Friday, June 15, 2012

If you don't have any money ...

... don't watch My First Place, Househunters, or really ANY SHOW on HGTV. It's completely disheartening. Especially the episode that features an annoying 24 year old who can't decide how to best spend his $300,000 budget. Ugh. It's probably more enjoyable if you're not 30 years old with less than $300 in savings. :(

Time for some new financial goals, and some accountability.

1. Pay off debt. We have several types of debt.
a. Student Loans - All mine, and I've been paying them off faithfully and aggressively. Just recently made it under the $6000 mark! Still will take almost three full years to pay off at the current rate of progress, which feels like forever.
b. Credit Card - The only card my husband and I currently have. Intentionally obtained in his name, to help build his credit score. Sitting at just under $400 (with only a $500 credit limit), but paying the minimum of $15 most months. Interest rate is 17.9%! We were also charged a $15 late payment fee last month.
c. State Tax Debt - I do not have the exact number, but we recently managed to get under $1000! Yay! This feels manageable. We are on a payment plan of $150 per month. Should be paid off in approximately 6 months, or less if we are aggressive!
d. Federal Tax Debt - This is the worst and the scariest. I do not have the most recent number (all tax debt is under my husband's name). We should be under 5 or 6 thousand dollars. However, the IRS does not issue paper statements to us, and does not allow online payments. We receive stress-inducing certified mail from them fairly often. They change the amount owed often as well and it's difficult to keep track of where we stand. A nightmare, essentially (see goal #2).

2. Explore bank loan as a debt payoff option. 
We want to talk to a real live person at our local bank to discuss loan options. The idea is to take out a loan so that we can pay off our debt (especially tax debt) in one fell swoop. Remove the stress of multiple payments and our fear of the IRS, and only have to deal with paying back our local bank. Interest rates would hopefully be lower as well, but we will have to check with the bank to know for sure.
I want to assign the "talk to the bank" task to my husband.

3. Build savings. At this very second in time we have ... (drumroll please) ... $253.43. That's it. Unacceptable in my opinion. I have no sense of security, and no feeling of preparation for life's inevitable emergencies. Things like buying a home, having a child, taking a (belated) honeymoon, or buying a new car all feel impossible. I want contributing to our savings to happen regularly, and to increase over time.

4. Tracking spending. I did this religiously and obsessively in the past! But then we used my new job as an excuse to stop tracking, stop thinking, and abandon our budget (is that harsh?). We now know exactly what my paychecks are each month, so that can't be an excuse any longer. Not surprisingly, tracking keeps me on track. I'd like to track for 90 days straight to get a good picture of where we are and where our money is going (hint - Chipotle, Ledo's Pizza, Subway).

5. Reconsider a budget. My husband and I do not think about or handle money the same way, but we do our best to communicate and compromise. I'd like to revisit having a budget. I think buckling down for a few months can help us reach some goals sooner, and a budget is a great way to do this.

6. Be honest about my fears. I promise myself I will share with my husband my fears about starting a family with little to no emergency money in the bank.

Now for the accountability piece! I will share these goals. With my husband, and with my debt support board. And I will write about them again - not a year from now this time, but soon! I will mark my calendar and update again in two weeks.

Wish me luck!


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