Monday, August 25, 2008

Breakthrough ($42,000 Est)

So it's August. Almost September, even.

Nikki and I got married on June 14th, and yesterday she had a breakthrough on this getting-out-of-debt-with-gazelle-intensity thing. While we were dating, I always had this feeling in the back of my mind that while she agreed in theory, she wan't too keen on the in practice part. This was bolstered by her reluctance after we got married to actually start. Hence it being almost September and we haven't started.

But that's not to say I haven't made progress, even with the reluctance of a spouse. We have a little over $10,000 in a money market and we've been paying on the 2 cards. She stopped using them a little over a year ago after we had a huge fight about her credit cards (neither one of us knew if we would still be together the following morning). For my birthday a couple of months later I got plastic confetti made from her store cards :D

Anyway, back to yesterday. I'm not entirely sure why, but Nikki started to look at houses on a local MLS website. We aren't going to buy a house until we're debt free and have a 20% down payment and about $10,000 in an emergency fund. Obviously, this is going to be a ways away.

She was looking at houses in the $180,000 range, and I was thinking we were going to go with something in the $150,000 range. I had been saying to her that we would buy a house in about 2 years, and she thought I meant a $180,000 house. We cleared up that little bit of confusion, and she says, "So how long will it take for us to get the bigger house?"

She was completely floored by the answer--39 months.

I have this wonderful little google spreadsheet that calculates all that for me. Since I have already spent several years living on a budget and only paying cash for things, I am very good at predicting expenses and calculating the timelines. Of course, the 39 month figure has lots of assumptions, one being that she's going to get a job making $30k/year before taxes, which may or may not happen. It also assumes neither of us gets a raise (or loses a job--I write mortgage software so it's a distinct possibility), and it doesn't take into account the interest we're paying on the outstanding debt.

But she doesn't care about that. All she heard was "It's going to take over three years from when we start before we can buy a $180,000 house."

She had an epiphany right there. I saw the light bulb come on. It was amazing. I've been waiting about 18 months for that. Immediately she wanted to know what would happen if I got a job making $10,000 a year more. What if I got a second job as an adjunct professor at the local community college? What if she got a second job selling formal wear on weekends? What if we cut down on this? Or that? What if....

It was wonderful. About an hour later she was asking about how the plan works with getting cars, if we had to pay off the house before going on vacation, and what about retirement? It was the first time she was asking me with a sense of understanding instead of a sense of "why is he punishing me."

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