Sunday, March 11, 2018

February 2018 Update: $51,581.58

Wow, February was more dramatic than I expected it to be! Taxes are always stressful to do, and one of our sons almost had to have surgery (but miraculously avoided it). Not only that, but so much has happened this month that when I was getting ready to publish this post, even more things happened which caused a delay in our monthly report. Just so you know, this debt amount is as of today, but I'm filing it under February because the student loan balance hasn't changed too much. There were also quite a number of financial blessings that we received this month which I will detail below, but first, let's get to the numbers.

This month, our total debt is now $51,581.58.  We received our federal tax return in February and  decided to fund our emergency fund instead of putting it toward debt for the time being. The main reason for this is that after some thought, we felt better about raising our emergency fund a little in the event that something ever happened with my husband's job. All is well right now, but because we are home owners and have his parents as co-signers, we felt like it was the more responsible thing to do to raise our emergency fund a bit. As we wind down the last couple of years of debt repayment we will probably put that tax return back toward debt. The cost is only about 2% interest and is worth the peace of mind it will bring us.

Good news - our van is paid off!
We did, however, use $200 of the return to pay off the remaining balance on our van! It would feel awesome save for the fact that we still have over $50K in student loans, but now we can focus entirely on those.

Of course, this past week, we heard some weird noises coming from our van and when we took it in, it looked like there were a number of repairs that needed to be done. Fortunately one expensive one was paid for by an extended warranty we had, but we were still set back by $600. We are already dipping into that extra emergency fund from the tax return, but that's okay.

A costly surgery, avoided
Earlier this past month, my son started having problems with an injury on his hand that had taken place in January. He had been sitting on a table and used his hands to lift himself off of it, and had a pencil in his hand. He accidentally stabbed himself and we took him to urgent care who gave him a few local shots and removed a piece of wood. They couldn't find anything else, and at the follow up neither could our pediatrician.

A few weeks later, though, it looked like there was in fact a large piece of lead in his hand that was trying to get out. When we consulted with our pediatrician and then a plastic surgeon they wanted to do outpatient plastic surgery with general anesthesia. Aside from the cost factor, we were against it because we weren't sure it was necessary. We were planning on seeking a second opinion when miraculously the lead came out on its own! We continued to soak his hand and watch for infection, but it has been several weeks now and his hand is healing just fine. I still cringe to think that we might have gone through an outpatient surgery that would have cost thousands of dollars in medical bills. It felt like a gift from God.

Other financial blessings
(1) Our washer has been making grinding noises and we've been told by a repair guy that the transmission is going out. Then our neighbor came by and asked us if we needed a washer because he was upgrading. For $20 (a tip to have the delivery guys haul his old washer from his basement to ours) we now have a good backup when our other washer eventually dies.

(2) I heard from a friend that a new gym was opening up that only had a $5/month membership per person if you go 12 times a month. My husband had been going to the YMCA but they charged $38 just for him. I went along with it because I knew that he needed a stress release. We both switched over to this new gym and will save over $250 a year by doing so. Not only that, but the new gym is only 4 minutes away and has massage chairs in it! I've already enjoyed having a way to get out of the house and improve my health.

(3) I received 2 free garden show tickets via my husband's friend and enjoyed an outing with a friend of mine. Then I saw on Facebook that a local gardening organization was hosting a free seed giveaway for the community. I went with my son on Saturday and got 89 packets of seeds. Most of them are old seeds from last year, but from experience I know that most of these will be viable for several more years! The retail value of these seeds is probably around $150! I was particularly delighted to find a packet of Sun-Gold cherry tomatoes which I have always wanted to grow but had a hard time finding. Again, it felt like a spiritual hug and encouragement to find an outlet once again in gardening this year.

I always forget how expensive March is. With swimming lessons and baseball to pay for, I am sure that our progress on debt will be slightly slower than it is in other months. But in the midst of this month I am looking forward to a visit from an aunt I haven't seen in 9 years. And hopefully I will be starting seeds, preparing garden beds, and working on a built in desk unit for my dining room. I would be glad if we could steer clear of any other drama but you never know. At this point, I try to cope by just taking each situation as it comes, doing the best we can, and focusing on what we can do for that month.


  1. Wow getting a vehicle paid off will make such a difference in your budget. Happy about sons getting the lead out:)

  2. That is terrific you paid off the van ! I have been plugging along with our debt - had added none to it -- then with three snowstorms back to back - our snowblower blew ! ugh ! 125 dollars to fix it (could have been worse, right?), I needed to buy my granddaughter a sweater, jacket and pack of socks for school, she dropped her water bottle and broke that (they are allowed to have water bottles in school because the water faucets tested higher than normal for lead). I had a two day closing in my daycare because the majority of my city was without power during the last storm (just a few days ago) - so the state has decided not to pay us on the contracted vouchers for my is another snowstorm, I have power, but no children came to care today. So - some money out, a drop in pay, had to cancel a side job for last saturday due to no power (babysitting) - we had no heat. Spring and warm weather can not come soon enough for me. But my husband and I have refinished several more pieces of furniture to sell at our spring yard sale (looking forward to that !). Taking it one day at a time !


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