$105,000 in debt…not for long.

I’m back from my honeymoon suckers, but as you can imagine, it’s a little crazy adjusting to life with Mrs. Ninja right now. We did a crap load of wedding gift unpacking yesterday. Today will be the last guest post I run before I get back in the swing of things. I miss you all desperately and can’t wait to share some wedding details.

Today’s guest post, come from my my man Ben, who blogs at Perspective of Ben. He’s a cool dude, so you should check him out.

Hello Ninja Readers!!

Guest poster Ben.  I want to share my situation and some things I think I’ve learned.

First: Debt: Student Loans: $80k, CC Debt: $20k, Car loan $5k, House:  We owe about what it’s worth after 6 years of payments. 🙁

We’ve recently started a 36 month plan, now 35 months, to pay off all CC debt, the car, a time share (lumped in with CC debt).  The trick here is to create a reasonable plan and stick to it, no matter what.  Because of this, we’re opting to put money in savings instead of paying off extra debt (right now).  We always seem to run up debt whenever we vacation or have to fix a car.  That won’t happen any more.  Once we have our small emergency fund in place, we stick to the plan.  On the plan we’re increasing in net worth at over $1500/month.  Pretty good, but we have a long way to go.  Estimated net: $-104,000.  We can do it!

What we’ve learned:  Save money where it has the most impact.  If you eat out 4 times a month at $30 a pop, saving 20% nets you very little: $24.  Now, if you save a little on eating at home we’re talking 450 meals when you look at 5 of us eating 3 times a day.  If we can save   20 cents each meal, we’re making a lot of progress: $90.  Even if you just pay attention to how much a meal costs per person is helpful.  If I pay $5 for a package of 3 personal pizzas and everyone eats 2, I’m spending more than $3/person for that meal.

Don’t go out with people that you overspend with.  We’ve tried changing the behavior, it doesn’t work.

Buy cheap wine.  If you’re paying more than $12/bottle, you’re paying to pretend that you know “good” wine.  This is probably a problem in other areas of your budget too.

Timeshares are probably not good.  What they do is force you to take a vacation which can be good, but also force you to go into debt to pay for the other expenses of vacation.  Better to put $350/month into a vacation account and only use money you have to vacation.   If you can’t do this consistently, you can’t afford a timeshare.

Things that are still killing us:  our 3 kids’ friends’ b-days.  Shoes.  Haircuts.  Qwest internet.  Regular price for people joining today after 6-month intro: $30/month.  I’m paying $44.99.  That’s what Qwest gives their loyal customers.

11 thoughts on “$105,000 in debt…not for long.

  1. For the kids’ friends’ birthday parties… we also have 3 kids so I feel your pain! What I’ve done is set up a jar for friends’ parties – in it goes $15/month per kid. Each kid has their own jar and manage it themselves. When they get an invitation, they need to check their jar. If they have enough money to buy a gift, they can go… if they just spent all the money on last week’s birthday party, they can’t go. Invitations to parties are usually given in advance (3 wks usually) so they do have the opportunity to anticipate what party is coming next. I’m hoping this will help them learn to prioritize the important events in their lives so they are better equipped to make good decisions as adults. (btw, they are 10,8 and 5) But I totally hear ya on this being a big expense. Hubby and I were just talking about that a few weeks ago – he said he never expected the friends’ party thing to be such a big issue (financially and in terms of juggling the kids’ social events with family life, etc…)

  2. Great idea Makky’s mom. 3 kids myself and B-day gifts can ding your overall monthly budget. I think prioritizing items that need to be purchased, wants vs. needs are a good why to save as well.

  3. Ninja, can’t wait to read your wedding update details. As for your guest poster Ben, it sounds like you have a good plan to get out of debt. I agree on the timeshare! My goodness that is a lot of money. I don’t feel so bad now that my husband and I are going to spend about $1000 going to Washington DC (from Arizona) this is our first vacation ever and our kids are 23 and 20! If you are in a timeshare maybe you can sell it to someone else and put that $3500 toward your debt and just go camping which shouldn’t cost more than $350 even if you buy a new tent, and all new stuff.

    • I’m confused. What do you mean by saying that your trip to DC is going to be your first vacation ever? Have you never taken time off to go somewhere before, or are you just masters of the “staycation”?

  4. Hurray, you’re back. I am going through some major stick figure withdrawal.

    Makky’s mom..great idea. I really need to get better at planning for those irregular expenses.

  5. No offense to those who have their debt levels under control, but it was so great to see a post from someone who has debt that resembles mine.

    Ben,

    If it makes you feel any better, our net worth is even worse than yours because our CC debt and car loans are higher than yours. Our student loans pretty much match up though. This year was my first year with car loans and I’ve decided I never want one of those again, much less the 2 we have currently. The current cars had better last us for the next 10 years at least. Congrats on the plan to deal with your debt. My plan is less formed than that. Mostly, just survive and throw anything I can at debt when I can. Good luck.

  6. The key to kids gifts imho was to buy cool and cheap. I got away with Magic Rocks for years (like age 2-11) – they’re like $3 at Walmart. You put them in a jar with the specified solution and voila! Magic Rocks – they grow! My friends loved it and they were screamy little girls. $8 Sea Monkey sets (Amazon has them) also went over really well with everyone (even some college friends).

    Good luck on the debt repayment! For a $12 bottle of champagne (well, sparkling wine) that’s sweet but finishes clean, I’d suggest Mondoro Asti Spumanti. It runs $12-$13 at the Specs here in Houston…

  7. Why not include the outstanding mortgage balance as well? Debt is debt, whether it’s credit card, student loans, or mortgage. Sure, you might want to pay off some more quickly than others, but the ultimate goal should be to rid yourself of all of it. There is no such thing as “good” debt…just “bad” debt and “worse” debt.

    • Ditto. People who think that mortgage debt is acceptable need to re-think that. While I understand very few people can buy a home outright, so many feel a 30 year mortgage is acceptable, especially since interest rates are so low. Too many bad things can happen in 30 years, unless you have a 30 year emergency fund. Lately I compare home loans to car loans. If you cannot afford the payments on a 3 year car loan, you cannot afford that car. If you cannot afford the payments on a 15 year home loan, you cannot afford that home. Many might feel this is extreme, but ultimately, I think it’s all about punching debt in the face here 🙂

  8. Ahh the long term planning is awful isn’t it? Finally someone else who’s debt repayment takes more then 2 years. We started out with 245k in debt in 2007 (student loans and cars only). Currently we are down to 145k, but repayment has been halted all year since I’ve been unemployed since Dec 2009. I can’t wait for a job again so I can start paying down the debt. If all goes well we will be debt free in 2017 (scary to think). Although by then we will likely have to replace our cars and go into more debt. Good luck, I know its a VERY long journey for some of us.

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