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It's been a while - an update - and a big thanks to you all

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    It's been a while - an update - and a big thanks to you all

    Hi all, I haven't been on the forum in a couple of years, but recently got to thinking of how much Steve and the rest of you gave me a push in the right direction and help when I needed it most. Especially Steve who went above and beyond. Thank you! I am glad this forum is here, and I'll try to be a more active member again. We've been going strong and working at our monstrous debt, and doing a lot of soul searching along the way. We are on track to be debt free by late 2021 if not sooner. That might seem crazy to some of you, but I don't use the word monstrous lightly. It's pretty astounding how much our mindset has changed as we've gone through this journey. And life is kind of a whole lot happier these days, much more peaceful, even though we aren't done yet. The truth is, you don't know what you can live without until you give it an honest try. I thought I'd list some of the things we've done to make meaningful changes since we started down this path:

    - We plan where every single dollar is going to go, no exceptions. Any extra money, no matter how small the amount, goes directly toward debt. And eventually, when we're out of debt, to savings. I think we are happy enough with all of our changes that the only expense we'll add back in is more travel.

    - We track our net worth. Seeing that number morph month after month is quite compelling.

    - We always always pay off our actively used cards in full each month, but still use the cards to get cash back rewards which immediately goes toward our debt.

    - I set up an excel spreadsheet to divvy up our savings, so that we're now saving a little each month toward the things many of us like to say are emergencies, but really they're just things we've planned poorly for. Like known upcoming bills, annual insurance bills, vet bills, medical bills, etc. This, I think, is a big reason we've been successful in not having any real slip-ups, and not even needing to touch our emergency fund.

    - Sold our only car. Now we just uber wherever we need to go for a fraction of the cost of car ownership. Surprisingly, I LOVE this! I have rearranged my business meetings to be almost entirely from home which makes me happier. I hope to never own a car again. We also reduced our travel significantly (only travel for very very necessary business reasons now)

    - Ditched cable and found a way to pay just $2 (yep, about 2 dollars total per month) for our two cell phones with xfinity (which uses the Verizon network and has great coverage)

    - Worked on reducing our utilities which were pretty crazy high at the time. Everything from getting rid of extra computers that were hogging electric to not using the AC so much to line drying our clothes. This has saved us hundreds of dollars a month.

    - Ditched Netflix and Hulu, and then found out we can get Hulu for free with our premium Spotify account (husband insists he needs this to focus on work)

    - Kept Amazon prime and signed up for the Amazon Prime Visa. We get free delivery of groceries from whole foods with this, prime streaming, and a whole host of other benefits. Plus 5% off all purchases from whole foods and amazon by using the visa.

    - We use the library now! I love to read and my book habit was expensive. I was probably a top customer for amazon's kindle books. Now I borrow kindle books from the library. We have memberships at 4 different libraries, so I can find almost any book any time.

    - Home hair cuts. Super easy, and saves at least a hundred dollars a month for my salon visits. We don't spend tons of money on skincare and haircare products anymore. We just keep it simple and use the least costly products that work for us (which isn't always the least costly available, but better than what we used to buy).

    - We generally live minimally now. We are not very attached to the few possessions we do still have. We have minimal high quality capsule wardrobes which has virtually eliminated spending on clothing (except for shoes which we find will still need to buy a couple times a year)

    - No more coffee out, no more eating out unless it's a special occasion or we're doing something with friends. We can actually get free (really great) coffee and espresso drinks where we live, so now we utilize that.

    - For the future, we have our eye on our housing costs which are pretty expensive. We always debate moving to a smaller place (especially now that we don't have a single thing in our garage), but realize that the cost of moving would probably outweigh the savings, so we'll most likely wait until we are totally debt free in a couple years to do that, at which point we will probably leave the state we live in and flee to someplace with lower state taxes.

    #2
    I love everything about this post. You guys really went hard core, scorched earth, and it has worked wonders. Not only have you turned around your financial lives, but you've completely changed your mindset about everything. It's fantastic that you are seeing the mental and emotional benefit in the form of peace and happiness. What a great feeling that must be.

    I love what you said about "emergencies". We often say that most of what people call an emergency is simply poor planning on their part. "Oh, my car needs new tires." No kidding. That happens on a fairly predictable schedule, and you can easily tell when that point is approaching. As far as we're concerned, our EF is for catastrophic stuff - medical disasters, job loss, house burns down, etc.

    If you check out the decluttering thread, you'll see that we've also been working on thinning out our possessions. It's been an ongoing effort for a few years but we've found that the more we do it, the more we realize we can live without so much stuff that we thought we needed. That saves us money because it keeps us from buying new stuff.

    We never went as all out as you guys have, but we also didn't have the mountain of debt to deal with. Still, as we get closer to retirement, the simpler we can make things, the less we'll need to be happy when we're older.

    Thanks for the shout out by the way. I honestly don't even remember the whole story or what advice I gave (though I'm sure it was all the usual). It's great to hear the follow up and the success story.
    Steve

    * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
    * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
    * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

    Comment


      #3
      Thanks for hanging in there.

      I remember some of the advice and responses came across as harsh and probably caught you off guard.

      Glad you were able to turn things around.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Jluke View Post
        I remember some of the advice and responses came across as harsh and probably caught you off guard.
        That's certainly happened on numerous occasions here. I don't think the advice is ever given with the intent of being rude or hurtful but rather as a wake up call and reality check, which the folks posting often sorely need. And when they actually take it to heart, that's when the breakthroughs start happening. When they just get offended and defensive, they keep on doing what they've been doing that landed them where they are and things stay the same or get worse.
        Steve

        * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
        * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
        * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

        Comment


          #5
          Wow, wow, wow! This is stupendous! A heroic job!
          "There is some ontological doubt as to whether it may even be possible in principle to nail down these things in the universe we're given to study." --text msg from my kid

          "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." --Frederick Douglass

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Jluke View Post
            Thanks for hanging in there.

            I remember some of the advice and responses came across as harsh and probably caught you off guard.

            Glad you were able to turn things around.
            Thanks Jluke! Yeah, you know, it's a curious thing, the mindset of someone who comes to a forum looking for help like this. You're in a place where you already feel raw all over and know there's a problem, but it's so so hard to hear it bluntly stated back to you. I'm grateful for all of it in retrospect, but yeah, it was a hard pill to swallow. Ha, I remember feeling like some of the suggestions were so irrelevant to me, or that people just didn't understand, and yet slowly over time we decided to follow almost all of them. I guess it just takes a while for advice to sink in sometimes... to make its way through the bruised ego.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by disneysteve View Post

              That's certainly happened on numerous occasions here. I don't think the advice is ever given with the intent of being rude or hurtful but rather as a wake up call and reality check, which the folks posting often sorely need. And when they actually take it to heart, that's when the breakthroughs start happening. When they just get offended and defensive, they keep on doing what they've been doing that landed them where they are and things stay the same or get worse.
              So very true. I don't know if there's any super gentle way to give this sort of advice. I'll have to think about that.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by disneysteve View Post
                I love everything about this post. You guys really went hard core, scorched earth, and it has worked wonders. Not only have you turned around your financial lives, but you've completely changed your mindset about everything. It's fantastic that you are seeing the mental and emotional benefit in the form of peace and happiness. What a great feeling that must be.
                It is! We started really slowly with it all, making one little change at a time, but the sum of all the changes is pretty drastic. It's hard to believe that we are actually happier spending so much less. It starts off as sort of a "well, we'll just try it out", and with most things we just don't even miss it or like the simpler solution better.

                Originally posted by disneysteve View Post
                I love what you said about "emergencies". We often say that most of what people call an emergency is simply poor planning on their part. "Oh, my car needs new tires." No kidding. That happens on a fairly predictable schedule, and you can easily tell when that point is approaching. As far as we're concerned, our EF is for catastrophic stuff - medical disasters, job loss, house burns down, etc.
                Yes yes yes! And this is one of those things where I was oblivious. I really truly believed all that predictable stuff was a legit emergency. Now I can't imagine how I thought that, it seems insane.

                Originally posted by disneysteve View Post
                If you check out the decluttering thread, you'll see that we've also been working on thinning out our possessions. It's been an ongoing effort for a few years but we've found that the more we do it, the more we realize we can live without so much stuff that we thought we needed. That saves us money because it keeps us from buying new stuff.
                Right on! So glad you have kept up with the decluttering pursuit, that's great! I will head on over and take a look through. Curious if others have as well.

                Originally posted by disneysteve View Post
                We never went as all out as you guys have, but we also didn't have the mountain of debt to deal with. Still, as we get closer to retirement, the simpler we can make things, the less we'll need to be happy when we're older.
                You hit the nail on the head here.


                Comment


                  #9
                  Great job. Thanks for sharing your story and welcome back!
                  Brian

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