Quarter 1: Happy New Year!
This was our first real quarter at hitting up the ultimate goals of paying off the rest of my student loans, staying out of debt, and saving for the future. With those three goals in mind, let’s see how we fared:
What a fantastic first quarter. We had the luxury of an early payment back in September as we got ahead further than we expected last summer. Thus far, we have consistently met our goal payment every month, reducing my loans by about 7% overall. Not bad at all! I was secretly hoping for 10% reduction each quarter, and perhaps we can meet that goal with Quater 2- but some unexpected expenses came up which I will detail below that prevented extra money being thrown that direction.
Wins: We made each and every planned payment every month! We are on track with our goal! A win in and of itself!
Fail: No real fail here, which feels really good to write.
Credit Card debt:
We successfully stayed out of credit card debt the entire quarter. Now, mind you this doesn’t mean we didn’t use credit cards- we certainly did- but we used them to our advantage, not to the banks. We carry a credit card that gives rewards in the form of credits toward a couple major clothes retailers that we happen to buy a lot of clothes from. Bigger purchases we put on the credit card- and have a rule of always paying off by the end of the month (thus, carrying no balance and no interest). We have successfully implemented this rule, and have reaped major benefits. For example, in November I desperately needed some work clothes, and the kids needed some as well. We got over $700 worth of clothes for $200! Yes, that’s right! In the words of Daft Punk- “everybody will be dancing when you’re doing it right,” and that was doing it right- and we did a little dance.
Win: No credit card debt balance carried over beyond 30 days! Rewards, clothes, dancing.
Fail: No fail here, which again feels really good to write.
Due to my sweet wife’s hard work this semester, and our frugal mindedness- we were able to save nearly all of her paychecks in our high interest online savings account. This is amazing. We have more in savings than we ever had before, and have had to transfer money back to our bank account only three times this quarter. We now have nearly two months in expenses saved, which does bring some peace of mind.
Win: Totally met the goal
Fail: Had to move savings to our checking account thrice- so we could have budgeted a little better. Also, had to use some of her paychecks for unexpected expenses lined out below.
Our master bathroom had a near disaster leak, which pushed a remodel of that bathroom to the top of the priority list- otherwise, we would have had our shower fall into our living room. This was a huge unexpected expense. However, my job also had some unexpected overtime this quarter- and I get paid pretty well for overtime work. In light of that- we have been able to cover the cost of the bathroom remodel- and even do it with the more desirable and upgraded materials (hexagon tile, anyone?). It’s going to be beautiful remodel- my wife has a great eye for that stuff, it will add value to our home, and we will certainly enjoy it- so it’s not all bad, just unexpected, and kind of expensive.
My wonderful wife turns the big 40 this December- and there is no skimping on celebrating her! We wouldn’t have it! She is taking a big trip to her birthplace of San Diego for some sun-beach-run a half marathon-girls weekend that she definitely deserves. It’s a little more than we would like to spend- but due to some rewards on other credit cards we were able to save on the airfare, and with some planning ahead we shouldn’t really feel it. Besides, she is worth every dollar spent to celebrate such a wonderful woman!
Despite my rethinking finance post on Christmas, I didn’t follow my own advice very well and we overspent on gifts this year by not having much of a budget set. This set us back some but will chalk it up to experience here and learn from it.
We took our first ever road trip to LA to see family over Thanksgiving. It was wonderful. We drove, which was cheap. We stayed with our wonderful family who took too good a care of us (thanks Matt and Sonia- we love you)- and had a great time. This was a win for budgeting, family fun, and expanding our horizons with kids.
Looking forward to Quarter 2.
On to 2019, and a New Year!