What is your car worth?

Over the last few day’s I have realized that people treat you differently with how they preconceive you. I know that this is a generalized theory but I have seen it up front. I have had to take my husband’s car to swim lessons for the last two day’s and even though I am the same person with the same children I have been treated completely differently then I have been. I find that where I would normally get waves and smiles I have people avoiding my gaze. My husband chooses to drive a complete piece of crap and I do not. He lets me be who I am and I accept who he is, however I have seen that people are so different in their actions with me in my car vers me in his car. I really question that as I am the same person with the same children and the same home but as I drive his crap car which drives great gets fine gas mileage and has served him well but looks an eye sore people avoid me. Is this the reality we are raising our children into? People are only as good as their possessions (as we perceive them)? The funny thing is even though I know even if we won a lottery my husband would still choose the vehicle that has served him. When he went to Texas to interview for an actuary position he met and had lunch with actuary’s who solid in their careers and making 400k plus a year were still driving their 1990’s vehicles that served them. I guess you just cannot judge a book by its cover.

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Woman?

 

I am honestly shocked to realize all that women go through every single month! I have PCOS and I have enjoyed the mental stability that men take so for granted. However over the last two years my body has decided that having annual periods is not acceptable any more. So I now am as regular as any woman. It is not the the actual period that is the worst. Don’t get me wrong it sucks but the emotional swings are out of control. How do women do this every month for twenty plus years? This has opened my eyes to how men and women interact and the weirdness that happens.

I at least know that I am  not normal at times but I feel so weepy or sad or there are times I just want to run people over with my car and if someone says hi I really have to think about it so I don’t just slap them and then ask “now how is your day?”. To me this is abnormal. I feel so crazy at times that I forget where I am going for a second or why I am in a room. These things don’t normally happen to me or shall I say they have not for the last thirty four years.

When I tell my woes to my girl friends they just laugh and say something to the effect  of “welcome “ or “I have gone through this for so many years” but this is traumatizing to me. When I was pregnant I was on such a rollercoaster. I even went to a doctor because this has to be abnormal and the evil man had the gall to say that this was all normal and the test said so too. He was just lucky that I was not feeling so violent that time.

So to wrap up this rant with a moral, women are crazy and it speaks to the fact that women are strong capable and amazing that there are not more homicides or violent crimes caused by women. I guess I can just hope for menopause to come to my rescue.

Halloween

I walked out and sat on my porch on Halloween 2011. I just moved into my house and I sat and breathed in the smell of burning pumpkins and fall leaves. I watched the princess’s and batman’s walk past and get candy. I watched leaves fall with every upraise of the wind. I was basking in the glory of my home and neighborhood. When my mother came to be with me she sat and stated “coming here from my house is like going fifty years in the past”. It is true. My neighbors give hot cider and homemade popcorn. I love it. I am trying to get used to it. I am probably the only one who locks my doors and my car however everyone is happy to meet me. I watch the leaves fall on my lawn like rain and breath in the chill air, listening to children laughing and their costumes rustling the leaves underfoot. I love it! My kids can run free and they love people. I feel so very blessed.

Ponytail holder

This morning my husband was kissing us goodbye and my four year old kept saying “daddy don’t go”. He held her and said I love you. She pulled the pink ponytail holder out of her hair and put it on his wrist and he said “I will wear this to work and I will think of you every time I see it. When he came home he still had it on.What a great dad.

From almost 50k in debt to buying a house in two years!

There are many books and articles about finances and most are from highly accredited people. So this is just my story of how my husband and I broke the horrifically crippling effects of debt. This is about how I got the motivation to fight the debt demon. I had to find what my heart desired most and that gave me the power to say no to the small purchases that add up to huge debt. I think that a significant part of our success was me finding my motivator. I hope that everyone can find theirs. It will be different for everyone. I can tell you that my wants are so very different from my husbands. He could not care less about a nice car as long as his works or the newest cell phone. For him it is freedom and feeling like he has money in the bank so that he is not a slave to a job or a financial problem. I am far less noble and materialistic but I accept that and found how to use my materialistic ways to turn myself into a debt slayer.

I was raised by a wonderful mother who did everything she could to raise her three youngest children on her own without any notable job skills. We did not have money often and that lead to a feeling that when I did get money I had to spend it. This followed me through life until after I was married. When I was a teenager still living with my mother I opened my first bank account which I had no idea of how to properly manage an account. I over drew my account multiple times and it ended up closing. Later in life when I started working (a little late in life I confess) I still avoided a checking account and any kind of loan. This really was a good choice looking back because unless you know how to use your money things like credit cards or car loans are just a recipe for disaster.

I was living on my own and working just keeping my head above water until two days before my insurance through work started. I was in a terrible car accident where I had to be life flighted and hospitalized for over a week. Needless to say by this time I was feeling like I was drowning and when there seems to be no way out it is hard to try to avoid debt. At this point I had a dear friend who lived next door to me and we worked together. She was so diligent with her checking account and I often helped her balance her checkbook. She talked me into opening a checking account and taught me how to use it. I know that sounds stupid but I learned that I needed to check my balance regularly. I know this seems like anyone should know this but knowing and putting it into action are two very different things. I did have a few issues with bouncing a few checks but after a while I was getting the hang of having my account. Then I ran into a few hard times with my truck breaking down and turned to where I never thought I would go…a check loan. I did manage a few of them but about this time I met my wonderful future husband.

He was in school and working full-time. He had just moved into a two bedroom apartment with four other guys. I think that is something only men can do. I cannot picture three women sharing a room by choice. However what I found out later is that before this apartment my husbands address was his vehicle. That is right the semester before we met half way through he realized that he would not have enough cash on hand to pay rent and eat through the semester so his solution was not a check loan or credit card he put stuff in storage and moved into his old Dodge Intrepid. He knew he could keep up with his gym membership so he could shower and after the semester he found work. I just was lucky enough that he found work where I was.

We had a whirl wind relationship and were married three months after our first date. He was quite mortified when he found that I had taken out check loans and I had one out at the time. So he went and paid it off. Just to make this clear it was when we got engaged and before we got married that I completely shared my financial standing with him. When he moved in I had lived in my condo for years and had quite an established house. So shortly after our wedding I took out bankruptcy due to the huge medical bill that I had and insurance did not cover.

Now that I have confessed my money screw ups I will tell a little about my husband’s financial experiences prior meeting me. My husbands parents were very conscious about money and they worked hard to teach their children to make wise choices with their money. They lived comfortably but made sacrifices as well. One thing my husband told me about that at first I thought was just weird but I have learned more about finances and money I realize it was not only a money saver but also a valuable life long lesson. When my scrawny geek of a husband decided he wanted to do body building he asked his parents if he could have a gym membership. They decided that the cost of trash collection was about the same price as a gym membership. So they made a deal with him that if he would help keep up with and take the trash to the dump they would cancel trash collection and get him a gym membership.

This shows me not only how workable my mother in law is but also how the things you do with your kids have long-lasting effects. My husband has always been very good with deciphering importance vs cost.

Now I am sure you are thinking well if he is so good with money how did you get forty-five thousand dollars in debt? Well a few things contributed to it. One being marriage, having to learn how to put two people with such vastly different financial backgrounds together and try to live as one is a feat. When we married we both were working and he was also going to school. When my husband would try to “help” me not spend money I took it as he was trying to stop me and by God I made my own money and he was not going to tell me what to do with it. This also made him get to a point where he felt he could not discuss money with me at all.

We went through many different options with dealing with finances. I took over the bills sometimes and others he did. We started into a life of plastic before the wedding, to get my ring we got a card with Jared. My husband had good credit and we were able to pay it off in twelve months so we paid no interest. At this point we are doing well. Then we got a credit card with our bank. Then one with Target and American Express. It was not like we were living high on the hog and getting things way beyond our means we were just getting it on a card thinking we would pay it later but something else would come up.

More than that though was the horrific pit of a vehicle that I had. About a year after we were married and both of us working my truck died, not really unexpected but it left us a car short. We decided I needed a new car and I quickly decided what car I wanted. I wanted a 2000 GMC Jimmy. My husband got approval for a loan and I went on the hunt. I found a beautiful red one with leather interior and a sunroof it was a great price of eight thousand dollars. My husband was not able to leave work to come see it and he said just wait till tomorrow and I can come with you and if it is good we will get it. I was so sad but I trusted and first thing the next morning I drove to the dealership and was searching the lot. When I asked about the car it had been sold the day before. I was crushed! I felt like I would never get a car. I understand this may seem less than mentally stable to some but I would not get a lot of things I wanted when I was young.

So I completely went into panic mode and went searching. I found one the next day that we both had off. It was not leather nor did it have any of the same features that the red one had but it was there. So in my absolute fury and we got this car for the same price that the red one had been. I was happy for a while but about one month after getting the car the pit opened up and we were consumed. The transmission went out and there was no help from the dealer. We had an eight thousand dollar loan on this car so there is no way we were not going to fix it. We had to add another two thousand dollars to our auto loan to fix the transmission. From there it just kept breaking down and we would just get it fixed and put it on a credit card.

After almost four years of working on this car and just having given up on somethings ever working such as the gas gauge or back windshield wiper. The engine blew and there was no way we were going to fix it.

This is where I began to panic. My husband kept saying that it was no big deal and he would take the bus to work so I could have his car. However there were many times he was working late and I would have to go pick him up before the kids went to bed and he would drop us off and go back to work. I do understand that this is a completely workable situation. To me though I just cannot be without a car of my own.

When I was sixteen I had the family car most of the time and when I was eighteen I bought my first car and never went without after that. So I decided to see what I had to do to get another car. First thing was I had to pay off the Jimmy so that we could get rid of it, second I had to get enough money on hand to buy another car. I knew my husband would not go for getting a loan on a car at this point we had too much debt and the Jimmy broke both of us.

We owed almost three thousand dollars on the Jimmy so I put an immediate hold on using credit cards for anything! I also started to search the Internet for reviews and pictures of cars to decide what I wanted and to keep my mind on the goal. One time when we were a little low in our account my husband said well I need gas to lets just put it on the Target card and I was firm and said no you can just put ten dollars of gas in your car and wait till payday. He called me a Nazi but I know that he appreciated it later.

I had taken full control of our finances and quite conveniently my husbands work needed him to work a lot of extended hours (he was an hourly employee). I made a great spreadsheet of all of our bills and froze the amounts that our minimum payments were. I would continue to pay that minimum amount even though it would go lower as I paid things down. I set to paying everything we did not need to live on, and at times I grossly underestimated that number onto the current enemy card. We did have a line of credit with the bank so if I ever over paid I would pull from that line and pay it back as soon as we got paid.

I was surprised when I had paid the Jimmy off in just over a month. So we were able to get rid of that and I had found that I wanted a Dodge Durango. My husband had asked many people he worked with who had Durango’s and they loved them. So I looked at Durango’s everyday! When I was at the store and saw something I “wanted” I would just think of my Durango and it made it so much easier to say I don’t “need” that. I did allow myself to still get my coffee and we had pizza payday where the kids and I would get pizza because I know they were having a hard time not seeing dad. My husband was working between 70 to 80 hours a week at this point.

It was just a short four months after I took over the finances that I had now paid off the other car and had six thousand dollars in the bank. This was what we decided to spend on the car, so of course I started to panic and get crazy and want to get my Durango NOW! So we went and drove a few on Saturday (the day after I had enough cash) and I liked two of them. But my husband said that he was not sure and wanted to look at some more on Monday. I know I could have pressed and we would have purchased one of those but I though about how bad the Jimmy was and I ceded. I told my husband that I trusted him and even though I was so anxious it felt like worms were crawling under my skin I waited through Sunday and on Monday I sent my husband and father out to look. I knew I did not have the self-control to not jump into the next one I saw and never let go. A few hours after they had gone I was running around with my mother and kids trying to not think about it he called and told me to meet him at home to look at a Durango. So we did and of course I loved it. It looked far better taken care of then the others and I said that if my husband liked it and we could get it for the right price I was game. I watched him drive off in it and again tried not to think about it. Well we got it for the right price and I had my car!

At this point I sat and looked at what we had accomplished with his working so hard and my zealous finance control and thought for the first time that our heavy debt load did not look so overpowering. I for the first time in years felt like I had a fighting chance to break free. So we talked about it and decided to push as far as we could to get our debt down and have good-sized “snowball effect” while my husband was working so much overtime.

I took the amount of the car payment we had been paying almost 200 dollars a month and put that in a category I called POP Pay off Payment. I started to put that as well as any extra money we had to the next card we decided to pay off.

I know that the smart financial minds say to pay off the highest interest card first and I am sure that is the smartest and most efficient way. However as I stated earlier I am no financial mastermind so I decided to not fight but to accept my eccentricities.

So in my mind if I could see a card go to zero that was motivating so I started with the lowest balances regardless of interest. Every time I paid off a card I added the amount that I had been paying on it which was the minimum payment that I had frozen at the beginning to the POP so before I knew it we had a POP of 586 dollars a month. Every paycheck I would pay everything that was due over the next two weeks and save our living money and any extra I put on the current card we were paying off. I also made little goals for myself such as after I had paid off two cards I got my cell phone which I had lusting over for eight months. I kept my eye on the next goal at had. It was just too large and way to far away to have the goal of a house I had to give myself small achievable goals.

We finally got down to where we had just my husbands student loans and the largest credit card which had been a looming horror to me because it seemed so immense that I could never see getting out from under it. The funny thing was that because the POP was a good chunk of cash and my husband’s job still needed him to work so much it was half paid off before I knew it. Now I sit here and am looking at houses and we have been pre-approved. This has been hard and I know that there have been struggles but the first night I spend in my own home all will be worth it.

Find your motivation and reach for freedom!

Excuse me, there is something on your face

Last night we had one of those parenting moments where you think “I never thought this would happen to me” and at the same time you realize that yeah they are so worth it. Vienna my 18 month old woke up as we were going to bed so I just brought her into bed with us and although she slept well it took me a long time to fall asleep. In the middle of the night I feel a tapping on my leg and I say “Bryan is that you?” in a very muffled soft voice I hear “can you take the dog out?” I look over and Vienna has made her way to his side of the bed and after him moving to the edge of the bed she found the most comfortable place sleeping on his face. I did take the dog out because I thought Bryan would look stupid going outside with a baby on his face. We really need a dog door.

Hip to the hop

I love to listen to mainstream hip hop. I don’t respect most of the artists or their lyrics I just like the sound. Go ahead try to call me a sell out. However  I have noticed that as of late in songs they are spelling things out…so are they trying to teach the mindless masses how to spell? For the most part I try to not pay much attention to what these songs say but this new phenomenon is just such a puzzler for me. They almost sound like they are trying to use a secret code. The only problem being that English should not be a code. I really need to find another source of music.