Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Lettin' It All Hang Out

So some friends of mine recently started blogging on finances and budgeting. Go check it out: The Dime Divas have some pretty good words of wisdom in their first few blogs already. But I decided to blog my own version and just put it all out there. Comments are very welcome... encouraged, in fact.

I've always considered myself to be smart when it comes to money. Pretty much supporting myself (Mom - I said pretty much... we BOTH already know it wasn't 100%) supporting myself from age 17 on, when I first started working. I was extremely lucky to get the part-time job that I did my Senior Year in High School. It's totally set me up in my professional life to be able to live pretty comfortably. And thus I have.

From the time I graduated high school, I had a full-time job, and not many bills to pay. I bought a used car the autumn after graduation, and a year later, bought a brand new car. Not just because I could, I mean my good ol' Neon needed some TLC that I was willing to cough up the dough for, but... in a way I guess you could say that I needed it. And I could afford it, so why not? And a cell phone... EVERYONE needs a cell phone, right? And then those hott shoes, I just HAVE to have them... and ohmygosh how much is that purse?! WHOA! Yeah... that's pretty much how life was. Eating out all the time with friends. Buying whatever clothes whenever I wanted them, and not saving much. About two years into my frivolosity, I decided I wanted to travel. So I actually started saving. I got a good penny saved up (about $4500, to be near-exact). And then that dang flying crap starts to hit the fan. Where DOES that stuff come from?

At the time, I was dating a guy that didn't make much money, and was also in school full time. So slowly, my savings started to become a bit more scarce. But I managed to come out of the relationship with a few thousand still hanging on by a thread. I decided to go visit my cousins in Australia. Who wouldn't want to go down under? *queue that "I come from the land down under" song that no one really knows the rest of the words to... are there even any other words?!* But with my spending habits the way that they are, it's hard to spend a couple thousand on such a trip, and still be able to afford that outfit you HAVE to have when you go down there.

Fast-forward a bit and here enters McStudly. Yes - he is just that... a stud. But he's also one of those people that never really had to worry much about finances. Did either of us, really? He pretty much supported himself (again... I said pretty much. Let's not get caught up on the details, shall we?!) from the time he got his first real job and on until we met.

You see - McStudly is in the Air Force. And the military takes pretty dang good care of their people. I mean... you won't see all of them walking around with Gucci shades and driving Beemers (oh wait - don't we have one of those?), but you're never in "need" of anything (though there are things to be desired if you live in military housing... oh sorry... moving on!).

*shaking head*

Sorry. Back on topic - so McStudly and I start dating, and I lose my job (the two weren't related... but it happened about 6 months after we started dating). Though I looked CONSTANTLY for a new one, it was 3 months before I finally got one. Another reason the savings dwindled even further. But the job I got was making WAY more money than the one I had lost - so life was good again. I would save some... and spend more. Get paid again. Save some... spend more. It was a vicious cycle, really.

I did manage to build my savings up quite nicely, again, even amongst the spending. Then... he proposed *insert wedding bells* and I was ecstatic!!

*music comes to a screeching halt*

HOLD UP!! Does anyone know how much weddings costs these days?! Holy Lord in HEAVEN! Minus buying an expensive dress that I ended up not being 100% happy with anyways, I did my best to be frugal with my wedding. Simple decor. Making the invitations. Making the programs. Blah blah blah... CHA-CHING!! It STILL costs a lot of money!

Needless to say, the savings dwindled quite quickly. But that's what it was for, right?! Well... pretty much. But still! Watching that balance drop is NOT a good feeling for anyone - especially soon-to-be-newlyweds. Plus, we had to find a place to live! There goes more money for the deposit on a nice rental. Now we need furniture! Buy a bed... a table and chairs.... a big comfy couch...

Now enter the Credit cards *dun Dun DUNNNN!!!*

We needed it! For our wedding... for our lives together... for... the HONEYMOON!!

Now enter Lines of Credit *insert "scary movie girl" scream in background*

Again I said ... We needed it?!

Who were we kidding. Fortunately, we had the ability to pay for most of it (thanks to a several hundred dollar bailout by Momma and Poppa Bear).


One month after we get married, McStudly just HAS to have a dog! And I'll admit - with his working nights, it's pretty unsettling being in a home all by yourself at night. So enter Austin, aka: McDog. And our luck - the breeder lies to us. So now he's sick, and vets are EXPENSIVE!!! $$$ *GASP* How many hundred for blood work and some medicine? I'm sorry.... say it again?? One more time, I must have heard you wrong?!

Well, he finally gets better, and we get "wiser"... we buy pet insurance. Thank GOODNESS for that (though it was a BIT late at this point, huh?).

So I've almost caught you up. We've got a "home". We've got my car and his truck. And we've got McDog to keep me warm at night.

But we're also paying out the YINGYang twins for gas, and so... we go car shopping for McStudly. We are super fortunate enough to find a used BMW (even though we were looking for a Mazda6) in great condition with SUPER low mileage and a super low price, and jump on the deal. The only catch - they won't give us enough for his truck to pay it off... and the bank won't work with negative equity. So... we take out a Signature Loan to pay for the difference, knowing we can pay it off within a year.

So... two cars we're paying for, now, AND another "line of credit". Oh yeah - And enter the unhappy Landlord/Neighbor (for silly reasons I'll omit from the story)... and our desire to own a home, so that we're no longer living in a "temporary" place, and in someone else's house, at that.

Time to find a new place to live.

After MUCH searching, and MUCH deliberation... we get super lucky and buy a house. We wave a very brief goodbye to our first home as a family, and eagerly move in to our very own brand new home!! So that about catches you up.

We've been in the new house (townhouse, really), now for about a month. And I JUST paid our first mortgage and HOA payments. *taking a deep breath* And by "paid" I mean I just put them in the mail on Monday. So yeah - it's all still fresh.

Well - I've been looking over the budgets I've created for our next few months, here, we're going to be okay. Really. I mean... we're looking pretty good, right now. We thought it would be a big adjustment, buying a home, and by the looks of our budget, we're going to be more comfortable than before! (Is that even possible?!)

ohmygosh I almost forgot to tell you. Thanks to an awesome lender, and our FANNtastic Realtor (and good friend), we actually got money BACK from buying the house. So, we ought down our interest rate, AND got a cash written back to us at closing. So we put that STRAIGHT to the Signature Loan we took out for the negative equity on McStudly's truck, and WAMBAMTHANKYOUMAAM We were able to pay it off!!

So here we are. Budgeting and turning into big kids. I have budgets completed THROUGH November, and once we're halfway through October (deemed "transition month" in the Puhl household), I'll start December's plan, to include Holiday/gift spending plans. :-)

The only stumbling block now, and a big one at that, is that McStudly is gone and I'm all alone. He's on a TDY for the military, and will be gone until December. So... they're paying us a little extra "separation pay" and also paying for his food and such while he's there, so there may be some budget changes when he's back and we're back to living normal.

But for now - it's all good. And we're doing really well knockonwood. SO that about wraps it up. Any advice on making things even more comfortable for us, as we save and save and pay off all that debt we racked up last year is MORE than welcomed... it's encouraged!

I'll post an update a bit down the road and keep you posted. But for now - don't forget to check out the Dime Divas. It'll be good times. I promise! ;-)

PS: I tried usign Pear Budget, and it just wasn't for me. So don't feel bad if it's not for you, either. I'm super organized with our finances and already have a budget and spendplan in place, so Pear Bdget would've been double the work for me. But if you haven't already given it a thought, go check out It is pretty cool for those of you that are new to the budgeting territory need a little help getting started.


April E. :) said...

It's all one big learning kick in the pants huh?! :)

Terri said...

Aww, thanks for the shout out. : )