Friday, September 19, 2008

Two Months: Baby Step 1, Check!

Well, we are two months into our renewed efforts to get rid of the debt. This month was dominated by efforts to refinance our house. Yes, we fell for the ARM advertising 3+ years ago. We got a 5-year ARM with a very good interest rate, but it was set to adjust in 2010, and I guess you can say we received timely warning from all the poor souls whose ARMs adjusted after three years. We won't be doing that again.

I am thankful that we were able to refinance, what with falling home values and all. We are now in a fixed mortgage with a good interest rate. Locked in, whew, and if anyone needs the name of a good loan consultant, let me know. We have had at least five closings in our sixteen years of marriage, and this was the best and smoothest loan process, with the kindest, most patient people I have ever worked with. I even accidentally scanned and emailed four or five blank pages to them among the other paperwork they needed, and they didn't even mention it. When I brought it up, the nice lady laughed and said, "I wondered what had happened!"

When we closed on the ARM a little over three years ago, we had a pushy loan consultant and a horrid title company that had us come and wait in their office for two hours one evening only to tell us to come back tomorrow; when we came back the next day, the person closing our loan got impatient and rude with us for having the gall to actually read the documents we were signing. (That should have clued us in as to the deal we were about to commit to.)

We have one less thing to worry about now. That feels good. I keep reminding myself, however, that this does not mean we are closer to being out of debt. We actually went a little further into debt. It just means we don't have to worry about interest rate where the mortgage is concerned.

In other financial news, we completed Baby Step 1. Yay! It feels like the bow of this financial ship is finally heading in the right direction. With all the struggle and time and other resources it has taken to get moving in the right direction, all I can say is, we'd better not turn back around!

Now we can start eliminating the credit card debt. I'm so excited that I want to do the budget for mid-October through mid-November right this minute, so I can see how much we are going to knock out of that debt.

Mr. Honey and I were talking the other night, and decided that when we bought our current house five years ago, we became frugal weekend-warrior types rather than dedicated soldiers. Back then, we were very good at spending little.

When we moved into this house (which I beg leave to mention is a beautiful yet modest home by the standards of our area) I had a sense that we had "arrived", that we were entering the American Dream portion of our married life, and I stopped being consistently careful with my spending. I think I misunderstood the concept of the American Dream!

Anyway, I always wonder how things get the way they are, and have been pondering our current situation-- two people who try hard to get things right, and yet sink into debt without any major crisis to point to as a cause.

It is a lack of self-government, that's what it is. Well, with the Lord's help, we will remedy it.

Nowadays, we worry about whether we are getting everything we can out of life, even if we go into debt to get it. But some things are going to have to pass us by if we are living within our means, and there is nothing wrong with that. This doesn't mean the Lord doesn't love us, nor does it mean life cannot be rich. There are so many beautiful opportunities for living in the simplest of situations, if your eyes are open to see them. Many days, mine are not. But I am waking up a little more. There have been a lot of teachable moments at our house lately.

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