We're here at my parents house in Florida this week. We drive in yesterday, swung by the airport and picked up my brother, and made it in around lunch time. Last night we went to see "A Christmas Carol", it was mine and Matt's favorite book growing up. The movie was cute and stuck very closely to the actual Charles Dickens novel, which is always nice. Today we had a huge breakfast and now we're sitting in the living room, playing Wii. I'll be taking lots of pictures, but just wanted to post real quickly and say that I am not gone, just busy with the family. Hope you're all having a great weekend and getting ready for the big day!!!
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I have never said on here our actually amount of Credit Card debt. We only have a couple cards, our MasterCard through our bank, my Ann Taylor MasterCard from when I worked there, and our Military Star (Military Exchange Credit Card). We only ever used one, our bank MasterCard, but boy did we use it! I was so excited and proud when they raised our limit to $8,500 when I was only 21 years old! I can remember thinking "Wow, they must think really highly of me if they'll 'give' me that much money!" WRONG! What was I thinking? They didn't GIVE me any money, but that's how I saw it. It was mine-it had my name on it and I could use it as I wanted. And no, they didn't think highly of me. They were hoping I wouldn't pay it in full so they could charge me interest. And I totally proved them right.
But today, a year after starting my blog and 6 months into our Total Money Makeover I am ready to confess our credit card balance. On the first page of my Money Binder, in a sheet protector is a printed statement from January 20, 2009. The balance was $6,700 and change. Do I need to wait for you to catch your breath? But wait-that wasn't the highest it's been! At one point it was $8,046. That number STILL makes me sick to think about. But why am I confessing today? BECAUSE YESTERDAY I PAID IT OFF IN FULL. Yes! In less then a year, on one income and at the ripe old age of 24 we are credit card debt free.
We were able to accomplish this by making a couple changes. First, in November of 2008 we committed to stop charging things we couldn't pay for. Now, this doesn't mean we haven't used the card, because we have. For example, my brother is in the Navy, stationed in VA and I always help him book his plane tickets. I use my credit card to purchase them and he writes me a check when he gets here, which I then use to pay the credit card. So the key is that even if you use it, to PAY IT OFF. Secondly, we stopped adding to our savings. At first that thought scared the crap out of me. In the first recession of my adult life, I stopped saving money. Instead, I put that money toward paying off that credit card. When I really say down and thought about it, it made complete sense. I was saving money, that was making me 2% interest, which WASTING money by being charged 9% interest on the credit card balance. I was paying up to $50 a month on a finance charge, while making pennies on my savings account. (I do agree with Dave Ramsey though, and I kept at least $1000 in savings at all time for emergencies. We were also lucky enough that David would take short deployments at work, and while gone, he tried to save as much travel money and per diem as possible to put toward our debt. His sacrifice it what made it possible to pay off that card.
I can't put into words the peace I have now that we are credit card debt free. It's a peace that sinks deep into my heart. It's wonderful to make goals for 2010 that don't include paying off a stupid credit card. We can do so much more with our money when it's not going to a credit card company.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Yesterday was a year since I wrote my first blog! So much has changed for us financially I can't even begin to imagine where we'd be now if we hadn't made the decision to become debt free. And while we still aren't there, we are MUCH closer. In fact, we'll make our last payment to credit card debt this month and start 2010 with only a truck payment. Here are my top 3 things I've learned this year, and what's worked the best for us:
1. USE CASH: I'd heard of Dave Ramsey but never paid much attention to his plan until this summer. I was still hesitant to use a cash only system. In this day and age it seems "old fashion" and inconvenient to use cash instead of a debit card, but that's just not so. Also, from my experience using a debit card is NOT the same as cash. It's just too easy to swipe the plastic, it's painful to hand over tangible cash.
2. BUDGET: My old budget didn't work because I would plan for what I would like to see happen with my money. When I took total control and told my money where to go, I was able to stick to it. (Example: I used to *hope* that I could spend less then $15o a pay period on groceries. With my new budget, I tell myself I *must* spend less this $150 because that's all the cash I have.) It's amazing what you can so when you have to!
3. BLOGGING: And reading blogs. Sharing ideas is the best way to find a budget that works for you. When I feel myself slipping or wanting to have a pity party I read others blogs and get all the motivation I need. So thanks to all the fellow bloggers!
Here's to another year of blogging and reaching new goals!