It's been awhile since I've done a debt-proof living update. The beginning of the new year seems like a good time.
We're still on track. We've been living this way of thinking since January of 2006. Three years. And I'll be honest, there are definitely high and low times, in other words - sometimes I wish I never heard of such a thing so I could spend and enjoy unawares, and others - I'm grateful. Mostly, I'm grateful. We put a lot more thought into our purchases now, live a lot smarter, plan ahead like we never have before and little by little we're making dents. And we're constantly learning.
Today, for realsies this time, we paid off the jeep. We had planned to pay it off in December - but some changes came up at Pa's work and the bonus he normally gets just before Christmas is now coming in April. Surprise! Let's talk about that for a second. Three years ago, that would have knocked our socks off - in fact, my first thought was - wow - some of the guys at work are really going to be broadsided by that one, because the fact is, we used to do all of our Christmas shopping with that check. Thank goodness we changed that habit two years ago. I now put into a Christmas fund monthly - and the bonus is exactly what it should be - a bonus, and money that we shouldn't count on, as came to light this year. But, we had been planning to cushion the funds and pay off the jeep with that bonus, so it did set that back a month.
And it's always a gamble.
What we have is an auto fund. This fund is used to 1. Pay for automotive repairs and 2. Save up for a new vehicle. The reason that it made sense to pay off the jeep is because the money in the fund was more than what we owed on the jeep. But. We still want to be cautious and make sure that we have enough in there should the radiator go, if you know what I mean.
So there's that.
Now. The jeep being paid off doesn't mean we have that extra money in our pocket. The theory is that we've been living just fine without that money until now - so we'll continue to use it to pay off debt. It was a debate what to do with that payment - to put it into the auto fund, because the reality is, both the vehicles are old - we'll need a new one at some point. OR. Roll that payment onto the credit card bill. We decided to do that, because in doing that, we should see the end of that bill by early fall....and at THAT point, we can roll that money into a vehicle fund. It's working, it really really is. And it's a heady feeling.
The other thing we have going on this year, as I mentioned, are some changes at Pa's work. They are cutting costs and saving pennies as a lot of companies in Michigan are right now, and one of the things that they've done is to switch the dates when we get paid.
For us it means that our very first paycheck of the year is coming one day later than all our heavy payments - the mortage, that type of thing. Three years ago this would have been a problem - but now, thanks to the emergency fund, it won't be. It'll balance out. But it does mean some adjustments on how I pay some bills - it'll be another learning curve for us - and it would be nice, ideally, to get one check ahead. We ain't that savvy yet tho, but getting there.
So 2008 was good for us - we paid off both the vehicles, paid off a nice large chunk of other debt, didn't add any bad debt at all and are making steps forward. We remind ourselves of this when things do feel tight - we often feel like we don't have any money for extras, that the higher gas bills really took a bite out of our travel plans - but the bottom line is that we're making strides and we'll appreciate the payoff in the long run.
This year we plan to pay off our only credit card, save for a vehicle, start building some more funds and continue to avoid bad debt.
If anyone has any questions - feel free to email or comment here and I'll do a q&a post as well. The link in the first sentence will bring you to more of my debt proof living posts.
It's a good thing.