Monthly Financial Check-up

Remember how I said last month that we’d decided to wait to replace our van for awhile in order to put that money towards our children’s educational savings instead? Well, I’m not so sure that was the most brilliant decision ever.

For starters, I was heading out with all the children one day a few weeks ago and noticed that one of the van tires was low. Upon investigation, we ended up finding out there was a screw in the van tire wall (don’t ask me where that came from!). So we couldn’t just patch the tire, we had to replace the whole tire.

Then, a few days later, I was driving home and all of a sudden there was a very loud buzzing noise coming from the back of the van. Come to find out, the rear blower motor went out. Considering that it’s been over 100 degrees almost every day for weeks, we decided we’d better fix it ASAP.

Next, we had to get extensive front suspension work done on the van, which was quite costly. Finally, it seems like our transmission might be going out.

So maybe my idea to hang onto the van for a few more years wasn’t so bright? But the decision has been made, so we’ve decided to just fix the issues and hope that it extends the life of the van for at least another year or two–if not more.

I’m grateful that we have an emergency fund so we can cover these types of unexpected expenses and I’m grateful that we live on a strict budget and try to plan for the unexpected. This makes situations like flat tires, rear blower motors and transmissions going out a lot less stressful. As Amy said, “Being intentional with our money turns emergencies into inconveniences.”

We were able to set aside some money for Silas’ educational savings account, but it’s not as funded as we’d hoped to have it at this point. Oh well, moving forward in the right direction is always better than standing still or going backwards!

Here’s our current goals list:

Our Family’s Financial Goals for the Summer of 2010 through December 2011

1. Significantly increase our giving to needs in our community and around the world.This is an ongoing goal, so we’re keeping it uncrossed off from the list.

2. Pay cash for a replacement washer and dryer for our very used set.

3. Pay cash for a replacement for Old Blue Van.

4. Pay cash for a couch for our basement family room.

5. Pay cash for bunk beds for the girls.

6. Fully fund our IRAs.

7. Bump up our retirement savings to 10% of our income.

8. Fund our children’s educational savings. Kathrynne and Kaitlynn’s are done, now we’re working on Silas’.

9. Double our Emergency Fund Savings (Instead of having around six month’s worth of expenses set aside, we’re planning to set aside a year’s worth of expenses.)

10. Save 40% towards our real estate investing goal.

We’d love to hear about your recent financial goals and successes! You can post about it on your blog and leave your link in the comments. Or, just share about your progress/goals in the comments. Let’s all keep each other accountable to be better stewards of our resources!

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  1. Emily says

    Usually when you get to the point where you’re paying as much for monthly car payments for car repair then it is just not worth it anymore. However if you’re saving up for a large down-payment or want to pay cash then I understand the dilemma. I ended up giving up my old Ford Escort after it became clear it just wasn’t making it as a commuter car anymore. My neighbor ended up buying it for $200 for her twin nephews to learn how to drive in. Now 3 years later it still seems to be hanging on but I know they only use it for very local driving. I love the car I replaced it with (a Scion xB). It holds everything, has good mileage and seems to be holding it’s value really well. I hate the car payments but since I expect the car to make it to 200K or more it was a good investment.

    • says

      We’re committed to paying cash for everything, but we’re hoping that the money we put into it will make it last for a few more years. We’re hoping these repairs will significantly extend the life of the van.

      If it becomes a money pit, however, we’ll definitely get rid of it and go back to being one-car family until we’ve saved up to pay cash for another vehicle.

  2. says

    We’re coming off of 6 weeks of unemployment, but I am proud to say that with creative “financing” and some serious discipline, we didn’t have to touch our emergency fund! We even had a true “emergency” with the main line drain of our house backing up, AND we were able to give a friend $250 through start up to start a new business! God is good!

  3. Brittney says


    Can you please explain more about funding your children’s educational savings? I noticed you had your daughters’ complete. How did you decide how much to fund and will this be an ongoing funding? My husband and I have two small children and weren’t sure the best way to go about this. Thanks for any insight!

    • says

      We just decided upon an amount we wanted to have saved for our children when they turn 18 and then calculated how much we would need to save and invest in one lump sum now to equal that amount when they are 18. Since we have time and compound interest on our side (and are in a position where we can save a good amount of money since we’re debt-free and living on less than we make), we felt it was wiser financially to go ahead and fund them in one lump sum now than to fund them in an ongoing manner.

      • says

        If it’s not too personal, can I ask how you decided on the amount to save? My DH and I have no intention of paying for our kids’ education in full (our parents didn’t and you can’t get loans for retirement!) but it’s daunting to see the estimates of the cost of college in 15 years. When my son was born in 2007 the calculator I found suggested it would take $600 a month for the next 18 years to fully fund his college!

        • says

          It was dependent upon a lot of different factors, but mostly what amount we both felt good about when factoring in what we knew we could save this year by careful management of our money. Since we’re putting in a lump sum now, it will be a *lot* less total than we’d have to put in if we were to do it on a monthly basis over the next 12-16 years. That is the reason we decided to go ahead and do it now while we can.

          I definitely think retirement should come first over college savings (though many will disagree with me on that one), so if you’re choosing between the two, prioritize retirement. Also, I’d highly encourage you to get a copy of Debt Free U from the library. It is packed with lots of helpful advice for graduating from college without debt.

          • Diane says


            You are very very right. Retirement has to come before saving for college. You can’t take out loans for retirement, my mom always says, and honestly I want to have parents who are financially stable and be a financially stable parent for my children.

            While I don’t want my children having to take out large student loans to pay for college, I really don’t want to be asking them for money when I’m 80, either, and would prefer to have money to help them out if they need it when my husband and I are older and if we’re blessed in this way, even help our grandkids out if possible (but considering our child is a toddler grandkids seem very far away).

        • says

          I have a few thoughts regarding paying for your children’s college

          1. My husband and I have decided that we will help our children with college but aren’t willing to pay for all of it. Just like with other life experiences, I believe the kids get more out of it if they have a financial stake in the game. We can use the money we aren’t spending for college to take them on very memorable vacations as well as making sure we ourselves are taken care of in retirement.

          2. I would suggest that you call around to some local colleges and see what the tuition is. I can tell you that tuition at our local college runs about $7,000 – $8,000 annually if you don’t have to pay for room and board. That is not a daunting amount for a kid to pay for if they are working during the summer and applying for scholarships. Plus, there’s nothing to say that a kid can’t work during the school year to help with their expenses.

          3. Is it really necessary to go away to school? I know it seems much more exciting to go away and and experience the ‘full’ college experience but is it worth the price? Room and board (at least for our local college) is about the same as the tuition. Having our son live at home saves a significant amount of money. We aren’t overly strict with our rules since he is 20, but we do expect respect (i.e. if you aren’t going to be home until 4am you need to make sure we are aware of it before we go to sleep) and for him to help around with house with chores and errands.

          4. Explore all your options. Within driving distance of our home there are 4 regular colleges and a technical college. Right in our hometown is a state run four-year college, 30 miles away is a private four-year college and within 15 miles there are two state junior colleges. A junior college is a fantastic option in that it’s typically smaller so the kids get much more individual attention, it’s cheaper and after two years you transfer to a four-year college. Your degree actually comes from the college you graduate from so you could end up with the prestigious degree that you want but at a significantly cheaper price. Plus, it’s sometimes easier to get into the prestigious college as a junior than it is as a freshman. I always told the kids unless they wanted to be a top NASA scientist, a CEO or the President of the United States a prestigious college wasn’t necessary – just a college that would give them a good education.

          Hope that helps!

          • holi says

            I have 3 teens 19,17,14 and these r the smae things I have told them. The oldest went to MSU for a 1 1/2 and decided comm coll was way cheaper with us providing the housing and food. The second child has told us she is staying for coMmunity college,because she is just way too cheap now. She is an avid blog reader…

          • Katherine says

            You could also consider accelerated distanced learning. You can get an accredited college degree in 2 years or less for $10,000-$15,000. Check out I used them and they are a Christian company! A lot of home schoolers have used them.

        • Heather says

          I think a lot of those college cost estimates are bogus. They write those articles to scare everyone, and I bet the estimates are based on the most expensive schools with expensive lodging, a vehicle, pricey social life, great NYC-worthy clothes, and the major with the most expensive books!
          Not that you shouldn’t save some, but there are options like local schools (live at home), cheaper schools, and WORKING your way through.
          Don’t get me started on those estimates that it costs $200,000 to raise a kid until 18 . . .

  4. says

    We had the transmission go out in our van, and fixing it cost as much as the van was worth. We looked into other options of either buying another vehicle or replacing the transmission. Since we already knew it was just the transmission, we replaced it instead of buying another car with a host of potential problems. Good luck with your car!

    • Jenni says

      I agree – even when the cost of repairs exceeds the value of your car, it can still be worth it to repair it because you know the history of your own car, and buying another car may be buying another set of problems. We have a 92 Accord that was worth about $1800, and we had to pay about $1500 in repairs recently, but we’re hoping that it will last us for the next few years.

    • Jen says

      My husband’s philosophy is to compare the cost of repairs to cost of replacement, not the value of a vehicle. That is the real comparison.

      • Dani says

        I disagree unless you are comparing the repairs to the replacement, along w/ a good estimate for any problems that could occur with the replacement.

  5. Elias says

    I’m sorry your van plan did not work out. I know how frustrating that can be. I hope your car efforts pay off soon! I also want to add that I love this monthly post. For some reason it helps motivate me a little to stay on our goals. It feels like a report card. Ha!

    Since my last post, we’ve been able to catch up on all of our bills and have a little extra since we had to play catch up due to hospital stays and sick pay. We have over $1000 in the bank but initial tuition for preschool in September will eat about half. I’ve been couponing better, staying home a lot more, and my husband’s been working overtime.

    So my goals of success from last month were to coupon better, catch up on bills and build an emergency savings. Check, check check. We did it! I am feeling more than relieved and I’m very proud at how focused my husband has been. We’ve been rooting each other on which is new for us.
    My 5 year old is doing better. I think he’s starting to understand that the toys wont’ be arriving until Christmas. It’s been a hard adjustment for him.

    The only downside has been staying home so much. We’ve been declining invites a lot and with the heat being so bad, the park isn’t much fun so it doesn’t leave many free things for us to do. The kids get bored and fight a lot. The kiddie pool and sprinklers have lost their novelty so it’s been TV, playdoh and a lot of dress up. Thankfully school starts next week. I also miss my husband since he’s working a lot but I tell myself our 2 year plan isn’t forever. I miss my salon hair but I just tell myself practice makes perfect. I’ll get the look I want doing it myself eventually. :)

    • Christy says

      We know all about declining invites. It has been hard to make close friends because of this. Some friends of ours are going to an event in a few weeks. They say, “Oh, it’s only $10 a ticket.” But they want to go out to dinner first. We calculated that 2 tickets, dinner, and a sitter would be at least $100, so we are declining. We decline a lot of adult only invites because sitters are so expensive!

      As far as kiddie events, we are lucky to have a pool in our neighborhood. We also buy Waterpark passes every summer with my son’s birthday money (expensive yes, but he certainly doesn’t need more toys with his money). We also live near the beach and buy a $35 pass every year to use the County Parks. They have 3 beach parks, so we can park for free there with our pass (usually $7). The pass gets us a lot more perks throughout the year (it is a large county park system) so we make our money back and then some. And McDonald’s playground can be relatively cheap (just buy a drink, or use one of the many freebie/BOGO coupons they have out for smoothies, coffees, etc.). and the ones near us are indoor (a/c). Also trips to the library can be fun and a/c.

      • says

        Yeah Elias! I have been thinking about you since you last posted awesome job! I love how you and your hubby are rooting each other on!

        As far as babysitting goes, I am babysitting right now! (Don’t worry, the baby is asleep!) My sister-in-law and I are trading off babysitting for each other so we don’t have to pay to go out. I also have friends that do that with each other. We would NEVER go out without it.

  6. says

    “…moving forward in the right direction is always better than standing still or going backwards!”

    Thanks for saying this. It’s exactly the kind of encouragement I needed this morning. I stay at home with our boys, and do a little freelance writing/editing on the side to help supplement my husband’s income. Ten percent of everything I make doing that goes into a savings fund so that I’ll be able to buy my own laptop eventually. Some days, it seems the savings is going very slowly, and it will take years before I’ve reached my goal. But you’ve reminded me that every little bit counts. Thank you!

  7. says

    Oh, we’ll join in on the car sagas. We were able to pay cash for a car right before we were married a little over 2 years ago. It’s been a blessing, but we totalled it this summer over vacation. Since it was still drivable (in our opinion) we worked with the insurance company to keep it. It’s currently sitting in the driveway waiting on some new headlights and a new driver side mirror. We can live with dents and scratches. We’re happy this is something we can do ourselves. And we’re also thankful we have good insurance coverage to help with some of these repairs. God is good, even through lives “inconveniences.”

    • Danielle B says

      During my junior year in highschool my mom “totalled” her car. My dad bought it from her for about $200 (they’re divorced) and rebuilt the front of it by himself. It was still smashed up, but the car ran wonderfully with no problems for the next four years. The transmission eventually died on it because of how many miles were on it, so Dad sold it for $200 for parts. He got out of it what he paid into it, plus four years worth of driving. :-) One man’s junk is another man’s treasure!

  8. Kathryn Mills says

    Wow…sounds really close to us. We’re expecting our first child and really wanted to get a vehicle with better safety ratings. We are Dave Ramsey people, and know we would need to pay cash. But in order to make the new car happen, we would have to use every ounce of our 3-6 mo savings. So we decided to hold on to the car we have. Then the stupid car started having problems – tires, brakes, rotars, drive belt, fuel filter, and alternator. Really, car?? Thank goodness for the emergency fund. We fixed the bare minimum for now, and will deal with the rest later while we put every extra penny aside for a new (used) car. Thanks for sharing your story – helps us know that we’re not the only ones! :)

  9. Denise says

    Cars can be so discouraging!! But we can’t and wont do a payment. So we fix, patch, repair and duct tape until it just wont hold anymore. My DH says my dad is a “Bondo Artist” lol! You’re doing great to still be making progress on your goals – awesome job!!

  10. theresa says

    hip hip hooray! we are down to only a modest mortgage (on the funky foreclosure we bought last year) and have made good progress on getting our emergency fund done, so we are doing a cash-only kitchen remodel next month! when a friend who does kitchen remodeling for a living offered us 4 days of his time at whatever rate we could afford (yes, he is extremely kind and yes, our kitchen is that gross) we jumped at the chance! i found fabulous wood mode cabinetry at 90% off and am happy with the appliances we put in last year, so i am expecting to do the whole thing for about 2% of the value of our home (average recommended is b/w 10 and 20%) – i would never have dreamed of doing a whole kitchen remodel (well, i am keeping one window) – the Lord Jesus has been so kind to me! this time last year, we had just started doing the dave ramsey thing and i thought we would never slog our way our of the hole we had dug – but thanks be to God, who meets my every need and does above and beyond what i could ask or think!

  11. shannon says

    Thanks for this post. I know you all are just human and things do go wrong in your lives. Just good to hear about it, cause sometimes I read your blog and think….’how nice, everything just goes the way they plan it.’. Knowing it is not true, but just the ‘blog’ perception I get.

    I feel like our goals are so scattered. Some months my husband can bring in extra money and other months he can’t. It helped last month when I finally sat down and put a dollar amount on paper of what I would like to have in our savings, in our retirement and extra toward our mortgage by the end of the year. We just might hit those numbers! My husband gets paid every 2 weeks, which means twice a year he gets an extra paycheck (there are 2 months each year with 5 Friday’s in it and September is one of those months!!!) I figured that if we continue with our extra money toward mortgage and can put one of his extra paychecks as a once a year extra payment, we can have the house paid off in 10 years (instead of 22 years). That is motivating. So anyone, if your financials goals are just in your head, put them on paper…it really helps!

  12. says

    I totally feel your tire pain. My tire had two nails last month, one in the tread and one in the sidewall so I to needed to get a new tire. To make the whole matter even more inconvenient my tire needed to be ordered (it’s an odd size and no one stocked it) so I had to wait two days before I could get it replaced. It was a struggle, but I really tried to keep it in perspective that it was a relatively minor problem to have compared to the burdens that some people have.

    Here is my financial update for the month.

  13. Sarah Richardson says

    I am sure you know this- but I thought I would share just in case.

    I use Discount Tires and if there is a nail/bolt/whatever in your tire that causes it to go flat- they replace it for free.

    Hope you have a similar deal. It costs nothing extra and is just a service they offer. I am sure other places offer similar deals.

  14. says

    So would saving for a replacement for your van be #11 on the list? I was surprised to see it wasn’t on the list at all, considering the recent issues.

    We paid cash for a new (used) car for my husband this month, who has been limping along in his old car for several years–it was time and we had the savings allocated for it because we knew the time was coming, but were determined to use his old car as long as we could!

    We were going to redo some landscaping in our yard this year (it’s over 30 years old and needs major HELP!), but then the basement flooded this spring so we had to replace carpet and furniture down there instead, which we have been slowly working on all summer (paying cash, of course!). So we’ll wait until next year (or maybe two more years?) for the yard–thank goodness we have a privacy fence around the backyard!

    • says

      It’s not on the list at all right now because we have one reliable vehicle (my husband’s car that we bought last year) and, if the van goes out (or becomes a money pit), we’re just going to go back to being a one-car family for the time being.

      At this point, we’re hoping the money we put into the van this month will give it at least 1-2 more years of life, if not much longer. It only has 117K miles on it, so it should have quite a bit of life left.

  15. says

    We finished paying off our last credit card at the beginning of this month, and are SO excited because we’d decided to reward ourselves with our first ever family vacation after we paid off the card! We are going to Orlando next month (paying with cash of course), and will time at Disney World, the beach, etc. Having this reward in mind has helped us to stay motivated and on track even when we thought about giving up or spending extra money that we didn’t need to spend – we’d picture our trip and put that money towards paying off the credit card instead!

    This is one of the first times I’ve had good enough news to share on your monthly updates, but I really enjoy reading them – thanks for the encouragement!

  16. Lana says

    We bought a 2005 Chevy Venture minivan for cash from my parents this month. When they buy a new car they offer the old one to the kids for what they would get in trade. This will allow us to downsize vehicles as I am still driving a Suburban that we had when we still had 4 of our kids at home. Now it is only 2 in the summer time so the big vehicle is such a waste for us. We paid $8500 cash for the Suburban 6 years ago and it is still worth $7-8000 in our area! We paid $4000 for the minivan and I thought we would tuck away a nice big chunk of money from the trade until our son had emergency surgery to remove his appendix this week—glad that God has provided the means to pay all the bills from that though!

  17. says

    This month was PACKED with expenses, but we were able to take care of the expected and unexpected. I love the quote about “emergencies turning into inconveniences.”

    This month:
    -We paid cash for our daughter’s new bedroom set
    -Paid cash for a new freezer (woohoo!!!)
    -Paid cash to get a solar system installed, which will drop our electricity bill by around 80%! (This was a long-term investment, but something we felt was worth it.)

    Now that those “big goals” are out of the way, we’re going to start rebuilding our emergency fund, and hope no more “inconveniences” come our way anytime soon :)

  18. says

    I drive an 2001 Honda Accord and I’m 25, debt free, and people don’t get it why I spend money to fix my car and not buy another one since I’m young and debt free.

    I just spent $700 on repairs, but I figure that’s the equivalent of 2 car payments. It hurt a lot… but I know it’ll extend the life of the car for as long as I want to drive it… which is another few years when I want to trade up.

    Plus, spending the money keeps the car in good shape. The way I look at it, if I wanted to sell it just because I didn’t want to have to pay to maintain it, I wouldn’t get as much for it anyway. May as well get it fixed and drive it awhile longer so that I can sell it in good shape or get more for a trade-in.

    Unless my car puts me in danger driving it (someone I know, her brakes failed and scared her to death- I don’t blame her for getting rid of the car in that case), I’m keeping it around.

    • Sarah says

      We have a 1999 Honda Accord with 290,000 miles on it. It is my husbands commuter car. We don’t have the cash available for a new (used) car but with the help of my hubby’s brother who is a mechanic we will be able to get the transmission, new belts, new motors for the windows on the front driver side and passenger side with cash for far less than we expected! Heavenly Father is definitely smiling on us!! I dont blame you for fixing your Accord and keeping it. Hondas have always been good to us! And great for you to be debt-free! That is so awesome and a goal that we strive for!

      • says

        We have a 93 Accord with 250K on it. I wouldn’t trade that thing for anything! It takes a licking and keeps on ticking, lol. If we ever do trade up it will be for another Accord. Love that car! No one understands why we keep it!

  19. says

    I’m totally in the same place – I’m just glad we are moving forward and not standing still or going backwards (though I sometimes feel like we aren’t moving forward). We had training for our overseas mission work, which meant we couldn’t work for 2 weeks and there have been lots of doctor bills, but our savings allowed the bills to be paid and we are still hoping to be debt free by September! :) Here’s our update:

  20. Debbie says

    Crystal, our pay down the mortgage goal continues, but not as intense because we are technically a “no income” family during the summer months. We have paid $18,722.38 towards the principal in eight months. Once we resume work in September, my (ours) goal is to reach the $30K mark by December 31st, 2011. We also paid the first installment of our son’s fall college tuition using cash. My son has gone through 3 1/2 years of college without incurring any debt. So that you know, we have not neglected our retirement to fund a college education.

  21. says

    I understand the car dilemma.

    My husband just got a new job (wahoo!), so he no longer has a company car (boo). We really wanted to buy a 5-year old SUV, but we couldn’t really pay cash, so we opted for a 2005 Ford Taurus. Not very cool, but NO payments!

    And, it was a good thing we decided to be responsible because we just came home from vacation with a flat tire (need two new ones) AND a leak in the bathroom (home insurance deductible to pay). Ouch!

  22. says

    Our goals changed dramatically this year when 2 of our kids told us they were going to get married. It has been a great year, and we have fully funded the wedding expenses with cash and have not debt from them. We had hoped to have a lot more put down on our mortgage, but that isn’t going to happen this year. I guess you just have to be flexible when things come up and adjust your goals!

  23. LAURA_IN_TX says

    We had a tire puncture this week too! And had to replace the whole tire but luckily, we bought the tire at Sam’s Club and it was replaced free (with $15 installation, disposal, etc fee). It would have cost us $217 for the new tire (Michelin truck tire). Whew… that ended up paying off for us!

  24. Julie says

    Can you recommend any online calculators that can help determine the money needed for college in x-number of years? We have three small children, the first is entering kindergarten this year. We have been putting small amounts in a savings account for each child monthly, but would like to put some larger sums yearly.

  25. Danielle B says

    Right now we’re tickled that we’re keeping our heads above water.

    Our goals through the end of August:
    Finish catching up the last two bills that are past due.
    Start putting $20/week into savings so we can pay for a repair on our car. We just hit the 200,000 mile mark! :-)

    We are looking at an unexpected move due to my husband’s soon-to-be promotion, but we’ve been able to push that back until the end of October. September and October’s energies will be solely focused on that move.

  26. says

    Oh my goodness! We had a similar experience with our old car recently. We were holding on to it as long as possible until we could save enough to pay cash for a different car. We kept putting “just a little” more into it in hopes that it would last for another 6 months or until we could get our money back out of the repairs. Finally, and thankfully, the old thing died right in front of a junk car sales lot and they gave us cash for it without having it towed. We were heading to get tires for it the next day.

    God provided for all our needs and repairs during that time and we were able to find a great deal on a used car by waiting just a few more weeks.

  27. Julie in IN says

    Crystal, What type of vehicle do you dream of driving someday? Do you see yourself having more children someday?

    I’m a color and cut my hair at home kind of gal and enjoy driving a nicer used vehicle (paid cash, of course!) that comfortably fits our family of 9.

  28. Kassandra Wood says

    Crystal, That is the EXACT order in which our 1999 Chrysler Town and Country deteriorated. The rear blower went, we replaced it. The heater coil went, we replaced it. The tires were bad, we replaced all 4 of them. The radiator leaked, so we replaced it. The transmission went (and against the advice of family and friends) we spent $1500 on another one. Six weeks later, the motor blew. Unfortunately, we found out after all of the costly repairs that those issues were quite common in much older Town and Country minivans. :( I am hoping and praying your situation is different, Crystal. I am praying for years and years with your van. Let’s hope God’s blessings will prevail!

  29. Jessica says

    At the end of July I moved 35 miles closer to work. I decreased my drive by 30 minutes and 20 miles one way. While I am trilled to be closer to work and my quailty of life has improved, there have been some bumps.

    My budget was turned upside down and had to be re-written when I had to change cell phone and internet companies. Additionally, the AC was not functioning properly in my new rental unit and I spent a week “working” with the owners to get it fixed. During that time the AC didn’t cycyle but with record high’s I couldn’t just leave it off.

    The move was very stressful and resulted in some major unexpected expenses so now I am working to re-pay off a credit card. With all the issues of late I am not touching my emergency fund and will just work to pay off my card.

    The good news is after a few stressful weeks, some major reasearch and lots of phone calls asking questions I have been able to maximize discounts with the new cell company, correct a billing mistake with the new internet company and my AC is fixed. Additionally I am seeing substaincial savings in gas and car related expenses.

  30. says

    We have eight- and ten-year-old cars, and we’re sincerely hoping that they keep going for many more years to come! The ten-year-old one has almost 150K miles on it and still going strong! The eight-year-old has something like 80K on it, so it’s just a youngster in comparison.

    As for my financial update, we paid for a lot of summer expenses and home repairs out of pocket, so we weren’t able to make a lot of headway toward our goal of paying off our home equity line of credit. But we didn’t go into any more debt, either. So that is good. I’ve already listed some unneeded items on eBay and am planning to list a lot more in the coming weeks, so that should provide some more money to put toward the goal.

  31. Tarah says

    I think, unless the frame is going to rust out, it’s always better to fix a car than buy a new one, unless you want to afford it. If you don’t like paying the prices at a regular shop, you may want to see if there’s a mechanic you know and trust that will do side work, usually for half of what you would pay a shop. Also, used transmissions and engines are usually very reliable and the junk yards test them first to make sure they’re running well. I just had to put my two cents in, as a mechanic’s wife. :)

  32. Jennifer Lutz says

    Thanks for sharing. We aways do the best we can to be good stewards and yes, now is a good time to be thankful for emergency funds. We can’t always see the future, or even know if we’ve made the best financial decision, but we CAN always be thankful!

  33. Denise C. says

    So far I’m (we’re) doing much better with frivolous spending. Target trips are twice a month, unless there is something that is on sale that we need. Groceries I’m still working on, I did a big shopping today spending $290. We were out of EVERYTHING. Our poor pantry had a can of chicken stock, and a lone box of cereal. I was thrilled to see a “manager’s special” on boneless skinless turkey breasts, marked down to $2! I bought 4 for differennt dinners! :) Best of all, we were able to move $750 to our savings last pay period!!!!! :) I’m still trying to break my Starbucks habit, I don’t go daily, but more than I should.

  34. says

    Wow, great job! You can read my update, here:

    Last month we payed off our car loan and on top of the credit card debt we finished paying off earlier this year, I’m super happy. In 2.5 years we have paid off 38,000 in debt!

    We are hoping to pay off another 40 ,000 in the next few years and be debt free (including the house) in the next 7 by the time my hubby turns 35.

  35. Karen says

    When our transmission went out on our van we called around for estimates on a new one. One place told us they rebuilt transmissions and their quote was over $1000.00 cheaper than the other places that put in new (factory rebuilt) transmissions. The transmission came with a warranty that actually added value to our van. Our van was 10 years old at the time. The month after we got the transmission rebuilt, my husband hit a deer on the way to work. The value of the warranty made the difference between the insurance company totaling/not totaling our van. It lasted til last Nov when we decided we had to trade it in. It was definitely worth the money to get the transmission rebuilt at the time!

  36. says

    I didn’t read all the comments so maybe I am just repeating, but I don’t think you made a mistake putting off your van purchase! I think our society has something of a throw-away mentality that can end up costing us more in the long run. While the van repairs were probably a pain, it probably cost a lot less than the thousands you’d shell out for a new van.

    We’ve had really good luck with our vans. Our last one made it to 300,000 miles and was still going strong, but it was starting to make us nervous. Our current van has 210,000. I’m not sure how old yours is, but hopefully it has miles and miles left in it!

  37. Rachelle says

    I’m curious how to find out how much to put in an account to start with, and figuring out how much you will then end up with if you leave it to acquire interest. Once you knew how much you wanted to give your kids at 18, how did you figure out how much to put into the accounts now?

  38. Brooke says

    Awesome progress! And I totally agree with just dealing with those car issues, my 36 mth old (to me) $4000 cash car decided it wanted a new transmission this week…..also the same week we had some hefty unexpected legal expenses….also the same week we decided to *finally* start making offers on houses. Thank GOD for emergency funds! I really don’t know what we would be doing if we were as unprepared as we were just a few short years ago- any one of these things could have derailed us for months! I figure, at an average car payment of $300/mth we have already gotten more than our $ worth for this vehicle, and the $1600 that it will cost to fix it will be worth it even if it only runs for another 8 months- but I’m very confident and hopeful that it will go another couple of years!

    I have only a few people that I can thank for this situation working out for us and that is God, Dave Ramsey, and YOU!! Thank you for being so inspirational, encouraging, and REAL! :)

  39. says

    Hi Crystal-great job this month!

    I hear you on the van. We have one that keeps breaking down, has no air (for the 5th time in 3 years), and whose transmission we replaced last summer. Everyone keeps telling us to replace it but we haven’t saved enough yet. I am so thankful that we didn’t listen to wordly wisdom or give in to our frustrations with the van because my husband recently lost his job and the last thing we need right now would be a car payment.

    By the way, thanks to sites like this and Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, we became debt-free last summer. It is so freeing to know that we don’t have a bunch of debt hanging over our heads during this lean time. It is still hard but it’s not unbearable.

    I am linking to a post on my blog that is not a financial goal update persay, but rather a list of all the ways God has been blessing us during this time. I am a SAHM and I homeschool my 4 kids so my husband’s income is all we have. Every time I am tempted to get down or discouraged or have a pity party for myself, all I have to do is read this list and I am completely overwhelmed with God’s grace, faithfulness, mercy and goodness to our family. We are so blessed! I hope that some of your readers will be blessed by reading it!

    • Heather Finnegan says

      Hey there Chick, I am a SAHM and my husband lost his job last year. We have 2 kids, and though I was a teacher I don’t homeschool. My words to you are ones of encouragement. My family of 4 lives just outside Chicago and THRIVED on only 35K last year! My hubby found a part time job and was able to receive unemployment. God will provide your needs!!!! Oh and I should mention, we have a mortgage and 9 months (as of today) of my van to pay off. We are current on all of our bills and we are not in debt! God is an AMAZING provider!!!! I know as you follow His lead He will take great care of you. Prayers and Blessings!!!!!

  40. Brooke says

    I’m looking for the best cashback program to sign up with. Any recommendations?! Also, when you order online, can you order through more than one website at a time?
    Thanks so much!

  41. says

    We just paid off our car loan, two years early! My husband has 5 more months of school left before he graduates with his nursing degree so we’ll be living pretty tight until then, but it’s great to have one monthly expense permanently eliminated.

  42. Guest says

    I think of that quote ALL the time! (inconveniences, not emergencies) We were supposed to pay off one my car (so both would be paid for – no credit card debt but we did have one last car payment) and then my husband had to have his clutch, compressor and brake pads replaced. It was $1,100 so that was a bummer BUT I’m still hopeful that we’ll pay off my car still. It will be within $200 so we’ve just got to stay on task!

  43. says

    This has been an exciting week for The Thrifty Couple! Why? Because after getting ourselves foolishly into over $100K of consumer debt soon after we were married (we were definitely the non-thrifty couple at that time), finally paying off the remaining $85K of that in just over 3 1/2 years in April 2010, we just hit our next milestone – that of bringing me home to work full-time on my own ventures (bye bye corporate world!), be with the family full-time, and of course continue being half of The Thrifty Couple! :)

    Yes, this was the first week of the rest of our lives! It has been an exciting and eventful first week! But God is good and we are thankful for His provision.

    We are always thankful for you and your site. We pray that you will continue to meet your goals as well! Have a wonderful day and welcome back from your vacation!

  44. Emilie says

    I thought car reapirs were a budgeted item, not an inconvience or an emergency? I have added that to my payday sheet and we are putting away for repairs. just a thought.

    Congrats on the amt of debt you have gotten rid of…I know there is hope for my family! thanks for the great blog!

  45. Gina says

    I don’t know, Crystal. I think I would really pray about going ahead and getting a reliable car. Not a new one necessarily, just one that would be reliable and one that your husband could fix himself if he had to. If the bottom falls out of the dollar, your kids’ savings won’t be worth much anyway, and then if your van does completely die on you, you may be in a real pickle. :( With this economy, I’d rather have my tangible items in good working order than to have the money in the bank. With little ones especially, you need to make sure you can get around without worrying if your vehicle is going to fall apart on you. You don’t want to end up stuck on the side of the road. It’s just not safe. :(

    I don’t mean to be a discouragement to you. That’s just the way I tend to think, especially with the world the way it is: Safety above savings. 😉

    • Wendy says

      I think so too Gina. My sister has been holding on to her Toyota for years because “it runs good.” It had over 200,000 miles on it. Two weeks ago, it left her stranded. That’s the first time that’s happened to her. Luckily she did not have her kids with her, but it scared her. Now she’s looking for a more reliable vehicle and the Toyota is parked in her yard. It’s not worth getting stranded or possibily causing an accident if a major problem happens on the road. Sometimes I think you just have to bite the bullet and spend money for safety reasons.

  46. says

    Looks like this was the week for tire repairs. We came home from a vacation road trip to a flat tire. This was the catalyst to replace all four of our tires (our van is 11 yrs old and all the tires were due for replacement — we were planning on this already for the fall but just bumped it up a bit). We’re trying to make this van last for a few mores years and the money we put in tires (and brake work earlier this year) is still way less than a new van. My plan for this week is to spiff up the van — clean, detail and shampoo the rugs. It will feel like new!

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