Thankfulness and the November 2012 Total Money Makeover Update

Many people have been posting something they’re thankful for each day of November on Facebook. I’ve decided to do the same on a weekly basis, but here in the (relative) quietness of my blog. Here are my first seven, in no particular order.

  1. I’m thankful for my husband Dexter. He is my best friend, and he knows when it’s time to bake a batch of brownies and brew a pot of tea. He’s so creative and has so many big dreams. I’m so proud that he’s started a business called Iron Swallow, which offers ready-made and custom comic book wallets, greeting card, and journals.
  2. I’m thankful for the health insurance and sick leave my job provides. I used both today and was reminded that I received amazing services, information, and medication with incredible flexibility and affordability that many people don’t have.
  3. I’m thankful to have a job I love. Real talk: sometimes I get really tired of my job. However, my students–with a smile, a question, or an enthusiastic “Miss Kelsey!”–always remind me that I love what I do.
  4. I’m thankful for parents who taught me about Jesus, always made sure I knew that I was loved, warned me to NOT EVER mess around with credit card debt, and have been a great example of what it looks like for two imperfect people work together to make a marriage survive and thrive.
  5. I’m thankful that we got through our fire safely, and that a year later we are back home with our puppies and a mostly unpacked house.
  6. I’m thankful for our roommate. She has introduced us to some amazing Honduran foods, she made my birthday celebration extra special, and she’s just a good friend.
  7. I’m thankful that for the first time since our fire, we are able to make extra payments on our debt each month! Since September, we paid off 1.3% of our debt and we have 63.6% to go!

What are you thankful for this month?

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September 2012 Total Money Makeover Update

Life is startling to feel a little bit normal again!

We received our insurance check in August. The mattress we ordered was delivered on Tuesday–which we are so excited about after 6 months of camping on our bedroom floor!

With our insurance money, we paid off Debt #3. We had had “just a little bit” left for a long time, and we are so happy to have that bill gone.

Thanks to our larger-than-normal payment on that debt, plus our minimum payments on our two remaining student loans, we paid off 3% of our debt over the past three months, and we have 64.9% to go.

Debts #4 and #5 are daunting. Thinking mathematically, I realize that we are not on track to pay off our debt entirely by March of 2014, which is the goal we set when we first embarked on our journey to debt freedom. However, we’ll keep that goal in mind to spur us on.

Total Money Makeover Update: March 2011

Photo Credit: Egahen

The past 28 days have been busy. Although in January I resolved to use cash for all of our spending, we never made it to the bank to get cash for this month. Fortunately, we didn’t have a lot of time for shopping, either, so I didn’t waste money on things we didn’t need. We bought food and toilet paper, and we paid our bills.

We had a friend move into our basement for a three-or-four-month stay and invited another friend to eat dinner with us on a regular basis, so we had to increase our grocery budget. I’m still figuring out what a grocery budget for three grown men and one woman should look like. Fortunately, I don’t think it will quite double what we currently spend. Hopefully, it will help us to use up everything we buy and will force me to plan meals better. (It’s a lot harder to “wing it” at dinner time when there are four stomachs to feed!) I may have gone a little crazy buying canned food for the nights I don’t feel up to cooking. There were some good sales on Indian food and Muir Glen organic soups the weekend our friend moved in, and I bought about 16 cans (which is really only about 8 meals). I’m hoping to get some freezer cooking done over spring break to further save money and take the stress out of making dinner. (Dish suggestions welcome!)

Last month, I shared a review of the progress we made after having done our Total Money Makeover for a whole year. It was rewarding to see how all our hard work has paid off! When I made this month’s budget, I was a little disappointed. We had lots of extra income due to our tax return, but we also had some larger-than-usual expenses, so the extra loan payment amount on my spreadsheet looked pretty boring and average. However, after totalling our remaining debt and calculating our percentage, I’m encouraged. This month, we paid off 1.1% of our debt and we have 76.6% to go.

I’m also encouraged as I look at the balances for each of our loans. I can see a difference even in the balance even for the loans we haven’t paid extra on. Debt #3, which we are working on now, is looking pretty conquerable. I’m hoping to have it gone by July 1. Debts #4 and #5 are still dauntingly huge, but Debt #5’s biggest digit will drop next month.

Currently, I’m taking Leah’s advice and praying for God to provide opportunities to earn extra money and speed up our debt repayment. For now, we’re pressing on and are hoping to be at the 75% point very soon!

Total Money Makeover Update: February 2011 and One Year Review!

First Birthday
One year ago, Dexter and I made the decision to buckle down about getting out of debt. We pored over Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover book, and my aunt and uncle gave us a subscription to Financial Peace University. Then we put what we learned into action. We cancelled our credit cards, switched to using a cash envelope system for most of our purchases, and we revised and tracked our budget month after month. We were encouraged as we tracked our debt repayment and had big months like April and July. We were discouraged the months we were lax about our spending or didn’t have much extra income.

It’s been a month since our last Total Money Makeover Update. In those 31 days, we paid off 0.9% of our debt. We also brought our baby emergency fund back up to $1,000 (because we realized after-the-fact last month that the money wasn’t all there to fill it up). We also took care of a few yearly expenses. We stayed pretty close to budget in most areas and succeeded in using the cash system *most* of the month.

Let’s take a look at the year in review, seeing what percent of our debt was repaid each month in the last year.

This brings us to a total of 22.3% of our debt GONE! We have 77.7% to go. Let’s break it down some more.

  • Highest Month – April (thanks to the tax-credit we received for buying our home!)
  • Lowest Month – September (my third consecutive month without a real paycheck)
  • Average Per Month – 1.9%
  • Projected finish date at the beginning: March 2014
  • Projected finish date at 1.9% paid per month: June 2014
  • Projected 50% date at 1.9% paid per month: May 2012

I so badly wanted to sell off everything we own to get down to 75% this month. I thought that being a quarter of the way through our debt in a quarter of the time we wanted to take to pay it off sounded really good. It’s disappointing to realize that we’re a few months behind schedule. However, I’m so thankful for how far we’ve come. Our debt is scheduled by the banks to be paid off in 20-30 years. Four years and some extra months is so much more encouraging than 30!

I’m also refusing to be discouraged because of some things we’ll be changing in the next year.

  • Last year, we saved $200/month to replace our car whenever that becomes necessary. Because we think we have enough saved to replace our car’s transmission if that were to go out or to buy an old car to tide us over till we’re out of debt, we’ve decided to stop saving for a car. From now on, we’ll have an extra $200 a month to put toward our debt!
  • Starting this summer, we’ll be having the housemate who lived with us last year move back in. Although last summer he lived here for the cost of groceries and a little for utilities, since he’ll be staying here long-term, we’ll actually be making a little profit from rent. We researched how much he’d be paying for accommodations nearby and are charging him a lower price. We’re hoping to save him money and speed up our debt repayment a little, too!

Most importantly, we’re refusing to be discouraged because we’re trusting God to work out our financial situation as he sees fit. If he wants us to be done in March 2014, that’s when we’ll be done. If he wants us to be done in June 2014 (or later), we’ll trust that his plan is good. If he wants us to be done earlier, I definitely won’t fight him either!

We’d like to say thanks to all of you who have encouraged us over the past year. Your positive comments, especially in the slowest months, meant a lot to us. Although we’ve heard stories about people being mocked and even berated about their decision to live frugally and become debt free, we’ve been blessed to have family and friends who think it’s cool that we’re making these financial decisions.

Let’s get year 2 of this Total Money Makeover started!

Total Money Makeover Update: January 2011

Photo Credit: brokenarts

Thanks to Dexter getting three paychecks this month instead of two, we were able to recover from last month’s spending spree, refill our emergency fund, and make a big extra payment on Debt #3. The first digit (biggest place value) in Debt #3 dropped by two this month, which is exciting for me as I look for any glimmer of hope as I calculate our debt each month.

Our day-to-day spending wasn’t as good as our big payments. We ate out more than we should have this month, and I definitely didn’t update my checkbook every day like I promised. I also gave myself permission to only use envelopes for groceries. This wasn’t very effective, because I kept forgetting about my envelopes altogether and used my card anyway. We’ll be back to the envelope system next month. We only use our bank card for the ATM, gas, and online purchases. I’m trying to devise a way to leave my bank card at home so I’m not tempted to use it or don’t accidentally use it. I wonder if I can use gift cards to pay at the pump at any gas stations? Then, as long as I get all my cash ahead of time or by going inside the bank, I shouldn’t need my card.

I was thinking about buying a refill of Dave Ramsey envelopes and reinforcing them with packing tape, but they’re currently out of stock. I like that they’re bound together, but they didn’t last long. I’d also probably cut the flaps off the envelopes because it takes too long to find my envelope and open it when I’m checking out. (It doesn’t seem like a legitimate problem, but I felt so slow when I used it before!) I also found this template for cute tabbed envelopes. I’m still deciding if it’s worth my time to make these when I can just use the plain white standard envelopes I already have. Maybe it would give me some inspiration to get back on track with my envelopes!

In summary, we paid off 1.8% of our debt this month and have 78.6% to go. We hope to pay off the rest of Debt #3, almost 8% of our total debt, this summer. Then we’ll just have two (miserably huge) debts to go!

Tune in next month for the one-year summary of our Total Money Makeover!

Total Money Makeover Update: December

If I were to choose a month for Dave Ramsey himself to swing over to my blog to check up on how we’re doing, I would not choose this month.

I didn’t use envelopes. We used money from our emergency account for a definite non-emergency. Gasp! (We bought a camera and fixed the car. I’m going to pretend the car stuff was a surprise so it will count as an emergency.) We bought lots of Christmas gifts and didn’t pay any extra on our loans.

I really loved not using envelopes. I’m so tempted to stop. 

I promise I would update the budget on the computer every single day.

Any thoughts? Do you think cash is worth the hassle? When I first started using it, my grocery spending dropped by 1/3. I’m hoping I’ve just developed wiser shopping habits and that I’ve been trained to spend sparsely.

As I predicted last month, we didn’t make monumental progress on our loans this month. Without making any extra payments, we paid of 0.8% of our debt this month and have 80.4% remaining.

Next month, we’ll refill our emergency fund and resume making extra loan payments. Funding for my after school job was almost cut entirely, but thankfully, I’m still able to be paid for 5 days of tutoring a month. I’m looking forward to having a little more planning time after school while still getting to work with my students once or twice a week.

Top Ten Tuesday & My First Blog Giveaway

Top Ten {Tuesday}

Ten months ago, Dexter and I started on our Total Money Makeover journey. Since then, we’ve built a $1,000 emergency fund and paid off almost 20% of our debt. Last month, Dexter and I gave a presentation at our house church about the basics of Dave Ramsey’s baby steps and biblical money principles.  Dave doesn’t pay us to be excited about his financial plan or to tell people about his methods, but beginning to follow Dave’s baby steps has changed our financial future so much that I can’t help but be excited about the hope it can bring people.

Don’t buy it yet? Here are our top ten reasons to do a Total Money Makeover with Dave.

  1. Freedom from financial bondage. Proverb 22:7 says, “The rich rules over the poor, but the borrower is slave to the lender.” There are things we can’t do or don’t feel like we can do because of our debt. Once it’s gone, no one will be making claims on our income.
  2. Building character through discipline. Many people believe God doesn’t care about their money. In one sense, they’re right. God doesn’t love rich people any better than he loves poor people. However, our money habits often shed light on the condition of our heart, and God cares about our hearts. Persevering through a journey toward debt freedom can build character as well as financial security. James 1:4 says, “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
  3. When we honor the Lord with our finances, we reap his blessing. I’m certainly not saying that God will reward you financially or immediately for the responsible choices or generous giving you do. However, Proverbs 3:9-10 says, “Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will be bursting with wine.” God sees the bigger picture and may choose to bless you eternally rather than materially on Earth.
  4. Ability to give generously. It is thought that Theophilus, who was mentioned at the beginning of the book of Luke, allowed Luke to dedicate time to writing important accounts of the life of Christ and the early church by providing financial support. Being able to support children through Compassion or missionaries through Gospel for Asiais a great way to participate in the spreading of the gospel worldwide. Right now, Dexter and I do tithe at our local church and give to certain charitable organizations, but once we are free from debt, we’ll be able to give more and accomplish more with our money.
  5. Know how to provide for loved ones through debt-freedom, insurance, savings. We’ve learned about the benefits of debt freedom (and how to get there), important kinds of insurance to purchase, and what good savings goals are. Hopefully, we’ll be able to keep our future children’s childhoods free from stressful financial chaos, teach them biblical and practical truths about finances, and help our family and friends on their journey to financial security.
  6. Everything is simplified. After we canceled our credit cards, I was amazed at how streamlined balancing the checkbook and tracking our budget became. Instead of tracking purchases from 3 or 4 cards, forgetting to pay bills for cards we didn’t use often, and accidentally recording transactions for the wrong card, I now only have to look at our checking account. Since we use cash for groceries, household items, and discretionary spending, the number of transactions I have to track has significantly reduced. This has been a huge timesaver.
  7. Preparation for emergencies. Things that used to be stressful emergencies can be planned for, or at least taken care of with the emergency fund or sufficient insurance.
  8. Actions and patterns of thinking to set us apart from the world. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” Dave Ramsey often says, “If normal is broke, I don’t want to be normal.” Having the priority of financial responsibility and generosity will set us apart in a consuming culture.
  9. Fulfilling dreams. Some of our dreams include traveling, working from home, and adopting children. All of these will require saving money and building financial security. What dreams could you fulfill if you weren’t worried about finances?
  10. Learning how to change your financial future just got easier! Because Dave Ramsey’s plan has blessed us so much, we wanted to pass on some of our newfound knowledge to you. Below, see information on the books I’m giving away and how to enter the giveaway.

The first book I’ll be giving away is Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness. I’ve read this book a number of times and have consulted it to refresh my memory on some of Dave’s core concepts. It contains lots of inspiring stories about people who worked hard and succeeded at paying off their debt.

I’ll also be giving away a copy of Financial Peace Revisited, the companion book to Dave’s Financial Peace University class. In it, you’ll find information about Dave’s own journey from wealth to financial trouble and back again. It also contains snippets written by his wife Sharon.

Finally, I’ll be giving a way a copy of More than Enough: The 10 Keys to Changing Your Financial Destiny. In it, Dave addresses unity in marriage, building financial vision, and practical information about how to implement a financial plan.

If you’ve never learned about Dave’s plan, these books are a great introduction. If you are well-versed in the seven baby steps, these books make a great gift to someone you know who is looking for financial guidance.

Enter the giveaway up to four times by following the steps below.

  1. Leave a comment below telling me what you do if you were financially free. If I don’t know you in real life, include your email address or your name on Twitter so I know how to reach you if you win.
  2. Post about this giveaway (with a link) on Twitter. Leave a comment here telling me that you did.
  3. Post about this giveaway (with a link) on Facebook. Leave a comment here telling me that you did.
  4. Write about this giveaway (with a link) on your blog. Leave another comment telling me that you did.

The giveaway will end on Sunday, December 12, at 11:59 pm CST. Winners will be announced on Monday, December 13.

This post is linked to Top Ten Tuesday at Oh Amanda and Giveaways Galore at Money Saving Mom.

The Balance of Blessing and Budgeting

Dave Ramsey’s motto is, “Live like no one else, so later you can live like no one else.” Essentially: live within your means (unlike most Americans) so you can become wealthy, meet all your family’s needs, and give generously (unlike most Americans). This makes sense. And it works. But there is a problem.

There are needs that need to be met NOW.

Dexter and I started sponsoring a child through Compassion when we were in high school. We both worked and had money to burn. However, the needs of our Compassion kid didn’t change when our Total Money Makeover began. When we went over our budget before starting our debt snowball, we had to pray about what was going to make the cut. We decided that being faithful to our sponsorship commitment was a way to honor God with our finances and are trusting him that our $38 a month won’t put us behind the schedule of his will.

Shortly after we began our debt snowball, a friend was called to ministry with Campus Crusade for Christ. She needed to raise support so she could devote herself full-time to the students she was working with. At first, I was bitter about the idea of giving money to someone to do ministry in the city where they already lived. Weren’t all Christians supposed to be loving the people around them and making disciples for Christ? I didn’t expect anyone to give me money to do what I was supposed to do. One day, I began thinking about my life and my schedule. My job was so time-consuming that I could barely feed myself and clean up afterward. I wasn’t eating healthily, I wasn’t exercising, I wasn’t immersed in Scripture the way I wanted to be, and I wasn’t being active in making disciples. I wanted to be obedient, but I was torn. I knew God wanted me to do quality work at my job, but I also know that my life isn’t about my work but about His work. Dexter and I talked and decided that since our cash flow allowed for it, we wanted to financially support someone who could devote herself to making disciples. We realized that God was calling us to participate in making disciples financially and trust him to provide money to pay off debt. Although we set our goal for being done with debt before making our commitment to Campus Crusade, we’re on and maybe even ahead of schedule for paying off our debt.

So, is the answer always to spend and bless? Probably not. Consider our next conundrum.

Dexter and I live about a mile from the college football stadium in our city. The team is good and the games are sold out. We thought that getting cable and opening our home as a place to watch the game on TV would be a good way to bless people in our town. Sure, a loaf of zucchini bread would be accepted, but what people in our town really want is access to the game. As we began to make plans, we realized we had a problem. We have a 24″ tube TV. This isn’t exactly crowd-friendly and won’t make our home the hub of game-time action. We began praying about buying a big, flat-screen TV. We knew there wouldn’t be room in the budget this month, especially because we have car and life insurance premiums due. I decided I was willing to part with the money we have set aside to redo our main-floor half-bath. I plan to do some superficial, cosmetic fixes instead of starting from scratch, and I hope to squeeze the paint and other supplies out of other areas in the budget. We decided on a 32″ Sony on sale at Best Buy. It was a great deal–even cheaper than the no-name brands they carry. My brother offered us his old 32″ tube TV when we went home to visit for his birthday, but we were so enamored by our Best Buy deal that we decided to get our fancy TV anyway.

That night at church, our house church leader mentioned he and his wife’s journey toward debt freedom during his teaching. I don’t even know how it was related to what we were studying–we definitely weren’t talking about money. Usually, I’m the one who’s gung ho about debt freedom, but hearing even a mention from someone else sparked a desire in me to pay things off faster. If we bought the TV this month, we would have only had about $25 extra to pay toward loans on top of our minimums–and that didn’t seem very fast to me. After church, I turned to Dexter and asked him what he thought about using our bathroom/TV savings to pay off loans and ask my brother if he would sell us his old TV. He agreed with my plan, and I texted my brother about the TV. My (wonderful, generous, super-cool) little brother responded saying that we could just have the TV and that he’d send it up with our parents this weekend.

I don’t have any clear-and-dry answers about when to and not to spend money, especially while you’re still in debt. I think about this balance a lot, however, and have a few tips for your decision-making process.

  1. Pray. I often pray that God will stop me from doing something stupid and impulsive, even though I have good motives. Once I make a decision, I pray that God will stop me if my decision isn’t in line with his will.
  2. Calculate the cost. Say I had an extra $500 to spend on a TV, but that I had an average of 6% interest on my loans. If that $500 was the last of the loans I paid off, I’d accrue interest on the unpaid money between now and my payoff date. If we pay off our loans in March 2014 as we originally hoped, we’d pay over $100 extra on our TV in loan interest that wouldn’t have been there if we’d just paid the money to the bank.
  3. Examine your motives. My motive for wanting a big TV, I thought, was to bless people. I realized, after we changed our minds, that I didn’t just want people to enjoy the game at my house, I wanted them to think I was a good hostess and that we had a nice home. I also realized that my motives for wanting to do an expensive overhaul of our bathroom were the same.
  4. Think about how you’ll feel after making the purchase. Proverbs 10:22 says, “It is the blessing of the Lord that makes rich, and he adds no sorrow to it.” I realized that I was going to be rather sorry about seeing the money for the TV go, especially in light of how little progress on repaying our debt we’d be making.
  5. Search scripture. James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after widows and orphans in their distress and to keep ones self from being polluted by the world.” TVs aren’t necessarily pollution (especially since our favorite channel is the Food Network), but I can much more easily find scripture that backs up spending money to support a fatherless child in Guatemala than I can find it to support buying a TV. Maybe the Bible has something specific to say about the purchase you have in mind. If not, what principles can you apply?
  6. Remember, it’s just money. I’ll be the first to admit that I can be a little…overzealous…about managing our money. My budgeting system involves envelopes, Quicken, and spreadsheets. Matthew 6:24 says, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” It’s important to remember that God wants you to be a good steward of your money, but he doesn’t want you to be obsessed with it. If it consumes you a little too much, consider trading duties with your spouse or involving him in the budget process a little more.

Total Money Makeover Update: September

Wah wah.

Let’s cut to the chase. At the beginning of summer, when we were at 89% of our original loan balance, I predicted with confidence that we’d be able to drop to 82% of our loans by the end of summer (defined by the appearance of my first fall paycheck). Unfortunately, some of the teacher-work I had lined up for the summer is still in progress, and I won’t get paid until it’s all over. I was hoping about $400 from that work which would have gone straight to debt.

If you remember, at the beginning of summer, I tried to set aside just enough of money to supplement Dexter’s salary until September and used the rest of my three-months-at-once paycheck to pay off debt. We were able to pay off 4% of our debt in June. As it turns out, my estimate of how much money we would need to get by was spot on. Although we’ll probably have a little surplus to carry into the next month, we didn’t have any wiggle room in spending this month. In fact, we had to use our second checking account (with money for entrepreneurial ventures in it) to pay for gas and a gift this weekend. We also emptied all the envelopes of cash to go toward a purchase we would have normally put on our bank card because, although at the end of the month we’ll have money leftover, timing was the issue. It was fortunate that we spent so conservatively this month and passed up a few Christmas presents I wanted to buy early, otherwise our envelopes would’ve already been empty.

This month, we paid off o.4% of our loans and have 83.1% remaining.
 
However, we won’t be discouraged. I think God had a purpose (or several) for making things so tight this month. A slow month like this makes me even more determined to make the next one great! Although we have life and auto insurance premiums due in our next budget month, I’m pumped to be thrifty and find as many leftover pennies as I can to make our next payment count. We have also been considering making a big purchase with money we have saved, and I think God used our heightened drive to pay off debt to help us make a decision in alignment with his will and our minimal available cash to make sure we didn’t make an impulsive decision. I’ll tell you more about that emotional roller coaster later.
 
This month, we’ll be making several trips to sell things at the consignment shop. Thanks to my parents, we’ll have lots of nice things to sell from their decluttering process and they’re letting us keep whatever money their items bring in. I’m also hoping to make some changes to my envelope system–both to how I store it and how I spend the cash we have.
 
Thanks for following our progress. Although the internet can be impersonal, sharing our journey with you all encourages us to keep plodding on even when our snowball seems to need a harder push than we can give.

Total Money Makeover Update: August

My money stank this month. Lucky for me, this was literally, not figuratively.

Last week, I filled a little Pyrex dish with cubed watermelon and stuck it in my purse for a cheap, healthy snack. I didn’t eat it. I didn’t take it out of my purse. I forgot about it for a couple of days. Until the day I reached my hand in my purse and it came out wet and rotten smelling. My checkbook, my receipts, my coupons, my cash envelopes…everything was rank! (As a side note, if you have any suggestions on how to de-stank-ify the fabric inside my purse, I’d be much obliged.)

As often happens, it got harder to keep the envelope system working as the month went on.  Trips to Target always do this. I bought a shirt, a gift, some dishwasher detergent, and some school supplies. These all come from different envelopes, so I put it on the card and decided to figure it out later. Luckily, I’ve been a very conservative  spender this month, so it didn’t put us in any danger, but I realize that this is not how the envelope system is supposed to work.

The most exciting thing for me this month was the money we made from selling our stuff–$157! The best part is that I didn’t have to sell anything I was that attached to. We sold jewelry we didn’t like, clothes that didn’t fit, a DVD we didn’t want, a PDA we didn’t use. The most painful thing for me was my scrapbooking supplies–partly because of all the money I needlessly spent on them in the first place. I have been telling myself for years that I’d scrapbook all the photos I’ve taken. Instead, I’ve moved my scrapbooking supplies from my parents’ house to Hawkeye Court to the duplex to our current house. Now they’re gone, and I have more space and more money.

This month, we paid of 1.5% of our debt and have 83.5% of our debt remaining. Putting that way makes it seems like we’ve paid a little and owe a lot. However, I can also say that in 6 months, we’ve paid off 16.5% of our debt! That’s an average of 2.75%/month. Now, we won’t get a huge tax credit every March, but let’s just say that with a little ingenuity, scrimping, and divine power we continue to pay off our loans at this rate. Then, we’d drop below 50% in September 2011 and we’d be debt free except for our mortgage in March 2013–one year ahead of schedule! I know we can’t set our hearts on this, but it’s nice to do the math on these things so we stay encouraged on the way.

In June, I said I expected to be at 82% by the end of summer and that I hoped that by some miracle we’d drop under 80%. What I didn’t specify to you was when exactly summer ends. In a sense, summer ends on Sunday–my last day of summer break. What I really had in mind, though, was the end of my summer pay schedule. My first paycheck of the fall will come on September 15, so we have one more month to go. Till then, we’ll be getting by on money set aside from my big, beginning-of-summer payment, Dexter’s regular paychecks, and any extra money I might have earned this summer that doesn’t come in until after August 15. I’m not sure what that will amount to, but I hope it’s at least 1.5% of our debt!

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