07 February 2011

Financial Summary

I was attempting to write out a multi-post series on the story of our financial journey, but I ran into a problem: it's a very long tale.  It's really only about 6 years of story, but there have been a lot of ups and downs that I think are relevant to where we are now and how we approach all things personal finance.  So instead of putting up the multi-part post right away, I'm going to summarize a bit and end with a question.

Here is where we started just after we were married:
  • ~$125,000 in student loans
  • ~$35,000 in credit card debt
  • A home mortgage in Las Vegas (go ahead, laugh...)
  • A 3 month emergency fund
  • 2 cars with no car payments
  • 2 incomes (with health insurance; one "real" job and I worked retail for another year)

Here are some bad things we've done:
  • Slipped up with the budget.  (Repeatedly.)
  • Waited months to hire a property management company for our house.
  • Paid for very expensive financial classes that were informative, but not immediately useful
  • Waited months to adjust our spending after we moved

Here are some good things we've done:
  • Adopted 2 dogs and are proactive about their health care
  • Paid ahead on our mortgages
  • Paid 50% of our student loans in 4 years (20% of the time allotted)
  • Paid off some student loans, rather than extra payments to all of them
  • Paid off all our credit cards but one (currently our pay-off focus)
  • Started retirement accounts
  • Increased our emergency fund
  • Controlled our expenses
  • Increased our income
  • Used our spare income to pay off debt
  • Negotiated with our credit card and mortgage companies (successfully!)
  • Planned ahead for our military move (on 8 weeks notice!  But this alone has paid huge dividends)
Here is where we are today:

  • ~$70,000 in student debt (we added ~$9k for me to go back to school)
  • ~$8,500 in credit card debt (the plan is for this to be gone by the end of the year)
  • A rented out house in Vegas
  • A 5 month emergency fund (which could stretch a lot further)
  • 1 car with no car payments (and half the insurance payment!)
  • 1 income (which roughly equals our 1 income + retail job income from 4 years ago)

So here's my question: what would you like to know more about?  How we cut expenses?  What order we paid off debt?  Where we are now?

Or, since I love swapping advice stories, what have you done in your situation?


  1. i'd like to hear about the bad decisions: why you decided to do(or not do) them anyways, specifically how they affected you, and what you did to fix and/or mitigate them.

    i love this summary though. mind if i copy the idea?

  2. Copy away! I can't wait to hear what you have to say.

    And I happen to think that the "what we screwed up" portion is the most interesting, mostly because I know that we did 90% of it with the best of intentions. I'll see what I can do about a post on that. :-)

  3. posted. i decided to do a series, because this is something i'm pretty passionate about and know that so many people can do better. here's the first one.