I love that you did this post simply because doing a post on frugality has been on my brain. Great minds.... :)

Liz Smith said...

this is great! finances are always so tough to master, however, it's amazing how small changes can make a big difference. and hey, your diet coke cut will not only help your finances, but your health too. so it's a win win! i used to be so good about not drinking soda (i love all soda) but i recently fell off the wagon...okay, when i say recently, i mean like a year and a half ago. I am going to try to stop though. keep it up! you're awesome!

Beckie said...

Way to be-- I love your openness!! And we can all learn something from others-- mistakes-- goals -- smartness- whatever it takes!

Kristy Skoy said...

I love Dave Ramsey! We started the Debt Snowball a year ago and we should be debt free except for our home in 6 more months! I was just reading through the workbook last night and I need to update my worksheets. I was thinking of blogging about this too. I get so excited about this kind of stuff! Keep it up! It will be so awesome to be FREE!

Hays Family said...

Good for you. Sacrificing the small things now can give you financial freedom in the future when it can really count...especially when you retire. I listen to Dave Ramsey and hear those couples do the debt free shout. It's an awesome feeling and a great goal to be debt free while in your 30's.

Katherine said...

I love Dave Ramsey. I listen to his show on AM 590, whenever I'm in the car in the evening. A bunch of his shows are on HULU too. His ideas aren't revolutionary, and they do take work. But his approach is simple. I love the baby steps. We are on step 2. It's so exciting to be moving forward.


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