Monday, November 28, 2016

Living on $30 for over a week

Our family has been following Dave Ramsey's get-out-of-debt plan since the beginning of 2009.  Hubs and I took the class at our then-church, using the DVDs and workbooks to learn the Baby Steps to get out of debt and build wealth.  At that time, we had been married almost four years and our oldest son was about to turn 1.

We had approximately $41,000 in debt on mostly student loans but about $5,000 of that was on credit cards.  In addition to this overwhelming debt, we also had a mortgage on a house that dropped in value with the economic downturn the previous year.  After the second week of the class (Financial Peace University, or FPU), Hubs lost his job.

At times, in previous years of our marriage, we survived with only my income and other times, Hubs worked on commission or jobs that did not merit long-lasting loyalty.  But God provided and at those times, we lived in a cheap apartment, did not eat out very often and had no kids! But in 2009, we had a mortgage of $1400/month (not even including taxes because our original loan was SO sub-prime that they didn't even escrow our property taxes!) a soon-to-be one-year-old, mounting debt, and only one full-time income.  I am SO SO thankful how God worked all of this out though!

During the time we experienced the job loss, we were in the process of re-financing our home as part of a special program to help out underwater home-owners such as ourselves.  We were still able to close on the new loan, cutting our interest rate in HALF before Hubs received his last check.  That saved us almost $300/month!  While looking for jobs, Hubs worked part-time as a consultant to the employer that had just laid him off and receiving unemployment benefits to tide us over.  (The company was slowly downsizing and later filed bankruptcy.)  Since this all happened in 2009, jobs were NOT abundant.  People with masters degrees were taking clerical jobs for which they were well over-qualified!

Anyway, back to the story, because of FPU, we had saved our baby emergency fund of $1,000 and developed our get-out-of-debt plan and set about working the debt snowball.  So when Hubs lost his job unexpectedly, instead of freaking out, we felt a sense of peace because we had a plan!


Our actual debt snowball from 2009


Minimum Payment
New Payment
Paid Off
MBNA
$0.00
$0.00
Dec-08
Capital One
$25.00
$25.00
Mar-09
Sam's
$15.00
$40.00
Mar-09
Clout
$57.00
$97.00
Apr-09
Juniper
$30.00
$127.00
May-09
WAMU
$74.00
$201.00
Jul-09
NCC Debt
$100.00
$301.00
Apr-10
Student Loans
$325.24
$626.24
Nov-12


Fast forward almost eight years later, we have had several years of unemployment or underemployment, some poor financial choices, but also many victories including paying off all of our student loans and credit cards!  However, because of some of the poor choices more recently, we now have a car payment for the first time in a long time and a small credit card balance.  

Hubs and I have struggled for years in sticking to our plan, we've been impulsive, we've eaten out so many more times than I'd like to count and it has brought us to this I'VE HAD IT moment where we are renewing our commitment to work together and really get serious about our debt snowball.  It's much smaller than the original one, so it should not take nearly as long this time around!  

Our goal is to move sometime next summer and it is a lofty goal because we'd like to be out of debt completely and have a certain amount of money saved before we even entertain the idea.  For the first time in almost 10 years of home-ownership, our house is finally CLOSE to having some equity!!!! After feeling "stuck" here for many years, it is so relieving to finally be here, the light at the end of the tunnel almost within our reach! 

So are you wondering what this post's title is all about??

Well, this week was such a game-changer for us, in my opinion! It was a non-paycheck week, we had some extra expenses come up and that left us with $30.49 in our bank account.  Normally, we'd use the one credit card we have to still spend what we needed and pay it off later, but it was maxed out.  Alternatively, we could transfer money from our savings account, but it was empty.  So, we had $30.49 available to us for eleven days.  It seemed like an eternity!  That wasn't enough for a full tank of gas or to eat out even ONCE for our family.  

How would you survive on $30 for eleven days?? 

Typically, our family life is a bit overwhelming, chaotic, and hectic.  We have the feeling of chasing time to catch back up after all of our various activities are complete for the day.  Well, NOT THIS WEEK!  Hubs was on a work trip for four days and I knew I had to get organized to survive, so I wrote down the dinner plan for the rest of the month and stuck it on the fridge.  The kids loved knowing what was going to be for dinner which held me to the plan.  Typically, I'd make a plan and then in a moment of sheer exhaustion, decide to grab fast food on the way instead. After each planned dinner, we crossed it off the list and looked forward to the next day's meal.  It was so eye-opening for me - such a simple thing to get the kids involved and hold myself accountable! It's like when you have a goal and you're afraid to say it out loud because then you actually have to do it.  Oh, you've never done that?? Yeah, me neither.

The week BEFORE Thanksgiving, I started to get sick, probably picking it up from kids at the public schools where I had substitute taught.  The week OF Thanksgiving, I was still coughing and just feeling exhausted.  Two of the kids ended up getting sick over Thanksgiving.  Hubs and our oldest son, Benji went off to Thanksgiving dinner without us on Thursday.  Benji had a basketball game Friday afternoon and we all went to cheer him on.  Besides those two occasions, we locked ourselves in the house from Wednesday evening until we went to church on Sunday!  IT WAS AWESOME.

Hubs made us all amazing lunches and dinners each day with food we had in the house already, with the exception of two trips to the grocery store, totaling $15.15 for things like eggs, garlic bread, and some other fillers for our meals.  Sunday night, I spent $10 to get enough gas to hold me over until payday (just a few days away now!), so we're left with $5.  

During this process, Hubs and I were able to communicate and come to an easy agreement on how to proceed.  It's such a simple, simple thing to do.  Yet it can really change the trajectory of your life.  I'm looking forward to 2017 because this past week has really taught me some good lessons on how conducting myself like an adult instead of a petulant child can really help me with my goals.  In other words, obedience to God's ways means He will trust me with more to manage for His glory.  After all, the Bible tells us, "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much." - Luke 16:10

Here's to working towards being trustworthy in God's eyes!



1 comment:

  1. Love this! Our biggest budget fail is going out to eat too! - Liz Linder

    ReplyDelete

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