To our new readers: We like to take a weekly trip into the land of others and learn just how they make life happen! Have you ever caught yourself asking ‘How do they do that’? It’s not a matter of comparing ourselves to the Joneses, it’s the willingness to seek knowledge and understanding so, you too, can make the choice whether or not you’re willing to do that. What trade-offs are you willing to make?
Kirsten from Indebted and In Debt is joining in the fun today!
How Do They Do That: Indebted and In Debt
1) What about retirement? Are you saving?
Yes, but not enough. We are in significant debt, so our focus is on that. But because our employer matches 3.5%, we make that contribution to our 401(k) to take advantage of the free money. Because it’s free.
That’s it, though, and I know that’s not enough.
2) How often do you vacation? Where does the money come from?
Never. We don’t have money for that. Occasionally, hub’s family will pay for airline tickets for us to see them, but our last true vacation was pre-kids. We still had our student loan payments, but we didn’t have daycare costs.
3) Are you planning for college?
Um, yes. But no. I’m *planning* to tell my girls that student loans are evil (see what I did there?) So evil, in fact, that we don’t have money set aside for their education because of our own student loan debt. I plan to start coaching them early on how to get grants and scholarships and to look at local colleges and universities to keep costs down.
4) Do you have a car payment?
Again, yes but no. We didn’t. But we moved from Texas to the very far north and brought along my rear wheel drive SUV which didn’t do well in the snow and ice. And we have a long commute with two kids that come with us. When we couldn’t even get my truck up the hill to our driveway one day, my in-laws stepped in and pledged to do a couple of years of payments on a newer, safer vehicle. They have done more than they promised, but at any time, we could become fully responsible for the payment. We will then sell the car and buy whatever we can afford with the proceeds because we do not have enough money to afford the car payment.
5) Are you house poor? What is your mortgage/rent like?
Oh my, yes we are. I recently found our mortgage is about twice the national average. We live in an expensive area but not THAT expensive. It is a 30 year loan and it is not affordable on one salary. If we sold our house and bought something half the price, it would need a ton of work because everything here is super old, so that presents other challenges and costs.
But yes, our house payment, student loan payments, and daycare are over 50% of our take home pay.
6) How do you fund Christmas?
We save for it, but it’s pretty sparse. My in-laws go overboard, so there is really no need for us to go nuts. We buy stocking stuffers and one or two special things for each person in our house. For everyone else, we try to shop on a strict budget.
7) Let’s talk Home Improvements?
I’d rather not, this is a sore subject for me… But since you asked…
All the affordable homes in our area are super old, like early 1900’s, some late 1800s. So even the really “great” homes need work that you can’t even predict. Lots of work cannot be easily undertaken by an unskilled person (you have to worry, for example, about asbestos being in tiles, plaster, etc). We do budget (in theory) for a certain amount of repairs, but for improvements, my husband turns to the Bank of Mom and Dad.
So far, in the two years we’ve owned our house, they have paid for new blinds, updated light fixtures, faux carriage house accents for our detached garage, light bulbs that are iPhone controllable (and which you have to flip on, then off, then on again…, grrrr) and probably more that I don’t know about.
8) Do you save for school clothes?
The girls are not yet in school. So far, our family usually buys them clothes as gifts and covers their wardrobe. Thank goodness we have two girls, so the baby gets lots of hand-me-downs.
9) Do you deal with college debt?
My husband borrowed over $100k for a degree that starts off paying about $16k a year. He realized that career path had a lot of problems, so he got a Master’s degree. We paid for that out of pocket. I’m an engineer, and I borrowed about $45k for my degree, but my salary is completely able to manage those payments, which are much smaller than a typical car payment.
At the start of last year, as we entered our 10th year of paying on the loans, we were at just over $100k left. But in the last year, we’ve brought that down to just under $80k. We are making progress – finally.
10) Is your emergency fund where it should be?
No. We have about $5k. If I lost my job and we kept up with our payments, that would be gone in a month.
11) Do you carry credit card debt?
Not really. We have credit cards but we are pretty good about paying it off each month.
Hubs travels internationally frequently for his job. He is able to book those trips on our cards and pay off the trip with company reimbursement. So he racks up the rewards and the company comes through to allow us to pay off the card.
12) How often do you eat out?
At least every Wednesday. We have Bible study that night at our church, which is 40 minutes away from home. There is no time to run home after work, eat, and then get to Bible study. So we eat out. When the weather warms up, I’m planning to do a picnic at a park each week that weather will support it.
13) Do you mow your own lawn and clean your own house?
We do mow our own lawn, but we hired someone to handle the snow this year. We have two small kids and my husband travels frequently for work. Since I have to get out and get to work myself, I needed someone to come shovel me out to our detached garage. I couldn’t leave a 6 month old inside while I handled that and we have no family nearby. Thankfully, we only needed the snow guy a few times this year.
We also hired some housekeepers while I started to freelance, thinking there was no way I could work full-time, freelance, and clean house. This is temporary, but it’s been nice. Hubs gets motivated to keep the house picked up before they come, so every two weeks, the house looks ok for a few days. It’s been worth it just to get my husband routinely motivated to help out.
14) Name a Frugal Fail?
The fact that I am not frugal at all 😉 If I realize one of the girls needs shoes or jacket, I will buy it new, and never make a stop at a thrift store or search Craigslist. I just want to get what I need as quickly as possible. My impatience works against frugality.
15) Your Question: Do you get an allowance?
We don’t really. There is no extra money in our budget.
Thank you so much for sharing, Kirsten! Are her kids adorable, or what?!!! Kirsten from Indebted and In Debt is a coffee lover, NASCAR enthusiast, slow runner, terrible vegan, and above all else, Christian. She is a full-time employee, wife and mother of two young girls and two really old dogs, filled with wanderlust, and consumed by debt. Kirsten and her family have been getting by because of generous family, but looking at her innocent daughter – whom she passes off to strangers five days a week – Kirsten realized this isn’t the life she wants. She’s tired of getting by and missing out on these early years. She’s ready to do something about it!
How do YOU do that?! Inquiring minds want to know about the choices you make.
Brave souls, willing to bare it all, click below:
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