Sunday, April 22, 2012
It's finally happened. After 3 1/2 long years, Jonny has been offered a full time, salaried, with benefits job. A REAL job - not like that title pawn crap place that treated him wrong back in January when he wouldn't compromise his integrity to do something they asked that was wrong. He's going to be working as an accountant for a law firm. YEAH! This is perfect. Thank you, Jesus. He starts the new job on Monday, May 7th. Funny thing, when I graduated 5 years ago, I started my new job at the Credit Union on Monday May 7th. Crazy coincidence :)
I am THANKFUL that we have been forced to cut our lifestyle down to bare basics. We've cut it down just about as far as we could go. We cut cable. We cut cell phone costs. We are mindful of our electricity and water usage. We've cut our food budget by stretching our meat and frozen veggies, and we buy organic milk, which even though it's more expensive, it lasts longer and doesn't sour as quickly as traditional milk. Therefore, we're not buying as much, so the money we spend is actually lasting us a longer period of time. Not only that, I don't seem to be lactose intolerant with it, which I thought I was with regular milk. We joined a local food-co-op. Paid approximately $15 a week to get a weeks worth of fresh, locally grown vegetables. It was an upfront expense, so that's $15 a week that we don't have to pay in the mean time. There are several other things on our budget that if things had gotten much worse, we probably could have cut them too. One example is the $17 per month trash service... we could have started taking the garbage to the dump ourselves, but that $17 convenience fee sure is worth it.
At any rate, we cut and cut and cut our budget some more, so that now that he has this new job, it's a HUGE blessing to make progress on things that we've "needed" to do, but have had to let slide recently. I posted on FB recently that I was going to be coming after the student loans with a vengeance as soon as I cleaned some stuff up. I'm not quite sure when that is actually going to happen, though. In the short term, we've got to rebuild our emergency fund, and sinking fund accounts, which takes care of our yearly or semi annual bills, such as car tags, life insurance and stuff like that. We also have some trees that need to be cut down in our back yard. We haven't been able to do that yet. The quote is only $750.... but that's $750 we haven't had. Hopefully we'll be able to get those monsters taken down by the end of May now :D I also have some medical bills to take care of too. We also want to save up some money for some things we want to do this summer.... go to a Nascar race, maybe a concert, etc. Our 5 year anniversary is this October, and we'll be going to the beach with our church family as we do every year. It just happens to fall on that weekend. I think we're planning on going down a couple of days early to make a vacation out of it.
So yeah, now that this has happened, we can dream again. Not go crazy, but we can actually budget a little more entertainment money than we had been so that we don't go absolutely stir crazy. I'm actually excited that we're going to be giving a larger tithe to the church! Tithing is something that's been especially important to me.
I worked on a generic budget with our new income, and I'm at a point now where we have a surplus amount that I'm not quite sure what to do with it yet. Part of me thinks "Throw it at the student loans!" since that's the ultimate goal anyway - get those suckers knocked out. But another part of me thinks I need to set a little more aside in our emergency fund and sinking funds account, to create a little bigger of a cushion. Technically, per Dave Ramsey's baby steps, we are still on Baby Step 2 - Pay off all debt. Baby Step 3 is a fully funded emergency fund. However, in his teachings, he does also give you the wiggle room to bump up your emergency a little bit if you are going to be in Baby Step 2 for a long time... which we are. It's been 3 years, and we still have a mountain of student loans. Even with his income, I anticipate we're going to be here at least for 4-5 more years, if not longer. I'm hoping we can do it in 5 years, with anticipated increases in salaries, yard sales, and maybe even a part time income on the side for me. I'm currently trying to find an online teaching position that I can use my MBA for.
Well... and the truth of the matter is, while writing this, I just remembered that we desperately need to start a "Car Replacement" sinking fund... badly. My car is 9 years old. It has 150K miles on it. It's still running well, though it needs a little more TLC these days. It's due for a major service, which we were not able to afford when I had the oil changed yesterday. I need Jonny to bring in a few paychecks before we can do that service. It's got a few quirks about it, and hopefully we'll be pregnant before too much longer. When that happens, I'm going to be in the market for an SUV. I will NOT be able to fit into my car once I get pregnant. Those of you who don't know, I have a 2003 Toyota Celica. It's a small little sports car, and it sits so low to the ground that my mom jokes about dragging her butt on the ground whenever she rides in the car with me. So yeah.... when I get pregnant, it's not going to be easy to get in and out of. Worst case scenario, Jonny and I will be able to switch cars (he has a Corolla, which is a 4 door, and sits higher off the ground than mine does) until we're able to afford another car. But the fact still remains, it's time to get another car, and we REFUSE to make payments. NEVER EVER AGAIN will I pay payments just to have a metal box with wheels. No thank you. So yeah... I think I just answered my own question. Those surplus funds will become the car replacement fund. When we're able to save up about 3-4K, we'll be able to trade my car for probably only 2-3K, and get a decent running early 2000 model SUV. We'll continue to save and upgrade again within a year, just like Dave's Free Cars for Life video illustrates.
Man.... it's good to be able to dream again!!! We cut our expenses so much, that this blessing gives us wiggle room to take care of things, without increasing our lifestyle. Our goal is not to go out an party, and eat out, and buy expensive new phones, or go on vacations every month with the extra money we're going to have. Our goal is to be responsible.... save up to replace the cars so we don't have to get a loan on a new one, throw a little extra money at the student loans when we get the emergency fund where we need it to keep Murphy away, clean up some medical bills, gets some trees removed, do some inexpensive work to the house that we've had to put off.... etc etc.
Thank you Jesus, for these blessings. THANK YOU for allowing us how to struggle, so that with this blessing we can be responsible with it.