A Journey To Get Out of Debt

Here we go, round two of this Credit Card Debt Repayment Journey.

Last month I started documenting my progress toward paying off the credit card debt we’ve accumulated over the past couple of years. The point was to precisely understand our debt and gain structure around what we can pay off each month. So while it hasn’t been an exact science, at least it has been a starting point.

And then there’s the whole accountability thing. If I’m putting this all out there for the world to see (albeit anonymously), at least this makes it a bit more real.

So here is our current progress, building off what was documented previously.

This page includes affiliate links — which means I may receive some compensation (at no cost to you) if you sign up or make a purchase through these links.

Note: I’ve been using the tools on Undebt.It to track our debt repayment progress. And, I have to say, the Undebt.It website has been a godsend when it comes to manually tracking our credit card debt.

I previously had built out this Excel spreadsheet that became more and more complicated every time I decided to add something to it. Undebt.It not only tracks your various accounts but also calculates the best options for paying down your debt.

I’ve been using this tool for several months, and honestly can tell you that it makes a difference. The amount of stress that I have every time I sit down to do bills is reduced by using this site:

Undebt It

 

Yes, I still need to make entries on payments or purchases made. But the website does all of the calculations for you. And it provides such helpful visuals so you can SEE the progress you are making.

Plus, once one account is paid off, it directs you to apply that monthly dollar amount to the next credit card debt on your list. So it’s always keeping track of your monthly payment budget, as well as the dollar amount that you should be “snowballing” into the next bill.

I’m pretty sure the Undebt.It website explains this way better than I am attempting to, so feel free to check out their site. If you’re looking to track multiple debt accounts better, this would be an excellent option for you.

 

Things Purchased Over the Past Month, That May or May Not Have Impacted Our Credit:

  • Blogging and Pinterest courses/upgrades mostly paid with PayPal, but one larger purchase was put on a cash rewards credit card. The hope is to consider this an investment and that the money will be made back eventually. (And isn’t that what we are all hoping — which is a significant selling point for these courses?) ~$150
  • Dental work. A tooth that had been bothering me for roughly 7 – 9 months required some severe drilling and a new crown. ~$650
  • Prescription – Since we belong to a High Deductible Health Care Plan, all medications are first subject to a $1,500 deductible (which we haven’t even come close to this year.) $111
  • Dog joint supplements I thought were cancelled from auto-ship. I swear I cancelled this two months ago after finding a cheaper alternative. I’ll need to keep a closer eye on this to ensure the charge doesn’t “magically” appear again. $67

Home Maintenance:

  • 2.5 cords of seasoned firewood – delivered, not stacked. This was paid for with cash that could have been used to pay off credit card debt. However, getting a great deal on firewood right before winter is an excellent investment to stay warm over the months to come. This will reduce the amount of oil and electricity we will have to use, and hopefully last for the winter. $300
  • Heating oil delivery – 150 gallons, paid with a check. We found this great new resource — a website that is essentially a roundup for heating oil prices. It’s only available in the Northeast, in the following states: CT, Long Island NY, NJ, PA, RI, MD, MA. The website is:  https://cashheatingoil.com/

Here’s how it works: You search by ZIP code, then select which local heating oil dealer you’d like to purchase from. The search results show basic info on the dealer and the price per gallon. But it doesn’t show the business name. 

You will not see the company’s name until you put in your order. However, you will be able to read others’ feedback on the dealer and their reviews and rating. And you’re not placed under any contract. So the website serves as the liaison to connect companies with buyers without paying for advertising.

We used this service once and will use it again. The amount of savings was unreal, compared to what we paid our regular heating oil company. They delivered when we needed it, and the company was professional and courteous. A definite win-win situation. ~$350

  • Purchased a wet/dry vac — plus tools/supplies to fix cracks in the basement. $80
  • We had a few stormy days last month and found a small pond had appeared in our cellar. After a few investigative ventures, we think we’ve pinpointed the area of entry — vertical cracks along the stairs leading down the outdoor hatchway into the cellar.

We bought several cans of this weather-proof foam sealant, and have been patching these areas as we go along. It’s hard to identify the problem areas when it isn’t raining. And when it is raining, you can’t apply the fix because the area needs to be reasonably dry. So we’ll be keeping an eye on this issue from now on and using our handy new wet/dry vac as needed. ~$20

 

Miscellaneous:

  • CoffeeForLess.com — We love our Keurig and use it every day. K-cups can be pricey, especially at the grocery store. We discovered the Coffee For Less website a few years ago and found their prices can’t be beat. ~$80

In addition, they’re great about offering coupon codes when you join their mailing list. If you time it right, you can benefit from a 12% off code every few months. Otherwise, you’ll regularly find 5 or 7% off when searching online at coupon sites. Also, for Cyber Monday 2017, they offered a whopping 21%. (Unfortunately, we didn’t need coffee at that time, so we didn’t take advantage of that deal.)

As for service, we found that even when selecting their Super Saver Shipping method (free for orders $49+), the coffee gets delivered within 3 or 4 business days.

Also:

  • We spent more than usual on takeout and groceries due to the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • We spent a little more on clothing and sneakers with Black Friday deals. While I firmly believe apparel is not a necessity (besides that, you generally need to be clothed), I make this exception for my other half, who has lost an insane amount of weight in the past year. We’re talking 165 lbs, and counting. 

None of his winter clothing or outerwear fits whatsoever, and he has been swimming in an abundance of fabric. Since we live in New England, and due to his major weight-loss accomplishment, we’ve had to do some seasonal shopping for him.

 

Things I’ve Done To Make Extra Money Over the Past Month:

Again, it was a hectic month, so not much side hustling was going on. Therefore, I count any profit as a win for this timeframe, no matter how small.

Additional notes:

  • Next month will start the first of many months to include Parent PLUS loan payments. Our son’s student loans have entered repayment, which means we’ll all become a little (a lot) more strapped than usual. For the next 10-15 years or so.

Thankfully, he is now gainfully employed, having started his very first full-time job as of the end of July. Because truth be told, we won’t have much flexibility to help him out with payments, even if we wanted to.

  • Christmas plans – We will be paring down the gift-giving for this year’s Christmas season.

First off, we will not be using credit or credit cards for any gifts.

This is contrary to everything we’ve practised in the past few years, where we were pretty much broke by the time December rolled around. Then we went on a shopping frenzy to order whatever we could find online and put it all on credit.

No more of this craziness — credit is not the way to be buying gifts.

  • Car maintenance – rumor has it that vehicle #1 needs new tires before the snowy season. Ugh, but it’s a necessity.
  • Vet visit – puppy #2 is due for her annual vaccinations in mid-December. (I know there are alternatives for cheaper vaccinations, but I refuse to skimp on quality pet care.

And Finally…

In summary, I feel like I’ve learned quite a bit from Month One, and my eyes were opened a little wider going into Month Two. We increased our debt payments this past month and tried to the best of our abilities to not take on more credit card debt.

However, some curveballs were thrown in the mix (which is part of life, isn’t it?) So my learning from this most recent month is:

Control what you can, but plan for what might be coming.

And with that in mind, I’ll take December with a grain of salt and not set any unattainable expectations.

  • My main goal will be not to take on any more credit card debt.
  • The concession: we won’t make a significant dent in our debt, knowing it’s the holiday season.

Plus, the upcoming expenses listed above need to be considered, which is a crucial part of the expense planning phase. Of course, you can budget all you want, but unless you’re adhering to said budget, you’ll still come up short when these one-off expenses creep up on you.

So with that said, I will turn it over to you.

How do you plan for the unexpected or the expected-but-seldom-encountered?

What do you consider to be a necessity? And what if you and your spouse/partner have differing opinions on this?

Any suggestions or tips on how we could be handling these purchases or expenses differently?

I’d LOVE to hear from you!

Robin


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