Sunday, April 6, 2008

Spring Cleaning at Penny Pinscher

I love working on Penny Pinscher, but I have had some feelings lately that she is missing her mission. I first started Penny Pinscher as a means to chronicle our journey out of debt, but when the first posts went up I suddenly felt shy to reveal intimate details of our finances.

After all, I see some of the people who read Penny Pinscher on an almost daily basis. (Hi Helen, Rosie, Glory, Kris, Mom...! Did I miss anyone?;) Instead, I started writing about other, more fun things like SSS.

I don't know why I was suddenly beset by shyness, though. Anyone who personally knows me quickly realizes that I don't really have a lot of secrets. I don't exactly advertise my personal info, but ask and I'll tell you honestly.

I like who I am, so I don't see any reason to hide anything. This includes my weight (I weigh 100 pounds), my age (I'm 22), my finances (I'm richer then Paris Hilton)... oops! Sorry, I was fantasizing again;) Really I am in the middle of about everything - middle aged, middle class and not rich or poor.

More and more it has been coming to the forefront of my mind that I need to either dish the dirt or bury Penny Pinscher. Pinscher was to reveal how we were getting out of debt so that other people could read that they are not alone - there's hope for a credit free life. I also hoped that it would act like my own ongoing financial accountability sermon to keep me on the tightwad straight and narrow. So far I think Pinscher has missed the mark, and since I don't want to bury the whole thing I guess I'd better start dishing.

So, here's my confession:

Two years ago we were almost out of debt with a low mortgage, two paid for cars and and a steady paycheck. Then my husband deployed and I had the bright idea to take advantage of the situation by getting rid of our old nasty carpet and putting in tile. I had set aside $4,000 cash to this end and found a tile guy who gave me a reasonable deal. It was going to take two weeks.

Three months later, after going nearly insane and watching any nice furniture I had become damaged by grout and moving, we were almost done tiling. I was starting to see the light at the end, and then my husband came home. He liked the workman I had hired. He liked him so much that they decided to rip out the entire back of the house and 'fix it'. My neighbor across the street joined in and the demolition party was on at our house.

Unfortunately, anything that was supposed to be simple turned out to be anything but. Every job had issues and cost twice or three times as much as originally planned for (not to mention double or triple the time it was supposed to take). When everything was at its worst we ran out of money and turned to credit. And more credit... and just a little more...

Now we stand at some odd $10,000 on a credit card plus a HEL of around $75,000. Granted, not all the HEL went for the house - we paid off $25,000 in personal debt owed to family and a friend and we would do that again in a heart beat. But we are still here left holding a bag with an $85,000 dollar hole in the bottom.

Just when we were getting our debt dug in, the already emaciated economy started taking its turn for the worst. We came to the end our our debt accumulation nightmare all inspired to tighten our belts and pay it off. It didn't take us long to realize that we were tightening our belts to stay afloat and we were going to have to get corsets if we wanted to make any gains.

So here we are. Penny Pinscher was inspired by Save Leigh Ann, who paid off her credit debt in a year. I don't think we'll get it paid off that fast, but miracles do happen (You can help them happen by clicking on the little ads at the bottom of each post...hint...hint;). The important thing to me is that we learn from our remodeling mishap and go on. Abe Lincoln used to say after every failure (and he had many) "It's a slip, not a fall."

So we slipped, and are now seeking to climb back up by whatever means possible (legal, of course). The economy seems to be plunging into free fall - not a good time to be in debt. If you ask me, not that I'm any kind of $ guru, I'd say we are headed back to the Depression era. It's a good time to have your sails trimmed and ready for a squall.

From now on, Penny Pinscher will be dedicated to detailed doings of of our debt derailment. All SSS posts, fun as they are, will be posted at Dollar Diva, my site that is dedicated to good deals on the Emerald Coast. All posts about our urban farming efforts will be posted at my new site Big City Farm. That's where you can read about the chickens and other critters and how we are getting along in a neighborhood.

I hope my regular Pinscher readers will like the new directions my blogosphere is taking and stick with me. Hopefully Pinscher can inspire your own path to debt freedom, lighten your load through laughter and provide you with useful tools. And as always, thanks for reading!


Mary T said...

Ya know... we all got in our pickles somehow. In our case it was a patch of employment problems that lasted about 3 yrs followed by 2 cross country moves to 'fix' the employment problems. One counts I think is that we have 'seen the light' about spending and saving and realize you can't live on tomorrows dime today or you won't have a dime tomorrow. We'll all get there, we just gotta keep plugging! mary

Anonymous said...

Keep plugging away and you will be fine.

And consider me stuck!

I am doing a raffle at my site if you are interested.

Hang in there!!