Last year I spent some time regaling you with tales of our financial woes, and how we were dealing with them. It has come to my recent attention that there are some people (one person) who were following those tales with great interest, and who are very disappointed that these tales suddenly ended and have been craving some kind of update. So here it is. Some kind of update.
Where were we? Ah yes. We didn’t have enough to make ends meet and had initiated a seriously Spartan spending and cost control plan with the goals of getting back to living within our means, paying off some debts and putting away some money.
And one day I just stopped talking about it.
This was due in large part to the fact that the finer points of the plan had, um, eroded away one Friday night pizza and trip to the movies at a time. Also, talking about how you’re willingly going back on something you damn near swore to do is, well, depressing. And perhaps a small part of me actually believed that if I didn’t say anything about it publicly, then it didn’t really happen. What? Yes, I would like extra butter on that large popcorn, please.
First the downers. What went wrong. We spent more money on the mega family vacation to Alabama than we planned. Due to blossoming national financial situations, Sara’s first unemployment check for the summer was about a month late. Both of our vehicles suffered unexpected circumstances: the Toyota reached the end of its useful life and the Beetle was rear-ended by a jackass from Connecticut. Neither really cost us any money, but the loss of one vehicle and having to get by on the one damaged-but-drivable one cost us in other ways. Sanity, for one. Things like shopping at Stop&Shop and doing pizza on Friday nights out of convenience took their own toll. And to top it off, there were no raises for management at B&N this year. That means me. I understand why, and I’m grateful to still be working full time, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck.
The year wasn’t all bad, though. We did do a few things right. Switching over to shopping at Save-A-Lot had saved us (a lot! harhar.) around $50 a week on what we’re buying. Those kind of numbers add up fast. We saved BIG on heating fuel costs last year. The timer switch I installed for the oil burner helped stretch a tank of oil from roughly April to January. Then, upgrading all the windows in the house to more efficient vinyl replacements and keeping the thermostat low (no more than 60) got us through the winter on just one more tank. I can’t wait to find out how much we’re gonna save if we can get the walls insulated this year.
Lemme see… when the Toyota bowed out, we immediately canceled the registration and stopped insuring it, which dropped our insurance bill by about $30/month. Then we had our mechanic sell it for scrap to pay his bill. We also lucked out by having the $500 deductible waived, just because on the day after the accident we went and fetched the police report and delivered it to our agent’s office. I think we did better this year at Christmas than we ever have – no going overboard, no buying gifts just cuz we’re gonna see someone at a party. Somewhere along the way we dropped our cable service (just the TV. Gotta have my internets!) and I can honestly say that I barely miss it. We get our mindless entertainment fix through Netflix and Hulu. Our taxes were done early, and we’re still sitting on the return. Hell yeah. It’s waiting for the purchase of our next second vehicle.
So that was last year. Where does that put us now? Ehhhhh…. well…. I don’t… know? We’re currently in pay the bill every other month when the threatening call comes through mode. We still need to make May’s mortgage payment, but at least I’m confident that we’ll be able. It could be far, far worse. We have fewer creditors than last year and we’ve got realistic expectations of being able to square up with two more this year. There’s a lot of good stuff coming down the line, as well. But I’ll go into that later. Or, you know, next year.