Becoming Debt Free in 2009

April 6, 2009

I Have Nothing Financial To Say

Filed under: Financial Thoughts,Giving,Goals,Journey to Debt Freedom — ambercouric @ 9:48 am

When I started this blog I had what seemed to be a huge amount of debt.  You can see the breakdown here.  Nearly $20,000.  I was extremely motivated to get the debt down.  In the beginning, I was working really hard to change the way we thought about money.  We cut some things and decided other things were worth the cost.

Now, it is April and the last debt is well on its way.  I have about $5,500 left on my car.  While that seems like a lot we are so far ahead – I think the car is worth about $16,000 give or take a thousand.  Also, I have the amount set to pay so with making no changes the car will easily be paid off by September.

This brings me to the point of really not having anything to say about personal finance.   Although I am not debt free at the moment I know it is going to happen soon.  I can’t wait but right now being debt free just seems like waiting for Christmas.  It’s coming soon and I have a little of the anticipation but I’m not exactly fired up about.

The good news is that my life does not revolve around the debt.  I’m not constantly trying to fine ways to save a few dollars.  Since October I have made great efforts to save by not spending on things that aren’t really important to me.  I’ve given lots of thought to how and why we spend money.  So I guess I have grown up financially.

I’m  not sure where this leaves this blog.  I enjoy blogging when I have something to blog about but to blog just to write something down doesn’t interest me.  Right now my life consists of getting ready for boarding school for Kennedy, dealing with college stuff for Ashby, taking care of my dogs (trying to train the puppy to do all the cool stuff show dogs do), and volunteering for a couple of organizations.  We are planting a garden for the main purpose of being able to give the vegetables to the food pantry (of course we will eat some too) and spending more hours at the animal shelter because so many animals are being given up by owners who can no longer afford them.

I guess that I have reached my goal.  Although, I can’t give large sums of money to charity each month I can give both time and  money to help others.  I’m excited that I can see a need and my first thought is let me help and not can I afford to help.

I need to decide where I go from here.  Do I keep this blog and update weekly (which by the way drives me crazy) or do I move on to a blog that is more centered around my priorities and goals?

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March 4, 2009

March Goals & Update

Filed under: Budget,Goals,Journey to Debt Freedom — ambercouric @ 10:34 am
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First a quick update on our budget session yesterday.  We were calm, considerate, and willing to make the cuts.  We have given ourselves a list of cuts and will think about them until the weekend.  No spur of the moment cuts that we may regret in a couple of weeks.  I will tell you one of the major cuts we are considering is our lawn service.  More on the cuts and the “reason” for the cuts soon.

March Goals

1) Paint Bathrooms – this has nothing to do with money just need to get it done

2)  Twitter – I have a Twitter account but don’t really do a lot with it.  I am going to figure it out and use it.

3) Pay car down to $5,500

4) Add an extra $200 to savings.  This is beyond our normal saving amount that is always added.

February 27, 2009

Money Isn’t Everything

Filed under: Goals,Journey to Debt Freedom,Kids — ambercouric @ 10:42 am
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Thanks to everyone for your input on the resume issue.

I have been giving some thought to the issue of working.  I think I have said before but if not I’ll say it again, I like my life.  I like being home for my children, baking muffins for breakfast, carpool in the afternoons so I can hear about the day and all the other things that go along with being a stay at home mom. 

I’m not sure that I want a job.  The more I thought about it the only positive was that I would be paid.  I would have a regular check in my bank account.  But what would I give up to have this?  I would give up time with my family, the opportunity to do much of the volunteer work that I have done for the past 15 years, and the freedom to just do what I want to do.

I have four years before Kennedy will be off to college.  I don’t think I’m ready for a career.  I may consider a job once I’m an empty nester but right now I’m happy being mom, wife, volunteer, and PF blogger.

For me the right decision is to continue to do the same things I have done for the last 15 years.

January 26, 2009

Weekly Budget Cut #1

Filed under: Budget,Debt,Food,Goals,Weekly Budget Cuts — ambercouric @ 10:19 am
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In an effort to make $400 worth of cuts to our monthly budget, we have decided to find one item each week to cut.  We have only one rule – if for some reason the “cut” doesn’t work we can replace it with another cut for the week.  We do have to have at least one cut each week that will stick.

So now for the cut of the week.  Sara Lee bread.  We normally go through 2 loaves of bread each week.  We only buy Sara Lee bread because that is all my older son would eat as a child.  He thinks bread has a smell and Sara Lee didn’t.  So, this cut was replacing Sara Lee bread with store brand.  With the total savings per month being about $12.  I will say this was Kennedy’s idea.  Well, it didn’t work.  Half way through the first loaf of store brand bread DH and Kennedy both said they just couldn’t eat it.  It had a funny taste and the ends were hard.  For the record, I am allergic to wheat so I can’t eat it so I can’t speak for the taste. 

So, how did we make up for the failed budget cut?  We changed what we put on the bread.  I normally spend at $12 – $15 on deli lunch meat each week.  I buy turkey, salami and roast beef.  We have decided to buy only one lunch meat per week and buy no more than $6 (usually a pound of one of the items on sale).  Once the meat is gone the rest of the week will result in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  We expect to save $24 per month with this change.

We decided to be very specific with each cut.  Instead of cutting the grocery budget, we have to list exactly what we will cut and how it will affect the budget. 

Only $376 more to cut.

December 22, 2008

I had a dream

Filed under: Goals,Journey to Debt Freedom — ambercouric @ 9:15 am
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I had a dream last night that I was had finally paid off all the bills and was debt free.  I would think I would have been happy but all I remember in the dream was asking my husband “what am I supposed to do now”.

I don’t think I have ever really planned long term goals.  Every goal has always been centered around this or next year.  Never 5 years, 10 years, or 20 years down the road.  One reason for this is my mother passed away when I was younger so my philosophy has always been there is no guarantee for 10 years down the road.

This year while paying off debt I’m going to spend some time to think about what my long term goals are.

Do you have long term goals?  What are some of them?

December 15, 2008

My Pay Vs. Save Plan

Filed under: Budget,Debt,Goals,Journey to Debt Freedom — ambercouric @ 9:48 am
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A few days ago I was wondering if I should save more or pay back debt.  After many discussions with my husband and hours using financial calculators, I think I have come up with the plan for us.

I read about this in the comments of someone’s blog but unfortunately I don’t remember where.  The concept is simple and it was actually like a “I should have had a V8” moment when I read it.  It fits in perfectly with our 2009 goals.

So here is the plan.  We will pay the minimums on both the car and the credit card and put the snowball amount in a savings account and when we have saved enough to pay off either the car or credit card we will pay it in one lump sum.   Then we will save enough to pay off the last debt.  The total interest we pay each month is about $75 so we will end up paying a little extra in interest but I will feel better about having the money on hand for a few months.

Here is how we are working the savings accounts.  We have 3 accounts.  One has our long term savings (about 3 months worth).   This is our security blanket and is NEVER used.  The second has $500 in it for whatever comes up (this is what we refer to as our EF).  The third account has money that we pay yearly bills (camps, insurance, etc.).  We will open a fourth account to use as our debt savings account.

I can’t wait to open up my debt savings account.  By December 31, 2009 – I WILL BE DEBT FREE.

December 13, 2008

2009 Goals to Debt Freedom

Filed under: Debt,Goals,Journey to Debt Freedom — ambercouric @ 8:15 pm
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Over the last few weeks I have been thinking about what I want to accomplish during 2009.

I have decided on 5 financial goals.  Some are relatively easy while others will take some major sacrifices and work. 

1) Pay off car by July 31, 2009.  This is my major goal for the year. 

2) Pay off credit card by December 31, 2009.   When this is paid off our only debt will be the mortgage.

3) Do the home version of Financial Peace University with my boys.  Most of this doesn’t apply to them now but it will in the future so I want them to be financially literate.

4) Put $200 extra in savings each month to cover summer camp, fence for the dog, and tuition for course for DH.

5) Start a vacation fund.

In order to pay off all the debt I will have to average adding an extra $400 per month to my current snowball amount.  This will be a stretch but I think I can do it.

Personal Goals

These goals have nothing to do with personal finance  but are two things that I would like to do.

1)  Create a website that provides tips for high school students taking the SAT and applying to college.  Several people have asked for tips and advice and I would like to share what I learned during the process with my son.  And share the testing strategies that I use when tutoring.

2)  I would like to take the training to become a Hospice Volunteer.

What are your goals for 2009?

December 11, 2008

I want out of debt but….

Filed under: Debt,Goals,Journey to Debt Freedom — ambercouric @ 11:11 am
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I really want to get out of debt.  I think that we can be out of debt by December 31, 2009.  I want to have to pay only living expenses and mortgage. 

The problem is …. Do I want it enough?  Some days I can say without a doubt that getting out of debt is the most important thing.  On these days I’m willing to do anything to get this debt paid off.  I’m willing to eat cheaper, skip the movies, turn the heat down, rake my own yard, and a million other things.

Then there are the days that I like my life – all of it except for the debt.  I like stopping by the bakery and picking up a pie for my boys just because I know they will appreciate it.  I like going to see a play at the local theatre.  I love the way my yard looks after the yard crew has been here.  I like watching Top Chef on cable.  You get the picture there are at least a million things that I could live without but I like them.

I need to find the balance.  I’m not sure I want a rice and beans diet (Dave Ramsey – gazelle intensity) and I know I don’t want to pay the minimums on my debt so it would take years to pay off.

So the battle is internal. Am I willing to live 1 YEAR – beans and rice – work work work with very little extras to be debt free?  Or do I want to let it ride the course and pay extra but not bare bones for 3 YEARS?

Does anyone else have these internal struggles?  How do you balance the desire to be debt free and the desire to live a “normal” life?

November 30, 2008

Just a few December Goals

Filed under: Budget,Debt,Goals — ambercouric @ 6:19 pm
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I’m not going to make a lot of goals for December.  I know that things will be busy and I really want to spend some time developing my goals for 2009.  So I’m going to keep it simple.

Goals:

  1. Pay off hospital – I’m sick of this hanging over my head. 
  2. Read –  Your Money or Your Life – I read this several years ago but I think it will help to reread it and get me focused for the new year

November 2, 2008

A Look Ahead at November

Filed under: Goals — ambercouric @ 10:38 am
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Looking ahead at November there are a few things I want to accomplish. 

  • Finish all Christmas shopping by November 30
  • Pay for all Christmas purchases with cash
  • Make no more than 2 trips to the grocery store each week
  • Do not buy any Diet Coke or chips
  • Spend no more than $1000 total on Christmas
  • Pay $900 on car

I think all of these goals are achievable for the month.

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