Friday, February 06, 2009

Seven Months: When Life Gets Busy

Well, this is our seventh month of gazelle-like intensity where paying off debt is concerned. I got quite busy with Other Things this month, and neglected to keep up with our expenses and accounts the way I should have. My neglect (helped by Murphy, of course) caused a few errors.

As I have said before, our month starts on the 20th of the previous month, so at the beginning of February (which is really January 20th), we were able to fill the emergency fund back up to $1,000 and pay around $300 over the minimums on our credit cards.

Then life happened-- Mariel injured her wrist, Mr. Honey's back pain became just too awful, Cornflower's allergies flared up anew, and the van gave us trouble yet again. Add in a hectic schedule of Girl Scout cookie selling and Bronze Award project planning, science fair prep, and piano recital (in addition to regularly scheduled events and projects) and blend with a mom who is pretty good at multi-tasking-- but this is ridiculous! and you have a recipe for simple financial chaos.

So here is the damage:

1) We went more than $150 over our food budget (some of this was eating out).

2) We overspent in the school category by around $100

3) We reduced the emergency fund by around $600 getting the van fixed

4) We triggered the overdraft twice, to the tune of around $70-- I didn't use cash only this month, and also didn't keep up with the checking account register.

Because I didn't account for expenses regularly like I should have, I was quite frazzled by the time I did sit down and reckon things up. I finally got that part done today, and feel quite accomplished about it.

And we are still okay!

We have almost half of a baby emergency fund, and ought to be able to fill it back up on the 20th of this month, Lord willing; we have some money in the car repair, home repair, and doctor/medicine categories; and I am going to scale way back on school spending for the next little while, to make up for my overzealous purchasing of birdseed, science fair boards, double-sided sticky tape, ink cartridges and paper, Girl Scout field trips and audio stories.

Mr. Honey got a traffic ticket yesterday, so that is going to set us back a bit in the new month. Probably around $150. Thankfully, he hasn't had a ticket in awhile, so it won't mess up our auto insurance premium. But now we have to be extremely careful, since we have both gotten tickets in the last few months.

(I have to mention here how very calm I was when he told me about it. I didn't even tense up at the unexpected large expense. I knew we would be able to cover it somehow, because we have a plan. Even though I haven't been following it as well as I should have for the last few weeks, I knew we would be okay. I can't say enough about planning and short-term savings. What a blessing these things are-- with these tools, we are able to use the money the Lord has provided for us in a deliberate way and make something beautiful. I was at liberty to comfort my honey when he felt awful instead of being imprisoned in fear, muttering something while stifling my own anxiety. This kind of interaction is good for a marriage; I highly recommend it.)

I am planning to do the taxes in the next week or two (I'm waiting on one more piece of paperwork), and we will get a refund. With that and whatever Mr. Honey makes over and above his regular amount, I think we will be able to pay over the minimum on our credit cards again, pay off the overdraft, and pay for a few more chiropractor visits for Mr. Honey-- and perhaps set aside a little for summer vacations (I hope!)-- in addition to refilling the emergency fund and filling our regular short-term saving categories.

It does seem that Murphy gave it to us with both barrels this month, BUT-- our house is still standing, our van runs again, Mr. Honey has a steady income, our family is reasonably healthy, and we have good food and clothing in addition to other items we need to meet our school and work objectives. The Lord is faithful.

Previous posts on getting out of debt:

Six Months: God is Good
Five Months: Be Prepared and Don't Be Scared
Four Months: Short-Term Savings Categorized in Excel
Three Months: One Credit Card Paid Off!
Two Months: Baby Step One, Check!
More Than a Month


amada said...

Great job!! Despite the sidetracks, you guys are doing a very important thing, keep on!

Sometimes life is like that, isn't it?

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Katie said...

Thank you, Amy! Slow and steady wins the race, right?