Month Zero Status Report: Let’s get Started! 

Month Zero Status Report…

It’s not even the New Year yet, but I’m so excited to get started that I’m writing this early. I plan to do one of these updates per month. Even though it’s month zero, I am pleased to have made some progress already, despite all the Christmas spending!

Current Goal: Payoff $30,000 in 2018. Raise credit score to 700.

Progress to Date: Paid off $1,134.

Remaining to Pay Off in 2018: $28,866.

Current Credit Score: 618.

For consistency I am checking my balances at the end of each month. I will be paying a personal loan off first in effort to eliminate the high payment in case something happens to my ability to generate extra income by working overtime. Then I will move on to five credit cards, paying them off one at a time from smallest to highest balance. Then finally I will begin tackling the first of our 3 private student loans. 


Something inside of me has Changed!

I think I reached a pivotable point in my life today or maybe yesterday. You see…I haven’t spoken much about my career thus far, other than I’m 32 years old and an engineer. For the past 12 months, I’ve been feeling slighted by my employer.

My former supervisor unexpectedly retired last year. He was the only reason I ever went to work for this company. It’s a very politically driven career field since it’s a small town municipality. And since I’m not from around here, I needed his support. For three years he took me under his wing and introduced me to everyone he could to help me succeed. He made sure I got paid well and was training me to take his place one day. He was not only my boss but one of my biggest cheerleaders in life. Other than my husband, he’s the only person who has helped me to see my real potential. And he wasn’t college educated.  He was what you call “street smart”.

He would tell me all the time that he never thought he would ever hire a woman. He was afraid that he would have to watch his mouth as he often spoke with profanity. He was afraid he wouldn’t be able to work with a woman without hurting her feelings. Basically, he was very old school, small town mentality…but I was able to convince him that I’m not easily offended and that my husband never met a curse word he didn’t like. It’s true. I had a history of working for difficult men and my father is bipolar so I’ve heard him say offensive things my whole life. None of that bothered me. Over time it was like he began to look at me like the daughter he never had. He has one son and that guy is his greatest joy in life, after work and before his wife.

My old boss poured a lot of time into me. He would tell me that I’m going to be the first female GM of our utility one day. He encouraged and told me I was smart and well spoken. He explained to me that I needed to be careful at work, that the others would become jealous and intimidated by me. He was a master of getting people to do what he wanted. He would stay up at night and think about work and plan his schemes. His motives were good but his tactics were not always what you would call “professional”.  He worked all the time. Along the way though, he probably got a little too power happy and would exercise too much control on his guys. His counterpart/worst enemy was gearing up to challenge him to be the next GM.

For whatever reason (I suspect under some pressure) my boss removed himself from the equation. The “other guy” got promoted to Assistant GM and about 4 months later, I found out that I would not be getting my old boss’s position. They split my old boss’s duties between me and the former lead foreman. Basically our jobs didn’t change much at all. But the other guy got a much better financial and power gain than I did.

So why did they split it? I believe it’s mostly because I’m a woman. Our department needs one manager, not two equal managers. Now one of us (me) is responsible for results. And one of us (him) is responsible for assigning work. So how can I get results if I have no control over the people? The other two reasons I didn’t get the promotion is because 1) I’m not from around here and 2) because my old boss brought me here (and they are angry at him). Strangley enough, my old boss’s enemy (the guy who got promoted to Assistant GM) had a pretty bad stroke just a few weeks after delivering the news to me that I would be getting only a half promotion. And he was forced to retire early.

Honestly it sucks to be discriminated against. I have a Master’s Degree in Engineering. I thought I was entitled to the position. I also thought I was the best person for the job because I have the best understanding of the rules and regulations we must adhere to. But you know what???

Honestly, I can actually let go of the bitterness now. I am no longer going to work solely to keep up with the rat race! I’m going to work to buy assets!!! And those assets are going to generate income. And over time, this job won’t matter any more.

You see, after getting knocked off my high horse, I have spent my last several months working my butt off trying to help our company take it to the next level technologically. They didn’t have a clue how to get to where I’m taking us. Basically I’ve been channeling all my energy into doing a good job thinking that this would build my resume and allow me to get a better job somewhere else. The people I work for are not intelligent enough to understand the value I bring to the table. I am extremely proud of the work I am doing and am constantly meeting with different people in our company to encourage them and further sell them on my vision. We are a governmental non-profit but I still want us to the the best we can be. I get sense of pride from seeing my company succeed and it’s very hard for us to succeed when the mayor and councilmen largely control who we hire and who gets promoted.

I’m still going to work hard and do the best I can, but my “why” has changed. I will focus on eliminating my liabilities and begin buying assets in 3 years. I want to stop working for money and begin to build a portfolio that allows our money to work for us. The good Lord has blessed me with talents and a lot of motivation. I just didn’t see what he was preparing me for.

We will not fail. We will get us out of consumer debt. We will start to build assets and eliminate liabilities. We will become rich and wealthy in less time than I ever thought possible. My husband has been trying to tell me this for years. Only now have I realized that fear was holding me back from believing in his vision.

It’s about more than a Black Friday TV…

My sister called me the day after Black Friday to brag about buying a new iPhone and Smart TV after waiting in line at Wal-Mart for 3+ hours with her 8-year-old son. Now, for a little back story, my sister is a single mom. She has a Masters Degree in Social Work and makes about $30,000 per year. Her biggest expenses are her mortgage on her ~$89,000 home, her car payment and her son’s private school tuition. On top of that she has a revolving line of credit for various lawyer expenses over the years with her abusive ex-boyfriend/baby daddy, a credit card that she usually pays off with her tax return and a fair amount of student loan debt which she plans to get forgiven after 10 years. She makes enough to get by and spends every other dollar on shopping and going and doing things with her son (like seriously they go to the movies almost every weekend).

She probably thinks becoming wealthy just isn’t in the cards for her (my parents didn’t either). So therefore, she doesn’t think beyond the current paycheck. Most people don’t. I didn’t. 

Now I don’t mean to put her down. I could have told the exact same story about my cousin, brother, best friend…or myself just a few years ago! All of them are pretty well content with living poor or at best lower middle class. I just feel like at this point in my life I’m not really a credible source for financial advice and she doesn’t take my advice even when she asks for it. If she did, she wouldn’t have that car payment she is struggling to pay.

What is she giving up by getting that TV? It’s not about one purchase, but more the way of thinking. You see, when I asked her why she bought the TV she answered that there was nothing wrong with the TV she had in her living room but she “wanted a smart TV.” So, this new TV which she is so excited about is now sitting in her living room, the old one was moved to her bedroom, and the old one from her bedroom is moved to her son’s room. Of course, he already had one, so now she has an extra to get rid of. Why did she buy the iPhone? Well, that was to replace her son’s iPod which he dropped in the toilet by accident. That iPod had been his second one after the first one had been stolen from her unlocked car while they were watching a movie at the local theatre.

I wish she knew what I knew. By always buying “stuff”, she will never be rich. Poor people spend their money on “stuff. Middle Class people spend their money on financed cars, boats, recreational vehicles, vacations, etc. Rich people invest their money to make it work for them (businesses, real estate, stock market, etc.).

I want to be rich. I want to be rich so bad that I’m willing to sacrifice for the next 3 years to payoff consumer debt once and for all. Once that is gone, my husband and I are going to slowly begin investing in real estate. I am a big believer in Dave Ramsey’s plan for helping people get out of debt. However, my husband and I think more along the lines of Rich Dad, Poor Dad as far as how to build legacy wealth.

Mark my words…We will be out of consumer debt by age 35 and student loan debt by age 40. In addition we will have purchased up to four rental properties by age 40. When we retire, we will be millionaires! 

2018…Time to get Serious about Debt! 

How I plan to payoff $30,000 in consumer debt in one year! 

Simply speaking, I feel like this is my last chance to gain financial freedom. And for the first time I think I am fed up enough to make it happen. I’ve been binging on Dave Ramsey and Millennial Money Man Community lately. I need to hear those success stories over and over again. I also need to hear from those fighting the same battle with debt as me so I don’t feel so alone at this. 

I’m on track to earn $130K in 2017 and our net worth didn’t improve one cent. In fact we went further in the hole when we financed another vehicle. But I can’t focus on overall net worth right now. I’ve divided this elephant up into one bite I can tackle at a time.

My first goal (which I’ve already started since getting back to work) is to pay off a personal loan I have through Lending Club. Today I still owe about $10,250 and I plan to pay this off by April 2018. Then I will knock out five different credit cards and then start tackling our first private student loan (the one my mom co-signed for my husband years ago when we were trying to consolidate debt). 

I’m going a little out of order because the lending club loan has such a large payment. Its nearly $500 a month! Also, if I pay it down, I have no danger of running it back up. So once I pay that off, the credit cards should go really fast.
I’m working tons of hours. I’m going to work 2 hours early five days a week and working 4-6 hours on Saturdays. My goal is to sell back at least 42 hours every two weeks (each hour of overtime is multiplied by 1.5). 

I’m also getting really good at freezer meals. And we are doing better about our spending. Now the hard part begins, paying it all off a little at a time. 

I made a cool graph of thermometers to track progress on each of the debts I am working on this year. I hung it up on our freezer and plan to color it in once per month to help stay motivated. I’ll keep you posted as well. 

Baby #3’s Birth Story 

It has been a few weeks since I last posted due to the birth of our newest daughter. Financially, this was a setback so there really hasn’t been much to report on the debt snowball progress. My next post will mark the official restart of our debt snowball, but today’s post is all about the birth of our newest addition.

E’s Birth Story…

So I’m so excited to tell you that I gave birth to our sweet little girl September 18th, 2017. It was our 3rd child but first one that needed an induction. I’ve never heard of this before so I wanted to share my experience with a “natural induction”.

After hearing we had low fluids six days after the baby’s estimated due date, I felt very upset and disappointed that my body wasn’t working right. At 2cm and 50% effaced, I wasn’t progressing. I had no problems delivering my first two babies on time with no interventions. The midwife explained that I would need some ripening and provided two options for me: cervidil or the Foley bulb. I went with the Foley bulb because it is a physical thing (rather than chemical and had a high probability of working especially since I’d had two prior vaginal births).

I had the bulb (which is like a water balloon that widens the cervix) placed at the doctors office and checked into the hospital at 1pm. I finally got the thing out at 6:30pm and was having contractions by then, although not strong yet.

Next my midwife prescribed five 20-minute cycles of 10min breast pump and 10min walking. By the time I was thru that I was in very active labor with fairly strong contractions about 2 or 3 min apart.

Next I had to get in bed (8:45pm) for 30 min of fetal monitoring. By the time I was thru that I was having very intense contractions and starting to feel a lot of pressure. My midwife was called in and I allowed her to break my water. A couple good contractions later our baby was born at 9:48pm.

Within a few minutes, she was nursing like a champ and I couldn’t have been happier with the way things turned out!

Reluctant to Keep a $500 Emergency Fund

I heard Dave Ramsey say recently that the people that have the hardest time getting out of debt are not the ones that are new to his principles (like the people who recently discovered his plan). It’s the ones that have know all the right things to do all along and just haven’t done them. I should know as I’ve listed to him since I was in college.

 Guilty…My first instinct every time I get a paycheck is to get by on just a little cash, ignore purchases that we need to make but don’t want to, and pay as much as I can on Debt. My motivation is that I’m sick and tired of being in debt and I want to rid as much as I can. However, my tactic may not be the smartest.

As an engineer, I’m very analytical and my rules are black and white. I absolutely struggle with understanding the emotional and behavioral issues that hinder our ability to get out of debt.

I am about to give birth to our third sweet child. Her estimated due date is less than two weeks away. And I got paid today. So, what could possibly go wrong if I spend every cent of the paycheck knowing she will likely be born before I get paid again?

Today’s paycheck was $3,940. I had $22 left in the account before the deposit was made. Here is what I paid this morning: $1449 mortgage, $10 AAA Membership, $53 Home Warranty, $300 Preschool, $513 Credit Card Payments, $77 Private S.L., and $460 Federal Student Loan. I also set aside $600 for groceries, gas, baby stuff, lawn care, pet grooming and restaurants.

That leaves us a balance of $500. So, as strongly as I wish to put this toward our smallest debt…I am going to practice some serious self control and hold this amount in our savings account in case of emergencies or unexpected costs that might arise the next two weeks.

What tends to happen is we lose momentum every time an unplanned expense comes up. It’s frustrating to constantly have an empty account and not feel like we are making a lot of headway. Seems like every time we pay something off, another debt gets ran up…

What is an unplanned expense? Is it something we could have predicted or something thay we were refusing to prepare for? When the car broke down two weeks ago, should we have been better prepared? Wouldn’t the right thing to do be have an envelope for car expenses? 

Maybe I should reconsider the importance of the emergency fund…Or maybe I should hold onto more cash for things that will routinely come up?

How to be Successful Breastfeeding following a Short Maternity Leave

Baby #3 has an estimated due date of two weeks from today. I am planning to take off only 5 or 6 weeks for maternity leave this time because I don’t have as much paid time off (sick and vacation days) saved as I wish did. But also living only 2 minutes from my office makes it easier to keep up with breastfeeding during the day and allows me to get home in a hurry if I’m needed. Yes, I’m extremely blessed in this regard. 

Breastfeesing Schedule…To maintain her feeding schedule at such a young age, I plan to feed her right before I leave for work (5:45am…I will just wake her up to feed and then put her back to bed, same as I did for my first two babies), once when my husband brings her by (~9am I’ll just slip out to the parking lot for 10-15 min..and it’s no more abusive of company time than an employee taking a smoke break), once at lunch break (~1pm), and then she should be good until I get home at 5pm. Four hours is stretching it a bit for a newborn, so the first couple weeks will be an adjustment (I will add more feedings if needed). 

When I’m at home I plan to spoil her with nursing on demand. I also will bedshare with her the first six months, so she will be able to nurse on demand and cluster feed all she wants during bedtime hours. This may seem crazy to some of you, but for me it alleviates mommy guilt and allows my baby to get the most out of the time I have at home with her. We both get more sleep with this arrangement as well.

Breastfeeding is extremely important to me. Not only for the money savings and convenience but also because of the bonding and health impacts. I’ve been successful with two kids already and will make sacrifices to make it work again. I’ve never had to serve formula at all. On days where I have meetings or travel, I will be forced to pump. It’s a pain, and I should know because with my first son I had to pump three times a day at my old office. With my daughter it was much less because I had taken this new job and we moved closer to my office when she was just three months old.

So, how does Maternity Leave affect us financially? Many single income families rely on the husband’s income, so you typically see the dad only take off for a week or so (sometimes less). In our case, the single income comes from my job (the mama), and it’s extremely difficult for a new mother to take off less than 4 to 6 weeks (not to mention the doctor prescribes at least six weeks off even for an uncomplicated vaginal birth). 

As I’ve already alluded to, as a single income family, I will take off only time for which I can get paid. My public employer does not (and probably never will) offer any paid maternity leave (unless it became government mandated). 

Our plan: use the 4+ weeks I have available in sick and vacation hours. Once that is depleted, I have a bank of comp hours (240 hrs) I will pull from. This hurts us financially bc I typically rely on being able to sell these hours back every pay period (like earning overtime pay). I typically work a 50 hour work-week so I sell ask at least 10 hours a week to keep my maximum allowable bank of comp time. This is money we rely on for our debt snowball. 

As soon as I transition back to work during week 6, I will work to quickly re-establish my comp time by putting in extra hours (that’s why I work 6am-5pm). As long as baby is healthy and adjusting to her feeding schedule, this should not be too difficult.

Please pray for a healthy labor and delivery for me and my sweet daughter. I’m really looking forward to baby cuddles and a few weeks at home with my family!