Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I Went on a Hike!

I did something today.

Something I haven't done since high school.

I hiked the Cascades.

It's a 4 mile hike.  (Two miles up; two miles down.)

Like I said, last time I did this was when I weighed all of 98 pounds.

Not quite as easy now.

But the pay off was amazing.

Yes!  That's me!
I don't know what came over me today.  I was sitting at my desk about 10:00 and thought, "I really don't want to be here today."  (To be honest, I usually think that every day at 10:00.)

At first I thought, Mr. DDA is off.  We could go to lunch.  Have a mini-date.

But after yesterday's dilemma, I thought it best we save that money.  And since I'm trying to find middle ground between my high school weight and my now weight, I thought it best I save those calories.

It cost us $3.  We had a blast.

But at the halfway point, my husband (who had never seen the falls) said, "You ready to go back?"

I said, "NO!!!  We have to keep going.  Just wait till you get to the top!"

Even though we are still technically debt free (I'll explain how we're paying this bill later), after yesterday, I feel like we're at the halfway point again.

It's would be just as easy to turn back as to keep going. 

Part of me wants to say "Heck with it!"  And call Chase.  (They have Mickey Mouse cards!!!)  And run out and buy shoes, and dresses, and adorable boutique kiddie clothes, and Mr. DDA a tool chest, and pay off this bill, and just live like the rest of the world.  With a credit card payment.

But I've determined we will conquer this thing.

I will burn those calories.  I mean, make those payments.  :)

I've seen the top before, and I want to go back.

Monday, January 30, 2012

#$%@*# - $%&^*@

I got a bill in the mail today.

Not a dollar bill, a payment due bill.
And not a regular one.  A big one.

"With a comma" big.

I kinda knew it was coming, but in the back of my mind I kept hoping and praying for a miracle.  That it somehow wouldn't come.

Even being debt free, it's too big for us to simply write a check for.

(Told ya it was big.)

I had a minor meltdown, freak out moment today.  I swore - I cussed.

Not really, but I actually said the phrase, "Maybe we should just put it on a credit card." 

I know. 

Told you it was blasphemous.

My sister tried to give me the speech that I invented!!!

It's just money...  It's not your health...  It's not your kids health...

It didn't work.

At first.

But after I had my little pity party in my cubicle, I got out my calculator and began to crunch the numbers.  (I know, I'm such a nerd.  Just say it.)

And after about an hour, I began to breathe normally again.

And I began to give myself my classic, little pep talk.

Steve Jobs probably had this much money as loose change in his glove box.  But he couldn't buy a minute more.

Britney Spears would probably trade all her money for an unfried brain and a normal life. 

"Ok - get a grip Sarah!  You can handle this!"

I didn't find out today that my baby girl had a brain tumor.  Some mother did today.

My two year old didn't starve today in some third world country - or for that matter, in our country.  Some children went hungry today.

I didn't have to bury my annoying, but melt-my-heart four year old little boy.  Some mom out there today, had to do that.  God bless her.

I didn't find out today that when my husband left, he wasn't coming back.  Some overworked wife got that call today...from the military, from a chief, or from a sheriff.

See, today, when I got that bill, I did freak out.  I did cry.  I threw a pity party.  "Why doesn't God bless me?"   Waahhh
As If I God Wanted to Remind Me One More Time
But at the end of the day, it was a very strange reminder of how blessed I am.

Don't get me wrong, I am not happy about this bill.

I am not going to enjoy paying it - at all.

But I'm so glad to have this burden versus many other options out there.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dear Retired Me

Dear Retired Me:


When you no longer have to set an alarm clock,

And your grandchildren unexpectedly show up for breakfast,

And you get to fly south for winter,

Think of me.  ("Think of me.  Think of me fondly - when we said goodbye..."  Bonus points if you know where that came from.)

 the unretired, exhausted, but happy me.

See, I could really use the extra couple hundred dollars that I'm giving you

For groceries...

Or gas - yes, retired me, $3.30/gal. gas is expensive right now.  It may be cheap then, but it's expensive now...

Or the countess medical co-pays because all three kids can't manage to get sick on the same day...

Or a new pair of shoes...  :)

Or better yet, to buy pants for my children, because my washer magically shrinks them as soon as I buy them.  (My children can't possibly grow that fast can they?)

See, retirees will need 70% of their pre-retirement yearly income. 

And I read this week that my generation will need approximately $1.8 million dollars at retirement.

(Retired me, do we even use dollars any more?)

Barring some strange turn of events in my life, I'm not sure I'm gonna make it to almost $2 million dollars in my retirement accounts. 

Especially if the stock market keeps resembling the architecture of the Kingda Ka.

(Retired me, do we even have a stock market anymore?)

Dear, dear retired me,

I think of you and your white sandy beaches often.

But while I can't wait to meet you, don't arrive too fast

I'm enjoying life as unretired, exhausted, but happy me.

Friday, January 20, 2012

I'm Buying a Box

I'm buying a house.

No, maybe a refrigerator.

Or two.

But just for the boxes.

Because I'm going to need a home.
Because I'm not going to be able to afford my current one..

Because I'm going to quit my job.

Because at the moment, I'm really tired of being the tax lady.

I'm really tired of telling hard working people who barely make ends meet that they're going to owe over $10,000 because their union didn't bribe a congressman enough to get a loophole in the tax code.

I'm really tired of preparing returns for people really don't do much of anything and see them walk away with $8000 for doing nothing productive in society the year before.

Can we just talk about the Earned Income Credit people?

It's welfare. 

There I said it.

It's welfare.  We, yes - you too, are paying people to work as little as possible and yet, have as many children as possible.

I despise that credit.

I H-A-T-E that credit.

Because a family of 5 making less than approximately $45,000 a year can literally owe NO tax in the first place and yet get thousands of dollars from the government.

And people who get the credit know that and work the minimum amount to get the maximum credit.

But I can't quit.

Because I'm married to a cop.

(An awesome one at that.)

And incaseyoudidn'tknow, cops make nothing - well, pretty much.

And if I did quit, we'd qualify for the Earned Income Credit.

And that would just be an oxymoron wouldn't it?

But I still want a refrigerator box.

Because who didn't love a playhouse in their living room?


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Cost of Borrowing

A couple years ago, right in the middle of our debt-free journey, we got the exciting news I was pregnant with baby #2.  We were thrilled, but as the due date inched closer and closer, I began having panic attacks.  How were we going to afford 2 daycare payments?  2 sets of diapers?  Formula?  Forget that - how were we even going to get through maternity leave?

Less than 2 weeks before baby #2 arrived, we got a loan, no, I'll say it, a handout, from a family member.  It was amazing and heartbreaking at the same time.  It wasn't much - it was just the perfect amount. 

And although we assured them we would pay it back, they assured us that they would refuse it.

But here we are 3 years later and I still think about it..  I still feel guilty over it. 

You know how you feel when you hear about people who run up a credit card on a lavish vacation, then whine about paying off until someone (usually related) pays it off for them?  That was me!  (Well, except for the lavish vacation part)

I hear about those people now and it makes me sick.  You don't learn anything that way.  You don't feel the pain. 

Although that amount didn't fully pay off our debt, it took some of it away.  Consider that local anesthesia.  :)

Money comes with price.  Sounds kinda stupid, but it's so true.

Borrowed money doesn't get you out of debt.  It may pay off your debt, but you always have a debt.

On a lighter note, over the weekend, DDA celebrated it's birthday!
Here's to another year of bean counting, debt dumping, and shoe scouring!!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What Comes Next?

It's been almost one year since we've become debt free.  It's been a fun year no doubt, with I'm sure more fun to come.  Has it been exhilarating? 



Me too.

You think that once you become debt-free you'll have all this crazy money.  At least I did.  I pictured something like this:


I thought we'd bathe in money.  Pay for everyone's dinner, take great vacations, dress our kids in the finest character clothing imported straight from the Magic Kingdom...

And yes, we do have more money.  But not crazy, stupid money. 

So my question to Dave Ramsey, Suze, Gail, Clark - all the financial DEBT FREE guru's out there is this, "What's next?"

Do I live on rice & beans till I save up my 6 month emergency fund?

Are we allowed to eat out?

How many pairs of shoes can I buy before it's just ridiculous?  (ha ha - notice I don't ask, "Can I buy shoes?")

Can I add to my grocery budget?

Because right now, our spending is (almost) the exact same it was before we were debt free.  Our grocery budget is the same.  Our dining out is the same.  Our gas budget is the same.  (Don't ask me how.) 

I still freak out when the "oil change" my van went in for, costs us $256 because this, this, and that were broke.  When can I not freak out?  (To be honest, I think 50% of the freak out reflex is just my personality.  We could be millionaires and I'd still freak out.)

No one tells you what comes next.  You've programmed your brain in this super tight mentality and it's hard to reprogram it. 

Maybe that'll be my niche.  I'll make my millions doing tv, radio, books & seminars on What Comes After Debt.  And Dave, Suze, Gail, or Clark - I'll let one of you write the forward to my book so you're not forgotten about when I surpass you in popularity. 

Maybe I'll even get my own app!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Opree Calls it Multee-Taskin

Now that the Christmas season is past us, I'm determined to get back to blogging more.  I enjoyed it and I missed it.  But if it comes down to blogging for 15 minutes and sleep - I choose sleep!

As we've talked about before, my life is eerily similar to Sweet Home Alabama.  So much so that my sister & I have have entire conversations just using phrases from that movie.  As I sit here trying to keep one eye on the BCS National Championship and attempting to type, it brings to mind the words of the great Pearl Smooter, "Oprah calls it multi-tasking."  Yes, I am multi-tasking.

So, you know that I have three kids.  A 4 year old, a 2 year old, & a 1 year old.  Here is a recent family picture:

I work full time at a crazy, incredibly high-stress job that I strangely enjoy.  You know that I have a part-time husband.  Meaning he's here only part of the time thanks to his crazy, high stress job that he strangely enjoys.

You know that I go to church three times a week.  No?  Well, I do.  I go to church a lot.  Don't tell anyone, but sometimes I sit back and dream that I turned into a Sunday Morning Christian.  But I then my inner Jiminy Cricket takes over.  (Mine sounds like my grandma, Nanny.) 

Some of you also know we are trying to sell our house. 

This is all a recipe for disaster.

I need to be on medication - a lot of it.  Preferably, not prescribed by Conrad Murray.

Before we had three kids, crazy jobs, a house on the market, etc... we were broke. Probably because we loved to eat out. 

I mean LOVED

I can probably attribute at least 20 of my pounds to Olive Garden's pasta & breadsticks.  (My genealogy says I'm German & Norwegian, but I know an Italian had to be snuck in there somewhere.)

I can tell an Outback steak just by its smell.

Since our life has become a whirlwind of days, we eat out much less.  Like never.  We will occasionally go to the very loud Mexican restaurant with another family who lives almost as crazy a life as we do, but that's only usually once every two months or so.

See, when you have kids, going out isn't fun.  You spend the entire time begging the waitress to bring you a spoon so you can feed the baby, while using your other hand to force feed your three year old his $5 grilled cheese.  By the time you get to your dinner, the bread is hard, the steak is cold, and your other kid spilt milk all in your french fries.

Staying home, inviting friends over is so much calmer and way more enjoyable and, I've discovered, so much easier on the budget.  So, I've decided I'm going to try that a lot more this year. 

Save money and sanity.  "Oprah calls that multi-tasking."