A January challenge

Welcome 2019! I have been absent from here way too long. I think that probably shows everyone how our progress is going! Over the next few weeks, I will update how we finished 2018 and our goals for 2019. However, tonight I wanted to share a January challenge that the McKee family is doing.

If you follow the blog’s Instagram, then you may have seen the video I posted yesterday that briefly mentioned our challenge. If not, go watch it. It’s a minute long, and you get to see our dog. So worth it!

For January, we will not be going to any restaurants or coffee shops. I know that a popular Dave Ramsey saying is that people with debt shouldn’t see the inside of a restaurant unless they are working there, but we never followed that statement. The fact is, we dine out way too often, and it’s usually at fast food restaurants, which are both unhealthy and not as cheap as they used to be. There’s really no winning by going to them! We’ve also been really bad about getting coffee from a couple of different places (I’ll let you guess which two). Yes, the coffee drinks can be delicious, but again, they’re unhealthy and pricey.

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If any fast food burger looked like this, I would definitely reconsider this challenge! Yummy! Photo by Edward Eyer on Pexels.

I want to focus on becoming healthier physically, mentally, and financially this year, so by going through this challenge in January, I think it will help me begin my journey. There is one caveat – we do have money left on both coffee shop app accounts, so Will may be using those to fuel up before he goes to work. He could leave those accounts alone until February, but the poor man is going to be suffering enough with me eating healthier, so let’s give him a little bit of a break!

Would you like to join us during this challenge? If so, leave a comment here or on our Instagram!


Putting it all out there


Terribly sorry that I missed posting this last week, but as I posted on the blog’s Instagram, our daughter got sick that night. Little did we know, it was the start of a week-long stomach virus. Joy.

Thankfully, she’s on the mend, and I can get back to writing!

This is a tough post for me to write. I feel like sharing my numbers puts our struggle out there, which could be encouraging for people in the same boat. I also feel like it’s embarrassing. How could we let things drag on and on? Why have some of our numbers gone up, even after we said that we were done with debt? Maybe our commitment hasn’t been strong enough.

Scratch that. Our commitment definitely hasn’t been strong enough. Each month, we claim that “next month is going to be the month we get our act together,” and then we find ourselves in this same situation month after month after month. So, maybe by sharing our numbers and having monthly progress checks, we will be encouraged to do better since we know that people are following our journey (and not just reading about vague statements and abstract debts).

Enough stalling. Let’s get to it.

The debt names are going to be a little vague because even though I’m putting our lives out there, I don’t want to share everything. 

Debt Name Balance as of 10/01/18
Personal Loan 1 $120
Hospital Bill 1 $742
Personal Loan 2 $1,000
Hospital Bill 2 $1,315
Credit Line 1 $1,468
Hospital Bill 3 $1,506
Credit Line 2 $1,815
Car Balance 1 (no longer have this car) $5,261
Car Balance 2 (no longer have this car) $5,743
Car Balance 3 $14,500
Student Loan Group A $16,082
Student Loan Group B $28,586
Grand Total $78,138

This does not include our mortgage. This is just what it will take to get out of Baby Step 2.

Honestly, we’ve been tiptoeing around the numbers for so long, that I didn’t realize how high they had gotten. Plus, we’ve been spending money on unnecessary things, so our bank account is a mess right now. I guess the first step in solving a huge problem is admitting there is a problem, and as you can see from the numbers above, there is definitely a problem.

What are our next steps? Well, besides curling up in a little ball and crying, I think the next step is to firmly commit to no more debt ever. Never. Ever. The next step is for us to get caught up on our four walls. Then, we will start working on replenishing our Beginner Emergency Fund of $1,000.

This has been a draining post to write. It’s hard to admit what a mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. I know that we’re not alone, and that provides some comfort, but it’s difficult to stand at the bottom of a $78,000 mountain, especially when your household income is below that number by several thousand dollars, and know that this is going to be a process of at least three years (if we keep making our current incomes). Although this has been tough, it does provide perspective and a good starting line for us. I hope that anyone who is on this journey with us will share where they stand. If you’ve conquered the debt dragon, please share tips and motivation! I definitely need them after writing this post!!


But for real this time…

Remember that time in August that I talked about how we were fired up, ready to knock this debt out, and make changes on this space?

Yeah, we see how that went.

Next Monday is October 1. It’s the trifecta of fresh starts – a Monday, the first of the month, and the start of the fourth quarter of the year. It’s also the day that we all get new toothbrushes, if you’re interested in that area of the McKee family. On that day, I will publish our personal record of what debt we have, where we stand, and our plan to pay things off. It’s not pretty, and I will probably cry while typing it (but let’s be honest…I’m a pretty emotional person, and it doesn’t usually take much to make me cry!), but I think it will give us a fresh start and a good reason to recommit to the process.

If you’re on a debt free journey and have strayed a little far from your goals, will you join us in our re-commitment to becoming debt free? If you’re on a debt free journey and have stayed on track, I would love to hear what has kept you motivated!

I’ll probably think of a cheesy hashtag for the blog’s Instagram account, so please share any ideas you have about that as well!

Let’s finish out the year strong and get this debt situation under control…for real this time!

Finding our discomfort zone

“We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing.” — Dr. Henry Cloud

I thought we had had it with debt. I thought we were motivated, fired up, ready to show our finances who was boss. For a while, we were. We started steering ourselves away from the bad decisions that we had been making and towards fulfilling goals and dreams. But then, as things tend to happen, we woke up one day to find that we had drifted far, far away from our path.

How did it happen? You would think changes like depleting our beginner emergency fund for non-emergencies and starting to pay bills late again would be noticeable, but truthfully, we didn’t notice the small things that started slipping until they became big things.

So, here we are, a few steps away from where we started. On the positive side, we paid off a couple of smaller debts (our daughter’s birth is finally paid off, so they can’t repo her! Yay!). We also didn’t accumulate new debt, which is a huge victory because that shows our mindset has changed to figuring out how to do things ourselves rather than getting loans or lines of credit.

But, like I said, our beginner emergency fund is depleted, we haven’t been paying on a few of our debts, and I can’t remember the last time we sat down and made a budget together.

If I dig deep enough, then I know our lack of motivation comes from the fact that even though we’ve had some truly embarrassing and confidence-shattering financial situations over the last year, we haven’t become uncomfortable enough to want to change things. We half-heartedly make our budget, but then allow our wants of things to override the needs of paying off debt and freeing up our financial future.

I have been listening to Dave Ramsey’s podcast, and on an episode from the end of June, he said something to the effect of “if you do the Dave Ramsey-ish program, you’re going to get ish.” Although I snort laughed at that, it made something click with me. We’ve been dragging our feet and doing “ish” since we’ve been married. I’ve been doing it longer than that since I graduated college in 2006 and have had those student loans for twelve years now. It’s time to drop the ish and get our acts together. We are going to have to become uncomfortable to make real changes.

I often hear the quote about real change happening outside of your comfort zone. In this case, I’m calling it our discomfort zone because there are going to be a lot of things we have to do outside of our comfort zone to make this happen, but the short term sacrifices are going to be worth the long term rewards.

I want to make some changes on here. I’m not exactly sure what all I am going to change, but I know that I want to be more transparent about who we owe, what we owe, and how we are winning – and sometimes losing – with our money. I have realized that everyone in the debt free community is really supportive, and we are all fighting against the same enemy. Plus, I find seeing other people’s numbers extremely motivating and encouraging, especially when it’s people like us who have middle class jobs and aren’t trying to clean up a mountain-sized mess with a bulldozer. Does that make sense? It sounded really deep in my head! Ha!

Stay tuned to how this space and my family are going to change. It should be an exciting and tough journey!

Monthly Motivation : The Debt Free Guys

I haven’t posted a Monthly Motivation post since February, so it was time to get back on board with it!

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This month’s motivation is The Debt Free Guys (Instagram) (YouTube). I first discovered them on Instagram after searching #debtfreejourney. The account is Camilo and his husband Justin, and Camilo posts pretty regularly! He has given me a few great ideas, including a couple of apps to try. They just started a YouTube channel that I haven’t watched yet, but I’m sure it will be entertaining!

The debt free journey can get tiring and boring sometimes, so I always appreciate when people have a sense of humor and try to make things entertaining. I also am inspired to go back to grocery shopping at Aldi every time I visit their account! Check them out, and let me know what you think about their posts!

Money Monday : Taking Surveys on Qmee

This post contains my referral link. If you sign up using my link, we will each get a small commission after you cash your account to PayPal. Free money! Woo hoo!

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I am a survey junkie. I have a separate part of my main inbox set aside for survey emails. I’d like to say that I do them because I enjoy being helpful, but it’s really all about free money and gift cards!

One survey site that I just discovered earlier this year is Qmee. I’ll add my standard disclosure that this website won’t make you rich; however, it is nicer than many survey sites because you don’t have to have a minimum balance before you can transfer your earnings to PayPal. In fact, when you sign up, you do a survey that gives you a nickel, and then you can cash that out if you’d like! Of course, if you use my referral link, which is linked above, you’ll get a small bonus! 😉

I enjoy Qmee because even if I’m disqualified for a few surveys, they will give me a small “thanks for trying” reward. That rarely happens with other sites! I also like that it seems to be updated pretty often. I usually have about seven surveys at a time on my dashboard, and on the rare occasion I have gone through all of them and have an empty dashboard, it will usually refresh pretty quickly afterwards.

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My current dashboard – note my huge balance in the top right corner!

Again, most of my topics on Money Monday won’t make you rich, but when you’re trying to pay off debt and get past Baby Step 2, you’ll take every nickel and dime you can get!

Have you used Qmee? Are there other survey sites you would recommend? Let me know in the comments!

June Goals

My trend of publishing goals every couple of months continues!

The last time I published goals was in April. Let’s see if I achieved those:

  1. Put utilities back on autopay – Nope! D’oh!
  2. Close bank account – I closed the savings account and am working to close the checking account. We have a negative balance, but that should be paid off this month!
  3. Pay doctors’ bills – No again. Sheesh.

Well, I believe we can guess what 2 of my 3 June goals are going to be…

The third June goal I have is to pay at least $1,200 in debt. We paid off around $600 last month, but I’m ready to stop dragging my feet and get this junk knocked out. This doesn’t include our mortgage since that’s not on Baby Step 2.

What are your goals for June? If you’re on Baby Step 2, how much debt do you want to eliminate this month? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. I’ve started an Instagram account for the blog, so be sure to follow it for more updates…especially when I don’t blog for a couple of months…sigh.