Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

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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.

Continue reading

An Expensive Hair Ball

Sorry it has been so long since our last post.  Things are busy around here with a baby, work, etc.  But since Mandy and I last posted an update we have had some financial ups and downs.  Nothing too drastic that we couldn’t handle though, thankfully.  First some ups:  I got a yearly bonus, hooray!  Granted I work at a public library so my bonus was next to nil, but hey, when you are counting pennies every little bit counts.  The bonus was also good because it was going to go in our x-mas gift fund which would have been a nice pad (more on x-mas gifts later).

Continue reading

month 2 is in the books

As of last weekend Mandy and I completed our second month of Mr. Ramsey’s money makeover.  I must say that I am very proud of us….again.  Overall we finished the month $200 below our estimated budget, so that was good.  We were able to make a healthy payment on our student loans  which makes me feel like our sacrifices have been for a good cause.  We also put a little extra aside for our December expenses.  No matter how we look at it, we like to buy gifts and will buy lots of them come X-Mas.  Plus, other costs we never figured in, such as Christmas cards and house projects.  So unfortunately next month’s loan payment might be a little less to cover those costs.  Hopefully next year we can start our budget fresh and save for those types of things throughout the year, like we do our car licenses etc.

What Mandy and I are most proud of is our food situation last month.  We spent exactly half of what we had budgeted for dining out, which is amazing for us.  Although before I pat Mandy and I on the back about that, we really have Bridget to thank.  After Mandy and I get home from work each night the last thing we want to do is pack up all of Bridget’s things and eat out.  On the weekends convincing Bridget to sit still in a high chair for more than ten minutes at a restaurant is not a task we are up to.  So we really have our daughter to thank for such a low dining-out bill.  We were also about $50 under our projected grocery bill.  Although we can probably attribute that to grandma visiting us for a week and donating to our bottom line.

One category we did go over was Bridget.  We bought a stroller from a friend-of-a-friend and that put us $50 over budget.  The stroller we bought is a jogging stroller with the big wheels and is worth every penny.  When we had our previous stroller I didn’t think it was too bad and I was fairly certain we could get by with what we had.  Boy was I wrong.  After using the jogging stroller one time I knew I would never go back.  The ride was so smooth and luxurious, I felt as though I wasn’t pushing anything.  It was well worth the money and the fact that we were so awesome with our food budget meant going over was not a huge deal.

The only other category we were over in was house maintenance.  I got really lazy and bought a leaf blower when I saw the 4 hours of work ahead of me.  If time is money the leaf blower has definitely already paid for itself.  Plus since we live in Holland all we have to do is blow the leaves to the curb and the city picks them up……super easy with a blower.  If DR was reading this, he would probably be disgusted with my logic but unless he wants to come over and rake my leaves, I feel it was money well spent.

Two lessons I am taking away this month:

1. Little things really do matter.  Not one particular category helped us go under our budget.  Making little sacrifices in each category really paid off.

2. Doing a budget is hard.  When we first started I thought keeping track of our money with a budget would be easy, it is not.  Itemizing every dollar spent sucks.  But what really sucks is keeping track of year-long savings.  For example, we put away money each month for gifts (Birthdays, X-Mas etc.).  Since we don’t have separate accounts for anything besides checking and savings we have to manually figure out how much we have saved and how much we have spent.  Tedious work.  Lastly, I wish credit card/debit card payments would process immediately.  Since they don’t, the last weekend is tricky for us because we do our budget on the weekends and on Monday a couple more things have posted.

Aaron

P.S. Here is what this post looks like when I entered it into wordle:
Wordle: Month 2

Cool huh?

Here comes Christmas!

Thanksgiving was great! 5 days off never felt so good. Aaron and I were super industrious while also enjoying lots of QT with the B and fam. As posted prior, we participated in a turkeyday 5k. This did not “widen” the space in my stomach or reduce the guilt from the amount consumed, as was previously believed. This got me thinking about how the holidays typically go for me in the ways of eating and merriment. Which then got me thinking of how Dave (DM) makes the analogy between dieting and building financial fitness. I do not believe that I am the only one that thinks this is a not-so-great analogy. I would delve into this deeper, but after putting some initial thoughts in writing, I can see that this would require much more time and effort than I am prepared to give. Suffice it to say, looking ahead to the holidays this is what you should expect from me: your gift may not be awesome this year, but you can count on me to eat all your holiday treats.

As far as gift giving goes, we have purchased a total of 1. I was a bit nervous about our game plan for this year, as we have only been saving for 1.5 months! (Our usual MO is to not think where the $ will come, buy gifts, and then figure it out in January.) But as for our new plan, thanks to Aaron’s tremendous brainstorming session, we will be using the cash saved from not paying for daycare during our breaks to increase our grand total. This is not a stellar amount. But we will stretch it and do great, I am confident. I’m sure this is not a solution for all. Not even sure if DM would approve. But we are gift-giving people. Not to mention, would be completely embarrassed to come to a gift-bearing event with no loot. Something in our favor is that B is not of age to care about gifts. She will be ecstatic with boxes, tissue paper, and a dance party prompted by Christmas music in the background.

Love to all! Christmas is on its way!!