I recently announced that I would start featuring some of the budget profiles that have been submitted, including those of fellow bloggers. For those of you who may be new to this site, I encourage others to bare their budgets so we can all benefit by seeing how everyone else is (or isn’t) making it.
This week I am excited to be featuring Jennifer from Ditching our Debt!
How would you like to be raising 4 young kids with an income of $50K per year and $90K in debt? Jennifer and her husband are doing just that! She has a very positive outlook and is making steady progress forward. If they can successfully chip away at their debt, homeschool 4 little ones, and still find creative ways to have fun, there is no reason any of us shouldn’t be able to do the same.
I was particularly intrigued by the fact that Jennifer worked overseas in Uzbekistan which gave her a whole new outlook on life and money. I asked her a few questions based on her current financial situation that you can read below to see how they are managing everything.
Follow the link below to check out her budget profile (it will open in a new window). It consists of monthly income & expenses & total net worth. In other words, all of the dirty details that we love to read about.
The Ditching our Debt Interview
1. What is your current financial goal, and how do you plan to reach it?
We have five federal loans and are focused on paying off the one with the highest interest right now. I think it’s at $5,924 but hopefully we will have it paid off early 2016. Once we reach that, we will focus on the loan with the next highest interest, etc. until we get through them all. Our auto loan and mortgage both have extremely low interest rates so we are just making our regular payments on those right now.
2. My wife homeschools our kids as well, so I know that it’s not easy and that there can be financial implications. What kind effect has homeschooling had on your budget?
Obviously the main effect is that I can’t work during the day. I know some moms do it and make it work by shuffling school around, but with my kids’ ages I find that very hard to do. I am looking into some different ways to make some money on the side when I have a little free time in the evenings, though. We have been very blessed to have access to a wonderful public library as well as used curriculum fairs and used book sales at the library that have helped us compile a nice collection of books and resources.
I also think that aside from the not-being-able-to-work factor, homeschooling has perks financially – if we sent them to school, we would probably need an extra car for drop-off and pick-up, and have to spend more for school clothes, etc. Instead, we can spend some of that money on things like a zoo or museum pass for the year.
3. What would you say to people who feel like they’re too old or have too many kids to go back to school?
It really depends on where you are at, what you would like to do, and if graduate school is the only way to do it. If it’s not, I would encourage you to seek other options!
Our previous situation (my husband was a private school teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area) was unsustainable and provided little opportunity for income growth, so we felt like it was what we should do. Taking on loans was no small thing, as we had been debt free since the birth of our first child.
We prayed about it, and tried to find a school that had a good regional reputation in a market where there were jobs and in an area where the cost of living was low (and the school had to be affordable and offer a decent tuition/scholarship). I wouldn’t say it’s too late if you’re in your 40’s like my husband was. We actually met other practicing attorneys who became attorneys in their 40’s as well, or younger but with kids. Taking on the loans has been the hardest part of the whole thing, though.
4. My wife and I did the one car thing for the first two years of our marriage, and it was tough! Especially when the baby came. How is “only” having one car for you? Do you see a second car in your future?
I honestly have not found the one-car family thing challenging but we have a unique situation. My husband only works 1.5 miles away and when the weather is good, he can bike. If the weather is bad and I need the car, I just drop him off and pick him up later. Plus, during the week I am usually homeschooling and don’t need to be out that much.
However, now that our oldest is getting into sports, I can see the need for a second car down the road, but that would probably not happen until we pay off our student loans. We love having only one car to insure, register and worry about for now.
5. Raising 4 young kids on a $50K budget while trying to pay off $90K in debt is not a walk in the park. What are some things you are doing to make it work? How would you advise others in similar situations?
When I was single, I lived and worked overseas in a country (Uzbekistan) where most of the people around me were very poor by our standards, yet I was very content with what I had there, even when my wardrobe and shopping options were drastically reduced. In many ways, it was much simpler and more relaxing to not have so many choices. Having that perspective has helped me a lot in being content even though we don’t have a lot of money to spend. That said, we do try to budget for a little spending money each month for us to spend or save how we choose.
For entertainment, we try to take our kids to parks and have an annual pass to the local children’s museum and zoo. We also get together with different couples or families for dinner every now and then. We usually watch BBC or Amazon prime movies, or movies from the library for date nights. I also am trying to focus more on entertaining myself by learning new skills and hobbies, like sewing or building things.
On a limited budget, it is also very important for us to sit down and try to discuss the budget every now and then to see where we are at and what needs to happen in a particular month in order to reach our goals. It’s somewhat akin to weighing yourself before the late-night snacking gets too bad.
Finally, for bigger needs such as clothing, homeschooling supplies, home repairs, etc., my husband gets paid twenty six times a year, which means that every six months he gets an extra paycheck, but most of the time we have to live on two. We try to set aside those extra two paychecks to cover these expenses.
As for advice to others, I would say, “Patience patience patience!” It may feel like you’re riding a tricycle in the Tour de France, but you can move forward! I’m a spreadsheet nerd, and I plot out what our debt will look like 2, 3, 4 years from now given our current situation if we keep making our payments, or if we make a little extra of a payment, etc. That in itself is encouraging. Is there something that you can cut in your budget? Is there a way you could generate a little side income, or work toward that six months from now? We are still looking for little ways here and there, always trying to improve.
Your turn to bare your budget
So there you have it! Jennifer is right on the money with her encouragement to just be patient! For any of you questioning your ability to make progress toward your financial goals despite everything you have going on in your life, just look to her as an example!
I am currently taking submissions from people who are interested in being featured. If you are interested, post your budget and send me an email.