That’s how much debt my husband and I have paid off over the past year. Medical bills, car payments, and credit card payments–a huge pile of debt with a huge dent in it, and all on a meager income of about $440/week.
Oh yeah, we’re far from the six-figure income. We started with two incomes about this time last year, setting aside that $1,000 emergency fund in a week, just to have Simon laid off the next week.
In order to afford rent, I invited my mom to come live with us for a while. Well, there’s a lot more to the story but part of it is that she, Simon and I had plenty of debt between the three of us, that sharing rent, utilities and whatnot would be mutually beneficial towards paying down debt.
We more or less skipped on Christmas. To be honest, it was a huge relief to not have to worry about exchanging gifts. I don’t mean to sound selfish or cheap, but enjoying the holiday purely for the people felt so freeing. We just put up a few Christmas lights, baked some cookies, and had a nice, relaxing day that involved getting into the shower whenever we felt like it. Our gift to ourselves was having enough money to cover all the bills.
Simon’s unemployment ran out halfway through February. We started buying ramen noodles by the 20-pack, buying only meat that was 1.99/lb, eating lots of pasta, bologna sandwiches, and cheap cereal. My delicate digestion was able to put up with that for maybe two weeks before I started burning through lots of toilet paper.
Come April, Simon got his license to sell term life insurance and our landlords offered him under-the-table work to fix up one of their properties. That work covered rent through September 2015. On top of that, he started selling policies, the extra chunks of change coming at crucial moments, including our first anniversary. We had enough left over to see a Diamondbacks game on July 4th.
Our anniversary was surreal and sweet. My mom and brother accompanied us. I won a free t-shirt and simon caught a ball during batting practice. I made a sign to announce our anniversary to the rest of the park and many people congratulated us. We stuffed ourselves on TGIFridays burgers, beer/margaritas, and dessert, and watched the D-Backs win. Couldn’t have asked for a better anniversary.
Summer brought rising temperatures and rising tension between my mom and I. Newlyweds living with an in-law is tough. Two different lifestyles is difficult to blend together when they clash. We mutually agreed it was time to go back to living under separate roofs.
Now how the hell were we supposed to afford that? I loved my job at the paper but the pay was an obstacle. I looked into what it took to get a teaching certificate. I talked to staff from several different local schools and, by the sound of it, I had several time-consuming hoops left to jump through. Cue the long, heavy exhale.
If you read my blog about my finally getting a teaching job, then you know how the rest of the summer went. Now, my husband has replaced me at the paper, which is awesome. For the first time since I’d started with the paper, we have two full-time incomes again.
We’ll be moving into a smaller house, a duplex, towards the end of October. That’ll save us hundreds of dollars a month. Our next goal is to pay off our final credit card and the Camry as fast as we can so we can set aside money for a down payment on a house. Wish us luck!