June has come & gone, and I thought it was time to do an update on where we stand on our debt snowball and the financial changes we’ve made as a whole. Full disclosure: I was disappointed by the progress (or lack thereof) up to this point. We had set some goals for the month of June that we didn’t quite meet, and so that’s going to push us back another month in being debt-free. However, we did make some progress and we were able to add another name to our ‘paid’ list, so it wasn’t a total wash. Here are the details:
Just to recap, our debt total (not including our house) at the beginning of 2018 was $20,500. As of the end of June, our new total is $14,874. (That doesn’t include the $2000 we paid towards an unexpected surgery I had back in March because we were able to pay that off quickly with our FSA card and income tax returns. But that would add the total we’ve paid off to nearly $8k!) Now, you may be saying, “Hey, kid, that’s not bad!” and you’d be right, but it could be better. That breaks down to a little under $1000/month going towards our debt. I had hoped that our total would be down to $14,000 by the end of June, but here we are, $800+ short of that goal.
So, I knew to expect some setbacks from time-to-time with this because life happens and inconveniences don’t really care what you had planned to do with that extra money. This month wasn’t as successful because we’ve been at this debt free thing for 6 months now so we decided to live a little. So what happened?
- We took Ellie to the zoo which was across the state. Was it necessary? No. Do we regret it though? Not even a little, because progress is still progress and we’ll eventually be debt free, but we don’t want our girl to miss out on stuff that matters in the mean time.
- Phillip and I took a trip to Louisville (once again, across the state) because I bought him concert tickets for Christmas and we made a weekend of it. Again, not necessary but still necessary because we work oppposite shifts and if this marriage has a chance of surviving, we’ve got to invest in it. Worth it!
- Vehicle taxes. World’s most expensive sticker, I tell ya! That took the biggest chunk of what should’ve been our debt snowball because I honestly forgot to budget it in before this month.
- A work trip 200 miles across the state (and then back) to a hotel without complimentary breakfast or a microwave. Was it a ton of money? No, but I did have to withdraw from our emergency fund so that I could afford gas to get there and food when I got there because we refused to put anything extra on the credit card. I’ll admit, it was nice having money to fall back on in the bank that we can put back in when we can without 27% interest. I’ll be reimbursed for it, but still.
- A summer cold and last minute doctor appointments for myself and Phillip because we’ve met our deductible for the year and we’re trying to squeeze in as much as possible before it resets next month. Copays and OTC cold medications were not included in our budget either.
Overall, the setbacks have taught me how to be better prepared for things in the future (and you better believe my vehicle taxes will have their own cash envelope full by December when it’s time to pay on my car) so I’ll look at it as a learning experience. On the other hand, some of the stuff we’ve been doing has been working!
- We’ve been sticking to $100/week for groceries. This has kept us from letting fresh produce go to waste and it’s a bit easier to manage than planning meals for 2 weeks at a time. I make my trips on Friday after meal planning and looking at sales ads and we’re set til the next week/payday! When I look at what we used to spend at the store on a weekly basis compared to now, I’m pretty proud of the money we’re saving!
- No eating out! The amount of money we spent even when we were ‘cutting back’ on going out to eat is insane to me. The bright side to eating at home more is that we’ve really enjoyed cooking together and I’ve unintentionally lost a few pounds because I haven’t been running to the drive thru for lunch on a regular basis anymore.
- Aside from our weekend trip, we’ve been spending more time at home in general and taking advantage of our streaming tv services and our backyard. We haven’t been disappointed!
- Two months ago, we installed new clothesline on the 50 year old posts in our back yard because I love the scent of line dried laundry. I freakishly enjoy hanging my clothes out to dry in the breeze and I love that I can group them together however I want to make the folding process go a little faster. Doing my laundry in the sunshine while birds chirp really doesn’t hurt either. The point, you may ask? It saved us $30 on our electricity bill because I’ve used our dryer very little since we installed the new lines (which by the way cost less than it’s saved).
- Self deprivation. Yeah, it’s not fun but it works. We took the phrase ‘treat yo self’ way too far in the past because we were constantly rewarding ourselves for living, which is why we still have $14,000 in debt to conquer. (Well, partly. A lot of that debt was literally just survival because of medical bills. You get the point though.)
- Staying motivated! I’ve been listening to the Dave Ramsey show a couple times a week, I follow Rachel Cruze (Dave’s daughter) on social media, and I’ve found some other debt-free bloggers along the way. I can’t stress enough how much this helps to keep me motivated because most social media is the exact opposite of debt-free. “Here’s a promo code for 20% off this fancy pants curling wand! You need this $127 bathrobe in your life! You guys, you have to try this new makeup line!”
No, thank you. I’ll do a separate post on my favorite debt-free bloggers/influencers because it’s certainly helped me!
The best news of all is that we were able to pay off our Lowe’s credit card, which means we’ve got 5 creditors listed in our paid column on my spreadsheet! There is nothing quite like watching our debt total reduce each month!
Here’s hoping for a better July,