Welcome to Spring 2018. We’re Less Broke!

Photo credit: geir tønnessen, CC BY 2.0.

Before starting this challenge, I didn’t even know the extent to which we were in debt. I’m the kind of person who, if I have someone around to help/chastise me, becomes much more likely to Do All the Things. Thank you for your help on this, Billfold. If not for all y’all, we would probably not be where we are now.

We got off to an uneven start, but gained momentum after that. Here’s what we’ve done so far:

I spent $18/month on work food. WearsShorts has been really helpful by doing things like packing me a lunch and also helping me remember to bring said lunch. (One day I forgot, but I ended up getting free lunch that day; another couple of days I forgot and then bought lunch, or breakfast, or both. Mostly I just try to bring lunch.) WearsShorts also does all the cooking. That meant that our monthly food cost dropped from $650 to $330, a savings of $320.

I sold my phone, Shorts’ phone, and my old computer to Gazelle. Apparently it’s not a bad way to sell things, especially if nobody seems to want to pay more for your items on Craigslist or eBay (I checked). $251 for laptop, $315 for phones = $566 total.

I got a new phone plan with Republic Wireless. I like it. It’s really, really cheap, and that’s hugely useful in trying to eliminate some of our expenses. Data is cheap too — just $5 per gig per month. You do have to pay for the phone, though: $140 (me), $200 (Shorts) = $340 total as a sunk cost. The service costs $45/mo total max for both phones — a far cry from our original AT&T bill, which averaged $120 a month after a company discount. We’re saving at least $30 every month, and we can save more than that if we use less data.

We got a puppy (-$2,400). Yes, that’s what she cost from the breeder. I know, I know. It’s a lot. But our dog (same breed) passed away last year and we’ve been struggling, big time. Consider the pup to be a strike against depression? Maybe? She is super cute.

I also sold some old sports equipment I’m not using: $350.

I called someone to see if I could get a refund on something. I could: $1,000.

I filled out the paperwork for unclaimed money that got sent to the state: $558.17. Probably you have unclaimed money too, so here’s how you find yours.

Through a series of writing side hustles, I sold a few pieces. Okay, a lot of pieces: I’ve filed $9,160 worth of work, of which I have collected $5,080 so far. (I freelance for print mags, so this is not as many words as you may think.)

We took the car to CarMax at the suggestion of some commenters but they quoted us $8,500 for it, which was too low (we owed $14,000) so we paid part of it down with cash and then refinanced the note.

We listed the second floor apartment ($1,550) and the third floor apartment ($1,550) for rent.

We filed our taxes and got a refund ($6,550 federal, $200 state), mostly because we gave a lot of money away last year and also because our building was expensive and a lot of what we did could be depreciated and/or written off on our taxes.

We settled our legal issue, so we are no longer paying $1,500–$3,000/mo in legal fees. The legal issue cost us $5,000 to fix, but we’re still relieved. Whew. That one was huge.

The good news: All this hustling is good for actually making money and paying down debt.

The bad news: We still have a lot of debt. But it’s getting better.

Our remaining debt:

  • $51,000 on HELOC at 4.25 percent interest ($650/mo), which will be refinanced into the new mortgage.
  • $58,000 in student loans at 5.75–6.8 percent interest ($841 minimum monthly payment, but we’re paying $1,000/mo).
  • $10,000 on our car at 4.24 percent ($296) and we’ll clear this out with my next bonus.
  • $4,700 on a 0 percent interest credit card, which will be paid in full by May.
  • $3,800 on a 0 percent interest credit card, which will be paid in full by August.
  • $272,000 on our mortgage at 4.25 percent interest ($2,670/mo including taxes and insurance); after our refinance this will be the same payment but without PMI. The refinance is our next big financial goal.

Thanks, Billfold, for putting us back on track!

WearsPants usually freelances for glossies, but has a soft spot for The Billfold. They live with their partner in the Upper Midwest.


Welcome to 2018. We’re Broke!

Austerity Didn’t Work for Greece, and it Won’t Work for Us

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