Friday, December 30, 2016

What?! A year has passed?

I'm struggling to believe that it's been a year since my last post! This has been an incredibly challenging year, in a lot of great ways but also some not-so-great ways. At the end of last year/ early this year I decided I needed to take a break from some of my various "extra" responsibilities such as this blog and some of my sewing/ Etsy stuff. I really needed to focus on my own career plus helping S' business make the final big push into reality (more on that later). And I needed to focus more of my energies on home life. 

Still, I hadn't intended on taking a whole year off of blogging and I feel, in some ways, that not blogging, not having the record of our financial decisions to "keep us honest" did some damage to my resolve to pay off debt. I am reflecting on the year now, wondering what financial decisions we would have made differently if we'd known how things would turn out. Financially speaking, I am feeling pretty low and am hoping that rebooting this blog may help me find some hope that we will ever get out of debt.

So with that on with a mini re-cap of some of the highs and lows of 2016, starting with some things that were really fantastic:

1. The boys "caught up" with peers from their development delays and are doing wonderful! We worked very hard with speech and occupational therapists and they both tested out of, ie were within normal range, by their 3rd birthday! We also enrolled them part time in preschool during the first part of the year and then went to full time during the summer, both to give S the chance to focus on his business full time and to give the boys a huge leap in development and socialization. 

2. L has been seizure free since early this year! He had one more seizure in February followed by a series of tests which all came back negative... and hasn't had a seizure since! There is still the possibility that he may have another but it's a very good sign that he's had fevers with no seizure activity for so long. 

3. We are expecting baby #3 in spring of 2017! This was a huge decision, I strongly felt that our family was needing one more member but the financial impact of another child is obviously pretty significant. In the end, we decided that this was the right decision and are happily awaiting his/her arrival in early April.

4. We got hitched (finally)! Somewhere right after confirming we were expecting, S and I started thinking perhaps we should go ahead and get married. We had been waiting for our lives to settle down a bit and for us to have extra cash to have the wedding and reception. It was kind of funny how obvious it was that the "right" moment, the moment we had been thinking would happen, was NEVER going to happen. And so we just went for it! We had a small beach ceremony and reception in a rental house when we traveled down to Florida to visit S' family for Thanksgiving. 

5. S' business is really off the ground! We put the boys in preschool full time in late spring through most of the rest of the year so he could put full focus on his work. And we finally put some serious cash into the business to get him fully operational. He worked incredibly hard this year, won some awards for his work, made some great contacts, participated in several large art shows, and got his work in some private collections and galleries! 

And now the not-so-great things:

Each of the above items came with a significant price tag, one that we couldn't pay on just one salary so we had to make some difficult decisions to take on more debt. Getting the boys in preschool was so beneficial to them (and to S' business) but it came at a high cost. The testing for L was also very pricey but obviously necessary. The wedding was modest and we had some generous gifts that helped cover some of it but it still was not free. Another aspect of getting married that will have a great financial impact is that S is now eligible for my health insurance. We added him but it will cost us a significant amount each month but it is critical that he have better coverage than what he had. And although baby #3 isn't yet here, we've been shifting our income towards the end of the year to savings instead of paying down debt to cover my income during the maternity leave. 

We also had very high hopes that S' business would be more profitable this year and the summer started off  with a bang but despite the hard work he put into it, the sales were not what we had been expecting. This has been damaging in so many ways: obviously financially we took a big hit but it also damaged our morale and has us questioning this path we chose to go down. I could discuss in length S' work and probably will in a future post but for now I'll continue on with the short and sweet summary of 2016...

With all the financial burdens we took on in 2016 we had to make some difficult decision during the last quarter. We decided to move again and we took the boys out of preschool. My parents generously offered to let us move into one of their properties at an extremely low monthly rent. The house is not in great shape and we had to put a lot of work into it to be able to move in. But we have a roof over our head and a balanced monthly budget as we head into 2017.

As we wrap up 2016 and start looking to the New Year, we are feeling a bit uncertain and it's my hope that starting up this blog again will give me the boost in focus that we really need to get back on track.

Monday, January 4, 2016

End of 2015 Report

Starting point (Oct 2011):

Student Loan 1 (My fed loan): $38,339
Student Loan 2 (S' state loan): $21,719
Student Loan 3 (S' fed loan): $5,454
Car Loan: $11,684
Credit Card 1: $10,577
Credit Card 2: $3,635
Credit Card 3: $0
Misc. small debts (S' small debts in collections): $5,443
Medical expenses: $3,672
Parents: $600

Total: $101,123

And here's where we are today:

Student Loan 1: $34,040
Student Loan 2: $18,369
Student Loan 3: $0
Car Loan: $0
Credit Card 1: $4,362
Credit Card 2: $0
Credit Card 3: $0
Misc. small debts: $4,284
Medical expenses: $0
Parents: $3,185
Consolidation Loan: $7,273

Total: $71,513

Paid off to date: $29,610 paid off + $1,199 in savings

The final quarter of the year killed us. We were plagued with car troubles, an expensive move, and just plain lack of dedication to paying off debt. As a result, we have slightly more debt at the end of the year than we did at the end of last year. I really hope we can get moving back in the right direction in 2016.