Wednesday, July 30, 2008

With thankful hearts

Thanks to everyone for the congrats on us reaching our goal. FINALLY! In the days after that last payment it has begun to sink in more and more. When I worked up our August spending plan, it became even more real as I deleted that huge line that was going towards our car. Needless to say, there will be a season of celebration. To start with, we are both taking Friday off of work. Pray that we are able to get thru to Dave's show for a big debt-free scream! I have great doubts about that though since it's extremely hard to get thru on Dave's show. Then we are gonna spend the weekend doing many of the things we've deprived ourselves of for so long. All of which cost money!
And now the story (I think) you've been waiting for...

Sometime last year we started saving a little money in a vacation fund. We knew that a vacation would be the ultimate way to celebrate once we became debt free. Remember that couple I mentioned before who offered us the most inexpensive Hawaii trip ever? Well, in January I went to the wife and told her I had found the best deal I'd seen yet on airfare. With a little bit of a smile on her face, she asked me the dates. I told her that the best deal was the last week in May '08. Then I found out the reason for her smile- they would be cruising Denmark and Russia at that time! Strange as it sounds, I was ok with it not working out. Hegazelle and I had been talking about how Hawaii would be nice, but oh, to go on another that would just be tops. In between looking at airfare for Hawaii, I was secretly admiring those Canada/New England cruises online. So the couple is talking to Hegazelle and me later and by now have discovered our desire to go on a cruise instead. And the husband looks at us and says, "You know what would be dope? That Canada/New England cruise." YES! They pull out their calendars and tell us there will be a Cruise Show at a local hotel ballroom on January 25th. If we go to that, we can reserve a cruise for $100 per person.
So January 25th rolls around, we go to the cruise show and book for late September. We left and of course I am nervous and having immediate buyer's remorse. Thankfully, my buyer's remorse was soon remedied by a mailer from Princess Cruises for that same cruise only in October for A LOT less money. I was very relieved. But just in case things didn't pan out, we didn't tell about the cruise.
Well, this past Saturday we paid our invoice for the cruise and booked our hotel rooms in New York. Airfare is basically free (no deals here folks, it's not what you know but who you know) so my worries about paying for this trip are thru.
Monday afternoon about 3:30, I'm washing my hands at the office and it suddenly dawns on me: I have enough money left (and more) in our vacation fund that we could be debt free before the day is done. I mentioned this to my supervisor (who is attending Financial Peace University) and she hollers at me to GO GO GO! pay it off now! I think things thru a hundred more times, as is my way when it comes to making most decisions, and called Hegazelle for his take. He says go for it.
I went to the bank and gave them that final check. The teller has me sign one receipt and then gives me another showing the zero balance. It was as uneventful as a regular deposit. In my world, it seemed like I was the first person to ever pay off their car. The bank manager should have come out and congratulated me. Confetti should have fallen from the ceiling as the transaction was completed. A dinner reception should have been held in our honor in the bank's lobby. But alas, it was not so. Kind of a let down. So I quietly drove home in my paid-for car. The day was nothing like I imagined- I mean, I never expected this to happen on a Monday. Anticipation was supposed to build up until the Friday paycheck that finished this thing off.
I got home and called my mom, who I learned never doubted that we'd pull something off to meet our July 31 goal. She was ecstatic, so that helped lift my spirits.
When I hung up the phone, I set about washing that car. It sure is pretty.

So now instead of making huge car payments, we get to save up spending money for our vacation. And of course work on Baby Step 3. This, my friends, is what I call FUN.
Now, about our vacation!! HG and I are SOOOO stoked. We fly out to New York City on Thursday, October 17. We'll spend the 18th in NYC seeing the sights and hopefully catching a 1/2 price Broadway show (thanks to our travel agent for that tip!) Sunday, we will board the Caribbean Princess in Manhattan, and sail away at about 5pm. For the next 5 days we port at Newport, Rhode Island, Boston, Mass., Bar Harbor, Maine, St. John, New Brunswick, and Halifax, Nova Scotia. The last day is at sea. I'm ready to go today!

It feels great to be on Baby Step 3, although finishing it will be better I'm sure. Throughout Baby Step 2, I'd have to say we were as "gazelle intense" as we wanted to be. Not as much as we could have been, but as much as we wanted to be. But we paid off just over $18,000 in 16 months, and I'd say I'm rather proud of the fight we fought.
Thanks to everyone who read our story as it unfolded, and to everyone who helped us out with side jobs. We thank God everyday for our health and our jobs because, of course, one's income is their greatest wealth building tool. If you will, journey on with us as we continue to endeavor to use that "tool" successfully!


MG said...

I'm laughing and crying for joy all over again.
You've earned this cruise that's for sure!Enjoy!

A.L. said...

You can enjoy your cruise knowing that when you get home you won't still be paying for it for the next few years. Well done!

louise said...

loved reading this post! Congrats again, and have a wonderful holiday, it will be great knowing you wont be coming home to debt that you racked up on holiday!
I hope you're going to keep blogging about the next steps.

Aimee said...

I can not believe this! I am taking my mother on the exact same trip (on Royal Caribben) in October 2009 to celebrate her 65th birthday and my being debt free (I will have been DF for almost a year in October 09, but it was when it worked out for both of us). I paid cash for the entire thing and cant wait to pay cash for all the extras to spoil my Mom!
Way to go!! Let us know how the trip is- you deserve it!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful thing.
You made your goal.
And it was with sweat, blood, tears. You worked so hard ....we are proud of you. And that cruise sounds fantastic. You
will have lots of fun.. and you deserve it.

We love you guys.
We will have some work for you on down the road.

Poppy and NaMa

Beau D said...

Hey congrats on paying off the car!! Now I feel like a moron for laughing at your "kids meals" lol Have fun on the cruise!!!

Anonymous said...

What is step 3

just curious..

The Baglins

SheGazelle said...

Baby Step 3 is to put away 3 to 6 months of expenses (not 3-6 mo. of income) in savings. That $1000 emergency fund we've kept was just a "starter" to catch the little stuff as we payed down our debt. In Baby Step 3 you accumulate enough for a fully funded emergency fund.

Hope that helps!