The Pipe Lifers don't live an extravagant lifestyle. Far from it. Which is really sad because it means we have very little to show for the debt we racked up and saddled ourselves with in our younger years.
Oh yes, there's that college diploma and all the knowledge and life experience I gained those years that I will forever appreciate. And the vehicles bought and paid for over time. That's something. But for the most part we'd be hard pressed to recall much of anything purchased on those credit cards we paid off and cut up a few years ago, and those were just a few (or eight or nine) of the unwise choices we made with money we hadn't even earned yet.
I talk a lot about finding good deals and decorating our home on a budget and being frugal at every opportunity, but I haven't blogged a lot about our debts and how we've been clawing our way out of this hole for years. That's because just like every other aspect of our lives, the story changes pretty regularly and sometimes even I can't keep up. One day we're on course to meet our goals and the next day we crash into a hurdle we never saw spring up in our path. Someday I'll write it all out and share our story with others who need the encouragement - it's a long story riddled with setbacks, celebrations, frustration, hard work and sacrifice - and our journey isn't even over yet. But today I just want to make note of some significant (for us) progress we've made this week so on those days when it feels like it's never going to end I can be reminded that, little by little, we're still moving forward.
This week we were able to pay state taxes owed to Pennsylvania and West Virginia (where Steve worked last year) knowing there was plenty of money in the checking account to cover them. We were able to pay off a lingering balance on the one credit card we have which Steve uses for work-related expenses. This morning when I saw that our federal tax refund had hit the checking account I was able to transfer money to pay off a line of credit at our bank - one we've been chipping away at for two years. Later today I'll pay another major bill that finally worked it's way to the top of the pile, and then I might just swing by Dairy Queen to celebrate.
Five years or so ago when Steve and I decided it was time to clean up the financial mess we were in I never dreamed we would be in a position to actually enjoy the time we have together while he is laid off from work, free of fret and worry. We can enjoy this time because everything isn't an emergency anymore. We have a little money in the bank to get us through. We are able to use that nice chunk of change we got back from the feds to hasten our debt payoff. That's pretty cool.
What I feel in my heart today is the kind of peace financial guru Dave Ramsey talks about. We've gotten to where we are by using the principles Dave outlines in his book, The Total Money Makeover. I can't say we follow the plan to the letter. My DR friends would shake their fingers at us knowing we occasionally use that credit card. And yes, we will likely secure a loan when we purchase a new travel trailer for Steve to work out of. But we tweak the program to suit us because we're talking personal finance here, and sometimes what we feel is best for our family means we bend the rules a little. That's OK. We're making progress. At times we take two steps forward and one step back, but we're inching closer to the finish line nonetheless.
So today we celebrate the death of three balances. We say goodbye to those nagging obligations with ridiculous interest rates. We do a little fist bump that says "way to go, baby" and we turn our sights to the next target on the list.
That would be Sallie Mae. She's been hanging around here like an albatross long enough. It would totally make my year if we could make her go away.
But first, Dairy Queen.