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.

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

Going on a financial diet.

I really hate diets….

I want us to be successful in working towards paying off our debt so I am making it a point to find out as much as I can on the subject of personal finance and debt reduction.  Oh man, there is a TON of information out there on the subject! I read blogs, watch you tube videos, listen to audio books (I pretty much work out of my car) and have recently discovered Podcasts! While there are so many great sources out there to fill my empty mind with knowledge I have come to the realization that that personal finance and weight loss have a lot in common!

I know what you thinking…….Magan…WTH?….. Personal finance and weight loss are not the same at all. Well thank you Mr/Mrs smarty pants 🙂 As someone who is overweight (lifelong foodie here) I have spent countless hours listening/reading/watching just about everything out there on how to lose weight, and you know what? Everyone out there has some special recipe, tip, trick, advice, or sure fire way to lose weight (especially if they have done it already).  Don’t eat meat! Eat only meat! Lemon water only! Grapefruit diet! Atkins! Low carb! Calorie restriction! They all have different methods but the basic fundamentals are the same…. Eat less junk, eat more whole foods and move more. The worst part is that I know all of that! Everyone has heard it at some point in their life, whether from a doctor or a TV commercial, so why am I not doing it?!

As I spend more time learning about personal finance and debt reduction I see the similarities in that everyone has a special plan…(especially if they have done it already). There is TONS of advice out there about what to do first, what expenses to cut, needs vs wants, baby steps, debt snowballs, invest vs not investing…etc. But it seems to me that, just like weight loss advice, the basic fundamentals are the same… spend less, earn more money, no impulse buying, and make a budget.  This is where I really see the similarities with how I handle both weight loss and personal finance….I know all of these basic fundamentals….SO WHY AM I NOT DOING IT!!??

The magic pill

As I really start to look deep inside myself I know that, just like with my weight loss, I have always been secretly looking for the magic pill that will just make it all go away  with my putting in as little effort as possible and without me having to change my life style. It has taken a very long time but I think that it has finally sunk in that no one is going to fix this financial (or weight loss) mess for me, it’s going to be hard, it’s going to be uncomfortable, and it’s going to suck…..but I don’t have a choice! It’s definitely time for my family and I to get a little uncomfortable and change our habits and stop this over consuming life style that has gotten us know where except broke, in debt, and fat.

Over Consumption

I wonder if there is any doubt at all that we are so badly in debt and also overweight. My husband and I are the overweight ones; thankfully our kids have not followed in our footsteps, and I if I have my way never will! We clearly have a problem with over consumption, whether it is food or stuff, and it’s something I know that we both learned from our parents. We are taking the rest of this month (March 2017) to look at what expenses we can cut and then working on a budget in April….. so I guess if we are keeping with the weight loss theme that’s when we start our calorie counting J I am painfully aware that my husband and I have never stuck to s diet and exercise routine but I am hopeful that the discipline that we learn from cleaning up our finances will trickle over into other aspects of our lives! At least we won’t be eating out or buying snacks any more so that should help the ole’ waistline a bit 🙂

Making hard decisions and being grateful.

Moving in with mom and selling the house 😦

When life hands you lemons be thankful for those sour little devils and make some dam lemonade!  I won’t bore you with all of the stupid choices we made along the way that landed us in roughly $230,000 in student loan, mortgage, credit card, vehicle, and medical debt…I’m guessing you can probably figure it out. Yep, we were doing all of those things that you are “supposed” to do like going to college, starting a family, and buying a home…and of course trying to keep up with all of those people you know, and come to think of it, even people you don’t know….who the heck are the Jones’s anyway???

A couple of months ago I had enough, we have had a very fortunate thing happen to us…. moving back in with my mom (thank you Granny)…. and we were still living paycheck to paycheck! We were very lucky to get a renter into our house to cover the cost of the mortgage and utilities but one day the renter called up and said that the furnace had went out. We had absolutely no money saved to replace a furnace and, of course, it was in December (2016) up here in the cold upper Midwest.  We once again had to put our tail between our legs and ask parents for help, and that was the last straw….I had absolutely had enough!

Where is our MONEY!!!!  After years of being totally ignorant of our finances I sat down and started looking at our expenses, and then I started adding up the debt. I don’t think that I have ever felt a panic so deep in my soul before that day. No wonder we didn’t have any money, we were $230,000 in debt and had an annual household income just shy of $70,000. I was mortified, what the F*%k were we going to do?! After I told my husband, I cried and he held my hand and in a very calm and soothing voice said “it will be ok” WTF!!!! NO IT WON’T!!!  It took me a while to regain composure but after I cooled down I started to realize that wouldn’t you know it…he was right J

We were going to be ok. We were going to have to make some pretty hard decisions but we were going to be ok. The first decision was to continue to stay with my mom, that was a really hard one, but I need the security of knowing that my kids will have a roof over their heads and a loving grandparent here to tuck them in some nights because mommy’s butt was going to have to get a second job.

The next hard decision that we had to make was to sell our home, which we plan to do this spring. We do have a little emotional attachment to it just because it’s our first home but we can’t afford to keep it around.  Plus, if we are able to make any money on the sale we can use it towards paying down our debt.

The next thing is really going to be the hardest…. We need to stop spending needlessly and cut our expenses.  We are starting with obvious things like not eating out, no movies, and cutting cable (that one makes me tear up). But we don’t really know anything about budgeting or living below our means so this should be interesting J

P.S. We are complete newbies at this so if anyone has any tips/tricks, or advice…we would greatly appreciate it!