Shriveling debt and reset priorities

This month marks a pretty big occasion on our path toward being debt free: we will have more in emergency savings than in debt. We started with about $52k in student loan debt between the two of us, and this month it is down to under $10k. If you haven’t been following along since the beginning, we began aggressively paying down the debt in early 2010. I am very hopeful that we can now pay it off completely by the end of October 2013, or only three months from now! Even if it is a couple months later, like in December, that’s only five months from now.

It’s kind of surreal, but it’s really only going to be about four years of rather large extra payments. In that time, we have also (all in cash) replaced two vehicles, took at least one vacation each year, gotten some nicer long-term furniture, a new laptop, and saved a good chunk toward retirement.

So, what’s next after becoming debt free?

We will be getting out of debt basically just in time to start paying my husband’s tuition for grad school without taking on more loans. This is great, because as I previously mentioned, we were going to allow ourselves to do some things without worrying about the debt hanging around a little longer (update: she had a perfectly healthy baby boy but she is still not 100% out of the woods). We took that wonderful trip to Seattle in May, husband did register for two classes this fall, I went to Chicago mainly for work in June with one day of fun tacked on, and we are working on plans to visit Europe next summer. We’ve even gotten a couple of invitations to stay with people if we visit Germany and Denmark, so those may be added to the list along with seeing Paris.

Gaming frugality – month two

A brief update on our goals:

    • give up beer until summer – Update: Have not purchased any beer. I think I’ve also lost 3 lbs. because of this. We did buy one bottle of Malibu rum because we could get the giant bottle for $10 after a $4 rebate. New goal: forego beer as long as possible.
    • one fancy coffee drink per month  – Update: I think we got a couple coffees each in the last month, using them as a reward for doing something else. Husband is trying to wake up early a couple days per week and get to a free class at our gym, so is using coffee as his reward. New goal: we can get fancy coffees if there is a BOGO, but only if we have met the previous month’s gym goal of 12 visits or made it to a class at the gym.
    • both will bike/walk to work once it is warmer than 30 degrees when we leave – Update: wow, this is tough, because for a couple weeks, it rained every afternoon when it was quittin’ time for me, so I elected to drive. Husband rode bike quite a bit in June, though. New goal: try to walk at least 2x per week, and if driving, must pair it with some other errand (immediately go to gym after work, for example).
    • only eat out together for dates, not as a convenience – do more meal planning – Update: this has been going fairly well. I think we only broke this rule once in the past month and a half. New goal: just keep on planning a couple meals per week and have cheap/easy things so we are not tempted to eat out.
    • husband will not get professional massages, and will visit the chiropractor only once per month, as needed – Update: still going well; I think husband visited the chiropractor once last month. New goal: not needed.
    • no new clothes unless essential for work – Update: I did buy a new swim suit because one was completely shot, and a pair of shoes when I was in Chicago. New goal: keep using Pinterest for ideas to use pieces I already own.
    • no new makeup, nail polish, other frivolous lady temptations for me – Update: I threw away some almost-empties in Chicago to have more room in luggage, and purchased a new BB cream and powder, for less than $10 total. New goal: continue to avoid these aisles.
    • I will eliminate lady temptations by only going to Target for groceries – Update: I bought the aforementioned makeup at Target. New goal: not needed.
    • Buy gifts primarily with credit card points for Amazon.com – no gift purchases yet, but still accumulating points. New goal: not needed.

    Also, I requested and started reading John Bogle’s The Little Book of Common Sense Investing from the library and shifted some of our investments based on this.