Money freaks me out!

So I was in the shower the other day thinking about money, pretty much like I do most every minute of every day. Stressing about it, worrying if there is enough, wondering where it’s going to come from, and how much more is accumulating because of interest.  It was during my shower, being a wife and mother it’s about the only “alone time” I get, that I stared to wonder why does money make me so anxious? And is this affecting my overall view on money and debt?

The long and the short of it is..…yes, money terrifies me and it totally affects how I view money, how I earn money, and how I spend money. So how do I turn this around?  I made a decision that day in the shower that I am no longer going to be scared of money and let this debt control my life! My husband and I are in charge of our money and we are going to start making our money work for us and take control back of how our money comes in and how it goes out!

All that being said…..we absolutely SUCK at budgeting!!! We sat down and had a money talk yesterday and realized that one of our biggest expense categories “food” is a huge downfall for us. We do make a budget but we always end up grabbing more than what’s on the list, or making way too many trips and basically blowing our grocery budget out of the water.  So, we came up with what I think is a pretty genius solution! We get paid every Friday so what we are going to do is take out our weekly grocery budget in cash every week and put it in a jar, that way when we go to get our groceries we only have whatever cash is available to us from the jar.  If we don’t use all of that weeks budgeted money then it just rolls over into next week. My ultimate goal is that this will hopefully force us to plan better, make more reasonable choices, and not go overboard on the things that we don’t really need but just plain want.

Another budgeting problem that we have is that like most typical Americans in our situation, if we make more money we find a way to spend more money. Back in May I was able to get about an $8000 per year raise and sure as shit, man did we find things that we really “needed” to buy this summer and things the kids “needed” to have this summer…..jeez, no wonder we are in such a bad mess lol. Any who I interviewed for a different second job that pays WAY more than the previous one and my husband and I have decided to open a second checking account with a different bank and have all of the earnings from the second job go into that account. We can’t spend what we can’t see right? Since we can pay all of our bills and, thinks to my raise, put extra money into debt payments with our primary incomes the second account will be used only as income to go straight to paying off debt.

I guess the moral of the story is that we definitely aren’t perfect…not even by a long shot!  But we need to stop living in fear of the almighty dollar and start making that little bastard do what we say! I don’t know if there is a right or wrong way to get yourself out of debt, but I do know that trying something is better than doing nothing and keeping your head in the sand.

This is really hard…….

I don’t think my husband or I fully grasped how hard getting out of debt and changing or spending habits was going to be. Here we are more than half way through June and I don’t think that we have made any real progress.  Well, I guess the most real progress we have made is we sat down this morning and had a heated discussion about our need to change vs. our want to change.  I feel like we are both on the same page with knowing that we need to do something to change our habits and pay down our debt but we clearly are not on the same page when it comes to wanting to change our spending habits.

Part of the discussion was that I feel like I am “in charge” of the finances and my husband just agrees with whatever I say basically…which sounds pretty awesome right? Well it’s not. I feel like it has made me into Gollum from Lord of the Rings that is guarding my precious monies (it’s funnier if you say it in his voice). Where this has truly backfired for me is that I have turned into the bad guy who won’t let anyone spend “my” money and I have to constantly be the one who tells everyone NO!  Well I don’t like being the bad guy all the time… makes me feel bad lol. So I basically gave up over the last 2 months……or went on strike. …..whatever you want to call it. Guess what? That totally did not work at all!

In May I was able to pull off about an 8K per year raise (patting myself on the back) which will help out tremendously! However, one of our really bad habits is that if we make more money we will spend more money…and we did….a lot of it….and stuff we “needed”. ARRGGG!!!! I get so frustrated sometimes that I just want to give all of this up! I can totally see how financial problems are the number one reason for divorce in this country! But I don’t want to be that couple that gives up, we are strong and I know that we can get through this…but I’m not going to lie, this is really hard.

This morning I told him that I need help and I want off this lone island of sole responsibility for our finances. It’s kind of funny how talking about things actually helps, because he said that he thought I wanted to be in control of everything and felt like he didn’t get a say at all, so we were both frustrated with the other and where just letting it fester versus just talking about it. We need to be a partnership and be on the same page with EVERYTHING or else this is just not going to work.  It can’t just be “my way or the highway” but I have to get some input otherwise I have no other way to go.

This was definitely not our first fight about money…not even close….but I feel like this time we had the most progress towards common ground.  I think we are both to the point now where we realize that there is no alternative, this debt is not going to go away no matter how much we just “want” it to lol. We have been married for almost 10 years and it had taken us that long to get into this mess and we certainly can’t expect to get out of it overnight, not like that dude in Cali that won the $450 million dollar jackpot last week 🙂

Should you think about a vacation when you’re in debt?

Stacy B. Miller
Dave Ramsey has an honest answer to this question. He says, it’s best to skip vacations when someone is in debt or trying to get out of it. Dave didn’t go for any trip for 10 years when he was in debt problems. His logic is simple. He had to pay many bills and feed his children.
You need to spend a fraction of your paycheck on vacation spending. But it shouldn’t break or trample your financial foundation.
 Most importantly, you shouldn’t get into financial problems again due to your vacation.
Can you think about a vacation when in debt?
If you’re in debt, it is better to avoid going for a vacation since it means extra expenses. Unless, your employer or someone else sponsors the trip, it isn’t wise to go for a vacation.  Since you’re in debt, this means you’re in a financial crunch. Your main aim should be to pay off your debts instead of going on vacation.
You have to save up as much as possible. First, you need to pay extra amount to get rid of your debts – doesn’t matter if you want to pay back your creditors through debt avalanche method or debt snowball method. If you have decided to enroll in a debt settlement program, then you have to set aside money for the fees too.
Second, you can’t touch your emergency fund to go on a vacation. This is an absolute no. This fund is to cover your emergency expenses like car repair, a leak in the water pipe, etc.
Third, there are few other expenses you can’t ignore. You can’t stop contributing to retirement savings accounts because it secures the golden years of your life.
What is the other way out? 
Although it is advisable to clear all your debts before traveling, but there are a few people who need a break in a year. They can’t put off their travel dream for a long period. Experts suggest them to plan a debt-free vacation in these ways:
1. Decide the tenure of the vacation
2. Decide the spot
3. Calculate the cost of transportation and hotel reservation
4. Create a budget for food and shopping
5. Calculate how much one needs to save to implement this plan
It is difficult to save money for a vacation when someone is in debt. But, it isn’t impossible. First, one should tackle the high-priority debt. Next, one should start saving for vacation. The plan is already there. One just needs to follow it.
One should avoid going to an expensive tourist spot, no matter how tempting it is. If someone can afford a smaller getaway or a road trip, then so be it.
There is yet another way to pay off debt and travel. You can get a job abroad. Make sure you choose a job that pays you enough to cover your debts and visit tourist destinations.
If none of these options work for you, then enjoy cheap fun activities with your family instead of going somewhere expensive.
It is all about priorities. Five years back, I had $30,000 consumer debt. I chose to repay debt over travel. I knew if i sacrificed, I could afford to pay off debt within 1 and half year. The sacrifice was worth it.
I spent a few weekends at friends’ houses during that phase. So, I wasn’t bored. Besides, my sacrifices paid off. I was debt free in just 6 months, much earlier than what I contemplated.

5 tips to graduate college without the stress of debt

My husband and I made a lot of mistake when it came to college and starting our new lives together and unfortunately there is nothing we can do to help ourselves now but dig in and get busy trying to dig out of this mess.  We have two young children and I am currently working 3 jobs, my husband working as much as he can with his job, we have no life, no more fun toys, and no more house….we live with my mother. As much as this is a terrible situation we are in a very positive light has shown from it, we get to teach our kids about money and debt in a way that we were never taught. Our parents never warned us about debt and student loans (mainly because they had no idea) but that stops here, our kids will never know the burden of student loan debt, credit card debt, and consumer debt in general.  I hope that for those of you reading this, our mistakes will help you too and to me that is totally worth it 🙂

Here are my 5 tips to help you avoid the same mistake we made.

First, know what you want to be when you grow up! I know it sounds silly but part of my student loan debt problem is that I changed my mind half way through and then STILL didn’t end up wanting to pursue that field. What Travis and I plan to do differently with our kids is really to encourage them to try an apprenticeship/internship/job shadow before they apply to college to really make sure they know what their future career entails.  I know that my high school did offer a lot of different types of job shadowing but I never took advantage of those opportunities.

Second, once you figure out what you want to go to school for make sure you can actually get the job you want in the area that you want. One of the biggest mistakes that I made with my degree was location; there are just simply not enough options for entry level positions in my area. Why was this a problem? Well because my future husband and I at the time never discussed if we wanted to move or stay near our family and as it turned out after we had baby #1 we really wanted to stay in our home town and raise our family here. So moral of the story….look way down the road and make sure your future life wants will match where you decide to live to pursue a career.

Third, pick an in state school with a low cost of tuition. Let’s be real here, with the exception of a few rare cases…no one gives a dam where you went to college. Have you ever asked your Dentist, Banker, Doctor, or even your boss, where they went to college? Probably not….and why would you? Who cares?!!! I don’t know about you but I continue to go utilize the services of the same few people because they are good at what they do not because of where they went to school.

Fourth, try as desperately as possible to not take out ANY student loans! I know that it difficult but start saving now and work part time to cash flow you college degree. I can’t stress enough to you what a terrible burden our student loan debt is to us and yes….we too thought we had it all figured out and would get great high paying jobs that would pay it all back too…not the case, most entry level positions now have starting salaries that cannot keep up with the rising cost of education. Do yourself a favor and work, apply for grants, and apply for scholarships….do whatever you can to pay for your degree yourself, trust me you will be way better off in the end and this is the same thing we will teach our children when they are ready for college.

Fifth, while you are in school, if you can, save for your future life. You have to start somewhere right? We made the mistake of starting on our own with nothing literally and figuratively….nothing. So what did we do with all of that nothing? Well we charged it to our shiny new credit cards of course.  Oh man we don’t have a sofa, I guess we will have to buy a whole living room set and just charge it….we are college grads we’ll be able to pay it off! I look back now and shake my head thinking of how stupid we were and how much time and money we have lost with stupid decisions.  So that’s my last piece of advice to save some money to give yourself a little “starter” fund so you’re not tempted to start charging up those credit cards…in fact, don’t even apply for those credit cards, you don’t need them!

As I sit back and look at the mountain of student loan debt we have ($161,000 between the two of us) and that fact that neither one of us is in a career that utilizes our degree, not to mention doesn’t require a degree, I know we can’t change the past but I hope we can help to change our kids future and give them a more solid foundation to start their lives as adults in our current consumer driven culture.  My last piece of advice is simple and ties everything together…have a plan! Ask someone for advice, ask questions, and  be informed.

April 2017 Goals

Budget goals

Travis and I sat down and hashed out a budget for April and let me tell you….we sure do have very different opinions of wants vs. needs lol. Since making a budget is so new to us we really wanted to stick with the theme of changing our bad habits, so we were pretty dramatic and slashed our spending by about $1100. One of our goals is to be able to get our spending down to the point where we could live off of one income and throw the other income directly at the debt to get it gone as fast as possible. It’s a pretty powerful feeling to have control over your money and to get to decide what goes and what stays.

I’m not going to lie; it took us a really long time to figure out that we really didn’t “need” certain things… cable TV (RIP SyFy channel).  Although I have to admit so far it has been really nice without cable! We still have Netflix, Hulu, and of course the internet…but I have found that I am so much more productive now and it saved us $75 per month! Instead of sitting around Saturday morning watching my dvr’d shows from the week, I got up, went for a walk, made breakfast, and cleaned the whole house.

In addition to cutting expenses, budgeting, and paying off debt, we are also really taking a look at the stuff we have and getting rid of all the things we don’t need and that’s just taking up room in our space. It is amazing how much crap we have! I used to think that we needed a bigger house but we really just had to much stuff lol. We are piling all of the things that we don’t need or want into the garage so that we can have a garage sale in June and hopefully make a little more money to throw at the debt. My kids are actually pretty excited and are doing a great job going through their toys and clothes.

Second Job

So far the second job is going really well! In April I really want to make as much extra cash as possible without severely disconnecting myself from my family. I also just learned that we are down a few staff at my main job so I might try to see if I can sneak some over time there as well 🙂

Additional goals due to unexpected side effects of budgeting

So I went to the doctor on Friday which was 3/31/17 for a follow up visit from the end of February and when I stepped on the scale I had lost 12lbs in a little over one month! The nurse and Doctor where both like “what did you do?” I told them that we changed our diet by cutting out restaurants, fast food, and snacks and eliminating sugar (we did this because it literally bans everything bad that we don’t need). I already knew that my husband had lost weight…an amazing 30lbs! Most of that weight I would suspect came off due to the no sugar or soda and being more active.

So what’s the goal you ask?? Well to keep it up of course lol! In order to spend more quality time with the kids, whilst not spending money needlessly, we are doing family walks at night and going to the park which has been so much fun. I also have been walking to pick my daughter up from school so that we can walk home together and really talk about the day. All this walking and being outside has really lifted my mood and made it a whole lot easier to process this huge mountain of debt we have to climb.

Well here’s to April 2017! I’m pretty excited to keep this ball rollin and paying off this debt! And as always, if you have any tips/tricks/or advice I would love to hear it!

Monthly Progress Report #1

March 2017

I want to start posting monthly progress reports mainly to keep us accountable but also for something we can look back on and see exactly what steps worked and what steps did not work.

Ok so let’s start with what changes we made this month that worked:

I got a second job. I am a Certified Nursing Assistant so it’s pretty easy for me to find flexible work around my area and the pay is pretty great too! I work full time as a CNA for a local Hospice and picked up a part time gig at an Assisted Living Facility nearby.  I pretty grateful for the flexible hours of the new gig because I really hate being away from my kids and this allows me to pick up from 5pm to 9pm so I can still be here when everyone gets home in the afternoon.

We were already living with mom but decided to stay. We had already moved in with my mom a while ago but my husband and I really soul searched and came to the conclusion that we need to be able to pay off this debt fast so, with mom’s ok, we decided to make ourselves comfy and stay with the promise that we will always be moving in the right direction.  Truthfully, as embarrassing as it is to live at home with your parents my mom was living alone in this big house and is really enjoying the company and having the grand kids around all the time! I am someone who pretty much grew up without grandparents and it’s really a neat feeling watching them interact with her on a daily basis. Not gonna lie……it’s really nice to not have to call a sitter when Travis and I are both working 🙂

Made the decision to sell the house. I mentioned in a previous post that we came to this decision and ultimately I feel like it is the right one. We are not in a good spot to be landlords and if something major ever happened to the house we would not be able to come up with the money to fix it. This decision actually makes me feel pretty good and we will be getting a hold of a Realtor in April to get it listed.

Cutting back expenses like eating out and making a food budget.  Ummmm…….did I mention how much we suck at this??? We definitely have differing opinions of wants vs. needs but hey, at least we are talking about it! We have stopped eating out completely and have given ourselves a grocery budget. We are planning our meals and shopping lists ahead and making the most out of our Costco membership…Yay Costco! We are also meal prepping for the week and are not making meal exceptions if someone decides last minuet that’s not what they want.

Started our debt snowball. There is absolutely no instant gratification in this lol! But it’s so nice to have a plan and figure out where to start we are on our way to paying off credit card number two!

OK and now for what didn’t work….or more accurately what hasn’t worked yet.

Trying to save $1000 for and emergency fund. This is not going well at all. I remember telling Travis the other day that I feel like we were not meant to have a saving account with money in it lol. Every time we get close something comes up like repairs or new bills or my daughter’s surgery that she had in March! The surgery wasn’t unexpected but some of the bills that followed were. That being said, we are sticking to our guns and shooting for $1000 savings in April.

Also, I would like to add being away from my kids… It’s not that it’s “not working” as much as I just hate it. I know that working to get this debt paid off is the best thing we can do for them in the long run but man I sure do hate not being there to tuck them in at night.


Debt Pay Off Progress report

So we paid off Paid off $626.77 in debt in March………… 😦 this is definitely a marathon and not a sprint. We really have paid off somewhere around $2500 in total debt since Dec 2016 and I think I’m going to make a page on this blog with a running total of debt reduction along with the monthly updates.

The “Joneses”

I was going to start out this post with “who the hell are the Jonese anyway?” My thought was that we that we spend a lot of time and money trying to impress people we don’t even know, however, while that may apply to all of the parents I see out there driving fancy cars and whose kids have the best clothes and toys I think that we all have that one person/family/ couple/ or group that has triggered the need to keep up.  My husband and I took the dog for a walk this morning and as we were discussing our current situation and reflecting how we ended up here…it finally occurred to me…. I know exactly who the “Joneses” are for us and not only are they neighbors they are family.

Mr. and Mrs. Jones

I have a family member “Mrs. Jones” who I have looked up to my whole life and who has one of those life styles that gets thrown in your face whether you have asked for it or not (one of the downsides to Facebook). Mr. and Mrs. Jones and their children live in a very nice house, go on super awesome vacations, buy really nice cars, they have motorcycles, and even bought a boat (we don’t live by water).  Looking in from the outside I guess that I have always felt that my meager earnings and lifestyle were not “good enough” to fit in and that I somehow needed to show that Travis and I could afford all of those things too.

Because Mrs. Jones is a close family member I look up to, I can see where I started to take on that image of a life style that I thought I wanted. The only problem is, now that we are adults (I will use that term loosely lol) I can see now that just because they have all of these nice things doesn’t mean that they are A) Happy or B) wealthy….at all…I mean not even a little bit. I was having a conversation with Mrs. Jones not too long ago and she was complaining about how tired and frustrated she was over all of the bills. As it turns out the Joneses are living paycheck to paycheck too and are robbing Peter to pay Paul to keep up this lavish lifestyle that they have become accustom to.  Mrs. Jones even told me that if Mr. Jones ever lost his job that they would lose everything.  What the hell!!?? These were the very same people that we were modeling our lives after.  ***insert gut check***

I think that this was probably one of the most valuable lessons that I have ever learned, and ironically it has been preached to me my whole life…” Never judge a book by its cover”. Unfortunately Mrs. Jones is not willing to take any advice or admit that there could be a different way, she is unwilling to stop the spending and unwilling to get a second job because “she doesn’t want to give up her weekends” gimme a break! No one wants to give up their weekends! I sure as shit don’t but I also don’t want to be drowning in debt for the rest of my life!

What an Askhole…..

Mrs. Joneses is what we call and Askhole….You know who they are….they are the people who constantly ask for advice but never listen to any of it. I feel like ever since she has caught on to what Travis and I are trying to accomplish she calls me up asking for advice, but is unwilling to change any part of her life to help herself out, I will also point out that Mr. Jones feels the same way that she does. She is constantly giving me a hard time for working so much and gets really upset when I decline going out to the bars on the weekends because we are trying to pay off debt. Mr. Jones has even mentioned to me that people are supposed to have debt, yeah that’s great but I don’t want to be one of those people…we don’t want to be those people! We want to teach our kids how not to make the same mistake that we have made and how to respect money and stay away from debt.

The cost of keeping up

As we reflected we realized that the cost of trying to keep up the “the Jonese” was pretty catastrophic to our family. Not only did it bring us to nearly $230,000 in debt, it cost us a lot of time that we will never get back, and it will continue to cost us for the foreseeable future until we get this debt paid off.

Now, I want to make it clear….the decision to spend money and get into debt was ours and ours alone. I am not blaming “the Joneses” for anything and trust me there are many more “Jonese” out there, but it is definitely a perfect example of trying to live someone else’s life and  very important life lesson scenario that we will be able to teach our children about not worrying what other people think.

P.S. Would you believe that the Joneses have stopped calling and stopped wanting to hanging out with us? I guess that we really don’t live up to their standards, but you know what? I’m ok with that J