Our Debt Confession

We have debt. There, I said it. We are working on paying everything off so we can live the way we want. We spent years working on becoming “normal” only to realize that we didn’t want to be normal. We are breaking down our debt into small payoff goals. I touched on this in our January goals post. I started this website to completely share our journey into our new life. Our long-term plan is to be debt free, travel with our kids, and buy a house someplace warm that feels like home. This all began with a conversation while on vacation. My husband and I talked about what we would do if we could do anything. What would our lives look like if we were living our dream life? Our dreams included lots of travel, beach days, sunshine, and time spent with our kids and each other. We were not surprised by this. We do travel quite a bit with our girls but not as much as we would like. We went a step further and constructed our dream life. We would sell the majority of our stuff and live out of backpacks for a year while traveling the world with our kids. Then we would travel the United States for one to two years while I work as a travel nurse and Michael works at temporary jobs or stays with our kids. We spend that time getting to know our country and decide where we want to live. We buy a house near the beach someplace that feels right. Wow! That sounds amazing, right?

Do you know what happened after this dream planning? My crazy husband says “Let’s do that.” while nodding his head. Like it was completely doable. Like we just discussed having tacos for dinner. Did I mention that my husband is abnormal? I literally rolled my eyes at the man. He looks at me incredulously and asks “What? If that’s the dream, let’s do it.” I respond to this like any sane human being with “We can’t.” His response…”Why not?” Please keep in mind this is an intelligent, grown man. My response…”Because.” That is where the conversation dies. We left it right there for ages and we could have left it right there forever. That is the place most dreams are abandoned. I mean, we are adults. We can’t just go live our dreams.

For some reason, we revisited this conversation. I like to think it was because we both really want the same things in life. This time we really discussed the reasons that come after that because. We are currently working on the first big hurdle, our huge mound of debt. We want to be really upfront and honest about what we are facing so these are the exact numbers. I hate when I read websites that are about debt payoff, preparing for long-term travel, or budgeting and they do not include the actual numbers. They’ll say things like “Let’s just say this is $100. That’s a nice round number to work with. I also hate when people who only discuss debt payoff after it is done. I love to read about how somebody paid off $50,000 in 14 months or whatever but I wish they were writing the whole way so I can read their entire journey. I want to share all of the details from start to finish with you. So here we go:

We actually sat down together and wrote out every debt. We didn’t know exactly how much we owed. The number makes me want to vomit.

Our Debt

  • Loan – $1,202.67
  • Credit Cards – $17,973.94
  • Student Loans – $49,278.68
  • House – $115,766.18

Grand Total – $184,121.47

We are starting with paying off our credit cards. We have picked out the order we plan to pay them off in. We will continue to make the payments on everything as normal while working on the first credit card we are attempting to pay off. The personal loan will be the next thing on the list if we don’t pay it off while paying on the credit cards since it is so close to being done anyway. The student loans will be next. We are using the snowball method except there are a couple of credit cards that are out-of-order from least to most because we want to pay them off before the interest-free period ends. We have a long road ahead of us but we can do it!

January 2018 – Goals

January Goals:

  • Pay off my Capital One card
  • Do not go out for dinner more than 3 times
  • Pack our lunches for work
  • Continue to Simplify/Declutter/Minimize Our Home & Possessions

Our January Plan

Our first goal for January is to pay off one of our credit cards. Currently, we owe $745.01 on it. We are going to give it all we got to pay it off by the end of the month. My husband is going to be picking up some extra hours. We are going to be cutting as many things as possible to stretch our budget. This is a large but achievable amount for us. We are so excited at the thought of getting rid of this debt!

I am finishing up our budget binder today that we will be using as a tool going forward. I will put up a post about this soon once I have it finished. I’m really excited about this! We are also using the app “Every Dollar” and I write down all of our due dates in my day planner as well. This helps us to stay on budget and to make sure that our bills are paid on time. We are attempting to use up the things that we already own so that we will spend less. We are going to go through everything in our pantry, fridge, and freezer to use up what we already have. This will help us to lower our food costs even more for this month.

We have one dinner out planned for our oldest daughter’s birthday. She is still deciding on where she wants to go. Last I heard she was thinking sushi. We are secretly hoping not to have to use the other two nights but we wanted to make sure we had some wiggle room in case something crazy happens such as illness or a super late work night.

We are going to plan ahead each week when making the grocery list to include easy to grab breakfast items and items to pack for lunch. We have been tracking our finances and we both spend too much on buying food and beverages on work days. We have discovered that we are the death by $10 type. We take the time to really consider larger purchases but we never second guess those small purchases like a donut and coffee for breakfast. Packing our lunches and planning ahead for breakfast will help with two goals. We will be saving money and potentially making better choices about what we are eating.

The last bit of our plan is to continue our trip toward minimalism and simplifying our home and lives. We will be doing the 30-day minimalism challenge. I read about this on The Minimalists and have been wanting to try it. I don’t have anybody doing it with me. I just plan to try to make it through the 30 days because I think it will be good for our family and our home, especially after Christmas. The idea is that you get rid of one item on day 1, two items on day 2, three items on day 3, and so on until you hit day 30 on which you would get rid of 30 items. I have been considering this challenge for quite a while. As many of you know I have been making it a point over the last year to push myself to do things that I want to do but avoid because they are hard or not part of the social norm. This is one of those things that I know is going to be really difficult by the end. Just finding the time each day to complete the challenge will be difficult. I intend to take a photo each day and keep a running list of what I got rid of to share with all of you once a week. Wish me luck!

Here’s a link to the minimalism game: https://www.theminimalists.com/game/ 

Accomplishing Long Term Goals

As anyone who has ever completed a long-term goal can tell you, it doesn’t happen overnight or without loads of effort. I have achieved a few big long-term goals during my life. It is important to break them down into smaller pieces. This will keep you from becoming completely overwhelmed and helps you to achieve your goals by giving you a roadmap to success. Accomplishing small goals keeps you going on the path to achieving your long-term goals. You can set lofty short-term goals and really push with all you have to accomplish them.

I have many different types of long-term goals and want to make sure that I am dedicating enough time and effort to each of them. They all eventually get me to my ultimate long-term goal. I am going to begin breaking them down into small monthly goals. I will post a list of my monthly goals and how I plan to accomplish them. I will do a summary at the end of the month to discuss how the month went including the good and the bad. I think this will help to hold me accountable for working toward where I want to be in life. It would be awesome if it encourages anyone to work on their goals as well.

In order for all of this to make sense, you need to know what it is I’m working toward. My ultimate long-term goal is a little crazy. It goes like this: A year of traveling around the world with my family followed by a year or two working as a travel nurse so we can decide where we want to live. When we know where our “home” is, we will buy a home there and settle down until we get itchy feet again. There are a lot of things that need to happen before we are ready for any of that. This leads us to that list of long-term goals I was talking about.

My/Our Long Term Goals

  • Be Debt Free
  • In Good Shape and Healthy
  • Live Simply and More Minimally 
  • Finish Our Home Projects
  • Further my Career/Improve my Career Potential
  • Build This into a Successful Blog/Website
  • Buy a New Van 

We are working toward becoming debt free now. We want to pay off all of our credit cards, student loans, and a personal loan. I will likely do a post about the break down of this or a running page that I update as needed to involve all of you in the process. I will include the dollar amount in the monthly goal breakdown so you will know exactly what it is we are trying to accomplish at that time. My husband and I are both Dave Ramsey fans. We intend to do a slightly different version of the debt snowball. We are planning to pay off our credit cards and personal loan first, followed by student loans, and then we will work on saving/paying extra on our mortgage.

I am currently out of shape. I want to return to my extremely active lifestyle. My daily life is better when I am in better shape. I don’t get tired as easily. I feel better physically and mentally. It is easier to travel the way that I like to when I am in good shape. I love to hike and be outdoors. It is also easier to keep up with my kids. I plan to start eating better and exercising regularly. We will also be cooking at home more and avoiding eating out. This will also help us financially.

We want to lower the stress level in our home by living more simply. I have been researching minimalism for a couple of years. It is something that my husband and I have discussed for a while. We have been slowly transitioning and we have decided to start making bigger pushes this year toward the lifestyle that we desire.

There are a few projects at our house that we would like to get finished. There are two reasons we would like to get these done. The first reason is that our house will be worth more when we eventually sell it and it will likely sell faster. The second reason is that we will enjoy living here more until we move. We are planning to do these projects anyway before we move so it makes sense to do it sooner and actually enjoy it for a couple of years.

My career as a nurse is always going to be part of my life. I love what I do and I want to continue to grow. I plan on taking some classes towards my next degree, getting my med/surg certification, and attending more meetings. I think these meetings will give me some new perspective on how other units do things.

I plan to continue working on this website. I would like to post at least once a week going forward. I also want to spend the time getting all of our past travel posts edited and live. This website is fairly new. I started it at the beginning of October 2017 after blogging for fun for a number of years. I went live in November 2017. I feel like there is so much that I don’t know yet and many things that I don’t fully understand yet. I want to keep working to improve my writing and photography skills as well.

We really want a van. We will eventually need one to achieve one of our ultimate goals. Traveling the United States with our girls will require a larger vehicle. Currently, I drive a small car that is paid off. The five of us just fit and it is great on gas. There is just enough room in the hatchback for our luggage when we take long road trips or the large stroller but not both. Our biggest issue with our car is that we can’t take anybody else with us. Our girls can’t bring friends with them on outings if the whole family is going. We can’t take the dog with us because there isn’t an extra seat for him. He is very large and requires some serious space. A minivan would make our daily lives much easier.

Now you have an overview of all our long-term goals! I will be posting our January goal list soon!

 

Solar Eclipse Road Trip – Day 2

The night was interesting. The window in our room was above the ice and vending area. People were out there late partying and a couple got in a loud argument. Unsurprisingly, my kids slept through most of it. We got up early and hit the road to drive to Sweetwater, TN. We were happy to leave those accommodations behinds. We stopped for donuts and juice for breakfast. We chose to eat in the car so we could get there faster. We had heard that finding a parking spot was going to be difficult. We had a bit of a drive so we didn’t want to waste anytime.

We made good time and got there early. We drove around a little bit and decided to park in a field next to a hardware store that was away from the big festival that was going on in downtown. We were there to see the eclipse and spend the day together. We were not there to spend the day surrounded by tons of people at a big festival. They parked us at the very edge because they were thinking that there were going to be a lot more people coming. A few other people did park there but not many. It turned out to be an amazingly intimate moment with a handful of like-minded strangers.

We explored our little area to help pass the time. There was an A&W within easy walking distance. The little girls had never been to A&W and Ivy doesn’t remember going when she was little. Octavia enjoyed sharing her first root beer float with Ivy. We checked out the hardware store we were next to. They had some really cute suckers. The big girls each got one.

We went back to the field by our car. The kids played around outside in the grass for a while. We went for another walk. They had horseback rides in the hardware store parking lot. Isabella rode the horse. We decided to have lunch at Sonic before heading back to our car. We shared a large order of chicken tenders and cheese sticks. It was miserably hot so we each got large slush to go, except Octavia who got an ice water to fill up her sippy cup.

We met the nicest people who happened to be parked next to us. They were from Connecticut. We waited for the eclipse with them. We were not able to find enough glasses and they graciously gifted us with a couple extra pairs that they had. They also shared some experiments with my girls. This is one of the reasons I travel with my children. I want to show them that there are some really good people out there in the world.

I have no photographs of the eclipse but I do have a memory that I will cherish forever. Sitting there with my girls as the day became night was a treasure. Isabella’s awe of the moment as what we had been telling her all finally made sense. It was well worth the drive. Road trips are some of my favorite times. This one was so different because Michael couldn’t make it. We made some amazing memories and had some hilarious conversations that you can only have while there are miles of road ahead of you. There is pure magic in road tripping with kids. You suddenly have time for all those conversations that you simply don’t have time to properly engage in at home when everything needs to get done. I’m not talking about the big important talks but that sometimes happens too. I’m talking about hearing about favorite new games, the last book they read, what their school friends are like, and their favorite thing about their new teachers. In the end, all these little things are all that really matter. These little things are shaping our children into the people they will be.

The trip back home was none eventful. There was loads of traffic which we all expected considering how many people came to watch the eclipse. It started to clear out eventually as we got farther away from Sweetwater. I’m going to leave you with this final photograph taken somewhere on the road out of my dirty windshield. It’s beautiful but a little messy which is just like taking a road trip alone with three kids.

 

Solar Eclipse Road Trip – Day 1

We were lucky enough to be less than 8 hours from viewing a total solar eclipse. I managed to get a couple days off work and the big girls were able to take a day off school. Michael was unable to get a day off so we ended up making it a girls trip. I looked into our options and we decided to view the eclipse from Sweetwater, TN. The only issue was that I only got the day off on a last minute trade and finding a hotel in the vicinity was not going to happen. It was too far to drive the day of the eclipse so I had to find a place closer than where we are. I finally found a place outside of Chattanooga, TN and booked it online.

We packed our overnight bag the night before. We got up early to have a quick, healthy breakfast at home before hitting the road. The goal was to make it as far as possible before having to stop. The little girls did amazing and we didn’t have to stop until lunch time. We found a McDonald’s with a play center. The girls had a chance to get out of the car to play and eat for 45 minutes. After lunch, we stopped at a Walmart and picked up some snacks to get us through the rest of the trip to Chattanooga. I filled up the gas tank before getting back on the road.

One of our snacks for the road!

We made decent time and got to our hotel just before dinner time. We checked in, picked up our key, and found our room before heading to dinner. Remember me saying that hotels were in high demand and I took what I could find. This was not a nice place to stay. It was questionable. It was a non-smoking room but there were burns on the blankets and furniture. There was black hair in the bottom of the bathtub. It did seem safe enough and there were no bugs. Every trip can’t be fancy. I’m not complaining. I’m just stating the truth. Sometimes it’s enough to not have to sleep in the car.

 

 

We drove into downtown Chattanooga and ate at City Café Diner. This is our favorite diner and we were so excited to be able to eat here! This is the cutest little place with amazing food and great service! I would eat there again and again. We stop there every time we drive through Chattanooga or near enough that we can easily detour.

Ivy and I got gyros and fries. The little girls got mac and cheese. We have never had a bad meal here. The dessert really is the star of the show at this place. They have huge cases of cakes, cheesecakes, and other desserts at the front. They all looked amazing! It was hard to decide. We each picked something different.

So many choices! Their dessert menu is really something!

I had the cheesecake in the bottom right photo. It was truly delicious. Their desserts are huge and incredibly well priced. Isabella couldn’t finish her chocolate cake and decided to take it with her. We left the restaurant and went back to our hotel to sleep for the night.