Monday, August 15, 2011

First Call about the Car!

Some people think we are crazy.  We are selling my husband's car.  The only reason we are selling his car is because we cannot afford the insurance and maintenance on it.  We currently have one car that is paid off, has insurance to cover both of us, and it is in great condition.  But hubby's car needed a new fuel pump and there is an easy fix for the left brake thingy (obviously, I know nothing about cars).  Basically, the car needs about $400 of work into it that we just can't afford.  Plus, we cannot afford to get car insurance for hubby and I on that car.  We are selling it for a decent price - what it is worth minus the extra costs that are needed to repair the fuel pump and brake.

To have one car might sound like a bad idea.  But where we live, there is readily available public transportation.  For starters, taking the bus is not that bad.  I usually take the bus to campus anyways because it costs way to much to pay for parking.  I can easily walk anywhere I need to when I'm on campus.  My husband likes to skateboard and ride his bike, so that is usually his way of transportation to and from work.  Sometimes, he and his co-workers will carpool.  The only time we really need the car is to get groceries and for me to get to work.  Sometimes, my husband will take the car to work while I'm on campus all day (Mondays and Wednesdays are 13 hour days!).  And if anything, IU has this awesome Safety Transport system.  If at any time, day or night, we need a ride from point A to point B - all we have to do is call the number for the Safety Transport, and an IU marked van with 2 employees (one male, one female) will pick you up and take you to where ever you need to go.  There really is no use for a second car in our lives right now.

So - the car has only had a "For Sale" sign on it for a few days.  It hasn't even gotten cleaned yet - haha! A gentleman called my husband today, and he is interested in the car!  He totally agrees with the price!  He is going to talk to his wife overnight, and he'll call us back tomorrow.  I guess they need a car that will get them from point A to point B.  The maintenance on the car doesn't seem like a big deal to him for the price we are asking.  I'm super excited about this!  The money we make from this car will go directly into our emergency fund and paying off some of those medical bills!  **Fingers Crossed!**

Putting in the Extra Effort.

Today has been a great day!  My husband's unemployment FINALLY arrived.  Turns out, they had put all the deposits on the wrong card.  Yeah....  their mistake took a while to fix.  So, today, we finally received the unemployment card and we paid off many of our bills.  It felt great to finally get caught up.

So, I had a hold at the financial aid office.  A hold means they wouldn't allow me to access my financial aid money.  I went into the financial aid office today, and I asked them what the dealio was.  Turns out, they just need a statement from my advisor saying I am graduating in May.  ::shrug::  I'll just give them what they want and schedule an appointment tomorrow with my advisor.  Kind of annoying, but oh well.  But, I do believe I qualify for work study.  I already know there is an available position at the Career Center on campus.  I've already spoken to someone about it.  I just have to wait for the hold at the financial aid office to go away before I can apply for the position.  I really want this work study at the Career Center, because I will have access to all the information about job fairs, resume building, career advising, etc.  That is so perfect for my senior year.  The work study would only allow 10 hours a week. But that is why I have my part-time job at Five Guys Burgers & Fries.

My husband did something pretty cool today.  My parents came to visit - a surprise visit.  That was completely fine with me.  We never get to see our families much, so when they surprise us with a visit, we are overly excited about it.  We just tidied up the apartment after we got all our errands done for the day, and just in time for my parents' arrival.  My parents *always* want to see where I'm working.  I don't know why... they are just curious and excited, I guess.  Last week, they visited my sister (who is an occupational therapist) during her lunch break, and she showed them around a little bit.  I guess it's just something we grew up accustomed to....  So, when they came, they wanted to go eat at Five Guys and they wanted dessert from my husband's bakery.  It was fun!  We had a great time.  So, how does this apply to my husband doing something pretty cool?  While we were at Five Guys, we casually talked to my boss and my boss's boss (the GM and the owner).  My husband just got to talking with the guys, and they ended up hiring him on the spot!

So yes, my husband and I will be working a part-time job together at Five Guys Burgers and Fries.  I think it is hilariously awesome.  Everyone has asked me, "do you want to work with your husband?"  This is how I look at it:  it pays the bills.  Beggars can't be choosers.  Why does it matter if I'm working the same job as my husband?  Sure, we might drive each other crazy - but a job is a job - and if you are desperate for money, you take what you can get.  Needless to say, I'm very happy for my hubby.  He's taking this "building our nest" seriously.  So seriously, he's picking up another job.  And I'm super happy he got the job!  This is going to be a saving grace!

I just had to brag about how awesome my darling hubby is.  Putting in the extra effort is tough, but we're doing whatever we can to get where we want to be.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Where We Were...

Just to give a few people an idea of where we are coming from, I decided I would fill you in on the number crunch.  I'm not lying when I say we used all of our money to pay debt.  I've had a few people come up to me and say, "Oh, you think you have it bad..." and then proceed to tell me their negative numbers.  I'm not trying to belittle anyone.  I know this economy is really hurting people.  But we didn't just blow our money like I've seen some people do.  I know this sounds harsh, but I don't want to hear woe-me stories about debt when those people are doing literally nothing about it (other than blowing their paychecks on videogames, booze, strip clubs, and night clubs).  Then, they want to come up to me and tell me how I don't know what I'm doing when it comes to finances.  So, kiddos, I'm going to lay it out there and show you the numbers.

I'm only going to focus on medical bills and credit cards.  You'll get the picture.  Our rent is average, our utilities are very conservative (especially since water/sewage/trash/recycling is all included in our rent), and the only reason why we are in debt in the first place was because of medical expenses.  Our medical expenses forced us to use credit cards (which is stupid, don't do it unless you know you can pay off the credit card!).  I'm not going to include my student loans.  Why?  Because I believe you can't put a price on education.  Yes, I'll be paying it back - but paying back my student loans won't be nearly as difficult if we take care of our current debt.

Currently, these are the medical bills we're paying off:

  • IU Health (when hubby had meningitis, it's the final bill):  min. $50/month = $175 remaining
  • Radiologists (SIRA):  min. $20/mon = $405 total
  • Dr. Greene's office:  min. $20/mon = $620 remaining
  • Unity Physicians:  min. $120/mon = $2707 total
Currently, these are our credit cards (GASP - we only have 2!):
  • Credit One:  min. $25/mon = $306 total
  • Capital One:  min. $15/mon = $500 total
We are currently LOW income.  When I say low, I mean $1600/month income.  But this is me going to school full time, working only 16 hours a week (because that's all they can give right now), and my husband literally just got his job back after being laid off and is starting back this week.  I'm currently getting everything situated for my senior year in college, and I am looking into work study as well.  I'm still looking for a second part-time job, too.  

So, with our current expenses and our current income - it sounds doable, right?  We should be saving money!  No.  That's not correct.  We just started this income this week!  My husband was laid off for about 4 months!  I couldn't work up until April.  And when I could work, I spent the next 3 months looking for a job.  Economy is tough, ya'll.  So, you can imagine with no income, how hard that was.  Luckily, there were food pantries, generous family members willing to help because they understood our situation, and we used ALL of the money we ever saved to survive that difficult time.  Saving what we did prior was our emergency fund.  An emergency fund goes quickly.  I'm glad we had it when we needed it.

But here's something else.  We paid off a lot of debt.  How much?
  • IU Health grand total:  $21,507.87
  • Unity Physicians total: $1803.00
  • Radiologists (SIRA) total:  $1065.00
  • Pathologists total:  $165.00 (and we are expecting reimbursement of $27.50)
We paid off a total of $24,155.87 in 2 years.  Before I got ill, I worked.  I would work as many shifts as I could and I even pulled overtime.  But from November 22, 2010 until April 15, 2011, I could not because doctor's ordered me not to and for 3 months of that time, I was strictly bedridden - only permission to use the restroom.  And my husband worked a lot, pulled overtime, and did whatever he could.  We struggled for 2 years to pay off that amount.  That is not even including the bills family members contributed towards.  It costs a lot of money to save your life - and not all treatments are covered under insurance plans.

Paying off debt is possible.  We've done it - and we know there are sacrifices to be made.  But I definitely don't like someone telling me that I don't know what I'm doing, or that I'm following a cult because we're following Dave Ramsey's plan.  Maybe why so many people follow him is because it freaking works.

For all the other penny pinchers out there - stand your ground.  You aren't crazy!  I know it is possible.  We survived... literally.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Cheap Date Night!

So, one thing about saving up for money means less time going out and spending it!  Obviously!  Well, what about having a date night with the other half?  Looks like we'll be getting creative!

Tonight, we are having our first cheap date night!  What are we doing?  We have strawberries and sandwiches packed, and we are going to a "secret place" that my hubster won't tell me where it is to watch the meteor shower!!  I'm super excited!!

The weather alert says there is a thunderstorm watch for tonight.  I'm not too excited about that.  Sorry mother nature, you are not ruining date night!  And you better not be in my way from seeing cool meteors!


Mother Nature decided to be cruel.  We went to Morgan/Monroe State Forest, and the storm pretty much pushed us out.  The clouds were so thick and heavy, it was impossible to see the stars.  And the lightning pretty much freaked me out.  So, we came back home.  Oh well, at least we managed to enjoy our time watching the storm roll in over the lake.  It was quite beautiful.

Listening to the Radio

I don't know why, but I love listening to the radio.  Something about the radio is intriguing.  A friend of mine co-hosts a financial radio show a couple times a week.  He truly believes Dave Ramsey is a genius.  We also have a cousin that is a financial consultant - and he also says Ramsey is brilliant.  As of right now, hubster and I cannot buy the Dave Ramsey books or pay for the Financial Peace classes.  Not yet.  Dave Ramsey books are on my birthday/Christmas lists.  Whenever people ask me what I want for my birthday or Christmas, I tell them I want a Dave Ramsey book.

Until then, we are following everything available on Dave Ramsey's website.  This includes the live radio archives!  I like it a lot.  I can listen to the radio online on my down time while playing around on the internet (like Facebook).  It's so convenient.  The radio show is live Monday through Friday 2-5 PM EST.  If you can't listen to it live, they have an awesome archive.  You can listen to any show anytime that is convenient for you!

The first radio show I listened to was Friday, August 12, 2011.  It was interesting.  Dave Ramsey had a few people call in to exclaim that they are debt free.  These are people who have went through Ramsey's steps and managed to get out of debt.  I really liked hearing it.  It was nice to know that people who were in greater debt than we are finally managed to pay off their debt.  It was inspirational.  I already know what the hardest part is going to be in our venture....  saying no.

The first couple on the radio show said this was the hardest part.  They have a very social group.  Everyone in their group took trips, went out to eat, and spent money on social gatherings.  They had to force themselves to say no whenever the social opportunities arose.  Their friends would ask them to go out, and they had to say no.  OMG - this sounds just like us.

We have a very social group.  Our friends love to go out, hang out, spend money, and have been known to go on spontaneous adventures.  I will admit - we did that too!  It wasn't smart.  Our families are the same!  They are very social people, and they always have something to do.  Our families and close friends are also in other cities and states.  Traveling costs a lot of money to visit.  My hubby is a social, fun-loving guy.  He cannot say no to his family and friends.  He always gives in because he loves them and wants to see them all.  He's a free spirit.  But now it's discipline time.  We have to say no.  If we want to get where we want to go, we have to say no to our friends and family.  It's going to be the hardest thing to do.  We are going to do this.  No isn't a bad word.  It's a stepping stone.

Another couple we talking about how they had to settle down, buckle down and get organized.  The wife said her marriage became greater, their life became better, and she said, "The gotcha's don't getcha anymore."  I cannot wait to be in that position.

Dave Ramsey also recommended setting up a will.  My husband and I do not have wills.  It would be a smart move.  This is where this post turns depressing.  In the past year, I almost died twice.  My husband almost died in 2007.  We've been there.  We've seen it.  It's scary.  With my birth defect, it is scary.  There is a chance that Volvulus can occur - and there really isn't anything I can do or prepare for.  Scary, huh?  Life happens, and when it happens, you feel lost.  So, maybe today isn't the best day to set up a will.  But Dave Ramsey suggested going to this site:  This is definitely something I will be looking into.  Only $15 to have a decent will... it doesn't sound half bad.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Waiting & Jealous - I have to get this off my chest.

I can't help fight this funk.  I was pregnant before - and it was bad timing, and at first, I was upset.  But then I finally became ok with it and excited about it.  Unfortunately, I had a miscarriage this past April.  Ever since, I've been in this funk.  My husband and I are in no place to start TTC.  We're re-building our nest right now.  But I have baby fever - BAD.

My husband has noticed it.  He keeps reminding me that now is just not the time.  He says one day, we will have a home and start a family.  I just can't help fight this feeling - I'm impatient.  It's like my biological clock is ticking (and I'm only 24!).  Everyone around me is having babies.  One of my friends is due Oct. 29 - two days after my baby's due date.  It literally aches seeing her updates.  Don't get me wrong, I'm am incredibly happy for all my friends.  But I'm not exaggerating when I say I had 7 friends tell me in the same week that they are all expecting.  I can't help but feel jealous.  They all want to talk to me about all the great updates on their pregnancies, and I am happy for them that all is going well.  But, I can't help feeling sad at the same time.  Like today, I just found out that my cousin in-law is having baby #2.  He and his girlfriend moved into this nice 3 bedroom home.  He invited my husband and I over, and the moment I stepped into his house, saw all the baby toys, saw the house coming together.... I had to take a moment to step outside and breathe.  I felt like I was just going to bawl.  I'm so glad that everything is working out for them, but I just wish my life was in a better place for my hubster and I.

I know it wasn't in the cards we were dealt.  We were given a tough hand.  But I can't help feeling like I should be where they are by now.  I should have a career, a home, and be starting a family too.  But no... I'm waiting and trying to get everything all worked out now.  I know we're going about this the right way.  I know I'm doing the smart thing.  The feelings are just eating me alive right now, and I just can't escape them.

Getting Rid of What We Don't Need

I have honestly been thinking of selling literally everything.  If I could sell it, I would.  I would sell whatever I could and start from scratch!  But a lot of our furniture are hand-me-downs, and when we got them - they weren't in the best condition.  So those things probably won't ever sell.

We aren't in desperate mode just yet.  If we were desperate - you better believe I'd be getting rid of some of our nicer things, like the TV, entertainment center, book case, dressers, even the bed!  But we're not desperate yet.  So, what are the luxuries that we have that are just a hole in the pocket?

First and foremost, my husband's car.  We can't afford to fix it and keep up the maintenance on it.  We've managed to do just fine with only one car.  For school, I take the public transit to campus and walk.  I don't need a car on those days.  Plus, what's great about it is I can also walk to my husband's work from campus.  So later in the evenings, I could actually get a delivery driver to pick me up on his rounds and take me to his work or take me back home.  It's pretty neat to have that available.  If for some reason they can't, I can always call the campus safety transport to take me home.  If I had to go to work, I would need the car, or I would need a ride.  My husband and I are pretty good about sharing and taking turns, so I highly doubt we'll have any issues with this.  Plus, our schedules work well together to make it less of a hassle.  Bye bye beast car.

1994 Pontiac Grand AM - You were convenient, but we won't miss you!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Baby Step 1: Build An Emergency Fund

Our current goal right now is to follow the Seven Baby Steps offered by Dave Ramsey.  We're starting today!

So, baby step #1: build an emergency fund.  Sounds easy.  But that emergency fund is $1000.  We have $0 in our savings.  It is up to us right now to pay off the minimum payments towards all our bills.  We have to continue paying for our monthly expenses, such as rent, electric, food, gas, etc.  So, thinking about it, this is going to take a little while.  Once we can build this emergency fund, we'll be able to have something to fall back on in case something happens.  To help us get there, we are selling my husband's car.  Two cars is a luxury, and we cannot afford the maintenance and insurance on his car.  We're also selling some furniture and random items.  I hold on to my books.  I love my books.  But I'm even going to sell them.  I want a library some day, so I see this opportunity as a temporary separation.  I don't *need* them.  I just want them.  So there's the difference.

At the top of the post section, I have a handy dandy ticker dedicated to savings that I got from Ticker Factory online.  It's great because you enter in the amount you need to save, and whenever you add to your savings, you can add it onto your ticker!  I'm going to have tickers for every step.  I think I will get a much more satisfaction seeing all the tickers completed.  Plus, I have you lovely readers to keep us on track!

We are also using the budget sheets available on Dave Ramsey's website.  We are going to do this!  This is the first step towards building our nest!



Today begins the day that my husband and I are starting over.  We've had a very rough patch in life.  This blog is mainly for us to track where we've been and where we are going.  It's to monitor our success, a place to vent our worries, to praise our hard efforts, and get us motivated to get where we are going.  I'd glad you have come here to join us!  The work it takes to get on your feet again after a hard time is agonizing.  Sometimes, it feels impossible.  But to stand up and face the impossible makes anyone brave.  Everything in life comes back to money.  It's a shame.  It shouldn't.  There's an amazing quote that I always think of when I hear people talk about money.

"Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money."
- Cree Indian Proverb

It makes you think.  But unfortunately, you cannot survive without some kind of currency.  

I was never taught how to manage money or how to budget.  Sometimes, I found balancing money very confusing.  I figured out a system real quick when I had to move out on my own.  I never lived out of my means and I worked hard for every penny that I earned.  When my husband (fiance at the time) became ill and almost died of bacterial meningitis, his medical bills really put him in debt because he didn't have health insurance.  Luckily, the hospital offered financial assistance for those who honestly could not afford the bills.  Unfortunately, it didn't cover all the bills.  I was also experiencing health issues (which were misdiagnosed as endometriosis).  I had been dropped from my parents' insurance, and I myself quickly racked up medical bills for treatments.  I wasted my money on a health benefits plan that didn't pay for anything.  Our medical bills combined became overwhelming.  We took money out of our savings accounts including our wedding fund to pay off the bills.  With my health becoming a risk, my husband and I married at the Justice of the Peace because we couldn't qualify for any assistance as independents (unless I had a child, which was not in our plans at the time).  We gave up hope for a wedding because it was not in the cards we were dealt.  

My health got worse, and I had a insurance plan (even though it wasn't anything great, it was better than nothing).  I had a heart attack at 24 years old due to a congenial birth defect called intestinal malrotation. My health continued to get worse, and medical bills piled up again.  I was forced to withdraw from college and quit my job - leaving us on a single income and more debt than we could afford.  If it wasn't for local food pantries and the generosity of our family members, we wouldn't have survived when my husband was laid off from his job.

I found out I had become pregnant, and my health continued to decline.  It wasn't until I was pregnant that I found out I had struggled with E. coli for months.  I was treated for it, and Hoosier Healthwise paid for my pregnancy.  Unfortunately, we lost our daughter on April 5, 2011.  I had complications from the miscarriage, and I hemorrhaged.  My ER visit for the hemorrhaging was not covered under my pregnancy plan because I had miscarried 3 days prior and the doctor decided to not put the medical code saying my visit was pregnancy related.  I fought for months, even got a patient's advocate, but the doctor still wouldn't budge.  Without that code, my pregnancy insurance would not cover my visit.  My mother graciously helped me pay off some of the medical bills that acquired during this difficult year.  

My husband and I struggled to find decent jobs to get by.  I set up payment plans for all the medical bills.  My husband waited for three months for unemployment to approve his status.  We are still waiting, one month later, to receive his unemployment.  By the grace of God, the company my husband worked for was sold to new management, and he got his job back.  I found a job, working part-time at a burger joint.  They couldn't hire me as full-time.  

I am going back to college for my senior year.  I qualified for many grants and financial aid to cover my final year in college.  I am still waiting to hear whether or not I qualify for work-study.  If so, I have a possible work-study position available to me at the Career Center on campus.  I also signed up for tuition reimbursement for the semester I had to withdraw from college.  I won't find out if my appeal is approved until after September 6, 2011.  If I do receive reimbursement, I will have to wait another 45 days to actually get my money back.  

The economy is rough.  It's rough for everyone right now.  We are in a crunch, living paycheck to paycheck.  We're even behind on some bills.  We literally have about $50 in our bank accounts.  Once my husband receives his unemployment, we should be caught up on our bills that are behind.  

Now that we are working our way out of our current quicksand of financial stress, we are setting up budgets and working towards building our little nest.  We have so many things that we need to pay off, and many things that we need to save up for.  We are literally starting here with nothing.  So now is the best time to get a plan put into action.  This is what this blog is for.

We are following guidelines from Dave Ramsey currently.  We plan to follow the Baby Step program and see what happens.  It couldn't hurt.  So, this blog is dedicated towards our nest egg.  This blog is dedicated to building our nest so that we can officially live our lives.  I hope readers will find this blog as a useful tool to getting out of those difficult times.