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The nitty gritty

This is the post where I lay out all my awesomeness and all my transgressions, and I’m a little bit sweaty thinking about it. Actually, I’m a little bit sweaty because I just went for a run with the bottomless-pit-of-energy puppy, who is post-run tearing around the house chasing the cat while I flounder, exhausted, on the couch. Adding to the sweat is Amelia, who is laid against my chest so I won’t even THINK about leaving her while she sleeps EVER AGAIN. And, some of the sweat comes from the thought of laying out all my transgressions.

According to Mint.com, my total net worth, as of a few seconds ago, is $10,752.31. I have $229,886.54 in assets, and $219,124.23 in debts.

First, let me say this: It’s not possible that I have almost $230K in assets, Mint, you’re drunk. Second, JAYSUS that is a lot of debt.

So here are the main things I own: a mortgaged house, a paid off 2011 Toyota Camry, a financed 2013 Honda Odyssey, $13,000 in a savings account, and $67,476.28 in investments, including about $8,500 in 529 plans for the three kiddos. Not included is my husband’s retirement account through his work – it’s probably at about $20,000. I can’t access it online and prefer to think of it like a Christmas present that I’m going to open when he turns 65, just a box full of who knows how much money.

I’m trying not to touch that savings account because we are in danger of the bathroom floor rotting out, and we HAVE to replace the bathroom. The previous owner put the bathtub in himself, and did so at just the right tilt so there has been a daily leak through the floor for the past 15 years. Fun!

And here are the main things I owe: a mortgaged house, $14.5K on the van, $70K in student loan debt which, God willing, will be forgiven in four more years, $35K in student loan debt for my husband which, maaaaybe, will be forgiven in about 7 years. If the Public Service Loan forgiveness thing doesn’t work out, I’m SCREEEEEWED.

And, super embarrassingly, $7,900 in credit card debt.

As soon as I say that, my instinct is to say, “but I can explain! $500 will be reimbursed any day now by my husband’s employer for an online course he just paid for. $500 will be reimbursed by my siblings when they pay us back for the summer house reservation. $700 was for a plane ticket for MIL which isn’t getting reimbursed but is always just beyond our reach but we pay it off after a few months, $2000 is for the summer house reservations that I knew was coming and we’ve always managed to get that paid off, too. Christmas just happened, we drove across the country to see family, and kid birthdays in December, January, and February make this part of the year so intense. We had a bunch of huge expenses all at once and this is the highest the debt will ever ever be, I pinky swear.”

And I believe that, but it’s embarrassing nonetheless.

Additional recurring expenses, most at 0% or low interest: $100 for three more months to pay the exterminator because I really believe that several hundred dollars to rid our house of carpenter ants is worth the several thousands of dollars of damage they would have eventually caused. $50 for one more month for pediatric dentistry. $150 for 5 more months to pay off our lawn mower – for years we had a push mower, and we had to get a new one every three years or so, because our acre of thick, wet grass would just kill the push mowers. It took us 6 hours to do the lawn. Now, with the riding lawnmower, it takes about an hour and a half, and it should last much longer than three years. So, it’s an investment. $45 a month for another 9 months on my husband’s phone, $300 a month for about six years on our solar panels, $54 a month for another 2 years on my brain surgery because…well, brain surgery is important. $150 a month for six more years for when we waterproofed the basement and took care of a bunch of other stuff around the house, like building a retaining wall under the deck so the deck didn’t crumble to the ground.

So we have a bunch of little niggling debts that Dave Ramsey would probably murder me over, each one a “this seems like a good idea and our budget can handle another $50 a month” or whatever, but they add up to a lot.

So let’s see: retirement accounts are in much, much better shape than they used to be, credit card debt is the worst it’s been in years, my husband and I have committed to not taking on any small recurring debts until we get these ones under control (and have been committed to for about a year, so we are in better shape than, say, 6 months ago). Our net worth isn’t accurate, because it doesn’t include a decent chunk of retirement account from my husband and DOES include massive student loan debt, the majority of which should disappear in 4 years.

And, I have to remind myself – just a few years ago, our net worth was much more negative. I was on WIC with two of the three pregnancies, as my husband started his education from scratch (he’s an immigrant, he was educated abroad, but for complicated reasons none of that transferred over and he wanted a career change anyway), I was in grad school and then we were living on one income and also responsible for sending remittances to his family. A snapshot of 7 years ago: me starting out my career with a job that paid $39K, my husband in school and taking care of our baby daughter during the day, living in a one-bedroom apartment, $70K in student loan debt and one car to get us everywhere.

And now: we have a house that isn’t falling apart (too badly), two cars that are reliable and fairly new, three kids that we are able to provide for probably too well, we’ve been able to provide 100% support for MIL, we have managed to go on a week-long trip each summer to spend with my family, I don’t have that tumor anymore, our retirement accounts aren’t amazing but we’re building them up, we went on an international trip this past summer (for free! Yay frequent flier miles! Except it wasn’t free because we still had to pay for a bunch of stupid shit like food), we want for nothing. Well, except that I want for the debts to go down and the assets to go up.

We have come so far…we have so far to go.

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