Tags: debt free

June 2011 kids

Hit and run

Mondays are my long days- meaning I like to work as much as possible since Matt is home all day (and awake!) with Cora Jane and Bennett. If I have to work 25 hours a week, I like to get a big chunk done right away. While work is going much better, it is still work. I'd rather be at home. And so yesterday was a really crappy day.

First of all, somebody crashed into the van. Hit and run style and it wasn't until Matt got home from running errands that I happened to notice the large dent on the bumper and scratched paint. Matt was thrilled, to say the least. When I say "thrilled," I really mean "not at all." And when I say "not at all," I really mean "really really ticked off."  

He looked nothing like this picture. This is happy Matt and happy model child. I like happy Matt.

October 2012 013

We filed a police report, obviously, but we will have to pay to get 'ole Whitey Tighty fixed. We're never going to be debt free at this rate. I mean, who doesn't love spending extra money on car repairs? 

Second crappy thing: after a long day of working, I was playing outside with the kids. (An aside: What is up with this amazing and beautiful weather? 80 degrees in October? Don't mind if I do.) Anyways, I was outside with the kids.

We looked kinda like this:

October 2012 088

Except instead of a random field, I was sitting on the concrete creating chalk monsters with Bennett. While I wasn't paying attention, Cora managed to grab my cell phone. You know where this is going right? One small swing of Cora's arm left me with one GIANT cracked screen on my cell phone. The good news is that the phone still works and that Matt ordered a new piece of glass to replace it.

The bad news is that she threw my cell phone. On the ground. Outside. It's like a hit and run only worse. Girlfriend didn't run. She laughed. I know, right? My new phone lasted a grand spankin' two weeks. At least the toilet wasn't involved?

Bless her.

October 2012 009

Thank you, Cora Jane. I love nothing more than spending money on cell phones. Just kidding.

I love paying for hit and run accidents even more.

June 2011 kids

Tighty Whitey: the new swagger wagon

This is one of those posts that has been brewing in my head for awhile. Equal parts of shame and the refusal to admit all that has changed have stopped me from writing. As most of you know, four years ago Matt and I went through Dave Ramsey's Total Money Make-over. (DEAR GOD. HOW HAS IT BEEN THAT LONG?) 

It was life-changing.

It completely altered the way that we view money and it 90% freed our marriage from arguments about money. Our money works for us, not the other way around. If only it grew on trees, then everything would be peachy. Since it doesn't we had to work together as a family. Together we managed to pay our way out of $28,000 of debt (from credit cards, student loans, and car payments) and save enough to buy our house.

If it weren't for becoming debt free, we would not have our house. I would not get to (mostly) stay home with my babies. We would not have a (partially) fully funded emergency fund. We would not still use cash for all our purchases. I have to keep reminding myself of these facts because after 3 years of proudly exclaiming that we are debt free, things have changed again.

Move over Loser Cruiser, Mama's got a Swagger Wagon:

Our previous van (the Loser Cruiser) was dying a very slow and very sad death. After 125,000+ miles, she just wasn't kicking it like she should. Most importantly, she did not have a working air conditioner. Living here in Kansas, having an a/c is not a compromise; it's a death sentence and not something that I am willing to live without. Multiple estimates came in to fix the compressor around $1800 while the Kelley Blue Book value of the van was only around $3000. Basically, we drove her to her dealth. I am proud of this fact.

Can you hear the justifications that I am making?

We had no choice but to do the responsible and adult-like thing: we saved our pennies, put down some cash, and traded her in for an upgrade but on a loan. We seriously, seriously debated on buying something cheaper with more miles. However, the Toyota won. While cars are not actual investments, SHE BETTER LAST A LONG, LONG TIME because we are back where we started: in debt up to our ears.



Even Cora feels the same way. SAD, SAD, SAD.

Her new name is Tighty Whitey. This was not the name I would have chosen for her. HELLO, I mostly live with a House of Boys, remember? (I was totally out voted.) 

Here is how we ride inside her. Yes, I still make my 8.5 year old ride in a harnessed seat. Safety (much like a working a/c in Kansas) is not a compromise. EVER. I don't care if you call it a "baby seat." It is not up to you, kid. I make the rules around here. 

If you feel like coming along for the ride, buckle up because I will be blogging our way to financial freedom again. Being in debt is not a place that I feel comfortable. It doesn't feel good or right and it feels a whole lot like we "failed" the program by taking out a car loan.

We will get to be debt free again, eventually. I am excited to start all over again because I know we can do it.

Mama's gotta new ride!

I don't like to leave things on a down note, so view this video. I totally am that Mother.

Pics via Instragram. Follow me at the @thepools.

June 2011 kids

How to get out of debt, part 3

Last week you were given the challenge of figuring out where your money is going.

I know this can be difficult at first, but trust me it gets easier as you figure out how to do your budget. It takes practice. Every month, we sit down and write our budget. As promised last week, I am going to show you our old budget. Please spare your judgment on our finances. We know that our worth is not determined by how much we make.

The first thing to keep in mind when making your budget is you need to have money in the 4 basic categories: housing, utilities, food, and transportation. There has to be a roof over your head, lights for the roof, food for the belly, and a way to get to work.

Here is what our budget was like 2 years ago this month. At that time, we were working with a budget of $3570.00.

Giving: $196.00
Housing: $921.00
   -Rent & renters insurance
Utilities: $440.00
   -Internet services
   -Cell phone
Food: $375.00
    -This included our grocery and eating out money
Transportation: $535.00
    -$175.00 for insurance
    -$200.00 for gas
    -$100.00 for car tag renewal
    -$60.00 for the repair envelope
Clothing: $35.00
Medical: $15.00
    -We try to put in at least the co-pay amount each month into an envelope
Personal: $195.00
   -$100.00 for Simon's part-time preschool
   -$50.00 for hair cuts
   -$25.00 for toiletries
   -$20.00 for extra spending
   -This area would also include any personal items (subscriptions, cosmetics, child support, child care, pet supplies, gifts)
Entertainment: $12.87
   -Blockbuster movie program (that we've since canceled)
Debt: $763.00
   -$218 car payment
   -$345 credit line
   -$200 extra debt snowball

This week keep working on your budget and see if there are any areas you can cut back on. Pull out your bills and figure out what you pay each month. Keep track of your grocery receipts. Put it down on paper.

Next week I will talk about our debt snowball and how we got it rolling.

Blogging with my husband is hard work. Who's bright idea was this again?

Does that budget add up? Please tell me there aren't any mistakes because I am not going to find a calculator.

Oh, sweet Jesus. I am tired. Goodnight.

June 2011 kids

How to get out of debt, part 3

Sorry to all those who were eagerly waiting for the post. We were a little behind with the holidays.

Who's ready to start their cash flow plan?  The idea is to take everything (almost) to cash. We still pay our bills online, but everything else we pay with cash. We used the envelope system as laid out by Dave. (You know, Dave Ramsey? These are his ideas. We must give credit where credit is due.)

Before you can use cash, you need to have a budget. Every dollar goes some place. The question is where. Where does it go each month? How do you spend your money? Do you live paycheck to paycheck? Every dollar that you want to spend, needs to find a home on paper. It's time to set up a budget.

Here are a couple sample budgeting forms:

We use the gazelle budget from the second link. I like the layout and it is easier for me to read. If you are a fan of Windows Excel, you can find a couple templates there. They are pretty good.

According to Dave, here is how your budget eventually should look: 
Charitable donation: 10-15%
Savings: 5-10% (How's your emergency fund coming along? Once you have $1000, hold off on this step.)
Housing: 25-35%
Utilities: 5-10% (cable, internet, cell phones fall into this category)
Food: 5-15%
Transportation: 10-15% (gas, insurance, repairs, tags and taxes)
Clothing: 2-7%
Medical/Health: 5-10%
Personal: 5-10%
Recreation: 5-10% (vacations, date night, family night out)
Debts: 5-10%

Once we set the monthly budget, we pull out cash and place it into our envelopes. We do our budget every month. We have envelopes for the little things and the big things. Example? Car repairs envelope. We put money into this every month because I know, eventually, we will need things like oil changes and new tires. Same thing for our car tags, doctor appointments, and Christmas envelopes. Even though we don't need it right now, eventually we have to go to the dentist. 

Don't forget, we desperately wanted to pay off our debt. What is amazing is that because we had a budget, we still had the cash to do what we wanted. We lacked nothing and everything seemed possible to us at this point. Trip to the circus? No problem. Clothes for school? In the budget. After we set the budget, any extra pennies went towards our debt payment.

This week, take some time and figure out where your money is going. Write down your bills, rent, gas, food, utilities, eating out, clothes, cell phone, and personal spending. Figure out how much you spend and where it all goes. Don't live paycheck to paycheck any more.

Next week, we'll show you our budget.

June 2011 kids

How to get out of debt, part 2

We are moving on in our series, Monday Money. Just a disclaimer note, we are using everything we have learned from Dave Ramsey. If you can find one of Dave's classes, PLEASE take it. We are willing to help, but these are his ideas and he can teach you much better. Or, head to the library and check out his books. (They are free at the library, remember?!)

I'll let Matty take it from here. I'll be back this week. It's our anniversary and you know that I have things to say about that!


Ok, credit cards are gone?! Chopped up, thrown away?! I won't lie. This was hard for us because of the "what-if'" factor. What if we have an emergency, want to order something online, or even want to reserve a hotel? What if our car breaks down? Credit cards even help build our credit! (Credit- an imaginary number.) However, we had already decided that we were in this to win this! We were not going to let our debt control us. We chopped, we discarded, and moved on!

Keeping those "what-ifs" in mind, we planned and saved for a mini-emergency fund. A mini-fund consists of $1000.00 cash sitting somewhere, just in case. Just in case my car breaks down. Just in case the air conditioner goes out. Just in case the cat gets sick and needs $300 worth of care. (True story.) People do this different ways. We put our emergency fund in a Money Market Account, that has transfer or check writing capabilities. Others put it in a regular savings account at their local bank. I have even read stories of people putting money in a coffee can and hiding it someplace where it would be inconvenient to get to, unless there was a real emergency. It doesn't really matter where you put your cash as long as it is only used for an emergency.

You'll find that you have much less emergencies, once you are actually prepared. This is also the hardest step because you have to decide that you are willing to change. Are you willing to change?

This came to us somewhat quickly. We had tax return money come in about the time we started this thing. We also took any extra cash we had and put it into our account. It didn't matter the amount of cash, whether it be $5, $10, or 100 bucks. If we had it, we put it there. Saving must become a priority. Your emergency fund is not an investment, it is insurance.

Bad things do happen. Protect yourself. Have insurance. Get $1000 in the bank.

Anyhow, since we started a serious budget, I think that we have only touched our emergency fund one time. It is a good feeling knowing that the money is sitting there, just in case. We now don't need the credit card for an emergency. We are prepared. We have the cash and we don't pay for things later. You can either learn to manage your money, or the lack of it will always manage you.

We have learned and are learning, cash is good!

Get moving. Make sure those cards are cut up and start looking for extra change. Ready? GO!

Please feel free to share, re-post, and pass the word. We want everyone to have the ability to control their money.
June 2011 kids

How to get out of debt

Ya'll are in for a big treat. I might have mentioned it one or ten thousand times that Matty and I are debt free. When we started our journey of love (7 years! Of rainbows! And babies!), I had no idea that we would have no money, really have no money, get out of debt, buy a house, and help others get out of debt.

I didn't know that I'd be married to a hot kid cop either. Life is just full of surprises.

Ya'll ready for your surprise? Hot kid cop is going to guest post. We're going to jointly blog each Monday and call it Monday Money. Clever, eh?
Hot kid cop

Each week, Matt will pop in with practical baby steps on how to get out of debt. He'll start small and build up. Most importantly, how to create a budget, use cash, and pay down your bills. We'll answer questions and if we don't know the answer, we'll find somebody who does. We will even, gasp, share the details of our budget because there is no shame in money.

Your value is not determined by how much you make.

So without further rambling, I give you Matty:

After numerous requests to post on our debt journey, I have finally made the time to post a little something. This will have to be broken up over a couple different posts. I gotta keep you comin' back!

Watch out, he's armed
(Audrey here. Get it? Coming back? I'm sorry. I can't help myself.)

The first thing you need to do is have yourself a bit of debt. We, personally, accomplished this over time: a hefty $28,000 total. With this feat accomplished, we were turned onto (Audrey again: did he just say turned on?) taking Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. We jumped in head first and made the decision to make our debt disappear.

Here's step one. Are you ready? The very first thing we did was cut up every credit card we had. Yep, every last one. We made the decision to no longer spend money that we didn't have. We only had one credit card with a balance, which we moved into a simple interest personal loan with a lower interest rate. This allowed us to pay down the balance much quicker.

I'll wait while you go get your scissors. Go, now. Cut them up. All of them. Even the ones with no balance.

Snip. Snip.

There is no turning back. Until we discuss budgeting and cash, continue to use your debit card but only use the money in your checking account. You can't spend money you don't have. The reality of paying off debt is this: You have to want it! Saying it and believing you can do it are two different things. YOU NEED TO WANT IT, TASTE IT, BREATHE IT!

Who's with me? (Shameless plug: feel free to spread this around the internet. Link up, comment, share the love. Let's get out of debt together. Okay, I'm leaving now. Over and Out.) I can't promise that getting out of debt is easy. I can't promise that it's not stressful. I can't promise that we have all the answers. I can promise that it's worth it. It is our choices that matter.

It is as we will it.
June 2011 kids

Are you mental? Get the net!

Let's tie up some loose ends AND play Name That Movie. Shall we? My blogging tends to be a little disjointed and I'm not a very good planner. Seriously. You ever know when or what I'll blog. Right, Grandpa?

1.) We are still waiting to hear about our house. ("She will be mine. Oh, yes. She will be mine.") The house is currently out of redemption. We are waiting on the broker's price and the bank appraiser to agree.

Although you might consider this "buying the cart before the horse," (FYI: that's not an actual movie quote. In education, we call that an idiom.) I bought this table the other day:
Table before Leg before
(Picture it all black and inside my new eat-in kitchen. Did I mention the price? A whooping FIFTY DOLLARS. Craigslist for the win.)

2.) Our lawsuit was settled outside of court. Amen. Thank you, Jesus. Have a nice day. I might unlock all the entries now, seeing how we've received all the paperwork and everything is a done deal. (Except I'm pretty lazy, so don't go checking right away.) Evil, greedy man walked away with $2,000 over the original offer which is far (FAR) less than the $175,000 that he wanted.  HAHAHA, SUCKER.

3.) I haven't done any updates on debt freedom lately. I will soon. I promise, Darci.

4.) I didn't. I did join two small groups at my church. It's a step in the right direction, no? People like me. I swear.

5.) I haven't done any running lately but I have done...never mind. You don't want to know. I will say that there aren't going to be any February babies in this household. I keep toying around the idea of a home-birth in my new gigantic bathtub. (See #1)

I think that's all the loose ends for right now. Did you guess the movie? How about another COMPLETELY OBVIOUS quote: "A gun rack... a gun rack. I don't even own *a* gun, let alone many guns that would necessitate an entire rack. What am I gonna do... with a gun rack?"

No worries

Little boxes

Matt doesn't really want me to blog about this. Though, truth be told, Matt doesn't really want me to blog about a lot of the stuff I blog about. Good thing he's at work tonight. 

He can't tell me no.



If you can't see the video, click here. (Or get out of google reader. I know you're out there. De-lurk!)

We found a house our house. It has everything I want. (SING WITH ME: Little boxes on the hillside. Little boxes made of ticky tacky. Little boxes...) It's got room for a porch swing, mature trees, the potential for a red front door, (there's a green one and a pink one and a blue one and a yellow one) a formal dining room, an eat-in kitchen, an unfinished basement, a huge master bedroom and bathroom with a jetted tub (for a future home-birth?) (and they all have pretty children), a fenced in backyard, landscaping, and it's in great condition. The carpets are clean. It's on a cul-de-sac. It's closer to Matt's work. (Little boxes, Little boxes, Little boxes all the same.)

It's perfect. I want it. I want it badly.

We've known about this house for months now. Unfortunately, it's not actually on the market yet. The house is in foreclosure and an asking price has not been set. The previous owners packed their bags, swept the carpets, and left the house. It's been sitting empty for over a year.

Our home? 

Our realtor, Brandi, is the listing agent and we are so very hopeful that everything will work out. She will be instrumental in creating a price that is within our budget and we've placed all our trust in her. The redemption period ends this Friday. (FINALLY.) A slew of paperwork must be completed from the bank and the lawyers. Then Brandi will meet with the appraiser and hopefully they will come to an agreement on a price.

We have an idea of what the price will be but we just don't know yet. I feel tacky (pun intended) talking about house prices. (Our debt numbers? Not so much.) All I know is this, thank goodness it is in foreclosure. We couldn't afford this much house otherwise.

Don't let me down, Brandi.

Our home?

I want my little box.
June 2011 kids

Hay dad

Matt works a lot. Somebody has to work around here. Wait! Hold up. Let's not ignore the fact that I worked THREE days last week. THREE. Count 'em. I'm working THREE days this week as well.
Have I mentioned we are DEBT FREE? Every bit of my paycheck goes straight in the savings account. How sweet it feels to be ahead for once. Never-mind that we found a house and it has everything I want. I'd give more information about "our" house but Matt doesn't want me to share just yet.

Anyways, when Matt's not working, he's sleeping. Simon wrote him this note the other day while he was sleeping. Simon knew to leave it where Matt would find it right away. I won't share where he left it but I will share that Matt's a squatinkler.

Any guesses?

(On the note. Not where Simon left it.)

(Get your head out of the gutter.)
Aroo Hed
All comments are screened. No cheating!


It's done

I was 8 (almost 9) months pregnant with Bennett. I was at the grocery store buying gifts and supplies for Simon's birthday party that night. Simon was really into Ninja Turtles that year and so I was purchasing soda and beer for all the pizza we would consume. Earlier in the day, we had also purchased a trampoline for Simon.

My debit card was denied. Before I left, I had asked Matt if there was money in the account. He assured me there was.

I apologized to the clerk and ran the credit card. 

I was so ashamed.
It was the first time I had ever had something denied. I'm not going to lie, I grew up in a family of privilege. I was used to getting what I wanted. I was used to always having money in the bank. 

The previous year and through summer school, I had worked full-time as a teacher at the deaf school. Bennett was born that August and so I immediately went on maternity leave. I also had resigned my teaching contract to only work part-time. So the full-time check we were used to the previous year? Cut in half. I milked my maternity leave for all it's worth and refused to return to work at six weeks. My paychecks were practically nothing.

Our checkbook was in a constant state of red. We had no money. Everything kept bouncing onto our credit card. We had overdraft protection and any time our account was short, even just $10, money would be transferred over from our credit card. Every overdraft came with more fees. 

We were paying for Matt's student loans, a car payment, and suddenly a huge credit card bill.

That winter, in desperation, we packed all our things and moved in with my sister. Matt got a new job and so we decided to attend a Dave Ramsey class. I really didn't want to go. But finally gave in because I felt like we had nothing left to lose. We didn't even have our own place to live. The class began in April and by the following June we cut up our credit cards. We canceled the overdraft protection. We pulled out cash and changed our spending habits.

Tonight Matt called the bank and made the last $407 payment.

It took us 21 months.

I am not ashamed anymore.

$28,294.00 has been paid in full.