** I wrote this post back in July, but never posted it. When I decided that I wanted to post some journal-type entries/updates, this one had to be in there. Life happens while you are getting out of debt, and it hit us so hard and slowed us up for awhile. It also shows how human we are, and how sometimes when life hits us unexpectedly you stress spend (as I did). Finding pictures for this post really made me miss my grandpa, and I am so happy I could leave you with a piece of him here. Enjoy <3 **
I can’t believe that we have already been 9 months into being really serious about debt repayment! So much has changed in that time, and I wanted to give you a financial update on the first 6 months of 2017. So, lets dive right in and dissect our progress a bit.
We have paid off a total of $7, 434.97 in the first 6 months of this year. This total does not include the fact that we have built our emergency fund back up to $1000 from $0, nor the additional $2400 plus that we added into sinking funds. This gives us a total financial shift of $10, 834.97 since January 1st -ah, progress!
Let’s start with our failures and get them out of the way:
We were so new into our debt repayment when my nursing licence came up for renewal, that we ended up putting it on our visa because we were unprepared. In addition, at the beginning of the year, it seemed Murphy had moved in, and with a completely depleted emergency fund, we ended up pulling out the visa several more times just to keep our heads above water. The slip ups with the credit card slowed down our progress by at least 2-3 months.
After my grandpa passed away, everyone in this house got sick – really sick. We needed antibiotics for both kids and myself, and everyone was miserable. It required 5 trips to the doctor’s office, 3 trips into ER, multiple trips to the pharmacy and resulted in an extra heap of stress. Truthfully, I coped with Tim Horton’s.
When stress gets to me, I strap the kids into the car where they can’t reach each other to fight, grab a giant double double with a shot of espresso for good measure with some form of breakfast food. Take out every morning is not good for the budget or the waste-line.
During this time our tax return FINALLY arrived, which ended up being terrible timing. That giant check allowed me to derail myself there for a bit without having to pull out a visa to do it. That money got left in our account for much longer than I normally would allow, and as a result we spent more of it than I intended. I learned my lesson though, and that won’t be happening again.
Moving into better light, our wins:
In comparison to last year, we have pulled a complete 180 with our finances. Our budgeting game is strong, and there are few occasions where we have expenses that we haven’t anticipated now. It used to be that “unexpected” things used to sneak up on us constantly, but not anymore! Getting used to how to budget, and settling into one that is realistic takes time, and we are finally gaining some traction.
We are managing much better than I thought would have been possible on one income. However, one down fall of me being at home more, is that our debt shovel is small, so this process is going to take longer than I was originally hoping it would. We are officially on #teamtinyshovel! Being home does have some financial down-sides, but the pay cut has been worth it a thousand times over, and has us slowly plowing forward.
There have been more shifts come up for me in June, and so that will top up some of our sinking funds for the fall, as well as hopefully spill over into extra debt payments. We have grown an insane amount in this area. I am now looking ahead much better to our future needs, and making sure that I am holding money back so that when the time comes for those big payments we aren’t left scrambling or even worse, pulling out the credit card!
We made a joint decision to consolidate our remaining two loans. By using the equity in the house, we dropped our interest rates of our remaining loans by 2.3%. And, as a side MASSIVE bonus, I have rid myself of the Bank of Montreal forever!!!! Dealing with them was a slow form of torture, and I am not sad at all to see them go. I know that there are people who love it there, but we did not have a good experience.
Lastly, we completely paid off the first line of credit on our list, and closed out the account! Dave Ramsey was right about the debt snowball. Its hard to argue with that mental win of knocking out a loan to keep your head in the game.
Changes We Have Implemented:
I have learned that when we can see our savings, we use it on non-essentials. So, as a preventative measure, I opened up an online Tangerine account for our Emergency Fund and our Sinking Funds. Since doing this, we have not touched our $1000, and we think twice before pulling out the Tangerine bank card.
*The benefits of this type of account are that you get a referral bonus for signing up under someone’s name, a kick back for referring people, no fee accounts, and a high interest rate (1.15%) on standard savings accounts. If you are interested in opening up an account with them, use the orange key 52519495S1. You will get a $50 starter bonus when you deposit your first $100 into your checking account.
In addition to the Tangerine account, I have recently jumped on the envelope band wagon. I have two cash envelopes, one for groceries and one for restaurants. This month I have added an envelope for the kids clothes/school starter fund for our fall needs. Having a small stash of cash will help me snag good deals when I see them, hopefully saving us in the long run. *I used this template from Inspired Budget, and the envelopes are super cute.
Lastly, when I was filling out my trackers in my journal, I realized that it was motivating only for me. I solved that problem using the free downloadable trackers from Debt Free Charts and I taped them to inside of my cupboard so that we see it every time we reach for a cup. Its been motivating for not only my husband, but also the kids, they celebrate every time I color in a new line. My son fully believes we are going directly to Hawaii when all the lines are full – he tells everyone we know (and everyone we don’t too!).
I can’t wait to see where we are six months from now…
What is your go-to when you are stressed? Let me know in the comments below.