We’ve made some concessions in order to live a better lifestyle, and while it has slowed down our debt repayment significantly–we’re also much happier for it.
I can’t blame our upgrade in housing as the sole source of our financial shortfalls–Eric was out of commission for four weeks when he injured his back, and then he started a new job and worked part-time for three months. It really feels like we’re finally digging ourselves out of the financial hole.
I definitely envy those people who can be all gazelle intense for a couple of years and pay off all their debt, but I’m not one of those people. I like to travel, I don’t like living in a shack, and while we’re definitely not buying more things, we are experiencing more things. We’re finally letting ourselves enjoy a night out every now and then, and we’re really starting to feel more like normal twenty-somethings rather than broke newlyweds.
We’re definitely still on a budget, but there have been some financial changes in our household:
We manage finances together
For the entire summer, Eric and I have been budgeting together. This has been the first time in our marriage where we’ve made a consistent effort to budget together. We had tried several times before, only to end in frustration time and time again. Now we sit down on a regular basis and go over every purchase. I keep tabs of our expenses in a notebook, and Eric manages the spreadsheet on Excel. I think this has really helped Eric see how quickly all of his $20 expenses add up–and it has saved us from so many arguments when we can actually stick to our budget.
Eric is now full-time
Perhaps most exciting is that Eric is FINALLY working full-time. Hall-e-freskin-yu-yah. We won’t get a check with his full-time hours until September, but I’m glad we know it’s coming. These past two months have been rough with extreme fluctuations in his paychecks, which made budgeting really hard, since we never knew how much he was going to bring in. One of the agreements we had when we decided to move to a bigger place, was that he had to bring in a certain amount of money every month–and due to all the craziness with his broken back, medical bills, and switching jobs, and then being part-time , he has totally failed on his part of the agreement. Here’s hoping to some steady paychecks from now on.
Paying off the credit card
We have finally cleared that damn balance off the credit card. Our goal was to have no balance by September 1st, and we made it! We officially paid it all off today. We get paid Friday, and so we need to stick to what we make, rather than relying on our credit card to hold us over.
Expanding the side hustle
My side hustle has taken off this past month. I took on a freelance position that is supplementing my side hustle with a significant amount of money. And to put the cherry on top, I absolutely love the work. Rather than contribute all this money to our Travel Fund, I decided to put a portion toward debt payoff and then split the rest between Christmas Fund, Travel Fund, and Saving up for School Fund.
Paying off debt
Because of the extra cash flow, I am able to make larger payments toward my student loans. I hope that by this time next month, I will have completed one of my last goals to pay off at least one student loan! Hopefully, I will even be able to pay off two loans by the end of the year!
Going back to school
I am going back to school to get my Master’s. At first, I really wanted to go to the local school just for simplicity’s sake and also because I would be able to start at the end of this month, rather than wait until March for the better school–BUT–after going to an orientation at the easier school, I got an uneasy feeling about it. So now I am applying to the better school, and hoping to start in March 2013. I’ll be done in Marc h 2015, or a month before I turn 31. Oh man, that sounds old.
My job will reimburse me up to 70% of the cost of school. So my plan is to save up enough to pay for the first two semesters. After that, I don’t have to worry as much because I can use the reimbursement to keep paying off future semesters.
Increasing Retirement Contributions
I am currently contributing 3% of my income to a 401K with a 3% match from my company, for a total of 6%. I will be getting a 3% raise in December after my annual review, and I will also be getting a bump in January, because my health deductible contributions won’t be as high. I plan to add 4% of my salary to my 401K, which will bring me up to 10%.
So this is the status of our finances. There’s a lot of balls up in the air, but we’re getting there slowly and surely!
If you’re married, do you manage the budget together?