13 March 2011

Bottom Line

I was organizing bills earlier today and I realized that I am getting ever so near to just having a mortgage, utilities, and medical bills in our budget.  If nothing goes awry, September will hopefully be the magic month.

From 2004 to 2010 we suffered money-wise, we took giant steps backwards.  When experts say it takes years to financially recover from tragedy, poor choices, etc. I am here to tell you: they're not lying. They're not exaggerating.  It has taken years to fix a mess that started a long time ago.

I have argued with customer service reps and bill collectors.  I have negotiated to get better terms, payments, or settlements. I have written letters of explanations, letters of complaint and thank you notes.  I have also written more than one check knowing that it would empty our account but we had no choice.

We didn't file for bankruptcy.  We haven't even necessarily spent wisely.  We made a plan, revised it many times, and worked at it.  It's not as cut & dried  as all that, it takes patience and work.

I need to work on a savings plan, we still lack there.  I try to save along the way but it does it's savings job and gets spent when things break or are more expensive than planned.  Oh, keep in mind that we don't have any credit cards. None.  Anything that breaks or is extra is out of pocket.  This is not as cool as it sounds.

We own our cars outright.  We haven't had a car payment since I don't know when...it was for our blue mustang which was about four cars ago.  The only time I have been tempted to have a car payment is the Chrysler 300 I had in Vegas but cooler minds have prevailed.  It's just not been important to me.

Kevin is good about the green-eyed-monster.  When we see a car or house we like, he almost always says "But they're in debt to have those things."  We can have those things, we just choose not to.

We both have retirement plans now and life insurance.  We are not as far as we should be but we're getting there.  And, as we've learned: all of this can be gone in one bad diagnosis, accident, or circumstance.

Now, not to sound all holier than thou because it took disaster for us to get here.  It totally wasn't our choice.  It was freaking miserable and scary while it was happening.  Even on this side of it, you'll hear me comment (whine) that money is tight. I just have to remind myself that a) this is our own doing and b) it's temporary.
More importantly, we worked hard to make it happen. It's one of the reason I am still working when both of us would prefer that I be at home.

I guess what I am saying is it's important to make a plan.  No matter what circumstance you are in: renting, buying, owning, married, divorced, unemployed or retiring.  There has to be a plan.  Now here's hoping that our plan continues to pan out.

Do you have plan?


Swistle said...

Our plan was to get a 30-year mortgage, but pay it off in 15 years. We could have gotten a 15-year mortgage, but then we'd be stuck if something happened. And we were glad, because something DID happen: Paul lost his job almost right after we bought the house, and didn't find a new one for 2 years. Our plan since then has been to see if we can pay it off in 15 years ANYWAY, since if we can do that, we'll be done with our mortgage right before it's time to pay for college. I pay the mortgage last each month so I can see how much extra we have left to send to it, and whenever we get a chunk of cash (tax refund, that sort of thing), we send it off. So far we're on track, despite the big setback at the beginning.

Swistle said...

Oh, and before THAT, our plan was to pay off all the student loans early, which we also did. So it was student loans early so we can work on the mortgage, and now it's mortgage early so we can work on college!

creative kerfuffle said...

we went through a similar issue w/ money years ago and were on track again, feeling safer and more prepared, working our plan, when i got laid off two years ago. now the plan has been keep our head above water. our exit plan will be....moving in w/ the fil in ok and turning the house over rather than going into foreclosure so we can possibly own a house again someday. i hope it doesn't come down to that.