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Viewing the 'Uncategorized' Category: TarWalker's Blog
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Removed Some Debt

May 31st, 2016 at 05:18 pm

I love this community. I know I am not a frequent poster or commenter, but I feel like I know some of you personally. And I LOVE how supportive everyone is. As for MN State Fair, we're close enough to visit semi-frequently, but far enough away that we need a hotel or stay at a friends for a long weekend. The Twin Cities Area is one of our favorite places.

Now for the important news: We decided to cancel the siding and windows. While the windows are on the "really do need rather soon" side, we can wait. Siding, while it would have been convenient to get it done (our house is old clap board and UGLY), it isn't necessary. It was more of excitement to be done and be done. We could sell the house faster if we had the new windows and siding, but we don't need to, so we can wait. Found it was hard to talk ourselves out of the convenience. But we did it!

$96,972.85___Mortgage (29yrs left, $784.42/mo, 3.875%)
$24,569.93___Van Loan (39mo left, $641.89/mo, 0%)
$13,886.77___Home Project Loan (6.5yrs left, $220.89, 7.99%)
$_9,000.00___Student Loan (no payments while in school, $?, 6.8%)

I feel better about the numbers. I might take the extra monthly payment I was going to put towards the siding and apply it to the Home Project Loan. I thought I could handle the extra payment, so why can't I use it this way? Maybe I'll go even farther and take every spare penny that my husband's raise brings in and apply it. Hmmmm.... I might just do that.a

Debt and Denial

May 28th, 2016 at 05:24 pm

I've started to write several blog posts, but I've never gotten to the point of finishing. Life and denial keep getting in my way.

I have to admit, I'm in denial. And denial. And DENIAL. I guess it would be best to start coming "clean" again. Hello, My name is Tarwalker, and I am in debt.

$96,972.85___Mortgage (29yrs left, $784.42/mo, 3.875%)
$26,243.00___Siding and Windows (10 years, ~$262/mo, 2.99%)
$24,569.93___Van Loan (39mo left, $641.89/mo, 0%)
$13,886.77___Home Project Loan (6.5yrs left, $220.89, 7.99%)
$_9,000.00___Student Loan (no payments while in school, $?, 6.8%)

We were debt free in August 2014 after paying down something like $60k. For a month or two max. Then we bought a new van because two kids in rear facing plus a Golden Retriever and a 6'something husband... Then mid-2015 we bought a house because apartment and living with parents weren't working. That needed repairs. And then husband went back to school to get in a new field. And then he took a huge paycut to get his internship requirement completed. And both my kids have health issues and are autistic.

Just a roller coaster of a few years. Time to stop. Time to get my kill the debt intensity back.

(Side note: The siding and windows were the LAST big cost project for the house. Everything else we have the materials and just need to put in the sweat equity. There might be some small costs here and there left, but that's it! I'm so excited. Beyond excited!)

Income is tight right now with husband being at such a low income for the internship. He's completed his requirements, so is job hunting for full time work. Really anything with benefits would be a HUGE bump up right now.

We have cut down on our fixed costs as much as possible. Changed phone plans to Cricket which will save us somewhere around $50 per month. We are cutting back on electricity and water consumption. We got our internet cost dropped down.

We've switched budgeting techniques again for variables. I just don't have time to do quicken anymore, despite my love for it. Putting expenses on credit card and paying it off in full ended up to be too easy to overspend a little here and there. When I watched it frequently, it was different.

So we are on a variation of the envelope system. My take-home pays for the solid costs every month: mortgage, utilities, cell phone, internet, car loan, home project loans, and personal allowances. It's all on autopay, with me checking in before and after it hits. Hubby's little pay has to cover all the discretionary items, so we calculated what he brings home weekly, and then rounded down a bit for fluctuation, and then left our weekly gas money in checking. We left the gas there because it's so much easier with two little kids to pay for gas directly at the pump with a card than to run inside to pay.

The remaining gets divided up into Groceries, Restaurants, Boys' Stuff, Dog Stuff, and Misc Who Knows. First three weeks worked ok. It's definitely making me hesitate to buy things, because A) I don't carry the cash with me everywhere and B) I don't want to use cash. It's strange because it used to be that if I had cash, it was GONE, with no clue where it went. Now I hesitate to use it. Oh, how time changes us. Trying to count dollars as I go thru the crowded grocery store to make sure we stay under is interesting, but definitely helping curb the grocery budget.

If we have leftover in our cash envelopes, we are throwing it into a jar to save for hopefully a nice long weekend trip to the MN State Fair plus at the end of August. We will see if we can swing it. It's something we look forward to every year, but don't always get to make it. It's something that brings us so much joy, and will be a much needed break from therapies. If I didn't NEED that break, I would use save or pay down debt...

BUT I REALLY NEED THAT VACATION. It shouldn't be terribly expensive and anything left over will get thrown at debt. I'm an introvert with multiple therapists coming six days a week to my house, and I am taking the kids to special therapists for two hours to four hours a week. And then working in between and then trying to cram errands and chores in the one last day of a week. I am overwhelmed by people. TOO MUCH for me. If it wasn't doing absolute wonders for my oldest, I would say no thank you just for my personal sanity.

So knowing I just have to make thru the summer months before I get a good five day break, oh, how much that has helped me breathe. If we don't get the money saved up, we'll just stay around here. But cabin fever is getting a hold of me, so we'll probably find something to do somewhere cheap.

I do really well with the snowball method. I am going to do a mix of attacking the high interest first and the lowest amount first. The kill order is van loan (by virtue of how many payments left, no extra since it's zero percent), Home Depot loan (7.99%), siding and windows loan (2.99%), Student Loans (6.8% - since we don't know exact how much or when payments will be I am leaving this on lower priority, will re-evaluate later), then the Mortgage.

If I just plan to roll over our debt payments as each gets paid off (except for car), we will be debt free in fifteen, including mortgage. Less than ten if we include the car payment. Ideally, husband should have a HUGE increase in income by next summer at the latest (please cross fingers). That means we could be completely consumer debt free in three and mortgage free within 5 or 6 years.

I feel better knowing that there is a light in a tunnel. It won't be thirty years before we climb out of this hole we have dug.

Not the best choices lead to where I am. I am not making the greatest choices in getting out. But I am going to make progress. And I am going to get out of this hole. I feel better coming clean and confronting it. Thanks for "listening". I really needed to do this.

Plugging away

April 11th, 2016 at 05:34 pm

I'm still surviving day to day. I'm struggling, but getting better. There so much going on and not enough time to do everything else. I need to find a new me-time outlet. Hard when by time I get it, I need to go to sleep. I think the routine is starting to even out though.

Husband took an internship in his new degree he's working towards which took a BIG hit to finances. It'll be a low key spring and summer with using what is at home. Might help us lose weight and meal plan better. We've cut back a lot, so we are going to coast through just fine.

Taxes are done. We finally are getting a decent fridge delivered here in the next few weeks. The Craigslist purchase is on its last legs. Crossing fingers it will last until the new one arrives. It did it's job, so I'm happy. Tax returns are covering that and the cheap-o fence we put in in the backyard to keep my wandering kids in.

Found out a few weeks ago that both my kids are autistic. Youngest might not get services until 2 years old, but they are appealing. Whatever happened to "early intervention"? It's HUGE. Get to them early. They are completely opposite issues though, so I'm struggling to figure out my youngest's keys. When it clicks, it's the best feeling in the world. Patience and keep trying. There is a program that does birth to three, but they are useless in my county. Had such a bad experience with my older that it set back him getting proper help for six months. Won't go through that headache again.

I have found that people a several years younger than me don't seem to have the same imaginary play that I had. I wonder if electronics really took that away from them? When I used to babysit, I had all sorts of ideas. The kids and I were never, ever bored. And you don't need a constant supplies of new toys or craft stuff. Sticks and stones could be anything. Give me several blankets and we are going to be busy for days. These paraprofessionals don't seem to have the same imagination. Makes me feel like I need to go out and buy more and more toys/supplies. It's exhausting. I don't have the energy to take care of the kids, the appointments, work, and teach adults how to imagine things and keep the kids engaged. That's supposed to be their job. End rant. Gah, now I feel old. "Back in my day..." :-p


February 10th, 2016 at 09:08 pm

I'm juggling too much: my older son's therapy at a clinic and starting the in-home therapy, my younger son's interesting issue where he can technically "hear" but doesn't respond to noises very often, trying to fit in work which is its own whole ball of wax, my husband in night classes four times a week while still working full time, housework since I have people coming 5 to 6 days a week, finishing fixer-upper stuff, and then trying to take care of myself. Oh, and my entire family has been sick for half of 2016 already. Like stay home, away from work/school sick. Just awful.

Money-wise, we are ok. I think we're spending just within our limits or slightly above, but I'm not positive. Credit cards are paid in full. We've had student loans come through and my husband's workplace will be reimbursing us here shortly. My HSA is fully funded, and will be used up here shortly.

Goals have fallen to more of the spontaneous daily kind. Almost a "what three things can I get done today". Usually they're simple like flip laundry or take out trash, but it's about all I can do.

I do need to figure out tax stuff. I'm not sure if I need an accountant this year or not. TurboTax and the like doesn't handle my particual situation very well. I feel like I got quadruple the number of tax forms this year than any other year. I guess buying a house plus ACA will do that to you.

2016: The Year to Coast

January 4th, 2016 at 08:55 pm

After the chaos of 2015 with all the changes (job, apartment, fixer upper house, children's health, husband at school), I'm determined that my motto this year is to "coast".

I have no 2015 financial recap. My tracking was horrendous. I do know I've added a LOT more debt, and I'm just going to coast on it for awhile as I have very little brain capacity to do otherwise. As long as I keep working at least part-time, we will only be adding student loan debt (to be paid back by his work upon good grades).


So my goals for 2016 are going to be quite simple:
1) Keep under or close to last month's income
2) Keep everything on the sane side of chaos (aka do just enough chores/activities/organizing/etc)
3) No new debt


My goals for January are:
1) Stay under last month's income (minus extra paycheck) - this will be hard as somehow we spent a third of the budget in the first three days.

2) Pack lunch daily - this will be easier as I have to pack my son's lunch for his autism therapy sessions

3) Try to do something for myself at least once a week - This will be really hard as I'm not guarenteed I'll get time to myself, so it might just have to be a splurge food.


Also, a quick update on my kids: The older has done really well with speech. It's really popping now, so I'm absolutely beyond thrilled. Insurance has paid for everything, which is awesome! He's going into an intense OT/Speech therapy for a month, then we'll transition to an at home therapy with some OT/Speech sessions sprinkled throughout the week. The younger... well, he's walking and happy, but... we don't think he can hear a single thing. So yet another medical thing we are looking into for him. Until the hearing test, I'm upping my sign language skills. He's not latching onto it yet, but I can tell he's liking that I'm working on interacting more in his visual plane. I'm definitely going to be hitting my deductible early. Thankfully that's where my extra paycheck (of the month AND year) went to - the HSA. Have I mentioned that I love HSA's? Because I do. A lot. :-p

EOM coming fast

November 25th, 2015 at 07:36 pm

We have spent a good chunk of this month's variable income. I only have $190 some odd dollars left. I was expecting to be higher before we go into this last weekend. We still have to pick up groceries, probably around $75, and fill up on gas on both vehicles, probably around $60 for both. Which will leave us with around $50ish. A lot less than my hope of $100 to $200. We are slightly over spending on groceries, and then I had a few unexpected things pop up that I needed to buy (snow boots for the older, plastic for the windows, etc). Tracking spending has been very useful. It's definitely kept me from spending on frivoulous stuff.

Personally, I am still soda free! It's been a month! I have been drinking coffee daily, but that's only a cup or two. Much easier to limit. Eventually I'd like to get caffeine free, but going from 5+ cans of soda down to none is really, really impressive for me. I've also been doing some sort of stretching or exercising daily, using house work as "weightlifting" or "cardio". Cleaning is coming around as my oldest is in the "make mess" stage. And the garage, due to a minor water leak (need to add more tar around a pipe on the roof), got mostly cleaned out. I think we can finish it this weekend easily.

NaNoWriMo... I'm at a few thousand words, on two different stories. I have good chunks written out in my head, just no time to sit down to type it. Even then, about 1,000 words are handwritten on random pieces of paper. I guess since my point was just to start doing it again, I'm kind of on track. The creative juices are flowing so much that I'm dreaming of my storyland.

In other news, my youngest had a follow up MRI and one of the issues has been mostly resolved! Yay for modern medicine! which he gets to taper off now. :-D His other issue got very slightly worse, but still static and not causing problems yet. There will be more follow ups later. The good thing is that this issue might never cause problems so hopefully it will just always be a watch, wait and see thing. That would be soooo nice.

As for my oldest, he finally has been diagnosed of being on the autism spectrum. It's such a relief because now I'll be getting more tools to help him. Speech has been AMAZING for him, but he still has a long way to go on many things. Luckily he's quite high-functioning, but social and transitions and certain sensory things are slowing him down. They are so optimistic that with getting help early and doing an intensive therapy, that perhaps in a few years, no one will be able to tell that he was ever on the spectrum.

But with this therapy, I might need to transition to part-time/mostly stay at home mom to juggle all the therapy appointments. It will be interesting. Health insurance is the only thing causing problems. My husband's company's health insurance SUCKS, a lot, in cost, access, and navigation. I am paying out the wazoo for mine, but it's GOOD. With GREAT doctors and easy to navigate. Worth every dang penny this year. Looking around now since going part-time would make me lose my insurance. Cobra vs individual vs exchange. If only my husband's work didn't offer, then we could pick what we would need on the exchange and get subsidies. Bleh. There's almost no winning.

As for goals, I'm going to do the same for December: Track spending, work off of last month's income, cut down eating out/vending machines. I even have most of my Christmas shopping done already (had them for a few months). I just need a few little things for stockings and something small for hubby. I might do some handmade gifts for the grandparents with stuff I already have.

Personally, I'm going to keep with no soda, stretching/exercising daily, and.... I'm not sure. Hmmm... I'll have to think about that. Actually, I think I just need to take the time to reflect on 2015 and the upcoming 2016. So many changes have happened and are going to keep happening.

Day Two

November 2nd, 2015 at 09:51 pm

Month is going really well so far! I know it's only half way through day two, but I'm feeling good.

We have our last month's salary figured out, and after all the regular bills (mortgage, phones, car, daycare, allowances, utilities, yearly savings) for the month was subtracted, it left a bit more than $900 left for us to work on variables (groceries, gas, diapers, formula, dog food, etc). Seems very, very doable! I'm hoping to hit under that and have a good $100 to $200 to put into savings. We are starting off well with packing lunch (and dinner on my husband's part) today. And I have enough for lunches all week for me. I'll have to come up with something for hubby the next two days at least. I'm setting up the whiteboard in the kitchen tonight. We spent $17.07 yesterday on door entry rugs. Our new floors were getting very dirty with leaves and rain.

I have been soda free for 9 days!!!! Pretty impressive for me. I've had a few cups of coffee to get over the hump, but even the cravings are finally dropping. Yesterday I raked part of the yard for 30 minutes, so I'm counting that as exercise. Boys and I might have a dance party tonight. I started a bit on NaNoWriMo today. A friend gave me three very random items to start off with because I was stumped, and that became 300 words during my break. It will be an interesting story. Not sure where it will go.

I have a ton of cleaning to do this week. My friend is coming to visit this weekend. I'm so excited, but man, two kids under three really make it hard to keep up with normal cleaning. Plus setting up the guest room for the first time is a lot of work. I had to ask if she gets claustrophobic. Thankfully no. There's still a good chunk of that room that has box stacked ceiling high. If only I could get my basement or garage cleaned out, but that involves some no-kid time, which is a rarity these days between my kid's therapy, work, and husband at school.

Some Goals

October 26th, 2015 at 04:45 pm

We haven't slowed the money out faucet yet. So many things have been popping up - sicknesses of everyone, husband's wisdom teeth removal, potty training and a new bed for the two+ year old, a birthday and another coming up, therapy and extra doctors appointments, very little time to grocery shop or meal plan properly... It's all added up again, and I had to pull money from savings. I HATE pulling money from savings.

So hubby and I are going to try to do a few things in November:
1) Live on last month's income
2) Cut down, if not stop, eating out lunches and using vending machines at work
3) Track every penny on a large whiteboard in the kitchen

We are aiming for a very low spending month. I might even leave all my money at home, except a $20 you-forgot-gas-again!? bill for me in the car. I've been on 'E' more than I'd like to admit lately from not paying attention. Hoping to have some leftover to bump up savings.

Personally, I'm going to aim high in November:
1) Quit Soda - I'm almost there already, so it won't be cold turkey this time. What an addiction. Ugh.
2) NaNoWriMo - I'll be happy if I write even a quarter of the requirement though. I have missed writing.
3) Exercise or Stretch (almost) daily - My body needs to regain it's strength. It's still wiped from pregnancy, even though it's been a year-ish already.
4) Chores - I need to start a simple cleaning routine so it won't be so overwhelming come weekend.
5) Clean out garage - We had to scrape the cars' windows this morning. We have a perfectly useable garage, I just need to remove/pick up a LOT of construction stuff.

We'll see. I'm optimistic though. I like cooler weather and no humidity, so I'm feeling energy again! Now if only the day light hours weren't so short!

CC debt gone

September 28th, 2015 at 05:38 pm

Seemingly out of no where (or so it felt like), we had enough to pay off both credit cards before interest accrued! Yay for no credit card debt!

Now to make sure we don't put too much on it so we can continue paying in full every month! Tempted to "lock" them up, but we use them for rewards on gas and online shopping. It shouldn't be too hard. We don't eat out much any more now that we have a stove, and that was our biggest variable expense (meaning anywhere from $30 to $toomuch). I did close one of my store cards I never use last week. So nice to have one less thing to manage. We are down to three credit cards (one personal each, and one joint) and two store cards (can't beat Target and Kohls for their card deals). I've always paid in full since something like 2009 when we finally got all our moving/wedding expenses paid off. It was causing me stress to think we weren't going to be able to do that this time.

This next weekend is the last push to get things done on the house before winter - roof, gutters, soffit, fix siding, caulk around windows, etc. All hands on deck style. Crossing fingers, toes, arms, and knees that it doesn't rain this weekend!


September 24th, 2015 at 09:14 pm

I've gone from having paid off a lot of debt (wedding, credit card from cross country moves, school loans, car loans) to being debt free for a few months to having lots of debt again.

I've been in a little bit of denial about it all. But it's been slowly coming to the forefront of my mind. Car loan, Mortgage, Student Loans, Home Improvement Loan, and carrying a credit card balance for the first time this month in YEARS. We are probably at $150k, including mortgage. OUCH. shivers. OUCH.

The house purchase and improvements were so worth it (I can't stress how worth it was for sanity and enjoyment of life), and I think we're almost done. I have to buy roofing materials, but that will be only around $3k (going on home improvement loan). Then we are done with purchases. !celebrate!

Overall plans for each of debts:
Car loan: at 0%, so this is lowest on priority. Around $30k.
Mortgage: already throwing an extra $40 some odd dollars at it a month on autopilot. Around $98k at 3.875%.
Student Loans: husband took out whatever he was offered just to ensure we had enough cash flow for the moment. He should get reimbursed around 75% (up to something) at end of the semester thru his work. I don't remember how much this will end up being. This will hopefully be the only semester we have to take a loan out for, depending on how quick his company is on turn around time.
Home Improvement Loan: This will end up being around $15k at 7.99% for 7 years. I plan to accelerate the pace only after my credit cards are paid in full and we have enough to pay for the rest of the tuition up front each semester. We ended up spending more than expected, but we did some major things that I wasn't thinking we were going to do right away. Good to get it done with now, I guess.
Credit Cards: Still juggling to see if I can pay off the one totally before due date and interest hits. The other will be carrying probably around $3k and we will "slowly" chip at it the next three months. In reality, we'll be throwing whatever we have at it.

Savings wise, we're still good. $3k EF, $1,200 Car fund (insurance, tires, oil changes, etc), plus another $1k in other various cash funds. HSA is starting to be replenished (will have next year's deductible by end of February already in it which is about when I expect to hit the deductible). I'm contributing $125/paycheck to my 401k and husband is contributing somewhere between 6 and 10% to his Roth 401k.

So really, we're actually doing ok. Not stellar, but ok. Just need to get through these next few months and then it'll start going down fast. Or at least it will in my dreams. But I've done it before (gotten out of debt that is), and I can do it again! Takes a few years, but it's totally doable!

Other random news: Speech is going so very well! It's so nice to find something that is finally clicking with him. Here to find out he has trouble blowing out and thrusting out his tongue. Lots to work on. Hopefully insurance will keep upping his speech therapy allotment, and I won't have to pay out of pocket. I'd go gladdy deep into debt for this therapy though because it's making him into a whole different child with being able to communicate better. It might even make our other developmental concerns mute, which would be phenomenal.