Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Yearly Big Update

Oh, the numbers.  Lest we forget about them.  Let's start with some general stuff.

I am still working part time, so my job really just stopped the "bleeding" from the move.  Despite a lower cost of living, we also are making considerably less, but alot of bills stayed the same.  My current "hiccup" is electricity.  We have been on a budget plan for over 10 years, so paying the ACTUAL bill in the summer is screwing me up a little.  We have been running the A/C since May, but it seems that temps are starting to fall, and we are hoping to be open the windows soon.  Come January, when we have 12 months of bills behind us, the electric co-op will let us go on a budget plan.  Water is more expensive here (we double checked for leaks and the such).  Cable is higher, cell phone plan went down a bit.  At the end of the day....a lot of it is a wash.

I will (hopefully) start back with the SAT scoring come October.  Of course, now that the essay is no longer required, many students won't take that part.  I am hoping that if I can make a few hundred dollars a month from this, it will start to move things in the right direction. This money will most likely go towards upcoming expenses that we haven't been able to save for...like Christmas, cat bills, etc.  If I can get those funded in the coming months, then I will feel better about using that money elsewhere in the future.

Alright....here we go.  Yes, this next part is confusing for a minute.  I have my side bar divided out so I can personally see what categories we have.  However, several of these numbers are part of a larger number.  Yeah, I know it is confusing for you.  I pay the bills as a whole, but I account for the total by dividing it.  Yep, it is messy.  Just go with me for a few minutes.  My numbers won't go entirely in order of the side bar. But I will show you how it is all broken up.

Personal Loan - $18,518.00
As a quick recap....this is the loan we took out last fall that paid back the retirement loan and gave us cash for our closing when we sold the house. The total loan is $435.50 per month.  This loan is auto-debited, so unless we purposefully put money toward it, it will just continue on its way down.  We have just over 4 years left on the total loan as it stands today.

Part One: $9,079.84
This is the section that paid for the house. 

Part Two: $9,438.16
This is the remainder of what was left on the retirement loan when we paid that off , which is under consumer debt on the side bar. 

Consumer Debt - $31,638.22
This is a big mess to write out.  It makes sense to me.  It makes sense in my little notebook that I track everything.  It is nasty looking when I write it out.  You will see that I have done some balance transfers, or are contemplating them.  We have two Bank of America cards and can't transfer between them.  That is where the Discover card comes into play.  Still working out all of this.

BOA - Mysti: $16,640.00
I previously called this CC by some number, but this is easier.  It is a Bank of America card (or it now....this card has been sold several times over the years), and I had this card before I was married, so it is in my name.  This balance is what I transferred from CC4 (Discover).  I have 18 months, 0%, with a minimum payment of 1% (which is currently $166).  This is half of what I was paying when it was on Discover (which is a 2% min payment, and I was paying $324 a month).  The transfer fee was $640 total.

My plan is to continue to pay $300 (I like numbers that end in zero) and chip away at it.  When the 0% offer is up, I will probably transfer it again.  Yes I incur a transfer fee, but it is less than the interest.  

BOA - G-man (Previously CC2): $6,560.55
I am debating doing a balance transfer to Discover (either 0% for 12 mon, 3% fee OR 3.99% for 18 mon, no transfer fee.....the savings between the options isn't much, less than $100 over the life of the transfer). Current minimum payment is $126, which will go up to $144 if I do the balance transfer. Of the two, I am thinking of doing the 18 mon offer, mostly so the 18 months pretty much aligns with the other balance transfer I did. 

Part One: $2,682.74
This is what was left from the physical move.  I had planned on using our tax refund to pay this off.  Then the cat got sick and died, so the money got diverted. 

Part Two: $3,877.81
So, this was a dirty little secret.  But here ya go.  Now you know. 

Discover (Previously CC4): $471.86
This is left over loose end that I didn't transfer to BOA - Mysti.  I was trying to keep numbers whole, and it just was a stupid decision.  This will be gone in about 6 weeks.  However, if I do the balance transfer, then this card will continue to have a balance, and BOA - G-man will be zero.

Mysti's Car: $610.99
Look at that sexy number....so close to the finish line!!!  This will free up $230 a month.  As I mentioned, I am thinking of using this money (or at least part) toward family health/exercise class (I did look up the YMCA, which would be $76 a month for the family....which would still leave $154 towards something else).  Or I may continue to just save it up toward a new car for when the time comes.  Or it may go toward debt.  This is a whole other post.

G-Man's Car: $599.30
Another sexy, almost gone, number!  This was a 5 year loan and we were able to shave 2 years off.  Here is the current kicker with this debt though:  It doesn't free up any money.  Yep.  You read that right.

Prior to the move, my paycheck was paying for this ($127 a month).  When we moved, I kept some slush money in the account to buffer us while I was looking for a new job.  So for 6 months...I have been just draining the slush.  Now we are almost paid off.  Since I am not actively using any money to pay this debt, it doesn't do anything for the bottom line right now.  I will probably throw a little extra toward this in a few weeks thanks to a 3-pay check month...trying to get this paid off at the same time as my car. It will be nice to just have this gone....one less thing to track.

Medical/Dental: $724.01
So, our FSA totally got messed up this year.  We are contributing the maximum amount ($2,500).  However, when we moved, Bossy's new medical supply company screwed up the billing....which has just recently been resolved.  However, the on going screw up resulted in the FSA management company paying out the full $2500 in one shot (it gets deposited into our banking acct).  We have this in a Capital One 360 account, and as bills arise, we transfer the money.  We are cautious with this money because we have only gotten one bill from the medical supply company, and want to make sure we have enough to cover this.

I mentioned that I needed some intensive chiropractic care.  That whole bill was $1117, based on roughly 30 sessions, x-rays, and mild physical therapy.  This was paid out of our FSA money, as we got a discount for paying in full.

I also mentioned a few weeks ago that I needed some dental work.  Our insurance doesn't cover fillings....so we had to pay the full "out of pocket" cost.  The reported balance is on a CareCredit card, with 0% for 12 months.  I am paying $75 a month (one payment so far) so that it will be gone within the time frame.  If we still have money left at the end of the year, we will transfer more of the FSA money toward this.

And last but not least....

Student Loan:  $19,058.04
One more payment and we roll down to the next thousand.  Yay.  Nothing to say on all of this....until other stuff is cleared up, this loan just gets its $229 a month and nothing else.

Subsidized:  $896.33

Unsubsidized: $18,161.71

There it is.  The dirty secret is added in.  New Medical debt.  New debt from balance transfer.  Putting us at $63,182.85.  Removing the house stuff puts us around $51,000....which is around where we were 15 months ago.  None the less....the true number is still $63,182.85.

The positives....the cars are both almost paid off...the medical debt has a potential to be paid off by the end of the year, but certainly before interest comes due....and we aren't paying interest half of the consumer debt.

The negatives....still have a huge amount of consumer debt.....income still not at a point where we feel comfortable.....not able to save up for expenses we know are coming.

No need to try and put a positive spin on it if you comment.  No need to tell me how crappy of a job we have done either.  I know both sides.  Just facing it head on....and plodding along. 


  1. I've had more success since putting it all out there and facing the ugly truth. Nearly six years and I'm still walking the road with you. Nothing we can do but keep plodding along.

    1. I am at 7 years....and based on the original number, it looks like I have only paid off 13k. Our path has been far from straight. We usually decrease for about 3 years and then something happens.

  2. Well, the thing I learned from WeightWatchers is that it's not just the loss that's important to keep in mind, it's the non-gain, too. So, your number may only be down 13k (a not-insignificant amount) but it could just as easily be up 13k, which would be 26k more than it is now. So, yeah, you know yourself all the positives and negatives and if you're anything like me at least writing the numbers all down definitely helps to let go of mind-racing-in-circles thinking about them and just slowly keep on chipping away. You have a plan, you manage to deal with all the other stuff that comes up to derail your plan and you go back to the plan. That's what's important.

  3. Oh, and I totally get where you're coming from on knowing exactly what your numbers are even if it seems convoluted to others. My budget spreadsheet has evolved over the course of about 12 years now and when I was showing it to a friend the other day (she divorced recently and is trying to get a handle on finances since her ex used to take care of everything before so I was showing her some examples) and her eyes started glazing over as well as looking panicked before I had even gotten halfway through it. When all's said and done, you're the only one it needs to make sense to really. :)

    1. It really isn't that complicated, but once you start separating things, it looks worse. This way, I know how much is labeled as what type of debt....not that it really matters to anyone but me.

  4. The good news....since 2009(when you started this blog)you have paid off $13,466.18 of debt. Good on you!

    The bad news.....you still have $63,182.85 of debt and that doesn't even include any mortgage debt. At the rate you are going you won't get this paid of before retirement time unless you drastically change what you are doing.
    I can't tell what your debt to income ratio is(as I don't know the income part of the equation)but I suspect to D-T-I is rather high and would keep you from qualifying for a mortgage anytime soon.

    I know that personal finance/debt is personal but stop trying to use emotional thinking to get this gone. You need to employ rational thinking to vanquish this level of debt. Don't choose and pick what and how much you pay on each debt. Look at the bottom line.....the interest rate on each and snowball them(once you free up some income)strictly based on which ones are costing you the most in interest.
    And I know you can't bankrupt on student loan debt but if the other stuff is just too much(and a CFP may tell you this)consider bankruptcy.
    You have at least 1 child who will need $ for college(and if the other one is looking at lifetime care/help in some manner or another)that will be a whole lot of $ you will need put away for just get your kids out into the world.

    I would recommend finding a CFP(not a FP who is only interested in selling you investments)and pay for 2 hours of his time for some advise/a plan to implement. I'd think it would be more than worth the money spent on this and I'd even go so far as to offer you the cash to do this if you email me privately from the link on my blog.

    I am saying all this to help in some way.....I don't say this to hurt or offend you but I see a train wreck coming and I am trying to get you off the tracks before it's inevitable.

    1. Thank you for the offer, but I will decline. Very generous though.

      I know you feel we are haphazard in all of this. Believe it or not, there is a plan...and it does involve a snowball. We have not been able to make progress in part because of significant expenses that we added over the years. Heck...our 2 cars that are almost paid off were 18k alone. I know we added debt...never denied it. But I don't think we are going to declare bankruptcy.

      We don't have a mortgage, nor do we plan on buying for at least 4 years minimum. The 18k in cash we spent to get out of our home sunk any idea we had of buying until we pay that off.

      I know you think I am a wreck. That's ok. I appreciate that you are at least respectful and not nasty about it

    2. Well the offer will stand should you have a change of heart in the future.
      I didn't say I think YOU are a wreck, I just think your finances are in a shambles(at least from the snippets you shine the light on here on your blog).

      $13K+ paid off in 7 years isn't even $2K a year which means you've made very little headway. Yes, you may have "paid" off more than that but you have accrued more debt along the way. It's going to take big changes(higher income, side jobs, etc.) to banish that $63K and not accruing any new debt going forward.

      If your debt payments are too high and you have nothing extra to put toward emergency expenses, retirement, college funding and/or car replacements I'd seriously consider bankruptcy to get out from under. It sounds like a large chunk of your income is now going to pay off debt.

      Nothing personal or being nasty to you, just a pair of eyes from the outside looking in and trying to help you.

    3. Again, I appreciate the offer.

      Our move added considerably to our debt. In 7 years, we also purchased 2 cars. I 100% agree with you that we have added to our debt....some in big chunks and some in small.

      I don't see bankruptcy as the answer though. Sorry.

  5. Hi Misty! I've never commented before but here goes.

    I was in the same boat as you in 2008. I had horrible debt and had just lost my job in the financial 'meltdown', as it's known. At the time, I had 4 kids at home, born close together and all pre-college age. I had to make some tough choices.

    I filed for bankruptcy. I had no choice. With my income gone (and the spouse's curtailed by cut backs at the time) the stress was killing us and damaging our relationship. We had a house in foreclosure and other mortgage related debt that amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars. We were steps away from being evicted to the streets and we took the path that offered relief and sanity. The BK will remain on our credit reports for about 3 more years but, honestly, it stopped affecting our ability to get new credit at good rates about 2 years ago. That is my experience. I leased a new car 6 months ago and was able to obtain the best rate. Bankruptcy hurts .... but only for a while. Just build good credit again and it gets easier.

    I think Slugmama's offer is AMAZINGLY generous and so kind. It could be a big plus for you to have a professional advisor in your corner, while you attempt to pay down this debt.

    There came a point when we had to sit down and assess the damage that was happening to us. I had to put my family ahead of my personal morals regarding bankruptcy. Having to go to court was a low point in our lives but we had each other to hold on to! The judge was sweet and non judgmental.

    I learned huge financial lessons as a result of sinking so low. I stopped shopping, I rarely go to the mall, cut way back on Christmas spending, sold stuff on Craigslist (I'm still selling stuff on Craigslist!), drove old used cars, the whole bit. I explained the situation to my children and told them that financial solvency was more important to our family than ANYTHING else, regardless of how we legally get there. 8 years later, life is so much better but it took work and difficult choices to get here. All of my kids now have Bachelor degrees and are moving up into even higher education and good paying jobs.

    What would I do in your situation? Personally, I would file for bankruptcy IF it makes sense. I would add up the amounts that are allowable and figure out how many years could I reasonably pay that back myself? In the meantime, how old will my children be when this debt is finally paid back and what opportunities would have been lost along the way? I'm sure that college is on the horizon for you guys.

    I would then assess my rent/household bills. Are those bills as cheap as they can realistically be? For years, we did not run our air conditioning. We sat in front of the fan with a wet washcloth LOL We were the butt of many jokes from family and friends but we didn't care. Plus we live in a desert so it gets HOT. It's hot right now.

    Your cars are almost paid for so that's good news. I hope they are in good shape because they will need to last you for as long as possible.

    We stopped all restaurant visits, refused to take on more pets when our current pets passed on, didn't go on vacations for YEARS, etc etc etc I'm sure you can look at your own situation and make the necessary decisions on what is not an absolute necessity. Sometimes we have to do things we don't want to do but if it is for the greater good of the family then DO IT.

    Then, I would save (as we have) and build a future with retirement in mind. Life has a way of constantly throwing problems and money pits at us and it doesn't ever stop! At least, for now, we have good health although we still have sizable medical bills because of a congenital condition. Nothing we cannot handle now.

    Good luck!

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comment. Glad you are doing well now.

      We have worked with a financial planner in the past and that person wasn't a good fit. But right now, that isn't the direction we want to go.

      The treading water issue we are in has to do with income. Once I am making a full time income again, it will allow us to make sizable progress.

    2. Thanks for your thoughtful comment. Glad you are doing well now.

      We have worked with a financial planner in the past and that person wasn't a good fit. But right now, that isn't the direction we want to go.

      The treading water issue we are in has to do with income. Once I am making a full time income again, it will allow us to make sizable progress.