The Nitty Gritty – Details Of My Financial Hole

by Debt Destroyer on July 11, 2008

Before I get too far on this journey to financial freedom, I figured it was time to come clean on just where I stand debt wise.

As of today July 11th, 2008 my wife & I owe:

  • $95,108.62 – Mortgage
  • $11,843.96 – Car Loan
  • $6,130.00 – Student Loan
  • $1,226.92 – Credit Card Balance

When I see it listed, it doesn’t seem so bad.  The total of $114,000+ is scary to think about, but I feel it’s quite manageable.  I now just have to figure a way to manage it.

Here’s what I have to work with:


$3500 – monthly take home pay.


  • $830 – House Payment
  • $330 – Car Payment
  • $105 – Student Loan Payment
  • $950 – Daycare bill
  • $100 – Electric bill (in winter this is $400+)
  • $100 – Phone & Internet
  • $50 – Water, sewer, & garbage fees
  • $100 – Insurance (Auto & Life)
  • $500 – Food
  • $60 – Retirement savings
  • $45 – Contributions to church
  • $130 – Gas

Total = $3,300

I usually am able to pay off the credit cards each month.  Which are normally double what they are this month, but I paid this month’s daycare bill late enough that it missed my card’s cutoff date. Of course this means that next month’s bill will be HUGE, but I’ll cross that bridge when it comes.  And for the past couple of years I’ve also been making small extra payments to the student loan ($20-$50 a month), but you can see that there isn’t much left at the end of the month to do a whole lot with.

In a future post (probably next week) I’ll dissect our biggest expense…DAYCARE.

But in the meantime, I’ll be curious to see the results of my financial tracking to see where I can cut some corners.  It’s been a challenge trying to keep track of every cent spent (especially during the long holiday weekend) but I keep reminding myself that it’ll be worth it in the long run.

I know that The Happy Rock is full of great ideas on saving money, but I bet that you all have some great penny-pinching tips and tricks as well.  If you do, please share them…because I need all the help I can get.

Until next time,


{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

celticbuffy July 11, 2008 at 9:29 am

You’re doing better than I am. I still haven’t made myself sit down and figure my total amount of debt. I do know the car loan and student loan amounts but am scared to see the amount of medical and miscellaneous debt that I owe.

No tips from me, I’m afraid. I’m at the same point in this journey as you! :)


The Happy Rock July 11, 2008 at 9:47 am


Great job. Being honest about were you are at is the perfect start. I will be interested in how July’s totals match the ‘budget’. All in all, I think you are right that things are manageable although some more debt looks to be coming next month. You have a good income and only about $20k of consumer debt.

A few quick points:

1. What is the interest rates and minimum payment for the debts?
2. How much is the car worth?
3. Is that income dual income?
4. Daycare stands out like a bright red flag! You are covering it soon, but from a quick glance it sounds like it might not be worth from a net gain perspective.
5. Cash Savings?


The Happy Rock July 11, 2008 at 9:52 am

@celticbuffy – Don’t think, just do it!!! I would be willing to host a post for you and give a link back to your blog if that will help motivate you. Readers and myself will also help provide feedback, tips, and accountability. Things will never be different without facing reality.

If you are still hesitant, do not think about fear but focus on the freedom and wonderful feelings that would come from journeying out of debt. It’s is as good as it sounds.


John July 11, 2008 at 10:02 am

Are those monthly expenses? What kind of car are you still paying on?

If your job has a 401k plan put the $60 a month to retirement on hold.

Cut off the church, if it is that important to you remember that once you pay off the consumer debt you can donate to the church in a much bigger way.

Eat less food and start buying ingredients instead of ready made meals. Buying the ingredients to make your own pasta sauce, for example, should cost about $1 versus the $3 to $6 for the jar of sauce.

You don’t need phone or internet.

That daycare bill is the killer. Selling the children is probably not going to go over well.


Jacquelin July 11, 2008 at 2:02 pm


I know this probably won’t help you, but I became a stay-at-home mom when our children were born. Right now we have 4 children ages 2 1/2 to 11. My husband brings home 2350.00 a month doing one full time job and one part time job. He used to have a much better paying job with great benefits that allowed us to live comfortably with 4 children. But his job went south. So we have had to adjust majorly to the lower income, growing children and higher cost of living. Here’s a few tips on what we have done:
Make just about everything possible food wise. I know that will be hard for two working parents, but maybe you can have a “cooking day”?. Freeze your prepared foods for the week/month in the freezor and just pull them out when you want.
When your getting ready to throw away something, think…can I reuse this somehow? Somehow that will save me money? I reuse the wax paper lining in cereal boxes to wrap sandwiches in for lunches or for baking. (I only buy cereal when it’s at a great price) As for the cardboard cereal box, we either use it for cut-out crafts(characters on the box) or for the base of a home-made notepad.


John (Debt Defier) July 11, 2008 at 7:45 pm


I too am curious to see how close the actual damage will be compared to my estimate in the post.

On to your questions:
1. The payments listed are the minimums, not sure on all the rates(not listed on statements, but if memory serves me correctly they are:
4.5% – School
5.5% – Home
6.5% – Vehicle

2. According to Kelly Blue book, $16,800.

3. Yes that is duel income.

4. Stay tuned

5. $1700 in 3 different types of accounts ($400-savings, $600 checking, $700 – Ameritrade).


John (Debt Defier) July 11, 2008 at 8:10 pm

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to read and comment on this post.

celticbuffy – I agree with Rock on this one. Once you figure it out you have a better idea on the proper battle plan…at least I hope thats how it works :)

John – Yes, they are monthly expenses.
We drive a 2004 Honda Odyssey.
I might put the retirement account on hold, but I don’t know about cutting off the church. I could cut back…

Without internet how would I get my fill of The Happy Rock? Won’t argue with you about the phone though, can’t stand it.

On the food, we have a little higher expenses due to my daughter having food allergies, which lead us to more expensive and hard to find items. Plus we also enjoy supporting our local food coop buy buying local & organic food. We don’t buy much processed food, if we did I could lower this number very easily.

And I’ve thought many times what a kid is worth :)

Jacquelin – Those are just the creative kind of tips I was talking about. We too buy a bunch of cereal when its on sale, but I’ve never thought about reusing the boxes or bags. Thanks for the tip.


Johh Doe July 12, 2008 at 12:35 am

I am really interested in your next article about day care. Currently that is one of my biggest expenses each month and if I didn’t have that I know I would not be in the kind of debt that I have right now. My bill for day care is not that much compared to yours but $700 a month where I am from is a lot of money. Great article and I can’t wait to read the next one.


The Rescue Team July 12, 2008 at 4:01 pm

I think people need to look at ways to increase there income instead of trying to cut back. Things are only going to get more expensive. Its time to get off the couch and work for yourself.


GRBerry July 14, 2008 at 11:20 am

Since you said the income is dual income, take a real look at whether the lower income job covers all of the following: 1) the direct daycare expenses, 2) the indirect daycare expenses (gas to/from, the occasional thing to bring), 3) the unreimbursed cost of working (gas to/from, work clothes, meals for work), 4) the net income tax effect of that job’s income (federal, state, maybe even local); less 5) an estimate of incremental costs of keeping the kids and a parent at home (craft supplies, utilities). If the lower income job doesn’t cover the net cost of having it, it is time to think about whether the non-financial reasons (career building, value of work) for the job justify that net cost (and the non-financial implications of handing over day care to a non-family member).

If you prioritize getting one of the loans paid off fast, put the extra money towards the smallest balance. If you prioritize the overall financial impact, put the extra money towards the highest interest rate. With the tightness of your budget I recommend paying off the smallest balance, it will give you room for unexpected stuff – and it already looks like in the winter you will be in a negative budget position.


Pete July 14, 2008 at 11:27 am

Have you thought about selling the car for a cheaper one? That $330 a month could go a long ways towards paying off other debt? There are a lot of quality used cars that you could buy that would be cheaper?

I bought a 2001 Chevy about 5 years ago for $7000, and it was paid off within 2 1/2 years. payments were only $200 for 2 years. (next time i’m going to pay cash for my car)


Drew "The Solution" July 15, 2008 at 3:55 am

The Increase in living cost in relation to income is “biting” everyone. My mortgage is over $280,000 in areas, but my wife and I both work.

That said, each bout of interest rate rises means less money to spend on luxuries (not that their is many of those at the moment).

If the kids weren’t in school daycare cost would cripple us.


Scott July 16, 2008 at 6:34 pm

I’m quite new on this blog, I was wondering where do you live so that I can better understand these numbers.

Seems like a very affordable location to live though to me, minus the daycare charges which are pretty high.

I take it you don’t just work online then and this is more for fun then anything?

Did you add any online revenue into those figures listed?

Thanks, Scott.


John (Debt Defier) July 16, 2008 at 11:46 pm

Thanks for all the comments. I’m still getting used to the idea of people actually reading this stuff.

John Doe – I wish I knew a secret way to shrink our daycare bills. But other than cutting back or finding a cheaper one, I can’t think of any. The Daycare post is coming soon.

Rescue Team – You are absolutely correct. I don’t have much to add, other than I think you are right on.

GRBerry & Pete – You both touch on subjects that I’ll be dealing with in upcoming posts.

Drew – I can’t wait for my kids to go to school. Even if I sent them to the private school in town, it would STILL be cheaper than daycare.

Scott – I live in South Dakota, which is quite affordable. And yes my stint here at The Happy Rock is more for fun & knowledge, then it is for the money.

But the money does help :)


Stay At Home Jobs April 28, 2009 at 1:45 pm

Great post – I admire your honesty! It takes a lot of nerve to post your debt and how you feel about it – so kudos for that!

I think, like others have mentioned, the daycare bill is brutal! Have you ever considered working part time from home to offset this cost?


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