Wednesday, April 27, 2016

April 2016 Debt Update - $73,998

Debt Update
It seriously feels like it was only a week or two ago that I posted our last update. I suppose that this is good in some ways - one more payment, one less to go! This month, our total debt remaining dropped to $73,997.67. These feel like the uneventful months of slowly making progress until we either get a raise or new source of income to make further progress, but even at the rate we are going we would pay off our loans several years ahead of time.

Our spending felt higher than normal - mostly due to some purchases at home improvement stores, some shoes for myself, canning jars, and some homeschooling purchases. We also had to pay for our airline tickets for an upcoming trip this summer (I will explain this one more in a later post). This meant that we went over our normal budget, but used savings from past extra paychecks to cover them. Now we need to be extra careful in what we spend until our next extra paycheck in July.

Our spending on groceries was under, but again, not by as much as I had hoped. I took a stab at making my own homemade jam and it turned out well, but of course, it was so good that we now have an issue with our boys sneaking the jam and consuming half a jar the day after it was opened. There is something psychological about having extra anything in our house - it takes twice as much effort to remind people that just because it's there doesn't mean we can eat all we want.

It is nice, though, to have 10 jars so far sitting <hidden> in our basement for the month or two to come. I struggle sometimes with trying to keep our grocery bill so low for a family or six. It's been hard lately to find motivation to eat the same thing over and over, and I crave variety that isn't always affordable. Still, we're trying to stick to our plan and I will research new recipes in the next month to see if I can change up the menu affordably.

Dental Work
This past month my husband needed some dental work, but we were shocked by the price per filling even with insurance (his total for treatment will probably be around $600). This does not include some upcoming oral surgery he will need that will cost us even more (another $1000). Then the dentist referred him to the orthodontist for a different issue, just as our oldest son is finishing his braces treatment. We have money saved up in our HSA, so hopefully this won't cut into our debt repayment plan for now.

Saving at the pharmacy
Late in this month my son's eardrum was punctured (q-tip accident :(). We were prescribed anti-biotic ear drops that would prevent infection, only to find that the eardrops cost $155 after insurance (they would have been $250 before insurance). Seriously? I asked the pharmacist if there was a better alternative, and after consulting with my brother-in-law who's a doctor, we decided to call the doctor the next day to get a different prescription. The new drops, with the same antibiotic ingredient, only without an unnecessary corticosteroid, cost much less (around $38).

What I'm grateful for
In the course of writing about what went right or wrong with our finances, I'd like to mention a few things I've been really grateful for this month. We took all four kids to the dentist to get their teeth cleaned, and I was so grateful for dental insurance that covered their cleanings at our favorite pediatric dentist. When we were in law school, I had put the kids on the state's healthcare plan, and learned about how hard it is to find good dentists on that plan. Our dental insurance is about $18/month for our whole family, and we've got way more back than we've paid.

I am also grateful that my sister and her family are moving to Texas this summer. After almost a decade in Alaska, they have finally decided to relocate within an 8 hour drive of our home. This means more trips to see my sister and her family, and hopefully chances to reconnect with my other friends in Texas!

So that's it for this month's update - how did your month go?

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