We’re Back

We’re back to the blogging world and have some exciting news to share!

Minus the mortgage, we are now debt free!!

This may come as somewhat of surprise to some of you, as we basically fell off the Dave Ramsey wagon not too long ago. Our last loan payment was scheduled for quite a while ago, then got pushed back to “before baby #2 arrives”. Baby #2 arrived and we said, “whoops…”.

So what happened? We resurrected the budget and finally said “go!” and made a big, whopping final payment.

This has been a humbling experience as we realized we needed to get more disciplined in a lot of ways. Working with less income (maternity leave), we were reminded that being unaware of where our money goes does no one any good. Second of all, we realized how blessed we have been by friends and family helping us out during this transition to being a family of four. Meals, gift cards, clothes, diapers, and so much more has definitely cushioned us and we are deeply grateful. It has also spurred our desire to be good stewards of our finances so we can hopefully help others.

So while we are definitely celebrating our success tonight, we realize we still have a long ways to go. As you know, I’m what you might call a “planning person”…so you know, I’m already done with the celebration and making my lists : )

In general, our next steps/goals are:
-Build savings up to 3-6 months worth of income.
-Save up for a newer, bigger vehicle. Friends of ours just got a beautiful new minivan, leaving Aaron green with envy! : )
-Increase our contributions to our retirement funds. Currently they are pathetic.

So that’s the plan and in the words of Dave, this “journey” is no where near over. Because, you know, the general idea is to: retire when the time is right, help our kids with college or whatever their post-secondary dreams may be, send Aaron to the World Cup and let me go crazy at Target and leave feeling guilt-free. I know, I dream REAL big : ) I’m sure I’ll think of other wonderful things once I return to sleeping and eating like a normal person.

So to those of you who have supported us either through words of encouragement, thoughts/prayers, or gifts, we say THANK YOU!! We could not have done this without you. We tip our glasses–of Blue Moon and apple juice, can you guess who’s drinking which?–to you, our friends and family who love us.

What, we’ll be old someday?

Oh dear blog, we have not abandoned you. Just taken a lengthy hiatus, from writing that is, not from sticking to the original plan. As far as that goes, we’ve done pretty well. In our mid-May to mid-June cycle we put an extra $500 towards the student loan debt. June-July went even better. So that was good. However, I have a suspicion that the July-August cycle will not look so hot as I have gotten in the back-to-school buying frenzy spirit…for all three of us…two of which will not be returning to school. Oops.

On the up side, Aaron and I did some math on our remaining debt and figured that if we can pinch an extra $200/month from other areas of the budget and put it towards the loan payments, we can pay it all off by February of next year. That would be awesome except for this month we started auto-draft payments for our Roth (just peanuts for now; hoping to increase this amount by next year this time). Additionally our paperwork for life insurance is being sent in tomorrow which means another monthly expense will start shortly. Put this all together and we may be looking at wrapping up this snowball closer to next Christmas. Still not terrible.

So you may notice that we are deviating a little from DR’s suggested plan and starting our contributions towards our retirement before all debt has been paid. We were on the fence about this until we had a meeting over the summer with our financial adviser. He showed us a worksheet–that I remembered seeing long ago but somehow must have repressed–that stated that if we desire to retire somewhere between the ages of 62 and 65 (I forget the exact age) and want to maintain our standard of living, then we should aim to put away something like $750/month. Say, what? Fortunately it wasn’t anything like a pressure-filled meeting where we felt guilted into committing to a dollar amount then and there; but after careful consideration Aaron and I decided to devote $50/month towards our future living. For now.  So with the end of the snowball approaching, I’m staring to glean that snowballs melting does not equal party time. More like starting a new chapter, during which we save to be old someday and maybe some other stuff. I should probably read those later chapters again : )

Summer Fun

Hello all, 

Every year I use the demarcation of Memorial Day to signify summer’s beginning.  In my mind it is time to officially break out the shorts, put away the pants, and mentally prepare for summer.  Financially summer provides our family with a unique opportunity.  Mandy works the teacher schedule so our daycare bill will go down to zero, unless you count getting a babysitter every once and a while.  Even still, it is an awesome relief (and to those of you who pay for daycare, I know you can relate). Continue reading

May updates from Aaron

As Mandy mentioned in our last post we saw Dave Ramsey live about two weeks ago in Grand Rapids.  I just wanted to give my quick rundown of what I thought of the event and what the takeaways were for me.

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May Updates From Mandy

So a few updates:
1. Last month went really well for us! We were able to make a $1000 payment toward student loans. Yeah us! Also compared to our month 1 spending, we cut our food spending by almost $200. Which leads me to…

2. My life is now run by the following, in more or less this order: baby B., Dave Ramsey, Weight Watchers. Turns out when you’re trying to lose weight, your food spending goes down…hmm, interesting.

3. We went to see Dave Ramsey live. Awesome. We understand he’s not for everyone and that’s okay. But this was exactly what we needed. Definitely encouraging, motivating, and practical. Take-aways for me were:

A. Squeeze the budget harder, find more income, I want to be debt-free (minus mortgage) in one year.
B. We started a 529 fund for the babe, but we might want to look at an Education IRA instead. Need more guidance on that.
C. Plan a really big garage sale! Anybody want to contribute some hot ticket items? : )
D. We CAN do this! People in much worse shape financially than us are doing it and have done it. Plus, once our debt snowball has run its course and our savings is beefed up, we’ll be on to the easier part and have more choices–which for me is what it’s all about.
E. Completing baby steps 1-7 is a bit more time- and labor-intensive than first anticipated. But I think the end result looks pretty fantastic from here.

I could share quite a few quotes that I loved, but I’ll save those for a rainy day. Speaking of which, I think it’s time for hot chocolate and a movie!

Update on cars and MM


So last post I started complaining about how I wasn’t going to be able to watch March Madness and about how cars require money for upkeep.  Let me give you an update.  Continue reading

Cars and March Madness

Hello everyone, our apologies again for being so not diligent with our blog posts.  I feel like we still haven’t recovered from Christmas break!!  On another note, I have a little more than a week left with my current job before I switch over to KDL and instead of shedding my feelings on our money blog, I will contain myself.  Continue reading

Groceries, Coupons, Time, & NEWS

I think I will start with the news. (Nope, not preggers.) My wonderful husband landed a new job. Hurrah! He will be a Collections Librarian for Kent District Library. I understand this to be a lateral if not slightly upward professional move due to the nature of the job, increased opportunities to develop and advance, and the size, demographics, and resources of the system. I have not received a picture-perfect job description (man of few words), but I imagine him to be buying and negotiating, researching trends, and making patrons city-wide amazingly pleased with their well-constructed collection of materials. What I do know for sure, however, is that this change makes him very, very happy. He’s worked hard for this & so I am very proud.

The position is part-time. This has it’s pros and cons. Pros: more parent-daughter time (huge plus), no more weekends, no more evenings, flexible schedule, etc. Con: less income.

So we have a tentative idea of how this will play out in terms of budget, short-term plans/goals. However in the coming weeks, we will need to dig into this further. In the end, I am confident we will find what works for us.

On a different note, who can help us with coupons?! A while ago, a coworker friend invited me to a couponing class. It was inspiring and slightly…okay maybe more than slightly overwhelming. It’s definitely a system. One which appears to require extensive organization, planning, and strategy. It seems that one needs the following in order to make couponing, in the extreme sense, work:

1-a chunk of available time
2-a deep freeze
3-extra cupboard space
4-a thorough knowledge of what’s for dinner, what’s in season, what’s on sale, how to prepare/store food so that it won’t freezer burn, what foods normally cost so you know if it’s cheaper to use a coupon or just buy generic brands…

It also seems that you need to stock up on things that you may not need immediately, but will need in the future. You then need to remember that you have those items, so that you don’t double up at a later point. To me, I can see myself buying a whole bunch of stuff that I had coupons for, but then not knowing what sort of meals to make out of all this random stuff that I just purchased. Clearly, I need guidance.

Computer stuff and other stuff

Last post I told the world (or 15 people who read the blog) about how our computer pooped out on us. I also told you how bummed out I was, or if I didn’t specifically say that, hopefully you got my drift. Nonetheless a few days after our computer pooped out I took it to a computer store. I was expecting them to tell me that the motherboard was fried and they will try and recover our pictures and the like.

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A small bummer

First, I must apologize about our last post. It seems I may have made a few errors when writing. Luckily Mandy was able to clean up my misinformation. So, if you haven’t read the revised version of our previous post, you should do so. Anyway, on to this post….

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