Financial Check-In: 2018 Debt Paid and 2019 Goals

It's absolutely insane to me that at this time last year I was working two part-time jobs and side-hustling my butt off while trying to also do the stay-at-home Mom gig. Life was tough- we were broker than broke and had dug ourselves into a deep hole. We'd fallen behind on debts and felt like we were constantly struggling to keep our heads above water. Since I started my full-time job in June we've been in a much better place financially, but we're still digging ourselves out of the hole we got into the last few years.

My twenties were rife with terrible financial decisions and taking the "if I ignore it, I won't have to deal with it" approach to a lot of debt and related issues. Suffice to say, that I am older and wiser in 2019 and am working so hard to correct the mistakes of my youth. Our family has a ways to go until our debt is completely paid off, but we're doing well. We've got a good momentum going and we're taking the lessons we learned the hard way and paving the way for a more financially secure future.

We paid approximately $30,500 toward debt in 2018. Considering that I was making next to nothing for half the year and we also paid for childcare for two children, I'm pretty darn happy with that number. Here's where it went:


I mentioned a few of my financial goals for this year in my 19 Goals in 2019, but I thought I'd share them again and add more that didn't make the list (you can never be too financially accountable!)

Improve my credit score by 5%
My credit score basically nosedived when we started falling behind in paying my student loans in favor of paying for the essentials- food, housing, utilities, etc. I've been up-to-date on all my payments for the last year-ish, so I obviously plan to keep that going. However, on-time payments may only result in a point increase every 2-3 months, so I also plan to apply for a secured credit card once we've got a few of our smaller debts paid off. Right now, I have no credit utilization factoring into my score, and while it's not necessarily hurting me, it's also not helping me to increase it. Since we've been burned by credit cards in the past, I only plan to use it for gas.

Pay off my auto loan. 
I still have about two years worth of payments left on my auto loan (NEVER buying new again!), but my goal is to double my monthly payments and have it paid in full by December.

Save up enough to buy a minivan in cash.
I've wanted a minivan basically since high school and I don't know how much longer my little Kia Forte is going to last. Since I've always commuted to my full-time jobs, I've wracked up a lot of mileage. As you can see above, the amount of debt we owe/paid in auto loans is absurd. From this point forward, we have no plans to take out any more loans to purchase vehicles and will only be buying used and in cash! My goal is to save about $18,000 total. I don't think I'll be able to hit that by the end of the year, but I do think it's possible by next summer.

Pay off remaining credit card debt.
We did a great job chipping away at our credit card debt last year and are within sight of having it paid off completely by this summer.

Pay off remaining medical debt.
This is another one that is totally doable within the next few months. We have less than $1,000 left!

My strategy for hitting our financial goals boils down to a few things:

1. I set aside $150 from each paycheck for my "Mama's Minivan Fund."

2. I also apply my $270 monthly childcare reimbursement to my minivan fund (after taking out a small amount for the boys' 529 savings plans).

3. After bills are paid, anything leftover from Chuck's monthly commission check goes toward debt.

4. Track everything paid in my "Debt Snowball" spreadsheet. (This helps encourage me and keeps my momentum going!)

I will also receive my year-end bonus and a small raise at the beginning of February. Anything in excess of what I'm making currently will start going toward savings and debt. After my Dad passed away at the end of October, we started planning a trip out to California to deliver his ashes to his best friend (per his request in his will). However, a family vacation just isn't feasible (or responsible) for us at this time, so we're putting it on the back-burner for the foreseeable future until we get on a bit more stable footing.

So tell me, do you have any other tips or tricks to improving my credit score or saving faster?!

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