Monday, September 30, 2013

End of 3rd quarter 2013, tomorrow is a new beginning... literally

S and I have now been engaged for a year and what a year it has been!  We put our wedding plans on hold pretty soon into our engagement when we found out we were expecting our twins but that didn't mean we stopped working towards a more unified and family oriented lifestyle. Over the past year we have been overhauling the way we relate to finances together.  

Previously, we were like two little islands in archipelago, connected on a deeper level but completely separate and independent on all surface level issues like finances.  We split all our household bills and paid each other back and forth to keep things equitable.  This method was great at keeping the peace between our completely different financial outlooks but it wasn't great for achieving anything financially related together and it was annoying to constantly be thinking about who owed who what.

Over the past year we created a combined budget, got a joint checking and savings account, and started looking at our debts together.  There have been plenty of arguments along the way and we still haven't come up with a method that we are both satisfied with but we are making tons of progress in the financial communication department. Anyways, long story short, this blog has always been about my own personal journey to pay of my own personal debt but starting tomorrow I'm going to be adding S' debts to the tally plus our joint debts from the babies/ maternity leave and revising the "starting" point numbers.  It's been a long time coming since I can't consider myself truly out of debt if my partner is still buried in it!  So the following numbers will be my last report on the progress I made on my portion of our family debt load...

Student Loan: $35,230
Car Loan: $0
Credit Card 1: $0
Credit Card 2: $3,975
Credit Card 3: $0 (actual balance is $1,858 but we consider it "joint" debt from the maternity leave)
Parents: $0

Total: $39,205

Here’s my starting point back in October 2011:
Student Loan: $38,339
Car Loan: $11,684
Credit Card 1: $10,577
Credit Card 2: $3,635
Credit Card 3: $0
Parents: $600

Total: $64,835

Paid off to date: $25,630 paid off + $53 in savings

Friday, September 20, 2013

Little mouths, big expenses

Throughout the pregnancy people where often curious to know if I was planning on breastfeeding or formula feeding given that we were having twins.  My answer to those curious people was that I was going to try to breastfeed.  I understand the health benefits of nursing for both me and the babies but a big reason I wanted to try was the expense of formula.  I never even bothered calculating out what it would cost for formula because what could possibly beat free?!  Plus the promise that I could keep eating "extra" helpings and still lose the baby weight had plenty of appeal!

The boys are 15 weeks old and I've been able to mostly breastfeeding with some formula to supplement but now that I'm back at work providing that free food is becoming more challenging.  Pumping is a total drag.  Cleaning all the parts, lugging everything back and forth to work, going in an hour early so I can make up the time lost to pumping throughout the day, plus I can't pump enough in the day to cover what they eat at daycare so I have to have a late night pumping session, and the general awkwardness of pumping in a super small, super quiet office all make pumping a pain.  Since I'm questioning my resolve to keep on pumping, I decided it was time to calculate out what formula would cost us should we need to fit it into our already very tight budget.  

Using a price of $.08 per ounce of formula (for generic brand formula) it would be $150 a month to feed the boys.  Now, I generally use generic products for just about everything in our household including food but something about generic baby formula doesn't sit well with me, so recalculating for the name brand formula at $.13 an ounce it comes to $240 a month.  We currently end up spending a little each month on formula for supplementing plus some pumping items that make it a little easier but that only adds up to $40 a month.  So in my cost comparison I am saving us $200 a month by keeping at it... and that's just the kind of motivation I needed right now!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Deep breath, now re-group

Lately I've been feeling like our financial life (and non-financial life) is in a bit of a tail spin.  Trying to stay on top of everything when a lot of the variables are constantly shifting has been extremely challenging and frustrating.  I'm not going to sugar coat it: I've been feeling hopeless and wondering if my constant battle with finances is even worth it.  But then I remember that I have two very adorable reasons to keep chugging along towards a better financial future so I need to find a way to get rid of the hopeless feeling.

To help me get back on track, I've decided that the rest of September needs to be a re-grouping month.  Now that I'm back at work we'll have two paychecks coming in and that in itself will help alleviate some of the stress.  Over the next month I expect we will have all of the medical bills in hand after the insurance has paid out their portions.  I'm also hopeful that we'll have the car and daycare debacles all sorted out.  Plus S' student loans should be out of default and back on track.  My goal right now is to have a clear understanding of where we are financially speaking and at least a three month plan in place to get us moving in the right direction by the end of the month.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Family to the rescue

I can't remember how much I've posted about our ongoing car dilemma, so I'll recap the three year saga quickly.  When S lost everything three years ago while we were still living in Florida, we bought a cheap used Honda to get him around.  I had recently purchased (using that term loosely since I financed most of price) a used Mazda.  When we made the move to Boston, we debated selling the Honda in Florida so we wouldn't have to move it thinking that S would use mass transit to get around.  In the end, we decided to keep it for various reasons which turned out to be a big mistake.

Even though the car ran just fine, it wouldn't pass the Massachusetts car inspection.  It would take about $1000 to get it up to regulations which is almost what the thing was worth in the first place.  So it sat in our driveway like some redneck lawn ornament collecting leaf litter and bird droppings.  We went back and forth on what to do with it: should we drive it to my family in Kentucky, where there are no State inspections, where we could sell it for what we bought it for?  Should we sell it for cheap, as-is in Massachusetts and cut our losses?  Should we keep it for emergency use only and risk the fines if we got caught?  

After listening to me go around and around about the dilemma for long enough, my dad offered to lend us one of his vehicles (he has a fleet of cars for his company and personal use) while we made the transition to parenthood.  We took him up on that offer and decided to sell the Honda as-is in Mass to put towards baby funding.  Fast forward to today where I have a totaled Mazda to replace.  We like the Volkswagon my dad lent us but we quickly found out we wouldn't be able to afford one for the settlement money without getting a new loan.  I'm really not interested in having a new loan... I'm trying to see the accident as a blessing in disguise to get out from under my car loan.  So what do we do to replace the Mazda on the limited settlement money I will receive?

Again, our families became our sounding board about the ongoing car dilemma.  And our families came to our rescue (or maybe they were just tired of hearing us complain)!  My dad offered to sell us the VW for a very, very low price (like half off the blue book value) and S' brother, aunt, and mom all worked together to give us one of the used family cars that they were going to sell.  Not only will we finally have two good condition, working vehicles completely paid for and in our name but we'll also have money left over from the Mazda settlement to pay-off some of the maternity debt!  This is all such a big relief for us, I really wish I could see our families right now so I could give them all a big kiss for helping us out in our time of need!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Daycare fail

Only three days into daycare and we've had an epic failure.  Apparently our in-home daycare provider, who is a very nice older woman that's been running a daycare in her home for 27 years, misunderstood some component of the State regulation on how many babies she can have under 15 months old.  Besides our boys she has a 13 month old but apparently she can only have two babies under 15 months.  Bottom line, we have to make other arrangements for our boys starting TODAY!  Yes, you heard me.  She had a visit from the State yesterday and has to be in compliance today, meaning our boys can not be there when the State person comes back.

Now I understand the purpose of regulations but seriously, the State only gives one day to come into compliance?!  It's not like she had too many kids in her care or that there was something unsanitary or unsafe about her place.  Just that one of the kids she has is TWO months shy of the 15 month mark.  And S and I have to pay the price for this mistake.  I am completely aggravated right now.  The boys went with S to work today and the daycare lady put us in touch with an alternate sitter for the time being but I just can't believe I have to deal with one more thing on top of all the other crazy stuff that's happened over the last month!  Some expressions come to mind... When it rains it pours.  If it doesn't kill you it will make you stronger.  C'est la vie.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

House of cards

When one is in as much debt as S and I are, one little thing can topple the whole house of cards.  Well, we've faced a while slew of little things in the past year and right now I'm feeling pretty frustrated.  The meager little $1000 emergency fund was no match for a twin pregnancy with complications.  We weren't able to save up what I was going for to cover the maternity leave let alone an unexpected trip to Kentucky for the funeral.  Add to that the car wreck and I feel like our financial world has just crumbled!

Our debt is quickly on the rise with thousands of dollars owed for the medical expenses, thousands more on the credit card for everyday living expenses and the emergency situations that came up that we didn't have the savings to cover.  How will we recover from all this?  I feel like I can't even get a plan in place before some additional factor comes up to change it all! 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Car totaled

The insurance company called to inform me that they are declaring my car a total loss.  Once the loan is paid off (yes, the loan I JUST refinanced) they'll send me the balance which should be around $4000.  They also informed me that I have to turn in my rental car a week from today or start paying out of pocket for it.

So the week I return to work and have to leave my babies at daycare for the first time, I ALSO have to buy a car and find the time to go clean out my totaled car.  And since it may take a bit before I have the insurance cash in hand I'll need to come up with the cash to buy a cheap car outright (we have $0 savings to our name so this means turning to mom and dad) or take out another loan to buy a car more comparable to what I had.  And since I just refinanced my loan and therefore pinged my credit I probably won't get the best interest rate.

I'm super angry with myself right now for getting in this wreck.  I'm trying to see the silver lining here, I should consider buying a car that I can pay for outright with the insurance money and get out from under the loan, plus I won't have to pay my deductible or buy new tires.  Overall though, I just feel stressed out and pissed off.