Friday, January 30, 2009

Next steps

The first step in Dave Ramsey's plan is to build up a $1000 emergency fund as quickly as possible. It turns out that we have savings bonds Ryan has purchased for the kids that will cover the $1000 and are liquid enough to count.

So on to step 2 - pay off the debt. The plan is to do whatever it takes to take care of that as fast as possible. That means Pants will work more overtime. It means we will start selling some of the possessions we have that are weighing us down. It means stopping our 401k contributions for now until the debts are paid (we're paying the 401k in loans anyway and don't worry, jacking them back up is step 4). It means diverting every dollar to debt.

We have made a pact to stop eating out, one of our big expenses. I am culling the grocery ads and coupons so we can eat more cheaply. We're skipping the new iPhones we wanted and just getting replacement phones and a cheaper plan. We have canceled the extras like HBO. We are bringing lunch to work. Next week the project is to make sure I have coffee in the morning instead of buying it.

If you have any other ideas on how we can save money (making my own cleaners: check!), leave them in the comments. This is on project status, so I'm more than interested.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The denial stopped today

I debated on whether or not to post this because it approaches the taboo subject of money. Even worse, it's extremely personal. It's about my household debt, but I think in the end I have been hiding long enough. That's part of the problem.

Pants and I have managed to build up a very large amount of debt in the last year. I can lie to you and tell you it's because our daycare expense is so large, along with our other bills, but it's not. It's because we have always been somewhat frivolous with money. In the past, we have made enough and kept our bills low enough to be able to absorb the crap we were purchasing. With the added $1400 expense per month, we could no longer afford all that stuff but we continued living like we could. And now here we are.

We have been in denial for months about our situation but I finally put all of our debt on paper and showed Pants tonight. He has gone out for a drive to try to absorb the numbers and figure out how this could happen in a year. I'm a bit farther on the acceptance chain and am trying to figure out how we're going to get out of it.

Pants and I have concocted a plan. Or more accurately, I have stolen a plan from Dave Ramsey's book, "The Total Money Makeover" and Pants is willing to go along with it. For now, every dollar will be tracked and every available dollar will be diverted to paying bills. We plan to pull out all the stops to get everything paid and be out of debt for good.

Now that it's out, I will continue to post about what we're doing and the plan we're following. Some of you may be familiar already with Dave Ramsey so you already know the plan. Some of you may recognize the plan because it's not new or original - it's a repackage of a general plan for getting out of debt that you've probably heard before.

And please don't make the mistake of thinking I'm asking anyone for anything. We got into this and unless we change our habits, any bailouts will only be a temporary relief. Bailouts will not ever lead to us learning to live within our means. We have tried several bailouts that have only placed us deeper in debt and now we have used up all those options. We need to learn the lesson the hard way now.

Next steps

They came and picked up all the fans today except 2, still aimed at walls that are marginally damp. The subfloor in the main room in the basement is being tested to determine what material it is made of before they tear it out - they need to know if an asbestos mitigation company needs to tear it out. The guy didn't think it contained asbestos, but he wanted to make sure. He thought it was Build-right, some kind of external material you put on your house before putting up the Tyvek and siding. Nice.

So we're waiting for them to pick up the other two fans and remove the sub-floor. After that, the contracting company will determine what can be repaired and what needs to be replaced and the work will begin.

Currently, I am starting to fill out forms for claiming the losses. Blech.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Progress - with updates

The mitigation guy is here and progress is being made on the basement. First thing he did was start cutting out the carpet in the main room. It was difficult to stifle a giggle. I told him he could take anything down and cut anything out that he needed to.

Update - mitigation guy has cut out most of the carpet downstairs and left several giant fans and a dehumidifier to dry out the walls and wood. He mentioned that our paneling is over drywall and that's usually bad, so it would probably have to come down. Heartbroken? Not so much.

I started removing bins from the well area earlier today to see what could be salvaged and what was toast.

Completely dry inside:
The wedding bin, containing invitations, favors, napkins, etc.
My high school bins, containing diploma, awards, keepsakes, etc.
Pants' father's saxophone
All of the Christmas decorations that weren't actually on the tree, including the girls' ornaments and the Christmas angel.

Pants' mickey mouse ornament bin, but only the original boxes which seem to have absorbed some of the damp.
Pants' old D&D bin, which got some water in it, but not much. Pretty much everything is intact.

All of our luggage.
The Easter bin, which has a foot of standing water in it.
An entire down comforter
My entire file of UReg's with all of my college newspaper articles
Pants' keyboard
Pants' rocket and microscope slides
Two boxes filled with jewel cases and DVD cases (actual discs in giant cases)

Unknown (Items I haven't viewed or salvaged yet):
The 5-gallon buckets of paint for the girls' rooms and the outside of the house.
Pants' foot locker (standing on end on the floor) and another tote bin full of his keepsakes and Eagle Scout stuff.

Not Wednesday, just wordless.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The blessed sound of a blow torch

So, yeah, our well blew up yesterday. Pants noticed it at about 7 last night because we don't really go downstairs while the girls are awake. There was water shooting straight up into the air, the entire well space was full of water (about 1.5-2 feet) and the entire carpet in the main basement room was waterlogged. Water also soaked through (under?) the wall and 4-5 feet into our bedroom and 4-5 feet into the office as well.

Pants slogged through the very cold water to turn off the pump and stop the geyser before realizing he could have just turned it off at the breaker. I started calling plumbers, only to find out we needed a well contractor (although that is also still debatable, now that we can see the damaged pipe.) I made the call to insurance and to MIL to come watch the kids while we tried to figure out how much damage there was and see if we could start getting some of the water up.

BIL directed Pants in buying a bilge pump, which successfully drained the well out by around 11:30. Which was about when I broke down and drove to Walgreens in my jammies to buy a new pack of nukkies so the girls would go to bed (they got lost in MIL's quest to clean upstairs while we dealt with water downstairs).

The well contracter is here this morning fixing the pipe and I am waiting for a call from a "water mitigation" company who will come dry out my house and tell the insurance company if the carpets and walls can be saved.

But here's a funny moment from last night - I'm taking down the Christmas tree (I know, I know) and throwing it over the couch onto the built-in bench (hey, we finally found a use for it) and I spill a glass of water off the table onto the floor. Swearing commenses and my SIL says, um, yeah, not really a big deal at this point, you know? Oh yeah, we flooded the basement. Another glass of water? Not so much.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

We've cracked 20 degrees!

Which puts the weather nearly 45 degrees higher than it was yesterday morning. Brrr!

Some random thoughts for you:

Meimei is getting through the molar issue, although still no molars to be seen.

My husband is now having a bromance with World of Warcraft. This is worse than football season.

I am now fully medicated at 100 mg of Zoloft. I'm not sure it's enough. I'm really tired and the house is a mess.

The refrigerator stopped giving us water and has stopped making ice and we think the well pipes have frozen. Gonna have to open the well door to warm up the area, thereby making the rest of the basement extremely cold. Damn.

Monday, January 12, 2009

I hate molars

I might be posting more if I was getting more than 5 hours of sleep a night due to Meimei's molars and sparkling personality.

Or if those 5 hours were continuous.