If you missed the first part of this series click here.
In the last part of this series I discussed how we got ourselves out of over $20,000 in consumer debt. Once we paid off the cars and credit cards we started in on my student loans. During this time, rates were extremely low and I was able to consolidate to a 3% interest rate. It was then that we decided to stop the debt snowball and started to focus instead on savings. Fast forward two years later and we still have $11,000 in student loans. Since the interest rate was so low we decided we would make more money by increasing our retirement savings and we fell off the wagon with our spending.
We decided to sell our house and move to another state, just as the market started to fall. We spent several thousand dollars in cash to make upgrades to our house (such as new granite counters) thinking we would get an even higher sale price. We also had our daughter and spent quite a lot in decorating her nursery and purchasing all the items we thought we had to have. The relocation was another major expense- we spent over $2000 on storage fees and a moving company. In retrospect, I wish we had just stayed the course and gotten rid of all our debt. Instead, we decided we were smarter than Dave and would invest our money elsewhere. Spending money on our old house was incredibly foolish as the market was rapidly declining. Had we just lowered the price we would have made so much more overall. (Our house was on the market 9 months and we sold it for $40k less than it was originally listed for.)
Once we moved to California, we purchased a gorgeous new house. We got an incredible deal in an area I never thought we’d be able to afford. We had to put 20% down to get the loan which significantly depleted our savings account. My car reached the 200,000 mile mark and the repairs started to really mount up- so we also decided to purchase a new to us vehicle. The $10,000 we spent emptied the rest of our savings.
It took 5 months for me to get a job after we moved and we slowly started to build our savings back up. I was making ¼ of what I made before but I was working part time around my husband’s schedule to avoid day care costs. Then my company abruptly shut down. Did I mention I was 7 months pregnant?
Fortunately, I have never been comfortable with Dave’s suggested $1000 emergency fund. In the seven months I did work, we were able to save over $4000. I am so thankful for that savings since it has taken 11 weeks to get my unemployment wages. I just received a call today that I should start seeing weekly payments next week and I will get a lump check on Monday for the last several weeks I have not been paid. Our income is very modest- we both took massive cuts in pay when we relocated. We also live in a very high cost of living area and have a substantial mortgage.
Since we purchased this house I have started to finally gain the gazelle intensity Dave refers to. I frequent many of the wonderful money saving blogs out there and we really think about every penny we spend. We were determined not to touch our savings while we waited for unemployment to kick in and I am so proud to say we only spent $50 in almost 3 months.
Since we have our second baby due in May and we aren’t sure when I will be back at work, we will still postpone finishing our debt snowball. How I wish we had paid off all our student loans a few years ago and could be free of the $253 payment! We have decided to save 6 full months of expenses in an emergency fund. Once that goal is accomplished we are going to attack the student loan with a vengeance.
We are both so excited to finish both of those goals and start sending in extra payments on the house. Every time I start to feel envious of my friends that still spend money, whether it be a Latte or lawn service, I keep focusing on how it may very well be possible to OWN our home outright one day. Possibly before we turn 40!
I would love to hear your stories of how you are coping with finances right now and any successes you may have had! I will be adding part 3 to this series next week with a final update on our goals and how we are progressing. If you are interested in Dave’s program- his books Total Money Makeover and Financial Peace can be purchased from the Amazon toolbar to the right or you can check them out at your library.
I also recommend listening to Amy’s podcast tonight, featuring a financial planner. I found lots of great tips on managing money and taking control of your spending.