Money money money moneeeey…mon - nay!
I wish I loved talking about finances as much as I loved that song. But because I don't, Mr. Lindquist and I have never been "on a budget." Granted, we've followed a few staple rules:
-Don't spend more than you make.
-Pay off credit cards each month.
-And order water at restaurants.
OK, that last one might not be a game-changer, but I digress.
One thing we couldn't avoid was student loans. I am grateful I don't have a single one. Shout out to my parental units for helping me get my career started debt-free and for UNMC paying for the majority of my almost master's degree. However, Rob has racked up his fair share during undergrad and obtaining his teaching certificate.
Quick side note: I read my first financial book five years ago, mostly because my dad bribed my sisters and I with a quiz at the end that would yield cold cash the more answers we got right. It was extremely eye opening except for the chapter in which he argues against taking on college loans. Apply for scholarships, work during college or don't go if you can't pay for it, were all his words of wisdom. I couldn't disagree more. Even with scholarships and a job, it's almost impossible to "pay as you go" on your own with the price of tuition these days. I am really proud of my husband for earning his degrees despite the fact he had to take on the debt that came with it. It's made him who he is today and resulted in one of the best fitting careers for him. My going to college wasn't brave or noble. It was just what was expected. He is the one who took on the financial burden with the belief that it would pay off someday. He'd probably want me to stop talking about it at this point, so I will.
Anyway, I read another book a year or so ago (are you sensing a theme here? books are BAD NEWS!) and it was all about the "an experimental mutiny against excess." More on that here if you're interested. This book in combination with that damn Dave Ramsey book got me thinking: I'd really like to pay off those student loans. Completely. In a year or two. And not string them out until it's our daughters' turn to go to college.
This thought became an idea: 2015: THE YEAR OF NO SPENDING.
Enter Rob, worried about his golf game and Starbucks addiction.
I've spent the last month "crunching the numbers." Turns out, I prefer popcorn, but that's neither here nor there.
It also turns out we spend wayyyyyyyyy wayyyy way way way too much money on food. And shopping. at Target. While sipping Starbucks.
In our defense, other than the student loans, we have no other debt (save for our house and an interest-free couch from Nebraska Furniture Mart in our basement right now.) Coupled with the fact we have two daughters in daycare/preschool, are paying for Rob's masters as we go and finished our basement last year, this is actually quite a miracle in our eyes. And even though some of that financial burden will be lifted when Faith goes to kindergarten in the fall, Rob graduates this summer and the knowledge that we're not taking on any home reno projects anytime soon, I am still sick of those loans and want them gone!
I should mention the total amount is somewhere around our ages followed by a few zeros. The ultimate goal is to pay them off completely in 2015. That would be awesome, but I would take half if unforeseen circumstances arise. We'll see how it goes. I will update as we go with more info and tidbits, but for now you get this.
15 resolutions/action steps we are taking pay off student loans in 2015.
1. Say NO! A lot. Especially to the voices inside our heads telling us we "need" things...
2. Within reason. We're not going to stop eating out all together or never shop at all. We still need to feed our family and clothe our growing children, so don't worry that we're taking away their birthdays and eating rice and beans for a year. The crunchy numbers are just being trimmed back in all categories.
3. Stores on the banned list for me: Kohl's, Hobby Lobby and Metro Crossing in general.
3.5 Stores on the banned list for Rob: Home Depot, Menards and comic book stores in general.
4. No more automatically reloading money onto the Starbucks app. The amount of money we spent on coffee last year would make grown men ugly cry, especially Dave Ramsey. That was with an inordinate amount of gift cards Rob received for his birthday, Christmas, and Father's Day. No more! *Rob editing here… maybe just a few Starbucks...
5. Grocery shopping smartly. I throw anything and everything in the cart. Oh, there's cheese that tastes like chocolate now? Must have! The Costco worker has a sample? I don't want to hurt his feelings by not purchasing the item I tried. Basically, I never look at the prices. It's time to start.
6. Two Target Trips per month with a $100 limit each time. This shouldn't be considered cutting back, but sadly for us it is. We are making a list and sticking to it. Avoiding the clothing, books and home improvement sections should help with our impulse buys.
7. Things we're giving up: big shopping trips, golf trips (sorry, dear) and other pricey getaways. Yeah, it sucks, but it's only for one year.
8. Things we're not giving up: our Iowa State football tickets, our zoo membership, and running races. So don't feel too sorry for us. Also, unlimited Redbox :)
9. We're also keeping cable and internet, but cutting back on both. Thanks to Rob's negotiation skills, we'll be saving close to $50 a month!
10. Though we'll still have to eat out occasionally, we aren't going to do it for lunch. We will grocery shop for quick lunch ideas and if we forget to pack one on a certain day, have a stash of snacks to get us through.
11. We're also getting allowances :) That way if Rob goes into caffeine-free shock, he can splurge on Starbucks. *Rob again… whew! Or if everyone if my office orders Indian food, I don't have to stifle the sobs coming from my cubicle. The jury is still out on how much we're going to pay ourselves for our chores.
12. Birthdays, anniversaries, and other occasions won't go unrecognized, but experiences will be worth more than gifts.
13. We'll create a wish list for everything we want to buy all year long but can't and see if we still even want most of it at the end of the year. If we do, Christmas ideas will be very specific.
14. We are going to make one of those monetary charts, and fill in the amounts we pay toward loans every month, with help from our lovely assistants who love to color of course.
15. We are going to fail at certain points, fight during others, but mostly we're gonna try our best! And at the end of the day, at this time next year, instead of putting money toward an education that's already been earned, we'll be able to put more toward those of two that have yet to be.
Wish us luck!