20 for ’20 Challenge

I read a blog post by one of my fellow stitchers about 19 for 19.

19 for 19 was a challenge she was doing to motivate herself to accomplish specific goals for the year.

I have done yearly challenges before but none quite like this.

I am coming in late to the game for 2019 so I am going to start 2020 early. Why wait, right?

I like this challenge because I have so many interests and hobbies and 20 distinct goals will help motivate me in all of those interests and hobbies plus starting now will give me 16 months to complete things instead of just 12 months.

Here is my 20 for ’20

1. Build a new garage

2 – Major cross-stitch projects completed.

3 – Projects completed in our house (not to include windows).

4 – Books read a month.

5 – Windows replaced in our house.

6 – Blog posts a month.

7 – Movies at the theater with my family.

8 – Hours a month studying herbal medicine and/or herbology a month.

9 – Birthday cards sent out to 9 friends.

10 – Small cross-stitch projects done for the year.

11 – New herb varieties planted for the year.

12 – Recipes I teach to my son.

13 – Minutes of exercise a day.

14 – Walks a month.

15 – $15,000 in debt paid off.

16 – Proper dates with my husband (planned).

17 – Etsy Listings posted a month.

18 – Books of the Bible read.

19 – New Recipes tried.

20 – Visits with people.

Some of these are pretty lofty goals but I will post about my progress often.

If you did this challenge what would your 20 for ’20 goals be?

Here’s to the next 16 months! -MM

Not Impressed With our Debt Week 52 of 80

It has been a couple of months since I have checked in and for that I apologize. One very good thing happened in my time away from you and that very good thing would be I got our Home Equity loan paid off!! Yes! The last $300 of that balance and filing fees was paid in June and I am just waiting for my recorded discharge.

Even though our debt balance went up because of the medical bills and tractor, that home equity being paid in full is quite an amazing feeling. Having a debt of $17,000 get paid in full is a big accomplishment. We can handle these smaller debts much easier.

With $328 a month freed up from the Home Equity payment we can put it into the medical bill debt. When I started the medical bill debt was $3461.27. So far this month I have gotten $518.78 paid on that debt and it is now down to $2942.49. Not bad!

One more debt we have added to which I am fessing up to right now is we are going to Ireland this summer for our daughter’s wedding. Yes Ireland! Normally we wouldn’t take such an extravagant trip but this is a special circumstance. With this trip we have learned a lot about traveling internationally so far and with that came the cost of three passports, hotels, car rentals, airfare, insurance, and spending money. We paid the passports in cash because we could not charge them but the rest, you guessed it, had to go on the credit card. Hey, it’s a rare change of a lifetime and what’s an extra $3000?

So after medical bills, new tractor, and a trip to Ireland our debt is back up to $32,080.81.

Not great huh? After we get back from Ireland our school taxes are due and we need our boiler looked at before snow flies so I will probably not have much of a chance to get any extra debt paid off until October. Major bummer. However, in October there are five paychecks for each of us so my goal is to get $1000 extra paid off in the month of October.

Thanks for the support on all of this my friends. We know you are rooting for us. I’ll check back in, in a couple of weeks! -MM

I would love to hear about your debt repayment goals and what has worked for you. Message me at marymargaretripley@yahoo.com with your debt stories!

Not Impressed With Our Debt – Week 44 of 80 – Challenges

Remember when I told you about a trip to the emergency room in November last year and as of yet had not been billed for it? Well I finally got the bill…all $3200 of it. Yeah, and I have insurance and I still had to pay over $4000 for an emergency visit! This high deductible crap is getting old.

To add to our debt this month we desperately needed a new lawn tractor to mow our large yard. The one we have been using was getting too run down and the expensive repairs really didn’t fix the problems the mower had so we reluctantly bought a new one. We felt that a quality mower from a real dealer was the way to go. The initial cost is more expensive but the quality is 10 times better than a mower from a Walmart or Home depot. This new mower like the medical bill, cost us about $3200.

So our debt went up $6400 this month.

I considered giving up for a few months on these financial posts because our debt went up instead of down which just sounded awful to me and because I have two other blog series I want to pursue this summer.

However, after thinking about it more I  want people to know that things aren’t always going to be rosy when you are trying to get rid of debt. My husband told me I was making paying off our debt sound too easy and that to the reader we weren’t struggling every week. We ARE struggling every week. That is a reality for us, but do people really want to hear about reality? The bottom line is every single week we are paying off our debt regardless of the setbacks.

There is always going to be something that comes along that is a set back for a while. Vehicles come and go, home repairs from storms, new mattresses and those pesky medical bills to name a few but you can’t let it slow you down or break your commitment to paying off debt. Two steps forward, one step back? I guess that’s the case for us this time. Debt has its highs and lows.

When I started this series of posts I didn’t really think many people would read them. Do people really care that much about debt? You know what though? I have been surprised by the number of people that have come up to me and have mentioned how much they look forward to reading my debt challenge posts and to keep doing it.

Is there any good news you ask? Our home equity balance is now at $228. You know what that means right? Happy dance to come this month! I will have a BIG post when I make that last payment in a few weeks.

Keep at it my friends…keep at it. -MM

Not Impressed with our Debt – Week 39 of 80 – April 2019 Results

April was catch up month for us so as expected the results are not spectacular.

We started off the month with $25,421 and as of today we are at $24,750. That’s down $671 which is the lowest I think I have had so far. But hey, it’s still forward progress right?!

I was only able to make a regular payment to the home equity this month so that debt went from $900 to $578. In the month of May baring anything unforeseen we should be doing our happy dance for paying it off! Fingers and toes crossed.

Even though April was less that productive in my mind I did realize something very exciting which will keep us motivated and moving forward in getting our debt gone for good.

I really started all of this paying off debt stuff in August of 2014. Our starting point was a whopping $143,775.35. Totally embarrassing right? Keep in mind that part of all of that is our mortgage but only about $50,000. That means over $90,000 was pure car, credit card, and home equity loans. Yikes right?

But here’s the cool thing, in less than 5 years, we have paid off an astonishing $71,300! Our total debt right now including house, car, credit cards, and loans is down to $72,475.

I couldn’t believe it when I tallied it. I have kept a white board since 2014, diligently marking down our progress every week and month for each debt when have. Cars have come and gone and credit cards have been paid off one by one.

My husband and I are pretty proud of what we have accomplished. It makes it worth the hard work we put into it. Hopefully some day we can pay for a vacation by swiping our debit card and not our credit card right?

We will see what May brings! See you next update. -MM

Not Impressed With Our Debt – Week 38 of 80 -Who’s Paying the Bills?

Who pays the bills in your household? For us it’s obviously me since I am blogging about it but recently I have had a few conversations with people about their bill paying practices.

One point from these conversations has been coming up more frequently. That point is are both you and your spouse or significant other named on your household bills? In other words, does the Cable bill come with your name and your mate’s name, or just one of your names?

This could be a big problem if it is just one of you. If something happens to the person solely named on the bill and the other person is not on it, making changes to that account can be slow and excruciating.

Example: I had a client tell me she paid the bills in her house but her husband always took care of the cell phones. He went out and got them new cell phones a few months ago and of course the bill was in his name even though he didn’t pay the bills but he was the one who opened the account. Her husband unfortunately died and now the cell phone company will not help her remove one of the phones from the account because her name is not on the bill. “He’s dead” she told them!  They told her in order to change anything she has to prove he is deceased by sending them an original death certificate (which costs money). If both of their names had been on the account there would not be a problem. In talking with her she said it never crossed their minds to do anything differently.

That happens a lot. I made my husband put me on his credit card account so I could talk to them about an issue we were having. My husband opened the account but never thought to add my name. I love him but he is terrible with knowing what to say to these people over the phone so when we had a problem he would call and then tell them please talk to my wife and he would hand the phone to me. Adding me meant I could just talk to them myself without having to bother him at work.

Another example I heard about recently from another client was her husband had some dementia problems and he had had two internet routers installed and they were paying for two internet services! They obviously only needed one service but when she tried to cancel one they would not let her or even talk to her since she was not on the account. I asked her why she wasn’t on the account since she paid the bills for the household and again the answer was it just wasn’t something they had ever thought about.

After these discussions with others and from my own experience I am making it a priority to look at every one our bills to make sure that the correct name and both names are on them. Believe it or not I have two bills that still have my first married name on them because I have been too lazy to change them. I have been married almost nine years to my second husband! I just haven’t wanted to send a copy of our marriage papers in to change my name. Silly right?

Now I don’t want you to think this is just something that the older population has to deal with as they age and pass away. Making sure your bills have the proper names on them is critical at any age. God forbid you’re a 28 year old father of two and something devastating happens to their mother, your wife, when she gives birth to your third child and you don’t have Power of Attorney for her affairs and all of the bills are in her name…see what I mean? You just never know.

There are so many things to think about when it comes to being responsible with our money. Every day we need to work at it. What can we improve? What will make our experience easier? These are all questions we have to ask ourselves.

Next week I will check in with my end of month results! See you next week! -MM

 

 

 

Not Impressed with our Debt – Week 35 of 80

It’s been a stressful month in lots of ways but being at week 35 of our 80 week debt paying challenge, I expected it.

We are to the point in our debt payoff that each week we get closer to blowing this thing wide open but it’s a delicate balance as well.

Two weeks ago I overdrew the checking account. I should have done things a little different that week and not pushed so hard. I lost $40 of our hard earned money which sucked but I had to move on from the massive guilt I felt over it. Feeling guilty is not productive. I am a grown woman and I constantly am pushing the envelope with this. I take full responsibility.

Unfortunately I did not get the home equity paid off this month like I wanted but I did pretty good! At the beginning of March it was just under $1900. Right now that balance, without closing fees, is $900! Almost there!

My husband’s car was in need of a pretty major repair that cost $500 today. He was nervous even driving it very far. Although I was bummed because I knew that meant I couldn’t finish paying off the loan, it did make me feel good knowing we could pay for that repair in cash and not use the credit card. Huge progress for us!

At my last results update in mid February our debt was $27,011. As of today our debt is $25,421.

I am happy to report since August, which is 8 months, we have paid off $10,500 in total debt. Yippee!

We will see what April brings us. I will check in again in a few weeks.

How are you doing on your debt paying journey? -MM

Not Impressed with our Debt – Week #33 of 80 – Paying off the Home Equity Status

I am determined to pay off our Home Equity this month. We only had $1900 left to pay on it and this week our Federal Tax refund came in so I pay $543 right to the principal of the loan. Right now the balance is about $1346.

Keep in mind that figure is not actually the payoff amount. When I made that payment I asked the teller for a loan payoff amount through the 31st of March. The actual payoff figure is around $1400.

So why is the payoff figure more than what is says I owe when I look at my account on-line.m? It’s more for a couple of reasons. One, because the interest is not fully figured in there and two, the bank charges a fee to file your mortgage discharge with your County Clerk.

Let me back up to when you sign for a new mortgage or home equity loan. When you buy a new house or apply for a home equity on your existing home, your mortgage is recorded in the county clerk’s office where you live. It shows up on your property’s history report which they call your Abstract. When you pay off your mortgage or home equity the bank is supposed to file a discharge of mortgage with the county clerk that you have paid the loan in full thereby your mortgage has been satisfied.

When you go to sell your home later, your Abstract should show the bank has filed the discharge of mortgage. If they fail to do that, that can be a real problem. Many times your original mortgage, if it was a 30 year mortgage may have been assumed by another bank more than once. Many old banks have closed and new banks have assumed the mortgages from those banks. This may be the reason a discharge was never filed.

When you pay off any mortgage or home equity, follow up with your mortgage company to make sure they indeed filed a discharge. It will save you time and money later on and a whole lot of aggravation.

I hope to get another good chunk of that loan paid off this week. I’ll check in with you again next week! -MM