Tuesday, November 4, 2008

6 months 20 days PART TWO

Okay so I don't even know where I was at.. oh yeah we had just gotten the home equity loan against all advice from every direction. We had gotten that in June and I figured I could look at our budget and figure out where to trim the edges, however, that was impossible to do. We already had lowered everything over time to the bare necessities. There was nothing else we could go. We both had been saying for months that we needed to get 2nd jobs and that is just what we did.

We applied at a few places, left on our vacation at the beginning of October fully knowing that with the holidays approaching we could easily find second jobs at least for the holiday season. We landed in Miami from our trip to Punta Cana on our layover home and I turned on my phone and had a message from the nearby casino that they wanted me to come in. I waited until the next day when we were home to call back and both Tim and I had interviews lined up for that weekend. We had to get drug tested, a full background check, and take days off of work for our orientation but we made it and both started working October 28, 2007.

I got a job as a waitress in the bar outside the casino, sorta a pub type place. Low pay but pretty good tips. My husband got a job as a coat check person which turned out to be a perfect 2nd job for him. His full time job was labor intensive so this 2nd job was sitting on his butt for 3 hours per night. It was a great gig for him except he had to work 5 days per week and I only had to work 2. I worked 1 hour less than him a week as scheduled, but he usually wound up working more because he was the only part time coat check person so they always had to ask him to cover for other people.

We started paying off our debt finally in November sometime. It took me some time to get a little more caught up with bills and even pay my bills in advance which is where I like to be. I wasn't behind but I was paying my mortgage closer to the 15th rather than before the 1st for example. I had some repairs done on my car as well the first two weeks we were working 2 jobs. My car died on the way home from work one day. Not fun, and of course it always happens when you are trying to get ahead.

We started hacking away at our debt, found a savings account I had set aside I'd forgotten about and cashed that out, our grocery bill diminished simply because neither one of us was ever home. We ate for free at the boat so we took full advantage of that. (I also started gaining weight like you wouldn't believe). By January our debt snowball was really spinning. I was constantly making $1,000 payments to our home equity loan.

In January I found out my company was closing down in March.. this put a total tail spin on my life. Not wanting to lose out if my company found another place to pick us up I wasn't out looking for a new job. Luckily we got extended to April however now I was without a job. I went on unemployment and took what extra pay I got and threw that towards the debt as well.

In April we paid the last truck payment and had gotten a gift from Tim's parents of $5,000 which Tim gladly accepted. We could have paid off the debt entirely, however, we were short because Memorial Day weekend was coming up and we had a bunch of plans for the weekend. We basically needed $200 for that weekend. So we waited. We had a garage sale coming up in our neighborhood so with my extra time (being unemployed) I walked around the house looking for stuff I could get rid of, things I didn't care about, things we didn't use.

May 16th we went out to dinner with Tim's parents. They were in town to help do some wedding planning for one of Tim's brother and for Tim's cousins wedding. We sat down to eat and his dad made some joke type comment, laughing, and handing me some papers/envelopes. I think he said something like "okay maybe this will move up your debt payment a few hours". At that point every time I made a payment I would read just our budget trying to get our debt paid off as early as possible. So each time I would come up with an estimated date of when it would be paid in full.

I looked at what his dad handed me and it was savings bonds.. I was like "what?" they were Tim's from when he was a baby.. so Tim looked at them, we went home and figured out that they were worth more than their face value... they were only $25 bonds but remember we only needed another $200 for breathing room. After we figured out how much they were worth by looking them up on line, we called Tim's parents with me SCREECHING that we paid off our debt. As soon as I figured out we had that money to ride on, the money I was saving for Memorial Day weekend was moved directly over to that home equity loan. May 17th 2008.. it was the 5th best day of my life! lol! It was funny that Tim's dad's comment of "this should push you up a few hours" actually pushed us up 2 full weeks! What an amazing feeling.

I forgot to mention. I joined this amazing MSN group called Women In Red. The group helps women (and men) race to pay off debt. You race against yourself it's not a competition. It's split up by regions and you get to know the ladies in your region really quick. Everybody is very helpful and of course very supportive of one another. check them out here At Women In Red I joined a thread called the Grocery Challenge. I couldn't keep up with it, but what I did do was get a few websites that have directed me to the couponing world. I have stayed with the WIR group but now I've moved over to the SAVERS group and I'm racing to save.

I'm still unemployed, still looking for jobs every day.. my unemployment will be running out in 12 short weeks. I'm not as worried as I would have been a year ago considering I'm in way better place. I have a better handle on my money and actually a better relationship with my money.

I know I didn't give a break down of how we paid off the debt, but all I can say is that somehow we managed to scrape together every penny we had. When all was said and done we had no truck payment, no credit card debt, and no emergency fund because I used that as well. Somewhere in there was a tax refund, a stimulus check, my ESOP payout, and cash gifts from family/friends for our birthdays/Christmas. Somehow it all added up to $30,000 in 6 months 20 days.

Honestly, looking back I figured it would have been much harder, more grueling than it turned out to be. I had the help and support of pretty much everyone I personally knew family, friends, even neighbors as well as my online buddies who were going through the same experience. Believe me, it wasn't easy.. I didn't see my husband or son for a solid 6 months. My son especially because my weekends to have him over I was either working or sleeping. Tim and I were both exhausted all the time, the only time we had together was Sunday lunch. That was it.

I wish I had found couponing/grocery gaming long before, instead I learned to only shop at Aldi and shop sales for little extras here and there. I have learned so many things, things I never would have known about if it wasn't for this experience. It has really taught me how strong and motivated I can be when I set my mind to it. I've also learned so much about my marriage. It's strength, it's limits, even it's vulnerable places I didn't know existed.

I was already a "character" before this all happened, but I can tell you this.. I've gained more character, learned life lessons that are not taught in books, and was shown how important my relationship with my money really is to me. My entire life I've loved money, and debt took that from me.. my battle to win over debt has given me a renewed faith and I know I will not willingly go down that path in my lifetime again.


Anonymous said...

Wow I am truly impressed. Your story is similar to mine except we are still chipping away at our debt. Thank you for sharing your story with us here as it is truly inspirational and has motivated me even more to keep working away at my debt.

Heather said...

All I can say is "WOW"! You did it, though...what an inspiration!!!!

Phoebe said...

Amen!! And congratualtions on paying off all that debt! It's amazing what can happen when you are in desperation....it's a learning expirience for sure.

TLC said...

Wow that's so awesome that you actually did this - not many people would take the "pill" and do what you and your DH did, cut the cc's, get 2nd jobs, cut the fat, etc. Good for you guys and I'm just so impressed that you did it so fast - really that's soooo amazing!!!! It's good that you shared too cas so many people just keep thinking that they can just wait another month to fix their budgets when really one doesn't know what's right around the corner! You're an inspiration!!

Thanks for dropping by my site and for the sweet compliment!! Have a wonderful weekend!

andrea said...

you go girl!!!
you must be so proud of yourself!!

thank you for sharing your story!!!!!!

may God continue to bless you and your family!