Financial Update: February 2017

It's been a while. And it's not gonna be pretty.

My last financial update post was in September 2016. We had just completed our first full year of following Dave Ramsey's methods and paid off over $10,000 in debt. Financially, things were looking pretty sunny. Then, in the middle of October, we found out we were moving to Alabama. We had around three weeks to find a place to live, pack everything, and make the cross-country move on November 4.

The debt snowball was tossed aside as we hurriedly scrounged up money for a hotel stay to visit our new city and find a place before the actual move. Then we had to pay for professional carpet cleaning at our duplex in Missouri, a giant U-Haul for the move (which, by the way, is ridiculously expensive), lots of fuel for the trip, rent and security deposit at the new place, plus a pet deposit, plus endless utility deposits... one whopping chunk of money after another.

We drained our $1000 emergency fund so quickly it made me sick. Out of money, we turned back to our paid-off credit cards to help us out. It hurt. Oh, how it hurt. But we had payments due all over the place and no cash anywhere.

I wish I could say it ended there, but sadly, I must own up to being a stupid human who makes unwise decisions.

After using our credit cards for these legit "emergencies", the pain of swiping the cards began to wear off a bit. And we were an excited young couple in a cool new city filled with places to explore. I mean, we went from a small town in the middle-of-nowhere, Missouri, where there was nothing to do but go to Walmart, to an actual city with museums, half a dozen local coffee shops, and so. many. new. and. amazing. restaurants.

I wish I could say we made a budget and carefully stuck to it. But we gave in to temptation and used our credit cards to tour our new city.

Then it was December. AND IT WAS CHRISTMAS.

I still hadn't found work. We had no money. But you know, we had rediscovered these little plastic card thingies that could get you stuff, even when you were broke.

*long, exasperated sigh*

Long story short, I think Dave might say we got stupid.

I realized the depth of this stupidity at the beginning of February when we finally sat down and evaluated our finances. Tears were shed as we got out a notebook, wrote out a new budget. and faced just how far we are in the negative.

Thankfully, we've been able to rebuild our emergency fund to $1000, which is Dave's Baby Step #1. So at last, we're back to  Baby Step #2, where we worked hard from September 2015 - 2016, and where we will be stuck once again for quite a while.

At the end of February, ready to make a clean start in March, we logged into our accounts, checked our latest balances, and updated The Debt Snowball Board on our fridge:

To further inspire myself, I took those numbers and made a visual collage to let it really sink in:

It's one thing to see those numbers in a spreadsheet. It's another to see them alongside the items to which they belong (especially those $20K+ pieces of paper). This visual assessment provided quite a sobering experience that lit the fire beneath my rear.

Our latest numbers are depressing. Majorly. Especially since I still haven't found decent-paying work. I'm currently waiting tables, making $2.13/hr, and earning just enough in tips to buy groceries. I love the work, I really do, but that just ain't cuttin' it. I'm applying to all kinds of jobs every week, I just keep getting rejection emails. I do have a nursing interview lined up next week, so we'll see how that goes.

In the meantime, we have a budget that we've slashed to the basics. Gone are the fun, clothing, and dining out categories. For now, it's 1) groceries, 2) fuel, and 3) dog food.

I do have some surprise (and too-extravagant-for-our-budget) birthday shenanigans planned this month for my husband. He turns 30 (!!!!!) on the 12th, so I wanted to do something big for him. I'd planned this before our reality-check February budget meeting, and the bookings I've made (some with my credit card, some with not) are non-refundable. So. We're just gonna go enjoy ourselves and try not to feel too guilty about it, since what's done is done.

Then it's back to the sad, real world of eating beans and rice and paying bills.

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