- DH = dear husband
- DD2 = dear second daughter
- DD3 = dear third daughter
Report for August 2017
For our total debt, here’s a reminder of where we started in June of 2012:
- Consumer Debt – $21,400
- Business Debt – $80,800
- Mortgage Debt – $155,000
- Total Debt – $257,200
- Emergency Fund – Non-existent
- Investments – Not happening (except for my automatic pension contributions through work)
As of August 2017, our numbers were:
- Consumer Debt – $0
- Business Debt – $0
- Mortgage Debt – $69,000
- Total Debt – $69,000
- Emergency Fund – Full (to see us through 3-6 months without income)
- Investments – regularly investing 15% gross income (including my automatic pension contributions through work)
My Discretionary Debt
I confessed two weeks ago that despite the great progress DH and I are making together, my own discretionary account has been in the red for the past year. As I wrote, “It’s the place where all of my old bad, chaotic, thoughtless patterns with money continue to reside.”
The number one piece of advice that I received was to track my discretionary spending faithfully. It’s exactly the advice I would have given – that I have given – to anyone struggling with debt. It’s what DH and I have been doing with our joint accounts for 5 years now. I have committed to tracking my discretionary spending many times, but I have always fallen off when I don’t want to face how out of control it’s become.
For the past two weeks, I’ve tracked faithfully. And it’s been a spendy two weeks! Ugh! I wanted to start off my fearless inventory with a really impressive account, but that’s not going to happen. Let me just say that there are times of the year when discretionary spending is high, and this is one of them – Back To School. All 3 of our children will be heading to (post-secondary) class next week, and as a teacher, I headed back last week. Emotions happen at the end of every August. So does emotional spending.
Here’s how I’ve spent over the past two weeks. No numbers for now. Not that fearless yet. I had to push through a definite “this is out of control!” desire to stop tracking to make this account complete.
- treated DD2 to lunch after we’d visited my mom in her seniors residence
- treated DH to supper after he’d fixed my mom’s DVD player
- dutch date with DH including lunch and museum (and about 50 km / 31 miles cycling)
- supper with 3 childhood friends
- flowers for the mom of one of these friends (whose health has become fragile)
- lunch my first day back to work
- treated DD3 to lunch when she came into work with me and helped me move furniture
- treated DD3 and DH to pizza from a small authentic pizza place … because it just smelled so good when I walked past it (end-of-August emotions, people!)
- hosted a Korean-dumpling making party with about 8 colleagues (I didn’t lead the charge – another teacher did. Hard work! So delicious.)
Looking ahead to September …
The good news is that for the first half of August, I spent next to nothing. These last 2 weeks therefore didn’t bring me deeper into debt. They did, however, bring me to within a dollar of zero – perhaps indicative of that old drive to max out. But for now, I don’t want to analyze things too much. My only commitment at this point to track with honesty. I’m dealing with a stubborn, stubborn issue here, and while I do want to get the better of it, the path of fierce willpower and resolve has failed me too many times. I’m taking the approach of awareness with no-judgment – one step at a time. And tracking is the first step.
“You’ve got to look at the month ahead,” DH coached me as September approached. “Think about what expenses there will be, and set aside money for those things first.” DD2’s birthday is in September. I’ll be hosting a wedding shower for one niece and buying her a gift. I’ll be buying a baby shower gift for another niece. “And remember,” DH cautioned, “we can take September’s discretionary money at the beginning of the month, but we won’t be able to give ourselves October’s allowance until you get your first pay – which will be almost mid-month. Plan for that.”
As I mentioned in my confessional two weeks ago, my personal debt was $1,669. After I took September’s allowance of $600, I paid $200 towards that line of credit, and it now sits at $1,479. (I am of course, paying some interest.) That leaves me with $400 for 6 weeks. Can I do it? Certainly not with the kind of lunch & treat frenzy of the past two weeks. But as I said, the past two “Back To School” weeks weren’t typical. Time to buckle up. I can’t promise victory, but I can promise honesty. Stay tuned!
I welcome your advice and insight (and even analysis). Feel free to offer it. Are there times of the year when you know you spend more?