Looking back at posts from 2010, it seems almost a miracle that we didn’t give up that year. Almost everything that could possibly go wrong did, and we spent the whole year taking two steps forward followed by one step back. We’d fill up our emergency fund only to find it depleted the next month because of yet another emergency expense.
Still, we did not add to our credit card balances, so that was something, and we continued on with our frugal ways and somehow kept plugging along.
Doubling Down on Our Debt
Brett and I sat down this past weekend to take stock of how things are going with our debt reduction plan. The consensus: not well. We’re moving along but are nowhere near where we hoped to be by this time, and at the rate we’re going it will take us an extra year to pay off all our debt. We are living as frugally as we can, but there still never seems to be enough, so we know something has to give. Our snowball is not growing.
This last quarter has been brutal. We started out in April with one account paid in full, a nice piece of another paid down, and an emergency fund in place. We’re ending this quarter with the emergency account depleted, and balances back on both accounts (overdraft accounts, not credit cards). One emergency after another occurred: two expensive dental emergencies for Brett; additional expenses with YaYu’s two surgeries; having to purchase a “new” washing machine; expensive oven repairs; a pet emergency; etc. We tried to fit what we could into our regular budget, but many (if not most) of the expenses were large enough that we had to hit the emergency fund and when that was gone, hit the overdraft accounts for funds.
A month ago I decided I needed to be a little more proactive about producing some income, and this fall will be providing after-school care for some of our friends’ children. I think this is going to be a win-win situation for both us and our friends. We know their children and they are friendly with our girls, and I will earn several hundred dollars a month while the parents will be paying less than they did to their previous providers.
We also decided to sell one of our cars. We have two great, low-mileage cars, one of them a hybrid. However, we only drive one of them regularly; the other one pretty much sits in the garage all the time because Brett uses public transportation to get to and from his work. The hybrid has been great for around-town errands and such because of the terrific mileage; we only have to buy gas for it every 3 to 4 weeks. The only problem is that all five of us barely fit into it these days, so it’s totally impractical if we all need to go somewhere (and that does happen fairly regularly). Our other car is a mid-sized wagon that we all fit into comfortably, but the gas mileage is terrible around town so we don’t like to use it for day to day stuff. But, the wagon is a safer car and can hold a lot more stuff besides the five of us. We looked at car values online and realized that we could sell the hybrid for enough to get rid of both car payments, so it’s now for sale. We will join Zipcar after the hybrid sells for those times when we need a second car (which are rare).
We have one more plan on the back burner: sell our house. We bought this house five years ago to live closer to the girls’ elementary school, but after next year they will all be in middle and high schools that aren’t that close to where we currently live. It’s a good house and fits us, but we’ve never been all that crazy about it or the neighborhood, even though the house has appreciated in value. It’s been our dream to own a house out at the coast when Brett retires, and we think we can not only pay off more of our debt but save more toward that dream by renting something closer to the girls’ schools for a year or so than what this house would gain in appreciation over the next couple of years. So we’ll see.
For the time being though, we need to be patient and get the car sold, keep paying on our other debts, pray for no more emergencies, and enjoy our summer vacation.
This was originally posted on June 10, 2010. We did sell our hybrid and pay off both of our cars, so that helped move us forward. We never joined Zipcar and did fine with just one car. We decided against selling our home though, and sold it a few months before we moved to Hawaii in 2014. The emergency expenses never ended though – it was a rough year.
My decision to do some after-school care for four sixth-grade girls was one of the dumbest I’ve ever made. The drama from both the girls and their parents was not worth the money I earned.