Reset! It has been 2 years since we hit the reset button. I am the first to admit that the credit cards have continued to be an issue. While the majority of the numbers continue to go down (by the simple design of the loan), the credit cards are completely in our control. We had the card almost paid off 2 years ago when we did the reset....and we managed to screw it all up again. As I have looked back over the history...it is the "few hundred" dollars that we end up over-spending that has led to the current problem. Averaged out...that is what it is....a few hundred dollars. I pay the minimum....and I attempt to pay any charges that we made (more on this in a second)...but sometimes we just don't have it. We overspend on certain areas, and it outpaces the income.
When I go back through the statements, I can see the two major mis-steps: Food and Cars.
Food. A lot of it is poor planning on eating. We over spend on food because we consistently fail at this. We also will eat out more than we should….again, poor planning. I find it very hard during the week to “cook” and while we do bulk cooking and freezing…9/10 times the kids won’t eat it. Because of Bossy’s weight issues (which have gotten worse….he has fallen off the growth curve and needs to gain 7 lbs just to get to the 5th percentile), we have the tendency to try and eat what HE will eat. (It isn’t that he doesn’t eat per se….he burns it off SO FAST. He only has ½ a stomach, so he can physically only eat so much at a time, and add in all the sensory issues and routine issues……blah blah blah……). I am not making excuses….I am flat out saying I SUCK at this. I know how to do it….but many times I don’t.
Cars. Over the past year, we sank way more money into G-man’s Explorer than we should have (as we did with previous cars). This is a fundamental difference that he and I have with cars. He would rather nickel and dime a car until it bleeds us dry than admit that getting a vehicle that is in better shape SOONER than later is a better idea. When I have added up the amount of repairs over time and averaged it out….it was a car payment. But because it wasn’t an OFFICIAL car payment….somehow in his eyes it was better. I have never actually added up ALL the repairs...but this stuff pre-dates the blog...like the $2000 transmission we put in his car, and less than a week later the manifold was cracked....and the mechanic said "sucks to be you." We have poured probably TENS OF THOUSANDS into cars. And for that reason...our future cars will be new (or very close to new). I can't do this anymore.
And of course, the minor mis-steps have to do with some irregular expenses that we just have a hard time making on our current budget. Clothing is one. Sassy has grown over 6 inches in the past year….so she keeps outgrowing things. I try and buy things a little “big” but she is so thin….if I buy it too big it hangs off of her. I keep trying to save up for these things, but the budget is not forgiving. And just for the record….yes, there are areas that “I” would cut….but G-man isn’t onboard with them. When you are a couple, and you aren’t on the same page….it is easy to hit a wall.
There are areas of our budget that are out of balance. Some things we tried to cut TOO far back, and had to concede that it wasn't working. Our utilities are so high (as I have complained about many times! Oil, Electric....outrageous). Our taxes are so high. And because of the pull of those things, plus the MINIMUM debt payment (we aren't talking extra...we are just talking the minimum), it is screwing things up. And when something gets out of balance....we have used the credit card as a crutch.
I know that most of you will just say "don't use the card." And I really want to be on board with it. I do. But as I am discovering in my therapy (trust me....financial stuff comes up alot)....there is a security pattern that I have established, and I am working to break. Growing up, "my" money was never MY money. My parents "borrowed" it all the time, or I was expected to lavish on them...so any money I had still went back to them. I tend to use the credit card when there is something that I can't have taken away.....food is a big one.
I will admit that alot of this is irresponsible. And that to truly be debt free we need to be able to pay all our bills on the income we have. In my heart of hearts, I do think that once all this mess is gone, the balance will be restored. Once we are able to redistribute things, I think it will be easier to move forward.
So for now...we have to deal with our bad decisions. There has been small improvements that might not come across, but they are there. The recent "few hundred" dollars were from buying clothes for the kids and G-man. We bought shirts, shorts, jammies, underwear....the whole package....for 2 kids, and then a few things for G-man (his stuff was falling apart). In the past, I might have also bought a few things for the house...or maybe just a few more of something....but they all got what they needed. Additionally....G-man sent back my birthday gift, so that will get credited back to the card.
I would really like it to be under 8k by year end (we are working on getting G-man's car paid off). And I know that even 8k makes alot of you uncomfortable...and it makes me uncomfortable too. But it isn't the almost 40k it once was. Even adding in the retirement loan (which mostly paid off the credit cards), we are at 27k....still better than 40k.