I've written many times before how maintaining my car has been a major stumbling block in my hopes and dreams of getting out of debt.
I've been working my new financial plan for about 6 months now and the real test came last week when it was time for another oil change/maintenance check/smog certification.
After a few weeks of working the new plan, I figured out that any money left over in the car budget every week should stay there. For just these occasions. Since I didn't have to make the commute for the girls' schools over the summer, that money added up. I knew I had over $800 and that would pay for the expected costs (he'd already warned me I would need struts - or something. To tell you the truth, I zone out on the actual words and just focus on the amount, which had been quoted around $500) and my smog check, but one never knows. Or, at least, I don't.
I think he was really surprised to hear my sheer delight when the amount came to $620. Not only could I pay that, I can also still pay for the car registration and still have a little left over in the Car bucket! That is the first time in ten years that I've been able to pay a bill like that completely out-of-pocket.
I'm telling you, this budgeting thing works.
Now, I'm still keeping a realistic outlook. I'm already concerned about the next one since I am back to the commute and won't be able to accumulate quite as much in the Car bucket as quickly. And right after that, I ended up having to take $200 out of my savings to pay for Sylvia's art supplies. Every time I get just past one-month's worth of living expenses saved, something happens where I have to dip in there. But last year at this time, both of those types of expenditures would've gone on the credit card.
I have not used either of my credit cards in over 6 months. My monthly minimum just dropped $50 on my highest balance credit card (with the lowest interest rate), and I am less than $100 away from paying off my high interest rate credit card completely. Again, I know, but I think this time it really might be for good.
Another big change. I finally had a friggin' "a-ha" moment which I should've had a year ago. I'm lucky enough to work for a company that offers educational reimbursement. But it is reimbursement. I have to pay for the classes, the books and all that up front, and then after I finish the class and get my grade, I can submit for reimbursement.
In the past, I have used that $$ towards credit card payments and stuff, but then, I finally got smart and put it away in another account entirely and then, used it to pay for this semester's costs. I feel incredibly stupid that it took me this long to figure that out, but at least I did and that's another expense that got put on the credit card last year that I was able to pay out-of-pocket this year. (And this should be my penultimate semester.)
There's more to say about working this plan, what the girls learned about $$ this summer, and such, but this post is long enough as is!