Sunday, January 1, 2012

Update on Financial Peace

So, as I told you earlier, we're taking Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University thru our church.

And things are going very well.

Baby Step 1: $1000 emergency fund is complete. That wasn't too difficult, since we still had some in our regular savings, but we opened up a separate account at my work's credit union specifically for our emergency fund, added to our savings, and... done.

We felt like having it in a different account, at this small credit union, makes it a little less accessible. Still available at any time if we need to get it, just not as convenient as having it at the same big-name bank as the rest of our accounts.

Baby Step 2: pay off all consumer debt (except the house) is well under way. We've paid off our TV (old one damaged beyond repair in the move) and our couch & loveseat (old ones literally falling apart) a few months earlier than we thought we'd be able too.We have two more small debts remaining before we start tackling the big guns.

Jason has been picking up some overtime at the firehouse temporarily to give us some extra $$ to put towards our debt. With the recent holidays, plus various hunting seasons in the late Autumn, there have been plenty of guys looking for someone to cover a shift.
The double-shifts are tough on all of us (when he does a double he's gone around 58 hours at a stretch, home for 12 hours, then gone again), but we feel good knowing that it's temporary and is putting our family in a much better position financially.

I've also been able to bring in a few extra dollars, but not much. Overtime has been denied by my boss repeatedly, and a second job isn't really feasible, especially with Jason working overnight. Someone does have to stay home with Jena, you know.

I have to admit, I hate doing our monthly budget. But I like the results. Because Jason's income varies slightly depending on how his shifts fall, we budgeted low for our regular income, then we make a plan for where any additional income will go.

For November, the top three were Christmas, Car Insurance (so we can save $100+ by paying in one lump sum), and our lowest credit card bill.

After initial Christmas shopping, I told Jason I would really like to increase our Christmas budget if we can, so for December our #1 was again Christmas, followed by the building fund at our church, then our lowest bills.

Not sure Dave would agree totally, but we're in agreement as a couple, so that's good.

Since November's our only complete month, I can tell you we actually came in under budget (our regular, low-estimate income). We were shocked. But it allowed us to make an extra payment towards our debt. Yay!

December the only area I'm a little worried about is gas. We came in under in November, but we have no control over the price, and with the holidays we've done more driving than usual. I'm quite sure we didn't budget enough.

One thing that is super-sweet is that when we did our initial budget for November, Jason refused to take out me getting my hair done (cut + color), even though I had. I eventually convinced him I was okay with it, and insisted that we had more important things to budget for right now.
Then in December he said maybe we should take part of our snowball from paying of our first two debts, and let me get my hair done. I told him 'no', that we had more important things to do, and I would eventually be able to get it done again. That I'm okay with it. He said he just thought I probably wanted to get it done before the holidays.

It just took me by surprise that he's thinking of me, and wanting to put money aside for me to get my hair done! Major brownie points there, Jason!

Besides our monthly budget meetings to set up the budget for the next month, we also decided to have weekly budget meetings. I think for us, with us being apart so much on a regular basis, these checkpoints are important to keep us on top of things. Especially since we have to split our allotted funds to accommodate him being at the fire house and me being here.

Oh, and our Christmas lists were really boring this year

We had a few practical items on our lists, things we actually need / could use (ironing board cover for me, new jeans for him, wall mount for the TV for the family), plus lots of gift cards (Kroger, Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe's, etc). The idea behind the gift cards being that either we can pay for the next home renovation project, or that we can use them to buy groceries, then use our grocery money for that month to make an extra payment towards our debt.

Even Jena's list is boring. She kept asking for clothes & shoes! Geez! The girl's only three and she wanted clothes for Christmas! Part of me feels bad for "only" getting her clothes & shoes, but she did just have a birthday, plus that's what she asked for (yes, we got her a few toys & books as well, but mostly clothes, since that's what she wants).

Anyway, just wanted to update you on how we're doing, and the answer is... great! Thanks for checking in!

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