Oh, yeah. It's March. Which means I've not updated on my money-saving-spending-nada plans in over a month?
Uhhhhnnng. February sucked. It wasn't that I spent too much money (I didn't) or that we overdrafted an account or missed paying a bill (we didn't). It was more that my husband did his semi-annual freak out because he actually looked at our balances and got all anxious and weird. Listen, debt sucks. But it sucks more when you've had your head tucked safely in the warm, soothing sand and then a credit card statement or three come over and tap you on the shoulder like, "HEY! You cannot ignore me!"
I know exactly how much money we owe, and to whom, at any given moment. It's a blessing and a curse, and honestly I prefer my husband never see the statements. NOT because I am being dishonest or spending money on luxury items behind his back. Rather, because he has no context for our income, debts, bills, or payment patterns.
So he sees a balance and he FLIPS without realizing that it's under control.
Yes. Under control. Look, I wish we didn't have debt but we overpaid for our house, had 2 kids essentially back-to-back, bought a new car, and are paying off my student loans. Shit happens. Can I get an amen?
So in February we reviewed all our balances (sigh) and talked about how much goes to each bill and when (sigh sigh) and changed some of our payments so that we're paying off more quickly than we were before (good, sure, but SIGH). Our tax refunds came in at the end of the month, but knowing we had bills coming out of the account at the start of March meant we pretended that money wasn't there. On top of that, I also had a 4 night trip to DC this past week and since I don't have a company credit card, all the money I spent there had to come from us and is reimbursed later. Ever spent 4 nights in DC at a conference and paid for all but your flight out of pocket? Un-fun sums it up. My husband keeps saying they can't expect me to pay it all upfront and then wait for reimbursement, and I agree. But no matter how strongly I agree, it isn't changing the reality.
My trip to DC cost me more than $1400 out of pocket.
The bad news? It cost that much and I had to front it all.
The good news? We could afford for me to front it all. I put the hotel (the bulk of the costs) on a credit card and as soon as my reimbursement comes in I am paying that off, but the rest came from our checking account and we had it covered with room to spare.
So this month I have that check coming to me, which will essentially zero out the money I just put on my credit card. And then I also have 2 other reimbursement checks from local travel coming in, which will go into our savings account.
The exciting-slash-oh man I am old because I find this exciting part is that we both get paid tomorrow. And as soon as our checks hit our account and that reimbursement is in my hands? I am paying off that credit card. Completely. As in zero balance. As in $250 a month we've been aggressively putting toward that card to pay it down faster can now be used to pay down the only other interest-bearing debt we have (other than our house and car payments, which we signed up for knowing they were long term).
I know I totally rolled my eyes bitterly at my husband when he tried to convince me that putting our entire tax refunds toward paying down debt was 'awesome'. But it kind of is. I feel so much relief that we're getting this weight off our shoulders. And on top of it, we're not using our credit cards (other than, of course, the one I used for travel) so while we can take the payment we were making on the card we're about to pay off and put it all toward the other card, we also can skip doing that if need be one month, so that we can use the money to do something else. The only credit card we have that will still have a balance we need to get paid off ASAP already gets paid automatically in an amount that covers the minimum + interest + a buffer, so if we decide not to put the $250 a month toward that for one month so we can get new tires or a new tub or take a weekend trip, we won't feel a pinch financially. This is BIG, people. The idea that we'll have an extra $250 a month that we CAN use to pay debt but also CAN use for other purposes without screwing up our credit or our bottom line is such a wonderful feeling.
That's not to say I've been perfect. Today I had a $9 salad (+ drink + tip) at lunch with friends, and the week before I went to DC I did a bit of clothes shopping. But that shopping involved a new cardigan, 2 pairs of pants, and a new work shirt for under $50 AND I used a gift card. So, basically? I rule.
Ok, fine. WE rule. Because as much as I bitch and moan that my husband is a penny pincher, and as much as I roll my eyes and want to yell at him for not handling the finances and then freaking out about them every 6 months (or less), I couldn't do this alone. We're a team on this.