I’ve been feeling lately like I’m back in the first years of my relationship with Tim when I was constantly contending with debt. Which seems ridiculous because right now we only have the mortgage.
But we have this huge bill looming. And it’s been looming for seven years now. Really, it’s debt that just hasn’t gotten here yet.
Thanks to that, it feels like we haven’t made any progress since paying off our (non-mortgage) debt four years ago.
Yes, we’ve put away money (and taken it out and put it back in). But with that expense hanging over us, it never felt like we were saving money so much as just prepaying the debt.
Every dollar we put in just lessened how much we would owe later. Conversely and far more excruciatingly, every dollar we took out just added to the impending deficit.
When most people have $11,025 in their account (our current total thanks to the IRS refund) they feel proud, satisfied or at least like they’ve accomplished a lot.
I look at it and see -$14,000.
It’s a unique sort of hell when you realize that saving around $20,000 in a year will put you squarely at the zero mark next year. It’s even worse when you know that no matter how much you put in savings, you can’t seem to get ahead.
Lest you think I’m being overly maudlin, I did some math.
In 2014, we put $12,400 into the main savings account and $6,400 into the car and IRA funds.
This year hasn’t been much better.
Thanks to my substantial yearly bonus (thank you, Best Boss Ever), we’ve put $10,800 into savings and $1,600 in the car and IRA funds. But we’ve spent $7,250 on the masonry wall, fence doors, HVAC unit, new toilet and fans.
No wonder I never feel financially secure.
And if we’re lucky, we’ll start next year with our emergency fund intact and a depleted savings account. If we’re not lucky, we’ll still owe money.
So what’s a gal to do? Well, I try to shush the screaming in my head. Once that’s done, all I can do is… realize that I’m doing all I can.
Normal personal finance wisdom says that the first step is to pay off anything like bad credit car loans and deal with any ridiculously high-interest home loan. But our car is paid off, and our mortgage rate is great. So I’m trying to find reasonable ways to trim. I’m switching us to Ooma, and Nadine has been nice enough to cook a few meals for us already.
Otherwise, it’s just a matter of staying the course and having cautious optimism for 2016.
It’s entirely possible that we can actually be productive once this monstrous bill is behind us. (Or something new will explode. Hopefully, in the form of an adorable, squalling tax deduction.) Either way, I’m hoping that we can make headway on little things like retirement and maybe putting a little extra to the house payments.
And of course, build up a real savings account. One that isn’t already spoken for. One where we are putting money in, not just avoiding debt.
Have you ever looked at a healthy account balance and still felt like you’re in debt?