Debt Reduction Progress

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We paid off a credit card!!!!!!

The month of March was full of uncertainty.  My husband had just found out that he would be unemployed as of April 1st if he didn’t find a job by then.  So, we were hesitant to take our tax return and apply it to our debt reduction efforts.  We kept the $8000 in a savings account until he was hired by one of the premier marketing companies in Milwaukee.

Once he started his new job, we felt it was a good time to pay off one of the credit cards.  So, we’re excited to announce that we’ve paid off about $5000 more of our debt!!  Plus, we now have an emergency fund of $1500 and another $1500 set aside to do some landscaping this spring.  And, last but not least, our income has increased!!!!  So, we are now planning on applying at least $700 a month toward what is left of our credit card debt.  We should be “debt free” (not including our mortgage) by the end of the year!!!

We have two cards left to pay off.  One is still at a 0% APR until the end of August, so we will pay that one off first.  And, the other one is a fixed 1.99% for the life of the balance.  I will have mixed feelings about paying that 1.99%APR credit card off.  Once we pay off that balance, there will no longer be a 1.99%APR.  That credit card offer was a Godsend!  It came at the perfect time too.  I remember when we were considering buying a house and we couldn’t afford it because of our car payment.  Then, we got a balance transfer offer in the mail from our bank credit card.  The balance on our bank credit card was $0 at the time, so I could tell that they were trying to hold on to us as a customer/consumer.  They offered us 1.99%APR for the life of the balance with a transfer fee of 3%, which would end up making our transferred balance nearly $12,000!  Although our balance increased by about $300, the APR decreased along with our monthly minimum payment.  Our monthly payment decreased so much, actually, that we were able to qualify for a mortgage.  About a month later, my sister called to say that the house next door to her would be up for sale soon.  It was all perfect timing, so we made an offer on the house before it even went on the market.  The seller was eager to close and we got the house at a steal of a price.  So, even when the housing market crashed, we still came out of it with equity.

Through all of our financial ups and downs, I can see the Lord’s grace and guidance that has lead us to this point.  Praise the Lord!  Living debt free is just around the corner!

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Every Penny Counts: Our 2011 Tax Return!

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Like two kids on Christmas morning, my husband and I tore open the envelope from our accountant a couple days ago.  We were so excited to see that we would be getting almost $8000 back from our federal and state tax returns!  Before signing off on the tax return, I looked over a few things.  I knew that we might qualify for the energy efficiency credit, so I looked to see if our accountant included that. 

After seeing that we didn’t get it, I called our accountant just to make sure we didn’t qualify.  After talking to a couple of people from his office, I was able to talk to him directly and get some answers.  We discussed our home improvement project and all that it entailed.  I explained that my husband had applied insulation to the outer wall of the foundation in the process of waterproofing.  While we were on the phone, he went through the guidelines for the energy efficiency credit.  It turned out that we did qualify, but we only qualified for 10% of the product value, which was only $300.  So, I was a bit disappointed that we would only be getting another $30 back.  I almost told him to just forget it and file our return, since it would mean him having to send out another copy for our approval.  After hearing the hesitation in my voice, he proceeded to insist that we include the credit.  He said, “Thirty bucks is thirty bucks, right?”

It amazes me how I sometimes lose sight of the value of every penny.  I can go to the grocery store one day and make sure I use every coupon I have on every sale item possible, and the very next day I’ll go out and get a $5 chicken bacon ranch wrap at my favorite food spot.  I’m in a constant battle with myself, trying to beat out the habit of spending money and raise up the ability to save money. 

This reminds me of a Bible verse that describes the human condition perfectly.

Romans 7:15

American Standard Version (ASV)
 15 For that which I do I know not: for not what I would, that do I practice; but what I hate, that I do.

The thing that I hate to do is spend money we do not have.  Yet, we do it almost every day.  A part of me wants to satisfy my sin nature by buying things that make me feel better in the moment.  My struggle is mainly with convenience items.  I like to buy things that will make my life a little easier.  I suppose you could say that I’m lazy and don’t like to cook.  I know that challenging myself in the area of cooking and cleaning, just keeping house in general, will make me a better wife, mother, and servant of the Lord.  It’s a daily struggle, and I’m working on it. 

Making every penny count is something that is more of an inspiring quote than a practical reality.  You can’t go through life without waisting a little bit of money.  But, I know I can go through my day being more conscious of my financial decisions. 

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