Monday, April 09, 2012

Money Monday: April 9, 2012

So. Here we are. A full week after my last day of the contract. The cold has (mostly) run its course, I think I’m almost caught up on sleep, and starting to get into all those things I said I wanted to get into while I was between contracts…one of which was, of course, a more in-depth scrutiny of what-all we accomplished over the last thirty months.

I’ve been a little afraid to look, actually. Math can be rather cruel, you know? You can “believe” that things are “about” here, or that it “should” be about right…but then math comes along and is all, “ACTUALLY, if you subtract 32 from 9? Negative number.”

And no matter how hard you believe, expect, or want it to be otherwise…math is mean that way. Subtracting a number greater than the originating number will result in a negative number. Period. (WAIT! Unless you use ABS(x – y)! I smell loophole…!!!)

I finally screwed my courage to the sticking place and started looking – long, and hard, and with merciless refusal to use any “special” functions [dammit! Another brilliant plan, thwarted!] – at where we were and where we are.

I have to say: I’m rather impressed with what-all we accomplished over the last thirty months. We have paid off…get this…$83,340.69 in assorted non-mortgage debts. I know, right?!

The loan on the van, all the credit cards, and the whopping-huge tax bill I’ve been pissy about for going on four years now are gone, and the larger and nastier of the two medical gotchas is well on its way to being nothing more than a peculiarly angry and frustrating memory.

Yeah…we did good. Which is good, because if we hadn’t I think I might have suffered a complete mental breakdown.

Which leads me to where we are.

On the one hand, we definitely are in a much better position than we were; we’ve got a lot less being forked over in interest and payments, which means we have a much better ability to ride things out while I look for my next Adventure in Employment.

On the other hand, there’s still a fair amount of work to be done. I decided to forgo putting a whole lot of cash into the emergency fund in favor of paying off those debts, so we have a fairly thin bank account balance right now – and we have a lot of goals coming up that are going to be hitting the “write a check” line all too soon.

I looked at Eldest the other day and had one of those moments, you know? She’s off to high school next year, which means that college is only five short years away…and her college fund is woefully inadequate right now. Eep.

I look at our retirement funds and almost want to weep. We are not only behind where we wanted to be, but behind where we should be for “average” retirement savings.

We’re still underwater on the Den, and laughably far away from being able to even dream about moving somewhere with a little land around it.

But, you know…in terms of how things could have gone…we came out pretty darned well, all things considered. When I look at the kinds of things that we have simply absorbed, and how little direct harm we actually took from them…I have to say I feel like I just climbed over a fence, turned around and saw a big old sign on it that says, “Danger: Mine field! Do not enter!”

…wait…sooooo, that field I just walked across…was a…?

The husband is making about 15% less now than he was in 2008; my price book tells me that the cost of stuff like flour, eggs and milk has meanwhile gone up between 18 and 24% in that same time. We’re paying about $700 more a month for healthcare premiums and such, too, which makes it no wonder that I’m finding it awfully hard to yank the ends far enough to, you know, meet.

But when it comes to this household, crazy as we are I can say this one thing for us: We ain’t no bunch of whining crybaby work-fearing wimps. Nobody around here wasted much time sitting around sobbing and carrying on about things – nobody pitched fits about vacations not taken or stuff not bought.

Everybody just pulled up their socks and got to work, did what they needed to do and didn’t fuss about it.

And we did some amazing things.

I’m so proud of this family I could about bust.

I’m also kind of excited about the next phase; this last one was a bit dark and gloomy, actually. I mean, it felt good to be taking a hatchet to all those bills…but at the same time, it was also like endlessly picking at scabs on my knees or something.

Most of those bills were the direct result of something at best ill-advised (and at worst, flat-out stupid) that I’d done…and every time I looked at the bills, it was like taking a little jab, you know?

Yeah…that also was not one of your brightest moves ever, right there…sigh…

When I get started on the next contract, that money will be going into far happier things – into college and retirement funds, into those future dreams, and hey, while we’re at it? Some right here and now stuff too.

Two words for you, people: New. Ovens.

I wants them.

Working ovens, that don’t get to 225 and say, “Eh, that’s close enough to 375 for ya, right?” or zip up to 475 and then go, “I dunno what you’re all pissy about…350, 475, they’re practically identical! Oh, fine then, I’ll just s-l-o-w-l-y lose heat so that in an hour, I’ll be at, like 117, bwahahaha…”

That’s the stuff I couldn’t bring myself to spring for while working on this last contract; I was so determined to pay all that other gloomy stuff off first, get rid of it, make it not be there anymore.

Destroy the evidence, as it were.

Now that I’ve done that, and I’m sitting here with nothing left at over 5% interest, I’m ready to start adding back in those things that are not necessarily “needs”…but which sure would be nice to have, nevertheless.

That was a rather long, steep and dark hill to climb – I’m ready to do a little coasting in the sunshine now.

With maybe a hint of spoiling on the side.


Tola said...

youre my financial hero. we managed to delete a few debts this past year, and although it was nothing like yours, it still felt good. next goal is to pay off the car (6 months to go) then that payment will go towards a $10K Discover Card bill.

theresa said...

I am amazed by you! Congrats on all you have done!

Ms. Packrat said...

with 4 kids and 2 adults, i'd say that working oven(s) are not a luxury on any level

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on all your hard, nose-to-the-grindstone work.
Nancy FP

Steph B said...

That is fantastic! You should feel good about your progress. And I agree, working ovens are not luxuries, they're necessities. Go for it!

Colleen Mole said...

Sigh...I'm standing on the precipice myself...about to spend big cash on a house, which is good. But the DH also wants to buy a $1k couch on day 1 which will go on credit. I'm having a hell of a time convincing him otherwise...what if the furnace breaks or the AC doesn't work?? Or 20,000 other things explode on the 50yo house dude???

Layne Bushell said...

Congrats. that is awesome. We just listed all our debts (house not included) and we are working on it as well. I'm finding that I lack discipline. It's hard to curb the "oh but it's a good deal" and say, "there will be another one later" when you really need it. I will look to you to get through these debts we have!

PipneyJane said...

£83K? Take a bow, woman! Well done! That is a huge sum of money, particularly when you consider that you've had to pay for childcare costs for four children along the way, which must have eaten a considerable chunk of your salary.

Re the ovens: my vote is replace them. Reliable working ovens are not a luxury item.

Hope you feel better soon.

- Pam