So, several months ago, I was asking my oldest, Carter, what he wanted for Christmas. He quickly exclaimed, “A drum set”. I was a bit upset because I knew although we could afford a drum set, we had no room for one. Our family of five was bursting at the seams in our 1100 sq/ft home. But, that was the plan. Stay there, pay off the house, save money, and pay cash for a bigger home. Right? Well, plans change. We prayerfully decided to put our house on the market. We wanted to just test the waters. Yeah, our house sold in 6 days….and they wanted us out in a few weeks! What? It was insane. We were interested in so many homes, but everything fell through. One home we put an offer on, had 6 other offers on the same weekend! God was making sure we were in the home He had waiting for us. When we first looked at our home, I loved it. Josh on the other hand did not. We ended up putting a low offer on the home, to get it in our budget, and it was not even countered with a meet in the middle type of deal. Josh said it wasn’t meant to be, but that is not what God told me. God continued to allow every deal on every other home to fall through. He also continued to put this home on my heart. I came here daily and prayed over the area. I prayed that if it was His will, that He would work everything out.
So, in the midst of home shopping, we lived in a small camper trailer for a month! It was honestly some good quality family time. We all enjoyed it! As one last ditch effort on the home I felt led to be in, we made another offer. It was around $20,000 less than what the homeowner was asking. Which is what we needed to make it in our price range. And it was accepted! She countered a few hundred dollars, but it was well within our budget! So, where are we in our debt snowball? It now consists of one payment, our new home! I am excited to say that we paid off all of our debt! Now, we have some work to do on the house. I’m saying for this first year, we will be adjusting to a bigger house payment, and putting extra money into fixing the house. THEN, we will begin the process of being home owners! I mean like real home owners, as in we actually own our home, not some bank or mortgage company! I am looking forward to this next year and making our house a home!
There are some who are drowning in debt, some are making things ok, some who are thriving, and some who are completely debt free. No matter what your financial circumstances are, there are things all of us need to do. Have you checked your credit report lately? If not, you should do it every year…it’s FREE! There are three major companies that you can check for free. Getting started, I recommend pulling them all and comparing. If there are things that are incorrect, report them. If there are things you forgot about, call and get them paid. Usually companies will offer you a deal on paying the balance, some as much as half of your total balance if you pay it right then! For us, I like to pull one report every four months. It helps me to keep a close eye on our credit. Any way you prefer, just do it! Here is the link https://www.annualcreditreport.com.
Next, I recommend everyone live on a budget. No matter how big or how small. The envelope system, cash allowance, whatever works! As much as I would love to live on the cash system, it doesn’t work for us. It is simply not practical for me to get out with three kids in the freezing cold and go pay for gas. So, I budget a certain amount of spending and that’s what we use. If we have extra money, we get out cash, although it’s very little and sometimes none. Since I am not a pro, here is a good website http://www.home-budget-help.com/budgeting-process.html
Here are some FREE template downloads for making your own budget. I recommend doing a budget with your spouse (if you have one :)). Being on the same page with spending is the key to success. Josh and I are on a more strict budget than most. So we do not have much “blow money”. If you have a bigger budget, it’s great to have “blow money” so you can have some independence and autonomy. I still recommend having most expenses budgeted, grocery, eating out, etc. Budgets must fit your family, weekly, monthly, however you want to budget based on when you are paid. If your pay is not steady, obviously that takes a different kind of budget. Start somewhere and tweak it. My recommendation for an unsteady paycheck is SAVE! You can always google Free Budget Templates and look at more! Or, create your own! Just stick to it. If you have used your grocery budget and you run out of something you want, have a clean the pantry or freezer week. We do it all the time! It’s amazing what you can find to eat right in your house. Sacrifice! It pays off in the end!
Good luck getting started.
So, I have avoided this blog because it’s so frustrating that things aren’t going like we wanted. Out debt is nowhere near where we had hoped it would be by the end of this year. However, I am reminded of how blessed we are, and how there are more important things in life. So, I am excited that our debt is now over half paid off! Our new total is $8,900.00! The number still seems so huge to me! We will not be back on track with paying our $600.00 payment on our debt for a few more months.
What is happening, well LIFE! I have told the boys they are only allowed one ER visit per year, but they didn’t listen 🙂 So, medical bills were piling up! I know we could pay $20/month on 10 different bills, but that is too much to keep up with! So, we are paying them off as quickly as we can. On top of that, Josh’s work has been really slow. So, there goes any extra money and several weeks we had to pull from other areas just to pay our regular bills.
Normally this would all have me very down. However, God has taught me that from my strength comes from quietness and TRUST. His word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. He is my rock and my salvation and my trust is in Him. I know Josh and I will be debt free in God’s timing. I know we will begin paying off this house before we know it. We have one more trip out-of-town for the holidays and then we are home and getting back on track financially. Not that we spend tons on Christmas gifts in our home http://soulierefamily.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/simplicity/, but the travelling and giving does add up!
Good news, starting next year, we added an accident plan to our health insurance! Something about raising three boys and having a husband in a dangerous line of work, it just made sense. So, hopefully we will not get hung up by medical bills in 2013!
Thanks to those of you who have been so patient as you have asked me to continue this blog. I will see it through! Merry Christmas to all!
I want to say that this process is not easy! Actually, it can be really hard. Sacrificing–a vacation, doing fun things, buying clothes, going out to eat, etc…it’s not an easy choice. It’s also not a choice that we make one time and move on, we have to make these choices all of the time. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it’s bad to do any of those things. I do think there is an important balance though. We want to be good stewards of our money. June was a rough month, we seem to be having a lot of those lately. Carter had an ER visit that the bills are rolling for, we are having a birthday party tomorrow for Carter (and Cooper and River!). It’s all just life and normal expenses, but some months they seem to add up more than others.
To our debt…
Our new debt total is $11, 890.00! We are a little bit ahead of schedule for our payoff date, but behind schedule for our “dream payoff dates”. I am learning to be happy with that though, and I am not trying to kill us and make us eat beans and rice every day to meet our crazy goal. I am glad we were able to make our debt payment this month, it has been difficult. I am praying we are able to in July because we are going to have ER bills due. I know God will provide and everything will be ok! I cannot wait to start paying off our house (that’s next by the way!!)
I hope you are all having a great summer!
So, in my last post I wrote about refinancing our house. As many of you who have done a refi know, you typically get a month off from making your house payment in this process. Of course we considered taking $1,000 and takng our first family vacation, but ultimately we decided to put the money where it needs to be…on our debt! I am so excited to see our debt decreasing, slowly but surely. I say slowly, but honestly I am thrilled that we are paying about $1,000.00 a month on the principal of our loan! So, our new debt total is $12,880.00, We lowered our loan debt by $2,120.00 in one month!!!!!
Josh has been working a TON of extra hours at work lately and I would love it if we were able to pay more on our debt with the extra money. However, I am blessed that we have not touched our emergency fund through all of the many things we have had to pay extra for lately! Our garage door opener went out several months ago, Carter and I have been getting in and out opening and shutting the door everytime we come and go for a while now. We finally decided to get a new one! The boy’s tub faucet is dripping (a lot) so Josh is replacing or fixing that hopefully today. Our shower head cracked, also getting repaired. We had to take a day trip to Knoxville to meet sweet Lillian, our new niece. All of these things just add up, and before this we would have considered them necessities that had to be paid out of our emergency fund or put on a credit card. Now, we are motivated to get out of debt. We desire to be good stewards of our money, to sacrifice for a greater cause. We want to glorify God and His kingdom by being able to donate camp scholarships for kids who cannot afford it, we want to be able to help others in need, etc. We want to live debt free, and we are on our way. I am thankful for God’s faithfulness to provide and His grace and mercy on our family.
A few months ago I saw a pop-up screen to get your credit score online for free. So, I decided to do that and check our credit scores. When I met Josh, he had a judgement and some delinquent debt on his credit, and his score was not great. He worked hard to pay everything off, but his credit was still bad. It has finally been 10 years so all of that is gone, AND I was amazed that his credit score rose over 150 points! I immediately started looking into refinancing and getting a better interest rate. It took me a while to get everything ready, but we closed on our refi last night.
Keep in mind we had a terrible interest rate and we just got an awesome rate….We owed 26 years on our house loan and we did a refi for a 15 year loan. Therefore, we just took 9 years off of our loan! That in itself saved us 108,000! Our house is barely worth that! Seriously! AND, we LOWERED our monthly payment. Just by about $30.00, but wow! We took 9 years off our loan and lowered our monthly payment. We were moe than satisfied with the work of F&M Mortgage and Craig Sanders there. He was very open about our options, very honest. He worked around Josh being out of town, and scheduled a last-minute closing for us. The appraiser did say we had to fix some foundation cracks before we could close and Josh fixed them! We are so excited and blessed that this all worked out. God is moving in our lives through this journey to be debt free to glorify Him!
Our new balance for our loan is $15,000. This is still a daunting task to me, but we are moving along. I know we can do that 3 more times! Typically, we make these grand goals, like paying this off by the end of the year, because we know there are always weeks with extra money. Which there are, however, we are trying to focus on fixing a few small things around the house, as well as a some other tasks. We are currently saving extra money because Josh needs new tires on his truck…which are not cheap. It’s working out because I am working a lot of extra hours in the morning and we are saving that money for tires. We need around $800, it should be less, but that’s my goal to save so he can go get what he needs. Anything left over will go on this debt!
I don’t have time right now, but I have an exciting post I need to write about refinancing our house! We are really excited!!!! Stay tuned 🙂