progress not perfection

January 5th, 2008

Progress not Perfection

The dust has settled, we’ve (kind of) wrapped our heads around our new reality, and we’re ready to take the next step forward to get back to where we were a week ago. Which will probably take months, but what is progress without a setback or two? Once we get back to where we were, we’ll discuss how to get further than there. I’ve still got my eye firmly on the no credit card debt plan. It will just take a few more months than I thought.

We’ve decided to repair the car, and repair it at the Saturn dealer it is at. My spouse called just about every single repair shop in the phonebook, large and small, and the prices ranged anywhere from $3600 to $8800. Yes, $8800. Not going there. The price the Saturn dealer quoted my spouse did not include tax (which he knew but forgot to tell me, heh), so it originally was in total around $3900 (we have 6% sales tax). So my spouse, at my suggestion, used the $3600 quote from another place (which did include tax) as leverage, and asked for a 10% discount. The service rep discussed it with his manager and called my spouse back almost immediately agreeing to the 10% discount. Yay for my spouse!  He saved us $370 just by being assertive and I am very proud of him.  So our final total with tax is around $3600. Plus $45 for the tow to the shop in the first place. The final deal includes a 12 month warranty on the parts and labor, which gives me a little bit of peace of mind. In 12 months the car will be two payments away from being paid off, instead of 14 payments away.

We thought about selling the car in the condition it is in (or using it as a trade in) and buying a new to us car. We did do some preliminary research on availability and prices, and for us right now it just didn’t make sense. If I am going to get a different car I’d want to feel reasonably sure it was more reliable than the one I’ve got, and that comes with a price. Still owing $3300 on this car that would have to be rolled into the next loan just didn’t make sense for us long term. I know that there will be disagreement on this point, but we all do the best we can with what we have.

So, repairing the car. We don’t have to pay for it for another week (which is how long it is going to take to fix) so we can still ponder exactly how we want to do that. But my spouse got approved for the 90 days same as cash yesterday to give us that option. I’ve transferred $700 of our $1000 emergency fund into checking (I can transfer the last $300 with a few mouse clicks and will when we get to that point, but I pay a monthly fee when my balance is under $300 so I am putting it off) and initiated the transfers from our ING accounts of the $150 long term savings and $150 playstation fund. That puts around $1700 in our checking account by sometime next week minus whatever we spend on gasoline and groceries between now and then. I’ve also initiated the transfer to empty out the blog account and will transfer the remaining $300 from the emergency fund when we are going to pay the car bill.

My current plan is to pay $2500 directly on the car bill (by the time it is fixed next Friday, my spouse will have been paid again, so we will be able to use some of that too) and put the remaining $1100 on the 90 days same as cash plan.  And add it to my debt total… sigh. I may come up with some more money between now and then, we’ll see, I’m still thinking through things and seeing if I can come up with any other ideas. My goal is for the 90 days amount to be the absolute minimum possible that still lets me sleep at night. I just can’t take money out of the kids college accounts. Yes, the majority of the money in them is “our” money we chose to deposit (some of it was cash gifts to the kids from relatives) but for now, I can’t make myself touch it.

I may change my mind by the end of the 90 days period if I haven’t managed to knock out the entire balance. But I think that $1100 is doable in 90 days, or less, and then on to rebuilding the savings accounts. We’ll see. A bridge I will think about crossing in a little while.

Progress not perfection. I sincerely hope this car does not become more of a money pit. I had great plans to pay for the next car in cash… but that necessitated this car lasting a few more years. We’ll see.

In positive news my background check to begin tutoring is finally complete and my first tutoring hours are tomorrow. That additional income will definitely help with knocking out this debt. One door closes and another door opens.

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25 Responses to “Progress not Perfection”

  1. Someone is always going to disagree with whatever decision you make, so all that matters is what you think. But FWIW I think it all sounds reasonable. $1100 isn’t too bad – and it’s not $3600! Your emergency fund did the job it was supposed to do, because you made some savvy financial decisions. Good for you!

  2. It actually sounds like you were able to make something that would’ve really hurt you a year ago not so bad because you’re so much more financially aware now. I think it’s really great that you’re going to do it and only have to borrow less than 1/3 of the total cost.

    And WTG hubby for being assertive!

  3. Hon, it’s a setback, but it would have been a disaster a year ago. You’re doing great – and you’re not emptying out the kid’s college funds. You will be CC debt free by this time next year.

  4. It sounds like you’ve made a well considered decision, which means that it is a good one. With any luck, you’ll be able to grow your blog income to pay off the rest of the money.

  5. We all do the best we can with the situation we’re handed. Just THINK of where you would be if this had happened a year ago?! Look at what you’ve gotten paid off on your credit card over the last few months, $1100 will be a piece of cake ;)

  6. I’m glad you’ve come to a positive solution. You did the best you could with a difficult situation and you have the right attitude. Good job!

  7. Thanks peeps :)

    And I have been thinking a lot about what a disaster this would have been a year ago.

    And – how much less of a disaster it might have been a year from now…. ;)

  8. It sounds like you’ve been able to take this setback pretty well. Yes, it’s slowing your progress, but it doesn’t take you back to square one.

  9. Congratulations for keeping a really positive attitude thought this! If life was easy, anyone could do it. :-)

  10. Same decision I would have made. 4 steps forward, 1 step back…your still moving forward, don’t forget that.

    Life happens, and you just have to roll with the punches. We’ve had a few unexpected set backs as well, not as expensive as yours granted, but set backs. You’ll get there!

  11. I understand your decision and I would probably do the same with the exception of the college accounts. I don’t labor under the assumption that I am on the hook for their college. We will help by offering room, board and insurance both car and medical. That is all we can reasonably do for all 7 of our children.

  12. When you are on a path to be debt free, there will be many things that will pop up, which will test your commitment. This is a test. What you are going through is just a test. A test of your determination. A test of your aptitude. These little tests teach us how to be creative and to think our way back out of debt.

    Congratulations. I think you have passed the test. With each set back in life we become stronger and stronger.

    You will look back on this occurrence and it will give you the strength to meet the next challenge. The next test.

    Keep up the good work.

  13. I had a similar problem and wrote a guest post about it on blogging away debt

    One point no one has brought up, what about about taking a partime job to bring in some extra income?

    Get a job in retail and your husband can watch the kids while you work. In my opinion it’s a win win situation, your husband gets quality time with the kids and you bring in extra income without the cost of babysitting. Letting your husband watch the kids also has an added benefit, he gets to appreciate what you do all day.

    Anyways the secret is not to spend the extra income, in that regard you have an advantage over most of my friends in that you are able to live on one income so it’s really a matter of making sure your money gets set aside. I’m not familiar with wages in your area but I’m sure it’s more than enough to offset any minor increase in costs.

    Dave Ramsey refers to this as breaking the log jam.
    Usually it means taking on a partime job on top of a fulltime one.

  14. Sounds like your plan is well thought out. That’s all that really matters. You’ll be able to knock out that $1100 in now time.

  15. Good luck with this–you’re very creative so I’m sure you can make great progress on it all!

    I don’t think we ever will reach perfection. But there are lots of marks of progress we reach. And you’re definitely making progress, even with the setbacks.

  16. Hey Rob –

    I do work part time. I teach taekwondo several evenings a week while my spouse takes care of the kids, and starting this week I’ll be tutoring chemistry online the hours I am not at taekwondo when my spouse is home too. I don’t just sit around all day :) . I actually do earn part of our income, I just don’t do it in the conventional manner.

    My spouse does appreciate what I do all day and claims he could never do it ;) .

  17. Good job and I think a totally reasonable decision. I hope the car purrs like a kitten when you get it home and for years to come. FWIW, I drove a 91 Saturn for almost a decade and sold it to a friend who sold it to her sister who finally wrecked it but it was still going strong. I’ve known lots of people that got lots of good mileage from them so try not to be too worried. I think you could google pretty much any car and find horror stories…maybe not a Beemer. ;)


  18. I am amazed at how well your handling all this and thoroughly impressed. Way to go! Yeah, it sucks to have this setback, but you have a stellar plan and lots of options. And your spouse – he’s the man!

  19. just a note I love the intimacy of blogosphere, being able to look into peoples lives but sometimes in the comment field things can come across harsher than intended, it’s hard to get the tone right if you happen to disagree with something.

  20. No problem Rob, I personally never saw you as harsh :)

    I don’t expect everyone to agree with everything I do, for if I did expect that, I’d be crushed by the impossibility of that. I was just filling in some parts of my story that aren’t completely obvious from these posts in response to your suggestion. Earning more income is a very valid debt-reduction strategy, and we do take that seriously. We balance that with our own personal beliefs and values about our kid’s childhoods. to each their own journey :)

    (Now I must run since I have a tutoring session soon lol)

  21. Sounds like you have a great thought out plan.

    And yay for your spouse being assertive!! Can he give my hubby some lessons?? :)


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