Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Just the minimums ...

I don't know why I've never done it - well, I do. I didn't want to know. I've never added up the minimums we have to pay each month just to stay current.

So I did it: $2,227. Every month. Just the minimums.

When I think about what we could be doing with that money, it makes me a little sick. OK, a lot sick.

Bleh.

Sarah

Friday, February 27, 2015

Catching up

We've had some crazy weather here the past two weeks. Three storms have come through, throwing all schedules into disarray. Today, DS doesn't have class and I don't have anywhere I have to be, so we're staying in and catching up.

An update on the van. After DH was told while on an out-of-town trip that it needed a new transmission, I had our mechanic look at it. His diagnosis was that it only needed a new part for the transmission. The bill was $750, which is several thousand less than what DH had been quoted. I'll take it.

Meanwhile, we woke up yesterday to find a smallish tree had fallen and DH's car was under it. The neighbor, DH and DS1 spent an hour or so digging the car out. Thankfully, the trunk missed the car. A few scratches, but otherwise no damage. Whew.

The dicey weather has also meant that DH has lost several days of work/pay so today's paycheck is about $300 less than it normally would be. It means our budget will be extra, extra tight for a bit, but I'm proud to say it hasn't thrown us into a tailspin. That's progress, right?

Guess I need to take stock of the pantry and freezer and make a plan so I will stay out of the grocery store for awhile ....

Sarah

Monday, February 16, 2015

Monday, Monday

My husband went with our son to a college retreat this weekend as his caregiver. They've done this many times and DH is a good sport about it. (They stayed in a cabin with 18 other college guys - while I was home being secretly happy that I had my bed to myself...)

At some point on Saturday, the check engine light came on in the van. DH said he didn't notice anything wrong, but given that this is a 10-year-old van and the only way to transport DS's wheelchair, he headed to the AAA center to have it checked out. They quickly told him it was the transmission and they could put a new one in for $6,000. DH thanked them and went on his way.

I'm going to take it to our mechanic today and let him look at it. I have already talked to him and he said if it is the transmission, he will search the salvage yards and get one for me for a fraction of the price AAA quoted. I'm still holding out hope it's something less ominous. We replaced the transmission on DH's car last year and I think two in 12 months is more than we deserve!

Meantime, we've got an ice storm headed our way. I hate that worse than snow, though I'm not complaining because our friends in the North have it SOOO much worse!!

The taxes are done and filed. We will get a small refund from the federal government and will owe about the same to the state, so it's a wash. That's all I wanted, so I feel pretty good about it.

I updated my numbers and realized we are creeping closer to the halfway point. I think it will be a huge emotional boost to see the ticker below that mark.

Stay warm everybody!

Sarah

Sunday, February 1, 2015

It's a new month

So January came and went ...

I spent a good part of the month helping my Mom. She had two cataract surgeries, a root canal and four fillings. Ugh. Our parents are getting older and more and more, health issues are popping up. It really is amazing that at our ages (51 and 52), we still have all four parents living. DH's parents up and moved to California a few years back. All of their children are on the East Coast. No family there. Now they are having a multitude of health issues and there's not a thing we can do for them. Oh well, it was their choice.

Amid caring for my Mom, I got a notice that my Cap One account was past due. I knew I had paid it on time, so I called. Turns out I misread the minimum payment and I missed it by $2. They had already charged me a late fee and flagged the account. Thankfully, the rep I spoke with was very nice and when she saw what had happened, she immediately dropped the late fee as long as I paid the $2 right then. I need to make sure I'm wearing my glasses when I pay those bills!

We are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel on some of the accounts. Several will be gone within a year. Of course, that's making me very impatient and wanting them gone now. I just need to stay the course ...

And now it's on to the taxes. Yippee.

Sarah

Monday, December 29, 2014

The year in review

2014 was a good year. Not an earth-shattering one, but it was good.

First and best is that DS was not hospitalized. Not once. Not a single visit to the ER. No serious illnesses. Just run-of-the-mill-treat-it-at-home stuff. I'll take it. He also turned 21, surpassing his life expectancy by a full three years. We are so very blessed.

On the job front, things went well. DH got a raise and his current income is solid - more than we ever expected he would earn. I was offered some freelancing opportunities and now receive a small, but regular, monthly check. Some months, it is that little bit that provides the cushion we need to ease the financial stress.

Speaking of financial stress, I have come to a point where it doesn't rule my days. The debt is still there and I still want it gone. But I don't lose sleep any more because we've tamed it enough so that we are able to pay the minimums without issue and usually have a bit left over to throw a decent snowball every month.

On the other hand, I think we have also fallen into that nasty trap of having enough to cover the bills with some left over. While we are in no way extravagant about anything, I have noticed that we are eating out more and not thinking about it. We will aim to get back on track this year.

The downside of seeing such a good income is that I am reminded every paycheck how much money we would have in the bank if it weren't all going to pay off debt.

The upside is that I am more determined than ever to eradicate the monster before DH retires. He has 10 more years on the job before he can start drawing a pension. My goal is to be done with everything - mortgage included - by then. We have a written plan and are determined to make it happen. We've come this far - we can't stop now.

So, here it is. Drum roll please. In 2014, we paid off $27,619.08!! That means that in four years, we have dumped $75,514.83 of debt. At that rate, we really are on track to meet our 10-year goal.

Happy New Year everyone. Thank you for your support and cyber friendship. Let's make 2015 the best ever!

Sarah

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The gift of giving

More than 20 years ago, at the office where I once worked, a co-worker and I started a tradition. As we worked 2nd shift, most everyone went out to dinner every night. So on one night in December, we asked everyone to bring a potluck dish and donate what they would have spent on dinner out. With the money raised, we bought gifts for a needy family that we found through the Department of Social Services. By the second year, we raised enough to sponsor two families. This year, we had more than $1,000 to spend.

I left that job nearly 15 years ago, but the tradition continues. My co-worker (and friend) is still there and is still coordinating. We contact the families and ask about specific needs before shopping. We deliver the gifts without children seeing so that the parent can give them the gifts as if they are from them.

The mother of one family said her 9-year-old daughter needed bras and underwear. Not having the slightest idea how to buy such things for a 9-year-old, we picked up mom and daughter and drove them to the mall so the girl could get fitted and find something she liked. As we pulled in to the parking lot, the child said "Is this a mall?" Um, yes, sweetie. "I've never been to a mall." She lived three miles away. We gave them $100 and told them to get what they needed. It took some prodding, but they finally went on their way. When we met up with them later, the mom looked at us with tears in her eyes and said "Being able to shop with my daughter is the only Christmas present I need."

Family #2 is a grandmother raising 7 grandchildren. When speaking with her, she mentioned that two children go to a charter school that requires a uniform. They have one each. A woman who was with us commented that she must do a lot of laundry. There was a pause. "We do a lot of hand laundry." She doesn't have a washing machine.

Today, we wrapped gifts for 13 children and 2 women. Piles and piles of gifts for children who know little of the world that exists beyond the poverty in which they live.

My Christmas is complete.

Sarah

Friday, December 5, 2014

Tis the season

Christmas shopping - done. Paid for in cash.

Gifts wrapped and under the tree.

Let the baking and Hallmark movie watching begin!

Sarah