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Archived Entries from July 2011


Debt Update

I know I just posted a graph a very short two days ago, but I didn't have the most recent Excel file tracking all of this on my laptop.

Here's our graph updated to reflect everything through July. We've crossed $35,000 and are quickly approaching the $30,000 mark.

Seems so far away from $48,000 or wherever we started this whole mess.

And you know, talking about this makes me feel even better about it. I was mortified with embarrassment when this started. But we're not the only people in the world in this situation. And lots of people do what I did way back in college and pretend that if they don't address the issue and don't worry about it that it will just go away. Well folks, it doesn't go away.

Look at all the people who default on their cars. Or their houses. We may have some consumer debt but trust me that we're nowhere near defaulting on our house or car. I get paid once a month and those two things come right off the top before I see a penny.

So yeah, this is still somewhat embarrassing, but what should I do? Ignore it? Pretend it isn't there? I'm glad that we took the bull by the horns. It has been hard to live within our means the past 18 months, but it is definitely much easier now than it was in January of 2010. And we don't lie to ourselves about how much money we have. We're honest with each other, very upfront, and if there isn't money for X,Y, or Z this week or this month, everybody in the house accepts that.

At 41 years I finally am starting to feel like an adult. We're getting raises in a month and neither of us are thinking of what we're going to spend all our extra money on. We don't need anything else. We need to get out of debt and get more savings in the bank, so that's what we're going to do. Watch me get that line to start curving down.

Okay, gotta go empty the dishwasher and get the redhead out of bed so we can go to work...

Posted: Friday, July 29, 2011, 12:17 pm
Mood: Content | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Purging

We're way past Spring, but I'm in the mood for some Spring cleaning.

Much of this is precipitated by the fact that we're going to move Em from her current upstairs furnace of a bedroom to the nice, newly-remodeled cool bedroom in the corner of the basement. Initially I thought it was a much smaller space but I measured both the other day and they are right about the same square footage--one is just closer to being a square than the other.

She wants to downsize from a full bed to a twin, and put it in the corner instead of the middle of the room, which will free up even more space. And the redhead wants me to build her a piece of furniture to put the bed on that will have shelves and drawers and such for storage underneath. Dual bonus: extra shelves and drawers for storage, with no empty black hole of space under the bed for stuff to get crammed into.

The closet downstairs is full. The closet in her room is full. We have boxes and crates of old books in the garage and in both kids' bedrooms. I have boxes of old Christmas plates and crap that were my mothers out in the garage. Stuff. Junk. But.... that maybe somebody might pay us for.

It's all going to go. If it is garbage, it will go into the garbage, but if not, it's for sale. And if we sell stuff for as little as two dollars and don't lose money on the shipping, that's a win. That's actually TWO wins. $2 is a win, and not having one more thing in the house is a win. Get it all outta here!

Even though this summer isn't over yet, I'm still thinking how we're going to come up with five grand to get the pool fixed next year. This seems like it might be a great head start.

And believe me, I'll get just as much pleasure throwing something away as I will making two dollars off of it. So if that has to happen, so be it. I want empty closets, empty shelves, an empty crawl space, and room in the garage.

eBay, here we come!

Posted: Friday, July 29, 2011, 11:59 am
Mood: Ecstatic! | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


Debt (and Getting Out of It!)

I know I've been a bad blogger. The fact that I have few readers, and that I do this pretty much exclusively for myself allows me to be a slacker. Oh well.

But the White Sox blew a game tonight, everyone else is in bed, and I've had a rough few days so I thought I'd stay up and tap at the keyboard of my laptop. Well, not exactly *my* laptop.

I don't blog very much because I have less to talk about. I don't know. Work is so much busier than it has ever been. I have so, so many other responsibilities and such, and that's fantastic, but I am actually at the point where my job wears me out somewhat. And not like I'm hauling bricks worn out, but just mental exhaustion or something. I've worked summers paving roads with asphalt that was hundreds of degrees hotter than the average summer day--it gets no hotter than behind an asphalt truck--but coming home and being worn out from that is a physical thing and not a mental one. I still love the smell of asphalt and loved the experience I had driving a truck "back home."

I digress.

So we've had sort of a ho hum summer this year. We didn't open the pool because the pool liner is screwed up (long story) and I didn't have $5,000 laying around for a new one, and, well, we'll save a small fortune not having it open between chemicals and electricity and such. I know I could buy a liner for around $900 and do it myself, but I could just see getting almost finished and then cutting a hole for a jet and having it be two inches off and now I've just flushed $900 down the drain. I'd rather pay the pool company in Champaign to do it, and then in five years when it is screwed up (like it is now) I have someone I can call to come fix it rather than my doing it or Bob down the street.

We didn't sign up for the golf course this year either, which sort of sucks. "Oh, we'll play at Oakland or Champaign and it will cost way less money." For starters, no it won't. It costs $50 easy for a round of golf. And how many times have Alex and I played this year? Zero. So I'm saving my pennies and planning on golf for next year.

What's the problem? Well, to put it simply, we're in debt. Our fault--nobody else's (boo). And we're in the midst of paying it off (yay!). I don't know that we're necessarily guilty of trying to keep up with the Joneses, but it costs money to exist. And we're not necessarily--or weren't--the best at keeping track of what we took in and what went out. And credit cards made it easy to make up for beings short on cash here and there.

Last January the redhead and I finally sat down and took a good, hard look at where we are, where we should be, and where we're going. I know, I know. Probably should have done that ten years ago. And we decided that enough was enough. We're going to dig out of this hole.

And what a fine, big hole it was. Almost $50,000 in consumer credit card debt. Yikesy wikesy. Along with a $500 car payment for a gas-guzzling SUV.

Rather than declare bankruptcy and take the easy way out we signed up with a debt management program. They made arrangements with all of our creditors to lower our interest rates to somewhat-normal (under 10%) levels and we make a single monthly payment to the program and they make the payments to the credit cards and handle everything else. We've been on the program for almost 20 months now and it has worked great. Our debt is going down and we've been doing a much better job at trying to live within our means (because with no credit cards, we don't have much of a choice).

We're down to under $35,000 now and should be debt-free in about two and a half more years--well before the kids start college (which sort of precipitated this whole thing to begin with).

It has actually been refreshing to live within our means and I feel foolish that we didn't start doing that many years sooner.

The sort of silly part is that we actually make pretty good money for our age and situation in life, so the fact that we're up to our eyeballs in debt is dumb to begin with. But again, this was our doing over many, many years, and now we're at the point in our lives where we do make good money and get finally get this monkey off of our backs.

I suppose I could (or should) be ashamed and embarrassed by all of this, but we're certainly not the only people in the world in this situation. I follow a blog of a guy in Minnesota whose family has over six-figures worth of debt and their penny-pinching activities make what we're doing look irresponsible. No talk of golf club memberships in their immediate future.

I hope to make that blue line turn more into a downward curve in the coming months. I've been send an extra $50 or $100 here or there to the "plan" to get this ball rolling a bit faster. We're saving money and paying off the debt, and that's a good feeling. I try not to think of the fact that my monthly payment would pay for a nice week-long vacation for the family and remember that this will all be fantastic once it is over and done with.

Apparently we're finally getting raises this year at work. And the redhead and I have already discussed what is going to happen with it. 60% to the program, 40% into the savings account.

I'm reading a book called The Cheapskate Next Door a set of stories about Americans living "happily within their means. We're trying to do that. We're cutting back. Spending less. Buying less crap. Making our lives simpler.

I want to be a millionaire some day. And I think we can get there.

Posted: Wednesday, July 27, 2011, 6:48 am
Mood: Calm | No comments | Article URL | Post a comment
 


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