Um, we’re not poor anymore …

by Erika Torres
34 comments

My car needs to get new brakes, new tires, and new rotors (whatever those are). And an oil change.

My younger brother is a budding mechanic so I asked if he could take care of it, and I would pay him for his time.

He started telling me how much everything would cost.

“Do you have $120 to spend on new brakes right now?” he asked me.

And I said “yes, of course, just let me know how much you need.”

He then told me I need new tires. “That’s going to be about another $100 per tire, do you want me to hold off on those until you can save up money?”

“No we’re good, just do everything now and tell me how much the total is.”

“Can you afford to get the oil and air filter replaced as well?” he asked.

“Yes! Just tell me how much the total is and we’ll pay it! We’re not poor!

I was laughing while I told him, but I couldn’t understand why he kept asking if we could afford the car repairs. He reminded me how two years ago, I practically had a heart attack when I found out I had to spend $200 on repairs.

Two years ago, we were:

We were on a very tight budget, and it was true that I threw a stink anytime I had to buy something that wasn’t in the budget.

While we’re still incredibly frugal, we’re also on much better footing financially. Today, we:

  • are living in a two-bedroom townhome
  • have a savings account, an emergency fund, a Christmas fund, and a car fund (for insurance, repairs, and registration)
  • have no credit card debt
  • are paying for graduate school with no loans
  • are continuing to pay down student loan debt

Did I mention we’re also able to travel now thanks to the side hustle income?

My brother was just watching out for our finances by asking me if we could afford the car repairs. But in doing so, he made me realize just how far we’ve come in the past two years.

It was a small moment, but it made me feel really good about my life and happy with how far we’ve come. I can only imagine what the next two years will bring.

Are you better off now than you were two years ago?

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34 comments

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lynne @ lgsmash May 7, 2013 - 10:37 am

hi! love this post – my husband and i are aggressively paying down our debt (just a few more credit card payments + undergrad loans!) and feel great about our progress (like you!)

my question is about paying for grad school with no loans… i may have missed a post on this but my husband is considering a MBA programs and is studying hard for the GMAT – could you expand on your plan to pay for grad school with no loans? did you build a savings? scholarships?

thanks in advance for any tips you may have! 🙂

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Megan April 2, 2013 - 4:34 pm

Awesome! What an amazing feeling, I’m sure!

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The Happy Homeowner April 1, 2013 - 4:46 pm

What an awesome reminder that hard work really does pay off! I bet it was a great feeling to realize these repairs aren’t setting you back. 🙂

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Alexis Marlons March 31, 2013 - 3:05 am

Those were such great achievements in just a span of two years. I’m sure you’ll still have a lot of achievements in the next years to come.

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The Norwegian Girl March 30, 2013 - 4:45 am

I´m happy for you that you`re in a better financial place! 🙂
Well, I guess we`re in a better place, because BF is working, and we live (rent) in a very good neighbourhood, we have all we need, and even if I don`t have much money as I`m still a student, I´ve gotten so much better with my budgeting skills, and always make ends meet, and I´m still able to save up some money.

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Mo' Money Mo' Houses March 28, 2013 - 4:00 pm

Um I’m definitely not making as much as I’d like but I’m not as poor as I was two years ago that’s for sure. I was also living in a shack and making substantially less money. Man I’m glad things got better in these two years!

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Jessica March 28, 2013 - 1:17 pm

That’s impressive! it’s good when you get moments like those that are eye-opening. I had something similar happen to me a few days ago I was complaining about paying bills and never enjoying my money and my husband said well now we are rich,last year we had no home, no car, nothing to call our own. Now we have our own apt and a hoopty :). Progess!

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Army Amy March 28, 2013 - 7:56 am

We’ve definitely had times in our lives where we were worse off than we are now. (Like, eating $2 Tony’s frozen pizzas for dinner multiple times a week because it was the best we could do.) I’m happy to say we aren’t there any more.

But are we better off than two years ago? Probably not. When Stephen was deployed, we were making bank. (His expenses were low, I was working a good job, he got combat pay, we saved a ton.) Since moving to Germany, we are doing okay, but it was impossible to get a job here. Now we are moving, which is expensive even with the monetary help the military provides. We are definitely in a state of flux. I’m crossing my fingers that after we move and get settled, that I get a job. That’ll make a huge difference in how much dough we are raking in.

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Holly@ClubThrifty March 28, 2013 - 4:13 am

Great job! We’re definitely better off than we were two years ago as well. I’m glad we’re all making progress~

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Sanibel March 28, 2013 - 3:54 am

This is awesome! You guys have come so far and it is nice to look back and see the difference! It helps to have a mechanic in the family, the Husband takes care of all of that for us too and it saves major $$$!

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ND Chic March 27, 2013 - 6:06 pm

Its little conversations like that that really put things into perspective. Also, at least he asked instead of assuming.

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jobo March 27, 2013 - 10:25 am

I love this!! you have done SO WELL for yourself over the last few years and so smartly! I am impressed 🙂 I agree that I am WAY better off than I was two years ago, for sure. We feel tighter in our budget now than we have before as we save like whoa for our move, but beyond that? It feels good to feel secure, doesn’t it?

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Tanner March 27, 2013 - 9:36 am

Good job to your brother. Not many people are considerate about other finances and assume that they can or should afford things. And kudos to you! You’ve indeed come a long way. I am definitely doing somewhat better than two years. No active credit card debt and it feels great to not be bleeding $80+ every month just in interest. I also have a positive net worth, and a stable EF fund with misc savings. Definitely come a long way, and plan to keep going.

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Tina @ My Shiny Pennies March 27, 2013 - 9:00 am

Way to go!!! It’s not fun to spend money on car repairs, but I bet it’s nice to know that you don’t have to incur debt. I feel I’m better off than where I was two years ago since I’m a little more established in my career.

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Kristin March 27, 2013 - 8:28 am

Our debt is gone thanks to deployment money. However, we’re used to living this expensive life in Alaska and being paid extra for living here. When we’re re-located to the lower 48 next month (and we lose my salary), I fear it will be eye-opening :/
I just keep trying to remember that (like with diet/exercise), finances are a process. Sometimes you’re better off than others, right?

You can definitely be proud of where you’ve gotten to in the last 2 years!

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Money Beagle March 27, 2013 - 6:43 am

That’s great. It’s amazing how much can change in two years, and when you look at it from that perspective, I bet it seems like a lot more overall progress than you felt at the various points along the way. The long term success and being able to take a step back is the biggest key to making improvements, but you need those short term milestones to stay motivated. Great job!

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Jordann @ My Alternate Life March 27, 2013 - 5:58 am

It’s so nice to be able to look back and realize how far you’ve come! Two years ago I was preparing for final exams for my last semester of University, so I would definitely say I’m better off now!

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JW_Umbrella Treasury March 27, 2013 - 3:54 am

Congrats on making such impressive progress in a short period of time.

We’re doing much better than two years ago. I have been very fortunate in my job situation, particularly in the last two years. I was living in a basement studio. apartment at the time (not good, since it flooded during Hurricane Irene). My husband was still searching for work two years ago, but now he has a good, steady full-time job. And we now have a bright, sunny two-bedroom apartment. We feel very fortunate.

Here’s hoping we make similar progress in the next two years!

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Michelle's Finance Journal March 26, 2013 - 6:56 pm

It’s so good for you~ I hope to have emergency fund and all my finances in order some day too.

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Nichole C March 26, 2013 - 6:36 pm

That is AWESOME and also a really great feeling, isn’t it?!

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krantcents March 26, 2013 - 5:16 pm

Yes, because I no longer have furlough days. This was the school district’s scheme to solve budget shortfalls.

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Budget & the Beach March 26, 2013 - 4:55 pm

That is such a great feeling isn’t it? I mean it’s not like your Donald Trump rich, but to just be comfortable paying for those little things life throws at you and still have money to live a life…now that’s something isn’t it! I’m getting there. I know at least I’m doing MUCH better than one year ago!

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eemusings March 26, 2013 - 4:32 pm

Awesome stuff! High five.

Car repairs are one of those things I always have money for – if not in the regular bills fund for all that kind of stuff, then the EF. if it’s gotta be done, it’s gotta be done. I think T finds this baffling as I’m such a tightwad in the day to day but when the car needs fixing I tell “just do what needs to be done”.

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Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies March 26, 2013 - 4:31 pm

We are definitely less crunched than we were a couple of years ago. This time two years ago, we were crunched for money and time as we had just bought our duplex and were throwing every dime and hour of manual labor we could at it. Amazing that it all feels like a distant memory…

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Erica March 26, 2013 - 3:57 pm

Financially speaking, I am much better off! I am finally out of a bad payday advance cycle (thank God!), out from under a horrifying interest rate on my old car, and able to pay all bills on time in full each month. I am contributing to my 401k (and upping contributions in next pay period), and have gotten rid off all one-time debt. I am back down to just car loan and student loans.

I have been able to splurge on my passions as well. I went on two long weekend getaways last year. This year, I bought my first domain. I am having a header designed and buying hosting. I have my first laptop as well as of Sunday the 17th!

I admit I wish other areas of life showed more improvement or were moving faster, but I can’t help but marvel at the ground covered.

Reading about your changes in circumstances has been so inspirational for me. Keep the posts coming, and keep progressing!

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Michelle March 26, 2013 - 3:41 pm

Great post! You guys are doing awesome. This is something that me and W have been thinking about a lot lately. We are doing SO MUCH better than we were 2 years ago, and have never been happier 🙂

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SavvyFinancialLatina March 26, 2013 - 2:26 pm

Congrats! That’s so awesome!

We have come a long way from two years ago. I think we are much happier 🙂

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CeCe @Frugalista Married March 26, 2013 - 2:19 pm

That’s awesome! To be like…oh yeah I’m not stressed over money and if I need something I can afford to get it. What a nice feeling. You were diligent and stuck to your goals and it paid off.

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Emily @ evolvingPF March 26, 2013 - 2:17 pm

What a wonderful way to realize your progress! I’ve noticed that feeling regarding car repairs as well – it’s not an emergency to need some repairs, it’s something that we expect and we have saving specifically for it. It feels great to not have to freak out about where the money would come from or to delay some needed upgrades.

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