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February 27th, 2012 at 06:45 pm

We are moving in just three days but things have finally started to fall together. Thank you for all the suggestions for the move. It's nice to know someone out there is listening Smile

Biggest change, hopefully for the positive, we put an offer in on a short sale back in October for a house in Washington and found out last week that the bank approved the sale. The house is in pretty good shape, part of the sale agreement even includes new siding for the house, VA wouldn't approve the loan with the existing siding. We found new tenants for what was going to be our rental in WA and the owners agreed to refund our security deposit. Our mortgage payment will only be $150 more than what we would have been paying in rent and it's in a great location so theoretically it should rent easily in case we end up not being able to get a back to back tour in WA. We feel confident about this decision and it's a huge leap of faith but we as a family think it is a good step. We have never owned a house so it will be a learning experience. There is cosmetic work that needs to be done but nothing we shouldn't be able to handle or can't wait for a while to be updated. On another positive, I got a raise from my part-time bookkeeping work. I guess sometimes it needs to rain a little before the sun can peak out.

I am nervous about home ownership but excited about feeling grounded and connected to a place. We have a plaque that hangs on our front door that says "Home is where the Navy sends us" but it will be nice that for the first time it will ours.

The kids have been helping us pack and we've left three wardrobe boxes out for them to make forts with in their room since all of their toys are packed. Their have been some tears and expected added meltdowns but not as bad as the move from Colorado. My husband will be driving with us to Chicago then he flies back to finish his last week of work and I'll continue on with the kids and dog. I'm more concerned about traveling with the dog than the four kids.

We popped a tire on our van last week and when we went to have it fixed found out two of the other tires are at the end of their lives and probably wouldn't make it cross country. Right now we have the run-flat tires on the van because Toyota did not build it with a a place to store a spare. They are super expensive and have lasted us on average 30k miles per set. We are going to put regular tires on this time (half the cost). It's a little bit of a gamble but we have AAA so I think we'll be okay.

We got our tax return last week, $3,200 which, will help cover the tires and shipping of our second car to WA. The rest will go into savings for now. It's going to be an insanely busy next few weeks. I'll have to continue working through our move(downside of working from home) but hopefully I'll be able to find a quiet corner in the hotel room after the kids go to sleep.

I am thrilled at the thought that we may have a routine soon. Still no definite news on when Jon will be deploying but we'll be okay. I feel more peace right now than I have in a long time which is a nice change of pace. Let's just hope the baby feels that way after 5 days in a car.

A little off topic.....

February 8th, 2012 at 05:08 pm

I know this isn't finance related, but I needed a place to vent and I figure no one I personally know will read this. So, our kids are doing a "fasting" of sorts with the children's group at church, each day this week they have to sustain from something different, i.e. t.v., sweets, or video games. They also have a worksheet they have to fill out each day to go along with it. Today they have to draw a picture of one of the struggles they think they will have to face soon, our oldest daughter drew a picture of a moving truck. I breaks my heart every time we have to up root them and move and start over again. It was easier when we (and they) were all younger and didn't really know what was going on. We've been in CT since August 2011 and are moving again in three weeks to WA (thank you USN). These last few months have been very challenging emotionally for me and the kids. It's hard to try to put down roots knowing you are leaving so soon. In the name of saving money we opted for a smaller older home here, knowing it was short term but it's been a nightmare to say the least. Rooms flooding, heat not working, just to name a few. I was hoping Washington would be a better situation but due to the wonderful cost of living at no availability for housing on base it looks like we will be in a similar housing situation in WA. I know it's the "smart" thing to do but it's tough thinking back on past decisions and wondering if you had made different one's if things would be different now. We are also doing a "do it yourself move" where you set up and move your own household goods, again in the name of hopefully making a little extra money when the move is all done but, now I have a house with boxes scattered throughout it for the next three weeks. I feel like I am living literally in a box. I know you can't change the past and we shouldn't dwell on it but I still sometimes wonder. My husband loves what he does for the Navy so it's hard to think about walking away, especially when retirement is 9 years away. In the same breathe, it's hard thinking of, worst case scenario of having another 5 moves ahead of us. It's exhausting. He will probably be deploying in the next 2-3 months, just for a few months but still it means four kids and no family on my own. I've always been a strong person and weathered the seasons of life fairly well but it certainly doesn't get easier. I just want some sort of normalcy for a while but it seems impossible. This is the life we've chosen, I just pray that our children will grow up and feel like even though we moved a lot that they always had a home. God has always taken care of us and I have no doubt he will continue too but sometimes it's hard to see past the moment. I pray he continues to watch over us, especially our children and just brings us peace through this process...

Month 29

January 16th, 2012 at 07:31 pm

So, the last few months haven't been so great. We moved to Connecticut in July and are already packing for our next move in March back to Washington state. We'll have made a full circle around the U.S. when we get there. We are praying to stay put for at least three years once we move, with high hopes of a second tour there after that. I am thankful for the Navy and all it provides for us but moving so often is getting harder as we get older and the kids get older.

We opted to live in a smaller house on base (1600 sq ft) in CT mainly due to the cost of oil heat out on town. The house is older, built in the 1950's and not built well. We've had one room flood twice from water coming from the boiler, we've had several furry little critters (thankfully none lately), we don't have garage and the heat, which is baseboard, doesn't heat the house very well. I am assuming it's from the air coming in through windows and doors. We keep a small space heater going at night to keep the kids rooms warm. When they first showed my husband the house there was a tree laying on top of the backside of the home and it was so dirty once they power washed it it looked a different color. I'll be happy to leave this one behind.

I've been homeschooling the kids since we have been here but plan on putting them back in school once we get to Washington. Oh, it's been exciting here.....

Where we have really blown it is in the budget department. We haven't really had a paper budget since we've been here and it shows. Our overall debt has increased by almost five hundred dollars since July 1, 2011. It's been in credit card debt. I've been putting money into savings for the security deposit for where ever we live in Washington and haven't done much with the credit cards. We had to have some work done on the van and because of the uncertainty of what we will need to for housing, I put it on the credit card for now. We lived in Navy Housing last time and loved it but there is a 18-24 month wait to get into a house now. We are also going to ship one of the cars so we can drive together cross country which is going to run us about $1,400.

At this point, I am in survival mode until we get settled in a few months. We are going to put together a budget with our best and worst case scenarios for this move and hope for somewhere in the middle. We should be able to do it without incurring any new debt, I just don't think we will be putting much towards it until April-May.

We are doing our first Do-It-Yourself Move (Lord help us) with hopes of having better control over the costs. We have a good head start on the packing already.

Financial Positives for the year:

We maxed out my Roth IRA for the year.

Our total savings breakdown:

NOW 29 Months Ago
TSP: $30,568
Roth IRA $15,030
Roth IRA-2 $ 3,045
Kids College $21,071
MMA $ 5,837
Whole Life $ 4,416
Total $79,967 $32,000

Another positive note, I received my Quickbooks Certification last week so I am an official Quickbooks Specialist now. Once life settles down in Washington hopefully I can put that to use part-time. I am also working on my tax-prep certification. I should finish it this year and be ready to go for the 2012 tax year.


Incur no more debt!
Get our total debt below $20,000
Max out Roth IRA
Open whole life policy for baby (the girls each have one)
Continue contributing to college funds
Increase emergency savings

Seems ambitious but I have hope!

Month 23

July 4th, 2011 at 11:09 am

Well, we sold the car! It went much smoother than I thought it would go. We listed in for sale about a month ago and had only had one inquiry on it. We dropped the price and had someone call a few days later. It took about a week to finish the deal but we deposited the check on June 30th. We haven't told the extended family yet but will when we need too. It feels great though, like a weight has been lifted. It will save us $400 every six months on our insurance and we have almost paid off our van. We took our van in for an oil change the same day and it ended up needing some work, new brakes, brake fluid flush, alignment and a few other misc things. We did pay for that out of the proceeds from the car so we wouldn't have to pull from savings. We also paid for a night at the Great Wolf Lodge during our move for the kids. The movers will be at our house in a week. We still don't have a place to move into in CT but it has always worked out in the past and I am praying it will work out this time as well. No other hiccups during the month of June. Here is where things stand now:

Debt Total $34,045
Total Savings (including retirement and college funds)

Month 22

June 6th, 2011 at 09:49 pm

May brought the end of school for the kids, and the beginning of our last summer in Colorado. It takes me about a year to really feel comfortable in a place and it feel like it's home and now after two years of living here we are getting ready to pack our bags next month and head to CT.

May is always a good month financially for us because my husband gets a small bonus. This year after taxes and putting some into an emergency/moving fund we ended the month with our debt total at $52,537. We have also listed the car for sale. No serious inquiries yet but hopefully soon. If it doesn't sell by the week before we move we are going to take it to Carmax and sell it to them. The splurge for the month was swim lessons for the kids this summer. When you have three it adds up quickly. Besides that spending was close to budget. We did eat out a few times more than normal. I have been looking at different menu planners for the summer. It's always easy when we are getting close to moving for us to eat out more so I am hoping a menu planner will help curve that.

We had a yard sale and made about $160, which we put towards our last outstanding credit card. We will probably have one more in June and then donate the rest before we move.

My husband is flying out on Thursday for five days to help his mother move. The girls are all in VBS for the week and our little man is getting some extra Mommy time.

I'm working on a Quickbooks certification program from home right now. My goal is to finish it before we move. I'm having a hard time finding time to devote to it but I am really going to try and put it to the front of the priority list. It never seems like there is enough time during the day and at night I'm too tired to really concentrate on it. I am hoping that it will help me with my current bookkeeping job and I would like to eventually add one more client. Again, it's all a matter of finding time. I had made a de-cluttering schedule for the house and I'm already behind on that too. We were within 2,000lbs of our weight limit on our last move and I don't want to go over.

My husband dis-located his finger tonight playing basketball and had to have it re-set. He is going to see an orthopedic surgeon tomorrow. Hopefully it will be fine, I need all the hands I can get around here.

I'll update again soon!

Month 21

May 6th, 2011 at 04:11 pm

I can't believe it's been almost two years. It's been a while since I updated things. I've been busy with the kids, especially our newest addition. Bryce was born in November of 2010. He is just over six months old, weighing almost 18 pounds now and 26.5 inches long. He is a healthy happy baby. The girls all love being little mommies to them. I haven't been working since September of last year so things have slowed down a bit on our debt snowball. Here is where things stand:

Total Outstanding Debt: $62,451

Total Savings, Including retirement: $64, 507

We went a little off track when the baby was born. In March of this year we recommitted ourselves to becoming debt free. We haven't really been tracking things very well. I have started us back on the envelopes system, using mvelopes.com.

We are getting ready to PCS this summer to our next duty station. We will only be there for 8 months then moving again. It's going to be a busy summer.

The big debate in the house right now financially is what to do with a car my husband inherited from his father when he passed away in February last year. It's a nice car, only a few years old but not practical for us. It's a 2007 Mustang Convertible. My husband has a Highlander so with this car it makes three. We took it up to Carmax yesterday and they said they would buy it for $19,950. The only issue is the sentimental side of it. My husband mentioned to his mom that he was going to sell the car and now she want's to buy it back from us for $10,000. She doesn't really have the money to buy it and she hasn't been able to drive for 11 years due to medication she is on and problems she has with her back and legs so it would be sitting in her garage. I know she wants to have it because it reminds her of her husband but it doesn't seem right selling her the car back. She is on quite a bit of medication on a daily basis and isn't always lucid.

If we keep the car, we will have to ship it do our next duty station which will cost us around $1,000 and then when we move again in 8 months, we'll have to ship it again. I would like to sell it and pay off our van or put half of it towards our debt and half into savings. We would like to purchase a home in a year from now so there seems to be more of an urgency to pay things off and save. It would be great not to have a car payment.

It's a hard decision and has brought a lot of stress into our house. Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated.

Month 10

June 30th, 2010 at 10:24 pm

Tomorrow, July 1st we start the month by celebrating the birth of our first daughter Taylor, who will be seven years old. Seven years has flown by. We've expanded our family in that time, lived in six states and experienced things we never thought possible. Now we find ourselves expecting our fourth child and first BOY and on a journey to become financially free.

I haven't been working much because of scheduling conflicts with my supervisor and haven't gotten my first pay check yet. It won't be much, a few hundred dollars but every bit helps. It's been exhausting though, between that and the kids, working and having my sister here.

I did have one really good counseling session with a young couple, in a very similar position to where we were several years ago. It was great to be able to sit down with them and create a financial plan for them and teach them what I wish I would of known when we were in their position. They left very motivated and I will have a follow up with them in a few months after she returns from a temporary duty assignment. I also got to co-facilitate my first basic financial planning class.

My sister still hasn't found a job so we've had the added expense of her here but hopefully a job is on the horizon for her. I have been paying her a little to watch the kids while I work.

My parents will be coming to visit in a week and they haven't been out to visit us since we moved to Colorado. We are also going to make a trip to Texas to see the Great Grandma who is 93 and not doing so well.

Anyways, despite that we have paid down our debt this month by $2,496 bringing it to a total of $77,342.

I hope everyone is enjoying there summer!

Month 9

May 31st, 2010 at 07:52 pm

We ended May with our debt total just under $80,000. I start working again next week. It will just be for a few months but will hopefully help us put another dent in our student loans. I'll have to pay a sitter this summer to watch the kids but it will still be extra money. Our oldest daughter Taylor has her birthday party on Friday.

We'll see what the month of June brings!

Month 8.5

May 17th, 2010 at 06:50 pm

Well, I've been a little out of the loop on here the last few months. Lots of life changes going on. We've made another trip back to VA to help my mother-in-law get ready for her move to Texas, we've continued homeschooling, and the biggest surprise is that we are going to have another baby! Our fourth and definitely last child will be born this November. As far as we know baby is healthy thus far. We should find out whether it's a boy or girl on June 11th, as long as he/she is willing to cooperate. With three girls already it's going to be interesting to find out if it's going to be a house full of little girls or whether my husband will have some company in the male department.

Here is an update on the financial side:

Emergency Fund: We depleted quite a bit of this with the travels to VA over the last few months. There is still roughly $3000 left.

Other Savings:
College Funds: $14,110
TSP $16,290
Roth IRA (me) $7,992

Total (including Emergency Fund) $41,392

That's it so far. I've made a few adjustments as far as contributions. We've up'd the TSP contributions to $486 per month and starting next month my IRA contributions will be $320 per month. One of the reasons we increased the TSP is to lower our taxable income because the money I've earned this year working has been as an independent contractor so we are trying to lower our taxable income.

I would like to set aside half of what I earn this summer towards the Emergency Fund as well. Hopefully this will happen.

Where the debt stands:

Credit Cards $1212
Sallie Mae $12,314
Dept. of Ed. $39,619
Cars $28,582
Total $81,727

My husband got a small bonus this month which helped push things along a little.

Another change is my sister has come to live with us. She will be 30 tomorrow. She has some learning disabilities and unemployed for the last 7 months. She lives with our parents but has come to stay with us and we are hoping she will find a job soon and in the fall we are going to try a few classes at the community college for her. She had one interview at Target last week and wasn't offered a job. We are turning in a few other applications tomorrow, hopefully with some better luck!

I haven't been working these last few months but I start back up the first week of June. I should have a job until the end of summer. I will pay my sister to watch our kids during this time which will hopefully help her and me.

We've enrolled our older two girls in a local charter school for the fall. With a new baby coming I'm afraid I won't be able to devote the time to homeschooling that I would like too. We've also decided to save on the cost of preschool for our three year old this fall and just keep her home. I did find one program that was $60 a month for one day (3 hours) that we may do. I'm just ready to be done with this. I know we have a long way to go but it feels good to be making some progress.

Anyways, enough rambling for now. I'm hoping to have a new budget posted in June and would love some feedback.

When Life Throws you a curve ball...Month Six

March 1st, 2010 at 05:30 pm

February ended on a very sad note. My father in law passed away last weekend at the age of 60 from a heart attack. He fell out of his bed on Wednesday Feb 17th during the middle of the night and his heart stopped beating. His heart began beating again after the paramedics got there but he had been without oxygen too long. On Sunday he passed surrounded by his wife of 40 years and kids. It was a shock to all of us. My husband flew to VA the morning it happened and the girls and I flew out the next day. We spent a week there before flying back to CO.

Life takes us by surprise sometimes. It's important to remember that in all things God has a plan. Even in the unexpected. He was laid off of his job last August and he and my mother in law were planning to move to Texas this summer where he would look for a new job. They did come and visit us a few times during this last year for about 6 weeks total so, we did get some quality time together.

I've had our emergency fund sitting at around $1000 because we've been putting everything else towards debt. I wasn't concerned about Jon loosing his job because he's in the military and I figured that $1000 would cover most emergencies but I never thought anything like this would happen. I guess this re-enforces why they call it an emergency fund. Between flying expenses to get to VA and helping out his mom in other ways we spent close to $3000 this month. This is going to drastically change our plans for the next few months but I am hoping by summer to be back on track. His mother is disabled and cannot do a whole lot on her own. We will be making a few more trips out to VA, just one of us at a time so we don't have to bring the kids, over the next few months getting her ready to move to Texas. We are setting up a Unitrust for her to pay her each month from the life insurance money with the hope that it will last her 20 years. She has a lot of medical expenses and a bad spending habit. I am hoping that she will be responsible with her money but it's going to take a little hand holding.

Our total debt at the end of the month is $90162.

Tax Return

February 14th, 2010 at 09:27 pm

We got our tax return this week. I have a payment pending to pay off my smallest student loan with Sallie Mae. This is the first loan we started "attacking" in September on our quest to becoming debt free. The beginning balance on this loan around $7781, as of Wednesday next week $0! It will also bring our total debt down under $90k. It still seems like such a huge number. I am just praying for the motivation to continue as the months go on this year. We also did a little tax planning for this year. All of the work I have been doing has been as a independent contractor so I'm going to be responsible for self-employment taxes on around $14,000 at the end of 2010. We have increased my husbands 401k to 10% (which I know it should be at anyways) in hopes of decreasing our taxable income this year. It also means $400 less per month in take home pay. This is just an approximation, we'll find out for sure on the first of March. It shouldn't be a problem while I'm working but as of May 1st I won't have a job anymore. It'll definitely be a year of challenge but I am hoping with some dedication we can continue to chip away at our debt.

My father-in-law doesn't understand why I'm so set on paying off everything. He told me this is my husbands shore duty and we should be enjoying it more and not living on such a tight budget. (His outlook on money is much different than mine). We may not be doing everything we would like to here but we are enjoying ourselves and the thought of being debt free by the next time he deploys would bring more peace to me than I could ever describe. It stresses me out owing this much money. It's sad to think a lot of people think it's normal in my life. Yes, it's student loans mainly but our degrees won't be our until they are paid for. And, even though they may be considered "good debt" they are still debt.

Anyway, enough of my ranting. Have a great President's Day!

Month Five

January 29th, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Where did January go? It seems like I blinked and it was over. I'm working now a few hours a week and did get my first paycheck this month. It was for $1100 which all went to Sallie Mae. We paid $3,733 towards debt this month bringing the total down to $92,305. I'm almost done with our taxes, just waiting on a few more things to come in the mail but we should get around a $3,500 refund, hopefully in the month of February which will also all go to Sallie Mae. It seems like it's going slow but I know every dollar counts.

Another big event for the month my husband finished his Master's degree in Engineering Management. He's in the Navy so it won't lead to a pay raise anytime soon but it's nice to have it done. We go on a small trip this month. The YMCA of the Rockies had a military special where you could stay for two nights, including food for $148. We went and including gas and activities spent $227 on the trip. We had a lot of fun. The girls went sledding, ice skating, and roller skating. The only activities we paid for was archery and rock climbing. The prices were around $3 per person, very reasonable. The kids had a great time and it was fun watching them try new things.

It's getting close to time to sign the girls up for school for next year. Our neighborhood school is not very good but we have the girls on waitlists for a few different schools out of our district. One of them has gotten in each school but not both of them in the same one. As of we are planning on homeschooling again next year. There is a local school that offers a homeschool option that our oldest is a part of this year. She goes once a week for a full day for classes like Spanish, Music, PE, Art and Phonics. The Kindergarten option goes three days a week. It will be a lot of driving but it's a way to get them in a class with other kids. They are both on the waitlist for the full-time program. It's a great program and it's free.

I'm going to post an updated budget soon. Hope everyone had a good January.

The issue is not how much a person makes but what they do with it

January 8th, 2010 at 05:33 pm

Here is something to think about for today, an excerpt from Desiring God, chapter 7, pp. 202-203:

In Ephesians 4:28, Paul says 'Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.' In other words, there are three levels of how to live with things: (1) you can steal to get; (2) or you can work to get; (3) or you can work to get in order to give.

Too many professing Christians live on level 2. Almost all the forces of our culture urge them to live on level two. But the Bible pushes us relentlessly to level three. 'God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work' (2 Corinthians 9:8). Why does God bless us with abundance? So we can have enough to live on, and then use the rest for all manner of good works to alleviate spiritual and physical misery. Enough for us; abundance for others.

The issue is not how much a person makes. Big industry and big salaries are a fact of our times, and they are not necessarily evil. The evil is in being deceived into thinking a six-digit salary must be accompanied by a six-digit lifestyle. God has made us to be conduits of His grace. The danger is in thinking the conduit should be lined with gold. It shouldn't. Copper will do.

I read this yesterday and it really hit home. My husband and I got married very young (18 yrs old) and we will be celebrating our 11 year of marriage this year. We've lived on next to nothing when we first got married and as our salary has increased so as our lifestyle. We both felt a sense of entitlement to things and a certain increase in our standard of living. The problem was we began to spend more than we had. This is how we have gotten ourselves into debt. We've finally reached a point in our lives where we realize we shouldn't be spending it all and we're sick of our paycheck going to others. We're learning to be content with what we have and be thankful for all the things we've been blessed with. I hope you do the same.

1.) "Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that... Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life" 1 Timothy chapter 6, verses 6 through 8 and 17 through 19.

Month Four

January 1st, 2010 at 08:21 pm

HAPPY NEW YEAR! A new year comes with new years resolutions, a new start to goals, a recharge of sorts. We managed to make it through our first Christmas without incurring any additional debt. We flew to visit my parents, for the first week in December and then my in laws came to our house for Christmas. We kept the presents really simple, the kids made gifts for all of the adults, my husband and I did not exchange gifts this year and we only got the girls two presents each.

Another big event for the month.... I am an official graduate again. I turned in my final report (all 72 pages) on December 11th. It is such a relief to be done. I feel a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Although, I won't feel like it's mine till I get my student loans paid off but I'm working on it.

I worked my first day at my job on December 21st. I'll turn my first time-sheet in on Monday. I've heard horror stories from other interns about the turn around time for payment so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will come through. It should be about $600 which I'll send straight to Sallie Mae.

We paid $1442 towards our debt this month for a total of $7664 in four months. I have high hopes for January. I'll keep you posted.