We made our first extra payment towards our truck loan. At the start of the year, we owed $17,994 and it’s now down to $17,618. It drives me crazy that they don’t apply our extra principal payments as principal, they always go through as regular payments and take the interest out and then push our due date out. Even when I go in and pay in person and ask them to do it as principal, they always tell me they can’t, which is a whole lot of BS.
It’s more motivation to get it gone though. I am hoping we have it wrapped up by late May or early June, but what we owe in taxes may slow us down. I’ve sold $33 worth of stuff on Poshmark in the first 10 days of January, so that’s a nice little bump. I also have some extra pay for vacation time in 2018 I didn’t use, so that will be another little extra. That should come in either Monday or the week after. My short term goal is to be $15,500 by the end of the month, so we have to keep hustling. I am going away to a horse show with students this weekend and will then be able to make a payment from by side business next week.
Update on the minimalism challenge – I have gotten some stuff out of my house, but the last few days I have fallen off the bandwagon and not made my numbers each day. I am hoping to have time next week to “catch up” and do a big donation of clothes and items to our local place that takes donations.
I’ve decided to take part in the #minimalismchallenge this January. The premise is that on day one, you get rid of one item. On the second day of the month, two items gone (donated, recycled, trashed, sold, given away…etc). This continues all month until the last day when you get rid of 31 items, bringing the overall total to 496 items gone from your life. Technically, I actually think this is supposed to be a 30 day challenge, but I picked January and January has 31 days, so I guess I’m going to overachieve this one.
Part of my inspiration for doing this challenge is just how much better I feel at home when things are neat and clean and organized. Even though we didn’t go crazy with Christmas presents, our son made out like a bandit between grandparents, my clients and the neighbor kid who gave him a bunch of outgrown toys. My 2800 square foot house feels overwhelmingly full and I’m either going to drown in toys or get a handle on all this STUFF.
Day one was easy. I got rid of an outgrown bath toy of my son. It was a set of foam farm pieces that stick to the wall of the tub when wet. They’ve been sitting on a shelf for about a year now, so it’s time for them to move on.
Wish me luck!
Every New Year’s Day, Mr. PoniesandFIRE and I spend time budgeting, dreaming and planning our year. We do an entire annual budget and figure out what we can accomplish in a year and get fired up. As we finish up 2018, I am struck by an intense feeling of WE MUST GET IT DONE NOW!
PoniesandFIREjr starts kindergarten in 2019 and I am feeling like the years are slipping through my fingers. I want more time as a family, more time together, more memories. In order to accomplish that, we have to work less. In order to do that, we need financial freedom. We need our house to be paid off.
So I dream. On January 1st, we will be sitting on $127,650 in mortgage debt and $17,996 on our truck. In 2018, we reduced our debt by around $19,000. A quick look at our budget projections show that we can pay off maybe $40,000 in 2019 with good focus. That is certainly nothing to scoff at, but it’s not enough. I want to hit more like $75,000 gone in 2019 and finish it off in full before PoniesandFIREjr finishes his kindergarten year in June 2020.
Is that possible? Not without some huge changes and big strokes of good luck.
Realistically, there isn’t much to cut from our budget. We could get rid of Dish ($75/month) when our contract is up in the spring and keep working to reduce our electric and grocery bills, but honestly, that’s going to be very small potatoes.
I think our better game plan will be to focus on increasing income and here are the ways I am thinking about implementing in 2019.
1. Mr. PoniesandFIRE taking extra jobs. He occasionally gets called for extra jobs, which he has no requirement to take and we have mostly turned them down for the sake of family time, but one a month could be another $150-$200/month. ($2,400)
2. Increase my prices in my business. I haven’t raised my rates in at least 3 years and a 12% increase could bring in another $160-$200/month ($2,400)
3. Increase poshmark and FB marketplace sales. I made around $600 in 2018 reselling things around the house, mostly outgrown or unwanted clothing. I think I could triple this (or more) in 2019 with a little more focus. ($1,200)
4. Work for a banner year in horse sale commissions. I charge a 10% commission on horse sales and if I hustle, the sky is the limit in 2019. ($15,000)
5. Fence painting. My main job pays around minimum wage for fence painting outside of work hours, as much as you want. Obviously, this isn’t doable until late spring and is weather dependent, but I’m pondering putting in some hours this summer for extra income ($750)
This is obviously not enough to cover the $35k we are short on my goals, but every $1 is a move in the right direction. I will keep brainstorming and analyzing what makes the most sense in terms of time/effort versus payoff.
Here’s a look at our Christmas budget for this year. There is still quite a bit that could be trimmed, but it is an improvement from 2017. I may actually be under budget in a few spots, but I have a few friends I haven’t included either, so I expect a few small gifts to be added to the list.
Décor (including tree and wreath) $120.00 $120.00
Presents for PoniesandFIREjr $210.00 $300.00
Cards $15.00 $40.00
Gifts for teachers $40.00 $75.00
Gifts for nieces and nephew $100.00 $200.00
Gift for parents $50.00 $50.00
Gift for MIL $90.00 $90.00
Holiday party costs $100.00 $100.00
Baking supplies $30.00 NEW for 2018
Christmas Eve dinner/Christmas morning brunch $75.00 $75.00
Gifts for each other $150.00 $300.00
TOTAL $980.00 $1,350.00
I added a new category for baking supplies this year. I want to do some serious cookie making with PoniesandFIREjr, since he loves to bake lately. I am trying to focus on activities and memories over things, so this is our Christmas activity to do list:
1. Christmas movie marathon with hot cocoa and snuggles with the puppies
2. Walk around the property. We take a lot of walks in the warm weather, but skip out in the winter. I think a family walk in the cold weather will be good for us.
3. Drive around and look at the lights
4. Get our tree. There is a local farm about 5 minutes from our house where you can cut your own and they have free hot cider and donuts. It’s a super fun day.
5. Tree decorating and listening to Christmas music. Maybe with a little wine. ;)
6. Make cookies together and decorate.
7. Make treats for the horses and bring them to the barn.
8. Read all our Christmas books together.
9. Write a letter to Santa.
10. Put together a bag of donations for our local center that distributes clothes, toys and household items to those in need for free.
I also host a holiday party each year for clients. It's basically a potluck dinner/drinks/hang out at our house for a few hours. The $100 budget covers some of the food, drinks and party supplies. We always end up with leftovers that we eat for days.
What free or inexpensive activities do you have planned for the holidays? Leave me a comment! :)
Our vacation is over and we are back at the grind. I have not taken 12 days off from work AND my business (with the exception of my maternity leave) EVER. It was a strange and amazing feeling. I definitely feel more refreshed, but at the same time, it’s making me strongly motivated to get to FIRE faster. If I’m this refreshed after 12 days off, how amazing will I feel with months off to recharge and focus on health and family?
Yesterday I found out I am getting a 2% raise January 1st. I was hoping for more, the company’s finances are not there. Everyone is getting 2% this year. Still, a raise is a raise and I am debating whether to up the 401k contributions 2% or use the money towards the big goals – paying off the truck and then slaughtering the mortgage.
We are finalizing the Christmas budget this week too. I struggle with not going overkill on presents. When we decided to do a vacation this year, it was with the agreement that it would mean a simpler Christmas, but now that it’s the time to live that I’m a little anxious. I want PoniesandFIREjr to have a great Christmas morning.
I know intellectually, what he really cares about as a five year old, is time with his family and doing things together. I still want presents under the tree for him though.
So I am deal shopping, trying to sell stuff on Poshmark and making a list of a few things that are affordable and I know he will be delighted with. Last Christmas we got some things used (Thomas and Brios) which he LOVED. I may try to do a few used toys again.
Hi y’all. It’s the Friday before Thanksgiving and I am feeling fabulous. The check is in the mail to pay off our insurance in full, which was one of our goals for this month and next week we will put $500 into savings, which is 50% of our second goal for the month.
Our mortgage also comes out today, which will be the final payment in our first year with a 10 year mortgage. Last time this year, we owed $142,000 on our house and as of the end of today, we will owe $128,695. It just blows my mind how much faster this is going than when it was a 30 year mortgage. If only we’d done a 10 or 15 year from the beginning!
Other positives – Mr. PoniesandFIRE has been getting mad hours at work lately. His next two checks should be way above what we budgeted for, which is fabulous going into vacation and the holiday season.
We got a bunch of snow last night and PoniesandFIREjr is psyched to play in the snow this weekend. I have a ton of lessons lined up to teach tomorrow and then it’s family time the next 36 hours. We work next week Monday through Wednesday and then it’s Thanksgiving and family vaca for the next 12 days straight!!!!
But I'm psyched for Christmas!
I love this time of year. Well, I love the holidays. I hate the cold, but Thanksgiving through Christmas is my JAM. Last year, Christmas with a four year old was awesome. I have a feeling, Christmas with a five year old this year is going to be even better.
Wanting to maximize all the holiday fun, without breaking the budget, I'm working on a list of Family Holiday Experiences to go all out this year. Here's what I have so far:
1. Write a letter to Santa. PoniesandFIREjr just discovered the fun of mail and we will be writing a letter to Santa together.
2. Go for a winter walk. We love family hiking, but as soon as it's cold, we tend to stop. I'm thinking we will do a winter walk and maybe hang up some homemade bird feed around our property.
3. Drive around and look at the lights. We have some neighborhoods reasonably close by that decorate, so this is a fun family evening. We'll bring some hot cocoa for the ride.
4. Bake cookies for our neighbor. We live in the country, so not a lot of close neighbors, but we do have one widowed neighbor whom I'm sure would love a delivery of cookies from PoniesandFIREjr.
5. Cut our own tree. Annual tradition. We then spend the evening decorating and listening to Christmas music.
6. Family movie night to watch all the classics - Rudolph, Frosty, etc.
7. Make homemade horse treats and bring them to all the horses at the barn. This one is a little specific to our family, but is a fun tradition for us!
8. Have a "no electronics night" in our new family Christmas PJs and read all our Christmas books and play board games.
9. Put together a bag of donations for our local organization that helps families in need. Mostly outgrown clothes and toys.
10. Put together a bag of donations for the dog rescue where we adopted our dog.
Any other holiday traditions you and your family do that don't cost much? Leave me a comment!
Mortgage – $1950 (11/16)
Electric - $115
DishTV - $75
Insurance bill - $500 (11/19)
Daycare - $928 (11/1)
Groceries - $450
Gas/Diesel - $400
Trash - $35
Cellphones - $115
Truck payment - $551
Savings - $1,000
Spending money - $152
Clothing - $150 (way above normal, we all needed a few things this month)
Sinking funds - $250
Travel/Thanksgiving - $150
Disney Vacation – PAID ALREADY
Total – $6,721
Our income is an estimate, as Mr. PoniesandFIRE never knows exactly what his hours will be, so we budget based on the prior year weekly average. This income also doesn’t include my side business income, as we don’t want to rely on that, nor does it include anything extra like Poshmark sales.
Basically, we like to budget based on worst case income scenario and then that helps smooth the waters when things pop up that we forgot to plan for.
Anxiously counting down until next summer, when daycare costs will cease. Our plan is for me to work from home/go into the office after Mr. PoniesandFIRE gets home/take some time off in July and August until PoniesandFIREjr starts Kindergarten in September.
We are working on small goals this month, with big things on the horizon for us.
1. Add $1,000 to savings
2. Pay off our insurance bill completely ($500)
3. Enjoy Thanksgiving and our first vacation in over 3 years!
We are headed to Disney at the end of the month and cannot wait to see the Christmas decorations in Disney. PoniesandFIREjr does not know yet, we plan to wake him up the morning we are leaving and surprise him then.
Why are we doing a vacation when we still have debt? Well, for starters, several years ago, we agreed our next Disney vacation would be when the mortgage was under $130k. We hit that last month!
Secondly, it is paid for. We have paid it off already, we have spending money set aside and will bring zero debt home with us.
We certainly could have used the funds we spent on this to pay down our truck, but it only would have changed our pay off date by a few months and we plan to kill the truck loan by spring, either way.
I am trying to embrace a little more balance in our lives, as I tend to get crazy intense on the finances. I’m sure Dave Ramsey and some of the FIRE community would disagree with our choice to do a vacation like this now, but honestly, they don’t live in my house. Personal finance is personal and at the end of the day, my husband and I are the ones that have to live with our choices.
That being said, we have already agreed that our next big vacation won’t be until we are 100% debt free, house included. I expect we will come home from this vacation fired up to get killing our debt, if only for the promise of another guilt free vacation.
Our truck loan is driving me crazy. Despite not owing a payment this month, because they applied previous extra principal payments as regular payments, when I went to our credit union to pay a principal payment, they took the interest out of it. Ugh. I wanted it to be at a nice even number, but I failed on that. This is serving as extra incentive to GET IT GONE.
When the truck is paid off, we will have an extra $551 in our budget. I think with focus, this could be done by February 2019, as we have some extra money coming in over the next few months (holiday bonuses and such).
We also want to buy land in cash this spring, but we currently only have about $6,000 in savings. Our plan is to pay cash for land, pay cash for a used RV and live that way for 6-8 months, while selling our house and using the equity to build a smaller new home. We need like $50-60K in cash to make this all happen.
We can save $2,000 to $3,000 per month with our normal budget (outside the 15% going to retirement). With the best case scenario, at that rate, it will take us 18 months to hit our goal and start moving forward. We want to start this in April 2019, which leaves us 6 months. While we both are expecting small raises in January, neither will be nearly enough to hit a savings rate of $9,000 per month.
How to come up with $26,000 extra in six months:
1. Mr. PoniesandFIRE takes the road pool job first quarter - $1000/month for $6,000 over six months
2. Sell my horse trailer (replace after resettled) - $7,500
3. Sell Mr. PoniesandFIRE’s motorcycle (replace after resettled) - $6,000
4. Sell excess household good and furniture - $1,000
5. Cut DishTV - $75/month or $450
6. Reduce our 401k contributions (I HATE THIS IDEA) - $250/month for $1,500 over six months
7. Commission from horse sale expected in March - $2,500
All of this gets us close, but still a little short. It may be a creative next six months for our family…