My last post for DIY Jahn was on July 1st and I talked about the American Dream – I don’t know if you remember that. If not, you can check it out here. Anyway, it’s been a long time (three months!) since I have updated you all as to what’s going on, offered you tips, or talked about saving money and minimizing. Now, it’s time for me to apologize for the long silence and begin making a comeback.
As some of you may know, I work full time, year-round as a summer camp Program Director. In case you’re wondering, yes, this does explain my absence. You see, summers are crazy busy here at camp. We serve around 425 kids per summer and it’s my job to hire the staff, recruit the campers, recruit the staff, train the staff, make sure the campers are safe, follow insurance policies and standards, build the community among staff and campers, supervise, and be there for emergency situations.
Basically – it’s a 24/7 job for about 11 weeks and then a 12/6 job for a few weeks after as I begin evaluating, cleaning up camp, and preparing for the winter season where we will welcome retreat groups and begin planning for next year. It’s now been a couple of months since camp and I am finally back in the groove of our “retreat” season (or as we usually call it, the off-season). 40 hour weeks means less stress and more time to type up a blog every now and then.
Making a Comeback – Some Recent Changes
For those of you who have been following our story from the beginning (thanks for the support, by the way, it’s very much appreciated), we have had some pretty major changes to our plans and to our living situation. Now that we’re working on making a comeback, I think it’s important to update you on these important events.
My work offers free housing to my wife and I at camp. However, if you recall the mouse incident and the other less-than-livable conditions that we were in, you knew that we needed to leave for our health. For a long time we debated buying a house. We even looked at houses in the area – we would go on long car rides and look at houses that were for sale, do research online, and even put in a request to the bank to see what a mortgage would look like.
I admit, that probably wasn’t the best decision and we soon realized that (thankfully before we actually bought a property). Why? Well, for one, what if we decide we don’t want to stay in the area that we are in at the moment? That would suck if we were owning a house, wouldn’t it? Second, we didn’t have money for a down payment. In fact, we only had a $1,000 emergency fund because all the rest had been put toward debt. We were paycheck to paycheck (by choice) so that we could throw all of our extra money toward debt.
Not only did not having money for a down payment mean a longer mortgage with PMI and higher interest rates, but it also meant we didn’t have money to fund repairs on a house that are likely to happen. Finally, we have a lot of debt – as you all know – and that means we just were digging ourselves further into a hole with even more debt (bad idea, as you may guess).
But we knew that we couldn’t continue living in the house that we were living in because it wasn’t good for our mental or physical health. So, we found a house to rent in the area and moved in. The rent is pretty high, but average for the town we live in. It means that we have a healthy place to stay, but it also means less money going toward debt.
There are possibilities of our incomes changing in the not-too-far future and we want to make sure that we have money. So, we stopped putting extra money toward debt for the time being and have started stock-piling money in case of an emergency, job loss, or income change. Our efforts have slowed down and it feels slightly discouraging, but we are working as hard as we can to create a better situation for our future selves!
Making a Comeback – Coming Up Soon
On top of these fairly big changes, we also have a lot of stuff coming up very quickly that we need to take care of. And by stuff, I mean things that cause expenses (and lots of them). In some of the Facebook groups I am apart of for budgeting, saving, and paying off debt, they call these “Murphys” – but really, we should have planned for these things, but didn’t because we were so focused on getting out of debt and had a fairly stable amount of extra money each month so we weren’t worried – which of course, changed when we had to start paying rent and utilities.
We have a really big trip coming up that we are both excited and nervous for. We are going to Las Vegas for my Masters graduation – something that we aren’t willing to miss. We are going to spend a little time there touring as well since we are already on that side of the country. While we are excited, we know that this is a big expense coming out of our budget.
Brakes & Tires
Our car needs new brakes before winter (so says our mechanic and we can definitely understand why). They quoted us at about $400 for these. Yuck. We also may need two new tires – we have filled up our front tires multiple times in the last month or so because they have gotten so low.
Registration for the car is coming up – $125.
Licensing & Insurance
It’s also a renew year for my wife’s social work license and insurance (both) so we need several hundred set aside for this.
My dentist has told me that it’s time to get a crown on one of my teeth – she quoted this (on the low end) as $450.
Birthdays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Anniversary, and Christmas
We have both my wife and I’s birthdays, we are hosting our Tuesday night dinner the day after Halloween (we host about once a month and take turns at other peoples’ houses), we have Halloween candy to buy, Thanksgiving to host, my parents’ 25th wedding anniversary to celebrate, and Christmas gifts. Of course, we are going to do these within our budget and do our best to keep costs low, but they do bring about additions to our expenses so they’re important to note.
Making a Comeback – Summary
So, basically, we have had higher expenses the last few months because of our moves, been unable to put much toward debt because of possible income changes, and have a LOT of big expenses coming up rather quickly in the next couple of months. If we can make it to January – we should be okay (you know, except the whole car insurance thing, but that’s another post for another day). *EDITED TO ADD: for the record, we have it all budgeted in and we are fine, it’s just more than we expected which means less going into savings, that’s all.
The point is – I am ready to begin making a comeback. I’m ready to change the view of DIY Jahn, to share our story with all who want to read, to encourage others to pay off their debt and live life to the absolute fullest. I am ready!
So, now we begin.