There's no denying it! 2011 is going to bring us a little bit closer to being free of debt (although we will not be debt-free for a while!) We have two big things that will be paid off in the first half of 2011. Those two things are our car load for our Civic and one of my student loans. Can I get an AMEN!!!
The car has been such a headache! We bought it back in September of 2007. When we bought it, I was teaching full time and just found out I was pregnant. We thought that replacing my Taurus was a good idea, because it was over 10 years old and the transmission was going. At the time, $20000 (plus a bunch more after tax, title, some stupid package that they scammed us into buying, and probably a ton of other fees) did not seem too hard to deal with.
A few months later, when our lives changed completely and we were completely out of savings and not working, that bill seemed like the devil! We have made it a goal over the past few years to have this car paid down in less than the 66 months that our loan schedule. We are finally starring at just over $1500 left on the loan. We will have it paid down as soon as we get our tax refund (which is how we've managed to pay it down the past few years). Then, it is on to peeling off the rest of my little (I also have a HUGE) school loan.
Basically, I do everything that involves paying bills and financial planning for our family. I have a few basic goals that tend to change from time to time. Usually, the goals change a little depending on what I am working to pay down or save up at the time. Right now, it looks a little like this.
Golden RULE (so important that it doesn't even get a number!). ALWAYS find a way to pay less than what everyone else is paying and/or find a way to buy it without withdrawing money from our checking or savings account. Either use a coupon, ask around to see if someone has one that they don't need, go to thrift stores, ask for it as a gift, sell on ebay or craigslist to make the money, buy it on craigslist or ebay, or just wait and pray that something good will come our way. (I have to say that the last one seems to work for us a lot)
#1. Always pay down the credit card, because that has the highest interest rate.
#2. Put away $25 a week in our savings. This is direct deposited, so I don't have to remember. Although, I usually only set it to do about 5 weeks at a time so that I can still make sure that we are okay on money and not overdraw our account. The main goal here is to have our 6 months worth of savings in case of job loss.
#3/4. Add on husbands 401K and stock options as we find ourselves being able to.
#3/4. Pay down car loan, because this is the bill that holds the next highest interest rate after the credit card.
#5. Put away $100 a month for our son. He has his own savings account and I want to prepare him to go to college or leave home to follow his dreams.
Honestly, I am lucky if I get to the end of that list. So, going on from there would be a moot point.
The important part of it all is that the goals are there! And I have to compliment my husband here. While he fought me on my ways for years, he has really come around. I think that I can say that he has learned patience. For example, about two years ago, we were really struggling. Out of the blue, his computer just died. He was going to need over $500 worth of parts to fix it. He immediately went online and gave me that $500 number that I though was going to kill me! At the same time, it was just a few weeks from his birthday. I held strong and told everyone that I thought would be getting him a gift that he either wanted cash or a gift certificate to the site that had the parts that he needed.
He also got creative. He found a website that let you do surveys to make money and earn gift cards. He managed to earn himself a gift card that would help pay for parts. He also found out about a site that allowed him to play certain games and win prizes if you scored the most points on any given day. I was skeptical of the game one, but ultimately, he won a Visa gift card for $200. Obviously, he was able to find alternative ways to get what he needed. He held on to that and has continued to take the path of patience. I think that is awesome!
And not that I ever hoped to change my husband, because he really is an awesome, loving, caring, and kind person, but I am grateful that he joined me in my ways. It is great to have someone that loves me and understands how important it is for me to be able to fulfill our financial goals for the future.
Although, the hard part of being the person in charge of the budget and financial planning is that I can be blamed when we are not both retired at 90! :)