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.