Sunday, May 22, 2011

Where Our Money Goes Now

When we first began the climb towards a debt-free life in the summer of 2009, our main focus (after saving our $1,000 Emergency Fund according to Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps during our very first No Spend Month), was kicking our credit card debt.

We finally did that in the summer of 2010, after moving across town to a place with rent that was significantly less than what we had been spending, and our second No Spend Month (gotta love the nice jump starts those give a budget!). 

After that we began to throw our weight against my remaining student loans and opened an ING Direct Savings account to put our Emergency Fund in, while continuing to add a bit more to that every month.  We also increased Matt's contribution to our 401K, knowing its more important to do that now--even for a few months--and lower it later if needed than to never do it at all. I've never opened a 401k with a company with the simple knowledge that I wouldn't be in one place long enough to be fully vested, whether it be from moving or leaving a job altogether to stay at home with  my babies. So instead of each contributing, say, 4 or 5%, we have Matt contribute 10% towards his 401k, in which he'll be fully vested this year.

According to Dave Ramsey, we should have been throwing everything against my student loans at this point, but this nagging voice in the back of my head kept asking, "What if I get pregnant and we have to go to one salary?" Compared to most of the world, Matt and I are abundantly wealthy. But if we took away my salary and were still living in Seattle, pretty much all we could afford would be Section 8 housing in an unsafe neighborhood.

So we divided putting money towards my student loans and an emergency fund.

Then...surprise! In late November we found out we were expecting! And BOY was I grateful we had begun building our Emergency Fund!

Since then, we've spent just $50 more a month towards my student loans, and the rest that we can spare goes towards our Emergency Fund. Thankfully, by the time our little Tater Tot arrives in late July we'll have enough in savings for any unforeseen medical emergencies, or to help us through a few more months of Seattle's high prices if we don't move right away (there's a possibility Matt could get a job on the other side of the country and we'd move mid-August, just a few weeks after the Tater's arrival).  We're definitely hoping for the move, as the median family income is $12,000 less there than it is in Seattle!

I guess all this to say that following Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps has definitely helped us dig out of our debt hole, but looking at our life situation we had to make choices that were better for us at the time.  Knowing we won't be plunged deep into debt if Tatum needs to spend a night in the hospital is definitely a huge peace of mind.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Waiting Game

It seems like a lot of life is waiting for something, and frankly I'm sick of waiting to move. Since last October we've thought every couple of months there was a chance for us to get out of the Pacific Northwest and Matt to finally be recognized for what an awesome manager he is.

But here we are, 8 months later and still waiting.

Our next hope is a move in August. Probably only 3-4 weeks after our baby girl is born. Where we are now is a one bedroom "apartment" that's really the bottom level of a house. One room is our living room, dining room, kitchen, office and library. Our bedroom is small and already I'm trying to figure out the best way to fit a bassinet or pack n' play in there. And there's no use in going overboard with the "nursery planning" since there is no nursery, and no point in totally rearranging everything now if we'll just have to pack it up 3 weeks after the Tater Tot makes her grand entrance.

Its frustrating...not knowing. We have limited access to a washer and I buy cloth diapers or not? It'd be great to register for a crib and crib mattress...but where would we put it? I have bought oodles of fabric that we'd love to use for the baby's "nursery," but right now all I can make is a quilt. Hopefully come August she'll be able to have a nursery where I can hang curtains and make a cute crib ruffle and a throw pillow for the rocker (which is the second hand 1970's gold rocker from a thrift store that I've had since college).

Its going to be a challenge trying to figure out timing and accomodations for the family and friends who want to be here for the birth. I want family here, of course, but I think I'll go crazy sitting around with a bunch of people staring at me like a time bomb if I'm a few days late. I'm already trying to think of easily freezable group dinners.

But wondering about it and checking the real estate market in South Carolina won't make anything happen any faster. Complaining about the constant rain and chill and gray won't make it disappear. Wishing for a bathtub or a dishwasher to help make things a little easier or more comfortable won't do any good. Our home has been a huge blessing that has helped us get out of debt and save up a nice emergency fund, but its time to move on and Matt and I know it.  We're just waiting for God to open the doors. And if He doesn't when we want Him to, He must have a reason, right?