April 2014 Monthly Review

I know that some people find these monthly review selfish or uninteresting, but I think they are beneficial for 2 reasons. The first is that doing this helps me keep track of my progress, publicly. This helps keep me on track and accountable, and makes for transparency with me. One of the reasons that I didnt do well with my finances early on is because I didnt understand the entire aspect of it. I used to think being good at money was about being good at elementary school math – which I was. Of course, after taking stock of where I was I noticed there was a huge discrepancy between my account balances and financial standing and what I thought was my mastery of finances. It took a while for me to learn that money isnt about math, it’s about how you feel and habits. The second reason that I keep these going is because I want someone to see that it is possible to dig out of a 50k+ hole, but that it does take hard work and time. I keep an archive of all my monthly review posts (for the last 5 years) for people who want to see where I came from and how long it has taken me. This review actually marks the first time I’ll have 5 months of reviews for one month.

In other life news, our daughter is still in the hospital, and we are unsure of when she’s coming home at this point. We were told when she was born to expect to bring her home around the time of her due date, which was may 1. She has since gotten moved to a different hospital which my wife and I are not too fond of, and it seems as though she’s stopped progressing (and possibly even regressed) so we are waiting to see what the doctors say. The road at this new hospital has been far bumpier than I’d like, but there’s not really much we can do about it. So now we are just waiting for her to get bigger and do more baby stuff on her own. Recently they removed her feeding tube (which she’s had for almost 3 months) so she’s moving in the right direction, just not as quickly as we’d like her to.

Debt

House

Mortgage $ 110,323 (-$558).  Just the normal payment here. This note goes down by about 550/mo, which for now is acceptable. I have been talking a lot about getting rid of the student loan and finally starting to aim the gun at this debt, but after talking with my wife and crafting a plan I’m not sure this is where we are going to focus. Obviously, there will be much more about this topic to come.

Student Loan

Great Lakes Loan $4,292  (-$779) Another big pay down month here, like march was. We are so close to being “debt free except the mortgage” and I can not believe it. Remember when I was 55k+ in debt in 2009?! This is totally wild and exciting, and it just proves that changing your finances isn’t about the “big wins” (though those help A LOT) it’s about changing your habits and lifestyle.  It’s about sticking with those changes for 5 years! When I first started this whole “debt payoff” kick, I honestly thought it would be less than 24 months of work, and here I am more than 5 years later still grinding away. No wonder people give up and just resign themselves to this lifestyle. I can tell you that after every step, it’s better on the other side. I got SOOO much money back when I stopped paying the credit card companies, and I’ll get a significant portion of my budget back when I stop paying my student loans (~5% if you’re curious) and thats just monthly!

Total Debt: $114,615

We are down $1,337 from last month. This is the second 1k+ pay down month in a row! a few more months like this and we will be debt free except for the mortgage! It’s crazy to see such a number that is lower than what I’ve become accustomed to, when back in the early days of the blog the debt level would go down like 1,500-2,000 per MONTH. It’s not going down near as quick now, which is OK because we don’t have near as much debt as I used to. I’m keeping all of that extra cash now, instead of paying interest on it, which is nice.

Savings

I’ve decided to add our savings accounts to the mix. Currently, We have 4, and I have a Roth IRA. Both H and I (s0rt of) expect to get pensions if we stay with our current employers and retire with them. That being said, I’m not really one to trust all that, so we are looking at having a significant nest egg when we do end up retiring. We keep our savings accounts with capital one 360. We’ve used an online bank for over 5 years, and have had no problems with the at all. They pay the best (meager) rates of all the accounts we’ve found, so if you’re interested in getting a bit better rate, sign up with capital one now.

Kid Savings $6,989  (+$304) – Looks like this one got bumped up to a $300/mo contribution. We arent drawing from it yet for expenses related to birth, but I assume we will start getting bills soon. We have started getting a few bills from the hospital, and I can tell you that it will take the insurance YEARS to make up for how unprofitable a customer I am right now. I got over 20k in bills in one day earlier this month. We have met almost all of our out of pocket maximums for the year (we have about 1,200 to go for the ‘family’ out of pocket), and she’s still probably going to be in the nicu for at least 6 more weeks. This account (for the moment) is probably a bit over funded, but we will keep adding to it just the same.

House $2,128  (+$201) – Last month, I said “We dont really have any remodels planned for the house anytime soon”. Well, that changed probably about 4 days later. We were planning on doing some stuff to the laundry room, and when I started doing that I noticed a bunch of mold and other problems that indicated that the basement had flooded at one point. So, I decided to begin demo of the entire thing, and I’ve been working on it every night. At this point, Im about finished with demo, and then the real work (spending) will need to begin.

Emergency Fund $8,644  (+379) – This is advancing slowly and steadily, and should be to a level where we will consider it “fully funded” in one year! We are shooting for a goal of 10k-12k, and got a HUGE bump from our tax refund this year (last year I believe we paid down debt with it). This is almost there, and should be there by the middle of the year or the 3rd quarter at the latest.

Vacation $552 (+125) – This is just going to keep building at this rate for a while. Obviously, we dont have many plans for vacations any time soon, though we are currently planning out the next 8 months because our companion pass will be expiring at the end of this calendar year.

Total Savings: $ 18,313

Health

I still have not made the time to give you all an update on the whole30 and my eating habits since then, but let me just say that they have significantly changed for the better and this will most likely be permanent. I’m currently wrestling with quite a few things related to what I’m giving up (mainly beer) and how I’ll handle that going forward, which I’ll mention in the article.

Readers: How did your month go? Did you make progress, or did you stay the same?

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7 thoughts on “April 2014 Monthly Review

  1. Jeff,

    First off, best of luck with your daughter. I hope she progresses soon so she can come home.

    I’ve read most of your posts dating back to 2009 and your blog is great. I’m just getting started with mine. I’ve thought about doing periodic debt payoff posts too but I told coworkers about the site and don’t want to share too many financial details. Has being transparent and public contributed significantly to your debt payoff plan or would you still have paid off your debts significantly regardless?

    Looking forward to more posts when you get a chance.

    • Great to hear from you WC! Thanks for reading.

      I think that doing some debt payoff stuff has kept me focused on the goal, as well as let the readers know that it wasnt totally impossible if you’re in a huge hole. I’ve had 55k of debt at one point, and after focusing for 5 years, it’s almost all gone. Anyone can do it and that’s what I want people to know. I think it helped initially with the debt payoff, but now that accountability is not there so much anymore like it was for my credit card payoff.

      If you’re concerned about actual numbers but still want transparency, consider using percentages and work your way down from 100%. That’s a way to obscure the amount of debt youre in while still holding yourself accountable.

      • Jeff,

        Congrats on getting the consumer debt paid off and your student loans in the very near future! I am working on my student and mortgage debt. 7.5 years left on the student loans with the standard plan.

        The challenge for me is whether or not to pay down debt more aggressively or invest more aggressively. So far, I’ve been investing more aggressively, but the thought of being debt free is so enticing too. While I know you’re focused on being debt free, do you ever struggle between the two?

  2. I find these reviews interesting. I think they provide good insight into what realistically happens with money. Very often people say we ought to do this or that with our money, but the truth is none of us live in a little bubble of perfection. Real life happens and these provide insight into what is and is not more realistic.

    • I agree – sometimes I’d like to post our ENTIRE transaction list, but I think that would be more truth than I’m (ready) to bear.

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