What a difference it’s been to reach the end of this year versus 2010. A year ago we felt as if we all been through the wringer repeated times and didn’t know if the course we had chosen was one we would be able to maintain. At the end of this year we know we can accomplish what we initially set out to do. Even when a major block was thrown in front of us, having to purchase a new car, we took it in stride and kept going!
The highlight of the year was going to Japan for 10 days in May to meet our new grandson. It was an expensive trip that we couldn’t have afforded except for the generosity of our son and daughter-in-law, and I feel blessed that we didn’t have to wait to meet our little guy.
When we decided at the beginning of 2010 to get rid of all our debt, we thought we would be done by now. That’s what all the advice books said anyway. All we had to do was buckle down, set up a minimal emergency fund, eat beans and rice, snowball our debts and so forth. The only thing those writers forgot to figure in was real life and everything that can and will go wrong along the way. So, while we still have debt, our original debt is more than two-thirds gone (!!) and even with the addition of our car we still have one-third less debt than we did when we started out in 2010 (!!). Our new goal is to have all the original debt gone by June 2013, when Mr. Losing It officially retires, and the car loan gone when we sell our home and relocate in 2014, if not before.
We didn’t accomplish many of the goals we set for ourselves at the end of last year other than paying three debts in full and whacking away at several more. We had hoped to get quite a bit of painting and other refurbishing done around the house and yard, but last year we thought we would be putting the house on the market in 2012. We’re now waiting until late 2013/early 2014 and decided it made more sense to wait on those projects and work now on paying down our debt. We had also goaled ourselves with a couple more camping trips this past year, but it was time versus money that held us back on doing that. Mr. Losing It just couldn’t get the time off after taking two weeks in May to go to Japan to meet our grandson. This year he will be banking his vacation time as much as possible as his company will pay a lump-sum at retirement for unused vacation time.
Anyway, here’s the wrap-up for 2011:
- Debt paid: I don’t have an exact figure for how much debt we paid this quarter because I cannot find the card I keep the totals written on. Grrrr! But it is somewhere in the $3,500 range, a bounce back up from last quarter’s poor performance. The highlight of this quarter was paying off Credit Card #3, the third debt that was paid off in full this year (we also paid off the adoption loan and the last overdraft account this year). We also got Credit Card #1 down to four figures, on of our goals for this year, so consider that an accomplishment as well. Total for the year was another $13,553.64 of our original debt.
- Emergency fund: We have this up to $1300, and still want to put at least $200 more into it if not more. We didn’t have to use it at all this quarter, a first since we started out.
- Groceries: Still hanging tough with $320 every two weeks. It’s enough.
- Purchases: We did do some shopping this quarter, about $153 worth. We spent $94 at IKEA on two wall mirrors, a new light fixture for the office, some trays for our pets’ eating bowls, and a rubber trivet. I spent $25 on eBay for three salad plates to replace broken ones in our set. Other purchases were $16 for a gift to take to a baby shower, $7.99 for a cake stand at Goodwill, and $9.66 the other day for four handblown Christmas ornaments at Macy’s (we collect ornaments for each of our Chinese zodiac signs and I found two rabbits for YaYu, and two Chinese dragons for me).
- Meals out: We spent nearly $200 on eating out when our niece and boyfriend were visiting, but that was less than we budgeted as they picked up the tab for dinner one evening. Other than that, we spent $7.80 for a coffee date, $19.62 for lunch for six of us at IKEA and $26 for a Chinese buffet for Meiling and I before the baby shower for her former Chinese teacher.
- Swagbucks: The account is currently at $0 as I just used it all for my much-desired stand mixer! I already have $25 in Amazon credit lined up for January, but need a new goal to save for and can’t decide between a Cuisinart food processor, a new rice cooker, a pressure cooker or a Kindle for myself.
- 2012 Hawaii Vacation Fund: We currently have $1286.86. We had more, but took $1700 to help pay off Credit Card #3 and $200 to help cover our niece’s visit. Next year we plan to put a minimum of $500/month into this fund. Coming up soon we will be putting a deposit on our accommodations (you have to reserve early to get anything over the Christmas holiday).
Goodbye 2011, welcome 2012!