I made the final payment on my big student loan today. $16000 finally gone. Considering I've had 0 family support for school and actually started in a really big hole since I was also supporting my family, it feels like a weight lifted. Forecasting with the extra money in my own bank account, I should be able to pay off the smallest of the remaining 6 loans by June. Then, there's a handful of $2k loans, so throwing everything at the highest interest rate one would leave about $180 by Dec, so I'm going to aim to get that one paid off as well. That would leave 4 loans totaling about $17.5k.
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The refinance is finally moving forward. We had to pull a new credit report since it had been so long, and with all of the overspending (including the new car), I was a bit worried. I was pleasantly surprised to find out scores were both well in to the 700s. Doesn't seem like a big deal, but when you've consistently been low to mid-600s for a decade, it feels like nice progress.
We did the appraisal yesterday, so just need to finish getting in all of the paperwork, and will hopefully be good.
Someone had suggested paying off debt with the money that we're getting back. Honestly, we'd been so focused on some of these house projects that we've been wanting that it never occurred to us to make big leeway on the debt front. It just feels like debt is so ingrained in our lives that we should use it to fund some of our wants that we've continually put off. I talked to my husband about it, and we decided to split the difference. We plan to add $2k to the EF, pay off the credit card for the fence ($5k), and then choose one house project. We nixed the 2 less important ones and have one inside (basement bathroom remodel - main cost would be materials since FIL would do the labor) and one outside project (backyard remodel - regrade yard, install better underground drainage, deck maintenance, and fence/deck staining) that we plan to get quotes on before deciding. But we may end up changing our minds again and just putting it all to debt or to savings.
In personal news land, our new addition is healthy and everything is going well so far, so fingers crossed that continues.
DH and I have been having lots of money talks, and we've come up with some 2020 goals. Full disclosure, we're working on a refinance that would give us the cash to handle the house projects in addition to removing PMI and lowering our mortgage payment by $300. If for whatever reason, it doesn't work out, then the home projects will be removed.
1) Pay off big student loan - Original balance was $16k. There's a measly $225.22 left which will be paid off this month.
2) Pay off one student loan - The 8 remaining loans range in balance from $1100 to just under $4k. I plan to have the $1100 one paid off by summer.
3) Catch up credit cards - We were doing really well with the credit card use, but the holidays really knocked us off track. We currently owe about $950 on the Amazon card and $9k on the Marriott card. There is $76 and $2340 set aside in YNAB to pay to these cards, so obviously a bit of catch up to do.
1) Get back to living on last month's income - I suspect we'll need this first quarter to catch back up, but should be back to it by March.
2) Increase EF - Our EF currently sits at about $1300. I'd like to get it to $2500 by August.
3) SAH Funds - I'd like for us to be able to stay home again for a bit if everything works out with this pregnancy. Ideally, we'd have a month's expenses set aside (not counting on last month's income). This is a super stretch goal, but we'll see. If the refinance pans out, we do plan to set aside $2k of that towards savings, so that would jump start this.
This is still being worked. DH and I identified 4 projects that we'd really like done on the house. We won't be able to do all 4, but with the cash we're slated to get back on the refinance, we should be able to do at least 2. We've agreed to get quotes for all 4, and then based on that, set our priorities.
DH and I each get a free birthday ticket to a movie theater that we love. It's one of those where you can order legit food and drinks. It can get super expensive, so we don't go often, but since our birthdays are only a few weeks apart, I wait to redeem mine, and we make it a movie date. Our costs are the food that we splurge on. It's become a fun little tradition. We saw the new Star Wars movie, and since it was the first time leaving DS in daycare, it was a good way to keep us distracted.
We did a big Costco shop and started some meal prep on Sunday, so I'm going to buckle down and start recovering from all of the holiday spending.
DS starts full-time daycare today, and DH returns to work next week. Looking forward to a new, exciting year.
This has been one of the hardest, most rewarding, emotionally confusing years of my life, and this post is so all over the place that it reflects just that. We were able to make more progress this year alone than I'd done over the past several years, but it came at an emotional cost having had to handle everything solo while my husband was gone. On the plus side, our relationship is as strong as its ever been and it really feels like we're a team when it comes to the household as opposed to me running the ship.
We've kind of gone off the rails in December, but I'm not going to let it get me down. I'm looking forward to starting 2020 with renewed zeal towards debt payoff. Here's a few things that we've been dealing with this last few weeks: extreme holiday spending (even with the $1200 Christmas spending we'd saved up through the year, we still went way over...), a road trip (we took a trip to Boston to visit friends), a new puppy (on the way back from said road trip, we stopped to look at a puppy and ended up coming home with him), a sick puppy (turns out that he was getting over a stomach bug which took a very expensive vet visit to identify and resulted in a coned puppy with tummy stitches), a sick household (that stomach bug turned out to be contagious across species...just our luck...victims were the male cat, me, my brother, my other brother who came to help, our son, and then several family members who decided to still risk Christmas at our house despite our warnings), shocking news (it's still really early days, but it looks like we are expanding our family again in 2020), and other changes (in the midst of everything, we decided to wean my son, so we had to deal with my hormones and his adjustment to full formula feeding).
We've added a few big expenses to the budget including the car payment, daycare, and additional animal expenses. But my husband received some good news when discussing his return with his company. He got a small raise that would have been his normal raise during his annual review. He's also been designated to head up a program that is in development. If he does well in the role, he will promoted into it when it becomes an official position in July.
2020 is shaping up to be just as crazy as 2019, but I live for the crazy wonderful ride.
In terms of debt payoff, our first priorities will be catching up the credit card and finishing one of my student loans. We have almost $1300 in our EF, but I chose not to touch that in case we need cash on hand for something else. Instead, I'm going to accept responsibility for our overspending and underpreparedness (not having extra money set aside for the new pup) and spend 2 months getting the CC back on track. I had hoped to finish off the big student loan this year, but it'll be done in January ($225.22 left). That'll free up the $170 monthly payment to go to other things. I think I'd like to split it between beefing up the EF more and paying off the next CC. After I catch up the CCs from this month's spending, we'll have 2 remaining cards totaling about $18k. I seem to do better when I have small milestones, so I may do some balance transfers to knock out smaller amounts.
I haven't touched my Google budget since before my son was born (late March). I've pretty much switched to YNAB full-time. While I'm really happy with the progress, I also still see a ton of leaks in our budget, but I'm having trouble buckling down to get there.
- Paid off a bunch of debt!: Without looking at the details, I'd guess 4-5 credit cards and got off the float on the ones that I still do use.
- Will continue to pay off debt: Just made the final payment today on one card. Will make the final payment by the end of the month on another. And have a plan in place to pay off my huge student loan (originally 16000) in December.
- Last Month's Income: We've been living on last month's income all year. These next few months will be tight, but the goal is to make it through DH's at-home period still living on last month's income.
- Paternity Leave: DH doesn't have to go back to work until the end of January. With all the work we've put in, we should be able to let him stay home almost the full period, so that he can bond with his son.
- Daycare: I'm still on the fence about daycare, but we're going to try it out. My first choice was near my work and would have been $1800/mo for 3 days/wk. We decided to check out some places near our home, and it was considerably cheaper. We found a place we felt comfortable with that is $1450/mo for 5 days/wk. With DH's military discount, it's under $1400 and includes meals.
- Sinking/Emergency Funds: While these are still a work in progress, I have made some good progress. This is the first year that our Christmas budget is fully funded before Christmas shopping. Our EF is at $1500 (and hasn't been touched since I got it back to $1k). Our life insurance budget has $550 and counting (I really need to get on this...). And our home maintenance fund has almost $500 (this can be wiped out at any moment by one home emergency, but it's a start).
- A New Car: I'll just put it out there. We leased a new CR-V. I don't regret it in the lifestyle sense, but I do regret the financial side of it. While we can afford the payment, I basically worked all year to replace a bunch of small minimum payments with one large consolidated minimum payment...That said, I do really enjoy driving it - the self-driving features are phenomenal in my traffic-heavy area and make the commute so much more bearable. We got an incredible deal. And I should still be able to budget $200/mo towards either buying this car out or paying cash towards a new car when the lease is up.
- 2 Credit Cards Remaining: I have 2 large credit cards left. Total balance is just over $15000. I'm toying with the idea of doing a transfer or 2 to minimize the interest since I'm used to those $200/300 payments and the small wins energize me.
- More Student Loans: My school was expensive ($50k/yr back in the 2005-2010 timeframe). Even with no financial help from family, I was lucky to make it out of there with about 40k in student loans total over all 4 years. I still have about $22k left. I hope to make a considerable dent in this next year.
All things considered, I do feel like we're making progress. I started so far in the hole with no financial knowledge and a ton of mistakes (read: family crutches). My hope at this point is to leave my son and any other kids that I may be lucky enough to have with a much better starting position and the financial knowledge to make good decisions from the jump.
DH is finally home! The really annoying thing is that the bureacracy and paperwork around it was completely screwed up. Long story short, DH stopped getting paid mid-September (even though his deployment ended Oct. 31). After a month and a half of struggle, he finally got a paycheck on Nov. 1, but there's still things missing. The good part of all that is that we didn't need the money immediately, and it'll actually come in handy now that DH is home and will be out of work for 3 months. I feel lucky that we've gotten to a point where we were able to get by without the money coming in (they actually offered to give DH a loan that he could then pay back when he got paid?!?!?).
There are other financial updates including a frivolous, (slightly) unnecessary one, but that's for another day. In the meantime, I'll keep on keeping on.
On a personal note, DH and DS were best buds within minutes of being reunited, and we feel very lucky that DH doesn't have to return to work immediately and can continue to bond with his son for the next few months. (Bonus: no childcare expenses until the new year!)
Baby boy D arrived 3 weeks early on March 26. It's been a process to adjust, but we're so happy that he's with us. Everything went about as smoothly as it could. Due to potential complications, my husband was brought home, and I was induced. 7.5 hours later, our son was here. I'm recovering well, the baby's healthy, and my husband got to spend some time with his son.
I'll hopefully get back to the financial side of things in the coming weeks as things normalize.
Life has been insanely busy. My family and friends threw me a surprise shower, the nursery is just about finished, and tomorrow is my last day in the office. I was supposed to stop driving a few weeks ago due to my size and belly positioning, but pushed it to term because we have a new person that I'm training.
Financially, thanks to the surprise shower and my work shower, we only have a little left on our 'buy' list. I also have about 35 meals in the freezer, so groceries should be minimal as well. I need to file our taxes too and check the calculations on this year's. I transferred a small amount of my bigger interest-bearing cc to a 0% interest card and have set up a YNAB goal to pay that before interest starts. The other interest-bearing card had its rate dropped to 6% due to SCRA, so I'm still paying the full balance and just having more of it work in my favor.
DH and I are doing well despite the distance. I wish he were here, but we've been lucky enough to be able to keep in touch almost daily.
Just a few more weeks left. I'm cautiously excited, but also not getting my hopes up.
So, it looks like the busy weeks are every other week. This week, there's nothing on my calendar, so I'm looking forward to plenty of relaxation and rest.
Yesterday, I was involved in a very minor car accident. I'm still not entirely sure what happened, but the best I can tell is that I switched into a right hand lane on a pretty busy 3-lane street and a car turning into the right-hand lane didn't notice me switch and turned into the back of my car. It seems like they realized it mid-turn and tried to avoid me because they were halfway up on the curb when I felt the impact and saw them in my passenger mirror. I think if they were actually in my blind spot, and I had merged into them, a few things would have happened differently: 1) the car would have much more damage as the speed on that road is 45-55 2) they would have honked before I came over or after and 3) (most importantly) they would have stopped. I pulled over at the next turnoff and they drove right on past. Fortunately, I'm completely fine, baby movements are normal, and the car has zero damage.
I did most of my taxes. I'm missing a few forms, so I haven't been able to file yet, but I'm not in a rush because for the first time in years (if ever)...
I owe money - about $680. At one point, it was $3k, so I'm not too vexed about the amount. I was hoping to get a refund to beef up my maternity leave fund, but ah well.
Even though we haven't started saving towards that, I think we're actually completely fine. We're now living on last month's income. Plus, DH will continue getting paychecks, and I'll have STD at 60% of my regular pay. His bigger paychecks more than cover the remaining 40%, and I'll have PTO saved up if I really want to extend my leave past the 6 weeks that I get of STD. Right now, I'm leaning towards 8 weeks (provided it's not a c-section). I want to keep some of my FMLA for the end of the year, and take another month/2 month-long break when DH gets back, so we can bond as a family.
The exhaustion is really setting in. I think it's just a matter of trying to do too much and not giving myself proper breaks. I haven't turned my TV on in about a week which is absolutely unheard of for me! Tonight, I don't have anything planned, but tomorrow is brunch with some friends. Sunday is an all day project with FIL doing the hardwoods, and MIL and I sorting, washing, and organizing clothes, packing the hospital bag, and whatever other small projects.
I cashed out my Ibotta account for $35 and got a statement credit on one of my credit cards for $20. That particular credit card is one that I don't use. My mom and brothers were all authorized users on it, and I've slowly taken everyone's away except for my mom's. The last stand help (what I've started calling this final time) should wrap up this month, and we'll be getting her card back too. There's a 3k balance on that card, and it's one of 3 cards remaining that are accruing interest at the highest rate, so I'm trying to get that balance down to something reasonable, so I can transfer it and be done.
I haven't done a 'once a month cooking' session in a long time. I want to do a month-long plan next month, but I did a 2-week plan this past weekend. I spent about $320 of our $400 monthly grocery budget, so it's definitely not the most cost efficient, but considering how much less I'll eat out with food in the freezer, it's worth it. When we had previously done these plans, it's worked out really well.
I did the 2-week plan that I'm somewhat familiar with. DH's best friend came over to help, and together we did all the meals but 6. The last ones were beef/turkey/steak meals, so definitely faster than all the chicken ones. I can definitely tell the pregnancy is wearing on me because I was in a lot of pain by the end of the day. After he left, I went ahead and knocked out 3 more meals. I have 3 left to do this evening including the one planned for tonight's dinner (meatball sub cassserole). All told, this plan will likely last a month because I split a lot of the 4 person meals into 2 since my brother isn't the biggest leftover person.
As for the big expense, with the baby on the way, I decided that I wanted to change the carpet in the nursery and guest room to hardwood. We expected it to be between $1500 and $2000 for the materials (based on Home Depot estimates), and my wonderful FIL would do the actual work. He found us a similar style flooring at Lumber Liquidators for $1450, and since the manager is a good friend of his, he gave us an additional small military discount. So this weekend, I wrote a check for $1390 to FIL to pick up all the materials and then work should start this weekend. Once the flooring is done, the nursery will be ready for set up and decoration! We are redoing the flooring in the guest room and also installed overhead lighting/fan, but we decided not to paint that room for now since it will eventually become the baby's big kid room and they'll likely want to choose their paint/theme/decor. I do feel incredibly lucky that we're able to write a $1400 check without batting an eye or worrying about it.
On a separate, but related note, when we were doing groceries, my mom was shocked that I wasn't being overly stringent with the amount things cost. She was shocked when I purchased 2 $20 packs of the chicken breasts from Costco because the cost per pound was $2.39 which she thought I could beat elsewhere. She's probably right, but I needed 24 and was already at Costco which I told her. It really struck me how far I've come when she said that it must be nice to buy groceries without worrying about the bill. While I still have an incredibly long journey ahead of me, it made me realize that we have made great strides and just need to stay the course to continue moving forward.