Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Follow Up Post: Debt Free and Going Strong!

Shelle Edit:  I love NOTHING better than for people who have written on here to do follow up posts about how things are going now.  What differences they made in their relationship.  What things have changed.  What can we learn.  Thank Alex for doing just that!

Money. I hate money. Money causes so many problems and yet we, as a society, desperately need money. We need it for food, transportation, gas for that transportation, clothes, shelter, everything within that shelter that makes it a Home, and don’t forget all the things we want but don’t necessarily need.

In July 2010, I wrote a guest posts for In the Real World; Venus vs. Mars about money, the issues they can cause and taking responsibility for our debt. I wrote about how it took all of three months to get thousands of dollars into debt and several more months before I knew what was going on (and we had fallen even more in debt), which meant we were now coming to a point of very little hope. It took us just over a year to pull ourselves out of that debt, but we did it and we can say that we are debt free.

Debt is a vicious cycle, especially when it comes to bills such as phone, cable, electricity, etc. When you’re already three months behind on all your bills, things start to get shut off. You start to catch up on one bill, only to have another fall even farther behind. It’s hard to pull yourself out of the loop. But it’s entirely possible. It takes time, effort, determination, honesty, openness, embarrassment, and a whole lot of planning.

It’s been 24 weeks since that post in July 2010 (I’m writing this on January 6th 2011). A lot has happened in those 24 weeks.

A few months prior to writing the post, we found out our best friends were getting married in the Dominican Republic. It was going to cost us $3,500 CAD for the two of us to go. We officially paid off our trip before December 28th 2010. We never left ourselves short each week, though there were a couple of weeks where we were tight.

One of the agreements that my husband had with his boss was that their company would pay for our car. They’ve done this since 2006. Things are still really hard at his work and they were unable to continue paying for our car. We’ve suffered a $500/month pay cut. But guess what? Because of our debt free situation, because of our budgeting and planning, we’re able to pay for our own car! We wouldn’t have been able to do this before and it’s a huge accomplishment. Do I hope my husband’s work picks up and they can go back to paying our car payments? Well yeah! I’d love to have that $160/biweekly (we now own a car and not a van – much cheaper) for our savings account!

We’ve also found that being honest with family and friends (you know, the real friends that you have) has helped a lot. They all know that we don’t have a ton of extra money kicking around and are all understanding. My best friend comes here instead of me going there (we live an hour apart). My family has chipped in for gas money when they’ve wanted us there or have covered dinner for us if we come during the evening. Or, better yet, they’ve come here to visit (again, we live an hour apart).

I’ve even found that we’ve been able to treat ourselves to some things. I was able to get another tattoo done and have almost completed my back artwork. And by signing up for WagJag.com, we’ve been able to have a family trip to see some amazing reptiles for a whole hell of a lot cheaper (normal cost would be $80 and we only spent $35!).

This road hasn’t always been easy though. There has been a few times where dinner consisted of sandwiches or cereal. Those are usually the weeks where it seems like everything is due the same time. But this is reality. We’re not living in a dream world anymore.

We still stick to our budget, which I write up three months in advance consisting of every single bill, expenses (ie: Hair cuts, presents for birthdays/showers, etc) and money to put aside into the savings account. We’ve made Life work without a ton of money. Christmas was great despite not being rich! Racer and Diva received two presents each under the tree, two joint presents (games/puzzles) and stocking stuffers. They loved it and weren’t overwhelmed. They also didn’t receive a ton of things they didn’t need and things that would just take up space. Diva’s birthday was just a week after Christmas, and again, she received three presents from us, one of which I won on a Blog Giveaway and she couldn’t have been happier!

I contacted Shelle with the idea of a follow up post to my first one not to brag about getting out of debt and doing well right now. I wanted to write a follow up because I wanted other families who are in debt to know that (a) you CAN get out of debt, (b) you’re not alone, and (c) when you are out of debt, you still need to plan, budget and be realistic.

Remember: Microsoft Excel is your friend when it comes to budgeting. It has saved me and helped me in so many ways. Be honest, open and keep the lines of communication open. Sometimes my husband gets annoyed by my weekly reminders about our budget but he tells me quite often that he appreciates it and he knows that without me stepping in, we’d have been beyond repair financially and emotionally. It’s without a doubt, our marriage would have ended.

And for those of you who remember and are curious; yes I do still believe that because I do not bring any money into our home, it’s none of my business what my husband makes or the state of our finances. However, I know my husband and without my help, we’d end up right back where we were before I stepped in and took control of our money.


This Thing Called Our Life
This Thing Called Adoption


TisforTonya said...

yaaay, I love hearing the follow up story!

glad that you took the initiative before the situation got any worse - and I especially love the issue of honesty... something we all probably need to do a little better at :)

Unknown said...

@ T - Thanks for the comment! It's appreciated :D

Anjeny said...

I am very proud of you Alex for stepping in and taking control of your finances and are still keeping on top of it. Thanks for sharing. I like reading follow-up stories.

Unknown said...

@ Anjeny - Thanks! I appreciate the kind words :)


Amen to that! Great post. Thanks for the reminder.