Monday, April 20, 2015

2015 Goals: Financial Freedom | Debt Update + Every Dollar

You guys. One of my goals for 2015 was to pay off the smallest Sallie Mae loan and we did. Last week. It was a happy, happy day! While there are still two to go, totaling at about $17k, I see it. A teeny tiny light at the end of this tunnel.

Sallie Mae has tried to disguise herself by going by a new name, Navient, but we know who she is. You're not fooling anyone, lady. The bottom one was the one paid off last year around this time, but the one up top with the ZERO balance, that is last week's little victory.

There's a big post coming soon about Babies and Big Dreams, but basically, I saw having a surprise baby now as financial suicide. I truly did. Once we got over the initial shock of the whole life-altering news thing, I may have shed a tear or two as we started throwing all our Debt Snowball money into savings. This was the best, and Dave Ramsey approved, solution, and I am glad we did, but after taking a year off and now having a little teeny human to raise, I am more motivated than EVER to finish paying off these loans.

In an interesting turn of events, after much speculation about whether or not we could live off of my husband's modest income (we work at a school) we actually have to right now because of the whole maternity leave situation. I opted to split my FMLA so I did 8 full weeks off and then am doing 8 weeks of half days (read: half a paycheck) which was a GREAT IDEA. (Moms-to-be: take note. If you are like me and like to ease into major life transitions, this is the way to go. You do not have to take your leave all at once, look up the legislation! Anywho, that's another post for later.) Because of the circumstances and that we are pinching all our pennies, it would seem that, should things go according to plan (ha) we'll be able to eat a lot of rice & beans, pay our monthly expenses with hubs' income and as long as I make enough teaching online to cover the minimum payments, we'll be alright. Even better should I bring in more than minimum payments, that means paying them OFF. If you know me at all, you know that I am not afraid of a little work. I'll be bringing in more. I would much rather be a distracted work-all-the-time-mom now while Lincoln is teeny tiny than later when he can walk and talk and make jokes and memories...

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So, enter Every Dollar. We've used the cash envelope system. We've used YNAB (You Need a Budget). We've used Mint. We've used a combination of all three. Marshall's brain works well with any of these. My brain does not. I understood my role in YNAB and Mint where I was supposed to put my transactions in all the time...and often I forgot. Cash envelopes were good for me, I am a hands-on kind of person, so the visual of "there's no more money in here" was good for me, but often I had no idea where or what I had spent my cash on. I, really, really, really like Every Dollar.

In our Dave Ramsey relationship, I am the free spirit and Marshall is the nerd. He makes the complicated spreadsheets that I don't understand and then explains them to me. He pinches all his pennies, and I roll mine, cash them out for dollars and spend them. I was able to make our budget with Every Dollar in like, less than an hour. After talking to him I was able to quickly make changes to reflect it, and we've probably edited it 25 times since originally creating it, but oh my goodness. It was easy as pie to crunch numbers in there... what if I add here, take away here, etc. etc. and realize that it was possible for us to pay everything off of his income if we were just really intentional about giving every dollar (see what I did there?) a job.

But here's the thing, it really is, as Uncle Dave says, about behavior. As I noted above, I would forget to enter in transactions. When we had cash envelopes I would forget to save the receipt and write it on the envelope. When Mint loaded my transaction FOR ME I would forget to categorize it all together. I am all about doing it later. You can put transactions in, the amount and merchant and then categorize it later. It just puts a little circle with the number of transactions that need your attention at the bottom, when you touch it they show more information and then you drag and drop to the appropriate category. What a little game changing detail. In YNAB if you didn't categorize it, it just went into outer space and in Mint it had already categorized it for you, so it didn't matter. And well, the cash was just gone.
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You have to create the budget on the website and must modify it there, but the companion iPhone app is solid. For those of you that insist on having an Android device you'll get a version soon. Overall, I give this budget system two thumbs way, way up! For version 1.0, it is pretty great. Can't wait to see what changes they make!

So there's our debt free update, we've got a few more months of "just making" it ahead before I am actually bringing in any sort of real income to make a big dent, but I am making preparations! Anybody else on their debt free journey? We are 4 years and counting. I am finding that the most motivating thing at this point is listening to the podcasts and the debt free screams. So many people just changing their family trees every single day. My new commute routine may or may not be practicing what I will say in a few years when we finally get to do ours. In my hypothetical scream we have also paid off our house and Dave tells us we are "so weird". Pretty sure my obsession with Uncle Dave, my hypothetical scream and his podcast is, in fact, pretty weird. What is motivating you on your debt free journey? 

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